into cyberspace, and too mncli of thatrnfraction is fragmented, diluted, or vitiatedrnb}’ highly qiieshonable persons for entire-rn1 inscrutable or unscrupulous reasons.rnThe published books and magazinesrnavailable at libraries or bookstores representrna much broader range of views andrnare far more reliable sources since thernprocess of their production lias been juried,rnrefereed, peer-reviewed, and vettedrnto an extent impossible witli Internetrnpostings.rnIt is, admittedl}, convenient to usernelectronic encyclopedias such as Compton’srnand Grolier’s. But online encyclopediasrnare often abridged and abbreiatcdrncompared with their printedrneditions —and with each update morernpolihcally corrected material replaces therntelling wisdom of the past, .dvice-. Getrnhold of an early-20th-century set of thernAmericana or Britannica and guard itrnw ith ‘our life.rnIt’s true that the Internet makes gettingrnin touch w ith like-minded persons muchrnfaster and easier, but (for example) effortsrnto conduct campaigns on behalf of ariousrnpolitical and social issues via cyberspacernhae, so far, failed. E-mail bombardmentrndoesn’t faze lawmakers; letters,rnphone calls, demonstrations, and bad p.r.rndo.rnThe W’Orst fallacx’ of Web worship isrnthe idea that “information” is somehowrnat one’s fingertips and tiierefore need notrnbe lodged in one’s head. Schoolchildrenrnare being taught that “it’s just as good tornknow where to look something up as tornmemorize it.” This theorv renders the attemptrnto think rather like waving a wandrnoer an emptv’ top hat—if no rabbit’s inrnthere to start witli, no rabbit’s going tornpop out. Storing facts (or whatever yournwant to call the mental representations ofrnknowledge) in memorv enables association,rncomparison, cross-fertilization, andrnde elopnient of ideas. Memory is thernfood of thought. The greater the rememberedrnstore, the richer and more complexrntile mind’s creative process.rnThis is what critical thinking is allrnabout, ladies and gents of the NationalrnEducation Association. But we don’trntrain for that anymore. Distracted fromrndistraction by distraction, oiu childrenrnare tiie first generation in American historrnto be less human than the one thatrncame before it.rnMarian Kester Cooiiihs writes fromrnCrofton, Maryland.rnIn the Toyshoprnof the Heartrnby George McCartneyrnThe Thomas Crown AffairrnProduced by Irish Dream Time andrnUnited ArtistsrnDirected by John AicTiemanrnScreenplay by LesUe Dixon and KurtrnWimmer, original stop,’ by Alan TnistmanrnReleased by Metro-Goldwyn-MayerrnThe Blair Witch ProjectrnProduced by Haxan FilmsrnDirected by Daniel Myrick andrnFxluardo SanchezrnScreenplay by Daniel Myrick andrnEduardo SanchezrnReleased by Artisan EntertainmentrnThe Iron GiantrnProduced by Warner Bros.rnDirected by Brad BirdrnScreenplay by Brad Bird andrnTim McCanlies, based onrnThe Iron Man bv Ted HughesrnReleased by Warner Bros.rnThe original Thomas Crown Affair, arn1968 Eaye Dunawa7Steve McQueenrnvehicle, wouldn’t seem a likelvrncandidate for a remake. It was a slight,rnstvlish entertainment tiiat floated on tiiernglamour of its stars and had all the impactrnof a soap bubble. P’ortunateK, the newversionrndoesn’t relv on the earlicr’srnweightless cachet. Director John Mc-rnTiernan. producer Pierce Brosnan, andrntheir writers have re-thought the original,rnretaining its high-flying st}’le but addingrnjust a pinch of graviK for ballast.rnThis time the film begins with, of allrntilings, a le.sson in values. Minutes afterrntiie credits hae run, we find ourscKes inrnNew York CAfy’s Metropolitan Museumrnof Art being introduced to a ClaudernMonet painting from his havstack period.rnA teacher is lecturing her fourth-gradernclass on its acstiietic merits. Eindiiig herrnnine-vear-olds unimpressed, she shrewdlyrncuts to the cash. This painting, sherntells tiie kids, is wortii SIOO million. Instantly,rntheir faces ignite with interest.rn.nd so tiie film raises its major concern:rnthe confusion of price witii value, appearancernwitii realit’.rnEnter Pierce Brosnan as ThomasrnCrown, the bored billionaire who w ill liftrntile Monet not for its price but for its inherentrnwortii. His act is an implicit lessonrnin making value distinctions, a le.ssonrnhe will pursue from tiie public space ofrncommodified art to the private one ofrncompromised relationships. And likernanv good teacher, he will not pretend tornhave the whole answer. He is wisernenough to learn from his prize pupil, tiierninsurance investigator (plaved by RenernRusso) commissioned to recover thernpainting so her clients don’t have to payrnits preposterous price. Slic is a professionalrnw ho has developed her cunning atrnthe expense of her soul. This allows herrnto hunt Crown, ruthlessly using passionrnas her weapon of choice ruitil it unexpectedlyrntakes aim at herselfrnMcTiernan is working Hitchcock territory.rnAs in inan’ of the master’s filmsrn(most notably North by hlorthwest),rncrime, dishonest)’, and betrayal are tropesrnfor tile endless plots and counterplots endemicrnto the battie of the sexes. Me Tiernanrnmakes no bones about this. The precreditrnintroduction shows Brosnan in tliernoffiee of his psychiatrist, plaved (in a nodrnto the original) b- Fa’e Dunawa’. Shernwants to know if he trusts women. Hernmakes an ironic moue and answers, “Irnenjoy women.” She tiieii asks him if arnwoman could trust him. His repK isrnmore measured, his smile more reflective:rn”A woman could trust me as long asrnher interests didn’t run too counter to mvrnown.” Then tiie credits roll against a stvlizedrnlandscape of sinuous curves inrnbeige, yellow, and ochre, undulatingrnfeminineK’ across the wide screen. Thernstage is set. It’s sexes en garde.rnIf Hitchcock is McTiernan’s cinematicrninfluence, could Alexander Pope’srnRape of the Eock be his literarv source?rnHere, instead of Belinda’s mischievousrncurl, it’s the misxalned Monet that getsrnclipped. But the c&ect is nincli the same.rnIn both stories, a breach of proprietvrnserxes to unmask a man and woman tornone anotiier and to themselves. Shot inrnthe precincts of Manhattan’s privileged,rnthe film’s ke scenes hae a deluxe ambiancernnot unlike Pope’s st)lizcd drawing-rnroom world in which spoiled co-rnNOVEMBER 1999/47rnrnrn