By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
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We have received a ton of responses to film critic Scott Foundas' 190-word, capsule review ofJourney From the Fall, which appeared in our March 23 New Reviews. A sampling follows; the rest are posted on ocweekly.com.
The review about Ham Tran's Journey From the Fall is full of ignorance about the ordeal of many Vietnamese. Movies about Martin Luther King Jr. or Richard Nixon would not change their historical speeches or words. Moreover, critics would not call such movies old-fashioned or, worse, phony. As a result, Ham Tran's real depiction of the Vietnamese should not be derided in such a manner. He uses the actual words etched into prisoners' minds in the re-education camps. They are real, and they are painful. They are not fake, scripted "declamatory political dialogue," as Scott Foundas states.
The review is offensive, to say the least. To imply this film is "phony" shows a lack of historical literacy on the reviewer's part. He should publicly apologize for the insulting comments. This film is all based on real, true, human stories, so to call it phony is to deny human suffering. His remarks are thoughtless and should not be permitted.
Comments made by Mr. Scott Foundas prove he never had a chance to live with the communists—therefore, he will not be able to comprehend the atrocity of that regime against the propaganda they expose to the world.
Lisa T. Randolph
It is disappointing that in Orange County, home to one of the largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam, there wasn't more insight and sensitivity taken in crafting the review. To dismiss the film's depiction of the reeducation camps as phony, when clearly the director had taken great pains to re-create historical events, is certainly troubling and smacks of ethnocentrism.
How DARE you call the film phony. There are millions of stories that are worse that what is depicted in the film. This is a war against the Vietnamese community and a slap in the face. We will organize a major protest against OC Weekly for writing this article.
With just a few keystrokes, Foundas has managed to invalidate the suffering of an entire community.
Paul Nguyen, M.D.
Your comment on the film is an insult to the true hardships our people have had to endure, and it must not be taken lightly.
Would Scott Foundas call a movie about the Holocaust phony? Of course not because Jewish groups would be upon him. Were the editors of the Weekly asleep, or do they share the same mentality as Foundas?
Scott Foundas responds: As Pauline Kael noted when writing about the Holocaust documentary Shoah, "the subject of a movie should not place it beyond criticism." This same reasoning, I would propose, can be applied to any movie from any period in history, whether it happens to depict the genocide in Rwanda or, yes, the flight of Vietnamese "boat people" from their home country after the fall of Saigon. In my review of Journey From the Fall, I am by no means suggesting that the history depicted by the movie didn't happen, but rather that matters were not nearly as black-and-white as Mr. Tran makes them seem. For decades, movies about the Second World War told us that the Nazis and Japanese were villains and the Allied Forces were heroes, but just in the past six months, two remarkable films, Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima and Paul Verhoeven's Black Book, have shown the futility of such thinking. These are movies in which there are no such distinctions as good and evil—just the murky fog of war. But given a similarly rich opportunity in making a film about Vietnam from the Vietnamese point of view, Mr. Tran instead employs a reductive form of propaganda that sees all "boat people" as saints and all Communists as sinners—an approach, I fear, that does precious little to better our understanding of this still-resonant conflict.
Editor's note: R. Scott Moxley's favorable review ofJourney From the Fall, "After the War" (April 21, 2006), is available at ocweekly.com.
The following pertain to Alex Brant-Zawadzki's March 16 "Road to Nowhere Fast," about the delay—and possible death—of the Foothill South toll-road extension.
I'm glad to see the OC Weekly covering an issue that is so important to Orange County. With any luck, the Transportation Corridor Agencies' asinine, shortsighted, state-park-wrecking toll road will never be built. And as always, Alex's writing is sharp, humorous and to the point.
I appreciate Alex Brant-Zawadzki's recent article on the toll road. Perhaps the cynicism was overstated, but I felt the frustration in the tone.
I would beg your indulgence that the 421 [Orange County toll road] is not quite as studied as the 69 extension that concrete workers have been grueling over here in Indiana for at least 35 years. INDOT (political front man of the concrete workers) has spent hundreds of millions just studying this thing, a judge throws out a study insulting its contents, and INDOT hires the same people to do the study over!? Big smiles on the massive understatement!
The following are in regards to Tom Child's March 23 SXSW follow-up, "Endless Music vs. Endless Promotion"
I've been a fan of OC Weekly since the paper started and always have found Chris Ziegler's writing thought-provoking. Unfortunately, the thought that it normally provoked was: "What the hell is this guy talking about?" But he was at least entertaining, and I have to admit, I was a little concerned when I heard that he had left. However, after reading Tom Child's stories from South by Southwest, I realize the Weekly's new music writer is able not only to make me think, but also to make me feel. And that newfound element is quite welcome! Great job, Tom. Can't wait to see what's next!
This article is excellent—a thoroughly captivating depiction of his experience at SXSW! He focuses his awareness on his own experience rather than filling the space with void details that one could easily find if they were to do a search about the band. Instead, he engages the reader with his own intake process. A very refreshing approach to reviewing a band.
The following regards Seven MacDonald's March 23 story, "You're On With Jesus," on Neil Saavedra, who masquerades as Jesus Christ on his KFI radio talk show.
Great job. I'm a huge fan of Neil (pre- and post-Jesus). I enjoyed the straightforward approach. No B.S.
HOT OVER HOT CHART
The following concerns Rob Harvilla's March 23 "Hot Hot Heat," which breaks down the Mims' single "This Is Why I'm Hot."
While [it was] a decent idea to somehow translate the undecipherable prose, they aren't even correct! Any college freshman who has been forced into taking statistics could tell you that. And why is he even writing on some New York hip-hop guy? Even if Nas is wrong and hip-hop isn't dead, we live in Orange County, and MTV and I are already doing plenty to sell Top 40 records. I don't think they need the only major alt-weekly we have to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, I know many local bands that DO need your help and yet aren't getting it, and unfortunately, it doesn't look as if they will be.
An editor responds: How wrong you are, Jeff. See new editor Dave Segal's note in today's Music section.
Jim Ridley's March 23 review of the documentaryAn Unreasonable Man drew this response.
Not all Nader voters regret their vote, much as Democrats would hope we would. The problems Ralph Nader talked about in 2000 are still there.
Marina del Rey