THE POSITIVE MESSAGE OF NEW AMERICAN ART AND LITERATURE

Friday, January 30, 2009

Two Movies

I expected to like "Frost/Nixon" better than "Doubt." The reverse happened.

Possibly it was because Frost and Nixon were unappealing characters: self-absorbed schemers. "Doubt" had greater resonance because each of the three main characters was on a journey-- seeking each's greatly different version of the "good."

The priest and the school principal (Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Meryl Streep) were two unrealized halves-- progressive and conservative in battle with each other; each with as many flaws as strengths. The set-up was as if Streep were necessary to keep well-intentioned Hoffmann in balance. Contrary to what one might think, all is not doubt in the movie, for an answer is provided in the character of the third main character, a young nun, Sister James, who is farther along the spiritual path than either of her elders; exhibiting unselfish goodness.

"Frost/Nixon" tells you what to think about the story; a liberal pat answer that Nixon after all was a crook. In asserting this the pure liberals in the plot feel superior. In "Doubt" none of the characters feels pure or superior. The viewer is not told what to think-- but keeps thinking about the movie after leaving the theater.

2 comments:

Toast said...

Weird. You're a self-absorbed schemer; why wouldn't you like characters like that best? Self-loathing much?

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Such hostility. Do we know each other?
My "schemes" were only to expose corruption in the literary realm, promote overlooked writers, and present ideas to renew American literature. Hardly a trace of anything there to be self-loathing about!
The quest for good in the literary world.