Oliver Stone is discovering one of the many joys of capitalism: without it, he would never be able to make such flashy, well-produced films bashing capitalism!
Stone's latest film, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps", may have replaced Charlie Sheen, star of the original, with a younger Shia LaBeouf, but it's still as hypocritically anti-capitalist as the original.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Money Never Sleeps" would not have been able to muster a sufficient budget without massive product placement campaigns. The film benefitted "enormously" from the advertising technique, Stone admitted (h/t Big Hollywood headlines).
The internet is abuzz with praise for the new documentary that points out the many faults of public education, Waiting for Superman. With positive reviews from both the Huffington Post on the Left as well as the New York Poston the Right, it makes one wonder, how could this be? It appears that this film has single-handedly done what President Obama could not do to save his own life: bring the Left and Right together on a single issue.
It is refreshing that the film's director, Davis Guggenheim (who directed An Inconvenient Truth), is able to put politics aside to see the destructive nature of teachers unions. Guggenheim put his own kids through private school but realizes that not everyone can afford such a luxury. Here, he sets out to tackle the real problems that have long plagued public school systems: teachers unions. Though, he is careful to say that he isn't bashing unions in general.
Guggenheim sees that not everything has to be a political football, which is why we should applaud him for taking a bipartisan approach. However, some feel that the response to the film shows the true, negative colors of conservatives. Liberal Patrick Goldstein comments in the Los Angeles Times:
"It is time for stronger remedies to be applied," said abolitionist Wendell Phillips of the Union's effort during the Civil War,"in the form of hot lead and cold steel duly administered by 100,000 black doctors." His vision became a reality as over 180,000 African-Americans (free men and escaped slaves) joined the Union Army to fight against the slave-holding Confederacy.
The story of the first such "colored" regiment to be formed, the 54th Massachusetts, is beautifully retold in director Edward Zwick's 1989 film Glory. That this film didn't even garner an Oscar nomination for best picture - in a year where Driving Miss Daisy took the prize - is puzzling to me. Glory features a first-rate script, wonderful imagery, and a stellar cast led by Matthew Broderick who plays Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the real-life idealistic white officer chosen to lead the regiment. The film is also a feast for the ears as the majestic chorus of the Harlem Boys' Choir permeates the score.
A terrorist group bombs a police funeral? It must be some "patriots" upset about health care reform and our black president, or something.
That, at least, is what some viewers took away from the season premiere of CBS's hit show "CSI". The episode starred teen pop star Justin Bieber as "a domestic terrorist with Tea Party leanings," in the words of the New York Times, implicated in the bombing of a Las Vegas police officer's funeral.
In the show, a cell phone used to trigger the bomb is traced back to a group of "patriots" - those government-hating extremists the Southern Poverty Law Center keeps warning us are on the verge of waging violent revolution - that are, according to some viewers (including the Times, apparently), crude portrayals of Tea Party protesters.
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." That was the defining line of Oliver Stone's 1987 film "Wall Street," and his attack on the financial system that the news media would use for decades to portray businessmen as villains.
The theme Stone wants viewers to take away from his sequel, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," was tucked away in the credits of his film on a greenback. "In Greed We Trust," the bill proclaimed where the words "In God We Trust" should have been.
"Money Never Sleeps," which opens in theaters Sept. 24, uses the financial crisis of 2008 as a backdrop for the comeback of Gordon Gekko, the iconic villain of the original. This time Gekko reinvents himself as a changed man, coming back bearish on housing and speculation.
In a business school lecture Gekko warns, "The mother of all evils is speculation -- leveraged debt." He claims the economy is merely moving money around in circles and the business model itself is like a "cancer."
I was flipping through the tube last night, and found myself in an all-too familiar situation: watching reruns of Seinfeld. Sure, you could chalk it up to my lack of a basic cable package, or it could be due to the fact that I'm no longer able to stomach Letterman's increasingly senile, liberal spewage (and Leno is sort of hit-or-miss these days). I would argue, however, that one reason stands above the rest:Seinfeld is honest.
The truth is that Seinfeld reflects the worst among us. It is made up of a memorable cast, all of whom play the most self-serving people you could ever meet. Self-absorbed, vain and often underhanded, the show is a perfect embodiment of many involved with the entertainment industry. You've got to love its transparency. Unlike James Cameron (who is just as materialistic and self-serving as a George Costanza), you never have to worry about the show sermonizing the politically correct cause du jour.
Funnily enough, it is Seinfeld's lack of a soapbox that spurs me to take a good hard look at myself more than any other show on television. How often do you find yourself disgusted at the selfishness of George or Jerry, only to realize that you've most likely acted similarly (if not identically) at one point or another?
Is there no end to the many talents of Lady Gaga, already recognized as the greatest Madonna impersonator of this century? Of course we all know her as a singer, musician, fashionista and female impersonator, but recently she has revealed herself as maven in two new areas: military expert and political advisor.
It started at the MTV Video Music Awards. That is ironic in itself since I think that MTV stopped being a music channel sometime in the 1990's. Ms. Gaga, (I don't know if "Lady" is a title or simply the first part of her pseudonym) appeared in a costume made of meat. When asked the meaning of her get-up by Ellen DeGeneres, she explained it wasn't a slam on vegans.
"As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the earth," Gaga replied.
Wow! Did the irony of that statement knock anyone else down into their La-Z-Boy? That might be the truest thing she has ever said. It wasn't too long ago that having judgment skills was considered a plus. Not anymore!
Remember when American comedians went after the powerful in an effort to bring them down to earth with the sharp satire of accountability? Today, they appear to only protect the powerful. Well, unless the powerful aren't liberal enough. As things stand now you have the likes of David Letterman and Louis C.K. savaging Sarah Palin's family, SNL terrified to rip Obama with any real zeal, cartoonists proclaiming President Teleprompter too cool to mock, and Will Ferrell films flaking for corrupt public unions, all in an effort to protect the corrupted leftist elitists currently holding power.
It's like we now live in an alternate universe you might call ... North Korea.
In desperate Hail Mary moves to protect Obama and Democrats from what's looking like a November rout, three of the left's most beloved Palace Guards have just upped their game considerably. Bill Maher's now openly blackmailing Delaware Republican Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell, threatening a weekly drip-drip-drip of videos he thinks will ruin her candidacy unless she agrees to appear on his show - which is where he'll really pull out the stops to finally win that Emmy by attempting to destroy her:
"Feminism is a Crock - and Other True Stories." That's the title for a book I'd like to write someday. The reason I say feminism is a crock is because it has morphed from "equal rights for all" to "women are better than men, and if you disagree you're a sexist pig who should be castrated." It's also morphed into a sexual free-for-all: what used to be sauce for the gander (and those ganders were usually considered cads) is now sauce for the goose. This image is being perpetuated by pop culture and entertainment, and women are more and more frequently being portrayed as strong through their sexuality, not through their actual accomplishments. Is this the standard to which we want our daughters to aspire?
Early feminists fought against the centuries-old image of a "woman on a pedestal." Gloria Steinem (she of the "a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" who in later years ended up getting married anyway) once said, "A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space." I suppose a bra is also a small, confined space, which might explain the bra burnings of the 1960s. But the early feminists had a point - to a point. If a woman wants to be put on a pedestal and admired and adored, fine. But if she doesn't, she should have the right to do with her life as she chooses. She should be free to pursue any vocation for which she is qualified, either as a single or married woman, children or no children.
NBC tonight (10 PM EDT/PDT, 9 PM CDT) debuts a new drama, Outlaw, centered on a conservative Supreme Court justice who, as a gambler and a philander, is a hypocrite played by Jimmy Smits. Realizing his political misdirection, he resigns from the court so he can become a crusading lawyer for liberal causes. But the program is so awful, even MSM TV critics are ridiculing it. (Joe Scarborough has at least one cameo in it.) “The show is so ludicrously dumb that your eyeballs will hurt from rolling so much,” Hank Stuever warned in Tuesday's Washington Post.
In USA Today, Robert Bianco pleaded: “Surely NBC's joking. There's awful, and then there's atrociously, hilariously awful -- a line NBC and Jimmy Smits soar across with Outlaw.” He proceeded to describe the show's premise:
A gambling, womanizing, conservative Supreme Court justice who chucks the court to become a crusader for the outcast and oppressed? That's not a prime-time show, it's a Saturday Night Live sketch. We meet Smits' Justice Cyrus Garza as he's being thrown out of a casino for counting cards. Outside, he stops to debate a case he's due to decide with a pretty ACLU protester (because you know those justices, yak, yak, yak) -- whom he then beds. But her words move him, and he resigns to become a trial lawyer.
Do the math. Instead of someone with the last name Rodriguez telling the tale of noble, sympathetic Hispanics victimized by white American southern rednecks - all of whom are portrayed as murderous racists, what if we had a white filmmaker telling the tale of noble and sympathetic Texas border ranchers victimized by marauding, racist, gold-toothed unwashed Mexicans out to steal their land? Oh, and we would close our story with a stand-up-and-cheer race war where Texas ranchers unite to violently mow down evil Mexicans.
The same Left whose standards are so low that opposition to ObamaCare, same-sex marriage, and the Ground Zero Mosque can only be driven by a "phobia" or "ist" - the same PC Left that hides "silly" old Bugs Bunny cartoons and can't broadcast a season of "24″ without including a patronizing Don't Be Racist to Muslims PSA - sees the vicious portrayal of white Texans in "Machete" as nothing more than a silly goof. I guess it's easy to convince yourself of that when your principles are based on an agenda as opposed to any sense of consistency or intellectual honesty.
It breaks my heart to write this article. Roger Ebert has been a part of my love for cinema since I was eleven years old. When I was in the hospital for two months at age 19, I devoured his entire book of movie reviews. I even met him at the 2002 Conference on World Affairs when he dissected David Lynch's masterpiece Mulholland Drive (though I thought he needlessly threw in the towel regarding the film's meaning). I don't need to expound on his contributions to film education and his championing of truly great movies.
Nevertheless, I don't know the man. I only know his words. Yet I have to wonder if the physical and mental trauma Roger has endured has taken a toll on his mind. He always seemed apolitical to me. He just wrote great movie reviews. However, he started a political journal on his website in the past year. It's full of the same clap-trap expected from those on the Left: false premises, poorly constructed arguments, and replies to comments which dodge legitimate challenges.
The pop-music world is turning into a caricature of shamelessness, childishness and even spoiled-brattiness. To get attention quickly, some pop stars will try absolutely anything. The soul singer Cee-Lo Green has a new album coming out. How's this for art: His first desperate single is titled "F—- You."
The shock value is already working. A video was posted Aug. 19, and within four days, it had grabbed 1.4 million views on YouTube — another sign that YouTube is not a safe website for children. On Aug. 23, YouTube began requiring visitors to sign in to view the video, saying it "may contain content that is inappropriate for some users." That's quite an understatement. But it's also meaningless: it's unrestricted on Cee-Lo's personal website. Clicking on his MySpace page brings the song up automatically.
The entire song is obscene. It's stuffed with 16 uses of the F-bomb in under four minutes, erupting on average once every 14 seconds. It also has 10 uses of the S-word, and even two uses of "nigga." (Don't tell Dr. Laura Schlessinger.)
On July 27th and 28th, the New York Times published the following headline: "The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected." In the story that followed the headline, readers were informed: "The immense patches of surface oil that [once] covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the...oil rig explosion are largely gone."
Ironically, the man who predicted this would be case was the much-maligned Tony Hayward, former Chief Executive of British Petroleum (BP). While being grilled on Capital Hill about the oil spill earlier this year, Hayward described it as a "relatively tiny" one in comparison to the "very big ocean" in which it had occurred. Although the backlash Hayward faced by Democrats was nasty, Rush Limbaugh concurred with the BP boss, and stories like the one I cited from the New York Times seem to demonstrate that Hayward and Limbaugh were both correct.
Yet, not only does BP continue to be the target of heavy criticism by Democrats and environmental groups, it has even found itself in the crosshairs of Brad Pitt, who recently "said he would consider the death penalty for those to blame for the Gulf oil spill crisis." According to the UK's Daily Mail, Pitt's exact words were: "I was never for the death penalty before - I am willing to look at it again."
E! Online "The Awful Truth" columnist Ted Casablanca on Aug. 21 called the graphic depictions of sex and violence on HBO's vampire drama "True Blood" "highly ironic" and promoted the show as "great fun."
Casablanca defended the show on Fox News Channel's "Geraldo at Large" in a discussion with host Geraldo Rivera and Culture and Media Institute Assistant Editor Nathan Burchfiel. The debate was sparked by the controversy surrounding a recent Rolling Stone magazine cover that depicted "True Blood" stars naked and covered in (fake) blood.
Burchfiel pointed out that while the shows originate on premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime, many "worst-of" clips are available online within hours of broadcast, and many popular shows like "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City" have found their way onto basic cable via syndication, a likely future for "True Blood."
"It's highly ironic, Geraldo," Casablanca said of the show, adding, "It's a highly intelligent, very clever indictment of the very conversation that we're having right now and it's an allegory to our times."
There are three important things going on in "The Tillman Story" (in selected theatres today), two of which almost make the conspiracy-mongering documentary worth your time. The first and best is the opportunity to get to know better the extraordinary and extraordinarily complicated and interesting Pat Tillman. In the best sense of the word, this was a fierce and fiercely passionate man - fierce on the football field, fierce on the battlefield, and fierce in his personal beliefs. This was also a man who only ever dated one woman, the woman he would marry the same week he enlisted; and my guess is that Tillman was the kind of man and husband who found leaving the fame of professional football much easier than leaving his young bride.
You also meet Tillman's family; his parents, brother and wife - a decent, loving, inconsolable group dealing with the terrible loss of someone they obviously loved and miss very much. This is a family furious with a United States government who didn't know all the facts before they told the story of Tillman's death to them, and to the American people. And as far as that goes, they are right to be angry.
Last week, film writer extraordinaire Christian Toto fell under the delusion that yours truly was interesting enough to interview, and if you're under the same delusion you can read the two-parter here and here. Among other things, Toto asked me about the clout critics wield and the most common mistakes they make. Here's a combination of my answers:
Critics aren't dumb, they know the public doesn't much care which way their thumbs point. But critics do know that based on their opinions and reviews they can enjoy an influence over what kind of films get made. And that's not a small amount of power. Culture is upstream from politics, after all.
If you have 95 percent of critics savaging a faithful retelling of the Gospels as anti-Semitic, no matter how successful "The Passion" is, no one's going to go near that subject matter again. And that's the goal. Same with anything that comes close to patriotism or conservatism. Such cinematic rarities are frequently labeled "jingoistic, fascist or simple minded." This is all done consciously and for a desired effect.
With the release of The Expendables, it seems that every self-respecting male has caught 80's fever. As a way to clear the palette from modern metro-sexual romps, my friends have resorted to re-visiting old B-movie beauties such as Cobra, Road House and Tango and Cash. Sure they're awful, but unlike the Kaiser-helmet wearing hipsters of the lower east side, those movies never tried to be anything that they weren't.
When looking back at the 80s however, the one thing that strikes me the most are the cartoons. I'll admit it, I'm a cartoon junkie. To this day I can still be found in my pajamas with a bowl of Cap'n Crunch, catching up on animated glory. Back in the 80s though, cartoons were still violent... and I liked it that way.
Of course, I'm discussing the cartoons aimed squarely at young boys. You see, back then, before gender roles became considered hateful and being androgynous had been transformed into a virtue, boys actually watched different cartoons from girls, and they were proud of it.
If you’re not interested in having Will Ferrell lecture you on the evils of capitalism this coming weekend and would instead prefer to cozy up at home before the warm glow of plasma with a cold one in one hand a Redbox receipt in the other, here are five fairly new-to-DVD flicks that won’t leave you feeling sucker punched.
1.The Road: Director John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winner was unforgivably snubbed for Oscar consideration last year, as was leading man Viggo Mortensen for his heart-wrenching work as a widowed father leading his adolescent son across a dangerous, barren post-apocalyptic America. Muted, heartbreaking, and yet hopeful, this is a story about a father teaching his son about what it takes to survive at any cost other than losing your humanity. Perfectly acted, beautifully directed and paced in such a way that casts an hypnotic spell, “The Road” is part Christian allegory, part zombie movie, and boasts an unforgettable cameo by Robert Duvall.
When the credits are the most intriguing part of the movie, there's a problem.
In the new film "The Other Guys," starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, two mismatched cops try to make a name for themselves by investigating a potential Ponzi scheme run by a corrupt investor. The villain is a pseudo-Bernie Madoff but rather than vilifying a single fraud, director Adam McKay ("Anchorman," "Step Brothers") lumped all investors together and attacked Wall Street as a whole.
"The Other Guys" is a funny but not hilarious movie for 1 hour and 47 minutes but instead of simply rolling the credits and letting viewers leave smiling, McKay followed with graphics criticizing Wall Street and corporate executives. It was almost as if Michael Moore filmed the closing credits, as graphics included the anatomy of a Ponzi scheme, the ratio of CEO to employee salaries, a comparison of the New York Police Department's pension fund to an average CEO's pension fund, an average worker's 401(k) account compared to a CEO's, and the amount of taxes Goldman Sachs paid after the bailout.
While the credits provided the most egregious anti-business attacks, there were other subtle pokes at business and Republicans within the film. For example, the villain, named David Ershon (whose last name rhymes eerily with ‘Enron'), is seen in a photograph with former President George W. Bush and is said to be friends with conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Other chides included Ershon stealing from both the lottery and the NYPD pension fund -- essentially stealing money from the state and a labor union -- and the villains' drive SUV's while the heroes drive a Toyota Prius.
The last thing I was worrying about was that The Other Guys would be too preachy. Sure, Will Ferrell has a long history of deep, thought-provoking critiques of society and culture, so that should have been my big concern. Also subtitles. And having the last shot of the film be the word "Fin" superimposed over the freeze-framed image of a crying child alone on a beach symbolizing death or something.
You know, sometimes you just want to go, have a drink or two, or three, or ten, and then sit in a movie theater and tune out the seemingly endless parades of nimrods, pinkos and sanctimonious deadbeats who make up so much of our society today. You just want some guys to come on the screen and to do and say some funny stuff. Maybe you want an explosion or two, perhaps a gratuitous shower scene - strike that, as shower scenes are never gratuitous. Unless it's a dude. Or Kathy Bates.
The point is the last thing you want after a Dos XX prep and handing over $11.75 each for yourself and your life partner/designated driver is for a bunch of Hollywood half-wits to stop the fun to give you a PowerPoint briefing on their insights into modern politics - without even the PowerPoint. And it appears that this is exactly what The Other Guys intends to do.
UPDATE:An earlier version of this post implied that Friends of Abe had raised money for California GOP candidates, which is not the case. We apologize for the mistake.
In the giant morass of Hollywood leftism, there is a small - but growing - group of conservatives doing its best to sway the utter one-sidedness of celebrity politics.
The group, known as the Friends of Abe, includes a number of well-known A-list personalities, some of them renowned for their outside-the-mainstream (in their line of work) politics. Kelsey Grammar, Gary Sinese, Dennis Miller, and Jon Voight among them.
But though the group is small, secretive, and far less influential than its political-professional counterpart (the rest of Hollywood), "conservative frustration with the Democratic control of Washington might be helping them flourish," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
But there are still plenty of times when the producers of even good series that aren't usually political (in contrast to, say, the intensely political Law and Order) have to take their jabs at the dangerously ignorant boobs they see as populating Middle America. Two crime dramas in the past week have done just that.
Last week's episode of The Closer, on TNT, set up a typical serial killer story but with an obviously political angle: the people being killed were all female illegal immigrants. Even more pointedly (spoiler alert), it turns out that the murderer is an agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) who chooses them as his targets because their lack of documentation makes it less likely he'll be caught.
There was a lot of cool news out of Comic Con last week. The "Avengers" has a great cast, with the addition of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, and a great director in Joss Whedon. The images from Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" look awesome. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" was screened and people love it. Oh, and the upcoming "Captain America" film won't be "about America so much as it is about the spirit of doing the right thing."
That's right kids. Captain America will be out there fighting the real evil of the world: corporations, Tea Partiers, global warming, and those who oppose gay marriage.
Even the L.A. Times notes that the decision to not make Captain America "jingoistic and flag waving" is a personal choice by the filmmaker. After all, it's hard to demand that change in the name of commerce. Marvel's own decidedly libertarian franchise "Iron Man" has earned nearly two billion dollars world wide.
Friday's CBS Early Show devoted a six-minute segment in its 7:30AM ET half hour to the Saturday wedding of Chelsea Clinton. Correspondent Elaine Quijano reported on the event having "Eva Longoria's florist" and "presidential party planners." Entertainment Tonight correspondent Diane Dimond added: "...they have porcelain port-a-potties for all of the guests....with music piped in."
Dimond went on to mention how the guest list would feature Hollywood liberals like Barbara Streisand and Steven Spielberg. Concluding her report, Quijano declared: "Now tonight the rehearsal dinner is reportedly set to take place nearby, at the 500-plus acre Grasmere estate. We are told, Harry, that guests will dine in an old stone barn overlooking a bucolic pastoral setting....they're being asked to wear country chic." The segment did not raise any questions about the over-the-top extravagance of the affair, which is estimated to cost a few million dollars.
Hollywood director Oliver Stone - who previously tried to rewrite history with his ultra-left conspiracy work of fiction "JFK" is at it again. But this time he's not accusing the American government of murdering its own president.
Instead, he's simply trying to stop the "Jewish domination of the media," so that the film industry can put Nazi leader Adolf Hitler "in context," as an "easy scapegoat," and "a product of a series of actions," in his upcoming 10-hour Showtime docudrama, "The Secret History of America."
This past weekend Stone told the Sunday Times in England: "We can't judge people as only bad or good . . . Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support."
On Sunday, Alana Goodman reported on an anti-semitic interview given by director Oliver Stone in the Sunday edition of The Times of London. Stone said that Jews dominate the media, "stay on top of every comment" and have "the most powerful lobby in Washington."
Earlier today, The Daily Mail reported that Stone had apologized for his remarks.
He said: "In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret."
Stone told The Sunday Times "Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support."
If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, liberal Hollywood directors must be utterly certifiable. How else does one explain Hollywood's penchant for de-Americanizing thoroughly patriotic superhero and/or comic book icons?
Take Joe Johnston. The cinematic genius who gave the world "Jurassic Park 3" is directing a "Captain America" feature that will release in 2011, the 70th anniversary of the Marvel superhero's creation.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is conflict with itself. Like all unions, although it’s ostensibly in existence to help the little people, what’s really happening is that prominent members of SAG are making a killing without any real redistribution of their wealth to other members or to society.
The hypocrisy of this is evident when we consider that some of the more prominent members of SAG – actors like George Clooney and actresses like Julia Roberts – are die hard liberals who supported Obama’s campaign of “hope” and “change.” After all, like the CEOs at all those “awful” corporations, the amount of money A-listers like Clooney and Roberts make is many, many times that of the average actor or crew- member working on their films.
I can’t help but be bothered by the arrogance of such people who, although making tens of millions of dollars per movie, vote for a man who campaigned on tax increases. In other words, after going on TV talk shows and letting their little hearts bleed about the plight of the poor or the pain of the hungry, they vote for tax increases on average Americans instead of just reaching into their own pockets to correct fixable problems overnight.