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British Reportage of Israel

Wow. You don’t read about this stuff in American papers:

Across the street, behind a cordon, the Rabbi Avraham Greenberg took his Israeli passport from its plastic wallet and slowly set it on fire with a gas lighter until its ashes floated around him. He explained to the small crowd on the pavement that he had been born in the state of Israel but he was ashamed to hold a passport from that country. He stood with more than a dozen Orthodox rabbis who joined in chants of “Judaism here to stay, Zionism no way”.

But many more thousands of Jews attended in support of the rally rather than opposing it, waving Israeli flags and placards saying End Hamas Terror and wearing Stars of David on their faces.

State of Play

I’m only three episodes in to this six-episode BBC miniseries and I’m already sad in anticipation that it’s going to be over in three episodes. It’s that good. Put it at the top of your Netflix queue.

I did some rooting around, though, and found that it’s being adapted into a film starring Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe. Barf. It’s a conspiracy thriller so it’s not like it’s some sacred text that’s being defiled but it just has such perfect chemistry that there’s no way a dumb U.S. version condensed to two hours and starrring those bozos will be as good.

It’s to be released in 2009, so we’ll see.

Resolution: Take the Bitch out of Criticism

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to be nicer to people who like movies I hate. For some reason I’m not bothered if someone hates movies I love, but when someone loves movies I think are bullshit I fly into attack mode. I guess I consider being critical of someone for not liking a movie you like to be pushing an ideology on someone, while being critical of someone for liking a movie is … puncturing an illusion? Or maybe I’m just a jerk. I don’t know. At any rate, I apologize to those who have felt attacked by me and vow to (try to) disagree more elegantly. Though a recent trail of comments on my Facebook status indicates my struggle:

Cynthia hated slumdog millionaire, what is wrong with you people. 12:23am10 Comments
Aaron Dobbs at 1:12am January 3
You hate a lot of good movies. Your hating this one isn’t particularly surprising. 🙂
Cynthia Rockwell at 9:20am January 3
and you like a lot of crap, so likewise. 😉
Cynthia Rockwell at 1:06pm January 3
i will add:
-great music
-possibly cutest kids i have ever seen
-the outhouse scene is worth the price of admission alone

but that’s about it.

RT at 1:10pm January 3
is there a short answer to why you hated it? was gonna go see it today? Too Sappy? Manipulative? Etc?
Cynthia Rockwell at 1:28pm January 3
it may not be hollywood but it’s the height of hollywood melodrama, manipulative and obvious and big and bombastic. i scoffed through the entire thing. except the outhouse scene.
RT at 2:10pm January 3
seen this? I don’t know much about this org, but their picks & categories seem very lame..what are they thinking?
TE at 7:55pm January 3
oh, lighten up. it was entertaining and visually grand. i pay good money to be manipulated!
TE at 7:56pm January 3
and yes the kids were adorable, makes me want to bring home a little slumdog.
Cynthia Rockwell at 9:24pm January 3
“what will we live on?” “LOVE.” vomit! he is a shellshocked zombie and she’s a gorgeous party girl, they will break up a week later.
MP at 4:29am January 4
i’m with you, cynthia — it was cliched, poorly acted, full of holes, and shamelessly unimaginative. if we pay for manipulation let it at least be good manipulation.

but at least it was fast with lots of music and shiny colors.

Facebook status updates get most of my film criticism these days. I also posted a link to this article, with which I fully agree, but which also does the kind of criticism I tend to do but want to move away from: criticizing the critics rather than the film:
A quick scan through the critical reactions on a review aggregator like Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes reveals a fountain of excessive praise, as if, with the year’s end approaching and the award-movie field looking paltry and weak, many critics found themselves in possession of use-it-or-lose-it superlatives and decided that Slumdog was their only chance to get rid of them.
But on the fundamentals of the film itself, I fully agree with him:
Slumdog isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s sappy, suspense-free, and packed with one-note characters, including a female lead who’s more object than person. In terms of violence, it’s grittier than most similar pictures, but mostly in a desperately “edgy” way that seems designed to gloss over its blatant sentimentality. The best you can say about it is that it’s stylish schmaltz.

Israel Bombs Anti-Semitism Out of Lebanon

From the Onion, 2006:

“Israel really turned us around on the whole Jew-hating thing,” said Hezbollah leader Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, shortly after a U.N.–brokered ceasefire was declared on Aug. 14. “After destroying much of our infrastructure and displacing nearly 1 million civilians, we’ve come to respect Israel as a legitimate power and a beacon of democracy…”

“It’s remarkable to think that, had Hezbollah been capable of making surgical pre-emptive strikes against Israeli military installations and densely populated urban centers, Israel would most likely be renouncing Zionism and abandoning the region at this very moment,” Talbott said in August.

The bombings have had the most significant impact on Lebanon’s youth. Many who saw parents and friends killed in the attacks said they will now spend the rest of their lives supporting Israel.