May 30, 2012 · 4 Comments
By Marie Burns:
Today’s New York Times op-ed page is devoted to film reviews.
Maureen Dowd spends the first part of her column, titled “Andromeda is Coming,” to remembrances of scary sci-fi movies and TV shows which relied on the premise of an earth-shattering event – a planet or asteroid collision, solar flares, humungous earthquake. Dowd throws in a few prophecies about similar end-of-days scenarios – maybe to give the films verisimilitude. She goes on to sort of review “’The Age of Miracles,’ a debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker that [is] … a tender coming-of-age novel set at the toxic end of the world.” Don’t worry; this too shall be a movie. Dowd tells us the book “has already been optioned by Hollywood.” Shaken by all of these cosmic possibilities, Dowd consults an expert – David Morrison, the senior scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California – who reassures her “that the premises in Walker’s novel and ‘The Twilight Zone’ could not happen.” This would be a good place for Dowd to discuss the really bad things that will happen/are happening because of our rampant environmental carelessness. But such reality is an inconvenient truth that doesn’t make for entertaining op-ed trivia, so Dowd doesn’t go there.
In her commentary on Walker’s novel, Dowd notes that the book won’t be published till next month – a way of informing us that she received an advance copy. She also tells us about chatting via e-mail with the author. This special access the publisher Random House accorded Dowd reminds me of Tom Friedman’s frequent boasts about his many chats with very important people, some of whom are his close personal friends.
Sure enough, in his column today, Tom Friedman identifies iconic musician Paul Simon as “a friend of mine.” The occasion for this boast is Friedman’s “review” of “Joe Berlinger’s must-see documentary, ‘Under African Skies,’ about the making of Paul Simon’s classic ‘Graceland’ album in South Africa in 1985 – and his reunion with the same African artists 25 years later.” Unlike Dowd, Friedman devotes considerable space in his column to a legitimate subject for the op-ed page: the political ramifications of Simon’s collaboration with South African musicians in the time of apartheid. Though Friedman’s writing and “insights” are adolescent, his topic – even as it comes in the form of a movie review – is certainly worthy of revisiting. Maybe Frank Rich, formerly of the Times and now writing for New York magazine, will discuss the film and its subject matter in a manner worthy of the material.
I was disappointed to find that Mark Bittman, the food guy, who usually writes on Wednesdays, was off today. I was hoping he might suggest some appropriate munchies to snack on at the movies. The closest substitute is a post by Ross Douthat, whose lede mentions “pious baloney.” I was hoping “Pious Baloney” was the name Douthat had chosen to rechristen his New York Times blog, but apparently not. I’ll chew over Douthat’s post later.
Marie Burns blogs at RealityChex.com