Quote of the Day: Explaining Things to Nazis

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From a party scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, where Allen plays a writer named Isaac who, like many of us these days, seems confused that some matters are believed to still be up for discussion:

Isaac: Has anybody read that Nazis are going to march in New Jersey, you know? We should go there, get some guys together, you know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them.

Man: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times. It is devastating.

Isaac: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point.

Woman: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.

Isaac: No, physical force is always better with Nazis. It’s hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots.

Weekend Reading: April 24, 2015

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Department of Weekend Reading: December 5, 2014

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Quote of the Day: FDR, American

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Being the fourth of July, it seems appropriate to celebrate not just the country itself but one of its greatest leaders. Consider this quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, apparently delivered during his 1932 presidential campaign:

Judge me by the enemies I have made.

A full accounting of FDR’s enemies would take an encyclopedia, but here’s a brief one:

  • Huey Long — corrupt Louisiana governor
  • Father Charles Coughlin — anti-Semitic demagogue
  • Charles Lindbergh — fascist stooge and Nazi sympathizer
  • Right-wing financiers (see The Plots Against the President)
  • War profiteers
  • All of Nazi Germany

If everybody on that list has a problem with what you’re doing — namely, as FDR did, trying to ensure economic stability, freedom, prosperity, and a fair chance to make it in America — there’s a good chance you’re on the side of the angels.

New in Theaters: ‘Stalingrad’

'Stalingrad'
‘Stalingrad’: Nazis on the march

Decades ago, Sergio Leone (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) planned to make an epic film about the battle of Stalingrad. Audiences today are instead treated to the dubious pleasures of Stalingrad, a 3D IMAX flag-waver that was unsurprisingly a huge hit over in Russia.

Stalingrad will be playing briefly in America for all those who prefer their war films as slo-mo 300-esque spectacle. My review is at Film Journal International:

One would expect Stalingrad to turn into some stouthearted celebration of Motherland pride that would befit a 3D IMAX spectacle released in time for the 70th anniversary of the battle’s grim conclusion. All of that is certainly there, from “Burn in hell, scum” dialogue to scene after scene of the scrappy and outnumbered Russians making mincemeat of their arrogant enemies…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Theaters: ‘The Monuments Men’

Matt Damon and George Clooney in 'The Monuments Men'
Matt Damon and George Clooney in ‘The Monuments Men’

monumentsmenposter1During the latter part of World War II, as the Allies were advancing across Western Europe, special detachments of experts known as the Monuments Men fanned out with lists and a mandate to keep their own soldiers from demolishing cultural artifacts and finding those works that the Nazis had tried to keep for themselves. George Clooney’s attempt at turning that sliver of history into a cool, guys-on-a-mission film sadly falls apart almost before the opening credits begin.

The Monuments Men is playing now. My review is at Short Ends & Leader:

The film assembles a dream assemble and then abandons them without a story to work from. Clooney’s lack of control over his material is evident from the beginning. Playing team leader Frank Stokes, Clooney gets his presidential assignment (a bungled, laughable scene with one of the more comical FDR impressions seen on film since Annie) and starts getting the band together. Chicago architect Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), art restorer James Granger (Matt Damon), sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman), and the just generally artsy Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban). (Later on, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardin join the gang for some Continental color.) This should be basic stuff, a few character-establishing moments and team-building quips, plus the easy comedy of watching the academics struggle through basic training before their mission. But Clooney muffs almost everything from the start…

A couple of the actual Monuments Men with a stolen Rembrandt found in a German salt mine.
A couple of the actual Monuments Men with a stolen Rembrandt found in a German salt mine.

The trailer is here: