- - Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kindred souls

“Itself illustrating this reversal of fortune, the Smithsonian’s current blockbuster, titled ‘Telling Stories,’ is not solely about [Norman] Rockwell as artist, but about Rockwell as collectible: Every one of the forty-three oil paintings and fourteen (mainly charcoal) sketches on view is owned by either George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. …

“Given his involvement in mechanical reproduction and the mass audience, not to mention his wholesome, wholehearted celebration of perceived American values, Rockwell has at least as much in common with those moguls of make-believe Frank Capra and Walt Disney as with representational painters like Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper.

“It’s hardly coincidental that Rockwell has been most assiduously collected by the two men most associated with the American movie industry’s post-‘60s resurrection and … the most successful Hollywood filmmakers of the late twentieth century. Whereas the ambitious directors of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s aspired to difficult, downbeat, even ‘modernist’ movies, Lucas’s and Spielberg’s blockbusters were feel-good entertainments as immediately and universally accessible (not to mention as all-American and blatantly innocent) as … a picture by Norman Rockwell.”

Jim Hoberman, writing on “Norman Rockwell” in the December issue of Artforum

Open book

“WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism. The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life.

“The actual effect of WikiLeaks is likely to be profound and precisely the opposite of what it supposedly sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one. Secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy, but the precondition of frankness. WikiLeaks will sow distrust and fear, indeed paranoia; people will be increasingly unwilling to express themselves openly in case what they say is taken down by their interlocutor and used in evidence against them, not necessarily by the interlocutor himself. This could happen not in the official sphere alone, but also in the private sphere, which it works to destroy.”

Theodore Dalrymple, writing on “What’s Really Wrong with WikiLeaks,” on Dec. 2 at City Journal

Kindred souls II

“Vulture has learned that Paul Thomas Anderson wants to adapt Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel ‘Inherent Vice’ — about Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello, a pothead private eye wandering through the Summer (and winter) of Love in 1969 Los Angeles — into his sixth feature film … . It’s unclear how far Anderson has gotten with it, but several well-placed insiders say they’ve heard he’s writing a treatment and may have already started on a script.

“One source familiar with the project said that Anderson’s agency, Creative Artists, has been pondering the idea of trying to attach Robert Downey Jr. as Doc Sportello, but another source cautions there’s no official Downey involvement yet and, in any event, Downey’s schedule is so full he wouldn’t available to shoot anything until November 2011 at the earliest.

“Still, at the rate Anderson works — his last film was 2007’s ‘There Will Be Blood’ — that timing might just work out perfectly.”

Claude Brodesser-Akner, writing on “Paul Thomas Anderson Wants to Adapt Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Inherent Vice,’” on Dec. 2 at the New York magazine blog Vulture

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