Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby is one of those movies that
your friends won't tell you much about, because they don't
want to ruin it for you. It's a daring movie that takes chances,
delivering a stunning, unexpected turn of events that takes
its plot into uncharted emotional territory. Even when a flurry
of news stories hinted at political controversy due to what
conservatives view as the film's endorsement of assisted suicide,
they were deliberately obtuse, so as not to reveal too much
about the story.
Roger Ebert reviewed the film in the Chicago Sun-Times in
January, he put it this way:
else it is, all it is, how deep it goes, what emotional power
it contains, I cannot suggest in this review, because I will
not spoil the experience of following this story into the
deepest secrets of life and death. This is the best film of
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences agreed with Ebert,
awarding Baby Oscars for best picture, director, actress and
supporting actor. Certainly this success will prod many more
to see it, as it is still in area theatres today.
anyone who checked out the cover story in last week's Artvoice,
titled "Buffalo: Our Million Dollar Baby," doesn't
need to bother. The tepid alt-weekly's publisher, Jamie Moses,
completely reveals the movie's pivotal secrets in the very
first paragraph of the piece, in order to set up a shaky parallel
between the movie and Buffalo's post-industrial woe.
appropriate way to do this would have been to preface his
article with a passage like this one, from a recent Ellen
Goodman column: "Spoiler alert: Anyone who doesn't want
to know how the movie ends should read no further
Moses has bigger things on his mind, like preserving empty
buildings and installing economically unfeasible lift systems
in parking lots. Moses justifies the lift solution by saying
that "while the machinery may be expensive," Moses
says, "I doubt it's more expensive than the cost of building
a 10-story parking ramp." But it's apples and oranges.
A 10-story ramp would obviously hold more cars than the lifts.
he adds a detail that is totally pointless, except as a way
to let us all know that he often spend time in NYC: "Even
many of the indoor garages in New York triple their capabilities
by using the lifts, like the 86th St. garage I use when I'm
there." How impressive.
of this is not very important, because Moses is right about
the fact that tearing down buildings for parking is a myopic,
greed-driven error. But the annoyingly common practice in
local media of comparing Buffalo to New York City is, again,
a case of apples and oranges. The lifts make sense in NYC,
because property is so insanely expensive that they are a
relatively cheaper option. But property in downtown Buffalo
is cheaper by the yard than low grade carpet. No businessman
in his right mind would spring for such a device here.
makes the same mistake again in an inset, displaying proposed
demolition sites downtown. "These are exactly the type
of buildings that proved so successful in redeveloping NYC's
SoHo District," he tells us. "SoHo, once a desolate
neighborhood of empty buildings, is today a bustling hub of
loft apartments, condos and retail that includes clothing
stores, restaurants, a Bloomingdale's, galleries, antique
and jewelry stores, and a premier two-story Apple Computer
store." All of these consumer delights can be ours, Moses
implies, if we play our cards right and save the buildings.
SoHo is in New York City. Any empty section of New York will
inevitably fill up-because everybody wants to live in New
York City. There's people everywhere; you can hardly walk
around. But the entire city of Batavia could move into Buffalo
and we'd still have plenty of room for Jamestown. Apples and
not to say that they should tear down the AM&A's building,
or that Uniland isn't a crooked, lying developer. But we all
need to recognize that expecting Buffalo to behave like New
York is akin to expecting a dachshund to pull a sled-not gonna
ruining a great movie to advance such fallacious arguments
is a serious injustice.