David's Medienkritik continues to dig away at the story about plans to demolish the Checkpoint Charlie memorial in Berlin. I paid a visit there a few weeks ago. The crosses are as moving, in their way, as the field of blocks on the nearby site dedicated to victims of the Holocaust.
George W. Bush, in today's interview with Gerard Baker:
General [John] Abizaid [Commander of US forces in the Middle East] told me something very early in this campaign I thought was very interesting. Very capable man. He’s a Arab-American who I find to be a man of great depth and understanding. When we win in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s a beginning of the end. Talking about the war on terror. If we don’t win here, it’s the beginning of the beginning.
What was the last really outstanding Woody Allen film? Husbands and Wives, I suppose. I'm still a fan even so, which makes his comments on 9/11 all the more of a disappointment. As Norm points out, Lileks has already administered the treatment they deserve.
I see too that Allen is still suffering from a bad case of cultural cringe:
Nothing pleases my ego more, than to be thought of as a European filmmaker. That for me is the highest achievement.
Which auteur did he have in mind? Richard Curtis? Hollywood may be in the doldrums, but we're not exactly awash with masterpieces on this side of the Atlantic. Fellini doesn't live here any more.
Hoder's blog is trying to look on the bright side of the hardliner's win in the Iranian elections:
Let's have fun with adopting Ahmanejad's look with beard and girls with chador and maghnaie and then throw Ahmadinejad parties in which everyone shows up like that and drinks and dances. They can't arrest us because we have grown beards. We look like our new president.
I got in a huff recently about Robert Samuelson's column on the "end of Europe". He's back on track today. After going over the figures one more time, he still wonders what, exactly, is the point of Kyoto:
What we have now is a respectable charade. Politicians and advocates make speeches, convene conferences and formulate plans. They pose as warriors against global warming. The media participate in the resulting deception by treating their gestures seriously. One danger is that some of these measures will harm the economy without producing significant environmental benefits. Policies motivated by political gain will inflict public pain. Why should anyone applaud?
The Wall St Journal's Peggy Noonan is ticked off with preening politicians. Barack Obama's claim that his personal struggles mirror Abraham Lincoln's really got under her skin:
Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.
Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.
You see the similarities.
There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama's résumé, but it is a log-cabin-free zone. So far it also is a greatness-free zone. If he keeps talking about himself like this it always will be.
Libertas takes issue with a Hollywood insider's view of why attendances are in a slump. One of the blog's commenters puts it very well:
If I was 11 years old I would be thrilled with today’s Hollywood. Batman? I’m there. Fantastic Four? I wish I could be like The Human Torch! War of the Worlds? I’ll sit through it twice! Star Wars? Zowie!
Not that some of these movies don’t have redeeming qualities but the fact is I’m no longer eleven...
Our Saturday night home viewing over the past two weekends has been Babette's Feast (Danish, wonderful) and The Best Years of Our Lives (old, wonderful). Enough said.
It reminds me of the fantastic piece Andrew O'Hagan wrote last year at the end of his stint as the Telegraph's film reviewer:
Critics are sometimes said to be as good as their period, and I'd like to be able to say that I took up my position during a great flowering of world cinema, that my term coincided with the weekly emergence of celluloid wonders guaranteed to set the old prose dancing like Nijinsky, but that was slightly more than far from the case. I have considered the matter quite closely - incorporating a recognition of every manner of deficiency, including my own - and still I have to conclude that I wrote about film during a period so fundamentally morose for the form that it makes me shudder to think about it. When I look back on my weekly diet of movies I almost pass out with misrecognition. Did I really sit down with a notepad and high hopes for so many of those films?
The PR people were almost as bad as the movies. I've done a bit of screen journalism myself. This definitely has the ring of truth about it:
Packs of publicists would haul you to screenings in a diamond-encrusted sleigh if they surmised a film was about to be ignored or demoted, but it's a sorry life, and they would get their revenge, turning haughty as soon as they had a sure-fire hit on their hands. "What's your name again? No can do. You missed the screening? I'm sorry. I just can't do anything for you. What paper do you write for again? All the evening screenings are packed, I'm afraid..." That was their afternoon of glory and revenge; the next week, of course, they'd be back on the phone offering you back-rubs, saying they'd never worked on anything so powerfully moving as "Teen Pants 6".