Sunday, 25 January 2009

Four belated reassessments

From the New York Times:
On the Age of Neo-Remorse
On the unintended consequences of housing regulations

From the London Review of Books:
Ross McKibbin on the wider implications of the financial crisis:
The second inescapable obligation [on any responsible government] is the return of housing to its proper function: as providing places to live in rather than to speculate on. The relationship of housing to politics in both Britain and the United States is not fully understood even by those who transformed it. They don’t understand it because that would require confronting awkward facts about Anglo-American democracy. Fundamentally, private housing has become a compensation for the increasingly gross maldistribution of income. Inadequate incomes mean that large numbers of people don’t have access to the style of life that has always been the ultimate justification of neoliberalism and to which, reasonably enough, they now believe they have a right. What does give them access to it (in the short term) is credit. But credit has to be secured, and that’s what housing does. However, it works only if house prices keep rising and people have enough income to repay debt.

And from the cinema vault: I have finally seen Scent of a Woman. I missed the film when it came out, and despite my love of Al Pacino, I've avoided it since, believing the rumours about its over-the-topness and cornball. Well: it's better late than never. The worst part of the movie by far is the prep-school framing material --- the sub-Dead-Poets assembly scene is not only over-the-top, it's cheap --- but the body of the film is terrific. Pacino brings real charm and depth to the part, and over such a range ... it really does belie the idea of a one-note “Hoo-wah!” period. (The expression is a staple of his character here; perhaps this has fed the stereotype.) And the tango scene is delightful.

All this time, there's been a very strong NYT review of the film, too. Well, that review was right: and the conventional wisdom can go hang. OK, so Pacino should have got an Oscar for the Godfather films, rather than for this. But let's take the movie on its merits.

No comments: