FF14 off the hook and on the attack

The protracted legal and PR battle that began with last March’s sit-in at Simcoe Hall continues, with news over the December holiday that the Crown has withdrawn its charges against nine of the 14 arrested in connection with the protest. The rescinded charges mean that no current U of T student is in court over the sit-in.

The self-styled Fight Fees 14 was quick to assert their group solidarity, though only five of them remain under scrutiny.

“We were charged collectively and continue to fight collectively,” said the group’s spokesperson, Gabi Rodriguez. Rodriguez is among the U of T students whose charges were withdrawn.

While the case has been out of the headlines since the start of the school year, the FF14 will try to re-enter the spotlight with a “celebratory and movement building” event expected in late January. Police arrested the 14 based on allegations from U of T’s administration that the occupation of Simcoe Hall turned violent. University employees claimed they were forcibly confined to their offices by a 30-strong group of students including the 14. Much of this evidence has not been made public, and with charges withdrawn, it likely never will be.

Rodriguez has responded aggressively, pointing to the evaporating criminal charges to say they were unfounded.

“The charges were bogus from the start. They were a politically motivated assault on political organizing at our campus,” she said. “The Crown was unable to provide timely and complete disclosure to what were clearly empty allegations.”

Members of U of T’s administration could not be reached for comment over the holiday weekend.

All in self-defence?


As Gazans struggle to make ends meet in what is essentially the world’s largest concentration camp, the Israeli government, in its battle to shore up diminishing support for the upcoming election, launched the deadliest attack on Gaza in recent memory: over 400 dead and 2,100 wounded on the fifth day of the onslaught. The grotesque irony is that if this election stunt works and the ruling coalition wins, it would represent a victory for Palestinians, otherwise left at the mercy of the highly bellicose Likud party whose charter calls for the annexation and settlement of the entire “Land of Israel.” In Israel, a shift to the right is complete: diplomacy has been crossed off the agenda, and Israeli politicians remain locked in a contest of exercising belligerency.

The latest blitz follows Israel’s year-and-a-half-long Gaza blockade, described by Richard Falk, the U.N. Human Rights Council special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, as constituting a “flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” In response to his statement, Israel expelled Falk from the occupied territories and barred his re-entry. So much for the only democracy in the Middle East.

Sadly, this wouldn’t be the first time Israel showed contempt for human life by collective punishment. The nation has choked Gaza for decades; the latest assault is the final nail in the coffin. After suffering months of medicine shortage because of the blockade, underfinanced and understaffed Gazan hospitals are ill-equipped to treat an overwhelming number of injuries, leaving victims to die in their hallways. Gaza’s sewage system is in crisis. Blackouts and water shortages are a daily occurrence, and human rights groups are warning of an impending humanitarian catastrophe.

Security Considerations

Israeli officials have justified the assault by declaring it an overdue exercise in self-defence. They have placed blame on Hamas for its “brazen violation” of the “lull”—a ceasefire brokered by Egypt back in June—by firing rockets at Sderot, a town that has taken the brunt of Hamas attacks.

While the former claim does merit some empathy, the allegation that Hamas broke the ceasefire is a complete fabrication. The BBC, along with Zvi Barel, a journalist for Haaretz, reported that in November—conveniently close to Election Day in the U.S.—Israel “unilaterally violated” the ceasefire when it blew up a tunnel in Gaza, killing six in the process while having the audacity to “[ask] Egypt to get [Hamas] to hold its fire.”


Israel apologists have taken a different approach to granting the nation impunity for the attack. In a pitiful attempt to downplay international outrage at the sheer disproportion of the onslaught, Alan Dershowtiz, a leading pro-Israel activist and civil rights lawyer who approves the use of torture and collective punishment, concocted a tale of pure fantasy. He proclaimed that the Israeli Air Force held human life in such high regard that it dare not attack a civilian establishment, even if it was housing the dreaded Qassam rockets. But if so, why does Israel blackmail ailing Gazans to spy for them in return for medicine? Why did it demolish homes in order to make way for its infamous barrier wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice? And more importantly, why does it consistently ban international media from Gaza? To argue that these are legitimate actions for the sake of national security ignores the basic tenets of international law.

Consider that Hamas’ rockets have killed 20 Israelis in the past seven years, while 5,000 Gazans were killed by Israeli jets, tanks, and helicopters during the same time frame. The issue is not the vast disparity in power, but that one side is the occupier and the other is the occupied. If you were dispossessed of your land and had to live under a foreign occupation for four decades, any action you took could be justified as retaliation to the occupation of your land.

What does 2009 hold for the Middle East conflict?

The use of force to deter any resistance is a brutal exercise in futility that will only coarsen the people at the receiving end. A case in point would be Hezbollah, which is stronger now than it was before the Second Lebanese War.

However you look at it, the prognosis is grim. Already Israel has turned down a truce proposal, its forces are amassing at the border with Gaza while Arab countries, ever divided and fearful of offending the U.S. by getting involved, have resorted to media mudslinging, each condemning the other of inaction. Egypt’s credibility as a mediator has been severely undermined as its relations with Hamas take a turn for the worst, and Gaza teeters on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe. Now we are left with the same question posed by the last Gaza debacle: how can Israel expect peace if it continues to illegally occupy Gaza (in violation of Resolution 242); build illegal settlements (a transgression of the Fourth Geneva Convention); and defy the international community by showing no respect for the most basic principals of human decency?

Strike possibility looms

U of T faces the possibility of a teaching assistant strike if ongoing negotiations fail between admin and unit 1 of CUPE 3902 the union representing TAs university-wide. 3902 and the university have jointly applied for conciliation at the Ontario labour board to help mediate negotiations in January. Over 1,100 union members cast a ballot in December with around 700 of them voting in favour of a strike if talks break down.

“The university continues to bargain with CUPE 3902 and we are hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties without a strike,” said Angela Hildyard, VP human resources & equity.

The union’s demands include: childcare assistance for students who are parents, measures to address large tutorial and lab sizes, wages that keep up with inflation, health benefits, and tuition assistance for unfunded students. At present TAs earn $36.5 per hour. The union argues that this amounts annually to $3,500 below the U of T’s published cost-of-living estimate of $18,500 per annum.

The union is seeking public health care coverage for international students, who currently pay out-of-pocket for private, for-profit coverage under the University Health Insurance Plan. Of particular concern to the union is the university’s proposal to eliminate the tuition assistance fund, which helps graduate students in programs with deregulated tuition.

In the face of a TA strike at York University, classes for 50,000 York students have been discontinued indefinitely. Contract faculty and TAs walked off the job on Nov. 9 with job security and graduate funding among their key demands.

A similar situation is unlikely at U of T, given that bargaining has been ongoing for months with both parties showing a desire to work constructively. The union has received support from the U of T Students Union and Graduate Students Union. “Nobody wants a strike, but students and university employees have to stand together to defend accessible education. We support our TAs for trying to do so,” said UTSU president Sandy Hudson.

Students in Support of CUPE is a newly formed ad hoc group of undergraduates. They hope to avert a strike by pressuring the U of T administration to offer a fair contract to teaching staff. Additionally, they aim to provide educational programming to inform students about issues facing university workers. “They deserve job security. What they’re asking for is not outrageous and it is an issue of social justice and that’s why we’re on their side. Their [TA’s] working conditions are our learning conditions,” says group member Parmibir Gill.

“We don’t want to go on strike. It’s disruptive to undergrads and to our members. It’s the last option when all else fails, but we certainly hope we aren’t forced into that option,” says Rebecca Sanders, Teaching Assistant at U of T. The last TA strike was held in 2000, followed by U of T’s announcement it would offer graduate funding guarantees. U of T was the first university in the country to offer minimum guaranteed funding to students in most graduate programs.

Israel is not “the enemy”


There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and Israel taking the blame for every misery suffered by the Palestinians. The Western media’s coverage of the latest conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas is no exception. We can already see a general consensus: Israel is accused of being belligerent and trigger happy, a practitioner of human rights violations.

It is not surprising that most observers have offered little to no appropriate context in which to view these events. For example, none of the major media outlets have deemed it necessary to point out the elephant in the room: Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization that presides over the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, is constitutionally committed to Israel’s destruction (“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”—The Hamas Charter). In ruminating on why Israel has completely “moved to the right” and seemingly “crossed off” diplomacy as a viable solution, my colleague Mr. Mahmoud and others would do well to keep Hamas’ nature in mind. Coupled with repeated violations of established cease-fires and a constant rain of rockets on Israeli civilian centres, is it any wonder that Israeli citizens usually regard peace overtures with cynicism?


The issue of human rights needs context as well. My colleague criticizes Israel for kicking out U.N. Human Rights special rapporteur Richard Falk, arguing that such a move was “undemocratic.” But Falk—a man who has previously called Israel’s practices in the occupied territories “genocidal” and deemed suicide bombings against Israeli civilians a valid method of “struggle”—is indicative of the U.N.’s abject failure in objectivity. With no criterion for member selection other than geography, the current U.N. Human Rights Council features an all-star cast of human rights violators, including Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. In its first year of operation in 2007, the council condemned only one state—Israel—despite the ongoing genocide in Darfur and the systematic starvation of the North Korean people by their dictator Kim Jong-il. Israel has committed its share of human rights violations, but one cannot objectively assess its flaws with information from such a biased source.

Security Considerations

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the term “disproportionate force” should be clarified. It is true that current UN estimates place Palestinian deaths at 400 and injuries at 2,100, while only three Israeli civilians have been killed. But behind these numbers lies a clear distinction: while Hamas specifically targets Israeli civilians, the IDF operates on the basis of minimizing civilian casualties against an enemy that uses its own population for cover and camouflage. It is not surprising that so many Palestinian civilians have been killed or injured in the ongoing violence when its own elected government uses them as human shields. The current conflict gives us the example of a responsible, democratic Israeli government defending its people by hunting down the initiators of violence, contrasted with a manipulative Hamas government that defends its militants through its citizenry.

Even under an alleged blockade, Israel has transferred 6,500 tons of food and medicine to Gaza since operations began, while the World Food Program has discontinued shipments of food because Gaza’s warehouses are full. It is entirely possible, especially given the horrible conditions my colleague describes, that most of this humanitarian aid will go to waste as Hamas confiscates it for its own militants and party operatives.

What does 2009 hold for the Middle East conflict?

My colleague ends with a legitimate question: how can Israel expect peace? As someone who believes that Palestinians need and deserve their own state, it is difficult to see any good following from Israel’s current actions. Israel certainly lays its own obstacles to peace in the form of continuous settlements in the West Bank (carried out by rogue Jewish zealots), ironically undermining the legitimacy of its more moderate Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas. But if violence is slowly becoming the only road for Israel to go down, it is just as much a result of Palestinian militancy as it is Israeli bellicosity. Peace and diplomacy requires a modicum of mutual trust, but it is hard to trust an opposing side whose government desires your destruction and wantonly attacks your civilians. And consider Israel’s disappointments: Camp David failed in 2000 despite Israel giving in to almost all of Yasser Arafat’s demands; a 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza has only seen more rockets hit closer to the Israeli interior; and a democratic Palestinian election replaced a corrupt negotiating partner in Fatah with the terrorist outfit Hamas. In provoking Israeli retaliation, it is not Israel but Hamas who has hammered the final nail in the coffin of a lasting peace deal.

Joshua Xiong is the President of Zionists @ University of Toronto

Student leaders boycott democracy committee

Vice-president and provost Cheryl Misak officially disbanded her Advisory Committee on Democratic Processes in Student Government on Dec. 8, after student unions collectively decided to pull out.

The committee, made up of students and faculty members, was created by Misak in November 2008 to advise under what conditions the administration could withhold student union funding. Earlier, Misak was called in to freeze Arts & Science Student Union funds following a rigged election. While university policies give the provost authority to freeze funding in case of undemocratic procedure, the student unions have either refused to accept this authority, or been skeptical of it.

According to Graduate Students’ Union VP external Sara Suliman, the committee’s purpose was unclear. She says there was no written terms of reference clearly stating the committee’s objective, and that they were perturbed by the lack of specificity. Arts & Science Student Union president Colum Grove-White adds, “I was upset with the way the communication was handled. It made student groups very suspicious about what the admins’ motives were.”

A major grievance on behalf of student representatives was the committee’s membership structure. Numerous student members were asked to sit on the committee as individuals, not as representatives of their respective student union constituencies. Suliman says, “You are not able to detach yourself from your experiences as a representative.”

After several of the unions including GSU and U of T Students’ Union boycotted, Misak suspended the committee in early December. She told student unions that there would be no discussion regarding the terms of the committee, and that students could opt not to participate. The student leaders from GSU, ASSU, UTSU, Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students, and the two satellite campus unions elected to leave.

Misak said she will unilaterally set up a list of guidelines to follow, regardless of the committee’s presence.

UTSU president Sandy Hudson said that participating in the advisory committee would have legitimized the administration’s claim on the authority to withhold funds. She said that the union was now in a better position to contest an admin decision and withhold its levy.

Misak states in her letter to the members: “I had wanted student leaders to be participants in these discussions, but by their own volition, they will not be involved in it.” Grove-White remains optimistic, saying that regular meetings are going to be set up between student leaders and the provost, tackling real issues that matter to the students. “If we get some proper communication going,” he says, “it could be a really positive thing.”

One hard-earned win for the good fight

It took nine months of delays and stressful court proceedings, but charges against the “Fight Fees 14” (FF14) are finally starting to be withdrawn. Nine of the 14 activists have had their charges rescinded completely, and the remaining five expect to be vindicated soon. The fate of the students who remain threatened with investigation under U of T’s Code of Student Conduct (possibly resulting in suspension or expulsion) hangs in the balance.

These withdrawals expose the charges for what they were: groundless and politically motivated actions, part of a crackdown on student dissent by the university administration. They were a result of the Crown’s failure to provide complete disclosure in court, most likely due to a lack of evidence and public pressure—the aftermath of last March’s peaceful Simcoe Hall sit-in against student fee hikes and unaffordable housing. The protest ended when police, acting on orders from senior U of T administrators, broke up the demonstration with aggression. The bail conditions imposed on alleged participants—which sought to restrict any protest against fee hikes on campus—were particularly worrisome to advocates of free speech.

Despite the threats that March 20’s events revealed, protest wasn’t quelled. As the story gained momentum, more students and workers became outraged. The Committee for Just Education (CJE), which formed soon after the sit-in, was designed to withstand increasing pressure from university staff and police. Working towards similar goals—the elimination of tuition fees, student and worker parity in decision-making, and an end to the repression of dissent—they organized follow-up demonstrations and an emergency meeting at Steelworkers Hall. On April 10, a Governing Council meeting (during which tuition fee increases were approved) was relocated, and students were barred. When the University Affairs Board met in May to finalize tuition hikes, students came prepared. The Board acted predictably—the meeting was closed to students, then relocated to UTM.

The administration’s attempt to silence opposition comes at a time when universities are embracing corporate interests at the expense of public education. U of T is entering the realm of for-profit education, through tuition fee increases and the encouragement of corporate involvement in research. Postsecondary education is moving out of reach for the vast majority of students as a result of rising tuition fees, while academic integrity is compromised.

The abandonment of some FF14 charges is the result of political pressure from students, workers, and the community, as well as the case’s fundamental lack of substance. Unfortunately, despite students’ and workers’ clear message that the corporatization of education is unacceptable, the administration has shown no signs of amending its agenda to deregulate fees. We must act now to take control of our university, and to open its doors to our communities.

Visit www.fightfees.ca or e-mail fightfees@gmail.com to learn more about the struggle against inaccessible education, and what you can do to help.

Semra Eylul Sevi is a member of the CJE and one of the “Fight Fees 14.”

No money, mo’ problems

The current economic crisis has everyone tightening their belts, and U of T is no exception.

President David Naylor circulated through the U of T portal a cost-containment message on Dec. 15, urging staff to cut unnecessary spending, warning of tough times ahead. Naylor said endowment obligations will likely put pressure on a budget already strained by slowing donations and government funding.Endowments are used for scholarships, bursaries, and research projects, constituting $2 billion of U of T’s $5.5 billion in assets.

The memo arrived two weeks after a similar message from Cheryl Misak, Interim Vice-President and Provost.

The warnings come at a time when U of T’s stock holdings are tumbling, losing nearly nine per cent in the third quarter last year.

According to the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation, which manages U of T’s holdings, strategic investing has ensured low losses. Other universities across North America, such as Waterloo, Brown and Cornell, have already implemented hiring freezes. In a Dec. 10 statement, York University president Mamdouh Shoukri cautioned York may soon follow suit.

A November 19 memo from Misak and Cathy Riggall, VP business affairs, confirmed that the univeristy’s funds had “lost the cushion needed to sustain payouts in the absence of a recovery.” The university will find alternatives to deal with endowments that have already been promised, she said.

As for future payouts, all eyes are on the markets and U of T’s budget, which comes out in late March.

Deficit-bound Queen’s Park has yet to promise relief to help balance budgets.

“Graduate students have a disproportionate representation in the economic crisis,” Graduate Students’ Union VP External Sara Suliman told The Varsity. “If we don’t find funding, we will begin to systematically exclude students.”

Alisha Ulla, a U of T concurrent education student applying for post-graduate study, said she isn’t really concerned: “I’m not really sure how the recession would affect my education, unless fees start skyrocketing.”

Governing Council begins its public process on tuition fees in the spring, as provincial legislation caps fee hikes at an average of 4.5 per cent across all programs, and eight per cent for a single program.

Last year, Carleton University launched a campaign seeking annual donations of $50 from alumni. U of T is also considering alternative measures.

“We are not planning on addressing these financial issues with the blunt tool of an across-the-board measure, such as a general hiring freeze or an immediate base budget cut,” said Misak. Instead, possible solutions include containing expense and deferring visiting fellows.

That’s a wrap

2008 was not an encouraging year for cinema. Art-house studios like Warner Independent, Picturehouse, and Tartan closed their doors, mighty critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum lost their jobs, not a single foreign or documentary film became a sizeable hit, and Roger Ebert’s old show is now being hosted by Ben Lyons! Anyone who cares about film as an art form cannot be thrilled about the many somber developments of the past twelve months.

The silver lining? 2008 still managed to offer some great movies, and any year that includes strong work by Charlie Kaufman, Michael Haneke, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, and not one but two great Wong Kar-wai films is one to be thankful for. These were my favourite films of 2008.

10. Blindness (Fernando Meilleres)

The mere fact that Fernando Meilleres’ bleak, grueling depiction of a world torn apart by an unexplained blindness pandemic received wide theatrical release is downright astonishing. Based on the apocalyptic novel by José Saramago, Blindness doesn’t shy away from exploring the plausible ramifications of its “what if?” premise, and is directed by Meilleres with exactly the right amount of style.

9. Young@Heart (Stephen Walker)

Young@Heart was not the year’s most important documentary, but it was definitely the most joyous and life-affirming. Director Stephen Walker chronicles two months in the lives of a choir of senior citizens who perform rock music, leading up to a sold-out concert, unraveling more emotional twists and turns than the average Hollywood melodrama. (I fully admit to tearing up more than once.) It’s a film that broke down every wall of critical snobbery I possessed; a real charmer.

8. Wall-E (Andrew Stanton)

The Pixar Company, like Chuck Jones, Max Fleischer, Hayao Miyazaki, and Tex Avery before them, knows that making a good film for children also means making a good film for adults. Wall-E might not be their greatest work to date (after all, these are the folks who created The Incredibles and Ratatouille), but it’s definitely their most daring: you won’t see any DreamWorks animated films that begin with thirty minutes of Chaplin-esque pantomime, nor would they contain Wall-E’s subversive satire of American consumerism. Fast-paced chase scenes are squeezed in for the kids, but there’s nothing wrong with that either.

7. JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri)

Jean-Claude Van Damme becomes the fall guy for a bank robbery in Mabrouk El Mechri’s clever yet surprisingly human deconstruction of celebrity culture and action movie machismo. JCVD is a witty film, but also one that takes an ironic premise and approaches it as drama, with El Mechri’s deadpan, visually-savvy directorial style announcing him as a major talent. And, highlighted by a seven-minute improvised monologue about the pitfalls of fame, “the muscles from Brussels” anchors the film with an extraordinary performance. No, seriously.

6. My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar-wai)

Wong Kar-wai’s English-language debut was 2008’s most misunderstood film. Transplanting his signature style into an American setting with Hollywood actors (including Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Jude Law, and the excellent David Strathairn), My Blueberry Nights is a lovely, lyrical movie that is stylistically consistent with his lighter Hong Kong films. With a signature sense of languid melancholy and beautiful, neon-drenched cinematography, Wong is in such good form that I can’t understand why anyone who liked Chungking Express or Fallen Angels wouldn’t enjoy his latest effort.

5. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)

To put it bluntly, Mickey Rourke, in his role as has-been ‘80s wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson, looks like shit. Years of hard living and enough steroids to kill a small goat contribute to Rourke’s weary, lived-in performance as a man whose loneliness increases as his celebrity fades. Darren Aronofsky’s depiction of the behind-the-scenes world of professional wrestling is utterly convincing (we see Rourke and a fellow wrestler shopping for barbed wire, frying pans, and staplers to use as props), and the script by Robert D. Siegel is so emotionally charged that the day after I saw the film I was still hoping things would turn out alright for the old lug. This genuinely heartbreaking film is Aronofsky’s most mature and satisfying work yet.

4. Funny Games (Michael Haneke)

Haneke’s shot-by-shot, English-language remake of his 1997 Austrian film is, surprisingly, just as suspenseful and emotionally devastating as the original. A meticulously crafted and well-acted thriller (Michael Pitt was this year’s other great villain), Funny Games is also a troubling commentary on the dehumanization of violence in the media. By having the killers break the fourth wall and conspire directly with the audience, Haneke dares to imply the gore-loving horror movie audience is on their moral level. Would it be unkind to suggest that certain critics were unwilling to accept a work of art that genuinely challenged their morals?

3. Ashes of Time Redux (Wong Kar-wai)

Buried inside most good martial arts movies is a tragedy, and Wong Kar-wai’s retooled, remastered version of his 1994 epic is one of the only kung fu films to seriously explore the psychological motivations and emotionally stunted lifestyles of the genre’s “lone warrior” archetypes. Adapted from the seminal Chinese martial arts novel The Eagle Shooting Heroes, Wong’s film is not a Crouching Tiger-style action extravaganza (the Sammo Hung-choreographed brawls are choppy and impressionistic), but rather a critical, postmodern analysis of the genre. The plot is complex (to say the least), but Ashes of Time is a dreamy, poetic film that becomes richer and more powerful upon repeated viewings.

2. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)

With his first directorial effort, acclaimed screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) takes his non-linear storytelling style to the extreme, tackling the subjects of aging, mortality, and the role of the artist in society in his most mind-bending work to date. An acclaimed theatre director in an existential crisis, Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) uses a government grant to mount an “honest” production about humanity—a life-size version of Manhattan staged within a huge warehouse. But can there be such thing as truthfulness in art, considering that the presence of an artist brings inherent subjectivity? Surreal from the get-go, Synecdoche becomes downright dizzying as Hoffman’s character goes to greater lengths to achieve his unattainable goal, to the point where watching the last third of the film is like wandering through a hall of mirrors. Kaufman’s sense of humour and the affecting performances by Hoffman and Samantha Morton make Synecdoche the most entertaining “difficult” movie in years.

1 The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)

Christopher Nolan’s epic treatise on vigilante justice, the nature of heroism, and post-9/11 America also happens to the finest film ever made about a comic book superhero, and one of the ballsiest summer blockbusters of all time. The Dark Knight is a violent crime saga; a compelling human tragedy; a troubling political parable; a frightening depiction of urban chaos; and a damn good action movie. Perhaps the first comic book movie to question the ethical implications of its heroes while undermining the fundamental tenants of their mythos (a Batman movie that ends with Batman vilified?), Nolan has created one of the few blockbusters that evokes a real sense of danger by radically subverting clichés (an action movie where the love interest is murdered two thirds of the way in?). And yes, a certain cast member does deserve a posthumous Oscar.