My choice as 2003’s best film is Mystic River, which introduces us to characters burdened by their choices. Three boys are playing in the street one day when two men approach them. The men say they are policemen and order one of the boys to get into their car, leaving the other two to watch as the car drives away.
During his visit to London last month, President Bush cautiously addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences.”
I was reading some of the many tributes to Palestinian activist and scholar Edward Said, who died on September 25, when a friend called from New York’s Union Theological Seminary. He wanted to send me a new film documentary that features William Sloane Coffin Jr.—like Said, a giant in the struggle for justice. Edward Said died at age 67, after a decade-long battle with leukemia.
The chief international correspondent of CNN, Christiane Amanpour, was asked her opinion of the U.S. media’s coverage of the Iraq war. She responded: “I think the press was muzzled and I think the press self-muzzled. Television . . .
With the premier of The Cordon at the Montreal World Film Festival in August, Serbian director Goran Markovic completed his trilogy on the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. Earlier films in the trilogy are Burlesque Tragedy, which won an award at the 1995 Montreal festival, and Serbia, Year Zero (2001).
Faced with strong U.S. Senate opposition led by Democrats Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd and independent Jim Jeffords, President Bush waited until Congress had adjourned before giving Daniel Pipes an interim appointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace. For the next 16 months, Pipes will serve as one of 15 members on the board of a think tank created by Congress in 1985.
While reading Joseph Cunneen's book I heeded his counsel and looked again at some of Robert Bresson's 14 feature films made in France between 1943 and 1983. It was a rewarding and yet disturbing exercise, for, as Cunneen is quick to note, Bresson's work lends itself neither to easy plot description nor easy comparison to other filmmakers. Bresson is unique.
In the middle of a summer of cultural and political discontent, there is a ray of hope—a few Hollywood films are showing respect for the intellect. Mindless films, usually so prevalent in the movie scene, have given way to a few mindful films. Take Hulk, for example.
White House spin masters have discovered the beauty of the sea. First there was the decision to hold an aircraft carrier offshore long enough for President Bush to stage his dramatic landing attired in a flight suit.
I have two files on my computer desktop labeled “Rachel” and “Shaden.” They remind me of the deaths of an American woman and a Palestinian woman. One contains stories and editorials about Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old native of Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death on March 16 by an Israeli bulldozer. Rachel died as she was protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in Rafah, Gaza.
The claim that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 was always fraudulent, but at least half of the American public believe that there is a connection. While the White House never made such a claim overtly, rhetoric leading to the invasion of Iraq always implied the connection, and was bolstered by the war cheerleading of conservative cable TV and print commentators.
Anti-Semitism is a very real and toxic plague in history and in modern life. The suffering of the Jews is a well-known and often-told story that must never be forgotten. Jews have a right, based on experience, to fear anti-Semitism. But it also must be said that to be opposed to the policies of a particular Israeli government need not be anti-Semitic. It could simply be smart politics.
Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush have used September 11 to push this country into war. The Bush administration is fully aware that half of the Americans polled believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11. (See recent polls by Gallup and Pew.) The truth is—and the administration knows this—that no connection has been found to link Iraq with Osama bin Laden.
"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” In Steven Daldry’s film The Hours, this opening line from Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway connects three women in three stories. In the first, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is writing a novel about Clarissa Dalloway, who makes a decision to buy flowers for a dinner party she is giving that evening.
Problem-solving requires anticipating long-range problems as well as addressing immediate crises. Columnist Molly Ivins understands this. She knows that Saddam Hussein is a problem, but she says that “there’s a serious downside” to solving the Saddam problem by invading Iraq.
On the ground in Jerusalem, one can see how much syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman overlooks. Friedman, the premier media commentator in the U.S. on foreign affairs, would have us believe that—as a liberal Jewish thinker—he doesn’t think Israel should hold on to occupied lands, and he will indeed say that settlements in occupied lands are a bad thing.
Barring a miracle or the sudden discovery of a moral backbone in Congress, President Bush will get his mandate to attack Iraq. Although the U.S. didn’t attack either the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China when both were well stocked with nuclear arms, we now want to attack a small country because it has the potential to do us harm.
Families in spiritual crisis was such a dominant theme among the 26 films in competition at the Montreal World Film Festival that one suspected the selections committee was composed of zealous social workers. An Italian film, Casomai, directed by Alessandro D'Alatri, was especially appealing to the festival's ecumenical jury--three Protestants and three Catholics.
The Jewish Agency for Israel reports that in 2000, 6,460 North American Jewish teenagers traveled to Israel on what Newsweek recently described as formative trips “to cement Americans’ connection to their religion.” This year, with the region torn by violence, that number dropped to 200. What does this mean to the Jewish religion?