Op-Ed: Deflowering a Boy in Film 'Reader' Reflects Hollywood Nosedive

Posted Feb 21, 2009 by Carol Forsloff
A movie for cynics, for those who know about underage sex and don't want to, and a documentary about prison torture and those who did it because of personal self loathing is part of Oscar buzz. Kate Winslet may be great, but the film is wretched.
A scene from The Reader
Kate Winsley and David Kross star in The Reader
Courtesy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The film The Reader has little redeeming features except for the acting and body of Winslet. These shine throughout the film while the movie itself makes one feel like running home and washing the grime of ugly story wrapped up in a bad script off one's memory bank quickly. It centers on the shame of the main character's illiteracy as opposed to the atrocities she committed as a guard in a prison where Jews were tortured and killed. I wonder how many people will really enjoy a film just to watch an actress emote when the story itself has little to entice but that. The film is otherwise the kind that should go quickly to CD, out of the box office, or should have been on the cutting room floor before release, leaving only Winslet's speaking in clips to show film students or Winslet fans good acting and good body.
After scrubbing out the film from recollection of nothing more than memory that The Reader is bad, so that my review is left in these small remarks, I contrast it with those old films of Hollywood made in the 30's and 40's. During a bleak period of depression and war, Hollywood elevated the consciousness of the people so that they lined up to watch singing and dancing and beautiful people falling in love and living happily ever after. Their lives were dreary and poor, so why not dream? Betty Grable with her great legs and figure tacked inside lockers and on magazine covers was someone women wanted to emulate. Frank Sinatra made women swoon. Lena Horne made women envious and men lust. Judy Garland told people there was a rainbow and that they could go home again. Folks could escape into the arms of Hollywood and get love and goodwill and happily ever if not in fact then in fantasy. James Stewart's character in "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" revealed that an ordinary guy with good ideas could make good government. That was something certainly for hope.
Now in the films for Oscars we have the story Milk of Harvey Milk, certainly a hero of sorts for his advocacy and taking on the case of gay rights, but we also have his assassination by a conservative, reflecting the type of ugliness in our communities. We can be reminded of corruption in politics in the film Frost/Nixon. We can watch young poor kids make good in Slumdog Millionaire then learn those young actors involved continue to live in slums. We can watch Kate Winslet and wince with The Reader or see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where the circumstances of a young man's life, played by Brad Pitt, makes a real life and true love impossible.
Indeed if movies were once escapes, where do we escape to now except Disney?