The Big Fix
I believe one should, if at all possible, separate an artist from his or her works. Gaugin was a piece of shit, but I still like his paintings. Wagner was despicable, but that doesn’t make The Ride of the Valkyries bad music. Mel Gibson is an anti-Semitic turd, but he’s made some good movies. Tom Cruise is a total nut, but he’s a good actor. These are extreme examples, and Roger L. Simon, author and screenwriter of this movie, does not belong with them. He has a right to his own political opinions. But from the creator of Moses Wine, the Berkeley radical lefty turned private detective, it feels almost like a personal betrayal, to me and to Moses, that Simon went completely bugfuck after 9/11 and became a huge supporter of the fraudulent War on Terror. The books were great, and came at the genre from a whole new direction. And I just weep to think what Moses Wine would feel about his creator, if he were real. Worse, what Moses’ mother, an unreconstructed Bolshevik living in Santa Monica, would have to say about this Jewish quisling.
But I did my best to put all that behind me in this fourth or fifth viewing of this movie, after a 20-year gap. And I was successful. This is a cracking good telling of a humdinger of a story. It is very funny, with Moses trying to balance his job with unexpected baby-sitting stints foisted on him without warning by his kookie ex-wife, who is into EST training “Where she’s learning how to sit for eight hours without going to the bathroom,” according to one of his sons. Remember that horseshit, EST? It is also very intense, and so wonderfully nostalgic for a period that, at the time, was only a few years in the past, when people were at least trying to do something. There is a very moving scene of Moses (Richard Dreyfuss, in one of his best performances) viewing some tapes of old demonstrations, and crying for what was lost. I could go on and on, scene after scene, but there are too many of them that hit me right in the gut. There is an excellent supporting cast led by F. Murray Abraham and John Lithgow and Susan Anspach. The only flaw, in my mind, is the ending, where I was unable (and still am) to get too upset at the idea of someone blowing up a big freeway interchange in LA. But other than that, this is a great movie. So there, Roger. I love it in spite of you.