- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Frat films

“There are comedies of manners. There are comedies of bad manners. And then there is the American tradition of frat-boy bacchanals, in which any hint of civilized behavior gets you kicked out with a beer keg on your head. —

“Last month, ‘Jackass Number Two’ opened in the U.S., going straight to top of the charts, as had its predecessor. … The raison d’etre of Jackass, which started life as an MTV stunt show, is real frat boys doing real, very painful things to each other, live on camera.

“‘A disgusting, repulsive, grotesque spectacle,’ declared the American critic Richard Roeper. ‘A plunge into depravity,’ fumed the Toronto Star. Then these quotes turned up in the sequel’s promotional trailer. ‘Unfortunately for them,’ the blurb ran. … ‘We just made Number Two.’

“No other type of movie seems to invite quite the same vitriol from reviewers and yet still find itself commercially idiot-proof, perhaps because, as the harshest reviews tend to argue, this stuff is designed by and for idiots in the first place.

“American males under 25 are the world’s most lucrative filmgoing demographic. With its ready stream of sight gags to plaster on trailers and posters, this is not a hard genre to market; the less sophisticated the movie, the better.

— Tim Robey, writing on “The mystery of the frat-boy movie,” Sunday in the London Telegraph

Education act

“You might remember that back in 2002, President Bush signed the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ to bring true reform to our nation’s schools.

“Normally, I find the names of pieces of legislation quite deceitful. Sometimes they pretend to do the opposite of what they do or claim to prevent what they actually require.

“But in this case, the name of the legislation was accurate, truthful, honest. Because this effort to bring reform to the schools was indeed a great big act. …

“There is no constitutional justification for the existence of the federal Department of Education, let alone its shakedown of taxpayers to the tune of $64 billion a year. But there is also no moral justification for it. There is no practical justification for it. There is no intellectual justification for it.”

— Joseph Farah, writing on “No child’s behind left alone,” Monday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Next De Niro?

“‘The Departed’ is [director Martin] Scorsese’s third major film in a row with [Leonardo] DiCaprio. … For so long the world of Martin Scorsese revolved around Robert De Niro. … The baton has been passed, as Scorsese implicitly recognizes when he talks about the intense experiences he has had with DiCaprio over the past seven years: ‘Having worked with Leo in ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘The Aviator,’ I sense something about him. There’s a great deal emotionally going on inside of him. For me it was interesting — I felt comfortable with the emotional process he was going through, and it reminded me very much of De Niro. It was a different frame of reference: I’m 30 years older, but he approached emotional subjects in a very similar way and he also thinks about things in life the way I do.’

“‘The Departed,’ the latest product of the Scorsese-DiCaprio Years, as they may come to be remembered, is a cop versus gangster movie set in contemporary Boston. DiCaprio … gives an intense performance. … In short, DiCaprio has grown up, and he has done so under Scorsese’s tutelage.”

— Ed Pilkington, writing on “A history of violence,” Oct. 6 in the British newspaper, the Guardian

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