‘Ebony and Ivory’?
Laguna Woods, Calif.
Patricia J. Williams’s “American Pie” [Jan. 28] is a pure triumph. Williams has all the bite of Maureen Dowd, but she does not break the skin. Her “audacious little hope” that both Obama and Clinton will be on the November ticket is a fantasy for many of us. It would be an extraordinary achievement to have a woman and a man of color in the highest offices in the land.
NICHOLAS P. DELLIS
Patricia J. Williams hits it right on the head with her biting piece on presidential image. Still, although I’m comfortable with Hillary or Barack, the one who truly belonged at the top was John Edwards, who spoke directly and unabashedly to the two most important issues of our time: the corporate stranglehold on politics and the dire necessity of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
New York City
I am hoping, like Professor Williams, that Democrats and the general voting public will not take the poison bait of division and will defeat the kleptocracy of Bush. But the professor’s “ebony and ivory” vision seems doubtful. My sense says that white males, Republicans and many independents would swamp the polls to kill this dream.
There Will Be Noise
New York City
Stuart Klawans rightly points out that No Country for Old Men is “immaculate” [“A Hard Man,” Jan. 28]. One reason for the film’s unsullied aura is that there is no music to distract one’s attention from the sweeping, unpeopled vistas. The silence is eloquent. In There Will Be Blood, on the other hand, as Klawans approvingly points out, a relentless score wraps the viewer in an “exhilarating atmosphere in which massed strings can swarm like uneasy flies or shriek like a siren.” Exhilaration is precisely what Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliantly acted adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! is not about, and those swarming flies and shrieking sirens, loud and manipulative beyond endurance, may well prevent his otherwise impeccable film from being judged a classic.
New York City
I buy a laundry detergent labeled “fragrance free.” Is this Sudzalot Pure simpler and more natural than the smelly brand? No. Extra chemicals have in fact been added to neutralize the existing odors. So it is with movie soundtracks, where even a stretch of near silence is a manufactured effect. In the case of No Country for Old Men, I wholeheartedly agree with Joel Conarroe that the manufacturing is exceptionally effective. But I don’t believe the limited use of music is itself a mark of integrity, any more than I think There Will Be Blood necessarily lacks integrity because the soundtrack plays up a variety of music, some of it clearly meant to set the teeth on edge. It’s all a question of purpose. I continue to have some doubts about that of the Coen brothers but none about Paul Thomas Anderson’s.