I spent a lot of yesterday actually shaken by a film -- not just by the content, but by the construction of it as well. The Last King of Scotland -- a drama about Idi Amin's rule in Uganda -- may contain an Oscar-worthy performance by Forrest Whittaker, and remind us of the tragedy of what happened to that nation, but it's also problematic in a lot of ways. Or, rather, it's semi-problematic, because it seems to suggest that the only way to make a compelling tragedy about African's reality is to give the audience a fictional White, European character for audiences to use as a lens. And, of course, I walked from the theater and wandered by the huge crowds at San Francisco's newest shopping center -- nothing like the contrast between carnage and consumerism to make your head all squidgy on the inside.

Every time I read a story about some way of altering DVD movies so they're less offensive -- whether it's CleanFlicks or ClearPlay -- I get that little headache I get when I hear something incredibly stupid. I watch art to have my sensibilities offended now and then, so that I can actually think about my sensibilities and why I have them -- or, as Fran Leibowitz put it, "Being offended is a natural consequence of leaving your house." And I think of some films as the equivalent of those carnival signs about minimum height requirements: You must be this much of a grown-up to watch this film. And no cheating, which is what, at heart, CleanFlicks and ClearPlay are.

categories Cinematical