Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Naomi Lakritz is my new hero

Naomi LakritzYou may recall that I raised my eyebrows a wee bit at the reaction of the Luther College gunman's parents, who wanted to reassure the world that their son was a good kid. I grumped a bit about the uselessness of a word that can expand to include almost any behaviour.

Naomi Lakritz grumped at greater length and brought up some excellent criticism of the modern tendency to excuse all and avoid hurting the self-esteem of our precious progeny, starting with this:
If the 16-year-old boy in Regina who took 300 students hostage this week and pointed a gun at the school's pastor is a good kid, what does a bad kid look like?

The day after the incident ended with the principal wrestling the gun away from the boy, and his subsequent arrest, lawyer Brad Tilling passed on a message from his parents: "They would like people to know that he is a good kid and obviously there was some difficulty the other day."

A "good kid?" An armed hostage-taking is "some difficulty?"

Read the whole thing. She wrote it a month ago, but I suspect it was available only to subscribers before now.

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Monday, 20 October 2008

W - a movie review

Josh Brolin as George W. BushMeh.

There are some good things to say about this movie and they center primarily around the performances. Josh Brolin worked very, very hard not only to nail George Bush, but to nail him at the different stages of his life and he did an incredibly good job of it. Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney never once made me think of Mr. Holland either. No warm fuzzies coming from him in this movie.

But these memorable performances are the only thing worth going to see in this movie. Only people who enjoy sneering at George Bush for its own sake will get much pleasure out of it, and even they will feel let down more than once, as the movie did try to go beyond caricature.

It didn't do a very good job though. For a George Bush-neutral like myself (I know, I'm a rare breed) it was a great let-down. The only "insights" into his character are furnished by scenes of private conversations that are pretty much by definition, fantasies of the screen writers.

Now, I'm a great fan of fantasy, but only when it is openly fantasy. There is an intellectual dishonesty about shaping a historical or contemporary figure according the whims of the shapers rather according to the rigours of actual evidence that troubles me immensely.

Unfortunately, such niceties have never troubled Oliver Stone.

The movie definitely doesn't hold up as a documentary (and it bothers me a lot to think that many movie-goers will see it as gospel truth when it is almost entirely fiction) and just as damning, it doesn't hold up all that well as a story. I got bored more than once, not able to discern a clear direction, other than the fact that George W. was constantly on the screen.

So, other than some fine acting, this movie was rather a disappointment. But not enough of a disappointment to get me really mad. It wasn't even good at being bad. Meh.
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