Dumb movies, puritanical censors enough to ruin your day

Did you ever suffer or endure a span of days in which things bugged you more than usual? Well, that'
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Did you ever suffer or endure a span of days in which things bugged you more than usual? I’m not talking about someone’s cutting you off on the Thruway or driving too slow in the outside lane.

Just this thing and that thing. One thing after another that got you to kvetching to yourself and maybe to others, and then just when you begin to work yourself into a fury of self-righteousness, you wonder whether you are turning into Mr. Menotti, the old landlord, who hated everything.

The old geek who told your mother you would never amount to anything after you threw a ball through his window.

This thing, that thing. “What’s-the-world-coming-to” sort of thing. Best thing to do is get them off your chest, and this week all the griping centers on movies.

Hear me out.

Is the debacle of “88 Minutes” a final sign that a great actor takes on these projects because there’s nothing left for him to do in a milieu controlled by accountants who cater to teens obsessed with gore and sex?

Provincial attitudes

I was ready to dismiss this idea when I talked with a college senior who said he cannot stand watching movies with subtitles. Cannot stand and therefore he would not watch them. Period. I wanted to tell him that this kind of provincialism is why so many foreigners dislike us. That he was the example of the ugly American who basked in shallow contentment. That he was like the bar owner who refused to order Grey Goose after the French refused to support us in Iraq and like the guy at the bar who would now call French Fries “Freedom Fries.”

I also knew that spewing my discontent at that moment would guarantee that my college friend who should know better would consider me a nut, pull down the shade and really never see a foreign movie. He will never know what I think because he does not read newspapers either. Like to get to him, show him some movies that will change his mind, but I am too tired to reinvent the wheel. In order not to risk alienation, I nodded and said something like, “Maybe one day you will change your mind.”

Just when I calmed down, I read an article about the political movement to give an R rating to every movie in which someone smoked. Kids are dying in Iraq, soldiers are putting their lives on the line and along comes the sanitizing patrol. Yes, censor the Humphrey Bogart movies, excise the scenes in which he is smoking in “Casablanca.” Yank the cigar out of General Patton’s hand. If anyone dare make a movie with FDR, no cigarette, please.

Sanitized universe

And all those war films in which soldiers pull out a Camel on the battlefield? No more. Show kids that soldiers do not smoke. Movies should create the world held in esteem by schoolmarms and the hordes of Carrie Nations infesting our universe.

While we’re at it, let’s encourage Junior to report to the authorities any relative he sees smoking.

All right, time to chill. I used to smoke and now I cannot stand to be around cigarette smoke. I am deeply ashamed that I inhaled in a car with kids in the back seat. But an R rating for depicting a scene in a movie depicting such a scene? I’m getting worked up all over again.

Just kidding. I’m cool. I’m cool.

Categories: Life and Arts

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