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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Moment of the Decade #1

Now that we've reached the end of the 00's (2000's? Nothins'?) it's time to start counting what rocked and what sucked about the decade that we all came of age in. This was a decade that contained both my first kiss and first caramel frappuccino and I want to honor it.

Instead of the usual top ten lists and recaps, I'll take things in a different and probably less satisfying direction. I'm going to present, in no particular order, the moments that stick out most in my mind from this past decade.

These won't be real-life events like the time Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch or the time M. Night Shyamalan took an actual shit on celluloid. These will be moments from the content of pop culture, itself. Scenes, chapters, lines of dialogue, chord progressions, etc.

We'll start off with a scene from one of the most strangely underrated movies of the decade.

Avner and Louis - Munich

Here is a scene from Steven Spielberg's Munich in which Israeli assassin Avner (Eric Bana) meets with his French informant Louis (Mathieu Almalric) in Paris. Avner and his merry band of killers, demolition experts and accountants have been cutting a bloody path across Europe, bringing Jewish vengeance to the Israeli athletes killed in the 1973 Olympics terrorist attacks.

Read screenwriter Tony Kushner's brilliant depiction of the scene. Then do yourself a favor and do it again.

Avner is standing in front of the display, which has been changed -- a new but still beautiful modern kitchen. Behind him, reflected in the glass, he sees Robert, walking-towards him, smiling gently. They make eye contact through the reflection. Robert seems to be standing right behind Avner. He's asking Avner something, either moving his lips or it's just a question in his eyes.

It will be beautiful. Eventually

Avner places his hand over Robert's face. Then he turns. Louis is standing there. Avner stares at Louis, hard. Louis takes a handkerchief out of his pocket, then reaches past Avner to wipe away the handprint that Avner's left on the plate glass window.

Ali Hassan Salameh is in Tarifa, on the Spanish coast. He's in a compound guarded by all the
predictable trouble.

Avner doesn't respond, staring a Louis as if not seeing him.

Bomb makers often die accidental deaths.
( shrugs )
In Athens, you shot a KGB agent. Many people must want t o kill you, Monsieur Storsch. But why would I do that? You pay better than anyone.
A beat.

It ' s dangerous, going after Salameh. But he planned the Munich massacre. Eliminate him and they'll let you go home. Don't you think?

They look at one another.

Yes, Louis. I do. They smile at one another, not friendly, but, Avner having acknowledged his affiliation, both know that this is the end of their business together.

You could have a kitchen like this someday. It costs dearly. Home always does.

Politicians, talking heads and public school teachers have been trying to explain to me why those silly people in the Middle East have been killing each other for so long. And I never understood any of their reasonings or rationales.

When I saw this scene, it all finally made sense. Here is Avner, a man who has been killing human beings in the name of his country and is nearing the end of sanity. He is standing in front of the sanitary, safe and ultimately corny representation of home that Western culture has built. Then Louis says "You could have a kitchen like this someday. It costs dearly. Home always does."

And suddenly it all makes sense.

Regardless of how sanitary, safe and corny it may be, every man, woman and child on Earth would give almost anything for that elusive concept of home. Especially when they believe they are entitled to it.

There it is: the reason for the Middle East crisis in three lines or less.

Maybe some people can understand the socio-political reasons for Arabs and Jews fighting each other. But I can't. And I need Hollywood and Tony Kushner to lend me a helping hand. In that moment I understood exactly why those silly people are dying in that far off land.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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