Ray Bradbury has been raging over the way filmmaker Michael Moore alluded to Bradbury's anti-book-burning novel Fahrenheit 451 in the title of Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Bradbury told a Swedish journalist that Moore is a "dreadful" and "dishonest" man and said that in his mind Moore plagiarized the title. Bradbury said his fury "has nothing to do with my political views."
But a glance at the 50th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine/Del Rey) suggests Bradbury is opposed to anyone using his fiction to make simplistic political points. In a Q&A; that closes this edition, a questioner tells Bradbury that to some, the United States of the book resembles the country today, "with an open-ended war against terrorism and armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter in the face of worldwide protests. Do you think," the interviewer asks, "the country is moving closer to the fictional America you wrote about 50 years ago?"
Bradbury replies, "Not for a moment. The main problem is education, not politics."
For a balmy respite from hot wind, those who attend Fahrenheit 9/11 at the Charles should schedule in a showing of this week's Charles revival choice, Jacques Tati's 1953 vacation comedy Mr. Hulot's Holiday (at noon tomorrow, 9 p.m. Thursday). Tati's knack for wringing poetic farce from the commonplace gives it a unique, paradoxical charm. This chain of slapstick sketches centers on the everyday irritations that crop up at a seaside resort. Yet the film leaves an audience feeling wistful and refreshed.
Tati sets the mood with an opening crawl that warns viewers against looking for a plot, since "a holiday is meant purely for fun." From the moment Mr. Hulot (Tati) starts motoring to the beach, his misadventures have a high exasperation quotient: as his quaint sportscar rumbles over a cobbled road we experience what "rattletrap" really means. But Tati's touch is so airy that it tickles, even when it sensitizes us to annoyances we didn't recognize before, or that everyone learns to live with. And he knows when to heighten his characters' frustrations and when to lay off.
Hulot himself is a slippery figure, helpful in clumsy ways, and overly determined to be merry and gallant. Even when he partially succeeds at mastering his playtime, as when he displays a vicious tennis serve, his determination tends to take the fun out of things - for him, and for his fellow vacationers, but emphatically not for Tati fans.
Call 410-727-FILM or go to www.thecharles.com.
Jazz and a movie
Julie Dash's movie about the Gullah people of Georgia's Sea Islands, Daughters of the Dust, receives a free screening July 1 as part of Free First Thurday (5 p.m.-8 p.m.) at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Drive); also, jazz by the Michael Thomas Quintet and "hands-on art activities" connected to the works of painter Kerry James Marshall.