- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006

Witches at work

“I finally caught up with ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ though I’m sure I am one of the last women in the media business to see it. …

“As it turns out, what’s most interesting about the film is how it has morphed in its translation from page to screen. It is based on a book by Lauren Weisberger, who was once an assistant to Anna Wintour, the famous editor-in-chief of Vogue. The book, basic chicklit, is about a nice young woman who wants to be a writer, and the totally self-centered witch for whom she works. Reading the book, you are supposed to sympathize with the young heroine and detest the impossible and imperious editor. You’re supposed to be glad at the end that the young woman gets fired from her job and returns to serious journalism. …

“Though the movie purportedly is about a girl who is smart enough to pass up the glitz, make the right choice and steer herself in a more serious direction … what you remember is a gray-haired editor, still in place in her chauffeur-driven town car, but who has no more choices she can make.

“So as it turns out, for all its in-jokes, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is not really a comedy at all.”

— Myrna Blyth, writing on “A Comedy of Wearers,”Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Fold ‘em

“You gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em, as they say. Some people don’t — Dan Rather comes to mind, or Sens. Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy. Then there is Helen Thomas, called by admirers ‘the First Lady of the Press’ and, by the World Almanac, ‘one of the 25 most influential women in America.’ You will not be surprised to hear that she is also blatantly liberal in her every point of view.

“At age 82, Ms. Thomas is the ‘most senior member of the White House press corps.’ She’s been at it since JFK was president. …

“In 2002, Thomas told a college audience, ‘I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself, who do I hate today?’

“Hate is not much of a recipe for living, or for questioning, writing, instructing or enlightening for that matter.”

— Manon McKinnon, writing on “Unembarrassable Helen Thomas,” Thursday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Acting blur

“Critics often interpret Keanu [Reeves’] blurriness as a general inability to act. And not without reason: Certainly he never disappears into his roles like, say, Ben Kingsley, and given a meaty speaking part … he can come off as amateurish and dim. But Keanu’s best directors have found ways to exploit his cipherlike quality. …

“Like the self in Buddhist philosophy, Keanu is less a person than an empty place-holder. …

“Keanu’s first name comes from a Hawaiian phrase that’s often poetically overtranslated as ‘a cool breeze over the mountains.’ I much prefer the literal translation, which apparently means something more like ‘the coolness.’ As ‘A Scanner Darkly’ proves, Keanu is the Coolness — passive blankness, leaden line delivery, and all. Let’s hear it for the vague blur.”

— Dana Stevens, writing on “The Blur,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

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