March 03, 2002
we were soldiers once, and young

Randy and Cindy are in town for the UNC game, so we caught Mel Gibson's film adaptation of We Were Soldiers Once, and Young. A.O. Scott reviewed it to the effect of "square and effective", which is pretty on target. No post-modern angst or time spent wondering what we were doing in Vietnam in the first place. It was a World War II epic set in Vietnam--a good commander who trains his men as well as possible for the maelstrom, men who trust a good commander, and a long set-piece battle that encapsulates all that is best about American loyalty, perseverance, and flexibility. There isn't a drop of cynicism throughout. No ellipses. No ambiguity. I confess that a tear rolled down my cheek when Moore's wife comforts a black woman who loses her husband in the battle. I don't think there is anything wrong with the full-throated decency of the movie. Like Blackhawk, it is clear that a soldier's greatest loyalty to country is loyalty to his comrades. Who can find fault with that sentiment? It's simple, but simple is fine sometimes, Red Wheelbarrow fine.

Disappointing Occurence(s): We went to Borders after the movie for a cup of coffee. Since I couldn't find Richard Ellman's Oscar Wilde biography at Barnes & Noble, I thought I'd look for it there.

Bad sign #1: There's no "Biography" section
Bad sign #2: The clerk, a not unintelligent-looking middle-aged woman didn't know who Richard Ellman was (bookstores are now staffed by people who don't know books); and after "perusing" the Books-In-Print database, insisted Richard Ellman did not exist (he is a Pulitzer Prize-winner after all). Even worse, after searching on "Oscar Wilde", insisted that no such biography exists.

Since Ellman's literary biographies are considered definitive, among the most treasured by literary critics, and I know he exists and his books are still in print (I studied Joyce under his daughter for God's sake), I suggested very nicely that she was FOS. Seeking to vindicate herself (and I really was being very polite, even if she called me "insistent"), she asked me to come behind the counter and look for myself. After scrolling down, 'Lo and Behold, there's Richard Ellman.

I'm going to shop at the Regulator or McIntyre's from now on.


Posted by erich at March 03, 2002 12:21 AM
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