She may not have walked the red carpet, but Michelle Obama -- all bangs and biceps and bling -- had her own star turn during Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony, when she announced the winner for best picture via satellite from the White House.
In the aftermath of the Oscars, New York Times fashion reporter Eric Wilson bizarrely documented an example of "feminine repression" on the red carpet in Monday's arts section. Almost as silly was a Critics' Notebook from the painfully political movie review duo Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, who delivered the shocking news that Hollywood movies are less than historically reliable, while comparing Obama to President Lincoln.
Larry Rohter, who was perhaps the New York Times' most biased reporter during the 2008 campaign (beating some stiff competition) now works the foreign arts beat. In a Sunday Arts & Leisure profile of Pablo Larrain, director of the movie "No," about the 1988 vote that ended the long dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Rohter actually compared Pinochet indirectly to the Tea Party and the libertarian industrialists, the Koch brothers.
In an interview with Pattie Mallette, mother of pop star Justin Bieber, on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried about Mallette's producing role in an upcoming film: "...you wanted to talk about your involvement in a movie called Crescendo....[which] tells the story of Beethoven's mother, who, while she was pregnant, attempted to have an abortion and even attempted suicide....it's a movie with a decidedly pro-life/anti-abortion purpose." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie invited Mallette to distance herself from that purpose: "But you feel like people, as I understand it, are getting the wrong message about what you are trying to say by your participation?" Mallette replied: "Yeah, I don't feel that it is a pro-life message. I mean, people are going to get from it what they want to. It's just – it's a true story, it's a historical piece." Guthrie pressed further: "Do you feel misled at all by the producers of the film? I mean, if the film has this message and its goal is to – is an anti-abortion message, I mean, are you okay with that? I guess I'm confused about what your position is."
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, who has courted controversy from pro-Israel conservatives during her brief tenure, appeared in the Sunday Arts section to express concern over the muted reception in Israel to the new documentary "The Gatekeepers," an unflattering look back at Israel's Shin Bet, the country's security service: "'Most Israelis Are Not Listening.' – Little impact at home for an Oscar-nominated film." The film is also a loaded call for Israeli Jews to withdraw from the West Bank.
Several actors attending the Sundance Film Festival through Jan. 27 in Park City, Utah, have stated that Hollywood has played a part in the recent spate of gun violence through the production of violent films and video games. However, one actor has suggested an unusual solution to the problem.
Alexander Skarsgard, who fired all sorts of weapons at alien invaders in the "Battleship” movie and is a big player in the violent vampire series “True Blood,” said that it may be time to revisit the Second Amendment because the discussion about it “is ridiculous to me.”
"The far left is making [the average American gun owner and NRA member] a villain for abiding by your Second Amendment rights," and they're finding willing accomplices in supposedly objective journalists like Bob Schieffer, Brent Bozell argued on the January 17 edition of Fox News Channel's Hannity. The Media Research Center president was reacting to a soundbite in which the CBS anchor compared the political challenge of President Obama taking on the NRA to defeating the Third Reich in World War II.
"Surely passing civil rights legislation as Lyndon Johnson was able to do, and before that, surely defeating the Nazis was a much more formidable task than taking on the gun lobby," Schieffer noted on January 16 shortly after President Obama's press conference on gun control. "This is a turning point in this country.," Schieffer insisted, concluding, "Unless we figure out a way to make sure that something like Newtown never happens again, we're not the country that we once were." [watch the full Hannity "Media Mash" segment below the page break]
New York Times movie critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis team up for next Sunday's edition (posted early online) to once again pour their peculiar brand of pretentiousness over the latest crop of innocent films: "Movies in the Age of Obama."
In the summer of 2011, Dargis lamented "the symbolic phallus" present in the form of a rifle in a Western. Last July she managed to make a villain out of President Reagan, while Scott chimed in by complaining that movie superheroes were "avatars of reaction" and that the last X-Men movie was insufficiently attentive to the civil rights movement.
There was another theater massacre last weekend. Casualties ran to nearly 200. Victims were incinerated, bludgeoned, beaten, stabbed, pulled apart by cars (really) and, oh yes, gunned down by the dozen.
It all happened on the screen, to fictional characters. But when Hollywood stars begin demanding gun control for the rest of us, as many have in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, it’s worth taking a hard look at the violence they portray and often glamorize. (video after the break)
One reason, I'm guessing, for still subscribing to The Boston Globe is to laugh at "self-loathing" black conservatives...even in Quentin Tarantino movie reviews. Globe film critic Wesley Morris is at is again. On NPR in May 2011, Morris hailed "The Fast and The Furious" movies as very "progressive" and "equal-opportunity shallow." When challenged on it, Morris shot darts instead at "The Blind Side."
In his Christmas Day review of the new movie "Django Unchained," Morris found "a hard mix of meticulous cartoonishness and unexpected power," especially in the "house Negro" Samuel L. Jackson, who apparently channels Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, and Michael Steele:
In an interview with a Canadian talk show, director Quentin Tarantino blasted America’s drug policies, saying that they are creating a system of “slavery through and through” at the behest of a prison “industry” which seeks to keep them in place solely to make money.
Tarantino’s comments came in response to a question from CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos who had asked him to put his latest film project, Django Unchained, a movie about a freed slave in the 19th century, into a contemporary American context. Tarantino warmed to the subject, apparently thinking that having directed the film gave him some sort of insight into race and America.
New York Times intelligence reporter Scott Shane made Thursday's front-page with a quasi-movie review of "Zero Dark Thirty," the critically acclaimed new release about the Bin Laden raid that suggests "enhanced interrogation" like waterboarding aided in finding him. The headline, "Portrayal of C.I.A. Torture in Bin Laden Film Reopens a Debate," shows the Times comfortable using the loaded word "torture" to describe interrogation methods like water-boarding that inflict temporary physical panic.
Previously Shane has fiercely resisted the idea that waterboarding contributed to finding Osama bin Laden, ignoring CIA director Leon Panetta's admission that it had. Shane wrote on May 4, 2011: "But a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden's trusted courier and exposing his hide-out."
In other words, it may have helped, but don't make me write it.
In an interview with actor Jamie Foxx on Wednesday's NBC Today about his upcoming movie Django Unchained, co-host Savannah Guthrie brought up offensive comments Foxx made while hosting Saturday Night Live: "You said your character gets to, quote, 'kill all the white people,' adding, 'how great is that?' I know you know about the criticism, do you think it was fair?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Rather than show any regret for the remark, Foxx simply replied: "I'm a comedian. So, I mean, I'm not a – I don't even know what to say." Instead of following up on that non-answer, Guthrie made the awkward transition: "Back to the movie..."
During a segment on Thursday's NBC Today on the upcoming film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, co-host Matt Lauer wondered if scenes depicting "brutal interrogations" of terror suspects would make movie-goers feel guilty: "It's inevitable people are going to sit in the movie theater...and when they see the scenes of torture, they're going to ask themselves if they think it was justified, if the ends justified the means." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to director Kathryn Bigelow, Lauer pressed: "Do you want to make a political statement with this movie?" Bigelow replied: "Well, I think the film doesn't have an agenda. I think it just shows the story as – you know, the story of the greatest man hunt in history. And that's part of that history." Lauer urged: "But do you want people to discuss that topic more? Whether these kind of enhanced interrogation techniques are justified?"
Hollywood Reporter's Paul Bond is reporting that "Hating Breitbart," the Andrew Marcus film which was to hit theaters two days from now has been pushed back to October 19 in a dispute over the film's rating.
Marcus has pushed for PG-13, but the MPAA retained its R rating of the film even after the filmmaker deleted all F-bombs except a few delivered by Breitbart himself. So nine days from now, because time is running short, the film will be released with an R rating. Why MPAA is being so inconsistent? I think it would be useful to look at who is in charge of the organization and who runs the day-to-day ratings operation, and will do that after excerpting key paragraphs from Bond's report:
Traditional media weren’t the biggest fans of the movie “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” when it was released in April 2011. With “Atlas Shrugged Part II: The Strike” set to hit theaters on Oct. 12, it’ll be hard to top the derision of the last movie. Most reviews of the first film were short and to the point – this movie was terrible because conservatives, more specifically the Tea Party, will like it.
National Geographic's cable television channel is defending its decision to air a new live-action movie entitled "Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden," which focuses on the May 2011 operation that led to the death of the world's most wanted terrorist right before the November election. And if you miss the first showing, you'll be able to catch it on Netflix starting on Monday, still with plenty of time to vote the following day.
"This is a story people have been waiting to witness for themselves, and we feel the combined force of the National Geographic Channel and Netflix will ensure that everyone has the chance at a glimpse inside the heroic efforts of that courageous team of SEALs," according to a press release from the network.
New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott didn't much like "Won't Back Down," about two mothers fighting uncaring teachers and immovable bureaucracy (including the teachers' union) in an inner city school. Scott, a liberal, ironically warned that pious expressions of concern for 'the children' are usually evidence of a political agenda in overdrive" (as if liberals never bleat about "the children"!) The Times much preferred a left-wing propaganda piece on Occupy Wall Street.
Scott, who in 2004 praised left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore as "a credit to the republic" in his review of "Fahrenheit 9-11," wrote on Friday:
It’s surprising that Hollywood would make a film that sympathetically argues for school choice, the movie Won’t Back Down, starring accomplished actresses Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It’s not surprising that liberal Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday would then offer a withering one-star review that seemed more like a political judgment than an artistic estimate.
Hornaday huffed: “More than a portrait of spontaneous motherly outrage, it becomes clear that the movie has been designed as an anti-union, pro-charter screed, the fictional counterpart to the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman.”
Veteran reporter Sharon Waxman knew she’d found a new low. Reporting from the Toronto Film Festival, she revealed the viewpoint of director Nick Cassavetes, which she summarized in a headline: “Who Gives a Damn? Love Who You Want.” The topic was incest.
Hollywood’s march to tear down – to obliterate, really -- every boundary of sexual decency should compel even the harshest accusers of social conservatives like Rick Santorum to apologize profusely. They were wrong to mock conservatives for warning of the extremes, as we’re lurching so quickly and easily into the darkest “love who you want” extremes of the Lifestyle Left.
New York Times movie critic Jeanette Catsoulis demonstrated her simplistic liberal politics once again in her brief Friday review of the gay marriage documentary "The Right to Love," picking on mild concern from the subject's parents and grandparents as proving themselves "enemies of progress."
She found the movie itself "squishy" and the soundtrack "regrettably saccharine," but described left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow as an "arrow of lucidity."
In a video interview, anti-Obama filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza told The Hollywood Reporter that MSNBC and other media outlets were “cowards” because they would not acknowledge his new documentary 2016: Obama’s America, despite the film’s emergence this last week in the Top Ten.
D’Souza said: “Look at MSNBC. You could watch that channel and not even know we have a film out – unless you saw a commercial that we’re running for our film. You look at Lawrence O’Donnell, you look at Rachel Maddow, you look at Chris Matthews. I mean, look at those cowards!”
Box Office Mojo shows that "2016: Obama's America" was the fourth-highest grossing film on Friday, taking in $2.255 million, and trailing only "The Expendables 2," "The Bourne Legacy," and "Paranorman." What's more, its per-theatre gross of $2,067 is almost twice that of "Expendables," and well over double every other film in Friday's top ten.
The film also seems assured of becoming the highest grossing post-1982 political documentary coming from the political right.
The upcoming documentary "Occupy Unmasked" is getting the kind of promotional push too rarely received by right-of-center films.
The movie, directed by Steve Bannon and featuring the late Andrew Breitbart, tells the story of the chaotic, destructive Occupy Wall Street movement. The message hardly fits the standard theatrical template, which routinely sides with or sympathizes with the bedraggled protesters seeking their "fair" share of the one percent's cash.
The reliably liberal Dargis also tried to ruin the summer movie seasons of 2008 and 2011, with lectures on "separate and unequal" roles for women in movies. On Sunday she made the same points, adding a hit on "the Reagan years" that seems there only to validate the conservative joke that liberals blame everything on Ronald Reagan.
In an interview she conducted with left-wing actor Sean Penn at the Cannes Film Festival that aired on Tuesday, Today co-host Ann Curry behaved like an adoring fan rather than a journalist: "And through all of these years and all these characters....You have trained us to believe you, to believe your transformation, almost instantly. Do you accept that you are one of the greatest actors of our time?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While discussing Penn's charity work in Haiti, Curry sycophantically proclaimed: "The people who work for you in Haiti have – some of them have called you a demanding boss. You have gotten angry yelling, "That's not good enough!"....Have you always had this moral outrage?"
For several decades, Hollywood has shown its overt support for homosexuality. Brokeback Mountain was nominated for Best Picture for its unabashedly sympathetic portrayal of a doomed gay relationship. Newt Gingrich’s half-sister officiated at a gay wedding on “Friends” in the 1990s. More recently, late night talk show host Conan O’Brian officiated at an actual gay wedding.
During the Holy Week before Easter in 2011, Brent Bozell noticed an "Easter bonnet of mud" timed to be thrown at Christians. One of those mudballs was thrown in Italy, a comedy movie called "Habemus Papam" (Latin for "we have a pope.") Franco Zeffirelli, the director of the TV miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth,” agreed Nanni Moretti's film was an insult to the Pope and the Catholic faithful. "It's a horrible cheap shot," Zeffirelli said. "I feel especially sorry for this pontiff, who may not be a crowd-pleaser, but who is very civilized and reasonable."
So it should not be surprising that National Public Radio would applaud its American release, timed once again on Good Friday. Openly gay movie critic Bob Mondello implausibly declared "There's nothing in 'We Have a Pope' that's likely to offend, much that will amuse and also quite a bit of effective design work."
Movie reviewer A.O. Scott on Wednesday applied his expertise to the scientific ssue of global warming and rising sea levels, in his sarcasm-laden review of "The Island President," a documentary about "climate change" and the danger it supposedly poses to the island of Maldives: "In Paradise, and Closer Than Ever to Disaster."