- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

Chicks in flicks
"When Nicole Kidman accepted the Golden Globe award for her performance as Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's 'The Hours,' he praised it as a picture that finally offered solid, meaty roles for women. Never mind that the meatiest part in 'The Hours' probably belongs to Miramax head Harvey Weinstein in the role of Big Daddy. …
"At Oscar time, everyone who cares about movies takes stock of the roles and performances that made an impression in the past year. And every year, it's always the most noticeable performances particularly the ones that receive Academy Award nominations that people use to gauge how well women have been represented in movies.
"But what, exactly, constitutes a 'good' role for an actress in 2003? …
"The complaint that there are few good roles for actresses is perennial. But even more pernicious is the fact that year after year, people and that means critics and the entertainment media, as well as civilian moviegoers miss the great roles for women that are practically right under their noses. Worse yet, they forget that what an actress does with a role is far more important than the role itself."
Stephanie Zacharek, writing yesterday in Salon at www.salon.com

What a concept
"What, exactly, is 'diversity?' Is it nothing but a euphemism for racial and ethnic quotas, or is it the name of a fundamentally new way of thinking about American society? Do lovers of diversity play-act at tolerating cultural differences about which they know little and care to know less? Or have diversity's acolytes actually discovered a way of reconstituting our personal identities?
"Diversity, of course, is and does all of these things. Yet until now (and despite its advocates' ceaseless prattle) diversity has been incapable of speaking for itself. … The hollowness and mendacity at the heart of diversity serve to silence and disguise all that is remarkable and profound (even if profoundly troubling) about this concept. …
"Where did diversity come from? With remarkable precision, [author Peter] Wood is able to trace the diversity movement from its origins in Justice Lewis Powell's opinion in the famous 1978 Bakke case, to the present. … By affirming the educational value of diversity, Powell was able to justify reverse discrimination as something other than a deliberate suspension of classic liberal principles."
Stanley Kurtz, writing on "Diversity, Like You've Never Seen It," Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

A hero again
"The world was introduced to [Bruce] Willis in 1985 as a swaggering farceur on 'Moonlighting.' Within five years, he'd have two 'Die Hards' under his belt, but he'd also have good notices as the Vietnam vet of 'In Country' and … as the voice of baby Mikey in 'Look Who's Talking.' As the care-battered prizefighter of 'Pulp Fiction' in 1994, he notched a grave, compelling performance. …
"Throughout his career, he's managed to alternate boffo box office (like 1998's 'Armageddon') with art, and with M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Sixth Sense,' he intertwined the two in ways few actors have the temerity, and the clout, to do. Shyamalan praised Willis's unstinting devotion to the task, and thanked him for not just his superstar 'electricity,' but for 'showing the real human being inside him.'
"With 'Tears of the Sun,' he stands a chance of mingling our sense of him as a hero for these times with deeper questions of identity and individual ethics. …
"[He says:]'I think people realize that you can't just have a hook of 'Die Hard' on a boat, 'Die Hard' at the White House, 'Die Hard' in a delicatessen. That idea kind of ran out of gas. I'm sure someone is going to accuse us of making an action picture on this thing, but it really is what's happening right now in Africa.'"
Fred Shruers, writing on "Rumble in the Jungle," in the April issue of Premiere

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