Thursday, June 02, 2005
The best revenge
James Bowman reviews a documentary by Mark Wexler about his father, Haskell Wexler, two time Academy Award winning cinematographer and director.
Wexler won one of his awards for Medium Cool, a documentary of the 1968 riots in Chicago at the Democtratic convention. (I was there and took part in the events. Hey, maybe I'm in the movie. I never saw it.)
Apparently the son is somewhat conservative compared to his radical moonbat father, and this is a fine way to observe how the compassionate Left treats its own - as toxic garbage.
At one point, Mark tells his father that one of his most painful early memories was when he told him that he thought him stupid. In fact, Mark says, he remembers a great many occasions on which Haskell had pronounced that other people, particularly the directors he worked with, were similarly afflicted. There is a pause and for a second or two we allow ourselves to wonder if at last Haskell is touched with remorse about something he has done to his son. Then he says: "You know why that was, Mark? Because mostly they were." And when Mark seems as taken aback as we are by this reference to a number of the most prominent directors in Hollywood, he elaborates: "Stupid."
Over this and other examples of toxic parenting, the healing balm of psychobabble is poured by, of all people, Jane Fonda, who had collaborated with the elder Wexler on Introduction to the Enemy and Coming Home. "For the men of our fathers’ generation," she tells young Mark, "intimacy was not their gift." Well, that’s one way to put it. Miss Fonda of course learned her own forbearance through her experience of an emotionally remote and difficult father, but at least Henry Fonda was spared the humiliation of having his personal unpleasantness recorded for the world to see by the child he had wronged.
I think I'm going to rent this movie just to see this:
Yet for all the great directors under whom he worked, he tells his son’s camera that "I don’t think there’s been a movie I’ve been on that I didn’t think I could direct it better."
There is no irony, no twinkle in the eye or tongue in the cheek when he says that. This is not a man subtly to deflate his own arrogance and pomposity. And nor is it the only point in the film where we may have our breath taken away by those qualities.
How marvelous is that? A fool and his folly. Sometimes that's worth seeing.
posted by Mark Butterworth |