A few weeks ago on this site, Mark Bowden said the movie Argo was “brilliant” and “captures the moment [of the Iranian hostage crisis] perfectly. It is a movie about a small charade played out in the middle of the larger one, the rescue of six Americans who walked away from the [American] embassy on the day of the takeover and hid inside the Canadian embassy.
Few things are more grating to the proud people of Massachusetts than claiming to understand their worldview on the basis of a few Good Will Hunting quotes. Still, even the most jaded Bay Staters should admit that sometimes a dose of Ben Affleck helps to clarify things.
It is often said that the age of the Washington hostess is dead. Gone are the days, we are told, of Katharine Graham and Pamela Harriman, who assembled Washington power players around tables where deals were struck and alliances forged. But that may not be entirely true. The name Rima Al-Sabah doesn’t ring many bells to people outside the Beltway. Inside, it rings a lot. Al-Sabah is the wife of the Kuwaiti ambassador, Salem Al-Sabah. Since the couple arrived in Washington in 2001, she has become known as the issuer of invitations one doesn’t decline.
What is the most boring job in the world? It’s a question that filmmakers have addressed, usually obliquely, countless times. Often, the dullness of a feigned career is offered in ironic counterpoint to the excitement of a real one--Tom Cruise’s cover identity working as a traffic analyst in Mission Impossible III (which actually sounded somewhat fascinating) or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sunlighting as a software salesman in True Lies (which decidedly did not).
When Spider-Man hit theaters in the spring of 2002, I thought it had distilled the perfect formula for cinema superheroics, a careful blend of in-costume action and out-of-costume drama, seasoned with a dash of unrequited adolescent longing and liberal portions of Tobey Maguire's insistent adorability. There was no reason to doubt that the recipe would work equally well in a sequel. Clearly, the filmmakers also felt they had found a replicable formula; they just took the idea a little more literally.
SINCE THE 1960S, WHEN Michael McClure imagined Billy the Kid humping Jean Harlow in The Beard and Barbara Garson had Lyndon Johnson whacking Jack Kennedy in MacBird, it has grown obvious that actual people, often still among us, have become the grist of American playwriting. In one recent week alone, a musical opened by Michael John LaChiusa called First Lady Suite, featuring Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, and Mamie Eisenhower, along with a semi-fictional comedy by A.R. Gurney called Mrs. Farnsworth, about a Vassar woman who may or may not have been impregnated by George W.