Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Top Twenty Today

In the absence of, here's a sample of the films most prominent in my aesthetic database currently:

1. Fanny and Alexander (Bergman)
2. Sacrifice (Tarkovsky)
3. Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock)
4. Manhattan (Allen)
5. La Collectionneuse (Rohmer)
6. Cries and Whispers (Bergman)
7. Ludwig (Visconti)
8. Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent (Truffaut)
9. Barry Lyndon (Kubrick)
10. Prenom: Carmen (Godard)
11. Marnie (Hitchcock)
12. Heaven's Gate (Cimino)
13. Notorious (Hitchcock)
14. Dangerous Liaisons (Frears/Hampton)
15. They Live by Night (Ray)
16. Napoleon (Gance)
17. North by Northwest (Hitchcock)
18. Persona (Bergman)
19. Swimming Pool (Ozon)
20. Laura (Preminger)

I hope Cecile Gaudechaux, Aurora and the other fine interlocutors of our favorite Franco-Anglaise film-fan website will be together again soon! . . .

Campaign '07

Conventional wisdom insists that governors make the best Presidents. How little such pundits must have mused on the careers of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton may be doubted, but the passing of Gerald Ford and the eulogies bestowed upon him should give occasion to point this up. Of course all we have heard about is Ford's character-- decent, modest-- and his pardoning of Nixon, along with a predictable offering of fresh hooey from Bob Woodward as to the deep "friendship" between Ford and Nixon, thus at once personalizing and debasing Ford's pardon of Nixon. This is perhaps Woodward's way of having his cake and eating it too-- positioning himself as an official spokesman of Washington's wisdom, the oracle granting the funeral libation, while reminding us all that he is the Oedipus who slew the Watergate Sphinx. But anyone with a passing knowledge of Richard Nixon, that great and greatly flawed enigmatical man, knows right well that Nixon's view of friendship was almost to the right of Napoleon's. Whatever kind sentiments Ford may have harbored for Nixon, RN can hardly have given a genuine fig for Ford-- at least not as a rival president, for all his contemporaries were such deadly rivals, and for Nixon, with perhaps even a modicum of justice, they all failed to measure up to himself.
But Ford, though of humble House stock, managed to hit the White House running in a way that eluded the much more clever Carter and Clinton. It serves as a healthy vindication of the Washington Insider, who knows much more about how Washington itself-- to say nothing of the world beyond, whose violent affairs so little impinge upon the state capitols, least of all in Little Rock!-- runs. Nominators of presidential candidates would be well to remember this, and thus, Tom Vilsack, I'm afraid I won't be taking your number . . .
More offensive, however, are Barack Obama's insinuations of an incipient campaign. That he offers a rather vitriolic explanation of Washington malaise in terms of post-60s babyboomer powerhogging-- something about college bull sessions unleashed upon the corridors of power, if you can swallow that-- leaves nothing to vindicate his own navel-gazing generation's pretensions to run things better, if it actually has any real pretensions of running things at all. After all, politics is an old man's game. It is, however, the perpetual disease of rank-and-file Democrats to lust after a Jack'n'Bob figure who can embody all that "youthful vitality"-- never mind that Kennedy's political virility, and perhaps the other brand too, was readily outstripped by that of the indefatiguable Lyndon Johnson. For god's sake, can we agree the Kennedys are unmasked already, and move on! I imagine Obama devouring "The Gospel of RFK" and writing his playbook accordingly. That Kennedy's response to the crisis of '68 wasn't exciting I won't try to prove, but his specifics were probably patchy enough then-- in today's unthorough times, I expect much less from Obama, and I expect I won't be surprised. Howard Dean, now's your hour!