All right. Let's talk about Iraq where bombs in Baghdad killed dozens of people, Mark. I mean, here, the U.S. finally gets a good part of its troops out and, what, the country goes back to what it was originally?
Well, certainly things really go badly off track. Almost a day after the U.S. withdraws its last soldiers, you've got the Shiite Prime Minister of Iraq going after a Sunni vice president, accusing him of in effect terrorism. He flees to the Kurdish North, you know, a clear breakdown of a fragile power-sharing situation that was organized there. Then you have all kinds of terrorist attacks, two major bombings in Baghdad now that have killed together close to 100 people.
And so fears that exactly what some people predicted, which is that when the U.S. left the country would revert to sectarian violence appeared to have been fulfilled. It's worth noting that there has not been a breakout of the large scale sectarian strife, that clearly these attacks are meant to precipitate. That hasn't happened yet.
And if you talk to some U.S. administration policymakers, they'll continue to sort of cling to the argument that this is going to be ugly and we are going to see these types of attacks. But we shouldn't -- this does not necessarily mean that the country's headed for some sort of a complete disintegration. How long they can keep making that argument is not clear in the face of what we've seen in the last few days.
Well, the only thing that has changed, and it remains to be seen how significant it is, is the United States is not on the ground there anymore. And that was a mobilizing force, particularly for some of the more radical Shiite militias, Muqtada al-Sadr for example. Now one of those militias, a rival to al-Sadr is now coming to the government. It was virally anti-American. With the Americans gone, their cause has changed.
Tom Gjelten of NPR. When we come back, it's time to open the phones for your calls. I look forward to hearing from you.
I found it disappointing but will give Diane credit for doing a better job of balancing the guests this week.
I like Nicole Kidman. I wanted to like "The Stepford Wives."
I streamed it this week. It's a highly offensive film. It bombed in 2004 and deserved to.
The film is visually ugly despite turning the women into vamps.
Frank Oz must be gay. And full of self-hatred. That's the only reason he directed this awful film and directed it the way he did.
Paul Rudnick is gay. And usually a funny writer.
Apparently by 2004, he wasn't. Or else the script was rewritten.
Ira Levin wrote the novel, it was turned into a hit 1975 film. It played into fears as women were awakening (the women's liberation movement). Fears on the part of women who were identifying sexism that men -- as a gender -- were out to destroy them. Fear on the part of men that they were inept and that taking away "control" over women would destroy their lives.
Faced with lack of control, the men of Stepford replace their wives with robots. Katherine Ross (lead) and Paula Prentiss (supporting) captured that perfectly in the film.
Nicole is a career woman. And a reality TV champion. I'm not sure which merits punishment but the film feels she needs punishment. She has a nervous breakdown, husband Matthew Broderick moves her to Stepford. She's told she's awful and a nag and she needs to be happy and she's a ball buster and Matthew can't be a man because of her and all of this other crap.
I'll come back to the leads. Bette Midler has the Paula Prentiss role and she may be the only good thing about the film. She's married to Jon Lovitz who, like Matthew, wants her to focus on taking care of him.
Here's where it gets especially disgusting. Roger and Jerry are a gay couple.
Jerry is the "husband." You're tuned into that just not by the fact that Jerry's a conservative Republican but also by the fact that he's a member of the men's lodge where Roger isn't. (Like other "wives," Roger is invited to the lodge when it's time to replace him with the robot.)
Now that didn't offend me. What did was that after Roger's replaced, he's not a happy little home maker. The women robots are. They exist to serve their man. Roger, instead, runs for the Senate.
Do you get why that's insulting? It's implying that gender is destiny.
Okay, now let's get to the other problems with the film.
The nutless Matthew Broaderick.
He needs to stop acting. If all he has to offer is moments where he reminds you of Ferris Bueller, give it up. And Ferris? Really a little too Pan to be a sexual creature.
If Mark Ruffalo was telling Nicole Kidman that he couldn't be a man because of her job, it might carry weight. I'd still think, "Oh, you poor pathetic ass." But Mark feeling like he wasn't a man? That's a tragedy. Matthew feeling like he's not a man? He's not. He's an overgrown boy. He's got no chin, he's got no guts, he's a weak-willed namby pamby.
You also, as a viewer, need to buy into the idea that Nicole would be remotely attracted (for whatever reason -- in the film it's exhaustion) to playing at being a home maker. And this is underscored when she tells Bette how 'in charge' Matthew was the night before and how they had sex.
Matthew Broaderick is about as manly as Paul Lynde. (That's not calling him "gay" like Paul Lynde. Gay men can be very manly. That's me noting that Matthew is not at all manly.)
If you want to indulge in the caveman sex fantasy -- if -- you're going to want to have a caveman not a pudgy, balding accountant. Matthew can play the latter, but he's a joke as a man.
Again, Mark Ruffalo, okay, Nicole might be tempted for some hardcore sex. Same with Gerard Butler.
On top of that, screw the asshole that ever thought you take Nicole Kidman -an Academy Award winning actress and star -- and put her onscreen opposite failed teen actor Matthew Broaderick.
Honestly, how many women's films will he tank before people get the message that American women don't want to f**k him, don't want to kiss him and don't want to pay money to see him on screen?
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"