The good fight: Regarding your movie review "Bora! Bora! Bora!" (May 24). Number One: How should one make a movie about Pearl Harbor? Number Two: My dad was a Marine in World War II, and my mother was a teen-ager during the war years. Their view of the world then was a lot more good-against-evil and less cynical than the hip-hop, post-Vietnam War MTV generation regarding fighting for a right and worthy cause. They did believe in God and Country and flag-waving and were against evil powers trying to dominate the world through military might--unlike the selfish, secular, self-adulation society we live in today, which would be hard-pressed to fight the good fight that we fought in World War II. Number Three: People did make love during the war years and probably with greater urgency and passion considering the fact the whole world was at war.
Randy W. Kelley
Shameful impulse: I quite enjoyed Mr. Wilonsky's review of the movie Pearl Harbor. Although normally I wouldn't be deterred by a negative review of a movie I planned to see, this time it made the crucial difference. The previews had me amped up for an FX extravaganza--to hell with the shallow melodrama and dubious take on history, I want to "be the bomb!" Fortunately, your reviewer articulated that impulse for the shameful one it is and reinforced my better instincts. Instead I plan to rent Tora! Tora! Tora! Thanks for the heads up, so to speak.
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Convincing: I've read several pretty negative commentaries on the movie in the last couple of days, but yours was the most convincing. Thanks to you, I've saved myself several dollars today. The previews were great, but I think I'll stay home.
Fetching style: Great story ("Fat Like Me," May 31)! I've recently been turned on to the Dallas Observer, and yours is the first article I've read. I wish more of your writers had Mark Donald's stylistic flair. These are the kind of chuckles I get from Dave Barry's stuff.
Colossal ego: I thoroughly enjoyed Christine Biederman's story on Santiago Calatrava, "Bilbao Envy" (May 17). I'm an architecture critic and writer in New York and the former senior design editor of Architecture magazine. I've seen and written about much of Calatrava's work and even spent a bizarre afternoon with the architect in Zurich. And I couldn't agree more with so many of Biederman's observations!
The only point on which I disagree is her assertion that Calatrava is feeling the effect of something related to Frank Gehry's monumental success with the Guggenheim in Bilbao. I think it's much simpler--Calatrava has an ego that's colossal even by architects' standards. As the author astutely observes, to what end do his buildings move? Calatrava admits that he is fascinated by structures that move, but if there is no functional purpose for motion, aren't his buildings just enormous, expensive and often grotesquely anatomical sculptures? Sure, his work is part of that "dark, anti-rational" impulse in Spanish art. But I'd rather plumb the depths of a Goya canvas or wander around Gaudi's Sagrada Familia than watch Calatrava's giant blinking eyeball (his planetarium in Valencia, Spain) open and shut, to no particular functional effect.
Cheap labor pool: The more I read the article on Trinity Works ("Locked In," May 3), the more it starts to sound like a cult: taking control of people's lives, living quarters and money, and their use of threats and manipulation of people too weak to fight for themselves. Charity? More like a cheap labor pool.
Breaking the poverty cycle: Perhaps I am in the minority, but I came away from your story on the Trinity Works program with a completely different impression than the one I assume you intended. An anti-poverty program should encourage people to prefer work over dependence. For the most part, those who were most disenchanted with the program went on and found jobs, if only because they hated the Works program so much that they could imagine nothing better than to escape--to be free of such a repressive, controlling environment.
To me, compassion is not measured by how many people receive aid but rather by how many no longer need or want it. Trinity Works isn't for everyone, and it sounds like they may be running awry of labor laws--a serious allegation, indeed. Tough love, shock treatment, whatever you call it, should be a tool in the arsenal against dependence and poverty. It isn't for everyone who needs help, but it may be exactly what the most intractable victims of the cycle of poverty need.
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