Girls, uncorrupted and compromised as hell.

Girls, uncorrupted and compromised as hell.

Girls, uncorrupted and compromised as hell.

Running thoughts on movies and their makings.
July 3 2005 2:03 PM

Girls, Uncorrupted and Compromised as Hell

Alice Wu's delightful Saving Face and the moving The Girl in the Café. Plus, entertaining Judy Miller.

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But Curtis is the reigning king of the cinema du squirm, and the drama here is between Gina (MacDonald is Scottish) and the formal English diplomats and bureaucrats who are too repressed to present the issue in a way that transcends the politics of the possible. The more palpable drama is within Lawrence, who's embarrassed to be seen with his girlfriend in the first place and is mortified—his shoulders collapse and his body shrinks before our eyes—when she opens her lovely mouth to challenge his superiors. The tension in every scene is: What will she say and how will he survive it? And will he ultimately endorse her views?

There are few actors on earth that I would rather watch than Nighy and MacDonald, so nearly every scene had me laughing, cringing, and even freezing the frame out of sheer embarrassment. MacDonald resists the temptation to play Gina as a firebrand, which would be more amusing but would also dispel her mystery. Besides, Nighy takes care of the amusement. No actor since Richardson and Gielgud has so velvety a timbre, or can tease so many threads of emotion (and so many laughs) out of a stammer. Here, he uses that lanky frame to suggest a Frankenstein-monsteresque discombobulation, and the director, David Yates, is a wizard at juxtaposing his all-too-human body against the chill, modernist Icelandic hotel decor.


The Girl in the Café ends with a reminder that the G-8 summit meets in a few days in Scotland and that the lives of millions of African children will once again hang in the balance. I have nothing to add to that. ... 11:14 a.m. P.T.

The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the case of reporters—among them the New York Times' Judith Miller—who have refused to disclose the source of an illegal, potentially lethal leak that (in an attempt to discredit the discrediter of the bogus Niger yellowcake uranium story) "outed" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Jack Shafer has too many pieces on Miller's reporting—which helped to convince large segments of the reading public that Iraq was indeed developing weapons of mass destruction—to link to, but you should start with this  and this.

Today, William Safire  emerges from retirement to call on the mysteriously unsubpoenaed Robert Novak to come clean and adds, "Judy won't crack."

Good for Judy!

A few months ago, at a dinner for journalists, Al Franken was met with stony silence when he said, "Hey, Judy, maybe you can find some WMD in your cell." Naughty, naughty Franken. I'd like to take a more constructive approach to Miller's potential confinement.

What movies should she watch in the recreation room that will both entertain and educate her? Let's take All the President's Men off the table—if for no other reason than that Mark Felt acted, ultimately, in the country's best interest. I'm open to political or journalism melodramas, of course. But don't discount comedies, Westerns, war movies, and even love stories. (Any Judy-Ahmad Chalabi parallels come to mind?) Remember, we don't just want escapism; we want Judy to come out a better person.

I'll post the best suggestions after the July 4th holiday. ...7:45 a.m. P.T.

David Edelstein is the chief film critic for New York magazine and a film critic for NPR’s Fresh Air.