Ten years ago, Mel Gibson unveiled his massively successful movie The Passion of The Christ. It came out on Ash Wednesday (February 25, 2004), but is often re-viewed on Good Friday. It had a worldwide box-office gross of over $611 million.
In our Special Report on religion coverage that year, we explored how the TV networks attacked Gibson's movie as extreme, divisive, and potentially harmful -- one CBS reporter even called it an "ecumenical suicide bomb" -- and how that differed from their fascination with theories in The DaVinci Code:
In the world of Hollywood politics, U.S. News & World Report is hyping "Peter Pan's Lily-White Tiger Lily Problem." Warner Brothers is making a movie called "Pan" (due in July 2015), and the Indian princess Tiger Lily is being played by white actress Rooney Mara.
“This casting choice is particularly shameful for a children’s movie,” an outraged petition said. “Telling children their role models must all be white is unacceptable.” Tierney Sneed at U.S. News highlighted how this "stings" for the Native American actors:
So who ya gonna believe: Paramount or Director Darren Aronofsky? Either “Noah” is sure to be a hit with the 86 percent of religious people who are aware of the film (Paramount), or it’s the “least Biblical Biblical film ever made” (Aronofsky).
It's all a bit confusing right now for the film whose ending has been reshot and recut, gone one way and another, signalled a Hollywood re-embrace of the Biblical epic or Hollywood imposing its values on the Good Book. Try to make sense of this March 11 paragraph from Huffpo:
In a fun feature on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, “Lie Witness News,” he sends a camera crew out onto the streets of Los Angeles to ask pedestrians about events that have not happened. But the people are too embarrassed or ill-informed to realize the fake-out and offer their opinions on the non-existent premise.
Monday’s (March 3) Special Report with Bret Baier ended with an excerpt from an “Oscars Edition,” proving, Baier explained, how “the locals were not exactly well-versed on this year’s top flicks.” Painful hilarity ensues.
In the Washington Post’s free commuter tabloid Express on Thursday, writer Kristen Page-Kirby wrote a little “Film Riffs” feature about Jesus movies headlined “Jesus Is Magic” (yep, also a title of a snide Sarah Silverman special).
Page-Kirby explained that “In ‘Son of God,’ out Friday, Diogo Morgado plays Jesus of Nazareth, a homeless rabbi who spent a chunk of his childhood as a refugee. Jesus can be quite the box-office draw.” She then listed five movies, none of which were the massive Mel Gibson box-office hit we all remember from 2004. Guess what topped the list instead?
Reading the transcript isn't enough. Roll the video, listen carefully, and at the end you'll catch Ronan Farrow's nervous little laugh as he asks an African-American guest whether, in assessing movie-industry diversity, it "matters" that Steve McQueen, the black director whose film has been nominated for an Oscar, is British.
Such are the PC pitfalls once one wades into the bog of diversity bean-counting. But beyond the specific subject matter, Farrow's teensy twitter suggests, as other critics have noted, as here and here, how green and unsure of himself is the young man MSNBC hopes to make a star. View the video after the jump.
I don't have to explain to anyone how television is much more risque, with some programs being downright lewd, than it was decades ago. But I want to tell you about something that can change the course of values in television and movies.
Once upon a time, about as edgy as it got was Barbara Eden's "I Dream of Jeannie" character, who showed her trim tummy, and Elvis swinging his pelvis on "The Ed Sullivan Show" — though the broadcast screen only captured the upper half of his body as he did.
In a world where Woody Allen can get a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes at the same time his adopted daughter accuses him of sexually abusing her when she was a child (Allen has repeatedly denied it), and where a film "The Wolf of Wall Street" sets a record for use of the F-word, it is a wonderment that an obscure, low-budget film called "Alone Yet Not Alone" has had its Best Original Song Oscar nomination withdrawn for allegedly violating ethical rules.
Yesterday my colleague Scott Whitlock noted how the CBS This Morning program had sidestepped a controversy in Hollywood regarding the revocation of an Oscar nomination for a song featured in a Christian-produced motion picture titled Alone Yet Not Alone. Academy officials charge it was improperly promoted
But apparently not every liberal media outlet is ignoring the story. Some, like the Daily Beast are covering it in order to revel in the news and to smear the folks who produced the film.
Although to date there has been no evidence directly tying him to either matter, Chris Christie has been accused of playing politics with the GW bridge closure and the granting of hurricane-relief funds to Hoboken. So naturally it's fair game to analogize Christie to the head of cinema's most infamous, murderous crime syndicate.
Fair game, if you're MSNBC that is. Today's Morning Joe segment on Christie treated viewers to a 'Govfather' logo, based on the famous puppet-master logo from "The Godfather." View the video and images of the original and MSNBC logos after the jump.
What happens when a teenager who came into the world as an unplanned teenage pregnancy ends up with an unplanned pregnancy of her own? Will she bend to all the “helpful” insistence that she needs to exercise her “right to choose” before she is, as one callous presidential contender put it, “punished with a baby”?
This is the plot of “Gimme Shelter,” a new movie that departs from the feminist pack mentality of Hollywood. Agnes “Apple” Bailey -- played in a breakout role by “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens -- looks like a poster child for Planned Parenthood at the film’s beginning: sixteen years old, down and out after living in a series of foster homes, and now living with a drug-addicted mother who sometimes beats her.
A few years back, during the Media Research Center's annual gala I was honored to pay tribute to the family of a real American hero, Michael Murphy, the Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor for service in Afghanistan, and the first since the Vietnam War. Few in the room knew the story because only Fox and a handful of other outlets told it.
When the medal was announced in 2007, William Kristol noted on “Fox News Sunday” that the news received a tiny fraction of the coverage given to the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel that year was awarded to Al Gore and the UN “climate change” alarmists. That award received endless accolades from the sycophantic press. Kristol joked about the fans oozing over “what sacrifices he made” to make a scary documentary (while making fortunes of money off the issue as well).
CNN’s Jake Tapper would have done well to read “Lone Survivor,” rather than just seeing the new movie, before interviewing former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell last week. If he had, Tapper might have been more careful than to describe the deaths of Luttrell’s SEAL comrades in Afghanistan as “senseless.” And he would have been wary of Luttrell’s contempt for the liberal media.
The film “Lone Survivor, which ” took in $38.5 million at the box office its opening weekend is based on a 2010 book by Luttrell that tells the tragic story of a 2005 operation in which the three other members of Luttrell’s SEAL team, along with 17 other special ops warriors, were killed. The story turned on the team’s agonized decision to turn lose some Afghan goat herders who had stumbled onto its concealed position. As the SEALs had feared, the freed civilians went straight to the Taliban, precipitating the battle.
Inside twisted Tinseltown, Martin Scorsese has marked a new career achievement. His new film "The Wolf of Wall Street" includes a mighty 506 uses of the F-bomb in its three-hour running time. That's almost three curse words a minute.
Someone has proclaimed this the new record for F-bombs. Another Hollywood high mark. Scorsese often has hundreds of F-bombs in his films about crooks. But this takes the cake.
New York Times entertainment reporters Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply reviewed the year at the box office on Monday, another record year of almost $11 billion spent on movie tickets.
The top five grossing movies were all sequels (or in the case of “Monsters University,” a prequel), but the article got a little weird when they called it a “tough year for the good-behavior watchdogs of popular culture,” but only talked about scenes with smoking and guns!
Let's assess the winners in losers in American culture for 2013. Our first obvious winner is "Duck Dynasty" and its Phil Robertson. He's a winner for standing by his Christian principles after some inartful remarks about homosexuality.
A&E suspended him and put the usual statement that they are "champions" of the gay agenda -- and proceeded to start running "Duck Dynasty" marathons. Mark Steyn put it just right: the gay-left blacklisters insist "espousing conventional Christian morality, even off-air, is incompatible with American celebrity." Robertson has successfully shattered intolerance of the anti-Christian left.
Quality movies routinely get snubbed this time of year as organizations release their "best of the year" proclamations.
It's still interesting to note that Philomena, a movie that accuses the Catholic Church of cruel adoption policies, and much worse, received several key nominations from the Golden Globes while Lone Survivor got shut out.
Potemkin Village, anyone? Joe Scarborough has offered a scathing simile for the new-'n-improved Obamacare website. On today's Morning Joe, he likened the site to the set of a Hollywood Western--pushing back the facade reveals that there's nothing behind it.
Even former Obama spox Robert Gibbs—proudly sporting an Auburn jersey—acknowledged that big chunks of the system, including the payment mechanism for subsidies, haven't even been built. So people can go to the site, receive the illusion that they have obtained coverage, only to find that there is no follow-through. View the video after the jump.
The modern movie ratings system was put in place by the Motion Picture Association of America in 1968 for parents to protect children under 18 from ultraviolent or sexually explicit material. Since 1968, avant-garde leftists have been trying to knock this voluntary system down.
The most recent example came with the raging ten-minute lesbian-sex scene that wowed the Cannes Film Festival (and won their Golden Palm) in "Blue Is the Warmest Color." The IFC Center in New York's Greenwich Village decided to shred the NC-17 rating for this movie because "it is our judgment that it is appropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds."
The “Newseum” in Washington is, like it sounds, a museum about journalism. Unlike most DC museums, it’s not free (or taxpayer-funded). It costs $21.95 for an adult to see exhibits like a reconstruction of the late NBC host Tim Russert’s office.
Since this doesn’t sound like a hot tourist destination, they’re now putting on the shamelessly Will-Ferrell- movie-promoting “Anchorman: The Exhibit” in a deal with Paramount Pictures. Get a load of the rationalizations in the Washington Post’s Express tabloid:
Even as American movie theatres rebel against abiding by the NC-17 rating to keep high-school kids away from sex-drenched French movies, AP's Malin Rising reports (positively) that the Left would love to impose its own cultural standards on the movie industry: "movie theaters in equality-minded Sweden are introducing a new rating to highlight gender bias, or rather the absence of it."
To get an “A” rating, a movie must pass the so-called Bechdel test – named for American lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who created a new standard in her comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For" in 1985 – that a movie “must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.” So many movie classics fail this politically correct measurement:
Do movie critics ever watch the trailers of their movies? Do they think their readers can’t Google search for the trailers? On Friday, Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday hailed a pro-abortionist propaganda film. "'After Tiller,' a lucid, even-tempered portrait of physicians who perform late-term abortions, exemplifies the crucial role documentaries have come to play in civic discourse, which is so often whipped into partisan fury and emotionalism.”
That's so dishonest it should earn four Pinocchios from Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. As anyone can see in the trailer, "After Tiller" has all the partisan fury and emotionalism you would expect from people who think the right to abort a baby is a righteous act. In their view, late-term abortionists are heroes and saints, and the pro-life activists are terrorists:
For anyone who thought WikiLeaks was a fascinating cinematic subject, The Hollywood Reporter is already offering an obituary: “The Fifth Estate quickly died, grossing a paltry $1.7 million from 1,769 theaters -- the worst opening of the year so far for a movie opening in more than 1,500 theaters.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has repeatedly criticized Bill Condon's film for Disney’s Touchstone label for a slanted presentation of himself and WikiLeaks. At one point, he even wrote a note to actor Benedict Cumberbatch asking the actor to drop out of the movie.
If you’re sick and tired of TV news broadcasts spewing pro-Obamacare propaganda, get ready to be inundated with even more progressive health care proselytizing in the dramas and comedies that follow those news shows.
For this you have the left-wing California Endowment to thank. The radical philanthropy is in the news because it is funding Obamacare public outreach efforts.
In Time’s “Ten Questions” interview in the September 23 edition, Time editor-at-large Belinda Luscombe asked Hugh Jackman about his new movie “Prisoners,” in which “Your character tortures a guy to try to find his kidnapped daughter.” Luscombe asked if this instinct kicks when his children are faced with the paparazzi.
Then Belinda – like Jackman, a native of Australia – went geopolitical and suggested this freaked-out-daddy torturer character is an appropriate metaphor for the United States:
Hollywood hypocrisy is nothing new but that doesn’t mean that seeing it does not amuse. That is why your humble correspondent couldn’t help but smile upon reading the news out of North Carolina that the notoriously left-wing film industry is fighting desperately to preserve its tax subsidies in the Tarheel State.
Even more delightsome is the rationale that the Motion Picture Association of America is using as an excuse to preserve its tax breaks: that not only do they directly promote the film business but that they also stimulate economic activity.
Anyone who’s actually seen the cartoonish Sarah Palin as a mentally imbalanced fruitcake in the HBO movie “Game Change” would laugh (or throw their remote-control) at the sound of the movie’s Jay Roach appearing on the PBS NewsHour on Tuesday night. PBS assembled a panel of political-entertainment makers.
Anchor Jeffrey Brown asked Roach, “How do you fictionalize what you see, you said you see as a kind of [political] dysfunction?” Roach insisted his liberal-propaganda HBO movies were non-fictional:
Conservative PR guru and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley has an excellent piece over at Breitbart in which he explains why it is utterly detestable that anti-American leftist Jane Fonda was cast as Nancy Reagan in the new Hollywood film Lee Daniels' The Butler, and not, it's not just her infamous pose with North Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns.
Fonda, Shirley notes, sought to slam the door on Vietnamese "boat people" who were fleeing the brutal Communist regime, while other Americans across the political spectrum -- Shirley commends leftie folk singer Joan Baez for her advocacy of the boat people -- stood up for human rights and for welcoming asylum seekers (emphases mine):