- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2002

Bond again

"[T]he rumbling hiss you hear behind you is the sound of an 007 project preparing to launch. 'Die Another Day' is the 20th Bond picture, and, as the name suggests, the producers of the series, who long ago ran out of Ian Fleming books to choose from, are no closer to finding titles with a discernible meaning. Still, come Nov. 22nd, I expect to be jumping up and down on the sidewalk outside 'Die Another Day,' agog at the prospect of brand-new Bond. Its virtues include Halle Berry in a flame-hued bikini, more of Pierce Brosnan, more of Judi Dench's M, a song by Madonna, and a baddie who, after a contretemps with 007, has been left scarred with 'diamond shrapnel.' Love it.

"[W]henever age begins to muster its forces, launching sneak raids on the lines of his waist and hair, the producers simply throw the actor away and buy another one. Agent 007 is the bastard son of Dorian Gray, blessed with a license to kill and a refusal to die, doomed to stay fit and chipper while his earlier selves gradually thicken and molder in the attic. The actors can shake his image all they like, but the man himself is unstirred."

Anthony Lane, writing on "Mondo Bond," in the Nov. 4 issue of the New Yorker

Toy politics

"Walt Disney World is coming under pressure to unilaterally disarm by eliminating all flintlocks of mass destruction from Frontierland.

"How can you separate guns and the wild frontier? Do the disciples of political correctness think the West was won with an ACLU lawsuit?

"I oppose toy-gun control in all its many guises. As a kid, they would have had to pry my Dick Tracy snub-nosed .38 revolver from my dead little fingers.

"Toys 'R' Us and eToys have stopped selling toy guns. Something that was completely harmless in the relatively sane society of the early '60s suddenly has become inappropriate and dangerous in the insane '00s.

"With toy guns, the violence never exceeded our own childish imaginations. Today, those who design computer games and write movie or television scripts fill in the gory details.

"Toy guns do not poison minds.

"Adults do."

Mike Thomas, writing on "Taking away kids' toy guns is un-American," Tuesday in the Orlando Sentinel

Uneven portrait

"The life of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who's the subject of Julie Taymor's movie 'Frida,' offers better moviemaking fodder than most biopics. Kahlo had a complicated relationship with her husband, the philandering Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, and a tormented one with her own body, due to a childhood bout with polio and a devastating bus accident that crippled her at 19.

"Taymor's movie is based on Hayden Herrera's 1983 biography 'Frida,' which rescued Kahlo from obscurity and helped transform her into a neo-feminist icon. Salma Hayek, in the title role, is especially impressive.

"But here's what's really wrong with this picture: We hardly ever see Frida painting.

"Similarly, the film unintentionally demeans Kahlo by depicting her as a charming naif. OK, so she often wore folkloric Tehuana clothes and mimicked folk-art techniques, the better to express her solidarity with working-class Mexicans. But she herself was born bourgeois and was a creature of the international art world besides.

"This intoxicating film is mostly wonderful, if somewhat flawed, and I'd recommend that anyone with even the vaguest interest in the subject run right out and see it. But its depiction of Kahlo as a Princess Diana-style martyr with oodles of style and a vibrant interior life is only part of the truth: She was also the savvy professional who made the paintings that helped transform her into a pop icon.

Carol Kino, writing on "Paint Job," Oct. 29 in Slate at www. slate. com

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