- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

Paranoid laughs

“A new thing, in the movies as elsewhere in life, is a rarity, but I think I’ve stumbled on one. It is a new genre, which we might call paranoid comedy. Paranoia is of course rife in Hollywood, and paranoid documentaries, thrillers, and political dramas are now almost the only kind there are. But until now comedy has remained mostly immune from its corrosive effects. No longer. At least not to judge from ‘Fun With Dick and Jane.’ … This film attempts to persuade us that, because virtually all the rest of the world is criminal, or complicit in crime, or else powerless to do anything about it, its heroes’ criminality is inevitable and justified. In the end they mete out a sort of vigilante justice as a way of empowering themselves against the vast and terrifying forces arrayed against them. …

“[The films final] credits offer ironic thanks to Enron, WorldCom, ImClone, Adelphia etc. as a way of reinforcing the message that everybody in the corporate world is doing it, and doing it to us, or our surrogates, Dick and Jane.”

James Bowman, writing on “Fun With Dick and Jane,” Wednesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Soft underbelly’

“Last September’s tragedy in New Orleans revealed, in the starkest manner, the soft underbelly of America’s cities. … [W]e got a glimpse behind the facades of a major urban center and tourist mecca which revealed many utterly dependent and disorganized residents, looking more like Third Worlders than denizens of a modern metropolis. In the process, the urban liberalism that has dominated city administration for the last generation was unmasked. …

“In retrospect, the chaos that followed Katrina should have taken no one by surprise. The city’s police force has long been considered among the worst in the nation, with two former members sitting on death row, and a low rate of convictions for serious crime. At a time when urban America’s overall crime rate has been dropping, homicides in New Orleans … have been back on the upswing. Long before the flood, a person living in New Orleans had a 10 times higher chance of being murdered than the average American.”

Joel Kotkin, writing on “Ideological Hurricane,” in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise

DVD Daisy

“You probably haven’t thought much about the shorts that Jessica Simpson wears as Daisy Duke in ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ Perhaps you assumed that Ms. Simpson simply stepped into her dressing room, grabbed a revealing pair of jeans shorts from a pile on the floor, and strolled over to the set. You could not be more wrong. …

“‘It’s truly a matter of centimeters where you approach the danger zone,” says costume designer Genevieve Tyrrell. … ‘There are a million things that can go wrong.’ …

“My inside knowledge of the creation of the Daisy Dukes is indeed awe-inspiring. And this is just the tip of the insight iceberg that has smashed into my brain after watching the one hour and 17 minutes of special features on the DVD for ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’

“Once a novelty, the special features have become that option on the menu screen … that you sometimes think will be interesting … but never are. …

“Yet, how can anyone watch ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ special features and not be convinced that this is the most important movie of the 21st century? The 30 minutes of deleted scenes make it obvious that, like Orson Welles, director Jay Chandrasekhar had his masterpiece defaced by a spineless studio.”

Grady Hendrix, writing on “Super Special Features,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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