Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Schneider and Ebert

Thing is, I do this mostly for myself.

My site-meter reads that I had 35 readers today, which means my readership hovers between one one-hundredth and one one-thousandth of the best at this beat: James Lileks, Mark Steyn, and Hugh Hewitt, whose site has only improved since he took on Dean Barnett, aka, the sainted Soxblog.

And I can't approach Brendan Loy, the Irish Trojan, who was nice enough to take me on his dedicated server and nicer still to link to me from time to time.

Oh: and I'm stuck on a computer that won't link on URLs, so: no links.

So: for right now it's me, Blue, Robbie-Boy, SunDevil Joe and about two dozen others in what I called, last October, the Smelly Lounge. Come on in if you like.

When I started, politics, USC football and the New York Yankees. And movies. But again, for myself. Whatever I'm thinking.

Lately, though, politics has depressed me no end. Sixty or so percent of people think we're moving in the wrong direction--this, in a time when the Dow Jones has essentially doubled in 4 1/2 years, where unemployment hovers around 4 percent (basically, a job for whoever will go out and look for one), where inflation (the bugaboo of my youth) is battened down, and where gas, yes, is ready to go above three dollars, right until after Labor Day, when it will go down below two dollars.

Zero terrorist deaths on American soil since 9/11, a pro-American elected in France, of all places, and bin Laden on the run, and what does our President have? A 33 percent approval rating.

And why?

One word.

Well, you know it.

Lately, I've been re-reading the second volume of William Manchester's biography of Churchill, the period of 1932 through 1940, when Churchill, almost alone in Great Britain, saw Hitler for what he was, and gave speech after speech after speech warning England, the United States, and the greater western world--all to the growing emnity of his colleagues, who eventually had him banned from appearing on the BBC--to the growing terror they would face. Well, I'm no Churchill. But I have a sense of the world we will live in--an emboldened Iran, a delerious Al Qaeda--should the United States stand down in Iraq.

We're there. And it stinks. But leaving is tantamount to surrender, a surrender far worse than in Vietnam.

The genius Steyn has it right. In New York and Boston, Iraq is about Iraq. In Damascus and Tehran, Iraq is about us. Our country. Our will.

Oh, as far as linking, an article from Roger Ebert that I wanted to recount in full:

A beautiful bouquet of flowers was delivered to the house the other day. A handwritten note paid compliments to my work and wished me a speedy recovery.

Who was it from? A friend? A colleague? An old classmate? The card was signed, “Your Least Favorite Movie Star, Rob Schneider.”

Saints preserve us.

It will help to establish a context if I mention that my review of Schneider’s latest film, “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” contained three words which provided me with the title of my new book: “Your Movie Sucks.”

I regard the flowers and intuit they were not sent in the spirit of irony. Despite my review, Rob Schneider was moved to make a kind and generous gesture, one person to another.

The bouquet didn’t change my opinion of his movie, but I don’t think he intended that. It was a way of stepping back. It was a reminder that in the great scheme of things, a review doesn’t mean very much.

Sometimes when I write a negative review, people will say, “I’ll bet you can’t wait to hammer his next film.” Not true. I would far rather praise the next film to show that I maintained an open mind.

When Vincent Gallo’s “The Brown Bunny” played at Cannes in 2003, I walked out of the screening and declared it “the worst movie in the history of the film festival.” This was an unwise thing to do. My policy for years has been to avoid giving a negative review of a festival film until it has a chance to open.

Gallo issued a curse on my colon. I responded that the video of my colonoscopy was more entertaining than his film, and there the matter rested until 2004, when Gallo released a “final cut” of “The Brown Bunny” which was re-edited and 30 minutes shorter. I went to see it, and now I could see better what he was getting at, and I gave it a positive review.

“Ill bet you hated to change your mind,” I was told. No, I was happy to. It is a hard and frustrating thing to make a movie, and credit must be given where due.

Now we come back to the flowers. They were a reminder, if I needed one, that although Rob Schneider might (in my opinion) have made a bad movie, he is not a bad man, and no doubt tried to make a wonderful movie, and hopes to again. I hope so, too.

Thanks, Rob.

I mean, I have loved Roger Ebert for thirty years, despite how his politics have influenced him to give rave reviews to imbecilic movies, including JFK and The Contender.

And Schneider is a funny guy, thought poorly served by his handlers.

I read that post, and I'm in tears.

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