So this afternoon I had my eyes checked, and in between getting myself a bubble tea and that, I had some time and went to the library for the first time in forever (my reading habits are all screwed up). I wandered amongst the cookbooks, but there was nothing new, the travel books, but there was nothing interesting, skipped the novels because I didn’t feel like getting started on one (see?) and anyway I didn’t want to have to lug anything to the eye appointment and Uwajimaya afterwards, so I settled down in the magazines with Entertainment Weekly. Yeah yeah, Angelina Jolie was on the cover. I like her, okay? Sheesh. (although I must say, the portrait style they went with for her really doesn’t do much for me.)

Anyway, I read this interview (A Candid Q&A”, “about sex, tattoos, motherhood, war, and peace) and I like her now more than I even did before! There’s a bunch of good stuff (or stuff I think is good, but whatever), but highlights:

Do you worry that people will have a hard time squaring this gun-toting character with your role as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador? They do seem quite incongruous.<br/> I am a strong believer that without justice there is no peace. No lasting peace, anyway. I’m somebody who’s very curious about the International Criminal Court and supportive of following through on the arrest warrants in Darfur. I’m not somebody that just wants to hold up a white flag and say, ”Let’s all just get along.” I think people that do horrible things should be held accountable. I don’t think like in Wanted — which is an action movie — people should [just] be killed. I think there should be trials and justice. But the idea behind Wanted is not that she’s a badass assassin that just likes to kill people. It’s that, if you ran into Hitler before he did everything, and you knew, should you shoot him? And I would. These assassins are getting lists: They find out who is going to slaughter other people ahead of time and they remove them. So that was the side of me that identified with her. But it is a confusing thing, certainly for rights activists. Don’t read too much into it. I am holding a gun, but there are so many people that have done so many horrible things… Pol Pot died a grandfather in the jungle, most likely of old age. Never was punished for what he did.

Then a bit later:

Clint Eastwood is one of our most famous Republicans. Did you talk politics with him on the set?<br/> Actually, we don’t disagree as much as you’d think. I think people assume I’m a Democrat. But I’m registered independent and I’m still undecided. So I’m looking at McCain as well as Obama. Clint can teach me about things domestically and I’m more aware of some things internationally. So it was less a debate and more things we found interesting. But for the first few weeks I was just too nervous to get into any deep conversation!

So, there’s an interview I read with Sarah Jessica Parker (in Vogue I think, though it might have been W, from around 2000, 2001) where she’s talking about stuff she did as a kid, and how she got to do something once with Bob Hope, and how she thought that was cool, “Even though I knew he was a Republican,” and I just thought, “no, it’s Bob Hope, you don’t get to qualify your excitement,” and here’s Angelina Jolie who’s still being humble. I give you the SJP story as context for why I think that’s so wonderful.

And as for the politics, the way she’s talking about everything else in her life in this interview, she’s not suddenly being coy because she doesn’t want to alienate half her fan-base.


In many ways you’re a very polarizing figure. People either worship you or they can’t stand you. Have you thought about why that is?<br/> I’d like to think it’s because I’m not neither here nor there in my life. I think anybody that makes a decision about where they stand is going to cause strong opinions about them. But I think that’s what you should be hoping for in life, so I take that as a very good sign. That some people support me and some people really don’t like me tells me that I’m making decisions and I’m standing strong for something I believe in. I’m making choices in life. And that’s the right thing to do.

And isn’t it how funny how many people are using that (classic?) Bush line these days! Even Angelina Jolie!

And then, laughing in the face of danger, I picked up the copy of National Review, and read (sorry, NRO, but I can’t get this on your page):

Leo ex machina, by Ross Douthat

And I agree with everything in it, including:

The movie plays up these tensions; indeed, it plays up every tension it finds in Lewis’s novel, and invents several more, creating rivalries (between Peter and Caspian), generating romances (between Susan and Caspian), adding battles (particularly a long set piece in the movie’s middle, in which the Old Narnians launch a raid on Miraz’s castle), and doubling down on the political intrigue in the Telmarine court. For the most part, the additions serve their purpose, transmuting a somewhat slight children’s adventure into a gripping medieval war picture: Braveheart with more magic, or Tolkien with talking squirrels.

But this achievement comes with a price–namely, the evisceration of Lewis’s major theme. If The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a story about rebirth and renewal–Aslan resurrected, and spring cracking the ice of an enchanted winter-then Prince Caspian is fundamentally a story about re-enchantment, and the glorious return of the supernatural forces that the Telmarines have repressed. Little of this survives in Adamson’s adaptation; it’s been pruned away to make room for battles and arguments and longing glances and one-liners. The book’s climax, in which the trees and rivers come to life and a wild pagan rout overruns the sterile secularism of Telmarine society, is reduced to a brief battlefield intervention that rips off not one but two scenes in Lord of the Rings. Aslan, too, is reduced to a walk-on role, sweeping in once the body count has climbed and the CGI budget been exhausted to roar a halt to the proceedings. He murmurs about faith, in the voice of Liam Neeson, but he feels less a Christ figure than a strikingly flimsy plot device: Leo ex machina.

The bad news for Narniaphiles is that this may be the only way that C. S. Lewis can plausibly be adapted, given the economics (and biases) of contemporary Hollywood–with the metaphysics downplayed and the Generic Epic elements accentuated, the better to justify the price tag that comes attached to any fantasy film.

(A still more drastic operation was performed on The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman’s atheist fairy tale, during the transition from page to screen last year.) But judging from Caspian’s middling box-office showing to date, it might be worth considering something different for Voyage of the Dawn Treader and (one hopes) its sequels: half the budget, perhaps, and a little more fidelity to the elements of theme and plot that make Narnia something more than an entertaining but two-dimensional imitation of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Yeah! And isn’t that exactly what I said? And as for that last point, lord I dearly hope so.