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CHOOSE (QUALITY OF) LIFE

I am writing to thank writers Judith Lewis and Ben Ehrenreich
for their exceptional cover package on the pro-life movement [“Still
the Battleground,” April 5–11]
. Presently, the pro-life movement offers
few realistic answers to the problem of unwanted pregnancy. Until there are
adequate resources to provide for the many children who are already sitting
unwanted in foster homes, adoption is not the answer. Until the social-welfare
system can support unwed mothers and developmentally disabled children, keeping
unwanted children is not the answer. Fundamentalists need to wake up
and see the real picture, that there are children out there who cannot be cared
for and women out there who are not ready to be mothers.

—Brandi Hugo
Los Angeles

“Operation Miscue” by Ben Ehrenreich was an interesting
mixture of fact, bias and opinion. Mr. Ehrenreich set out to establish his hope
that the pro-life movement is moribund, as if that were already obvious. He
cleverly weaves his facts and opinions together in order to produce the desired
impression. He delights in highlighting the problems of pro-lifers, apparently
unaware that his obvious bias undoes his credibility.

Michael Grumbine
Whittier

Re: Judith Lewis’ “Fetal Frenzy.” Social policy should
endeavor to teach both males and females, from early childhood throughout their
lifetimes, to accept full responsibility for all their behavior, as well as
the consequences of their behavior, with special emphases on sexual behavior,
which implements the process of procreation. The construction of any social
policy based on emphasizing individual responsibility throughout our life cycle
would surely help to bring about Ms. Lewis’ vision “in which no mother,
whatever her economic circumstances, attitude or marital status, lacks the resources
to feed her children.”

H.M.Lewis Sr.
Ocoee, Florida

 

DIVERSIONARY TACTIC

Isn’t it interesting to note that in the same issue where
the L.A. Weekly chronicles the decline of the pro-life movement in the
U.S., Bill Bradley acutely observes Gray Davis’ insurmountable gubernatorial-campaign
lead in California — driven by his exploitation of issues such as abortion [“Boxing
Simon,” April 5–11]
? We need to pull our heads out from under the ground
and look at the real political scandal: Why does Gray Davis spend $10 million
on ads accusing Richard Riordan of being too liberal and soft on abortion? In
order to squash a viable Republican challenger, it would seem.

—Roger Nieves
Long Beach

STUDIO POLITICS

Re: F.X. Feeney’s review of Darkness at High Noon
[Film Special Events, April 5–11]. Stanley Kramer never took away Carl Foreman’s
associate-producer credit for High Noon. The studio did that. Stanley
Kramer used film as a weapon against inhumanity, bigotry and abuse of power.
He constantly risked his reputation and livelihood for the social causes he
believed in. At the height of the McCarthy hysteria, he hired blacklisted actors,
directors and writers. And when the American Legion came down hard, Kramer stood
up, fought back hard, and won his right to hire anyone he damned well pleased.

Why wasn’t Foreman given the same consideration? Because he misled the entire
Kramer company about his political affiliations. Still, Foreman walked away
with a quarter of a million dollars from the Kramer Company, a lot of money
in 1951.

—Karen Kramer
Valley Village

SWAGGER & SWOON INC.

After reading “Home Security,” Manohla Dargis’ excellent
review of Panic
Room
[March
29–April 4]
, it is clear to me that she is not only one of our nation’s
best film critics, but also overly enamored of David Fincher. She gets right
to the heart of the issue with Fincher’s work but then wimps out, blaming someone
other than Fincher for his inability to pick stronger material — as if he is
somehow smart enough to know, and just doesn’t care, that his obsession with
prurient and usually implausible criminal behavior bores many of us to yawns.
His whole filmography is a shining example of all swagger and little substance.
As Dargis and a few others have observed, Fincher’s work doesn’t seem to many
of us to have the emotional or intellectual authenticity that makes great films
great.

—Michael Eaton
Los Angeles

Although it was wonderful to see someone share my lofty views on the work of
genius filmmaker David Fincher, I couldn’t help but feel some distress at Manohla’s
reference to David Koepp (the screenwriter) as being a “rotten” writer
whose profitable career is a “mystery.”

Such comments are downright abusive, hostile and insulting.
What Dargis fails to take into account is that Koepp often writes under assignment
from the studios for major tent-pole projects, on which he works under the most
restrictive and controlling circumstances in an environment where the very idea
of trying something new, different or complex is practically forbidden. The
makers of these films want formula and simple execution. Writers in David Koepp’s
position are, more often than not, deeply unhappy with the end result of their
labor. Being forced to write scenes that they know don’t work or fit, or make
changes that they know compromise the story or characters, are routine.

If Manohla tracked down, for example, a copy of David Koepp’s
original screenplay for Carlito’s Way, she would discover that he is
actually a highly skilled, highly talented screenwriter with a natural flare
for pace, character development and story structure —the very reasons that Koepp
is so sought-after.

Shaun O’Sullivan
Los Angeles

 

HALLE, DENZEL, OSCAR

Erin Aubry Kaplan’s “And
the Oscar Goes to . . .” [March 29–April 4]
was terribly insightful and,
unfortunately, right on target. Call me a cynic, but Halle Berry’s performance
in Monster’s Ball was only a step above Hattie McDaniel’s in Gone
With the Wind
. Perhaps the award should have been “for a not-so-bad actress
in a somewhat marginal role, who just happened to be in the right place at the
right time.” And how about Denzel? Can you imagine playing the eloquent Don
Pedro in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing or the conflicted “Easy”
Rawlins in Devil in a Blue Dress, only to win an Oscar for your role
as a one-dimensional “Yo MTV Raps” homeboy? Still, I hope both Halle and Denzel
run like the wind with these awards, because I’m sure there won’t be another
affirmative-action night at the Oscars for years to come.

—L.J. Smith
Los Angeles

CORRECTION

Last week’s profile of City Garage artistic director
Frederique
Michel (“Frederique the Great”)
implied that Michel teaches acting classes;
in fact, these are production workshops restricted to members of her theater
company.

LA Weekly