- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2001

Crouching Oscar

"What the best picture of the year is we shall have to leave to the Academy Award judges… . The films that can meet that test are few and far between and their number doesn't include 'Erin Brockovich,' for which Julia Roberts may well carry off honors as best actress, mainly for a role in which she played herself… .

"We hear that the 'made for TV movie' is about to disappear victim of the networks' new preoccupation with reality programs. Those who want to catch one more sample of the genre Hollywood style can go and see 'Erin Brockovich.' …

"Word has it that 'Traffic' and another contender, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,' have a chance of beating 'Gladiator,' the early favorite, for best picture. In the case of 'Crouching Tiger' … such a victory is an outside chance, but not one that should surprise anyone witness to its power to enchant, its lyrical intensity… .

"[A] movie like this qualifies for top honors, whatever the Academy judges may say."

Dorothy Rabinowitz, writing on "Lurching to the Movies," in Friday's Wall Street Journal

Swimsuit porn

"Pornography, which exists only to cause sexual excitement, is now socially acceptable in America. One example of this reality is Sports Illustrated's (SI) annual swimsuit issue.

"Each February, SI produces a special edition featuring models frolicking on the world's most exclusive beaches. They call it a 'swimsuit' edition because that is what the women are supposed to be wearing. However, you will find more cotton in an aspirin bottle than in the pages of an SI swimsuit feature.

"More telling that the almost-nude women in this year's SI testament to flesh is a commentary by Rick Reilly. On the last page of the magazine, the SI senior writer shares about taking his 14-year-old son to an SI photo shoot… . When he glanced at his son, he observed, 'His eyes [had] widened to the size of saucers.'

"Reilly goes on to describe the experience as an 'all-you-can-see feast.' … He writes, 'On the flight home I wondered if I'd ruined him for life. After all, what was he going to say to the freshman girls back at his high school? Hi, Amber. Hey, how come you're not backlit?'

"Even Reilly … realizes the potent effect the female form has on the male imagination. Especially the hormone-assaulted mind of a teen.

"To put it bluntly, SI's swimsuit issue is nothing more than one of the many forms of socially acceptable pornography available in America today."

Kelly Boggs, writing on "Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition & its effects on a 14-year-old boy," Friday in the Baptist Press News at www.bpnews.net

Modern woman

"Just before she packed her Barbarella boots for good, [Jane] Fonda astonished with a performance so deep, and a character so important in the evolution of sexual women on the screen, that studio movies have still never matched it: in Alan J. Pakula's 'Klute' [in 1971] Fonda plays Bree Daniels, the insecure, would-be actress and world-weary New York call girl stalked by male danger and protected, in an exquisite tango of advance and retreat, by small-town private eye John Klute (Donald Sutherland).

"Her performance has a conviction and ownership a Fonda scholar might spend years analyzing. This is a call girl of the modern, 'Our Bodies, Ourselves' age, that she goes to a shrink (to whom she declares, 'They want a woman and I know I'm good… . For an hour, I'm the best actress in the world. I'm the best [prostitute] in the world … You just lead them by the ring in their nose… . I always feel just great afterwards').

"This is a woman who can handle everything except love, an independent woman terrified to be really cared for by a man."

Lisa Schwarzbaum, writing on "American Beauty," in the March-April issue of Film Comment

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