29 Απριλίου 2010
Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.thas
There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
Με δυο λόγια δεν είμαι βέβαιος τι είδους κοινωνία συγκροτούμε, τι δεσμούς διατηρούμε ακόμα μέσα σ' αυτή την τεράστια νέα ασυναρτησία. Όσο για το εθνικό μας φαντασιακό, έχει δεχτεί πια τόσες διευρύνσεις για να απορροφήσει τις κατά καιρούς εκδοχές μας- εραστές, αδούλωτοι, ραγιάδες, επαναστάτες, πανέξυπνοι, εγωϊστές, φιλότιμοι, φιλόξενοι, αλληλέγγυοι, δημοκράτες, προδότες, αλληλοσπαραγμένοι, ικανοί για Παρθενώνες, για νέες Ολυμπιάδες, τριτοκοσμικοί, καταφερτζήδες, κλέφτες, λαμόγια. Τώρα πλέον και παντελώς άχρηστοι, αποτυχημένοι, νεόπτωχοι.
18 Απριλίου 2010
Because of its theme - a conspiracy to kill a presidential candidate - and then because of a dispute over the bookkeeping, Sinatra pulled it from release after Kennedy's assassination and kept it out of view for a quarter-century, until 1987 when those of us who'd never seen it had to agree that everything we'd heard about it was true. Watching it now, you're aware of how the political dynamic has changed in Hollywood. As United Artists boasted on the inititial home-video release, Candidate was one of the first films 'to attack the political witchhunts of the McCarthy era'. But it attacks them from a very particular perspective: it says the fever of the McCarthyite years helped discredit the cause of anti-Communism and thus enabled the Reds to pursue their agenda in the shadows unimpeded. That's a subtler argument than most of the dreary anti-McCarthy films since have managed to make, and one closer to the truth.
There's a great scene in which the pliant boob Iselin is demanding of his sinister wife (Lansbury) to be given a definitive number on just how many Commies are supposed to be working in the Department of Defense: she keeps feeding him inconsistent figures and he gets the feeling he's becoming a laughing-stock; bored and contemptuous, she looks at him thumping the Heinz bottle over his breakfast and tells him there are 57. He believes her.
And yet Candidate also has one of the best strangers-on-a-train scenes, after North By Northwest. Sinatra's a wreck - sweating, twitching, shaking so much he can't light his cigarette. So a perfect stranger, Janet Leigh, pulls out one of hers, lights up and gives it to him. 'Maryland's a beautiful state, ' she says. 'This is Delaware, ' he replies. (Even in his breakdown, he's very factual.) 'I know, ' she says. 'I was one of the original Chinese workmen who laid the track on this stretch. But, um, nevertheless, Maryland is a beautiful state.'
Forty years later, it was all more ordinary. The 2004 version stars Denzel Washington, Liev Schrieber, Meryl Streep - all fine actors with nothing to play. There's barely a candidate, and no Manchurians - just the usual sinister megacorp. To be sure, if you were remaking the Condon novel or Sinatra film today, you'd do it differently: For one thing, we brainwash ourselves; who needs the Chinese? But the remake's failure goes beyond that to remind you of a very basic truth: Hollywood doesn't even understand its own successes.