• MT VOID, 08/18/23 -- Vol. 42, No. 7, Whole Number 2289

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Aug 20 04:54:42 2023
    08/18/23 -- Vol. 42, No. 7, Whole Number 2289

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    Mini Reviews, Part 3 (WIND RIVER, BOILING POINT,
    FUNNY FACE) (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Women Scientists at Los Alamos
    This Week's Reading (THE WAR THAT ENDED PEACE)
    (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 3 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    This is the third batch of mini-reviews for this season.

    WIND RIVER (2017): WIND RIVER is described as a "neo noir"; it is a
    murder mystery set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The
    atmosphere reminds one of FARGO, being a cold, bleak landscape,
    although with more vegetation. The investigators are the tribal
    police chief (played by the great Graham Greene), a fish and
    wildlife ranger (shades of LAKE PLACID, but without the humor)
    (played by Jeremy Renner), and an FBI agent (played by Elizabeth
    Olsen) who has no experience in the area, but happened to be
    attending a conference nearby and so was the nearest agent to the
    scene (also a bit like LAKE PLACID). [-mrl/ecl]

    Released theatrically 04 August 2017. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4), or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    BOILING POINT (2021): BOILING POINT has some similarities to THE
    MENU. Both are to some extent about kitchen stress, although the
    restaurant in BOILING POINT is several status notches below the one
    in THE MENU. But BOILING POINT has its own points to make.
    There's a celebrity chef that also seems to be a reviewer, and as a
    reviewer he gets more recognition than the head chef of the
    restaurant. And the reviewer is so smug that he not only requests
    additional seasoning from the kitchen, he throws it on his dining
    partner's dish as well, without asking and even as she is asking
    him not to. When Rich did this in THE JOY LUCK CLUB, it was a
    clear sign that he was a boor.

    You know how in HOT SHOTS!, one of the flyers says he'll sign the
    insurance forms when he gets back from this mission? Well,
    something like that happens early on in this film and the viewer
    spends the entire film waiting for the other shoe to fall.

    While there are a fair number of unlikable characters, it turns out
    that almost everything can be blamed on one person, and
    unfortunately this is a person I think we are supposed to
    sympathize with, which makes the whole movie a bit problematic.

    Released theatrically 19 November 2021. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4), or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    FUNNY FACE (1957): FUNNY FACE was on a list of films recommended
    for book lovers, or at any rate about bookshops. Okay, there is a
    scene in a marvelous used bookshop. It consists of a bunch of
    brainless fashion models, their editor, and their photographer
    charging into the shop and pulling books off the shelves because
    they think everything looks too organized. (It must be the same
    mentality that has models walk down the runway dragging their coats
    behind them on the floor.) When the manager (Audrey Hepburn) tries
    to stop them, they shove her out the front door and lock her out.
    Eventually they leave, and leave the place a mess, without ever
    even suggesting they should pay for the privilege of using the shop
    or the inconvenience they have caused. (And damage, based on how
    they are handling the books.) This doesn't need a recommendation,
    this needs a trigger warning.

    There's also a scene where a man and a woman are arguing, but when
    he slaps her, she suddenly becomes very affectionate towards him.
    Add to that that Hepburn was 28 years old and her love interest
    (Fred Astaire) was 58.

    I didn't like the songs, either. [-ecl]

    Released theatrically 28 Match 1957. Rating: -1 (-4 to +4), or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:


    TOPIC: Women Scientists at Los Alamos

    In the OPPENHEIMER review in the 08/04/23 issue of the MT VOID, we
    mentioned the dearth of women scientists portrayed. The Washington
    Post just had an article, "Female scientists who worked on A-bomb
    mostly absent from ‘Oppenheimer’". It is available free (not
    paywalled) at <https://wapo.st/3sb5I9f>.


    TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Someone recommended THE WAR THAT ENDED PEACE: THE ROAD TO 1914 by
    Margaret MacMillan (Random House, ISBN 978-0-812-98066-0). (I
    really have to start noting who it is that puts a book on my
    reading list to start with. I mean, obviously *I* put it on my
    list, but whose recommendation got me to do that?)

    Anyway, MacMillan begins by covering the major players in the
    lead-up to World War I, including all the heads of state of the
    countries that ended up in it. (The United States shows up more as
    a secondary participant which, given that we did not play as active
    a role as England, France, Germany, Russia, or Austro-Hungary, this
    is not unexpected. As for the title, Europe had been (basically)
    at peace since 1815--if you didn't count the revolutions of 1830,
    1848, 1871, the Greek War of Independence, the Crimean War, and the Franco-Prussian War, as well as several Balkan wars which may have
    been just early parts of World War I. (I know--who am I to
    criticize MacMillan's definition of peace? As Mark once replied to
    a similar albeit less academic question, who do I have to be?)

    One chapter introduces Kaiser Wilhelm II. He is described as
    ill-tempered, apt to insult other countries (and monarchs),
    believing himself to be smarter than anyone else, turning on anyone
    who contradicted him (or even didn't support him sufficiently),
    loving to give speeches (and prone to ad lib when speaking), and
    considered all the political parties who opposed him as traitors.

    This sounded familiar to me, and when I Googled, I found I was not
    alone. Miranda Carter wrote "What Happens When a Bad-Tempered,
    Distractible Doofus Runs and Empire?" (6 June 2018). Stephen M.
    Walt wrote "The Donald Trump-Kaiser Wilhelm Parallels Are Getting
    Scary" (12 October 2017). And these were just the first two that
    turned up.

    But while Kaiser Wilhelm may have been the least qualified of the
    bunch, there were no brilliant statesmen among the rest of them
    either. Any brilliance seems to have been on a lower level, and
    inevitably the person who actually knew what was going on managed
    to annoy his head of state enough to be removed, or at least

    So countries spent money they didn't have on the wrong military
    equipment to put in the wrong location under officers with no real
    training. And diplomats thought they were being clever in keeping
    their plans secret when in fact they (and their motivations) were
    obvious to everyone.

    Another chapter, titled "What Were They Thinking?", sounds so

    - "Muriel or JeanOld institutions and values were under attack and
    new ways and new attitudes were emerging."

    - "And change of the sort that Europe was experiencing comes with a
    price. Europe's economic transformation brought terrific strains
    and repeated cycles of boom and bust raised doubts about the
    stability and future of capitalism itself."

    - "The old upper classes, whose wealth largely came from
    landowning, distrusted much of the New World and feared with reason
    that their hold on power was weakening and their way of life was

    - "Intangible yet very precious, honor was, so the upper classes
    believe, something that came with birth; gentlemen had their honor
    and the lower classes did not."

    - "It is striking just how many fears rippled through European
    society in the period before 1914. In an unsettling parallel with
    our own times, there was considerably anxiety about terrorists who
    were implacable enemies of Western society yet who lived
    anonymously in its midst."

    - "Men, or so it was feared, were getting weaker, even effeminate,
    in the modern world and masculine values and strength were no
    longer valued."

    - "And homosexuality, it was suspected, particularly among the
    upper classes. That would surely undermine the family, one of the
    foundation stones of a strong state."

    - "Women, on the other hand, appeared to be getting stronger and
    more assertive and were abandoning their traditional roles as wives
    and mothers."

    The decline in fertility also raised another concern about the
    future of European society: that the wrong sorts of people were

    And best of all:

    - "Education was seen as particularly important in giving the young
    the right ideas, perhaps because it was feared that they might so
    easily get the wrong ones. ... In 1897 80 percent of the
    candidates taking the higher secondary-school qualifications, the
    baccalaureat [sic], stated that the purpose of history were
    primarily patriotic. ... In Germany ... a leading educator told
    teachers that their purpose should be to develop 'a patriotic and
    monarchial spirit' and make the young aware that they must be
    prepared to defend Germany against its many enemies."

    I commented on Mike Duncan's THE STORM BEFORE THE STORM: THE
    06/05/2020 issue of the MT VOID, and discussed how the authors of
    those books saw parallels between current events and ancient Rome.
    Now I find that there are also a depressing number of parallels
    between current events and pre-World War I Europe. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    Of those men who have overturned the liberties
    of republics, the greatest number have begun
    their career by paying an obsequious court to
    the people: commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
    --Alexander Hamilton

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