Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Movie cliches

“Are Jews better people than Arabs, or Israelis than Palestinians? How could anyone possibly say — even if it were not a question that could only interest someone engaged in some kind of insane ethnic competition? And yet this is the question that lies at the foundation of Steven Spielberg’s new film, ‘Munich.’ …

“Mr. Spielberg is a film-maker of genius, almost incapable of doing anything unoriginal or uninteresting on screen. But when he tries to think — and especially when he reaches after profundity, as in ‘Munich’ — he can only think in cliches. Here are just a few of the conventional ideas served up … in ‘Munich’ as if no one, or at least no one in Hollywood, had thought of them before:

“Revenge is an uncivilized, savage act that lowers the revenger to the level of his victim.

“As a result there is always a certain moral equivalence between killer and victim, and

“Engaging in revenge perpetuates a cycle of violence.”

— James Bowman, writing on “Munich,” Dec. 30 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Gator bait

“College-football bowl season is a time for America’s top corporate sponsors to strut their stuff on a national stage. But it’s not just corporations … who plaster their names and logos all over our television screens. The 56 universities represented in this year’s bowlapalooza also have the chance to sell themselves to a national audience. —

“America’s colleges and universities try to make an impression with ‘institutional spots’ — promotional television commercials they use to sell themselves. The ads typically run for 30 seconds during halftime. — [C]olleges don’t pay for the airtime — the slots are provided at no cost under most college-football television contracts.

“The standard mise-en-scene of the institutional spot will be familiar to any dedicated college-sports watcher: campus greenery, one-on-one pedagogy, chemistry labs, black gowns and mortarboards, and laughing/hugging students of as many colors as possible. Those are just the ingredients, though. …

“To snag applicants who might be worried that Gainesville, Fla., isn’t cosmopolitan, the University of Florida plays up its global reach. Florida’s ad culminates with a professor arriving at an unnamed Asian airport. As he walks out of the gate, a man shouts to him; the subtitle says, ‘Go Gators!’”

— Mike DeBonis, writing on “Those Weird College Ads,” Dec. 30 in Slate at www.slate.com

Just a suggestion

“Renowned reporters and even Jim Lehrer of PBS hound and pry and dig and insinuate and harass the president of the United States, our commander in chief, trying to wheedle him into revealing just what our military plans are in Iraq, when we plan to withdraw troops, whether he ‘counted the cost’ estimating the number of American and Iraqi casualties that would be suffered before we went … and to trick or beg him into revealing our whole game plan.

“I keep wanting President Bush to look at these irresponsible, insistent hecklers and say something like ‘Are you writing this for the Post, the Times or Al Jazeera? … Why don’t you turn your hat back around, stick your press pass back in your pocket, go back to the school you came from and enroll in Journalism 101, where you can learn the difference between reporting on what’s happened, and trying to influence what will happen?’”

— Pat Boone, writing on “Media idiocy in time of war,” Dec. 31 in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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