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The Sweaty Cinema of New Orleans
Plus: A horrifying assignment.
I had a great time in New Orleans meeting so many of our readers and listeners; it was really gratifying to hear how many folks read, listen, etc. I know I’m “the movie guy” at the politics site, but I think we add something in the Books, Arts, and Culture section. A little extra bang for your buck.
The movie trivia happy hour beforehand was well attended; if you want to check out the questions, you can see them here. Our winner got 20/23 possible points, which I was pretty impressed by. While I was walking through the city, I just so happened to pass by one of my favorite shooting locations: Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Sadly it was locked so I couldn’t stroll through the graves taking pics and committing other acts of sacrilege, but it was still pretty cool to see:
From Hard Target to Déjà Vu, nothing livens up your shootout like ducking through a gothically inflected graveyard. (Sorry, this isn’t the best snap; my photography skills are put to better use on food, I think.)
I have … complicated feelings about the use of tax credits to fund movie productions (sure, they lead to jobs, but don’t try to convince me they pay for themselves; governments spend money in all sorts of ways, and this is as good an expenditure as any). But if there’s anywhere in the country that money’s going to go to attract shoots, I love that it’s New Orleans. The architecture is so unique, the vibe is so hard to replicate elsewhere, and people just look good drenched in the sweat of the bayou.
Anyway, it’s one of my favorite movie towns, and I was thrilled to finally spend a little time in it and meet some of you lovely folks. Maybe we can make trivia happy hours a regular thing at future Bulwark live events!
Richard Rushfield’s measured take on the Maha Dakhil situation is well worth your time. Short version: The CAA agent, who is on Steven Spielberg’s team at the agency, decried Israeli “genocide” in a post that was up for just an hour before being deleted. She has apologized profusely, not realizing, I think, just how horribly such an accusation looked given the fact that Hamas had just killed more than 1,400 people, decapitating some, simply machine-gunning others, in some particularly vicious moments binding mother and child together and burning them alive. There’s a genocidal group here, and it’s the terrorist organization that in its charter calls for the elimination of Israel.
What is telling here is the ease with which someone like Dakhil—who isn’t stupid and has no shortage of Jewish friends and clients—feels describing Israel’s right to defend itself, and thus its very existence, in terms like “genocide.” And we see it over and over again in the world around us, where college students are chasing Jews into libraries and threatening them with violence, where seemingly normal people rip down posters highlighting kidnapped children still being held by Hamas, still being kept from the Red Cross. This is a problem on the academic left and identitarian right—a real horseshoe sort of thing—and it’s why defending the center is more important than ever.
Sorry, I don’t mean to bum everyone out. Here, this will cheer you up: Bill Ryan’s piece on the grotesque, unflinching horror of Stephen Gregory!
Apparently, some people don’t understand Brendan Fraser’s great performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, and Apple has had enough of your crap!
Speaking of Scorsese, make sure to listen to our Martin Scorsese draft on Across the Movie Aisle this week!
Assigned Viewing: The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix)
There’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while that I call in my head The Cinematic Ideological Turing Test. What I mean by this is that I wish people would spend a little more time thinking about why something would appeal to the folks on the other side of the aisle. This comes up a bit with They Live!, a movie conservatives often love that is, on the surface, a denunciation of Reagan’s America but is actually about how an all-powerful elite is pulling the wool over the world’s eyes to enrich itself. If you can’t discern why that might appeal to an Alex Jones type, well, I don’t know what to say.
With that in mind, if you watch The Fall of the House of Usher—it’s eight episodes of anthology horror pulling from Edgar Allan Poe’s body of work—I’d like you to think about why a show like this would, potentially, appeal to someone like, say, Tucker Carlson. Not that he’d ever watch it. I just want folks to think about how people they disagree with actually think.