["More and more, we Americans like to watch (and not to do). In fact watching is our ultimate addiction. My students were the progeny of two hundred available cable channels and omnipresent Blockbuster outlets. They grew up with their noses pressed against the window of that second spectral world that spins parallel to our own, the World Wide Web. There they met life at second or third hand, peering eagerly, taking in the passing show, but staying remote, apparently untouched by it. So conditioned, they found it almost natural to come at the rest of life with a sense of aristocratic expectation: "What have you to show me that I haven't yet seen?".... The classroom atmosphere they most treasured was relaxed, laid-back, cool. The teacher should never get exercised about anything, on pain of being written off as a buffoon. Nor should she create an atmosphere of vital contention, where students lost their composure, spoke out, became passionate, expressed their deeper thoughts and fears, or did anything that might cause embarrassment. Embarrassment was the worst thing that could befall one; it must be avoided at whatever cost."]
["Paul Newman says he's given up acting. "I'm not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to," Newman, 82, told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday. "You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that's pretty much a closed book for me." Newman, star of films such as "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," added: "I've been doing it for 50 years. That's enough.""]
["Sometimes it helps not to know anything . . . Coming to Celine and Julie Go Boating at the Film Center two weeks ago with "fresh eyes," so to speak (see post and comments for May 15), I wondered what I could possibly find there that hadn't already been analyzed to death—written about, pontificated on, etc. Obviously not a lot, since if someone like yours truly can come up with an idea, then somebody else already has. So surprise, surprise, from the very first frame: that art nouveau lettering in the titles and credits. Where's it coming from, what's it all about?"]
["I am postponing the cooking of supper to be followed by the watching of... Dreamgirls... sigh; goddamn wife hit the video store. She also brought home Blood Diamond, about which I am considerably more enthusiastic. Seen it?"]
5."Plug-Ugly": Andrew Tracy on 28 Weeks Later and the state of cinema.
["The smugness that emanates from these films is only fitting considering that they've appointed themselves de facto textbooks of twisted civic duty, of moral instruction in the "realities" of an ugly world. Watching these films, it is implied, is good for you, the "bleaker" and "darker" the better. It's the kind of mindset that leads reviewers to praise children being hung and limbs being hacked off in kiddie studio fare like Pirates of the Caribbean 3 for being "uncompromising" (uncompromising of what?). Ugliness, pointless and unrevealing ugliness, is the coin of this new realm, and like currency, it simply circulates around and around on its mercenary way. The unnerving and terrifying cinematic power of the original Chainsaws and Living Deads transcended their generic packaging and filtered into the world at large; their inheritors package an unnerving and terrifying world and serve it back in consumable portions. 28 Weeks Later and its ilk do not make one reflect on the ugliness of the world, but on the needless ugliness of the far narrower film world. To look away from this garbage is not to refuse to face reality, but to look towards more rewarding films."]
Clip of the Day: Paul Martin points us to our Clip of the Day, a more than brief profile of filmmaker Errol Morris.
_____________________________________________________ "Links for the Day": Each morning, the House editors post a series of weblinks that we think will spark discussion. Comments encouraged.