February 2 - February 8, 1995


Sonny Delight

To the Editor,

I normally read Margaret Regan's reviews for both enjoyment and to expand my proverbial horizons. She is always witty and informative. Regan's "Precious Son" (Tucson Weekly, January 19) was moving--touching in its love and honesty. This one brought tears to my eyes--what a piece.

--P.L. Smith-Hawkins

Show Of Support

To the Editor,

Thanks for Hannah Glasston's wonderful Eighth Day column about choice (Tucson Weekly, January 12). I used to work in a women's clinic that offered abortions. Among many tasks, I worked as and trained front-desk receptionists. The recent murders saddened me, but didn't surprise me. I know you'll get letters condemning you for your choice, and I wanted you to hear support as well. Thanks for standing up for choice. It's up to us all to keep abortions--and providers--safe.

--Tess Catalano

Police Beat

To the Editor,

Regarding "Cop Flops" (Tucson Weekly, January 12), I wasn't a bit surprised to see this kind of issue in your paper. I commend the Horners for standing up to this kind of political bureaucracy. I have also been a victim of this red tape, pushed aside because my case was of no importance to an officer. We have heard about violence and how the Tucson Police Department is so busy that they don't respond. Yet I have seen, too many times, three or four patrol cars parked at the Donut Wheel on Irvington, or at Maria's restaurant on Sixth Avenue. They don't have the proper staffing when you need them, but you see a sergeant trying very hard to cover his officers' butt.

--Name withheld by request

Zak Attack

To the Editor,

When I read Zachary Woodruff's review of the "Chick Flicks" (Tucson Weekly, January 5), it not only reminded me of why I try to avoid reading his reviews, but of the time I bought a PCV valve for my car. The "I-love-to-hear-myself-speak" salesman kindly asked if my boyfriend would help me install it. "Oh," I said, "I think I'll be OK. It's just the part where you have to pry it off with a penis that I have trouble."

Of course, my response should have been different. I mean, he was just trying to be nice, or clever, or whatever it is these guys think when they behave like that. Since then, I have decided that whenever I encounter one of those "I-know-more-than-you-because-I'm-a-guy" types (who almost invariably call me "honey" or "babe") I would not get angry. I would simply respond by calling him "Scooter."

So when I read Woodruff's review of Little Women and Nell (so nicely lumped together because, well, they both have women in them) written with all the intelligence and sensitivity of a man who would hang his head out of a moving car and yell "Owwww!" at women, I thought to myself, "OK, Scooter, whatever you say."

--Jeanne Davenport

Flick Flack

To the Editor,

Zachary Woodruff's movie reviews are generally pretty well written. However, after reading his recent review of Little Women (Tucson Weekly, January 5), I am unfortunately reminded that there are only a few fair, experienced movie reviewers around.

I would assume Zachary is young (under 30 perhaps) because I detect an air of snobbery and showing off in his review about gentle, "uncool" characters and subjects like those in Little Women.

In all fairness, many would agree this is Winona Ryder's best performance as the tough yet vulnerable Jo, and she must be somewhat intelligent to keep choosing interesting films to act in even if she isn't very good at times.

To even use the terms "Chick Flick" to describe a film does little more than date, categorize and simplify Woodruff. Cutting, dismissive film reviews are much easier to write than reviews with reference, metaphor and compassion. It is so much more enjoyable to read a review with depth--although depth is something that generally seems to be associated with experience.

Keep practicing, Zachary. Perhaps you'll learn sooner than many of your fellow movie reviewers that being kind and fair doesn't ruin your reputation at all; it actually strengthens it. Start with rewriting your review of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.

--Shannon McClatchey

Thumbs Up

To the Editor,

Zachary Woodruff's film reviews are incisive, witty and free of the herd mentality that afflicts so much movie criticism. When Little Women and Nell won raves from critics, I sensed political correctness at work (males afraid to knock "sensitive" films about women; females feeling a need to be supportive, since movies about women are so few these days). It's almost as if we're not permitted to dislike these "chick flicks," as Woodruff called them. Also, critics seem reluctant to criticize media darlings like Jodie Foster and Winona Ryder.

So it was a relief to get Woodruff's sturdy common sense about these two films (Tucson Weekly, January 5). Little Women is a well-intentioned effort that never comes to life. And Nell is so silly it's embarrassing. When Woodruff says Foster "sounds like E.T. with a head cold," it's obvious he's not easily fooled. He doesn't mistake monkeyshines for good acting.

Because Little Women is an ensemble piece, Woodruff perhaps places too much blame on Winona Ryder for its shortcomings, which are many. Accents are so varied in the March home, you'd think it was an orphanage. Nor does the place look lived-in. It's too Christmas-card pretty. Scenes whiz by with no real development. Secondary characters come and go with little or nothing to say. When the father returns from the war, he sits mute in a chair like a department store Santa while the girls fuss over him. It all looks so stagy (Woodruff did note that when the girls hug, they face the camera).

As for Woodruff's harsh assessment of Ryder's acting in general, one would have to be a saint to disagree. Her work here is better than in The Age of Innocence (her Oscar nomination was truly mind-boggling), but it's still not good enough.

Woodruff's capsule reviews of current movies are also right on the mark, from Pulp Fiction to The Lion King. These are gems of compressed insight and wit.

--Leland Blanchard

Thumbs Down

To the Editor,

If Zachary Woodruff is somewhere shy of 28, perhaps you should consider a more mature film critic. If he's older, perhaps you should consider a female film critic. In his review of Nell (Tucson Weekly, January 5), Woodruff fails to truly analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the film--choosing, rather, to harp about its touchy-feeliness and Foster's nude scenes.

Tell me Zak, is an artist more demeaned if the scene calls for her to get naked to swim or to get raped? Is she demeaned if she's naked and twirling around in a dick-flick or if she's twirling, childlike, in a "chick-flick?" I'll bet you loved The Piano--a dick-flick in sheep's clothing--where the woman gets screwed by life, her father, her husband, her "lover" and her kid, and finally screws herself by realizing, read epiphany, she can only be happy with the love of the right man. Big Message: fuck women's art and the artist's compulsion to create; all she's really looking for is the right lay.

Nell has problems too numerous to mention, but Foster's acting is not among them. Nor is Winona Ryder's acting the problem with her portrayal of Jo in Little Women--Ryder is simply too "feminine" for the role. And let's hand it to Hollywood for once again sending mixed messages to women: Be smart, if you're beautiful; and if you are beautiful, act coy and pretend you're not. I love ya, TW, but, honestly! Try a little harder in the film department.

--Sherry Luna

Leading Ladies

To the Editor,

Why have you fanned the flame on the gender war? Using the word "chick" to refer to women is not only rude, but dehumanizing and insulting ("Chick Flicks," Tucson Weekly, January 5).

Second, implying that movies that elicit feelings and have women in the main roles are not worth viewing is plainly absurd. A few cases in point: Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc; Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo; Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence; Whoopi Goldberg, Desreta Jackson, Margaret Avery, et al in The Color Purple; Judy Davis in Impromptu; Dorotha Segda in My Twentieth Century; Gong Li in Ju Dou.

We are trying to remain hopeful that future films will be reviewed based on their merits and without a crude gender-selective bias as exhibited in this review.

--M. Moye and J. Sutton


To the Editor,

Regarding "Chick Flicks" (Tucson Weekly, January 5): I know such an expression doesn't exactly fit with The Weekly's cynical image, but Zachary Woodruff should be ashamed of himself--yes, ashamed! The movie Nell may be overwrought, and you may not have a clue as to the significance of a faithful screen adaptation of a classic like Little Women, but "Chick Flicks?"

In case you were suffering from selective amnesia when you wrote your review, "chick" was a term used mostly in the '60s and '70s to refer to women, the attitude behind it being that women were flighty, dumb, overemotional, not much more than a sexy pair of legs. So movies that evoke strong human emotion and attempt to speak from the heart--whether they be good or bad films--are worthless because they are somehow a woman thing? Thanks, buddy, you made my day by opening up that old wound.

My parents were movie buffs who loved big emotional films and made sure I watched Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow is Forever, Louis Jourdan in Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Susan Heyward in Dark Victory. Talk about manipulative tearjerkers! And all made by men. But what possible purpose would it serve to critique the flaws in those movies by dismissing them as "Prick Flicks?" Except to throw a little hurt around and call into question my skills as a thoughtful reviewer of cinema.

Speaking of overwrought, your tirade against Winona Ryder was a bit much. You obviously didn't see her in Roxy Carmichael or House of Spirits, both credible performances. Mermaids wasn't bad, either.

Woodruff is a decent reviewer, but "Chick Flicks" was just plain old insulting.

--Paula Klein

Trust Buster

To the Editor,

It seems that on the subject of Arizona politicians, living and dead, Emil Franzi just can't get his facts straight ("Time For A History Lesson, Big Steve," Tucson Weekly, January 5). While Marcus Aurelius Smith's first elective office was in Tombstone, any student of the Democrat's remarkable 38-year career can tell you that early in 1896, he left the declining mining camp to move to the Old Pueblo. Thus, by the time he was sworn into the Senate in 1913, he had been a Tucson resident for nearly 16 years. Therefore, Smith, not DeConcini, was the first U.S. Senator from Tucson.

If Franzi can't get the well-documented residence of a dead U.S. Senator right, how can we trust anything else he puts in The Skinny?

--Tom Prezelski



To the Editor,

For all the criticism you have of the practitioners at The Arizona Daily Star, they at least make some pretense of checking basic facts and presenting two sides to a story. Emil Franzi's material, on the other hand, is beginning to look like autoerotic self-indulgence.

His trashing of Andy Nichols ("Ignorant Arrogance," Tucson Weekly, January 5) was so silly, I at first thought it was satire. Or perhaps he was just trying to show how democratic he could be, willing to dump on anybody. But no, Franzi apparently was so taken by the self-righteous blather of someone with an ax to grind that he didn't bother to check for facts or to see if there might be more to it.

The "Ignorant Arrogance" title was also puzzling for a while, but I think I figured it out. Was it a warning from the editor that Emil was ignorant of what he was talking about and arrogant in trying to pass that drivel off on us as some kind of news?

Well, okay, so Emil lives up to his billing, but why bother to print it? If Emil has no sense of responsibility to his readers, doesn't his editor?

It's no wonder there is such a scarcity of good people willing to run for public office. Who needs nonsense like this?

Andy Nichols is one of the nicest, most conscientious and caring people we have in the legislature. You could at least have given him an opportunity to tell his side of the story.

--Paul Huddy


To the Editor,

I was shocked at the whining, complaining and ungrateful attitudes of the women in Kathy Burns' article "Black and Blue and Still Being Bullied" (Tucson Weekly, November 17). I am a survivor of domestic violence, by my husband. As a result of that violence, I made Tucson Centers for Women and Children my home for two-and-a-half weeks this past summer.

Where can a woman go, with or without children, when trying to escape an abusive situation and have a roof over her head, professional, caring counselors available for counseling six days a week (one hour a day), a counselor on duty 24 hours a day, outreach counseling provided before and after entering the shelter, food provided daily, all for the price of one chore?

No, it's not a "perfect" environment. But it is a "safe" one. However, there is a question that arises in conjunction with this issue of domestic violence. Why is it that women or women with their children, in the majority of cases, are the ones driven form their homes, forced to apply for food stamps in order to eat properly, left without transportation, and have to go through the legal steps to obtain a protection order, while the perpetrator still has the home, the car, the income and food?

Laws need to be changed. Women with and without children need security. Since most of these cases involve males, the violent males need to be sent to a shelter with just the clothes on their backs, leaving behind the car, and be required to pay the rent and provide food for their wives, significant others or families. It's my guess the incidence of violence against us would drop dramatically.

For now, my suggestion is to make a commitment in 1995 to donate to all three shelters here in Tucson. We need a "wake-up" call to the fact that domestic violence not only "kills" but can bring humanity to the depths of despair.

--Betty Winn

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February 2 - February 8, 1995

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