No one expects it

Speaking of New York, is anyone else … confused by the new cover of National Review?

It depicts New York Sen. Chuck Schumer as a Spanish Inquisitor, a play on his aggressive, assholish pursuit of Bush judicial nominees. But … Schumer is Jewish. The Spanish Inquisition was – how to put it? – really not kind to Jews.

I’m the last person to cry for political correctness, but after hearing a number of right-wing writers and talkers, in NRO and elsewhere, bleat about racism when Gary Trudeau had a Doonsbury character call Condoleezza Rice “brown sugar,” this seems extremely hypocritical. Maybe Monty Python has just drained all the context out of the Inquisitors. (Well then, why can’t “Fawlty Towers” do that for the Nazis?)

Pataki Agonistes

In honor of George Pataki’s retirement as governor of New York, I give you: The Legacy of George Pataki.

Ah, memories.

UPDATE: Giuliani isn’t going to run to replace Pataki. He’s got a once-in-a-century shot (for a mayor) to win his party’s presidential nomination and, it’s expected, win the presidency. Why the hell would he give that up to run New York State, and delay a presidential run til 2012 or 2016?

Movie review: “Saved!”

The cinematic equivilent of one of those promising high school NBA draft picks who enjoys a meteoric rise from modest beginnings then blows out his knee midway through the first season. Meaning: Holy crap, the first two acts of this movie are perfect. Adorable high schooler Mary (Jena Malone), a senior at the evangelical American Eagle school in some Jesusland outpost, has a gorgeous boyfriend named Dean and membership in a hot, musically talented clique called the Christian Jewels (led by Hilary Faye, played by Mandy Moore). While playing a swimming pool game in which they tell each other secrets underwater, Dean tells Mary he’s gay (but he’s an ice skater! Who knew?). Shocked, she hits her head on a water pump and has a vision of Christ telling her to un-gay Dan. She beds him, and thinks that everything’s worked out. The next day she finds out his parents discovered leather man porn under his bed and have sent him to a gay rehabilitation center. A few weeks later, she discovers she’s pregnant. The rest of the movie concerns Mary’s descent from the school’s popular clique to the athiest/Jewish misfit clique, and the love triangle between her, Hilary Faye, and the son of the school’s principal/pastor.

Like I said, the first two-thirds of this unfolds in a hysterical, poignant way, and easily matches up with the best teen movies. Writer/director Brian Dannelly (with Michael Urban) creates five deep, sympathetic main characters and never goes for an obvious joke where black humor can work instead. For example, Mary figures out that she might be pregnant by watching a Lifetime Original Movie in which Valerie Bertinelli gets cancer. Bertinelli is seen tearfully explaining to a friend that she realized she was sick when she was puking in the morning and missing her period, and first thought she might be pregnant. Mary has puked and missed her period. So we see her opening a pregnancy test in the bathroom, muttering “Please be cancer, please be cancer.”

And yet. And yet, the final act completely blows. It really feels like Sid Sheinberg got a hold of the print and decided to add his own idiotic ending, because it feels so different from the rest of the movie. OK, I’ll SPOIL it. Hilary Faye vandalizes the school and frames Mary and her new friends, who are then banned from the prom. They crash the prom with evidence of the framing, but Hilary outsmarts then until one of the new members of her clique reveals that, yes, Hilary framed them. She has a nervous breakdown and destroys the school’s Jesus billboard, while Dean and his new boyfriend break out of the rehab center to go to prom. Mary’s water breaks and the whole happy group visits her and her baby in the hospital.

See? It sucks, and it’s reeeally not well written or edited. A true shame, because the first 2/3 of this movie is highly worth seeing.

Past is past

Wow, is this column ever dumb. The gist – former CIA analyst Larry Johnson “has a pre-9/11 mindset.” The evidence:

– a column he wrote on July 10, 2001.

– a PBS interview he gave in 1999.

Thus, before 9/11, Johnson had a pre-9/11 mindset. As did everyone. Because 9/11 hadn’t happened yet.

Happy/sad

Here’s a short allegory about moviemaking.

CRAIG BREWER: Well, I sure had a good time making “Hustle & Flow.” Wha – holy shit! It cost $2.8 million and it made back that money in the very first day of release!

MICHAEL BAY: *snorts coke* Fuck, man. My new movie “The Island” cost $100 million, but it’s totally going to be worth it. What? It only made $4.3 million on its first day, thereby predicting a $11 million opening weekend? In a sane world, I’d be ruined!

(Hooray to America gonging “The Island,” too. The transition of Scarlett Johanssen from geeky dream girl to bottle-blond action skank was proceeding way too fast, and it needs to be scaled back some.)