- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

It must be awards season again because I’m hearing my name a lot — despite not having scored a hit with “Flags of Our Fathers.” I know how it feels, Mel, to rule the box office and still be viewed by the liberal Hollywood and critical elites with a mixture of grudging admiration and outright contempt. But I’ve got them eating out of my hand now. You can, too. Here’s how.

Embrace anti-violence — Violence is OK, even celebrated, as long as it’s stylized, as in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” or in the service of some larger message about the futility of violence. Appealing to historical reality (Christ’s suffering, pre-Columbian human sacrifice) just won’t cut it.

Take up a musical instrument — You need a well-publicized avocation that reveals an arty, sensitive side. Take me: I’m a jazz pianist with chops enough to have done my own soundtrack work. I proved the authenticity of my passion for the music by producing and directing “Bird,” my 1988 labor of love about Charlie Parker. They loved that one in Paris. Which reminds me …

Impress the French first — One thing that helped turn my career around, at least in the eyes of American critics, was recognition from the French — and international — film establishment. I was collecting Palme d’Or nominations at Cannes in the ‘80s, years before I finally won an Oscar in 1993 for “Unforgiven,” and in 1998, I won a Cesar Award for lifetime achievement from the French Film Society. You see, Mel, American critics are fundamentally insecure; they need permission from their cultural superiors before changing their minds.

Play up the antiwar talk — Think of the brownie points I earned in 2003 when I called the Iraq war a “big mistake.” I realize you’ve been voicing doubts. You’re on the right track. Just be careful not to blame fifth-columnist Jews — again.

Tell both sides — “Letters From Iwo Jima,” my new film about the bloody World War II battle told (in Japanese) from the Japanese perspective, is garnering even more awards than its better-publicized sister, “Flags of Our Fathers.” You should try this. Maybe a “Passion” sequel from Pilate’s point of view?

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