Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I have cable TV. And the rest is history . . .

My media diet has been omnivori-fying. (Horrifying.)

My New Yorker subscription has actually lapsed (so I can't play with the by-subscription archives mentioned here**). And I now have cable TV.

So I saw the cover of a New York Review of Books that hasn't arrived yet in my mailbox on Rachel Maddow. And I also saw Mark Danner there. He was doing this weird thing where he claimed that the very language of the victims of CIA torture - as he quoted it - would testify to the authenticity of their accounts. It's been awhile since I thought about language that way.

I actually heard the same news - that the Red Cross is calling it torture - on the radio, on Democracy Now. In the car. Such is life.

** Martin Schneider follows up on a twitter from Matthew Yglesias and discovers an elaborate nest of New Yorker love/hate.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Milk Monitor

Hilton Als review of Milk in the NYRB was pretty interesting.

He calls our attention to the fact that the movie is not about one man finding personal freedom, though it could have been, if it had been about the first half of Harvey Milk's life. But is, instead, about one man devoting himself to a community.

Als also registers his discomfort with a few tired cliches, and falls into some himself (calling the film and Van Sant's aesthetic "cinematic" when he really means "visual"). And there's this interesting high school theme running through; Als mentions Van Sant's Elephant and ends up at the Harvey Milk High School.

Als is particularly good when he describes the actors, though not particularly clear.

On Brolin, "a remarkably controlled film actor - he doesn't overact and give the camera more than it can handle; he keeps his facial muscles relatively still . . ." - that's a lot of punctuation!! "His ramrod-straight back growing tighter and tighter." Ouch!!

On Hirsh, "as Milk talks, Hirsch seems to resign himself to his attraction, letting his arms fall to his sides. In most of their scenes, Hirsch makes Penn resist the temptation to play cute by confronting him with a vulnerability that's greater than his own. Indirectly, Hirsch represents Van Sant's intuitive visual approach to filmmaking, while Penn sticks close to his need to please - a desire that mirrors Milk's own desire to charm, always." His whose? But he's right.

On Penn, "[he] mutes his voice in his private scenes with Brolin, like a particularly caring coach."

I was planning to read Sanford Schwartz on Peter Scheldahl too. Also in the NYRB.

Oh, and it seems like missed a lesbianostalgia thing in TNY. Damn.