- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2010

Not so simple

“Welcome to the simplicity movement, the ethos whose mantras are ‘cutting back,’ ‘focusing on the essentials,’ ‘reconnecting to the land’ - and talking, talking, talking about how fulfilled it all makes you feel.

“Genuine simple-living people - such as, say, the Amish - are not part of the simplicity movement, because living like the Amish (no iPod apps or granite countertops, plus you have to read the Bible) would be taking the simple thing a bit far. Modern simplicity practitioners like Jesus (although not quite so much as they like Buddhist monks, who dress more colorfully) because he wore sandals and could be said to have practiced alternative medicine, but they mostly shun religious movements founded in his name.

“Thus, simplicity people are always eager to tell you how great the Amish are, growing their own food (a highly valued trait among simplicity people), espousing pacifism (simplicity people shy away from even just wars), and building those stylishly spare barns (aesthetics rank high in the simplicity movement), but really, who wants to have eight kids and wear those funny-looking hats?”

- Charlotte Allen, writing on “Not Really Simple” on April 19 at In Character web -zine

Secret power

“Last week, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker celebrated their 200th episode by inviting back every celebrity ever ridiculed in the series’ 14 seasons - and by taking the Prophet Muhammad hostage in a bear costume. Needless to say, the gag did not go over well with radical Muslims, who ‘warned’ Stone and Parker that they could face a Theo van Gogh-style assassination for depicting Muhammad in such an insulting light. Little did the radical Muslims know, the show’s anniversary episode was actually a two-parter that continued with last night’s episode, ‘201.’ …

“The celebrities and an army of Gingers were battling for Muhammad, whom both parties believed to hold the power to ‘not be ridiculed.’ To battle the Gingers, the celebrities called upon their own super-villain, Mecha-Streisand, (part giant mechanical dinosaur, part award-winning singer/songwriter/actress).”

- Julie Miller, writing on “South Park Casualty Count: When Muhammad Met Blackface, Censorship and Mecha-Streisand,” on April 22 at Movieline


“The film [‘Pink Floyd The Wall’] doesn’t so much as follow Pink’s storyline as it sifts through whatever Roger Waters vomits up in regard to feelings about his father’s death during World War II, the relationship with his mother, his animosity toward the system/the establishment, fascism, violence, the push/pull dynamic between performer and audience, and sex, drugs, rock and roll.

“For as meticulously arranged and played as the band’s music is, the film is raw and messy in uncovering the pain, horror, and disgust residing beneath the clean sounding surfaces of the songs. The spilled blood, weak flesh, and sexual anxiety are like something out of a teen’s nightmarish fantasy (or David Cronenberg’s filmography).

” ‘Pink Floyd The Wall’ can play like an adolescent’s bilious railing against the unfairness of life. That’s what makes this primal scream of a film so vivid. … The danger of indulging the rantings of a disaffected youth who thinks he’s the only one who ever felt this way is that can seem juvenile. Spare me the moans about the uncaring teachers and crookedness of everybody, junior. There’s a reason why the album speaks to those that age from generation to generation and why it seems at least a tad overly melodramatic to me.”

- Mark Pfeiffer, writing on “Ebertfest 2010 Opening Night,” on April 22 at his blog Reel Times

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