Tuesday, September 05, 2006

International Relations...

... and a Difficult Romance

I woke early on this last morning of our summer at the beach--from a fear-of-flying dream. The month of August seems to have flashed by even faster than it usually does, and I have been haunted in the past few days by the feeling that overwhelms me every year at this time. It's the one that takes me back to my childhood days, when the end of August heralded the train ride from Victoria Station that took me back to school for the first term of the school year. It's the one that takes me back to my classroom, then my academic teaching days, which lasted in all for some twenty-five years of my working life, before I finally realized that this was not what I was supposed to be doing with my days on earth. I was always suppoed to be a writer. I quit the world of academia at that point, but that late-August feeling still persists...

Back to the big city today, then, Bush. An afternoon to get myself organized and pack, then off again tomorrow morning for Springfield. After that, from next week on, we'll be back to our regular routine, commuting down here to the beach at the weekend and returning to Los Angeles for the weekdays. There are worse fates in life--though if the choice were mine alone, we would be living down here full-time in this small seaside town. It should be reverting to its post-tourist season calm before too long.

Briefly, then, for today, the mention of a movie that we saw last night: "The Girl in the Cafe." We rented it because it received a lot of attention at the Emmy's, and it turned out to be more than worthy of the hoop-la. The main characters--two painfully shy misfits--find each other in a small cafe and inch toward what might become a relationship. He, a highly placed civil servant emotionally crippled by his inordinate English diffidence, can hardly bring himself to ask her out for lunch. She, young, Irish, out of work and doing nothing with her life, responds in kind. Then, on impulse, and considerably to his own surprise, he invites her to join him on a trip to Reykjavik, where he is a part of the British negotiating team at the G-8 conference.

Once there, he shares with her his agony over the compromises that will be made to reach a "deal" acceptable to all parties, basically signing away the lives of millions of African women and children living in abject poverty in order that the affluent countries may continue in their economic prosperity and growth. Unable to contain her innocent outrage, she speaks aloud, before the assembled delegates of the powerful nations, the truth that none of them want to admit--disgracing her new friend with the public admission of the honesty he had revealed to her in private. Meantime, their relationship has moved from that painful shyness into painful intimacy, and is finally left in a state of irresolvable doubt...

A wonderful, difficult movie, Bush, which manages to move believably between the intimate, personal relationship between two people and the world stage of international relations. It refuses to gloss over the hard moral choices involved at both levels of our human experience, but confronts us very honestly with the sometimes excruciating task of maintaining our integrity in the face of the contingencies of the "real world." A truly satisfying experience.

America, I have to tell you, Bush, did not come off too well, with its efficient, hard-nosed, and essentially heartless negotiating team resistant to any decisions that could require a sacrifice on our country's own part. As I said, a convincing and compelling portrayal of life on the top rung of the governmental ladder. An excellent rental, Bush. I recommend it.


GringoWithoutBorders said...

Completely off the subject but I could not resist. (i'll rent the movie tonight)

At first I thought it was just another tirade by the American Christian Republicans saying how secular & liberal the American Universities are and how it needs to change to better America. Alas, it was Iran's President saying this about his own country's Universities.

I'm sure the American media will call Iran Evil again but will never condemn the same religious arguement/ferver made by this country's Christian conservatives regarding University teachers being to liberal & secular.

Why can't the right wing religious politicians of each country ever get along? They have so much in common.

denn said...

The rest of us are paying for those kinds of people to battle throughout the world. And nobody is stopping it. Maddening insanity.

60 Minutes showed the 13 New York City paramedics who went to Pakistan, into Osama country, and saved earthquake victims lives by the hundreds. The simplest, cheapest, most effective, not to mention spiritual gesture of good will one can imagine. All volunteers with no backing, carrying what supplies they could on their backs.

the goodwill generated by these men among people who before they came, hated Americans, is so far-reaching, it's hard to imagine, children who will grow up liking the Americans who saved them.

Why can't we hold our leaders to this course of policy? No money in it?? Bunk. Just not as much money as weapon sales. The numbers of Americans needed are not programmed to help any but themselves.

GringoWithoutBorders said...

"The Girl in the Cafe" was a great movie. A little hard to watch the main male character as he is extremely shy and movements are frustrating. (Actually reminds me of myself, which is good to see and realize what that behavior looks like.) The girl's speech was heartbreaking and brought a few tears to my eyes.

Overall, a great movie that provides hope 1 person can make a difference.