Thursday, October 14, 2004

Super irony

“It wasn’t lost on anyone, the irony that [Christopher Reeve] the actor most famous for playing Superman — a mythical fantasy figure who could so casually do things other humans couldn’t — found it hard even to breathe without the help of a machine. Here was terrible proof of the chasm between real life and its depiction on-screen, where escalating levels of (often computer-generated) action show us nothing resembling the real world — and the real, fragile bodies — that we inhabit. …

“Reeve’s Clark Kent wasn’t just a klutz act to fool Lois. It was a heightened interpretation of how Clark/Superman really saw himself in a world in which there was no one-to-one correspondence between an action and its supposedly equal and opposite reaction. Reeve’s Superman was a triumph because it somehow embodied the precariousness of that 90-pound-weakling superhero daydream.”

David Edelstein, writing “The Death of Superman,” Monday in Slate at

Be thankful

“Gather together five women in any Moscow kitchen, and after a brief lament over the high cost of living, some gossip about co-workers and a desultory review of some of the stranger moments in the country’s political life, the conversation inevitably turns to the Main Topic — Russian men — and doggedly stays there for the rest of the evening. Judging by these conversations, it’s clear that God — either by mistake or out of some inexplicable grudge — created Russian men as a merciless trial for Russian women. Their irresponsibility, irrationality and infantilism are legendary. …

“During these kitchen debates someone will inevitably express that opinion that we American women are lucky: American men, judging by movies and a few acquaintances, are different. They are responsible, mature, gentle and kind; they weren’t emotionally crippled by the brutality and paternalism of the Soviet regime. They even wash their own socks! … Every morning, we American women must thank Fate that we were born in such a marvelous country with such ideal men.”

Michele A. Berdy, writing on “The Grass Is Greener,” in the summer issue of Amherst Magazine

Puppet regime

“If you’re not convinced the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States changed everything, ask yourself this: If anybody had told you on September 10 that the talk of early 21st-century Hollywood was going to be an action feature film in which marionettes play celebrities and world leaders, would you have believed it?

“That, as everybody now knows, is the idea behind ‘Team America: World Police.’ …

“Janeane Garofalo proclaims that ‘it’s an actor’s responsibility to read the newspapers and repeat it on TV as if it were our own ideas’; Sean Penn rhapsodizes about the happy children in rivers of chocolate that inhabited prewar Iraq. …

“Maybe the creators did just want to indulge in the purely destructive comic joy of forcing puppets into … reconstructive surgery and showing Tim Robbins being burned alive. …

“Every detail, no matter what ‘side’ it seems to be supporting in the foreign-policy debate, makes that side seem ultimately absurd, which may be the biggest truth about geopolitics a filmmaker can tell.”

Brian Doherty, writing on “Puppet Government,” Tuesday in Reason Online at

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