Gotta love the previews for "Brokeback Mountain" they're showing in Houston. They talk about how it's such a great romance, and then show lots of clips of one of the guys with a girl. No hint at all about the two guys getting together. They know their market!
I've reviewed "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" before, and even wondered about a remake:
This movie was made at a time when the ideal (at least in the moviemakers' mind) was a mixed-race couple who loved each other as people, not as racial types (content of character, not color of skin). Looking beyond race to the people within, determinedly, and stubbornly getting beyond whatever opposition there may be from outside. As Sidney Poitier says to his father, "You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man." [Now, it seems, you're supposed to think of yourself as a colored man -- or, rather, a person of color -- rather than as a man.]
I wonder what it would be like made today. Perhaps they would get married as a statement -- what many people seem to think (and are pleased) that I'm making. You can't fall for someone, it is thought by many today, without making your choice of person based largely on their skin color (but you gotta be the right assortment of two people, or your skin color choice will be racist -- don't go for asians if you're not one). And rather than being called down for getting above his station, the black guy would be called down for letting down his race, for betraying it by giving into whitey (well, maybe only if it's written by Boondocks -- unless that's an opinion held by more people than just a cartoon, as much of what I've read leads me to think is true). Being colorblind would not be the ideal...
I'm glad the movie was made then and not now.
And now there's a remake; a comedy, though, so it didn't work out the same way as my predictions for a didactic/ social commentary remake. And the NYT has a short review:
The latest "Guess Who" is about a white man in love with a black woman, and that's a comfortable old archetype from days when slave owners inflicted themselves on slave women.
Right. I see. White guy with black girl, longing for slavery and domination. Kristof doesn't say it directly, but it goes the other way too: white girl with black guy, it's jungle fever. Interesting that he holds up Othello as the goal -- or, if not the ultimate goal, at least something to which level Hollywood has yet to come -- considering the thirty-odd film versions of Othello there are, including a trendy Julia Stiles one (who was also in another jungle-fever movie, save the last dance) and a Kenneth Branagh-Laurence Fishburne one. (And considering Othello's supposed to be vaguely Arabic -- Moorish, coastal north African -- not black.)
Eh, but I haven't got time to write about this. Suffice it to say: Kristof's silly, I'm tired of hearing things like this, and he's really not doing much towards his expressed goal of lots of colorblind relationships by saying a white guy with a black girl is like a master-slave relationship.
UPDATE:NRO's talking about this too, mentioning Star Trek and with a slightly different idea of complaints about white-woman-black-man relationships.
I don't really know the reason -- perhaps 60th anniversary of many things this year, but it's always the somethingth anniversary of something in the war, or perhaps because the generation most involved in it are reaching the end of their lives -- but PBS has been running Nazi-themed things all year. And they're almost all stunningly well-done. Say what you will about PBS, political agenda, children's programming that's "not like it was when I was a kid," too much Laurence Welk and Wayne Dyer, too many fund drives, but they do seem to be the main source of European-front WWII information on network television.
I've spoken before about trying to get my grandparents to explain what it was like knowing about all of that, but I haven't gotten much except my grandmother's frustration at not knowing what was going on in the war.
I'm disturbed, though, by the huge amount of people who seem never to have heard about it or who have no interest at all. I don't mean I expect everyone to be as interested as I am; one can only be interested in so many things; I'll have the appropriate feelings about African events (Sudan, anyone?) or Canadian ones when they're brought to my attention, but my interests lie elsewhere. But people who have no awareness at all, the ones who show up in those horrifying surveys knowing absolutely nothing, disturb me.
It's like the non-military people in Germany who said, well, I didn't know what was going on, I noticed my schoolmates and their families being taken off, but I didn't ask about it or wonder what was happening. HOW COULD YOU NOT??? I understand not joining the resistance for whatever reason (thinking it'll be futile and you'll be throwing your life away for nothing; thinking their methods are wrong; thinking you could be an Otto Schindler and do better in your own in-system private resistance; thinking you can't just abandon your fatherless triplets no matter how noble the cause; etc.; or even just laziness), but not knowing it existed, or not knowing what it was about (if, of course, such knowledge was available to you), is inexcusable.
I wonder how they teach WWII history in Germany these days. My class there was just doing post-1950 Germany, Konrad Adenauer and all that. And I know there were some problems -- a bathroom-wall conversation read (in translation): "I am proud to be German," then "Idiot, I am ashamed," symptoms (so they tell me) of a mis-taught history that tries to put shame on the uninvolved, leading to reactionary pride, which is a factor in the trendy young neo-Nazi groups. But I'm somewhat curious just how much they know.
I do hope it's more than the rest of the involved countries appear to be teaching their students.
(Obvious solution: export PBS and force-feed it to people! No? Well, it was worth a try.)
What might give policy makers pause is not that the West stood by and did nothing while a brutal genocide was under way in a former Belgian colony--a view of what the world looks like when the U.S. doesn't lead and instead leaves it up to the Europeans and the U.N. to act. But rather that Americans who see this film are likely to walk out and say: We should have done something. If American culture internalizes that feeling, American foreign policy will undergo a dramatic shift that will place this nation in a situation similar to the one the British found themselves in a century ago--embroiled in military confrontations in out-of-the-way places around the world. But unlike the British, the U.S. does not have an empire to run.
I do need to see that movie. But it's probably a good thing I don't run this country (oh, for many reasons besides this one!) -- I'm such a non-isolationist, so much in line with what my British history classes have taught me is classical liberalism, that I'd be in favor of going in everywhere that things can be changed for the better. And there are so many places, you can't go to them all. (To say nothing of places where it's better to provide support behind the scenes, as doing it openly would be counterproductive -- as in "People Will Talk," where the doctor realizes that the only way he can help people in a town deeply suspicious of doctors is to live as a butcher who happens to know good home remedies and can provide miraculous cures in his spare time.)
Unlike most non-Indian people I know who watch Indian movies (and under "non-Indian" I classify all people who are not Indian by citizenship and who consider themselves non-Indian, regardless of their skin color, as always), I could care less about sudden location and costume jumps, poor filming, a remarkably poor job making someone "armless," a black-knight-worthy fight scene, and entire lack of logic in the plot. I just want it to be fun!
This one gets all the fun in, with great songs like "Yeh Dosti," a fun dance number by Helen, and sizzlin' hot Amitabh Bachchan of the deep deep voice. But then there's more! It's somewhat darker than I like them -- rather than just shooting people you don't know, or grown men, the bad guys kill women and children, and it's not an entirely happy ending. But it not only has the common message of reformed thugs making it good, but also women's lib (weddings are arranged by the men or older relatives with the women concerned playing no part -- but one main character could care less if the mausi (aunt) consents, and will be satisfied only if the girl gives her own consent -- a girl who runs her own business and defends her own virtue from the bad guys with a whip!), religious harmony (one of the central characters is an imam, and, although there are no other Muslims in the village besides his son, as far as you can tell, he's universally admired), widow remarriage, ..... and a bumbling policeman who looks like Hitler, to boot!
I've been watching Metropolis, Fritz Lang's futuristic 1920s masterpiece. I've seen many silent movies, in various stages of disrepair, but this one -- for all that the title says a full quarter of the movie has been lost -- is fabulous. There is such emotion even in the stereotype characters, and the filming is excellent. To say nothing of the fantastic costumes -- the designer clearly liked bare backs and see-through tops, along with ridiculous panniers.