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.
But the extremely successful directors of "Fargo," "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" and "No Country for Old Men," are indeed remaking "True Grit." They stress that their effort is based more on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis than the original movie. Still, The Duke's portrayal of hard-drinking, one-eyed Marshall Rooster Cogburn has been a TV staple for decades. Portis' novel - not so much.
The Coens' quirky, often dark and sometimes absurd portraits of America couldn't be much more different from any flick in John Wayne's legendary career. And maybe that's the point. After all, any movie with America-bashing lefty Matt Damon in an important supporting role is bound to be at odds with traditional takes on the American frontier. All the more-so because Damon admitted, "I've never even seen the original John Wayne movie."
The Coens cast 2010 Best Actor Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges as Cogburn. Bridges will have to be a heck of an actor to do the character justice, because in real life, he couldn't be more different than Wayne, a traditional conservative.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Patrick Goldstein and much of the butt-boy entertainment media have either outright ignored director Oliver Stone’s anti-Semitic comments or have dug a deeper hole for their credibility in attempting to explain why they shouldn’t have to hold their favorite anti-American director to the same standard as the director of the “The Passion of the Christ” after his 2006 incident. Unfortunately for them, this ploy might not be working. According to some excellent reporting in The Wrap, media mogul and Clinton confidante Haim Saban is showing some moral consistency, and he’s claiming that WME Chairman Ari Emanuel is as well.
Like the Anti-Defamation League, Saban is far from satisfied with Stone’s “clumsy association with the Holocaust” apology, calling it “sooooo transparently fake.” And as a money-where-his-mouth-is supporter of Israel, my guess is that Saban’s taking issue with all this crazy talk coming from Stone about how his January miniseries will prove Hitler was a “scapegoat” who deserves to be put in “context.”
A furious Haim Saban has mounted a campaign to get Showtime to cancel its planned airing of Oliver Stone’s 10-part series, “A Secret History of America,” in the wake of anti-Jewish remarks by the outspoken director.
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."
The surprise box-office boom for the cartoon “Despicable Me” is making it clear again to Hollywood this summer that family films are the most likely to be top-grossing films. “Toy Story 3” is number one for 2010, not only among the critics, but among the people as well. “Despicable Me” already has broken into the top ten box-office hits for the year to date with almost $130 million in ticket sales.
It happens over and over again. And still the “executives” are caught off guard. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out. Nobody needs a graphing calculator. Bring out the whole family, and you bring out a bigger audience. It’s summertime, and the kids are bored. If the whole family doesn’t go, the driving-aged teenager gets assigned to take the young ones to the movies, sometimes more than once.
(Memo to Hollywood: Really, truly, this is how it works.)
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.
Johnston told the audience at Comic-Con 2010 that Cap will not be a "jingoistic American flag-waver" but will instead be "re-interpret[ed]" as a "good person" in the World War II-set film.
Noted Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex:
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.
One of the big stories in filmdom today is about all the concerns surrounding the marketing of Christopher Nolan’s new film “Inception,” which cost a reported $160 million to produce and hits theatres next Friday, July 16th. According to Reuters, awareness isn’t as high as the studio would like, especially in Middle America.
Well, here’s one way to entice Middle America into your film, insult them by having your three main stars hit the promotional circuit and savage Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin as stupid and evil (video below the jump).
The children eager to attend Harlem Success Academies don’t care about partisan politics or ideological turf wars. They just want the best education possible. “The Lottery,” a new documentary by Madeleine Sackler, showcases families desperate for an alternative to the New York Public School system.
The film, playing an exclusive engagement through July 15 at the Starz FilmCenter in Denver, follows four such families who enter a lottery system so their children can attend a prestigious charter school. Strip away the interpersonal dynamics and you’ll find a full-throated argument on behalf of charter schools. And those who think only Republicans support school choice measures will be surprised to see a large number of Democrats eager to give charter schools a try.
Stone maintained it wasn’t a political movie, and for the most part, it wasn’t. It was a personal story. But this movie was also a gift to our country, a reminder not to forget this dark day’s victims and its heroes. It was only political in that it was patriotic. It reminded us all across our country of how our fellow Americans in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania were mercilessly murdered. It came closest to politics (or patriotism) when the firemen were found by a man who vowed to join the War on Terror. Sadly, that was but a brief hiccup in Stone’s career, a befuddling, out-of-character career move. In most of his movies, Oliver Stone is clearly not a fan of America, both her leaders and her policies. Think “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Platoon,” “JFK,” “Nixon” and “W.”
Now he is promoting a new documentary called “South of the Border,” which debuted June 25. Its philosophy is illustrated by the poster: The American eagle’s talon is pierced by a large thorn coming out of a blood-red South America. It’s no overstatement to say Stone deeply adores the trend of Yanqui-bashing leftists coming to power, from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Evo Morales in Bolivia to Lula da Silva in Brazil.
The HBO documentary For Neda, directed by Antony Thomas and narrated by famed Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, first aired on HBO in the United States on June 14 but went viral in Iran on June 1, well before the regime even knew about it. In an HBO interview, Mr. Thomas stated that the goal of the film was to look beyond Neda Agha-Soltan as the most prominent symbol of the Green Revolution and into the soul of whom Neda was as a human being. To that end, Mr. Thomas and crew succeeded brilliantly. The emotional rollercoaster ride one undergoes while traversing Neda Soltan’s short but eventful life in For Neda ranges from the tender and sublime to black despair and furious outrage.At times, For Neda also induces in the viewer an unnerving sense of paranoia. Throughout much of the film, the regime is the evil villain unseen on the screen but whose ominous presence is most keenly felt. The rather ordinary but highly illicit home interview sessions in Iran with Neda’s family and others engender a dark foreboding to the point you almost expect regime jackboots to bust down the doors at any moment. The rest of For Neda is also fraught with many palpable dangers that make the fictional James Bond’s seem trite by comparison. In For Neda, we know that the consequences of regime discovery and reprisal are as perilous, real and horrifying as it gets.
In WALL-E, we learn just what life would be like were the promise of the welfare state finally realized. Far from the schemes of Utopians, it seems downright hellish. Pixar animator and filmmaker Andrew Stanton told as much to the Christian magazine, World:
“What if everything you needed to survive—health care, food—was taken care of and you had nothing but a perpetual vacation to fill your time? What if the result of all that convenience was that all your relationships became indirect—nobody’s reaching out to each other? A lot of people have suggested that I was making a comment on obesity. But that wasn’t it, I was trying to make humanity big babies because there was no reason for them to grow up anymore.”
Wall-E then wasn’t meant to teach about environmentalism, for the trash that builds up isn’t nearly as important as the trashing of relationships. Wall-E depicts humans as bovine, blobs, plugged into television and seated upon hovercrafts, millions of miles away from the toxic earth aboard Big N Large (“BnL”)’s StarLiners. A commercial broadcasts its Faustian appeal. “Too much garbage in your face? There’s plenty of space out in space! BnL StarLiners leaving each day. We’ll clean up the mess while you’re away.”
Editor's Note: The following originally appeared at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood.
M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film production, "The Last Airbender," was recently awarded over $35 million in film tax credits from Pennsylvania over two years. The award is the largest in the history of Pennsylvania’s Film Tax Credit (FTC), breaking the record held by his previous project, "The Happening," which received $12 million in tax credits. His film "Lady in the Water" also received a film production grant. The only good news is that taxpayers are only forced to subsidize these movies, not to watch them.
Pennsylvania first created a film tax credit in 2004, replaced it with a film grant program in 2006, then enacted its current $75 tax credit program in 2007, in which films can receive up to 25 percent of production costs in the form of tax credit. The state’s FTC was temporarily reduced, as the 2009 state budget agreement reduced all tax credits by 33% for three years.
The film is set in Roman Egypt during the fourth century and focuses on the life of Hypatia, a female philosopher and scholar. Behar insisted the character must have been a "liberal."
During the exchange, Weisz began discussing her role as Hypatia and how her character, “believed in having the people from different backgrounds with different political views, rather like you ladies sitting here.” Immediately following this assertion, Joy Behar announced, “Oh, so she was liberal” and “bipartisan.”
Host Meredith Vieira was discussing a Hollywood Reporter review that called the movie “proudly feminist, but blatantly anti-Muslim, when she stated, “In real life, you are engaged to Christine Mariononi.”
Nixon began dating Mariononi after splitting with her husband, Danny Mozes, with whom she has two children. Nixon and Mariononi became engaged last year.
After Nixon confirmed she still was, Vieira said, “Your partner for six years. And you have said if the, the same sex-marriage bill passes in this state, you plan to get married.”
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood.
The political thriller Fair Game premiered at Cannes today. (Pause for giant, collective yawn from Big Hollywood readers…)
The Sean Penn-Naomi Watts “starrer” (hey, it’s fun using unnecessarily awkward Variety-speak!) revisits the Valerie Plame Wilson scandal, an episode I’m not even going to bother recapping, because to do so would simply be coma-inducing for all of us. Besides, I already summed up the affair and dissected the screenplay’s political slant for Big Hollywood here. Suffice it to say, it’s a tale the Hollywood Left is hell-bent on getting Americans to care about.
As are its water-carriers in the media. In a deceptive puff piece an article last week for the Los Angeles Times, Rachel Abramowitz discusses the film and interviews its director Doug Liman. The first clue that we’re about to be sold a crockpot of hooey comes when she describes Valerie Plame as “the undercover CIA operative whose name was leaked to the media by the Bush White House in an effort to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson.”
An online trailer for the film "Machete," released on Cinco de Mayo (and embedded below the fold), begins with the title character saying he has a "special message...to Arizona!" That special message, as the New York Post writes, seems to be "They just f---ed with the wrong Mexican."
Some commentators believe that the film could actually provoke violence. But at the very least, "Machete" seems to be making a very strong and provocative political statement about an extremely divisive issue -- while at the same time applying for tax breaks from the Texas state government. So Texans may be forced to help pay for a statment to which -- if national polls are any indicator -- many are opposed.
Editor's Note: The following was originally published yesterday at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog.
As an admirer of his work, I’ve tried to see things from Polanski’s point of view in the past, but if these charges turn out to be true, it would be harder than ever to defend him. Once burned is twice shy.
What a relief to know Goldstein draws the line somewhere. But he’s not alone. Here’s Jeff Wells:
You may have heard that Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but that was just liberal media propaganda. This Robin is no socialist bandit practicing freelance wealth redistribution, but rather a manly libertarian rebel striking out against high taxes and a big government scheme to trample the ancient liberties of property owners and provincial nobles. Don't tread on him!Scott, always quick to sniff out political themes in unlikely places (he found references to imperialism and the Vietnam War in the science-fiction thriller "Aliens") continues his odd defense of all things French:
So is "Robin Hood" one big medieval tea party? Kind of, though that description makes the movie sound both more fun and more provocative than it actually is. The film's politics, in any case, are more implicit than overt, so that the filmmakers can plausibly deny any particular topical agenda. Which is fair enough: the fight of ragged warriors against sniveling and sadistic tyrants appeals across tastes and ideologies. In our own minds, at least at the movies, we are all embattled underdogs standing up for our rights against a bunch of overprivileged jerks who won't leave us alone.
Protesting high taxes and wanting to limit government power is the equivalent of a Communist revolution? Sounds more like the Tea Party movement.
After making that bizarre comparison, Phillips further explained the plot of the new film: "This Robin joins the fight to get the English king to sign the Magna Carta in the year 1215, the document establishing the first rights on which modern democracies are based." Guevara, of course, was the ruthless henchman of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, hardly an advocate for democracy.
That is not what a customer will find if he makes the mistake of taking in the new movie crudely titled “Kick-Ass.” The concept seems innocent enough – teenage comic-book devotee with absolutely no powers puts on a goofy wetsuit and tries to be a hero. But that's just the first few minutes.
What follows next is an entirely different movie, a gory slasher film, except the vigilante mass murderer is an 11-year-old girl in a costume that included a purple wig and a plaid private-school skirt. This little “Hit Girl” doesn't play by any moral rules, however. In her first mass-murder scene, she even double-spears a prostitute armed with only a broken booze bottle.
Six years after "The Passion of the Christ," anyone expecting a renaissance in faith-based movies has largely been disappointed. This is not to say such movies aren't produced. Every now and then, there's a movie made for this audience, but the audience won't hear about it from the movie critics because these elites aren't interested.
Last weekend, a new film premiered called "Letters to God." A title can't be more explicit about its plot. It's a movie about a 9-year-old soccer-crazy boy stricken with cancer, and the inspiring letters he writes each day to God. It's about prayer — certainly not a favorite topic for secular, sybaritic Hollywood.
When this movie arrived in offices of movie critics at major newspapers and magazines, the splashing sound you heard was the vomit hitting the floor.
National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on Friday devoted its latest interview on DVDs worth watching to the picks of leftist filmmaker Michael Moore, although they used no pesky label for him. Moore began by snobbishly asserting to anchor Steve Inskeep that he doesn’t like DVDs. He likes going to theaters, even for old movies: “I keep a list on my computer of the various art houses and places that show old films. And I'll drive, literally, for hours to go see something from the 1940s, if I can see on a movie screen."
Don’t alert the people who think long drives are causing global warming.
Unsurprisingly, Moore liked leftist films. First he recommended a movie called Czech Dreams, which mocked how desperate people who were liberated from Soviet-imposed communism wanted to shop, shop, shop. The filmmakers promoted a phony mall opening just to mock the suckers who would celebrate it. In the same Moore-pleasing spirit was Borat: