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Via Dolorosa (2000)
Articulate - even eloquent - but hopelessly wrong
I missed his performance of Via Dolorosa in New York but was intrigued by what he thought of Israeli/Palestinian issues and therefore rented the DVD of his performance.
Many of Hare's expressed assumptions are false. Thus, for example, though Hare may be nominally Christian, Hare believes that Christianity no longer has any essential meaning for Westerners; I don't know why - he seems only to speak for himself. And thus, the Jewish settlers' application of religious belief as a basis for anyone's "real present day world" belief about politics or morality is treated by Hare with "slap on the forehead" incredulity. It is offensive, and more indicative of Hare's absence of religious belief than of anything peculiar about the settlers, to hear Hare speak of religion as an absurd basis for action or belief.
Time and again, Hare states the central problem for Israel as the necessary primacy of a certain consciousness, set of attitudes or "thoughts" over mere "ownership" of "stones" (i.e., sovereignty over land). It is apparently this reluctance to cede ownership of territory that Hare believes is at the root of the mutual enmity of Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Hare assumes that the Palestinians' central desire is mere sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip - and with these desires granted, all will be well: Arabs may want stones - Israel should not care about them.
Yet even by this double standard, Hare is mistaken. if the Arabs formed the PLO years before 1967 with the express intention of destroying any Jewish homeland in the Middle East - and in fact the vast majority of Arabs sought the eradication of Jews from Palestine before 1948 - then what does this say about Hare's assumption that somehow relinquishing control over particular land acquired in 1967 would end the enmity? But the desired conclusion of the Arab "struggle" is the termination of a Jewish state - check any opinion poll.
The majority of Jews in Israel have no descendants who ever lived in Europe - they or their parents or grandparents fled from elsewhere in North Africa or the Middle East. Hare gives no sign of understanding this - and sees Israel somehow as an offshoot of Europe. It was not the absorption of the West Bank that caused Jews to be persecuted and expelled from the rest of North Africa and the Middle East.
Thus, Hare's astonishment that some Israelis could disagree with the Oslo Accords in 1993 because those accords contemplate the emergence of a Palestinian state, is strange when the existence of such a state would constitute another step in the intended destruction of Israel.
Hare is also blind in his reference to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as "conquered territories". All inhabited territory on earth has been conquered from other peoples. E.g., England IS conquered territory - certainly from the time of the invasions by Jutes, Angles and Saxons through the Danes to the Normans. They didn't leave.
Following World War II, within a few years of the creation of Israel, there were expulsions of people from territories, and expropriation of property, on a vast scale around the globe - in Tibet, in Inner Mongolia, in Taiwan by the retreating Nationalists, in the Sudetenland by the Czech government. Such expansion and contraction, the emergence and disappearance of peoples and states are true throughout the world and throughout history.
Thus, even if Hare were correct in his assumption that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian enmity were the cession of the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- --why is Israel (a very small country) alone to be required to lose much if not most of its territory? Simply because they failed to force the Palestinians to emigrate to surrounding Arab countries? This makes little moral sense.
Hare also speaks of the terrible poverty in the Gaza Strip. There is poverty - but neighboring Egypt and Jordan are more impoverished. Indeed, the West Bank is the most affluent non-oil producing Arab majority area in the world. If the Arabs in the West Bank are indeed wealthier there than in neighboring countries - and continue to live there rather than emigrate - obviously the humiliation of checkpoint searches (and who can say THOSE are unnecessary given the horrors of the violence against civilians?), is insufficient to motivate people to improve their lives by moving. There's no Iron Curtain preventing emigration.
Hare strangely appears to assume that a nation's sovereignty should never cost the lives of those in its defense. At one point, he repeats the statement by an Israeli military officer that though Israel had lost 20,000 lives to violence since its creation, the loss had been justified by the creation of a sovereign country for the Jews. Hare sees this as somehow wrong - an improper elevation of "ownership" of land and of "stones" over human lives and "thoughts".
Would Hare say that the vastly greater losses by the USSR in World War II were not worth it to avoid the loss of "land" (i.e., the country) to Germany? How much of the USSR should have been given up to Nazi Germany to avoid those losses - because its "real value" lay in the performance of Tchaikovsky's symphonies or the reading of Turgenev, rather than there mere "stones" of Russia? The preservation of sovereignty always costs lives - many of them - and if successful, is deemed worthwhile by survivors.
Hare's assumptions that religion is a terrible basis for conduct and belief, that acquisition of the West Bank and Gaza Strip constitute the whole of Palestinian desires, that Israel's acquisition of these areas was somehow different from all nations' acquisition of their own lands, that defense of the homes of countrymen constitutes a wrongful elevation of mere stones above the "intellectual heritage" of the people - all strike me as very wrong-headed.
A Fever in the Blood (1961)
Bold, exciting, twists and turns - sometimes over the top
I watched this recently on TCM. I had always liked the actors - Jack Kelly (perhaps most famous for Maverick where he and James Garner shared the honors), Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Angie Dickinson, Don Ameche (and a host of character actors from Jesse White to Carroll O'Connor).
This is a movie about politics in a state in mid-20th century America. The ambitions of three men to become Governor: the current U.S. Senator, a prominent state court judge in the largest city in the state, and the famous District Attorney from that state. Their party lost the last election for Governor - they have reason to believe their party will succeed this time around. Each wants the job - very much.
Kelly plays (wonderfully) a man with a poor slum background - he's risen to be the D.A., he is aggressive, articulate, driven. His life has risen to this point - he wants the Governorship desperately - a loving wife, two happy children in his 1950s suburban home - he feels he's got to move up.
Zimbalist is the product of a wealthy background - he rose naturally to be a judge - his wife was an invalid a long time - then died. He has no children - no particular interest except fishing alone. He is lonely, and says repeatedly that he seeks the Governorship out of interest, to give his life more meaning. He lives year-round in the posh residential suite at the nicest hotel in the biggest city of the state.
Ameche is the current U.S. Senator - in middle age, he won the love of a beautiful blonde woman (Dickinson) who had been in love with Zimbalist (who was married to his invalid wife). Ameche is insecure, childless, deeply cynical, fast thinking, and far older than his wife. He suffered a heart attack the previous year - and wants desperately to win the adoring love of his wife - feeling that if he defeats her former love (Zimbalist), he'll have proved something.
Three smart men - all in the same party - and one job they seek. The screenwriters do a wonderful job of focusing this ambition upon a murder trial - over which Zimbalist presides - and Kelly is the prosecutor. And the defendant in that murder trial is ... the nephew of the former Governor of their party.
Possible - and actual - deals of alliance - offers, rejections, reneging on those deals - create the twists and turns of this political drama.
The movie is deeply cynical - sometimes I felt too much so. (I was sometimes out of sync with the movie - and felt that the characters' actions were not so unjust - or unfair - than the movie wants us to think).
It's a film about character, about ambition, about modern politics - in the last 1/4 of the movie, it goes off the rails repeatedly - with crazy turns and twists that seem implausible and wild - and yet the movie is BIG, the twists and turns remarkable - its ambition to show America the world of modern politics very admirable - even if sometimes too moralistic.
I loved watching it - it's exciting, fresh, the performances are just great (not only by Zimbalist, Kelly, Ameche and Dickinson - but by all the actors).
I suspect if you get the chance, you'll really like it - and remember it.
Performance: After the Dance (1992)
Fine, very moving, quite witty
I've seen this three times now - as a DVD included among the Rattigan box set. I'd read a collection of Rattigan's plays - but this wasn't among them. As the director of the recent Olivier award winning National Theater production of "After the Dance" has stated, the failure of the play to run a long time in 1939 caused Rattigan to exclude it from his "Best Plays" collections. The play had received great acclaim by critics when it opened - and was doing fine business for two months - but then the War began - and the emotional ends of theater-going changed rather dramatically. The play closed soon afterward.
It's a superb play. I'm delighted that it's been revived to such a heralded response in London. It conveys a specific set of people - London based, upper class, only just too young for the First World War -who partied through the 1920s and the 1930s - ostensibly occupied with something, but not with true dedication. Eccentricity, a studied nonchalance, an affected boredom with the serious are the style of conversation - and gossip the substance. They now face a Second World War, a new generation - and themselves. There is considerable self-blame for their indulgence, wistfulness over age, self-questioning whether they can revivify, and wonder whether their characters are sufficiently supple or strong to start anew - as a new generation grinds alongside.
The play is quite realistic - and sad - and funny. The performances here are fine - you may, as I, wish to see it time and again. It's that fine a play.
The Boys Are Back (2009)
How not to raise children
This is one of the poorest movies I've seen - I'd no idea what it was about, but generally liked Clive Owen, so thought I'd rent it. It's the only film I can remember in which I actually yelled two or three times at the TV screen "End. END!" Owen plays the most Uriah Heepish parent I've ever seen. Extraordinarily passive - yet deceitful in many ways (Not least, as a top newspaper's sports editor who lies to all at work, and to the nation about covering the biggest international sporting event held in Australia each year - one can only hope he was fired, though there's an odd failure to mention the consequence).
I've never seen a parent apologize each time his child deserves punishment. Child throwing things? Apologize. Child hits him repeatedly in the head? Apologize. Child refuses to get in the car to go somewhere? Apologize. Child won't get up from having a tantrum on the floor in public? Apologize. Child wants to throw things in the house? Apologize. Child cries because he wants to swim instead of be in school? Apologize.
Say that you're deeply deeply sorry for every breath you take, every move you make - you get the idea.
This is a creepy movie - the parent abandoned his vows to God, his son and his spouse to be true until death - and is somehow not made to feel the terrible consequences of his abject despicable treatment of his spouse. Why did he leave her? "I got (this sexy babe) pregnant".
I constantly wished the worst for the protagonist - which I don't think the film intends.
I loathe this movie.
A wonderful surprise - clear, poetic, moving, quite lovely
I've seen so many French films in the last 15 years in which the female protagonist is as hard as nails, rebellious but impenetrable, scornful of intimate society or society at large - and we're meant to like her. I feared the same from the simple description I had of this film. (And after all, Scott-Thomas does not, after all, seem to seek out cuddly characters).
But her character is played perfectly - and that woman is one you come to quite like - sympathetic and understandable and human. (The actress playing her sister is also perfectly chosen- as sweet and winning as you could possibly find).
For all the darkness off-screen before the film begins, this is really a happy and heart-warming film - stay with it, it gets better and better. I particularly love the happiness the director makes us feel in social groupings - the celebration of someone's birthday, friends just dropping in, a dinner party.
**** SPOILERS### My one misgving with the film is that I do NOT share the director's apparent sympathy with euthanasia - no illness ever justifies taking another's life. Were I the judge sentencing her, and knowing all the facts, I'd have sentenced her to at least 15 years, and thought myself being very just. So her failure to defend herself in prison does not seem to me to have influenced her just sentence - though is strongly sense the movie means one to think otherwise - to feel that slaying a terribly ill child is somehow OK.
*** SPOILERS END **** I'd strongly recommend the film.
To my surprise, a great subtle and rather sad movie
This movie by Carol Reed (director of such great movies as The Third Man, Odd Man Out, The Key, and The Fallen Idol, who finally won the Oscar for Best Director for his musical, "Oliver!"(a musical adaptation of Oliver Twist) is simply superb.
Although this shares the circus setting as some others of the time, it's not primarily "about" the circus. It's a profound look at age, comeback, love (whether wanted or not), ambition. It's set in a dark and almost tawdry Paris of the mid-1950s, one that seems still tired and rather poor a dozen years after liberation.
The whole setting - and the love triangle - are fabulous yet realistic. This is a great bookend for An American in Paris - two entirely different images of Paris and France at the time.
The Burt Lancaster characterization is simply great - understated, powerful, moving - a man looking for a comeback, a last chance. Tony Curtis is also fine (I think Curtis has long been terribly underrated - he's a very good actor, wonderful in all kinds of parts from The Boston Strangler to Boeing, Boeing, from Sweet Smell of Success (with Lancaster again) to Some Like it Hot). Lollobrigida is great - a fine actress, yes unbelievably sexy but also just excellent at making us feel what her (desperate and cunning) character feels.
This is a great movie - amazingly set with a circus backdrop. I loved it. It's as good a depiction of post-war western Europe as can be imagined - in music, in light/shadow, in the fatigue you feel throughout. Watch it! You won't be disappointed.
The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)
Good pure old-fashioned romance
If you like your romance VERY traditional with damsels in distress, evil nobles, dashing villains who are REALLY ... Men, beware! This is the world of Barbara Cartland.
Nevertheless, I must admit that it held my interest throughout - and I was VERY struck by: the beauty of the sets/castles/scenery/furniture - they were spectacular.
and struck by the fine acting by such great stars. What a cast!!!
John Mills (the great one)
Oliver Reed (nominated for an Oscar in his last role - in The Gladiator, as the trainer of gladiators)
Michael York (Reed and York were two of the fine Three Musketeers the previous decade),
Emma Samms (star of all those Dynasty series)
Christopher Cazenove (many movies including the villain of 3 Men and a Baby, etc.),
Claire Bloom (the greatness of Claire Bloom since the 1950s -- starring in a Barbara Cartland!! Amazing!),
Hugh Grant and Lysette Anthony.
I know Anthony from a great Woody Allen movie and from a superb Inspector Poirot TV movie - she's so different in each that she doesn't even seem the same actress -very pretty, very fine actress).
Hugh Grant - charming, self-deprecatory, bookish, Hugh Grant, the kind of man made to play in Born Yesterday as the professor - is wildly miscast. The rough highwayman contemptuous of authority, rather a tough Robin Hood character is meant to be a type like Colin Farrell or young Oliver Reed -- alternatively an Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks would be fine. But Grant really did his best - generally remaining silent.
The plot is what surprised me - what a good pot - straightforward, enough intrigue, good pace.
This is a well put together movie - IF you want to see a true prototype of the romance circa 17th century. I'd recommend it to anyone in that mood.
Wings of the Morning (1937)
A VERY appealing jumble of a movie
This movie sets out to have much for many - and succeeds in a wacky, just relax and enjoy the utterly mixed bag way:
the first Technicolor movie made in Britain (well, Ireland actually) a tale of gypsies and their generations-long curses all the sentiment and memories of the Auld Sod in Ireland three songs sung complete by John McCormack, the great Irish tenor horse racing tale - mixing in news footage of Derby Day in England love story between Henry Fonda and beautiful French sensation Annabella
There are odd moments - e.g., Henry Fonda forcefully removing all Annabella's clothes (behind a willow tree) until apparently repulsed, he realizes she's a girl and tosses her undergarments back to her - disgusted
Strange scenes of "is she alive or is she dead" about an ancient gypsy woman.
We're asked to accept that a living woman may easily life to see a fourth generation of her family -- in 50 years. In this movie, they apparently have an entirely new generation of gypsy children every sixteen years! (In contrast, I hope to marry next year and have children in future - yet my own grandparents were born in the 1890s, 110-120 years ago - without a fourth generation yet!).
It's fun - and light, and romantic (annabella is really cute!) and it IS interesting to see John McCormack and the spectacular/sentimental scenes of Killarney - and to see a horse race at Ascot.
Don't expect a classic - but it's a big fun jumble of stuff designed to appeal to many. Often a quite beautiful movie visually too.
The Starter Wife (2007)
Funny very modern comedy about life in L.A. among the "in crowd"
I've only seen two episodes - and hadn't seen any that aired last summer - but this is really a charming, funny series. Messing and Davis are the reasons to watch - and they really get to show a stunning variety of emotions. The plot is clear, fast-moving, and great fun. I've mixed feelings about the use of the dream sequences to indicate how she feels at particular moments - but I'm sure there are many who love them.
This is really a fine series - it seems the female counterpart to the male-oriented Californication - the quality is similar - and they're very much the same kind of series - very modern, witty, well-designed continuing comedy (each program's dilemmas, new characters, very much lead into the next). They're both programs about very superficial, selfish and materialistic people, set in contemporary Los Angeles obsessed with fame and fleeting success.
I'm a conservative Catholic man living in the East, clearly not the intended audience for the series - but I enjoy it. And I'm surprised there aren't more comments. (The series was heavily promoted in New York City -- and Messing and Davis are both famously talented).
It's hard to imagine that people who decide to tune in - won't be caught up in it.
Stealing Home (1988)
Really fine - very moving,
This is a fictional character study, nostalgia piece, and inspirational story. The reason it works is not so much the novelty of the plot or situations, but the actors and the physical settings.
Rarely has a film been cast so very well.
Mark Harmon, fine actor and former star USC quarterback plays a baseball player.
One of America's very best actresses, Jodie Foster plays his older friend.
Another of the top American actresses, Blair Brown plays his mother (when he was small).
The very appealing John A. Shea (think of his portrayal of Robert F. Kennedy or his co-star part on the Spuerman series) is his father.
The really lovely, Southern seductress Beth Broderick (former co-star of Sabrina and so often well-cast as the beauty on series such as From the earth to the Moon) is perfectly cast - as is Jonathan Silverman in a Summer of '42 part.
Harmon and Foster are opposites in so many ways - in life as well as their characters - yet they're both so unselfish, so singular as personalities - Mark Hamill was born to play the taciturn disciplinarian General Black Jack Pershing leader of America's military in our first World War, and Jodie Foster was born to play a very pretty poetry editor of a literary quarterly in the Village in the 1950s - and I don't think they share a scene together here (he plays the boy as a 38 year old - and we don't see her after she's in her mid-20s) yet we feel them together throughout the film - they dominate the film.
Such is the appeal of Harmon that we can see his character wholly irresponsible and really wanting to dump the business of his boyhood mentor's urn of ashes upon his mother - and yet like him very much.
Such is the appeal of Foster that we can hear her utter every silly clichéd sentiment of a girl of that age and that time - and yet think she's really worth caring for - we can fall in love with this young woman whom we might really think an idiot in real life.
But Foster is so obviosly NOT an idiot, that she lends intelligence to a cliché - and Harmon is so obviously a responsible sober responsible man that he lends this to his often drunken, prostitute-visiting character.
They lift this movie to something special and really worth watching.
I'd love to see Harmon and Foster share the same movie again. They're so different, both highly appealing, both very distinctive.
You'll like this movie.