On Film and Off

A couple of interesting film-related e-mails crossed my virtual desk today. First Run Features, which has one of the most fascinatingly variegated catalogs of any distributor I know, is releasing two new DVDs that are worth a look. The first, Lizzie Borden's deliciously funny Working Girls, is a deft skewering of male sexuality as seen by an ill-assorted group of prostitutes. The film, which was released in 1986 hasn't been seen much since its initial theatrical run, which is a shame because it is witty and trenchant and puts on-screen a point-of-view that is still not aired too often.

The other film First Run is releasing on disk is the controversial September 11. What sparked controversy at the time of the film's release in 2002 was the fact that several of the eleven directors who participated in its making did not show a proper awe for the Stars and Stripes. Ken Loach, for example, chose to remind viewers of another catastrophic 9/11, the day that the Chilean military overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende and murdered him and thousands of others, with the connivance of the U.S. In truth, my recollection is that much of this film is more irrelevant than irreverent, with Sean Penn's lachrymose offering representing the nadir of soft-headed sentimentality, but the episodes by Loach, Samira Makhmalbaf, Amos Gitai (who chose to stage his 11-minute segment in a single dizzying take) and Shohei Imamura are worth a look. Both DVDs will be available on August 21 from First Run.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to an item that is considerably more important than a new DVD or another theatrical release. In the past few months The Decider has decided that he is now completely above the Constitution. On May 9, Dubya issued "National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20," in which he says that in the event of a catastrophic attack he, and he alone, is entrusted with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive Branch. He also gives himself the responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government.” (I assume that means that in the event of a catastrophic attack, Dubya will finally show some interest in constitutional government, which would be a welcome change.) For a more detailed look at what this means, I refer you to Matthew Rothschild's column in The Progressive.

But wait, folks, that's not all. Besides the Ginsu knives he's planning to stick in your back, Dubya is also preparing to punish dissent in the most direct way possible, by seizing the assets of anyone who obstructs his "reconstruction of Iraq." In an exective order issued on July 17, he gives the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to freeze the assets of any person opposing Bush’s Iraq policy who may have committed an act of violence, or even posed “a significant risk of committing” such an act, or “assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support” for others committing such acts." Now that is a nice broad net he's throwing out, and I assume that by writing this post I have just become ensnared in it. (My assets are so meager that I'm as judgment-proof as O.J., and a hell of a lot more innocent.) Again, I refer you to Matthew Rothschild and The Progressive.

What has all this to do with film? As Jimmy Stewart says to Rock Hudson in Anthony Mann's Bend of the River, in a similar context, "If you don't know, I can't tell you."