Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Marge or Jerry?

Roger Ebert takes a movie critic's view of the VP debate.

When she was on familiar ground, she perked up, winked at the audience two or three times, and settled with relief into the folksiness that reminds me strangely of the characters in "Fargo."

Palin is best in that persona. You want to smile with her and wink back. But who did she resemble more? Marge Gunderson, whose peppy pleasantries masked a remorseless policewoman's logic? Or Jerry Lundegaard, who knew he didn't have the car on his lot, but smiled when he said, "M'am, I been cooperatin' with ya here." Palin was persuasive. But I felt a brightness that was not always convincing.


Sometimes during a live performance you can hear an actor "going up." That's actor-speak for forgetting the lines. Laurence Olivier went up on an Oscarcast, after he was awarded an honorary Oscar. Whatever he said (the transcript shows it made no sense), the speech made an enormous impression. In an audience reaction shot, you could lip-read Jon Voight: "Wow." The next morning I went to interview Michael Caine. "Larry called me last night," he said. "He asked what I thought of his speech. I said it was wonderful, but I didn't have the slightest idea what he had said. He said I was exactly right: 'It's like during Shakespeare, when you go up and start blathering about being off to Salisbury on the morn.'"

I sensed that happening during Palin's response to the question about same-sex marriage and civil contracts. She was clear that she opposed same-sex marriage. So was Biden. I have no idea what she said about civil contracts. Neither did Gwen Ifil, apparently, because she concluded that Biden and Palin were in agreement. I knew what McCain (and supposedly Palin) really thought about the subject. I sensed that Palin had gone off to Salisbury.

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