Cast a Cold Eye
But a generous one, and just to get to read Charles Taylor on anything right now is a reward. Here he is in Newsday on the Jane Fonda memoir. I have not understood why so many of the other reviews of My Life So Far have failed to even acknowledge Fonda's achievements as an actress - in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and in "Klute" especially. As Taylor says, "In those films, her apex, Fonda mixed tough straightforwardness with emotional depth better than any American actress since Barbara Stanwyck."
He also notes that those performances coincided with her period of naive political activity - but, fuck, if she hadn't been a star, doing her best work, few people would have paid much attention to her tour of North Vietnam, or invested in her their own hostility - she's the star/dupe, not dumb, but not equipped to handle the enormous complexity of a war that divided this nation at the very highest levels of command. She was in way over her head, and she was not alone. Check out Mary McCarthy in the same period - and she was, supposedly, no fool. Just not a movie star..
We lost a lot from nailing Fonda as an enemy affiliate (a reflexively stupid characterization from anyone who makes it, embarrassing if they can stand still and think for 30 seconds); but on the basis of this and other reviews and interviews, Jane did, too - there may be nothing worse for an artist than believing they might find repentence in good works and bad movies. Like Charley, I wish her well, but need we give her a hand with that lash?