- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Racist 'Rings'?
"I kept stumbling on articles about how [author J.R.R.] Tolkien was a racist and/or about how 'The Lord of the Rings' is pro-war propaganda. Both of these ideas have dedicated adherents. For example, John Yatt says in the British newspaper, the Guardian:
"'The Lord of the Rings is racist. It is soaked in the logic that race determines behaviour. Orcs are bred to be bad, they have no choice.
"'To cap it all, the races that Tolkien has put on the side of evil are then given a rag-bag of non-white characteristics that could have been copied straight from a [neo-Nazi] leaflet. Dark, slant-eyed, swarthy, broad-faced it's amazing he doesn't go the whole hog and give them a natural sense of rhythm.'
"One is tempted to ask who is the real racist here? On the one hand, we have people like me who see horrific, flesh-eating, dull-witted creatures with jagged feral teeth, venomous mouths, pointed devilish ears, and reptilian skin, and say, 'Cool, orcs!' On the other hand, we have people, like Mr. Yatt, who see the same repugnant creatures and righteously exclaim, 'Black people!' Maybe he should spend less time vetting movies for signs of racism and more time vetting himself if, that is, he free-associates black people with these subhuman monsters."
Jonah Goldberg, writing on "Movies & Metaphors," Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

The Islamic dream
"The jihadi goal is absolute and cannot be accommodated by the elimination of grievance, through negotiation or by repression. The cause and core of jihadi terror is the conviction that only violence can assure the triumph of Islam and that such a triumph is possible. Either the whole changes or the jihad continues.
"The enormous power of the Islamic dream is that it offers so much: an explanation of what hinders the Muslim world from its rightful success; who is responsible for this crime against Islam; and why they must be punished. The dream is a bloody one, yet for the dreamer it offers hope and a mission, which is why it attracts both the idealists and the outraged, the educated and the desperate.
"As long as the jihadi are tolerated by their own, hidden from view, dedicated to the dream and convinced that jihad is the only way into the future, America is at grave risk."
J. Bowyer Bell, from his new book, "Murders on the Nile"

'Callow pretension'
"Todd Louiso's 'Love Liza' relentlessly tracks the headless-chicken grief trajectory of a widowed Web-site engineer (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who responds to his wife's suicide and his emptied life by huffing gasoline.
"While dithering about whether to read his wife's final note, Hoffman's disoriented schlub falls in with a pleasantly obsessive model-plane fanatic (a surprising turn by Jack Kehler), shrugs off the sympathetic gestures of his unpredictable mother-in-law (Kathy Bates), and haunts gas stations. But mostly he just huffs gasoline.
"What should have been an idiosyncratic 20-minute short is distended by repetition and loads of standard indie-film time-killers (musical interludes, p.o.v. expressionism, driving scenes, etc.), always returning to the spectacle of Hoffman huffing gasoline, an activity even he can't make interesting.
"Lisa Rinzler's cinematography may be lovely, but Love Liza's tale itself (written by Hoffman's brother) virtually collapses into an inhalant blackout, maintaining consciousness just long enough to achieve callow pretension."
Michael Atkinson, writing on "The Mourning After," in the Jan. 1-7 edition of the Village Voice

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