- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2001

Hollywood decline

"That the peevishly pursed and clunk Russell Crowe and the goofy, grinning, stork-legged Julia Roberts now hold Oscars is one of the many tacky ironies of current popular culture. How far Hollywood has fallen from the era in which … Marlon Brando in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' could lose the Oscar to Humphrey Bogart in 'The African Queen.'

"As a huge fan of pagan movie epics of the 1950s and early '60s, I found 'Gladiator' boring, badly shot and suffused with sentimental p.c. rubbish. It would be difficult to say whether Crowe or Joaquin Phoenix (nominated for best supporting actor) gave the worst performance. Julia Roberts owes her Oscar for 'Erin Brockavich' to director Steven Soderbergh's skillful editing, which gave the illusion of continuity to what was a shockingly obtuse reading of her part of what she condescendingly believed was a working-class character. (The real Brockavich is middle class in background and job experience.) …

"Roberts' buffoonish hogging of the stage after she won the award was the most ridiculous performance by a woman since Gwyneth Paltrow, another untalented luminary, sobbed and hiccuped her thanks to the world and her dear, dear family two years ago."

Camille Paglia, writing Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

No rush?

"What exactly was the rush to get our guys back? These aren't tourists or schoolchildren, but professional soldiers. It's part of their job to be away from home… .

"What the China crisis has demonstrated is that the understandable, if overwrought, reluctance to have U.S. servicemen killed or injured has become a fear of even having them inconvenienced. The 24 American servicemen held in Hainan might as well have been staying in a Beijing Motel Six for all the discomfort they appeared to be experiencing… .

"Getting them back should never have been portrayed as our primary policy goal… . Instead, the U.S. goals should have been to protect the nation's honor and make clear to the Chinese that they would not be rewarded for lawless behavior… .

"But the course of this crisis will serve to signal to America's adversaries abroad that every American serviceman is a potential Private Ryan, whose well-being can trump every other national consideration.

"American policy risks becoming hostage to the yellow ribbon."

Rich Lowry, writing yesterday in National Review Online at www.national.review.com

Charming cannibal

"OK, I'll just say it right out loud: I am desperate to leave my husband. I have fallen hopelessly in love with the only man who truly deserves me, the one heartbreaker who can really make a gal feel special: Hannibal Lecter. In 'The Silence of the Lambs,' Anthony Hopkins was cruel and terrifying, playing Hannibal as a shivery serial killer and cannibal who made Jodie Foster cry. He was mesmerizing, but not yet dreamboat-courtly; in the sequel, 'Hannibal,' Anthony is now the most debonair, cultured, and considerate man on earth, and I yearn to become his morsel… .

"Common sense tells me that falling for Hannibal is a terrible, indefensible crush, but I'm sorry, because when it comes to devilously chivalrous leading men, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson just haven't been cutting it. Hannibal is every woman's fantasy spouse, and the only guy I'd ever trust to order for me. He knows what women really want, if you ask me."

Libby Gelman-Waxner, writing on "People Who Eat People," in the May issue of Premiere

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