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By Anna

Few have doubts that the assassination of President John F Kennedy wasn’t a conspiracy, including Director Oliver Stone. But according to Roger Ebert, and I tend to side with him on this, JFK isn’t a film about proving our darkest suspicions. It’s a film “about feelings.”

If you haven’t seen JFK, imagine the scenes of Zodiac, where Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal’s character) is losing his family because of his obsession with the unsolved Zodiac murders. New Orleans State’s Attorney Jim Garrison is Graysmith. They are the same man and the story is told in the same way—reflecting true events and stirring the audience’s real emotions they still hold from those true unresolved events.

What’s different between me and Ebert, however, is I wasn’t alive in 1963 when JFK was assassinated by maybe the CIA, the FBI, Castro, the anti-Castro Cubans, the Mafia, the Russians or all of them together.

I don’t remember the feeling of sorrow, anger and frustration Americans felt at the unanswered questions, but I am alive to feel the ramifications of the government distrust because of the conspiracy cover up.

A Canadian told me last week that we in the United States will never be able to have a government like Canada because we would never allow regulation and government control because of events like JFK’s assassination and Watergate. JFK stands for something so much greater than a coup d’état, though that’s pretty damn significant, it stands for that feeling we get as Americans when we realize that fighting for freedom means fighting for individual tyranny—a selfish tyranny that can always be trumped by a more selfish and greater tyranny: Career politicians and, according to Stone, war hawks. After all, as Theologians Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon put it: States are dependent on wars for moral coherence because war gives us the necessary basis for self-sacrifice so that people who have been taught to pursue self-interest can at times die for one another.

Kennedy died for us. For “moral coherence.”

As I write this pleasantly outraged by the mere idea of a conspiracy surrounding JFK’s death, which the Department of Justice at least admitted to in 1991, I have to recognize Ebert’s truth: My outrage is because of the masterpiece that is JFK—the perfect editing (remember the scene when Garrison and his posse are dining out juxtaposed with the cutting up of the inexplicable Oswald photo? It’s a dance between sleuths and schemers), the apotheosis casting, the discovery of the Zapruder film causing anachronism and shock—every little bit constructs nothing short of “our national state of mind since November 22, 1963” (Ebert).

Quick Reviews from movies I saw this week

Hot Tub Time Machine

It made me laugh, it made me cringe, but most of all it made me glad I was a teen in the otts and not the 80s. Take it or leave it, that’s all I have to say.

Let the Right One In

This is a poignant and mystical film that isn’t really about vampires at all—though that’s what mainstream society wants you to think. This Swedish film, based on a novel by the same name, is being remade here in the United States and due to come out on Friday, but I think the original will be a better use of your time.

The film is about a young boy who befriends a young vampire girl who lives in his apartment building, but it could be any young kid struggling with identity and befriending the society reject. Yes, it’s the vampires that draw us in and freak us out (the ability she has to control and manipulate her prey is eerie), but their situation breaks my heart. I too was there at age 12, struggling to let the right one in. I think the U.S. version could shed a different cultural light on this, but I’m skeptical. So see this first and then move on to a newer interpretation.

By Nicolle

For those of you living under a rock, Twilight is the ridiculously successful book and movie series about a small-town teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire. I’m ashamed to admit that I have read all four books. I was an outspoken advocate for avoiding the pop culture phenomenon for the exact reason I now lament: It provides young women (and young men) with an unrealistic paradigm of love and relationships.

I like to consider myself to be fairly levelheaded; my greatest strength, according to the StrengthsFinder test (if you haven’t taken it, go buy the book now – it will change your life) is intellection. “Intellection” basically means that I really like to think. I can’t turn my brain off as it internally processes conversations, ideas and reflections, and my lengthy thought process usually leads to a practical, pragmatic solution that is free of emotional confusion. I’ve even been know talk myself out of a panic attack if need be.

Photo by Kelly Cole

Because level-headedness abounds, I rarely let myself get sucked into idealistic dreaming. I focus on the present and the realistic, sometimes to my own detriment.

But, there is a hopelessly romantic side of me that my rational personality has successfully squelched. The main male (vampire) character of Twilight, Edward, mercilessly attacks this rational side of my personality and painfully lures my more idealistic, vulnerable feelings out into the open, creating an unnatural longing in me for some guy to sweep me off my feet.

Some days, I love to dwell in that place, to picture my own white knight whisking my heart away, fixing all my problems and making my life complete. But on most days, that fantasy quickly dispels into a kind of despair I know can’t be fulfilled by any one person – people are imperfect and to expect perfection out of a relationship is naïve.

In Twilight, the main female character, Bella, falls “irrevocably” in love with Edward within a few weeks of meeting him. Their relationship progresses at an unnatural, lightning speed as they begin to spend all their time together. Bella neglects her friends and her father as Edward consumes all Bella’s thoughts and feelings. Like Prince Charming, he rescues her from more than one perilous situation, and each encounter only leaves them more closely bound together.

Their relationship is built on the intense emotional feelings and connections they make in a very short amount of time. It’s an emotional lust that deceives each of them into thinking they physically can’t live without the other.

In the second book, New Moon, Edward attempts suicide when he thinks Bella has died. While I won’t disagree with the fact that separation from someone you love can feel unbearable, the implication of Edward’s choice presses false messages into the thoughts of Twilight followers. Succumbing to emotional pain to the point of suicide is a dangerous idea to hand to young readers who likely don’t know what love means.

Love in Twilight is presented as an uncontrollable and unquenchable physical and emotional longing for someone – and some parts of real love encompass hints of such desire. But, love can’t only be that fiery passion; it has to simmer at some point to allow for a deep, unconditional love to flourish.

The sarcastic fake news outlet, The Onion, recently demonstrated how Twilight has taken love too far. The story pokes fun at a fake vampire-human married couple who’ve lost their romance. The wife dives into the more “erotic” story of Twilight as an escape from her vampire husband who is no longer dark and mysterious and doesn’t often risk his life for her as Edward does for Bella.

The fictional vampire love story of Edward and Bella is just that: fiction. It doesn’t give enough credit to true love, love that realizes that life won’t always be full of adventure, and understands that the loss of intense, passionate feelings doesn’t mean love has crawled into a corner and died.

Twilight isn’t all bad. Its ideas just need to be balanced with realism in a way that promotes more of a discussion about what love is and how it manifests itself in healthy relationships.

The Twilight series is compelling and a great way to waste a weekend. What I didn’t enjoy was the aftermath of corralling a wave of emotions surrounding my love life and feeling forced to think about why my romantic relationships have never looked liked the one Edward and Bella share. And if that’s hard for me, a perpetual thinker, I can only imagine the difficulties is produces for a true romantic – or a young reader who doesn’t know any better.