The Movie Club

Love and War Pictures
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 3 2007 11:20 AM

The Movie Club

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Dana, thanks a lot for your clarification, although I'm certain what it clarifies is too complex, and I feel compelled to move away from war. It hasn't been a hit at the box office, and I don't want to know whether Slate will prove any different. But one thing regarding Dana's and Carina's doubt that the further cinematic reproduction of war—under the guise of entertainment or revisionism or whatever—fails to transcend itself or create peace or tell us something new about combat, which is what it seems like you're arguing: We're in different movie theaters, I guess. I don't leave those films happy to be back in the world. I suffer from what I suppose is "returnism," which, simply put, is an escapist's hangover.

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Army of Shadows wrecked me, gloomed me up and down, in a way that was the result of both its historical moment (the revolution must have been a nightmare) and my ability to identify with Melville's moving ambivalence toward humanity. The film is about the grueling irony of connection, how these human shadows touch but can never, ever risk stepping too far outside the blackness—or its curtains. I wasn't crazy to think about the wages of current insurgencies while I watched it, either. Anyway, the only reason I'm still typing about this is to wonder how you feel about romantic or sex comedies as analogous to war pictures. They tell us nothing new about love (or sex), either, but when they work, show us how love (and sex) changes people. We might need new lovers (no, we totally need new lovers), but the love, by its very nature, remains the same.

Dana, I sincerely await your thoughts on Babel.

Wesley

Wesley Morris is a staff writer at Grantland.