Saturday, January 21, 2006

Arena

I have a very engaging teacher for media law class. The other day, HaiPhia and I were preparing to leave when he walked by to approach another student. Professor C. wore a purple checkered button-down shirt tucked into black slacks.

"Hey professor," I chimed soon afterwards. "My friend and I were just discussing how great you look."

HaiPhia chuckled nervously.

"Now she says you look like Anderson Cooper," I continued, "but I say Ralph Lauren."

Professor C. laughed. I wondered how far I could take this:

"You know, you're the most fashion forward member of our faculty."

He laughed again. I felt my way near the line ...

"You're practically a sex symbol!"

... and crossed it.

A few minutes later, NorIda appeared across the hall and waited for us outside. While relating the story to her, she abruptly cut me off:

"Lily," she said, matter-of-factly. "You know he's gay, right?"

***

DaDutch, along with a friend of hers, accompanied me to the movies yesterday. Munich is yet another overrated release. All sentimental hooha and phoned-in acting, it simplified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into an after-school special. I could almost hear the chorus to Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" playing subliminally in the background.

"Typical Spielberg ending," DaDutch lamented afterwards.

I agreed. (Of course, I also went in having already read Aaron J. Klein's article on Spielberg's abuse of that ever-murky creative license he likes to brandish around.)

What a waste of talent. It was a fine cast made up of Western and Central European players with large helpings from the Middle East. Mathieu Kassovitz was completely underused as the bomb expert. (Why would a French man choose to speak English ... in Paris?!) The "quirky" details Spielberg assigned each assassin were so contrived, he needn't have bothered to base his movie on "real events" at all. Pointless to the plot, they were a bunch of Bratz dolls in '70s polyester. I recognized Moritz Bleibtreu from "Run Lola Run" under his thick beard, but his acting abilities were limited to scrunching his eyebrows and looking worried before being ushered off-screen permanently. Ciaran Hinds, Geoffrey Rush, Daniel Craig: the potential for something great was there. And I mean, sure Eric Bana occasionally got to show off his German and a target or two could be heard shouting in French, but the bulk of the film was in English which was a tragic mistake. Lynn Cohen as prime minister Golda Meir sounded like a subdued Linda Richman on Coffee Talk. (Not to mention Bana's frequent slippage into Ah-nuld territory.)

For a mainstream flick, it's tolerable. It gives people an excuse to congratulate their own open-mindedness. Suddenly, they've become enlightened to geopolitics and, newly emboldened, set off to shake their heads at all those "extremists" with "strong opinions". So this is what all that ballyhoo was about, I imagine them saying. Nothing a little understanding and Christianity can't fix. Spielberg should've either stuck to the facts or strictly filmed a morality play. That way, the Munich massacre wouldn't have been relegated to an anecdote and a title card.

It amazes me how often I leave chain-owned theatres disappointed ... especially those that don't have policies banning entry to teenagers in puffy coats, cell phones, and designer mukluks who giggle at the first sight of a butt, breast, or manly vulnerability as they crunch, crunch, crackle, crunch their way through scenes vital to the storyline.

I HATE YOU ALL! SLIT YOUR WRISTS AND SAVE US THE TROUBLE.

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