The Fix

Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson peddle their marriage secrets, Charlize Theron skips the country, and the N.Y. Times still struggles with Jayson Blair. Plus: Reviewers rip into "The Passion."


Salon Staff
February 24, 2004 8:01PM (UTC)

Afternoon Briefing:

Dumb and blond don't always go together: For the many fans who haven't gotten enough of Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's "Newlyweds" show, don't worry -- the famously moronic pair may soon appear in a more appropriate medium: literature. That's right, the book proposal for "Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's Secrets for a Happy (and Sexy!) Marriage" is making the rounds of the major publishing houses. In an excerpt, Jessica claims, "I am not as dumb as I look." And immediately relates a brilliant anecdote when she argued with her father that the prefix "post" meant "before," instead of "after." "I said, Daddy, then why do you put a postage stamp on a letter before you mail it?" (Gawker)

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To review or not to review? Charles McGrath, editor of the New York Times Book Review, finds himself in a dilemma when it comes to reviewing Jayson Blair's new book, "Burning Down My Master's House." "If you don't review it, it looks like the Times is dodging criticism of itself, and if you do review it, it looks like you are giving attention to something that looks like it doesn't deserve it," he said. (Romenesko)

Life can be so hard: Charlize Theron, the favorite for the best actress award at Sunday's Oscars -- she's already won a Golden Globe and a SAG award -- said she needed a break from all her winning. She got so tired of all the awards shows that she went to Brazil for a few days, to take a rest from all her ... success. (Radio 1)

-- Christopher Farah

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" doesn't open until tomorrow, but the reviews are already starting to roll in. Here are a few choice voices in the critical crowd:

"No child should see this movie. Even adults are at risk, Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' is the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II. It is sickening, much more brutal than any 'Lethal Weapon.'" -- Jami Bernard, New York Daily News

"One of the cruelest movies in the history of cinema. ... The movie Gibson has made from his personal obsessions is a sickening death trip, a grimly unilluminating procession of treachery, beatings, blood and agony ... He falls in danger of altering Jesus's message of love into one of hate ... [The movie] confirms the old justifications for persecuting the Jews." -- David Denby, the New Yorker

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"Near pornographic violence." -- Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

"If an age produces the renditions of classic stories that reflect those times, then 'The Passion of the Christ,' which is violent, contentious, emotional, extreme and highly proficient, must be the Jesus movie for this era." -- Todd McCarthy, Daily Variety

"'The Passion of the Christ' is violent, bloody, and sadistic ... [It] has to be the most graphic and brutal death ever portrayed on film ... I found it stomach-turning and deeply troubling." -- Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe

"'The Passion' ... is easily the most violent, blood-drenched film I have seen in years -- perhaps ever ... Churches busing youth to this movie like it's some sort of Chuck E. Cheese field trip need to think -- and pray -- long and hard about the aftershock. 'The Passion' is not kids' stuff. It is gory in the extreme, with prolonged flogging and torture scenes. One lasts 45 minutes ... For children and adults alike with tender, sensitive hearts -- the lambs, in Christian parlance -- witnessing Christ's slaughter will be like getting hit over the head. And in the gut. And across the face. Over and over and over again." -- Lou Carlozo, Chicago Tribune

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"It would be impossible for any disinterested viewer (if one could be found) to escape the fact that 'The Passion' does not just mention in passing but is centered dramatically on the culpability of the Jews. This notion, sometimes called blood libel or blood guilt, has led to untold suffering and death over hundreds and hundreds of years, and should have given someone, even a believer, pause ... The problem with 'The Passion's' violence is not merely how difficult it is to take, it's that its sadistic intensity obliterates everything else about the film. Worse than that, it fosters a one-dimensional view of Jesus, reducing his entire life and world-transforming teachings to his sufferings, to the notion that he was exclusively someone who was willing to absorb unspeakable punishment for our sins." -- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' is not an anti-Semitic film. It does not preach that all Jews -- past, present and future -- must bear sole responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. It does not say his blood is on their hands. It is not a work of hate. It is a powerful and important film, helmed by a man with a sincere heart and a warrior's sense of justice. It is a story filled with searing images and ultimately a message of redemption and hope. It also might just be the greatest cinematic version of the greatest story ever told." -- Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

"Maybe it's better if we just learn about Jesus in Sunday school. Left in the hands of Mel Gibson and his 'The Passion of the Christ,' the basic message of Christianity of loving your brother is obscured under torrents of blood to the point of benumbing the audience ... It's not only that kids shouldn't see this movie. Many adults shouldn't see it unless they feel like spending a lot of time with their hands over their eyes." -- Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic

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"It's a very great film. It's the only religious film I've seen with the exception of 'The Gospel According to Matthew' by Pasolini, that really seems to deal directly with what happened instead of with all kinds of sentimental eyes, cleaned up, postcard versions of it." -- Roger Ebert, on "Ebert & Roeper"

"Relentlessly savage, 'The Passion' plays like the Gospel according to the Marquis de Sade ... an R-rated inspirational movie no child can, or should, see ... Gibson's movie is more likely to inspire nightmares than devotion." -- David Ansen, Newsweek

"The Goriest Story Ever Told ... The audience profile for 'The Passion of the Christ' is fairly narrow: true believers with cast-iron stomachs; people who can stand to be grossed out as they are edified. And a few movie critics who can't help admiring Mad Mel for the spiritual compulsion that drove him to invent a new genre -- the religious splatter-art film -- and bring it to searing life, death and resurrection. " -- Richard Corliss, Time

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Morning Briefing:

Oh, that Andy! "60 Minutes" has found itself awash in viewer response after airing a commentary by Andy Rooney on Sunday in which Rooney said that God had spoken to him and said, "I wish you'd tell your viewers that both Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson strike me as wackos." (Associated Press)

A passion for clothes, but hold the Manolos: Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte on "Sex and the City," says she's keeping many of the costumes she wore on the show. "I have a lot of quintessential 'Charlotte' pieces," she says. "I have a lot of her vintage clothes. I have a lot of her shoes, except for the ones that I'm really, really sick of because they hurt." (AP Radio)

-- Amy Reiter

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