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« A fun game for liberals and conservatives alike | Main | Making it up at the movies »


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Holden Lewis

God, I'm such a freak! Angelina Jolie doesn't do anything for me at all! I'm the only guy I know who feels that way.

Diane Lane, though -- oh, yeah.

mac macgillicuddy

I personally don't give a damn WHO plays Daniel Pearl's wife in a movie, because I think that discussion is beside the point -- because it hides what, I think, is the fundamental question: Should ANYONE play the role? Should there BE a role, when the actual person is still there, still living her life, still dealing with her "story."

The movie makers' intent isn't to help me feel the pain of another human being -- or even to re-up my anger at what the ubiquitous and omnipresent enemy is doing to the way of life I'm about to lose. I'm thinking about the point made above about how people relate to every event that doesn't personally involve them (and some that do) as if it is a retelling for their amusement and entertainment.

With all of these mocumentaries and the 24-hour, city-that-never-sleeps culture of combatting boredom, do I really want my MTV?


I think there ought to be an informal rule about playing real-life people: in many cities/states, buildings can't be named after them till they're dead and gone; same thing for movies.

Ok, that would never work, but still...

Scenic Route Mile 49

Hollywood casting is so one-dimensional. They never go the John Candy-as-Divine-as Peter Pan route. Absolutely no imagination. So unless the director shifts course and opts for Sarah Jessica Parker-as-Carrie Bradshaw-as-Marianne Pearl or Cristina Ricci-as-Jessica Simpson-as-Marianne Pearl, I think I'll just skip the movie.

velvet goldmine

What I hope comes out of the movie is what a gifted writer -- not just a crackerjack journalist -- Daniel Pearl was. I didn't know this until I received a collection of his Wall Street Journal pieces as a gift. I doubt that will translate well on film, but it would be wonderful if it inspired a re-release of the book, for which his wife wrote the forward.

As for the Jolie casting: I agree she is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, and as you pointed out, that beauty seems one which could transfix people of most centuries or cultures.

But for me there's something tiresomely didactic in her acting, and it's getting worse. I honestly don't know if I'm bringing my perceptions from her UNICEF work (I know; I'm a horrible person) to my viewing, or if she really has become sort of joyless.

I think she needs a little Billy Bob and a fresh vial of blood around her neck to shake the prig out of her recent work.

Michael Bains

Angelina is pretty close to my ideal of beauty, but of course that's because I so "fell in love" with Gigi.

I gotta quit bein' such a knight-wannabe, eh...

Beyond that vein, Ingrid and her near-clone of a daughter Isabella are probably the two most compellingly beautiful women I've ever seen on small or big screens. Wow! and I'm not even sure why I feel that way every time I see them.

Attraction. It happens.

Michael Bains

I should've done a "Lance" and posted that like this:

Isabella and her near-clone of a daughter Isabella

There. That's better.

And I've never seen any photos of the widow Pearl, so won't comment of whe'er Jolie would even "look" the part. I do sort of agree with Velvet Goldmine's evaluation of her recent work, though.

blue girl

And I've never seen any photos of the widow Pearl, so won't comment of whe'er Jolie would even "look" the part.

MB, This may sound a little gushy but, Marianne Pearl is a beautiful woman, but especially beautiful on the inside. Thoughtful, smart, deep. She has a certain quality about her that is very special.

Showing and/or revealing the *whole her* is going the trick of playing her. We'll see if exotic Angelina can pull it off. I have a feeling she can.


Holden, you and I don't know each other, so this might not help, but I don't get the Angelina Jolie thing either. Every time a paean to her ravishing beauty rolls out, I go to the photos and feel like Elaine's boss trying to see the image in the 3-D picture. But then, as a father of two small boys, I haven't seen a movie in this century (an exagerration, but two trips to the movie theater since 2000 wouldn't be). So perhaps it would help if I saw her in motion or, you know, breathing. Several of the most beautiful women I know must be appreciated in person.

Coulter's a tricky one. I agree, on the one hand, that her looks are entirely irrelevant to a critique of her odious speech. But, on the other hand, we would be naive to believe that her looks aren't integral to her odious presence in American political speech. As others have said elsewhere, Coulter and Malkin both say things on television and print with a directness that their white male colleagues can't say anymore (or rarely, anyway). Their reputations for beauty don't just get them on tv. They stand as implicit contrasts to the common stereotypes of liberal women as homely (no makeup, no fashion sense, etc.). Their reputations for beauty are part and parcel of the right wing's approach to the media that dates back at least to our days with a septuagnerian president without a single gray hair. The Commander Codpiece masculine ideal played by Bush on the deck of the aircraft carrier, or his role as brush-clearing ranch stud is necessarily paired with Coulter's Morning-show cocktail dress glamor. So while rejections of Coulter's reputation for beauty flirt with misogyny, I think they aren't necessarily irrelevant to a necessary attack on her political presence. Tim Robbins' "Bob Roberts" is built upon this observation: that the Republican party's post-Nixon media strategy is focused on appropriating the symbols of both glamour and rebellion.


How fun to be in your post!!! I'm not sure if this is the right response but thank you...

I'm always happy to hear there still is a subjective take on beauty because I feel like we are all being brainwashed into such an idealized form of beauty (whether or not it does exist in nature -- like the desired 16-year old shape you described which IS almost unachieveable naturally) that I am very happy when we don't agree. I think Angelina is so blatently gorgeous that I find it amazingly sweet that the much more quietly beautiful (at least to me) Ingrid Bergman and Myrna Loy are so admired here. And, of course, back to the topic, it is all completely meaningless when talking about playing Mariane Pearl.

I have to ask about Alan's comment on "Bob Roberts," too. I didn't see the movie and this is the first time I've heard the reference to a Republican strategy to appropriate glamour and rebellion. Is that the terminology that is used by others or just Tim Robbins?



That's my phrasing from my memory of Robbin's movie which I last saw in 1992, when it came out. He plays a right-wing Bob Dylan-style folk singer (with album titles like, "The Times They Are A Changin' Back!") who runs for congress in a dirty tricks-filled campaign. His pose as a rebel prefigures (or caught at its early rise) the "rebellion against liberal P.C." which is a staple of the right these days. It always struck me as a deliberate appropriation of the 60s rebellion against the straight-jacketing conventions of society, with the straight-jacketing now portrayed as coming from a left which wants to deprive us of our pleasures and thoughts. My thoughts about the appropriation of "glamour" are much less thought out and may, or may not, be worth dwelling on further. I was thinking about the shift from the jowly dour Nixon to the sunny eternal youth of Reagan, the Republican embrace of actor candidates and general stuff that seems to hum in the background, with occasional bursts to the front, about the presumed fundamental unattractiveness of "liberal women." Here it is not so much an expropriation of glamour from the left (as the idea of conservative rebellion is an expropriation), but a strategy to monopolize the image of glamour.

This is just musing. I have no insider insights and I could probably be persuaded otherwise with a good counter-argument. But Lance's comment about perceptions of Coulter's looks being informed by political opinions sparked a line of musing that I thought I'd share. And as I wrote above, I would love to live in a world where we could say that Coulter's (and Malkin's) looks are irrelevant to a discussion of their speech, but I think their looks are not irrelevant to contemporary Republican image politics. At the same time, a critique of their looks has to proceed very carefully, staying away from the personalized ("bony b****") stuff and instead scrutinizing the image ideals we are asked to fawn over.

I especially like blue girl's comment about the nature of Marianne Pearl's beauty. Jolie may or may not be able to play her well. But for me it won't have anything to do with her photogenetic features.


I really liked the section of this essay dealing with our ability, or more often, our inability to separate what is real from hype. Marianne Pearl's "story" has nothing to do with the real tragedy which transformed her life. We can, I hope, empathize with her grief and shock, but we will always be outside looking in. It is a self-absorbed delusion for any of us to think we know anything about her "story" or that we have a right to say how that "story" is to be told.


I'm with Lance on Angelina Jolie. I get tired of hearing and reading her name, and the only time I've ever seen her in a movie (I see fewer every year) was the five minutes of Alexander when her accent (Joan Collins playing a sexy Russian spy in a Tony Randall comic espionage epic, ca 1962) sent me into convulsive laughter before I even finished chuckling over Colin Farell's Macedonian surfer boy bleach job. But every once in a while a phote will catch my eye, and I think "Wow, who is that?", and it's Angelina Jolie.

For classic actresses, Ava Gardner and Paulette Godard. On TV, Kirstie Alley on Cheers and Julianna Margulies on ER. The blonde exceptions that prove the rule: Michelle Pfeiffer and Grace Kelly.


My main issue with the Angelina Jolie casting is that Marianne Pearl is clearly not white. Thandie Newton would have been perfect for that role.

Temple Stark

>>Considering all that Pearl's gone through, the question of her looks would seem to be one of the most trivial considerations you could raise about her.

Mrs. Pearl's beauty IS one of the most trivial apects of her story and that's exactly why it seems amazingly odd to cast such a prototype beauty as Angelina Jolie. It's an out and out distraction, that makes it seems that the filmmaker thinks the beauty angle is very important.

I don't remember what Marianne Pearl looks like but Jolie is gorgeous and I have a hard time watching any film she's in without just watching her face and her body move. I kind of lose the plot of the film.


Great post, great thread.

Three unsolicited and disconected observations [I waited until the thread had gone on for a while so my non sequiturs wouldn't be a buzz kill]:

On Isabella Rossilini: I always wondered about the cutaway moment in "Casablanca" where Ilsa comes to Rick in his apartment, threatens him, then embraces him--and then it cuts to Rick smoking a cigarette at the window: ". . . and then?" Then I saw "Blue Velvet" and realized I didn't need to wonder anymore.

I'm having a hard time imagining how you could mention the gorgeous women of "Smallville" and leave out Annette O'Toole? Have to say, though, if I went to Smallville High and you asked me why my hand was splinted up, I'd have to say, "Well, Clark was mooning over Lana and I gave him a dope slap for dumping Chloe, and the next thing I knew . . . "

I've always thought that Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Anniston, talented actors both, nevertheless resembled something created by a focus group of fifteen year old boys. [Or the punchline from that old John Hughes movie "Real Science."] My preference has always been for women who nevertheless looked like members of my own species--which brings us back to Isabella Rosellini again. [One of the funniest things in late night television is to watch Letterman try--unsuccessfully--to cope with his utter smittenness for I.R. when she's a guest.]


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