Good Morning, Philadelphia!
Now sober up and clean up the mess…
1 This has little to do with ethics, except that it proves I wasn’t watching the Super Bowl, but…Here’s my report on “The Darkest Hour,” which my family saw last night in an almost empty theater. Apparently most people would rather see young men risk future dementia than celebrate a great man who may have saved civilization.
[ Aside: On that question, this article in the Federalist says in part, “Super Bowl Sunday seems the appropriate day to bring you the cheerful news that football is doomed. The sport is dying and cannot be saved, at least not in America, its traditional home. The cause of death is science. Simply put, football is a sport in which the audience entertains itself by watching men violently turn each other’s brains to mush…What happens if football becomes a game where white middle-class people pay millions to watch poor and minority kids bang up each other’s brains? I don’t think that’s going to be tenable….That means it’s only a matter of time before participation rates drop off precipitously and it no longer seems like the cool thing to do.The science has turned against football, and it can’t last. So enjoy today’s game, while you still can.” ]
You can skip to the next item if you don’t like your ethics polluted by film reviews.
The film is very good; not “Best Picture” great, I think, but very good. It did a better job making clear what was going on and the stakes at Dunkirk than “Dunkirk,” for which I’m grateful; maybe thay should show the two movies as a double feature. The last fade-out shot was “The Natural”-style over-the-top, out of whack with the style of the rest of the film and it left a sour taste, I thought. Artistic integrity would be nice. It reminded me of ET’s spacecraft leaving a rainbow trail
I’ve now seen four Churchill portrayals recently: Albert Finney’s in the 2002 HBO film “The Gathering Storm,” Brian Cox in “Churchill,” Gary Oldman, and John Lithgow in “The Crown.” My ranking: would also be in that order: Finney, Cox, Oldman and Lithgow lagging far behind. I’m a big Lithgow fan, but he looks and sounds so little like Winston (and so much like himself) that he just can’t measure up to the other three..
Finney, Cox and Oldman were all excellent: it’s very close. Oldman has by far the best part of the story to work with (the chronological order is Finney, Oldman, Cox and Lithgow) and the best screenplay, though “The Gathering Storm” is also strong. Oldman’s scene in the “Tube” is the best scene in any of the productions. It probably didn’t happen, but Churchill was known to wander around London talking to Londoners during the Blitz, so it COULD have happened.
All of the top three Winstons had moments when I forgot the actor and really believed I was watching the historical figure, my test in biographical films. This was something Lithgow couldn’t pull off for a second. (Actors who could in other historical movies: Paul Scofield as Thomas More, Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln.) Finney’s big advantage over Cox and Oldman, I think, is that he is a star as well as a great actor, and Churchill, as a Great Man, needs to radiate that presence and star quality too. Oldman feels small physically (though he’s actually taller than Churchill was, and no shorter than Finney), and his voice is light; there’s nothing he can do about that. I could make a strong argument that Brian Cox, who is one of the most under-rated actors around, was the best Winston, but the film itself was unforgivably careless and ahistorical.
If you haven’t seen Finney’s performance, which won him several awards, you should. It was probably his final great turn, since he’s in his 80s now and hasn’t made a movie since “Skyfall” in 2012.
Finney’s Clementine, Vanessa Redgrave, wins the award for that role, though her daughter, Miranda Richardson, was also fine in the same role with Cox. Apparently every actor who plays King George is great, but “Churchill”‘s King, James Purefoy, was wonderful (he’s another under-rated actor) and in a fair world, would be looking at an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor. The acting in that film is so excellent; it’s a shame its history is so messed up.
2. From the “When Ethics Fail, the Law Must Step In” file: As assumed—Imagine: we take it for granted that idiots will riot and loot after big game victories—Philadelphia punks, thugs and morons went nuts after the Eagles won some football game in Minnesota, causing thousands of dollars damage. In Amherst, Mass., where the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College live, disappointed students and townies who wanted the Patriots to win that game also went on a rampage.
I’d like to see statutes making post-athletic contest rioting a separate offense, with prison time. Dim wits who are usually law-abiding citizens have the idea in their heads that the usual rules of civilization are suspended because their city or school wins a championship, and they shut off their ethics alarms. That idea should be directly and harshly rebutted.
3. Thank-you, CJR, for confirming my analysis! The editor of the Columbia Journalism Review penned this, which explains nicely why the mainstream news media is untrustworthy, hopelessly partisan, losing credibility, and failing its duties to a functioning democracy. The Review is supposed to be a standard-setting institution, and we now have a snapshot of what it has become. CJR is failing journalism as badly as journalism is failing us.
In an accurate essay regarding the media’s coverage of the Nunes memo, Derek Hunter writes in part,
CNN and MSNBC had panels exclusively of liberals denouncing the memo without discussing its implications or content. If the government can award itself the power to spy on Americans simply because someone got drunk and talked themselves up in front of others (George Papadopoulos) and someone else made allegations about that person (Page), there is virtually no one in the country who couldn’t be subjected to government spying. Journalists weren’t interested in that, or anything else associated with the memo. They…couldn’t care less about government abusing its power as long as it does it against people they don’t like. We saw this play out with the IRS scandal during the Obama administration – the media ignored it as long as they could, talked about it for a quick minute, then returned to repeating the lie that Obama’s tenure was “scandal-free.” Were Trump not President, were the Oval Office occupied by any of the other [Republican] candidates who ran in 2016, the story would be nearly the same. There might not be the personal ferocity or sense of urgency, but the simmering contempt would still be there and it would still dominate the actions of these people.
They don’t care. Journalism is dead. It didn’t die of natural causes, it was murdered by its practitioners in the name of attacking Republicans, in particular Donald Trump.
4. Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck update. In an interview by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, Uma Thurman said,
“The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was. I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of ‘Kill Bill,’ a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do…I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that’s a super weird split to have.”
She deserves credit for admitting her complicity, and taking responsibility for it, in sharp contrast to so many others in her industry and elsewhere who are posturing now, but who could have prevented great harm to others had they chosen to put their own narrow interests aside.
5. Obligatory Trump Tweet Note. The President’s tweets about how the Nunes memo exonerate him and his campaign and prove that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, and those attacking Democratic attack dog Adam Schiff, are foolish, self-destructive, unpresidential, irresponsible and–where’s my Thesaurus?
6. Inconvenient Facts Dept. As noted here earlier this week, one of the most disingenuous and hypocritical attacks from Democrats and the mainstream media on the Nunes memo is that it is impermissible and dangerous to question the trustworthiness of the FBI . The New York Times editors have used this line of attack, and then the paper tells us this…
“For more than a year, an F.B.I. inquiry into allegations that Lawrence G. Nassar, a respected sports doctor, had molested three elite teenage gymnasts followed a plodding pace as it moved back and forth among agents in three cities. The accumulating information included instructional videos of the doctor’s unusual treatment methods, showing his ungloved hands working about the private areas of girls lying facedown on tables. But as the inquiry moved with little evident urgency, a cost was being paid. The New York Times has identified at least 40 girls and women who say that Dr. Nassar molested them between July 2015, when he first fell under F.B.I. scrutiny, and September 2016, when he was exposed by an Indianapolis Star investigation. Some are among the youngest of the now-convicted predator’s many accusers — 265, and counting…
The F.B.I. declined to answer detailed questions about the speed and nature of its investigation, or to provide an official who might put the case in context. Instead, it issued a 112-word statement asserting that the sexual exploitation of children “is an especially heinous crime,” and that “the safety and well-being of our youth is a top priority for the F.B.I.””
Ah. So the FBI is beyond reproach when it is pursuing Trump officials using dubious tactics, but when it ignores alleged victims of sexual assault…you know, I don’t think the Left is going to have much fun, not to mention little success, being an FBI booster.