- - Monday, February 7, 2011

‘Old sow’

“Another vibrantly kinetic performance [in ‘The Fighter’] is that of Amy Adams as Charlene, Micky’s tough, tenderly protective bartender girlfriend who, it’s revealed, has been to college and was once a champion high jumper: Charlene scarcely hesitates before flinging herself into the Ward-Eklund fray, taking on not only Micky’s harridan-mother and manipulative half-brother, but Micky’s seven harpie-sisters, irresistibly awful on the screen, yet strangely touching, clearly their mother’s offspring and as frightening in the aggregate as figures in a Hogarthian allegory.

“And then there is Melissa Leo in the role of her career as the nightmare mother-manager Alice, as determined to exploit her boxer-son as she’s sublimely indifferent to the terrible danger she places him in by matching him with opponents who outweigh him by as much as twenty pounds — the demonic mother who sincerely believes that she’s doing the right thing, her witchy face contorted with disbelief that anyone should doubt her good intentions. Bouffant-haired, improbably slim after having borne nine children (!), Leo’s Alice reminded me of James Joyce’s description of Ireland — ‘The old sow that eats her farrow.’”

Joyce Carol Oates, writing on “The Fighter’s Cruel Art,” on Feb. 3 at the New York Review of Books

Happy sadness

Melissa Leo star as Alice in Paramount Pictures' "The Fighter."
Melissa Leo star as Alice in Paramount Pictures’ “The Fighter.” more >

“What struck me most about ‘Showdown With Evil’ was the autobiographical angle, which the interviews nicely draw out. I was especially taken with the contrast between Andrew Klavan’s laugh-out-loud-funny and stunningly smart account of his path to conservatism, on the one hand, and [Jamie] Glazov’s own biography on the other.

Klavan’s story is a typical American tale of creeping conservatism, just a lot more entertaining than most. Glazov, on the other hand, is the child of Soviet dissidents exiled to the Gulag. His story is shadowed by tragedy and filled with the sort of sad and somber passion notable for its absence in most American life stories. Both Klavan and Glazov end up preoccupied with the puzzle of political correctness and the quasi-religious character of the American left, yet they approach the problem from dramatically different angles.

“American conservatives are lucky to have the leaven of people like Glazov, who’ve seen the worst that left-utopianism can do, and luckier still not to have experienced that catastrophe themselves. Klavan’s humor and gentle acceptance of life’s tragedies is the fortunate result. Freedom yields a happier sort of sadness.”

Stanley Kurtz. writing on “Freedom and Sadness” on Feb. 7 at the National Review blog the Corner

Cartel power

“Last summer when I did my article about Huffington Post for Newsweek, I estimated that they had about 25 million monthly readers and would generate about $30 million in revenues in 2010. That meant they were getting a mere $1 per reader per year!

“Compare that to the world of cable TV or print newspapers and magazines which collect hundreds of dollars each year from each subscriber, and then generate hundreds of millions in ad revenue on top of that — and you see the difficulty of the business that AOL and Huffington Post and all the rest of us are in.

“But here lies the bright spot in the HuffPo acquisition, and the probable reason for it. If the problem is that we have too many organizations chasing after the same ad dollars, why not roll everyone up and give advertisers fewer choices? Then we can bump the ad rates up. It worked in broadcast TV, when we had three big networks and they operated an oligopoly.”

Dan Lyons, writing on “AOL’s Tricky HuffPo Marriage,” on Feb. 7 at the Daily Beast