The man whose last controversial movie was "Bully" certainly knows how to behave like one. Just ask New York Post film critic Kyle Smith, who dared to give a thumbs-down to Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein's latest anti-Catholic attack film, "Philomena," carefully timed for release during the Christmas season.
Weinstein took out an full-page color attack ad in The New York Times singling out Smith for abuse. It got his attention. "I've never been flogged in the public square, but now I have a rough idea what it's like."
In all capital letters, the ad proclaimed "The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today all praise `Philomena' with a 92 percent certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes [the film review website]. But The New York Post's Kyle Smith has a different opinion. `Another hateful attack on Catholics.'"
Underneath that was part of a letter from the film's subject, Philomena Lee, who insisted the film "is meant to be a testament to good things and not an attack." She said to Smith: "I forgive you for not taking the time to understand my story."
Dissent is not welcome.
"Philomena" is yet another movie made by Weinstein's company trashing the Catholic Church, in this case attacking "evil nuns" in one of those stories they claim in the opening credits is "Based On True Events." Which part of this film is based on fact and which part on fiction? Hollywood doesn't dare make the distinctions.
Philomena Lee was one of the unwed teenage mothers in Ireland who were taken into the "Magdalene laundries," homes operated by nuns to provide a home for unwed mothers and pregnant girls. To support the homes, the young women did laundry and other domestic work. Lee gave birth to a son at an abbey in 1952. Her son was taken away from her at age 3 and adopted by an American couple. Out of shame, she kept this secret from her other two children for 50 years, until she broke her silence in 2004.
This is where the movie's plot kicks in. Lee's daughter recruited the help of a leftist journalist named Martin Sixsmith to help them find out what happened to Lee's lost son in America. After some research, they discovered her son became a closeted gay Republican lawyer to Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush.
Now you can see why Harvey Weinstein would salivate over this film "based on true events." Bashing the Catholic Church and the "homophobic" Republicans? It's a Hollywood dream scenario. This takes us back to the attack on Kyle Smith. He called out this anti-Catholic, anti-conservative crusade for what it was.
"I could see no reason for the movie's existence other than to soar overhead in the guise of the sweet bird of comedy, then drop a surprise load of guano on Catholic institutions (and, in the second half, the US Republican Party)," he wrote. At one point in the film, it's "explained" that Reagan cut funding for AIDS research, which is utter claptrap.
Smith knows he's the outlier among movie critics. "Film critics tend to give a free pass to obvious, trite, heavy-handed movies that light up the correct political-pleasure circuits in their brains. I'm used to disagreeing with them. That is because I am, as far as I know, the only conservative film critic in the entire United States who writes regularly for a general-interest newspaper or magazine. I see things all the others miss."
It's not at all hard to see the vicious stereotyping of "evil" nuns in this movie. "The movie makes this particular Irish Catholic institution look about as pleasant as Abu Ghraib," Smith wrote. Even the seemingly kind nuns in the present day are dreadful liars hiding a secret - Philomena's son died of AIDS in 1995 and is buried there at the abbey in Ireland.
At the film's climax, when Lee and Sixsmith confronted sour-faced old "Sister Hildegard," who knew Lee as a pregnant girl, the old nun scowled and spat out that the girls were all so sinful they deserved every punishment.
The entire church punishes people who like sex, according to this cartoonish movie. When the actress playing Philomena proclaims the illicit sex that got her pregnant was so wonderful that she thought it must be sinful, her leftist journalist ally responds "F-ing Catholics!"
That pretty much sums up Harvey Weinstein's attitude. He's a proven bigot, from the comedy flick "Dogma" to "The Magdalene Sisters" to this rotten apple. In 1995, Weinstein aimed to get "Priest" - a story of two sexually active priests, one gay, one straight - released on Good Friday. Only nervous theater owners caused a delay.
When Weinstein pushes out a movie where a character yells "F-ing Muslims" that's timed for release during Ramadan, we'll know Hell has frozen over.