If you thought the last Batman movie, The Dark Knight, was dark and cynical, wait until you see Watchmen, arriving in theaters on March 6, 2009. Brooding Bruce Wayne will have nothing on a "hero" that rapes his sidekick, another one that has no interest in mankind at all, one that is a megalomaniac, one that is psychotic, and one that is overweight and sexually impotent all set against a backdrop of a United States that is many shades of despair and evil. It makes Batman, The Dark Knight, seem like a festival of sweetness and light. This is the Watchmen, soon to be released by Warner Brothers. If this new flick at all follows that anti-American, nihilism of the original comic books we are in for some dark stuff, indeed.
Why do contemporary artists all seem to think the end of the world is nigh? Why has art become a thing of ugliness, instead of light? With all the beautiful things we see every day, the delicacy of a flower, the turn of a woman's arm, the grace of a bird in flight, we are treated only to the bizarre and horrid by our artists. These days we see sculptures that look like molecular mistakes writ large. We live in architecture with the image of a jumble of blocks thrown to the ground in the midst of a temper tantrum by a gigantic, petulant child. We view paintings that appear more accidental than planned. We have movies full of violence and anti-social behavior. On the radio we hear music that celebrates all the worst in man. We even have comic books that belittle heroism, that deconstruct the good and exceptional turning their heroes as cartoonishly flawed as the most obscene head case on the Jerry Springer Show.
Brian Williams revealed Wednesday afternoon that in a question he didn't get to with President Obama the day before, he wanted to ask Obama if he is “ever tempted” to start over again with the stimulus bill “and give a stemwinder combination fireside chat/speech to the nation,” just as did Michael Douglas on "the crime bill” in The American President movie, “and just say, 'look, here's what we got to do. I went wrong. It got loaded up. Now we're going to do the real thing?'”
In that 1995 film (IMDb page), in which Douglas played Democratic President “Andrew Shepherd,” after compromising with Congress, he returns to his left-wing sensibilities and, in the climatic point of the movie cheered by liberal film-goers, walks to the press room where he delivers an impassioned lecture -- which earns affirmative nods from the journalists -- praising the ACLU, pushing for extreme action on global warming and promises, in the portion Williams admired, “to get the guns.” President Shepherd:
The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today it no longer exists. I’m throwing it. I’m throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security and I will go door-to-door if I have to but I’m going convince Americans that I’m right and I’m going to get the guns.
On Thursday's Late Show, actress Renee Zellweger recounted her “emotional” experience seeing Barack Obama's inauguration, but Obama isn't the only liberal politician she idolizes. Zellweger, who stars in a new movie that apparently ridicules small town America and Christians, told USA Today: “I have a crush on Jimmy Carter. I admit it. He has an extraordinary mind. He's an exceptional human being. And he writes poetry, for crying out loud. He's all good things.”
In a Friday “Life” section profile, “A low-key Renee Zellweger loves to hide in plain sight,” reporter Donna Freydkin relayed: “So wowed was Zellweger that she waited in the blistering Manhattan cold for 2 1/2 hours on Monday to have the 39th President sign her copy of his latest book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.”
Humorously, three pages later, USA Today film reviewer Claudia Puig trashed Zellweger's movie which opened Friday, The New Town, as not only “the worst movie of this fledgling year,” but as “one of the worst movies of any year.” Puig condemned it: “Not content to be merely inane and predictable, it is downright insulting, humorlessly deriding those who choose to live in rural America, labor in factories or have a strong Christian faith.”
Next time someone dismisses the idea that mass media can exert influence on American culture, point to a Jan. 18 New York Times article titled, "How the Movies Made a President." In that piece, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott argue that fictional depictions of black U.S. presidents helped pave the way for a real one.
“The presidencies of James Earl Jones in ‘The Man,’ Morgan Freeman in ‘Deep Impact,”’ Chris Rock in ‘Head of State’ and Dennis Haysbert in ‘24’ helped us imagine Mr. Obama’s transformative breakthrough before it occurred,” the authors wrote. “In a modest way, they also hastened its arrival.”
Furthermore, Dargis and Scott say that a number of black filmmakers and movie stars have “helped write the prehistory of the Obama presidency.”
If the authors are correct and Hollywood did help lessen the role of race in the electoral equation, then it has performed a service to the nation and is to be commended. The mass media clearly holds tremendous power to influence public attitudes, and did so in this case for the better.
The Internet is abuzz Monday morning over the excessive vulgarity at Sunday's Golden Globes.
From middle-fingers to testicular and homosexual references, Hollywood's annual lovefest was almost as bad as accidentally entering the comments section at a liberal blog.
As the Los Angeles Times' Rachel Abramowitz reported, the lowlight was Mickey Rourke who gave one of the "most profane acceptance speeches in recent history" (video embedded below the fold, obvious vulgarity alert, photo courtesy AP):
Here is some much-needed sanity from Business & Media Institute commentator Dan Kennedy: The first sprouts of the new American economy are already breaking through the snow.
Some associates and I have recently invested capital in forming a new bank. I’m not allowed to give out its name or location here, in this column, as commercial promotion is forbidden thanks to the non-profit status of the publisher – an annoying little oddity, given that I’m writing in defense of capitalism.
But, to the point. A Business Week article from Dec. 22 was headlined "This May Be the Ideal Time to Start A Bank." We agree, or they agree with us. Specific to banking, a start-up with no toxic assets and sufficient capital can borrow cheaply, and can be well-positioned to be acquired at a nifty gain when the recession dissipates and recovery takes over. That’s our strategy and we’re stickin’ to it.
The director of the movie "Che" which will be released later this month is disingenuously claiming that he has no political axe to grind. In a CNN interview, director Steven Soderbergh absurdly stated that he only wanted to present the "facts" about Che Guevara's life:
Steven Soderbergh made certain his new movie, "Che," about the life of revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, couldn't be attacked -- at least on a factual level.
"I didn't mind someone saying, 'Well, your take on him, I don't really like,' or 'You've left these things out and included these things.' That's fine," Soderbergh said. "What I didn't want was for somebody to be able to look at a scene and say, 'That never happened.' "
But he's aware that he's going to be accused of romanticizing the Argentine doctor and Marxist guerrilla who helped Cuba's Fidel Castro launch the first and only victorious socialist revolution in the Americas. He doesn't buy the criticism.
Short of going full Ninja hero and snatching the shoes in mid-air, it's hard to see how Pres. Bush could have been any cooler in his handling of the Hush Puppy Hurler. I figure W's feeling pretty good about things this morning. But that didn't stop ABC and NBC from declaring the incident "embarrassing" for President Bush.
For good measure, on Today, Doris Kearns Goodwin discounted Bush's blithe reaction, saying he wouldn't have been that cool a couple years ago, strangely intepreting his nonchalance as evidence of how anxious he is to leave office. And not to leave CBS out of the mix, on the Early Show Richard Roth described the president as being "nonplussed" in reaction to the incident, when he was in fact just the opposite.
Forget Al Gore's measly 20-foot sea level rise from "An Inconvenient Truth." That's small potatoes compared to the kind of catastrophe Meredith Vieira was talking about last night. Kicking off NBC's Global Alarmism Green Week during the halftime of Sunday Night Football, Vieira raised the spectre of the seas rising . . . 200 feet! Al imagined much of Manhattan under water, but if Meredith's scenario comes true, we're near to talking Manhattan, Kansas By The Sea![H/t reader Mick L.]
Just one little problem: Meredith's talk of 200 feet exaggerates the increase predicted by scientists by . . . literally hundreds of times.
Just in time for the new James Bond movie, Chris Matthews has earned himself a new moniker: Odd Job. Matthews says he sees his job as a journalist as doing everything he can to make the Obama presidency a success.
Appearing on "Morning Joe" today, Matthews was reluctant to criticize Rahm Emanuel's kabuki dance over accepting Obama's offer to be chief of staff.
The "Hardball" host (and presumptive candidate for U.S. Senate from PA) was equally unwilling to see the Emanuel episode as evidence of a lack of planning and discipline in the nascent Obama administration. Matthews eventually explained why.[H/t multiple NB readers.]
B.C. and A.D? Get with it, old man. History is henceforth divided into the eras of B.B. and A.B.—Before and After Barack. And George W. might have been "misunderestimated" as he engaged in "strategery." But that's so, like, yesterday. Barack Obama is "pre-deortained." By whom? Spike Lee stopped short of saying God's hand is at work. But he was clearly speaking in quasi-religious terms in discussing The One on today's Morning Joe.
Who you choose to surround yourself with makes you what you are and we already know Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama's associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and William Ayers.
First, a gratingly long list of mediocre R-rated movies:
Blindness (rated R): Completely hopeless film about people catching an infectious disease of blindness and getting rounded up in a mental asylum.
Quarantine (R): Completely hopeless film about a TV news crew getting trapped in a Centers for Disease Control quarantine of a building where everybody catches a version of rabies and dies. (What is this, a trend?)
Burn After Reading (R): A dippy personal trainer gets caught up in a government plot, doesn’t know what he’s doing, and gets shot in the face, and so much for Brad Pitt.
Body of Lies (R): Leonardo di Caprio pretends to be a rugged CIA agent and we're lectured again about the moral rot of American foreign policy manipulators.
The film critic -- who gave the film just one and a half stars -- cracked that the script sounded like recycled Maureen Dowd cartoons and scoffed at the "uneven pleasure" of seeing "first-rate" actors portraying political figures they "don't respect" (emphases mine):
Its shortcomings are remarkably similar to those of its major characters. Near the beginning, Donald Rumsfeld ( Scott Glenn) proclaims that he doesn't do "nuance." Neither, alas, does Stone.
[Warner Brothers] has temporarily blocked the release of the DVD version of the 1987 film Hanoi Hilton, which will feature an interview with John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, about his imprisonment in Hoa Lo prison during the war.
The film, which gave a favourable portrayal of US prisoners, will now be released on November 11 - a week after the election.
For a guy that has practically made a career out of regularly accusing the Bush administration of lying to get America into a war, comedian Bill Maher clearly isn't opposed to telling fibs if it serves his financial interests.
Such was exposed by CNN Monday when Maher and the director of his new film "Religulous" admitted -- without the slightest hint of remorse -- they had lied to get people -- including political and religious figures -- to appear in the movie.
In fact, one evangelical pastor said that he thought he was participating in a PBS documentary and never would have agreed to the project if he had been told Maher was involved (video embedded right, full transcript follows):
The "Today" show has yet to promote the conservative satire An American Carol, that spoofs Michael Moore but they did find time to invite on Josh Brolin to plug Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopicW. on Tuesday's show. Co-anchor Matt Lauer interviewed Brolin, who plays the title character, and noted critics were expecting "a political hatchet job" of the President, to which Brolin, defended Stone as he claimed the controversy surrounding the director of such factually murky films like JFK and Nixon, was "hogwash."
However Brolin admitted that one of the reasons Stone tabbed him to play Dubya was because there was something sort of "mean" about the actor. And in describing how he perfected his Bush impression Brolin observed there was an "apish quality," about the 43rd president.
The following is the full segment as it occurred on the October 14, "Today" show:
As part of the promotion of his new Bush-bashing drama ‘W,’ director Oliver Stone appeared on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show and co-host Harry Smith gushed: "And there are so many interesting portrayals in this, we don't have time to go into them all...Stunning, stunning, stunning ...Phenomenal, phenomenal stuff." Smith even suggested that some people saw the movie as sympathetic to Bush, though not Smith himself: "People -- I was in a screening of this movie just yesterday. This person was walking out, 'my gosh it seemed so sympathetic.' I didn't feel that way, but your hearing that yourself I'm sure."
In response, Stone replied:
I hear it but I think there's a confusion between sympathy and empathy. Empathy means understanding, and as a dramatist it's my job to understand, to walk in the shoes of George W. Bush as best as I can...Sympathize, no. I do think he's hurt this country. I'm a Vietnam veteran. We should not have gone into the Iraq war. We were in three wars, not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but really the war on terror is a major war. You know, we've had an economic meltdown because of it, partly because of the overreach. And this country is in a very dire place and I'm not happy about it...But, you know, people voted for him.
Liberal director and conspiracy theory-loving Oliver Stone was actually "fair" to President George W. Bush in his new film "W." Indeed, Stone is practically a "historian" when it comes to chronicling the life of the nation's 43rd president, that is if you ask Newsweek's Alan Brinkley. Of course when measured up against his prior films about American presidents, it's probably not that high a bar to clear.
From his October 11 movie review, "From Man to Mockery, and Back Again":
Through most of the undistinguished history of films about American presidents, concern for truth has been in short supply.
Oliver Stone, whose new film, "W.," is his third examination of a modern president, has aspired to be different.
Oh, it gets better. You see, "W." is "sunny and sympathetic":
President George W. Bush is choking on a pretzel in the White House and falls from a sofa. Saddam Hussein is there with him. Later Bush flies on a magic carpet over Baghdad as he bombs the city. Eventually Saddam returns to the White House to scream insults at him. These were actual sequences that were originally in Oliver Stone's 'W.' movie which is opening this Friday. However, since they were finally cut from the movie, Stone is now patting himself on his back for his forbearance.
Once again, we see the long knives sharpened against the right by employing innuendo and outright lies. This time it is against the movie "An American Carol." On Tuesday, I reported that there was some concern that ticket sales for the movie were being diverted to other movies at certain theaters across the country. But, I never said there was a "conspiracy" to do so.
The filmmakers also attempted to do some detective work to find out the veracity of the claims. But they didn't call it a conspiracy either. Apparently simply asking the question, though, is too much for Wonkette and Huffington Post to handle. They had to gin it up as some wild-eyed claim of a "conspiracy" on our part.
An American Carol debuted this past weekend and there have been some disturbing reports that ticket sales for the film have been fraudulently credited to other films in cineaplexes all across the country. The rumors are so persistent that the American Carol folks have added a section to their website for movie-goers to report the fraud. The filmmakers are reporting that at least 10 theaters are being investigated for this fraudulent practice.
So, if you have attended this film and happen to still have you ticket stubs, take a look at them to see if you were credited with having paid to attend the right movie.
There has also been a few reports by Eric Odom that some venues have incorrectly identified the rating for the film as sporting an "R" rating instead of the proper "PG-13" that the film rating board actually gave it.
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews began his teaser for a segment about Sarah Palin's pending press interview and plans to field questions at a town hall by exclaiming "look who's talking" as an image of Palin [see screencap] appeared bearing the same graphic.
"Look who's talking" is of course the title of a 1989 hit movie in which the person doing the talking was . . . an infant.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
Hollywood conservative? As oxymoronic as that may sound, there are a few out there, the one endangered species that the left is not interested in protecting.
In an excellent article for the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes takes a look at a small band of conservatives and libertarians in Tinseltown. No longer content to stay quiet, they've created an underground group called "Friends of Abe," a reference to "Friend of Dorothy," a codeword formerly used when homosexuality was taboo in Hollywood with the intent to parallel the intolerance that is currently exacted on Republicans in the entertainment industy.
I've had the pleasure of attending a few such gatherings thanks to "NewsBusted" creator Bruce Roundtower and can verify that some of Hollywood's biggest names are involved.
In the groves of academe, studying popular culture is often the preserve of nutty left-wing professors performing exotic Marxist autopsies on the imperialist dynamics of Donald Duck comic books. Academic conservatives are teaching and writing about Homer the Greek poet, not the cartoon, which is important but oftentimes leaves their audience without a learned guide to analyze the themes of our modern culture.
Fortunately, there is Thomas Hibbs, a professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University – and a film critic for National Review Online. Earlier this year, the Spence Publishing folks in Dallas published a valuable and fascinating book by the professor called "Arts of Darkness: American Noir and the Quest for Redemption."