[Marxism] Saul Landau on

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 12 14:28:53 MDT 2007

Another example of condemnation without observation, have we here?

I have to admit that I'm coming to dislike reviewers who constantly
pan movies. Not that there aren't plenty of bad movies around, who
deserve to be panned. It seems that someone who goes to the movie
looking for reasons to condemn, will usually find what they are
looking for. They carry this critical chip on their shoulders
wherever they go. So many critics get into the movies for nothing,
but they still have to invest their time and transportation of
they're actually going to SEE the movie. Perhaps it's just more
efficient, in the long run, to have someone else do the condemning
and one doesn't even have to waste time actually SEEING the picture.

After awhile one gets to be able to "read" the critics, and to know
their biases and prejudices, so that one can tell of they're panning
a film which might be good, or liking one which might be a turkey.

This isn't fool-proof, but it's somewhat like imagining curmudgeon 
Marc Cooper going to the movies. Indeed, Gonzalez seems to have a 
lot in common with the ex-radical Cooper. Does anyone know what
Ed Gonzalez's politics actually are?

This critic clearly doesn't understand the film's message, though 
like many movie snobs he's ready to condemn what he doesn't understand.

Gonzalez writes:

  "More inexplicable is an earlier scene during which Hank notices an 
  American flag hanging upside down in front of a school. In the real 
  world, Hank would construe this as a deliberate act of protest and 
  get filthy angry, but in the filmmaker's artificial worldview, the 
  flag is upside down because the school's El Salvadorian janitor 
  doesn't know which way it's supposed to hang, with Hank only too 
  happy to patronizingly set the man straight. (Homeboy isn't an 
  illegal Mexican so we can only assume he's either blind or failed 
  his INS citizenship test."

The point of the flag scene can only be understood in context. At the
start of the film, Tommy Lee Jones's character lives life as he always
has. Understanding that to fly the U.S. flag upside down is a distress
signal, he corrects the school custodian and shows him the right way to
fly the flag. He hopes to set things right in the course of the film,
too. At the end of his odyssey, after Jones' character has learned
that the country is in deep distress, the flag is again shown to be
upside down. Jones leaves the flag symbolically expressing this.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
writer - photographer - activist

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