The Magnificent Seven
Rarely have so many charismatic actors been used in a film that feels quite as soulless as Antoine Fuqua’s update of The Magnificent Seven.
Q. In “Public Enemies,” in the scene showing the escape from the prison in Indiana, it is a little strange that the soldiers guarding the prison were wearing the shoulder insignia of the 33rd Infantry Division of the Illinois National Guard. Frank Fabbri, Chicago, IL
A. Gen. Blagojevich was in the mood for an invasion.
Q. Re “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” I am curious about what you meant when you wrote: “They may not become the most popular girl in school, but they don’t care. That honor carries with it a terrible lifetime price tag.” I have read many of your reviews and know that you carefully construct your writing; therefore, I believe that your choice of words was intentionally strong, or alludes to something. For whatever reason, I am puzzled. What is the terrible lifetime price tag? I have ideas as to what you meant but in general feel like I might be reading too much into a few words or am missing something entirely. Steven Robinson, Montrose, British Columbia
A. Perhaps those words were not very carefully chosen. You can be popular and live a wonderful life. But I fear that if you tailor your behavior in order to be popular, your prospects are not as bright.
Q. In regard to why Saya wears a sailor suit in “Blood: The Last Vampire,” those are standard uniforms for Japanese high schools. The only reason she’s out of place at the school in the movie is that it’s part of an American base situated in Japan. Daniel Zelter, Los Angeles, CA
A. The American students mock her, so they must not get off the base much.
Q. Re your memories of John Wayne in Durango: Did the Duke, the icon of macho America, really play 1.P-Q4 as White? He preferred the closed, positional game to the more enterprising, aggressive style of 1.P-K4? Say it ain’t so! Eric Isaacson, Bloomington, IN
A. That’ll be the day. Hey, I play Queen’s Gambit, too. Me, Capablanca and Alekhine. Us guys.
Q. I am a junior in high school. I would have walked out on “Transformers” had I not gone with a group who was willing to drive me home. As we exited the cinema, my friends were describing their favorite scenes, like “the car rammed into the building” or “that big-ass explosion.” As I tried to figure out not only why I was hanging around with these people, the words “that movie sucked” unfortunately slipped out of my mouth. My friends stopped discussing “Transformers” (the only positive outcome of my comment) and looked at me the same way that Quayle looked at Bentsen. After a heated one-on-six debate, I walked home. In conclusion, my father is driving me down to Chicago so I can see a very anticipated “Hurt Locker.” I just wanted to let you know that while most of the youth out there probably think that “Gone With the Wind” is about farts and that “Transformers” is a masterpiece, there’s at least one teen who still knows a horrible piece of rotten robotic garbage when he sees one. Alex, Madison, WI
A. You have a great dad.
Q. I read your original review of "The Hurt Locker" and was amused to see another dig at Michael Bay and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Having not seen “Transformers,” I have no opinion about your opinion. I was surprised to see that, hours later, the review [online] is missing the section where you called Michael Bay “pathetic.” Why did the review change? Jeremy Schultz, Carlisle, PA
Q. I disagree with your negative characterization of Rep. Ron Paul in your review of "Brüno." I supported him in his presidential campaign, and I found Sacha Baron Cohen’s treatment of Dr. Paul deplorable and disrespectful. Dr. Paul was right to walk out, and his reactionary attitude reflects a defensive mechanism inherent in heterosexuals.
You allowed your politically correct bias to impose “decidedly liberal” values on the reader, and for that you should be ashamed. Keep political bias on the sideline when reviewing the film, except when the topic of the film is political. Aaron Heineman, Provo, UT
A. In all fairness, I wrote, “It is no doubt unfair of Cohen to victimize an innocent like Ron Paul. Watching Paul trying to deal with this weirdo made me reflect that as a fringe candidate, he has probably been subjected to a lot of strange questions on strange TV shows and is prepared to sit through almost anything for TV exposure.”
Q. In your review of "Brüno," you mentioned that Sacha Baron Cohen’s stereotyped gay character is flamboyant but you didn’t comment on just how offensive this stereotype is. I can imagine many people seeing this film and walking away thinking that Mr. Cohen accurately portrayed the average gay man. As I’m sure you know, stereotypes can be extremely harmful, and I believe there is a link between stereotypes and violence against whatever group is being stereotyped.
I don’t think Sacha Baron Cohen’s portrayal of a gay man is any different from the racist portrayals of black people in films from the earlier part of the 20th century. I wonder what your review would be like if the film were about a white person who puts on blackface and puts himself in various situations in which he acts no differently than the way white people acted in blackface in films from silent era and early talkies. Warren Jones, San Francisco, CA
A. I didn’t use the word “stereotype” in my review, and Brüno in my opinion is not a stereotype of any human being living or dead. Anyone who thinks he is “an average gay man” is a below-average average idiot.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...