allow it. Although he knows in his bonesrnthat life —this life at least—is a losingrnproposition, he’s determined to achievernat least a limited triumph over its manifoldrntreacheries. Like Hemingway’s bullfighter,rnhe places himself in the arena ofrnhazard in order to master a portion of hisrnfate. With his knife-throwing, he hasrnstaked out a philosophical position: Tornlive honesdy, he must expose himself tornuncertainty, trusting his courage and skillrnto turn the balance of chance and choicernin his favor, knowing all the while thatrndisaster is never farther than a knife throwrnaway. It takes Adele some time to realizernit, but compared to her hit-and-runrnLotharios, Gabor is far more erotic andrninfinitely more considerate.rnIn the film’s denouement, choicesrnmust be made. Will Gabor come to realizernthat his control, however admirable,rnis sterile without Adele’s sensual abandon?rnWill she realize that her spontaneity,rnhowever intoxicating, is aimless withoutrnhis focus? Leconte has occasion tornplay Goodman’s exquisite lovers’ lament,rn”Goodbye,” more than once as Adelernand Gabor struggle with their oddly conventionalrnrelationship. Will they chooserntheir chance or drift away to an infinity ofrnequally perplexing bridges?rnLeconte’s wise and playful film givesrnthe lie to those who prattle endlesslyrnabout the necessity of eradicating the “sociallyrndetermined” differences betweenrnfeminine and masculine sensibilities.rnWith incomparable elegance and easyrngrace, he declares vive la difference.rnUnlike Leconte’s film. Saving Grace,rndespite its punning title, displays preciousrnlittle of this supernatural commodity.rnDirector Nigel Cole’s film tells the storyrnof Grace Trevethyn (Brenda Blethyn),rnwhose philandering husband has died,rnleaving her in poverty. Although he leftrnher an ancestral coimtry seat in Gornwall,rnit turns out he had the estate ruinouslyrnmortgaged in order to fund hisrnvarious escapades. Now, the bank is closingrnin, and she cannot pay the loan.rnWlien her young, pot-smoking groundskeeperrnMatthew (Craig Ferguson) enlistsrnher renowned horticultural talents tornsave his ailing marijuana plants, the heretoforerninnocent, middle-aged Grace seesrnher chance. Soon, she’s harvesting arnsmall fortune in pot. Although the localrnconstable quickly catches on, he turns arnblind eye, not having the heart to add tornGrace’s troubles.rnAll of this is amusing, up to a point:rnCannabis is not the threat some of its detractorsrnwould have us believe. The Cornishrnconstable’s live-and-let-live policy isrncertainly preferable to cops running thernstreets, grms at the ready, in pursuit of illadvisedrnbut generally harmless tokers.rnThat said, it’s quite another matter torntreat large-scale marketing in marijuanarnlightly, which is exactly what the filmrndoes by having Grace fall in with a dangerousrndrug dealer whom we’re supposedrnto see as a lovable rogue. This is as insultingrnas the phony ending that allowsrnGrace to escape criminal contamination.rnThen there’s the groundskeeper whoserngirlfriend is pregnant. Since they bothrnuse cannabis “recreationally,” you wouldrnthink there might be some concernrnabout the many birth defects that havernbeen linked to the drug. But, no, thisrnwould interfere with the film’s feel-goodrnhedonism.rnThe only grace in this film is the magnificentrnCornish coastline. With sceneryrnthis beautiful, it seems a shame peoplernwould have to turn to dope to get high.rnSteal This Movie! also comes under arncloud of cannabis. This may explain whyrnit’s as insufferably self-absorbed as its subject,rn60’s yippie Abbie Hoffman. Howrnelse can we explain director RobertrnGreenwald’s strange choice of VincentrnD’Onofrio to play Hoffman? When hernwas young, Hoffman was a small, leanrnman who possessed the quicksilver mischievousnessrnof a perpetually wired brat.rnD’Onofrio is large and slow of foot.rnWliere Hoffman pranced, he lumbers.rnThis casting is just the first in an endlessrnseries of miscalculations in thisrnwould-be tribute to a would-be revolutionary.rnAt one point, and without a scintillarnof irony, Hoffman pays his wife Anitarnhis idea of an endearment. “If I’d beenrnborn a woman, I woulda been Anita.” AsrnAnita, Janeane Garofalo smiles beatificallyrnat her eloquent beau, and you instantlyrnunderstand why: Wliat more could shernhope for from this shameless narcissistrnthan his declaration that he loves her asrnpassionately as he does himself?rnThe movie is infected with the samernsolipsistic smugness. Greenwald, assumingrnwe are all as infatuated with Hoffmanrnas he is, merely skims over events in a seriesrnof frenetic montages of actual andrnsimulated newsreels. There’s Abbie creatingrnuproar at the 1968 DemocraticrnConvention; here, he’s cutting up as a defendantrnin the Chicago Seven trial; now,rnhe’s marching on the Pentagon; later,rnhe’s usurping a civic association leader’srnposition in order to appoint himself chiefrncrusader on the St. Lawrence River reclamationrnproject. But none of thesernepisodes is properly developed. Everythingrnis referenced in shorthand codernwith a knowing nod, as if we’re all worshipingrnat the same shrine and can quoternthe liturgy in our sleep.rnThis is not surprising. Righteous ideologuesrngenerally assume that their concernsrnare on everyone else’s mind also.rnThis explains why Hoffman took it forrngranted that the FBI had nothing betterrnto do than keep him under perpetualrnsurveillance. He couldn’t conceive ofrnanyone more interesting or politicallyrndangerous than himself At first, the filmrnsuggests that Hoffman was exaggeratingrnhis persecution; then, with a dramaticrnflourish, we’re told the FBI actually didrnhave a file on him. We’re asked to believernthat this was an inordinate breach ofrnHoffman’s civil liberties. But this was arnman who spent his life encouraging othersrnto break the law, screamed tirelesslyrnabout toppling “Amerika,” and fled drugdealingrncharges. Whether the FBI’s attentionrnwas excessive or not, I don’trnknow; but I strongly suspect Hoffmanrnwould have been disconsolate if the Bureaurnhadn’t taken an interest in him. Inrnanother time and country, he would havernfound himself buried in a dungeon or exiledrnto a gulag. This being “Amerika,”rnhowever, he spent a few nights behindrnbars for disturbing the peace and a couplernof months for selling cocaine andrnjumping bail.rnIn covering Hoffman’s six years on thernlam, under an assumed identity, Greenwaldrnunintentionally reveals the man forrnwhat he was: Hoffman complains of missingrnhis wife and son, but his overridingrnconcern is that he’s no longer recognizedrnas Abbie. At one point, he begins screamingrnhysterically, “I’m Abbie Hoffman, I’mrnAbbie HofEnan,” over and over.rnAlthough played for pathos, this infantilerntantrum of self-assertion is inadvertentlyrnthe film’s most genuine moment.rnLike Joseph Conrad’s Mr. Kurtz, Hoffmanrnwas a man whose world began andrnended with himself That’s why he wasrnalways right and why everyone who disagreedrnwith him was wrong. He was thernconsummate idealist; he could makernhimself believe anything that flattered hisrnown self-esteem. If, as many suppose, herncommitted suicide in 1989, we can seernwhy; When he could no longer commandrnfront-page attention, there wasn’trnmuch else to live for.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn