One familiar trope about horror movies is that the characters can only survive them by abstaining from drinking, drugs, and sex, leading some movie critics to half-facetiously moan about the genre's secret social conservatism. But what about horror movies with a thuddingly obvious left-wing message of environmental alarmism inserted into the script, as part of the studio's ideological vision?
In a Sunday Arts & Leisure article on the new movie the "The Crazies," a remake of a low-budget George Romero zombie movie from the '70s, New York Times movie critic John Anderson equated left-wing environmentalism with serving the "public good."
Turns out "The Crazies" is not just another zombie movie, but a consciousness-raising piece "about the issues of weapons security and the purity of water," as the headline indicated: "Homicidally Unhinged, But for a Cause." The text box: "'The Crazies' aims to scare moviegoers and elevates their social consciousness, too."
Anderson embraced the idea of slipping in left-wing fearmongering without fans noticing:
It may come as a shock, but the fanboys reveling in the eviscerations, explosions and Car Wash of Death scene contained in the director Breck Eisner's new take on "The Crazies" will also be contributing to socially progressive cinema. Perhaps even to the public good. With any luck, they won't notice.
The Washington Post championed a new documentary on Friday, a film airing only at one art theater in town. It’s still championing America-bashing radical leftist whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg in a new film titled "The Most Dangerous Man in America."
In a large spread that starts at the top of the front page of the Style section, film critic Ann Hornaday celebrated Ellsberg’s "moral courage" for damaging the war effort by leaking the so-called "Pentagon Papers" to the New York Times in 1971. Hornaday insisted Ellsberg’s radicalism is still "astonishingly germane" today (although the Post never described him with any ideological label, or described the Vietnamese enemy as communists.)
Hornaday lectured that today’s blogosphere-besmirched media might not emphasize and celebrate the "elegant calculus" and "formidable logic" of Ellsberg’s acts today, like the uniformly liberal "mainstream media" of the Vietnam-Watergate era did:
Two years ago, Time critic Richard Corliss wrote an article that clearly must have resonated at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar telecast was sinking in the ratings, he wrote, because the nominees were largely unwatched by the masses. It used to be that the Best Picture prize went to mainstream box-office hits. "Now when the nominations come out, people try to catch up with the finalists, but it's almost like homework."
The 2010 Oscar nominations clearly signal that Hollywood is trying to return to a broader vision of the Oscars, as something more than an insular critics’ circle that likes only the self-consciously arty and obscure. That signal came most obviously with the announcement that there would be ten nominees for Best Picture. That list hadn’t seen 10 nominations since 1943, when the winner was "Casablanca."
Arty films that almost nobody has seen are still there – like "An Education." But arty blockbusters are there as well, like "Avatar" – current box office gross: $601 million -- and the animated film "Up," with $293 million. (By contrast, two years ago, the Best Picture box office leader was "Juno" – at $85 million when the nominations came out.)
Why let facts get in the way of a good liberal meme?
Paul Farhi sure didn't when he panned Oscar-nominated movie "The Blind Side" during a special "Hardball on Hollywood" segment with Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff and host Chris Matthews on the February 2 program.
The Washington Post media critic slammed the Best Picture-nominated drama -- based on a true story -- as just another movie in which the white characters' guilt is assauged by helping a black guy (video embedded at right; an MP3 audio clip is available here):
PAUL FARHI, Washington Post: The problem is that the black character is basically a prop to make the white people feel better about themselves, and that's been the major criticism. It's also the "magic negro," in other words, the idea that a black character will emerge to provide wisdom for the white people involved in the movie.
But what does it mean, to replace capitalism with democracy? He sighs and tries to explain. In the old Soviet bloc, he says, communism was the political system and socialism the economic. But with capitalism, he complains, you get political and economic rolled in to one. Big business buys votes in Congress. Lobbyists write laws. The result is that the US political system is awash in capitalist money that has stripped the system of much of its democratic accountability.
Alec Baldwin, award winning actor and wannabe leftist political commentator, called on Congress to sink congressional health care legislation today, saying he would rather the federal government "Put a Major Oil Company Out of Business," according to the headline of his column at the Huffington Post.
Baldwin isn't the only liberal entertainer calling for the death of ObamaCare. Plans to tax so-called "Cadillac" health care plans--or the most expensive insurance plans--have riled up some key Democratic supporters. The Teamsters Union and the AFL-CIO have protested, but now objections are also being raised by Hollywood's biggest unions.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the "generally cozy relationship between Hollywood's unions and the Obama administration is coming under strain." The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists recently sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders pleading with them to drop the Cadillac tax. According to the Times, the Screen Actors Guild, the largest union of actors, is expected to take a similar stance on the legislation.
“Hollywood actress Meryl Streep has admitted that the only person she has been star-struck by is U.S. President Barack Obama,” an India Times item posted on Sunday reported, quoting the actress: “I went to the White House and was star-struck by our President and First Lady. Although I was also impressed by Bruce Springsteen who was there as well.”
The unbylined item, which James Taranto highlighted in his “Best of the Web Today” for the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page, related how “Streep also believes that Barack is more than capable of making the right political choices for the U.S.” She gushed:
I think it is thrilling to have someone who is thoughtful and can articulate with a certain amount of passion and dispassion, the necessary choices that we have in the world.
There has been a substantial push lately by some of Hollywood's big names to reeducate Americans on world history. The leftist-dominated television and film industries have taken it upon themselves to promote histories of the United States and its role in the world that portrays it as an evil, occasionally colonial, always destructive force in global relations.
The latest such effort is being undertaken by director Oliver Stone, well known for his loving portrayal of Venezuela's Marxist dictator Hugo Chavez and derisive portrayal of our previous president in "W". Now Stone has set his sights on Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. He plans to "liberalize" America's thinking regarding two of the 20th century's most murderous dictators by putting them "in context", whatever that means (h/t Hot Air headlines).
"We can't judge people as only bad or good," Stone said at the Television Critics Association's press tour, referring to two dictators who--unless this writer's understanding of history is not sufficiently "liberalized"--are responsible, in Hitler's case, for the extermination of 6 million Jews and 3 million others in killing camps during World War II, and in Stalin's, for the murders of 20 million individuals in Russia and Soviet-occupied Europe.
It seems, Stone's claims notwithstanding, that one is historically justified in classifying these two particular dictators as "bad".
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd really wants a national security system that looks really nice and has lots of fancy bells and whistles, but is, beneath the shiny exterior, quite mediocre and extremely expensive.
Dowd implied as much when she asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a New Years Eve interview, "Why is it so hard for those charged with keeping us safe to be as imaginative and innovative as filmmakers like James Cameron?"
Yes, Cameron is so imaginative that he managed to spend $400 million on what amounts to a visually dazzling remake of Disney's Pocahontas (see plot summary below the fold - h/t Big Hollywood).
It's not because he's a fan of special effects or blockbuster action flicks, but because the "timely" liberal message of the movie could "ripple" through the culture in a manner favorable to, wait for it, "enviro-theism" (emphasis mine):
MSNBC host David Shuster on Wednesday attacked conservatives who have a problem with the liberal agenda of the film Avatar, dismissing their arguments as "shameless and crazy." Shuster and New Live co-host Tamron Hall seemed bewildered by right-wing complaints about the environmentally-themed movie.
Talking with film critic Mike Taibbi, Shuster derided, "Could this be just about the political strategy of punching up? That the Weekly Standard, or whoever wants to criticize, they can get a little bit of attention for their point of view, as shameless and crazy as it may sound, by attaching themselves to a movie that's doing so well?"
Update (Ken Shepherd, Managing Editor, 11:30 p.m. EST): A few minutes ago, Ebert tweeted the following apology on his Twitter feed: "I feel bad about my cheap Limbaugh jokes. Sincere apologies to Rush and you folks. He said he was fine but that's no excuse." # # #
In a demonstration of Hollywood's quintessentially intolerant hatred of conservatives, film critic Roger Ebert took to the Twitterverse on Saturday to mock Rush Limbaugh and his sudden trip to a Hawaii hospital (h/t Big Hollywood headlines).
Ebert was hardly alone in rejoicing Limbaugh's hospital visit--and distressed when he was given a clean bill of health. Liberals nationwide let loose the vitriol, some--including members of the hate-stricken mobs at Daily Kos and DU, as reported by P.J. Gladnick--simply wished he would expire.
For his part, Ebert fell short of calling for Limbaugh's death, and offered only lame fat jokes and implications of racism. Some of the juicier tweets:
If you bother to read Joanna Weiss' column in today's Boston Globe, expect to get a sense of déjà . . . lu. Like untold polemics that have preceded it, "Hollywood’s burden on aging women" stamps its feet over the unequal treatment of aging in men and women.
You know: male stars are allowed to age gracefully, but women must struggle ever-harder to conform to a youthful stereotype of sex-appeal. Unfair!
The feminist response is to blame the culture, in this case embodied by Hollywood, for promoting shallow, sexist values. But the fault, dear Joanna, is not in our stars but in ourselves, or more precisely, our DNA.
Hollywood liberalism has some strange priorities. During the last couple months, two high-profile criminals have been slated to face justice in American courts. The first drugged and raped a young girl in 1977. The second orchestrated the most deadly attack against American civilians in our nation's history.
Decisions to try them in the United States were controversial, but a petition against the extradition of the former, director Roman Polanski, garnered over 130 signatures. Included on the list were such illustrious film personalities as Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, and Wess Anderson.
Shortly after, another petition circulated the hills of Los Angeles, this one protesting the Obama administration's decision to try 9/11 terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City courts. This petition garnered seven names: Robert Duvall, Brian Dennehy, Jon Voight, Danny Aiello, Robert Davi, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Ben Stein.
But who does the snob Sheridan choose to blame in advance should his war-themed film flop? Not his own bonehead decision to jump into a genre with a 100% failure rate, not the investors who dove in with him … no, he blames We The American People:
Megan Fox has a real distaste for "Middle America". Those darned hillbillies in fly-over country just don't seem to go for blockbuster lesbian slash ‘em up soft-core porn flicks. What gives?
Fox is blaming Middle America for her potentially career-breaking flop of a horror movie "Jennifer's Body." Asked why it was such a pitiful failure, Fox explained, "the movie is about a man-eating, cannibalistic lesbian cheerleader, and that pretty much eliminates middle America."
Oh my, what ignorant and close-minded folks these Middle Americans must be that they wouldn't want to sit through 90 minutes of that. Really, what is the film industry coming to when Americans won't pay ten bucks to see one half-naked pinup model devour another?
I haven’t seen “The Blind Side” yet, so I won’t say anything about the quality of the film. But based on the trailer and the true story, my wife and I are as excited about this as any film in a long time. It tells the true story of the adoption of Michael Oher by the Tuohy family in Tennessee and how they helped him go from homeless teenager to professional football star. The book was incredible, the story miraculous. We’re especially excited because we’re big adoption advocates, currently in the middle of our first of many planned adoptions. Also, the Tuohys happen to be conservative Christians like we are, and we don’t normally get to see families like that on screen, at least in movies that are watchable.
Apparently, this makes me a racist.
You see, Michael Oher happens to be black, and the Tuohys happen to be white. I actually think that’s pretty cool, especially because they live in Tennessee, and what gets us farther from the evil days of segregation than an increased number of mixed-race families? One would assume that liberals especially would be excited about that, right?
Behar made suggestion Limbaugh represents himself as someone who is not "in the mainstream" because he argued on his Oct. 14 show the backlash was in part generated by liberal activists threatened by the notion Limbaugh could be considered to be in the mainstream. That notion was one which Belzer lashed out at and called Limbaugh and Fox News host Glenn Beck "fascist stooges" (emphasis added):
No, that's not a made-up headline. The foreclosed and/or evicted homeowners that have played such a role in the current economic meltdown - are they irresponsible borrowers that lived beyond their means or are victims that got swindled? Michael Moore is clear on where he thinks they fall.
Moore matched up with Fox News and conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity on Hannity's Oct. 6 program and Hannity attempted to have Moore explain why he didn't think there was a personal responsibility angle to the home foreclosure crisis.
Here's how it unfolded (emphasis added):
HANNITY: If you put your name on the dotted line in a legal document, don't you bear responsibility? MOORE: These people have been deceived and they've been exploited. You know, this is like - this is like ... HANNITY: No responsibility at all for them? MOORE: No, this is like asking a woman how short was your skirt after she's been raped.
Has it really come to this? Is MSNBC so in the tank for the Democratic Party that it takes far-left documentary filmmaker Michael Moore to bring up malfeasance by a leading Democrat?
Moore appeared on MSNBC's Sept. 29 "Hardball" to promote his new film "Capitalism: A Love Story." With exception of "The Ed Show" fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell noting the Senate Ethics Committee had cleared Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., of wrongdoing and only reprimanded him verbally, over the last couple of months, MSNBC's prime time shows have ignored a deal Dodd got on a mortgage with Countrywide. That is, until Moore brought it up.
"Chris Dodd may have a problem after being in this movie, I think," Matthews said.
Michael Moore, the man of many hats - documentary filmmaker, political scientist and now, singer.
Moore has been making the rounds to promote his new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story." On NBC's Sept. 15 "Jay Leno Show," Moore appeared and was asked what was wrong with capitalism.
"Capitalism is actually legalized greed," Moore said. "There's nothing wrong with people earning money, starting a business, selling shoes. That's not what I'm talking about. We're at a point now Jay, in this country, where the richest 1 percent, the very top 1 percent have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined."
I was stunned to read on Life Site News that a new movie is being planned about Our Lady of Guadalupe, so-named for an appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 that’s credited with converting nine million indigenous Mexicans to Christianity. The film, still untitled, will be produced by Mpower Pictures, the company that was launched with the pro-life movie "Bella" in 2006 and founded by "The Passion of the Christ" producer Steve McEveety.
That a movie would be made about Our Lady of Guadalupe is amazing, but that wasn’t half the surprise. The movie is being written by Joe Eszterhas. Yes, the same Joe Eszterhas responsible for screenwriting filthy movies like "Basic Instinct" and most infamously, "Showgirls," a movie so pornographic even the late Jack Valenti condemned it.
What I didn’t know until now is the story of the conversion of Joe Eszterhas in 2001, powerfully captured in his 2008 memoir entitled "Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith."
Yesterday, Big Hollywood's Chris Yogerst weighed in on Greg Gutfeld’s criticism of Hollywood — specifically Greg’s criticism of “G.I. Joe,” Stallone’s new Rambo film and “Inglourious Basterds” — for choosing politically correct villains over the real ones we face today. Chris is correct that turning Nazis into Jihadists is not something a filmmaker like Quentin Tarantino would do. If he has any, Tarantino’s politics have remained hidden in his work. Up on that screen the only thing he advocates for is overlooked 70’s B-movies and audacious entertainment. However, that doesn’t make the director’s decision to use Nazis any less politically correct or Hollywood’s moral cowardice in this area any more defensible.
Where my colleague Chris and I most disagree is with the assertion that Hollywood chooses “politically correct” or “safe” villains because Hollywood is all about the money and therefore wants to appeal to audiences who care what the villain looks like:
The film industry, like any other business, generally wants to appeal to the largest audience possible. Picking “safe” enemies is one way to do that.
Two of the most profitable films released this past year were “Gran Torino,” where our hero confronts black and Asian street gangs, and “Taken,” where the henchmen are Muslims and the arch-villain Middle Eastern.
In today’s L.A. Times director Oliver Stone discusses his upcoming documentary “South of the Border,” about the “warmhearted” Hugo Chavez. [emphasis added]:
Oliver Stone is shown warmly embracing Hugo Chávez, nibbling coca leaves with Evo Morales and gently teasing Cristina Elizabeth Fernández de Kirchner about how many pairs of shoes she owns. …
“I think he’s an extremely dynamic and charismatic figure. He’s open and warmhearted and big, and a fascinating character,” … ”But when I go back to the States I keep hearing these horror stories about ‘dictator,’ ‘bad guy,’ ‘menace to American society.’ I think the project started as something about the American media demonizing Latin leaders.
Guys like Stone are forced to rationalize that the American media is right-leaning in order to avoid their head exploding due to an acute case of FacingTheTruth-itosis. But maybe the doc will be more critical than we’re led to believe in this article. During their warm embrace, it’s possible Stone whispered hard-hitting questions in Hugo’s ear about reports such as this from the not-so-conservative Human Rights Watch.
Some in Hollywood, it seems, just can't let go of past political hopes – or at least want to use their films to continue pushing their political preferences. In Funny People, the new movie from writer/director Judd Apatow (IMDb page) which opened July 31, a character played by Seth Rogen (IMDb page) wears a 2004-era “Vote Kerry” T-shirt with an artwork outline image of 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
I caught the scene with Rogen sporting the T-shirt in the promotional clip played during this past Monday's re-run of the July 20 Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on which the star of the film, Adam Sandler, was a guest. IMDb has the same video clip, “George asks Ira to kill him.” (For the image here, I've enlarged the blue on black graphic.)
There have been a couple of constants where Iraq War cinematography is concerned. One, movie makers ignore the public appetite for movies supporting the anti-terror war message in favor of drab, depressing, preachy anti-war politicking featuring marquee names and little else.
Two, those movies, which predictably bomb at the box office, are the rage of the film critics who levitate in ecstasy at the opportunity to praise that which trashes Bush, the war on terror and the military all at once.
So how to explain “The Hurt Locker” and the critical rapture that surrounds it? Here’s a new offering that has none of the political messaging of Hollywood, doesn’t contain a single marquee name, and the critics are cheering.
New York Times tastemaker A.O. Scott bluntly proclaimed it "The best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq." Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal also raved: "A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances."
The plot is disarmingly simple, if I can use that pun. The film follows a team of U.S. Army technicians in Baghdad disarming IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The audience shares the unnerving tension, even paranoia of the soldiers, feeling the prospect of death lurking around every corner, hidden behind every wall, and in the slightest of movements of every Iraqi stranger.
Morgenstern is not kidding about "austere technique." This has to be the quietest war movie ever made, and it’s a quiet movie about… bombs? Outside of a few breaks of inside-the-movie music (rock music from boom-boxes or video games), there is no mood-establishing music until the 1:02 mark – a sensual eternity.
Director Kathryn Bigelow never provides the viewer with the audio cues warning of impending crisis, leaving the viewer conditioned to expect disaster constantly. There is no Dolby-Stereo wizardry or enormous special-effects monsters in "The Hurt Locker." This film operates on a maddeningly vulnerable, heart-pounding human scale.
This is not a pro-war movie; it is a movie about war, period. It is certainly the first Iraq War movie that drains all of the political rhetoric out, offering instead just the microcosm of American troops in a theatre where terrorists really are blowing people up with a quick dial on their cell phones.
Some leftist critics have found that lack of politicking to be political. Tara McKelvey of the American Prospect complained that the movie was "propaganda," an "effective recruiting tool" for the Army. Yet McKelvey can't even seem to convince herself. In another passage, she stated the movie "shows the paranoia, rage, and brutal recklessness of soldiers trapped in the downward death spiral of the Iraq war."
The soldiers here are not bigoted monsters. In New York magazine, critic David Edelstein suggested "The Hurt Locker might be the first Iraq-set film to break through to a mass audience because it doesn't lead with the paralysis of the guilt-ridden Yank."
The central character of the movie, Staff Sgt. Will James, is not guilt-ridden, but he's also not your standard G.I. Joe action hero. The soldiers under his command are so unnerved at his reckless bomb-disabling antics that they briefly consider taking him out with friendly fire to keep him from getting them killed.
Ice seems to flow through Will's veins as he takes apart bombs that could blow up a city block. And yet when he returns home to his wife and infant son, he's clearly unnerved by the tedium of rolling through a supermarket deciding which cereal to buy, as the syrupy sounds of Muzak suggest a stark contrast with the exploding ordinance of a war zone. While his squad dreams of going home in one piece, he's clearly much happier hovering over a bomb fuse. There is no dramatic "Top Gun" hero ending, where he's applauded by a cast of hundreds. In the end he’s as conflicted as when he was first introduced.
Some Iraq veterans have complained the movie isn't militarily realistic about what Army bomb squads actually do, but that reminds us of the D-Day vets who said the opening act of “Saving Private Ryan” wasn’t realistic enough. The viewer certainly feels he is trudging along with the troops on very perilous ground.
It’s a good movie to see, if only to remember the next time you come across a veteran deserving a nation’s gratitude.
So the latest GI Joe flick is creating controversy, because the character is no longer portrayed as a typical American soldier. Instead he’s part of some elite murky force of international fighters - a Benetton ad with rocket launchers. On MSNBC, Donny Deutsch tried to take John J. Miller to task over his objections to the change – pointing out that the shift from an iconic American character to a mushy international delight is a “business” decision. For the movie to make money internationally, Donny thinks the character has to become part of global task force of community organizers. To this, I say, “Fiddle faddle,” which is short for “Silly stupid fiddle faddle.”
I wrote about this two years ago, just when Hasbro and Paramount execs decided to give GI Joe a makeover. Back then they felt the world would be too pissed at us for getting rid of Saddam Hussein to go see a movie about an American hero. As it turns out, they were wrong - the backlash over Saddam’s death had less impact than Norman Fell’s.
But for a moment, let’s attempt to use Donny’s logic on other flicks.
If you think the national news media is biased, spend some time rummaging through the world of entertainment news. Today’s L.A. Times piece about the marketing of “G.I. Joe” has an especially priceless whopper:
Yet overseas, where big action films often earn 60% or more of their ticket sales, rah-rah American sentiment doesn’t play well. So those references have vanished from the advertising.
The Great Lie told by Leftist Hollywood and the media who shill for them is that in order to make money the likes and dislikes of an “international” audience must be considered, and international audiences loathe Americanism.
Let’s see how that’s working out with some overseas numbers for a few “big action films.”