Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I believe I'll dust my crops



The New York Times - Today's Paper gives us, free, six or seven main headlines:  one of those today reads,


"Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General"


Pursue.
(Get strange mental image of self running after an attorney general, waving a copy of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes over my head -- "Here!  Wait!  We wanted to give you this...!"...)


"lobbyists bearing gifts"


Hmmmh.


-------------------
{Charlie Wilson's War.  Mike Nichols - Aaron Sorkin -- 2007 -- book by George Crile}
-------------------
"That was an extraordinary thing you did today."
-- "What did I do that was so extraordinary?"
-- (admiringly, imperiously, and very feminine-ly) -- "Double it."


[That's Joanne Herring talking with Congressman Wilson:  she, too, is "lobbying."]


"Don't underestimate me, Charlie.  Believe everything you've heard." ...


====================
The scene in Charlie Wilson's War, where the Soviet helicopters are flying over Afghanistan in 1980, bombing and killing, suddenly made me think of another movie I've been studying:  Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest.  In that 1959 piece is a scene which has probably achieved the status they call "iconic" --



where Cary Grant is chased by a crop-dusting plane.








The crop-dusting plane scene in North By Northwest is like the Russian-helicopter-Afghanistan scene in Charlie Wilson's War, in that there is this threat, this terror, this malevolent force --


coming out of the sky.


However, the crop-dust scene and the Russian-helicopter scene are


different
from each other because --


1.  Charlie Wilson's War is fact based; North by Northwest is a fictional movie script written by Ernest Lehman.
2.  The Cary Grant character in North x NW survives the episode; Wilson's-war is portraying the real story of Afghans who were suffering horrific losses at the hands of the communists.


Both of these movies deal with Cold War themes,
Wilson's, directly,
n x nw somewhat indirectly.


------------- North By Northwest was made in 1959 with a 1959 sensibility, presumably about people and activities "happening" in 1959 as Cold War tensions and realities stood at that time.


Charlie Wilson's War, made in 2007 with a 21st-century sensibility, portrays the 1980s, and the Cold War at that point.


==================== Alfred Hitchcock as a movie director and story-teller was a sort of Anxiety Engineer.
An engineer-of-anxiety.
One could argue that North by Northwest is the perfect Cold-War-catharsis film:  it's about spies; an innocent man drawn into a plot where he doesn't belong, and he's targeted -- the powerlessness, and desperation and sense of ridiculousness ("My name is not George Kaplan--you've got the wrong man").  Through the prism of entertainment this movie could displace the public's well-founded anxiety about communism and nuclear capability, with play-anxiety about a pretend-situation.














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