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Twenty Years Ago in Berlin, Seeing the Rally Against Reagan

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:58 pm - June 12, 2007.
Filed under: Liberals,Ronald Reagan

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of one of Ronald Reagan’s great speeches where he stood before the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate and implored the then-leader of the then-Soviet Union to “Open this gate and] tear down this wall.” As other blogs and bloggers* have written on the significance of this speech — and its meaning today, I thought I’d offer for my own recollections of that day twenty years ago.

For, you see, I was in Berlin that day. Though I did not make it then to the Brandenburg gate. (I would see that gate a few days later from the other side where, in a drunken state (even under Communism, Germans got beer right), I challenged an East German border guard on the wall. Not to worry I did make it safely back to West Berlin without the intervention of the U.S. Embassy.)

Anyway, as the Gipper arrived in Berlin, I hiked up to the Kurfürstendamm, then the major boulevard in the free portions of the city. And I watched a rally that absolutely frightened me.

I saw hordes, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of young Germans marching to protest Reagan’s visit. They accused the Gipper of being a fascist and warmonger and deplored his decision to deploy U.S missiles in Europe. Many carried signs attacking the US while others chanted hateful anti-American slogans or shouted out against the then-incumbent U.S. leader. Replace “Reagan” with “Bush” and the rally would seem similar to many witnessed in recent years in European cities. (This crowd, however, was larger than some recent European rallies.)

What struck me then was the virulence of the anti-American attitudes expressed by the marchers. As I watched, I had flashes of films I had seen of Nazis marching (perhaps on the same street) a half-century previously. Many of the protesters wore nearly identical black outfits (some did sport more colorful attire) and marched in lockstep. It almost seemed that this generation of Germans has replaced “Jews” with “Americans.” Their anger was palpable.

I was grateful for the cordon of German police officers standing shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, dividing the marchers from the onlookers and pedestrians. I fear that had the marchers learned my nationality, they made have made an example of me. That day, I noted the irony of a Jew appreciating the presence of uniformed German officers.


Relationship–the Essential Ingredient to a Good Flick

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 2:42 am - June 12, 2007.
Filed under: Family,Movies/Film & TV,Romance

After a busy month doing jury duty and working on my dissertation concept paper, I’ve finally been able to see a few flicks, indeed, have gone out to the movies for the past three nights and while I didn’t particularly love any of the films I saw, did appreciate certain aspects of each of them. And I did find that of the three, only one “got it right.” By get it right, I mean understand the medium — what it is movies are all about.

To be sure, the makers of the second movie I saw, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End understood the business of making money, but seem to have lost sight of the art of making movies. With a successful franchise, they just needed to create something which would offer some eye-catching scenes for the preview. That said, while I couldn’t really follow the plot of the flick, I did enjoy the special effects and found the first half (Itself the length of some movies) quite entertaining. I did not enjoy Johnny Depp‘s performance as much as I had in the two previous Pirates movies,* perhaps because I had seen it before.

But, the performance I just saw in La Vie en Rose, that of Marion Cotillard as Édith Piaf just blew me away. Her portrayal of that tragic French chanteuse is alone well worth the price of the movie ticket. Where the movie excelled in acting and set design, it suffered in relationship. While the movie did show several of the doomed singer’s relationships, it didn’t present (what I call) a “defining” relationship which drove the movie. And I believe movies (in general) need such a relationship to hold our interest — and to move us.

(That said, there were some powerful scenes in the flick, both involving relationship which did move me to tears.)

The latest Pirates movie quite unlike the first also lacked such a relationship. The one movie which did have one was the very entertaining, but quite raunchy Knocked Up (a term which, in other news I am happy to report, could be used to describe the current situation of one of my sisters-in-law). While the movie is not nearly as good as the director‘s recent The 40 Year Old Virgin (to which many have compared it), it is thoroughly entertaining (if a bit over the top at times).

There not only do we see the developing relationship between Seth Rogen‘s Ben Stone and Katherine Heigl‘s Alison Scott, the woman whom he “knocked up,” but we also believe some of the secondary — and tertiary — relationships, between Alison and her sister (delightfully portrayed by Leslie Mann) and between Ben and his friends. Because we believe the relationships, we become more invested in the characters — and concerned for their well-being. We want Ben to grow up so he can be a husband to Alison — and father to their baby. And we want her to loosen up a bit so she can better appreciate Ben’s quirks — and the general zaniness of life.

Of course, the relationships alone don’t make the movie. The cheap humor did provoke a few laughs.

This flick does show that director Judd Apatow “gets” the medium in which he is working. It’s about relationship. No wonder his movies have done so well at the box office.


A past post on a similar theme: Romantic Chemistry – A Lost Cinematic Art?

*I offered some thoughts on the second Pirates flick in this post.