A WOMAN'S JOB
I was very disappointed by Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff's so-called review of Trade [Movies: Oct. 3: "Molest-sploitation"]. So-called because seven out of 10 paragraphs were devoted to things happening in the theater during the showing. In one of the remaining paragraphs he proceeded to dismiss the film as exploitative and unworthy of serious attention.
Had he possessed the least understanding of the ramifications of sex trafficking or even an iota of empathy, he would have seen that, far from being "exploitative" and "filled with gratuitous violence," Trade actually exercises masterful restraint in portraying what victims of this global plague go through every minute of every day. Much is thankfully left to the imagination. At no time was sexual violence portrayed as titillating or "sexy," and how many other films can make the same claim?
Only "child molesters, rapists and perverts" will get anything out of it? How about the half of the human race-girls and women-most affected by this atrocity?
They obviously don't count. And does Garcia-Sarnoff really need to be told what the underlying causes of the global sex trade are? This is what comes of sending a boy to do a woman's job. Rather than let yourselves be dissuaded by this lame and superficial review, please go see this excellent and moving film.
As a visitor to Santa Fe from the East Coast, I have read many movie reviews by many critics in many major cities.
Rarely, however, have I read so many capsule reviews by a critic so pompous and full of himself as Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff [Screener, Oct. 3]. Emiliano loves to use very intellectual words, seemingly in a show of his superior intellect. His rather snotty use of snide asides in his capsules sadly reveals, however, his superior demeanor at the expense of a straight-ahead review, however brief it may be. Indeed, when being so brief, it would be helpful to be direct with information rather than his penchant for obtuse characterizations.
Emiliano's full review of Eastern Promises was dead-on and thorough.
CAN THE SHTICK
As Mr. Garcia-Sarnoff in his review of Eastern Promises [Oct. 3: "Borscht, Baddies, Badass"] points out, Viggo Mortensen is indeed a man of many parts-but Dutch isn't one of them. However, Danish is. I believe Mr. Mortensen holds dual US-Danish citizenship through his Danish father; comes by the passable Norwegian through his American mother of Norwegian parentage; and by the Spanish through living in Argentina between the ages of 3 and 11. But Dutch? No-at least, not yet. I'll pass on the French and Swedish.
More to the point, I realize that the arch voice and silly captions under the photos are part of your film review column's shtick, but it is getting wearisome. Yes, Mr. Mortensen's is a formidable presence. Nevertheless, many of us, including yours truly, are able to watch this film without going through the agonies of trying and failing to hate him.
I do, however, admire his work tremendously and have wondered for some time why an actor whose natural gifts are enhanced by so much intelligence doesn't have the star power of, say, Brad Pitt. I suspect the answer is that our deeply anti-intellectual nation is put off even by the shadow of that intelligence-and perhaps by Mr. Mortensen's aura of not needing us to like him. There must be a moral in here somewhere that would be worth a couple of paragraphs.
To me, these would have been more salient points to raise than Mr. Mortensen's other accomplishments, fine as they are, and the hopelessness of trying not to love him. It would have made the review a bit more, ummmmm, how shall I put it-adult? I'm getting tired of reading these reviews with my eyes squinted, in an effort to evade the cute irrelevancies.
For Zane Fischer, the "city different" evidently means the "city provincial." [Zane's World, Oct. 3: "Tourists Touring Tours"].
He objects to the current exhibit at the Museum of New Mexico: Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Fischer grants that "the display is elegant and the lighting is good," and he grudgingly admits that most schoolchildren in this state are unlikely to ever see Egyptian collections in major museums.
But he savages the museum's achievement in bringing this world-class exhibit to Santa Fe. His reasons? 1) the Egyptian artifacts were not produced in New Mexico and 2) the banner advertising the exhibit plays upon the Indiana Jones film hero. The second criticism is foolish. Petrie was indeed an intrepid archaeologist. Had Mr. Fischer studied the life of Petrie (told in one room of the exhibit and in the catalogue), he would have learned that Petrie excavated in his underwear, went barefoot, ate sparsely and camped out in a tomb. He was by no means "stodgy," though he was serious about his profession.
So the works in this exhibit are not by local artists? Come on, Mr. Fischer! The obvious response is that the historical and aesthetic education visitors gain from first-hand acquaintance with art treasures is inestimable. Less obvious is the inspiration such exhibits, like visiting artists, provide to the local art community.
Santa Fe has always welcomed outsider art and artists. Indeed, the first major artists to work in New Mexico and establish the local art colony were from the East Coast. Art thrives on outside influences and withers away into parochialism when the larger world is ignored.
What if 16th century Rome had rejected Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante as "outsiders"? Rome could have then remained a provincial city of ruins. Santa Fe could easily insulate itself from the international art world and from international art. Is that what Mr. Fischer is advocating?
The article nowhere describes the artifacts in the exhibit, but that is another story.
I take back (almost) all the mean things I said about Zane's World...the current column makes some great points. I'm not sure that we need to totally cut ourselves off from external influence-a little Egyptsheen is good for the soul-but we do need to do our best to preserve northern New Mexico's unique character. Perhaps the traveling archaeological exhibits belong somewhere besides the art museum?
And this is the second time Mr. Fischer has said, "It's the light, stupid." With which I cannot argue.
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