Not that much more than usual, really. It's just that unlike during the 2006 Mideast war, I don't recall the protests and recriminations against Israel being as, well, exterminationist. Protesters now yell "go back to the oven" at pro-Israel activists, and "Death to the Juice" banners are de rigeur on the leftists barricades. Perhaps we've reached some turning point in international postmodernism. European governments feel the heat from the pro-Palestinian street. The continent's diplomacy is ineffective in the face of a pro-Muslim electoral backlash. Politically correct norms push for "tolerance" while newer Islamist communities reject assimilitation in favor of jihad. Perhaps the end of the Bush administration has empowered the forces of global darkness. Barack Obama inspires hope that the White House won't take sides with Jerusalem.
I'm not sure, but I'm pondering all of this.
I've also been in the mood for movies lately, and I was hoping to see "Defiance" today, but's it's showing in limited release and I would've needed to drive to Los Angeles to see it. I decided to see "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" instead (watch the trailer here below).
This morning's Los Angeles Times featured an interesting piece on the current wave of postmodern WWII filmography. Gone is the moral surety of "Greatest Generation" films like Saving Private Ryan" (my favorite flick), not to mention the real WWII-era films, starting back even before the war began. In the new genre of "morally ambiguous" war movies, American goodness takes a backseat to the "complextity" of the wartime experience. I find this as just another facet of the increasing postmodern sensibility that avoids grand triumphalism.
I was already thinking about what the movies meant for me as a kid on Saturday afternoons when I got to this passage:
Hollywood started making World War II movies before America even entered the war. Director John Ford enlisted his "Stagecoach" star John Wayne for the cargo-ship drama "The Long Voyage Home," and then Ford himself enlisted in the U.S. Navy, making wartime documentaries. Bob Hope got "Caught in the Draft" and "Wizard of Oz" producer Meryn LeRoy remade "Waterloo Bridge." And once America entered the war, Hollywood ramped up production, making dozens of dramas, action movies and flag-waving patriotic pieces that encompassed the events occurring in both the Pacific and European battlegrounds. Even Bugs Bunny enlisted for the cause.That's how I used to play (green plastic soldiers in the dirt, Germans always the "enemy"). I love Clint Eastwood, too; but I didn't like either "Flags of our Fathers" or "Letters from Iwo Jima," especially the latter, where the film was way too quick to humanize the Japanese and to paint the Americans as war criminals.
"If you were growing up then, you couldn't avoid those movies," Clint Eastwood said in an interview in 2006 while promoting his own companion World War II films, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." Early in his career, Eastwood starred in two Good War movies of his own, "Kelly's Heroes" and "Where Eagles Dare," the latter an action flick that director Robert Zemeckis remembers as "the one where Clint Eastwood kills more guys than anybody else in movie history."
"That's the way it was with war movies then," Eastwood says. "In some respects, they were an extension of the games boys would play in their backyards when they were kids."
Anyway, perhaps there's a cyclical nature to war-filmaking. As for the Holocaust movies, the Times piece says they've reached something of a dead end, although "Defiance" looks to be in the heroic mold of the old-time cinematic favorites.
Oh, and "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"? Maybe I shouldn't have read Manohla Dargis' review in advance, where she suggests we see "the Holocaust trivialized, glossed over, kitsched up, commercially exploited and hijacked for a tragedy about a Nazi family."