Frozen out

Ashamed to admit I haven’t seen any of these films, especially in a year of such a relatively weak line-up of Oscar films (ironically, Revolutionary Road and Gran Torino are the two of this season’s Oscar-contender flicks I wanted to see, and both were largely shut out of the major nominations).

The Wire shares something with these films: They all serve as urgent dispatches on the way we live now. Wendy’s predicament—like Ale’s in Chop Shop, Marlee’s in Ballast, and Ray’s in Frozen River—resembles, if not in its details then certainly in its outlines, what millions of Americans are going through. Immersive and rigorous, these movies depict an experience that is at once common and unseen: the struggle of scratching out a living, or getting by without one.

As someone who knows upstate and its characters pretty well, I’d hazard a guess that I’d recognize a plenty of reflections in the characters of Frozen River.

What struck me about The Wire (and which apparently struck the Slate article’s author) was its portrayal of a reality not often shown on TV or in the movies, but which much of America lives. Outside of the New York City metro area, many of New York’s upstate cities look quite like mini-Baltimores of The Wire — from the urban plight of their undeveloped neighborhoods, to their machine politics, to their frequently politically/statistics-driven police forces, each with their own heroes and villains.

So how the hell is a tax cut going to help people like these, particularly a corporate tax cut? Haven’t we given tone-deaf Big Business enough help? Does bipartisanship essentially devolve into trying to humanize and make friends with the class bullies only to find out they really are unrepentant bullies (with utterly incompatible economic views) whose only hope is to make suffering worse and actively wishing for this country to fail (um, the very definition of anti-American) so that your side can pick up a few more votes in 2010?

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