Should the Bears have beaten the Broncos? Yes. They didn’t, because of the head coach.
Should the Bears have beaten the Lions? Yes. They didn’t, because of the head coach.
Mediocre work on the sidelines would have the Bears 5-6 this season, which is exactly where most of us believed they would be at the Thanksgiving holiday. But the coaching, specifically the work from head coach Matt Eberflus, is the reason the Bears are (well) behind their 2023 targets/expectations.
Will Justin Fields be the starting quarterback in 2024? Who knows, but clearly his performance against the Lions last week made some of his more vocal critics, including myself, leave that door slightly ajar. Personally, I just don’t care anymore. Bring him back, don’t bring him back, whatever. I think Fields is good enough to win games but not good enough to be the reason you win a championship. But Josh Allen can’t even get to an AFC Championship Game while Brock Purdy is throwing up perfect quarterback ratings in blowout victories…so maybe there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. I mean, would you rather have Fields or Jared Goff? I think I prefer Fields.
But Eberflus is never going to be a top head coach. That’s apparent on the sidelines almost every week. If the ceiling for Fields is “not the reason you win a championship,” the ceiling for Eberflus is .500.
This year, I’m going with ten films. Ten films only. I’ll be watching more than 40 Christmas movies over the next month, but it is time to make the difficult choices. It is hard to leave off films like Santa Claus the Movie and Jingle All the Way and Christmas with the Kranks and Noelle. It was not hard to leave off films I simply don’t like, including the perennial downer It’s a Wonderful Life and the wildly overrated A Christmas Story.
Three films worth noting here.
10. Scrooged (1988). The most beautifully written and performed speech in the Christas movie canon.
9. The Santa Clause (1994). The sequels are unwatchable, but the original is both sardonic and sweet hearted.
8. Die Hard (1988). I have gone back and forth on the “is Die Hard a Christmas movie” debate but I think Michael Kamen’s use of Silent Night in the score solidifies its standing in the corpus. It is the best movie on this list, but only the eighth best Christmas movie.
7. Home Alone (1990) *
*Home Alone 2 should be consumed for ironic purposes only, but it SHOULD be consumed. I will have a full game preview section on Home Alone 2 before Christmas.
New Orleans Saints 26, Chicago Bears 16
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
(The following is a work-in-progress introduction for a longer piece I’m developing about a fascinating period of cinematic history. And it seems quite fitting to be writing about rubble right now on a Chicago Bears blog.)
“Let’s go up to my apartment. It’s only a few ruins away from here.”
-Erika von Schlütow (Marlene Dietrich), A Foreign Affair (1948)
Robert Shandley, in his book Rubble Films, argues that “the end of World War II not only brought with it the destruction of the genocidal German nation state, but it also signified the end of an entire people’s understanding of itself.” (Shandley 1) This existential crisis not only permeated the psyche of the post-Hitler German citizenry, grappling with the innate evil of their actions and the questionable morality of their inaction, it was also pervasive in the nation’s once proud film production industry which, spearheaded by Joseph Goebbels during the war, had been relegated to a propaganda tool for the Third Reich’s vile notions of “a master race.” The national cinematic machine responsible for influential expressionist works such as Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) was now enlisted to produce contemptible, antisemitic detritus like The Rothschilds and The Eternal Jew, both in 1940.
The work produced in Germany in the period immediately after the war (1946-1949) is referred to as trümmerfilme, or rubble films. These pictures, created as “Germany lay in physical, political, and moral chaos” (Shandley 2), were shot directly on the ruins of major cities like Berlin and Munich; their mise-en-scene providing an immediate historical reminder for the spectator and a sociopolitical context for the action depicted. The “rubble” of rubble films suggests that while the war may be over, the German people will be attempting to excavate a postwar identity from the landscape for years to come.
But categorizing this period of German cinema as exclusively German ignores an essential nuance of its production structure. One must navigate beyond a formalist investigation of the texts and engage in a broader historiographic approach. Cultural historian Mary Rizzo, analyzing representations of Baltimore in her book Come and Be Shocked, provides a framework for such an inquiry:
Understanding how a film or TV show shapes and reflects society requires more than examining its depiction of a place. We understand the political economy by asking, Who gets to produce culture? Who has access to funding? Whose work is circulated? How does the meaning of text change as it circulates? Culture is a space of struggle over power, politics and place. (Rizzo 13)
It is Rizzo’s “space of struggle” that applies to any properly considered discussion of the trümmerfilme period. As the allies came to occupy German territory, and specifically German cities, they sought to limit cultural and religious activity, “passing laws such as Law 191 of the Military Government, Germany…which transformed the German film industry from an industrial superpower to a cottage industry in a matter of weeks.” (Shandley 10) In the year immediately following the German surrender on May 7, 1945, no films were produced in Germany; a period historically known as the “Filmpause”. As the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union apportioned sections of these cities, cinema production was slowly resumed, with the allies installing their own censorship guidelines and insisting that German cinema in the aftermath of the war be an antidote to the poisonous cinema of the war.
Another emerging dynamic of the period was the blossoming ideological hostility between the Americans and the Soviets, portending the Cold War that was to define the remainder of the 20th Century. The American sector was frequently visited by emissaries from Hollywood, including German émigré Billy Wilder, and it was believed the primary focus of these tours was to “seek ways for the Americans to establish a monopoly in Germany.” (Shandley 13) The American motivation was unsurprisingly driven by economics while, by contrast, the Soviet motivation was politically driven, as they sought to “establish ideological control” over those they now occupied. (Shandley 17)
Understanding this context, the trümmerfilme period should not be considered an explicitly German one, but instead a transnational artistic, commercial – and perhaps most importantly – moral collaboration between a defeated Germany and the colonizing forces that had stripped the nation of its sovereignty. While there is a collection of films written, directed and produced by Germans, including the period’s seminal work, Wolfgang Staudte’s The Murderers Are among Us (Die Mürder sind unter uns), these films were produced under the strict moral “guidance” of the allied occupiers. Subsequently, the period’s most commercially and critically popular efforts were not German at all, instead reflecting an international intervention in postwar morality by Hollywood and two young, immigrant directors: Wilder (A Foreign Affair, 1948) and Austrian-born Fred Zinneman (The Search, 1948).