Monday, August 28, 2006


Have I missed the mark, or, like true archer, do I strike my quarry?
Or am I prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?

[Cassandra in Aeschylus's Agamemnon]

I've seen two older movies this year that have hit hard, and shown both the power and futility of art. Both are painfully prophetic - movies that make you think how can we be in this mess today? Can't you see that we were warned about this fifty years ago? Orwell and 1984 get all the attention - but his shit was wide of the mark. Communism didn't turn out to be the threat we thought it was. Demagoguery and wars based on ignorance were a much bigger threat, and Elia Kazan and Gillo Pontecorvo hit the bulls-eye.

So my friends, get on Netflix and rent these two movies: A Face in the Crowd (1957) and The Battle of Algiers (1966). Don't even bother with the reviews. Go in blind, and trust me on this. You will see the America of 2006 reflected & critiqued in a way that few modern filmmakers would dare to attempt.

Few but not all. I don't have HBO, and so couldn't catch Spike Lee's documentary on Katrina. And since I hadn't seen a flic of his since Malcom X - and since I didn't think that it was very good I've pretty much ignored his work for the past decade. It was a mistake on my part. I rented 25th Hour (2002) to compensate for missing his documentary [I'll spare you the logic behind that one] and was blown away. It was far more complex and ambiguous and powerful than anything I've seen recently. I don't know how this movie came and went with so little attention ...

... fuck it. Yes I do. Racism is alive and well in the USA & some people still haven't forgiven Spike Lee for Do The Right Thing - which still stands as the defining American movie of the 1980's.

Back in the outside world: I caught up on Fananu gossip with Rhenniken [now Emily] and Gina. I had a great day with them, although I was a bit horrified at the tenament conditions of their neighborhood. I'll be keeping an eye open for places in town for them - these girls need to get out of the ghetto. Of my hanai family: Lukupar died in childbirth, Agnes and Imaku are still on Fananu, Rhenniken's husband Lucky was lost at sea, Kalalan is still a bachelor, and wild-girl Inomen - who could drink me under the table - is settled down and married on Udot. Ipuan passed away after the doctors amputated his legs due to complications from diabetes, and there was no word of his second wife Anna - who the girls never liked anyways.

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