- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Manly movie

“In the sewer that comprises much of modern cinema, three characterizations of men dominate the scene: the incredibly hip gay or metrosexual in touch with his feminine side; the overly aggressive, boorish and/or insensitive lout who desperately needs to be; and the dazed and confused milquetoast wallowing in his sensitivity.

“Bucking that trend and hearkening back to an era in film when men apparently didn’t need to be feminized, director Peter Weir delivers, in ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,’ a refreshingly realistic and honest portrayal of a group of men, uncorrupted by fashionable psychotherapeutic sentiments. …

” ‘Master and Commander’ chronicles the adventures of the crew of the British ship H.M.S. Surprize, whose mission is to burn, sink or capture a French frigate terrorizing British merchant vessels in the South Atlantic in 1805. Russell Crowe fills the role of their commander, Captain Jack Aubrey, like a glove, solidifying his reputation … as one of the few leading men in Hollywood who can convincingly exhibit leadership. …

“The commander is not without his faults, though. His, at times, overzealous pride in the success of the mission … puts the safety of his crew at greater risk, and his temper sometimes gets the better of him — but these flaws only serve to accentuate the nobility of his nature and the authenticity of the character.”

Michael Leaser, writing on “A Man’s Movie,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

‘Do the decent thing’

“Dear David Letterman: Please allow me to join with Oprah Winfrey and almost everyone else to congratulate you on the birth of your son, Harry. …

“Oprah … understands, as most of us do, how the importance of family tends to trump petty grievances. She wishes you well as you embark on fatherhood for the first time; we all do.

“Now, get married.

“That’s right, Dave, the party’s over. You’re 56 years old now, your girlfriend has just had your baby, and it’s time to stop acting like this is a shocking development that you just weren’t prepared for and don’t know how to respond to. Do the decent thing: Marry the mother of your child.”

Rick Shefchik, writing on “Hey, Dave, marry the girl,” Sunday in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press

Star for sale

“Monday a star featuring Britney Spears’ name was unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The pop diva thus became the 2,242th entertainer to be so honored. What does it take to get a celebrity’s name added to the walk?

“Step one is for a sponsor to fill out the required application, and mail it to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which runs the Walk of Fame. …

“Every June, a five-person committee … meets to consider the approximately 200 applications that roll in annually. The committee selects around 20 honorees. … The applicants’ sponsors must then pony up $15,000 each to pay for the unveiling ceremony — no cash, no star. …

“The ceremonies are often timed to coincide with a publicity campaign. It was no accident that Spears’ star was added the day before the release of her new album, ‘In the Zone.’ …

“Visitors are often puzzled to discover that such luminaries as Francis Ford Coppola and ‘Gone With the Wind’ producer David O. Selznick lack stars, while less celebrated entertainers … made the cut. It all comes down to the willingness of a sponsor to go through the process and shell out the necessary $15,000.”

Brendan I. Koerner, writing on “Who Gave Britney a Hollywood Star?” Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

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