Unlike the sensitive folks over at Media Matters, we NewsBusters are a relatively thick-skinned lot. And no one's ever confused me with Gloria Steinem. So we're not going to overreact to Willie Geist's comment this morning and demand a Matthewsesque mea culpa.
However . . . Willie did manage to diss the intelligence of his compatriots on today's Morning Joe. A Friday show tradition is for Geist and MSNBC celebrity correspondent Courtney Hazlett [a personal fave in the genre for her intelligent perspective] to predict which movie will score best at the box office during the coming weekend. When Hazlett tapped Cloverfield, an action-horror flick in which things go horribly wrong for Manhattan, Geist reacted with, well, horror.
A few years back, I interviewed Michael Moore and asked him if Fahrenheit 9/11 should be considered a political advertisement, and if so, whether campaign finance laws should apply. Moore admitted the film contained his opinions, but that his film should be treated like an op-ed in the paper.
During the 2004 election, neither ads for the Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 9/11, nor the film itself were regulated under campaign finance laws.
On a lazy December 30th Sunday afternoon, I flipped on the television, on which the previous evening I had left the History Channel (they were then doing a military analysis of the Bible, which was at once interesting and uninfuriating).
This time the tubes warmed to display a replay of Clear and Present Danger, the film based upon the Tom Clancy novel. Co-hosting the rerun were the Channel's in-house liberal historian, Steve Gillon, and guest liberal political commentator Neal Gabler (though of course neither was identified in any sort of ideological way).
What is it with Hollywood liberals and their penchant for messing with my childhood heroes by making them shills for liberal storylines. First "GI Joe." Then "Knight Rider." What's next, "The A-Team"? Maybe. (h/t Perez Hilton)
Variety reported yesterday that John Singleton is on board to direct a silver screen adaptation of the 1980s TV action drama "The A-Team." This time it sounds like oil company executives may end up being the bad guys.
Hollywood doesn't learn. Even though the latest round of America-hating movies flopped, Project Greenlight producer Chris Moore will turn "A People's History of the United States" by pop historian and Karl Marx fanboy Howard Zinn into a TV miniseries and a feature-length documentary.
Zinn's 1980 book influenced a generation of students with its negatively-framed distortions of American history which minimized successes like WWII. It exchanged traditional history for marginal topics such as Great Railroad Strike of 1877, Joan Baez and Angela Davis while omitting Washington's Farewell Address, the Wright Brothers and the Normandy Invasion.
The December 10 Variety stated production begins in Boston this January. Ironically, it will use wealthy celebrities like Matt Damon, Danny Glover and Josh Brolin to convey the book's Marxist theory (bold mine):
Miniseries will center on the actors and musicians as they read from the books or perform music related to their themes: the struggles of women, war, class and race. (...)
Always eager to promote another Hollywood film that casts a snarky eye on American foreign policy, Time magazine interviewed Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman about Charlie Wilson’s War, a new movie about a conservative Texas Democratic Congressman who secured funding for the Afghan rebels, written by liberal West Wing scribe Aaron Sorkin. Hanks recalled that when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, he just knew it was the beginning of the Soviets’ Vietnam, that "They have made a mistake equal to anything wrong America has done." Moral equivalence with the Soviets? Still in vogue in Hollywood in 2007.
Reasons to be skeptical? At the time, Hanks was 23 and had yet to get his big break as Kip-slash-Buffy in the ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies; and Hanks also suggested the Soviets freshly took over Hungary in 1956, instead of merely keeping the Soviet lid on the country. The interview began with Time’s Belinda Luscombe celebrating her own ignorance about American support for Afghan rebels:
"The Golden Compass" did not produce box-office gold during its first weekend.
While ranked #1 for the weekend, the movie which opened in 3,528 theaters, was lavishly produced and promoted, only took in in $26.1 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Studio New Line Cinema was hoping for returns in the $30 to $40 million range.
"Compass" drew the ire of many Christians because the movie is based on the first book in a trilogy called "His Dark Materials" by avowed atheist Philip Pullman, who has said publicly that his books are about killing God. In "USA Today," Rolf Mittweg of New Line Cinema conceded that the "religion controversy might have had an effect."
What will it take for film critics to be satisfied with movies about young, unmarried pregnant women?
For most, a clever script and outstanding performances will suffice, but not so for Lisa Schwarzbaum, a film critic for Entertainment Weekly. It must also carry a weighty discussion on the "hard-won, precious rights" to choose.
"Juno,"the latest film about an unintended pregnancy carried to term, opens nationwide December 14. The movie reportedly depicts Juno, the pregnant 16-year-old lead character, deciding to place her baby for adoption after a chance encounter with a pro-life protester at an abortion clinic.
Schwarzbaum said in her review of the film, "The old-school feminist in me wishes ‘Juno'spent more time, even a tart sentence or two, acknowledging that the options taken for granted by this one attractive, articulate teen are in fact hard-won, precious rights, and need to be guarded by a new-generation army of Junos and Bleekers, spreading the word by text message as well as by hamburger phone."
What is it with Johnny Depp and Victorian Era serial killers?
Six years ago the liberal Hollywood fixture played London police detective Frederick Abberline in "From Hell," a violent conspiracy theory-driven whodunnit about the 1888 murder spree of Jack the Ripper. In his newest big screen release, Depp stars as the title character in "Sweeney Todd," a film about a fictional 19th century London barber who kills his customer-victims using his barber's razor.
Pretty ghoulish stuff, of course, but according to Depp, such a monstrous character is also deserving of some empathy. Reports Tom O'Neil of the Los Angeles Times:
Sometimes, newspapers bury the lede on purpose. Today’s Exhibit A? The Washington Post Style section profile of Chris Weitz, the director of the new anti-religious movie The Golden Compass. The Post’s anodyne headline was "‘Golden Compass’ Director Seeks True North." David Segal’s story takes eight paragraphs and a sentence before it gets to the point, why the publicity: The trilogy of books behind the movie "attacks the concept of organized religion -- more specifically, any religion that rules by fiat and claims an exclusive pipeline to the truth."
Weitz has done quite the comedy routine in defending the film. In a soundbite on CNN’s The Situation Room on Tuesday, he claimed: "I don’t think the books are a threat to organized religion. First of all, I think organized religion is strong enough to stand on its own. Secondly I don't think that Pullman is aggressively anti-Catholic or anti-religious." Come again? This is like Weitz claiming his American Pie movies weren’t about teenage sex.
To be caged like an animal and deported to Siberia as a 14-year-old girl is to know a level of brutality that seemingly stands outside of reality, as one gulag survivor puts it in a new documentary on Estonia.
When the Soviet Union began its occupation of the country, prison quotas were set for Russian soldiers who grabbed any convenient person they could find, the narrator informs audience members during a film segment that reviews key historical moments.
As it turns out, one-third of those deported to Siberia beginning in 1940 were children, according to the film.
Dictator-groupies Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover are at it again. They are among the “artists, scholars and performers” calling themselves “representatives of the cultural sphere in the US,” who sent a letter to President Bush asking him to “end the travel ban,” allowing a cultural exchange between nations.
Most troubling is the group did not address Cuba's lack of freedom and limited their travel demands to Cuba's “artists and scholars.” That wasn't a mistake. As faithful fans of the Cubano Dear Leader, they don't care about all Cubans' ability to travel, just those carefully-selected Party-approved “artists and scholars." Under heavy guard, of course, to avoid more embarrassing defections.
National Public Radio's arts-and-culture show "Fresh Air" recently displayed how its leftist ideology trumps artistic judgment, especially when it comes to movies designed to get America out of Iraq before our crazed soldiers senselessly kill more civilians. Film critic David Edelstein lauded Brian De Palma's new movie "Redacted" as a "laudable artistic response to an unpopular war," even as he conceded the movie is terrible as a work of art.
Edelstein knew some people hated the exploitative display of Iraqi corpses at the film's end, noting that De Palma thinks rubbing Americans' faces with the collateral damage will get us out of Iraq: "I think most Americans are immune to those techniques, but I respect his impulse. 'Redacted' is a crude piece of work but it's the kind of outright agitprop that rarely makes it to the big screen."
Edelstein also claims the movie centered around savage rape and murder by American troops isn't anti-troops: "But it's an act of sympathy to suggest that soldiers on their third tours of duty in a place where they have no knowledge of the culture, where they can't tell who's on their side and who wants to blow them up, stand a good chance of losing both their moral compass and their minds." Here's the transcript from the November 16 review:
As the movie studios gear up for a big Christmas movie season, one trailer that looks like a blockbuster is “The Golden Compass,” which must be trying to cash in on the “Narnia” movies. It has flashy special-effect polar bears in armor and a young heroic damsel in distress facing off against evil forces. The casting is top-notch, led by Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the current star spy in the James Bond movies.
But buyer beware: Narnia it’s not. It’s the anti-Narnia. Instead of a Christian allegory, it’s an anti-Christian allegory. The author of “The Golden Compass,” Philip Pullman, is an atheist who despises C. S. Lewis and his much-beloved Narnia series. “I thought they were loathsome,” he said of those books, “full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself.”
Remember those anti-war Iraq movies Hollywood was crowing about this summer? Turns out that crowing was more than a little premature: they've been spectacular bombs at the box office:
The wave of recent films set against the backdrop of war in Iraq and post-9/11 security has failed to win over film-goers keen to escape grim news headlines when they go to the movies, analysts say. [...]
Almost without exception, however, the crop of movies have struggled to turn a profit at the box-office and in many cases have received a mauling from unimpressed critics as well.
"Rendition," a drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal about the CIA's policy of outsourcing interrogation of terror suspects, has taken just under 10 million dollars at the box office, a disastrous return.
As part of the publicity push for their left-wing movie Lions for Lambs, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise sat down with Time’s Richard Corliss for an article titled "The Lions Roar." But these lions have a very typical Hollywood Left message. In America, it’s very tough to speak out against war. "Standing up is very, very difficult," said Streep. "We vilify the people that do speak up. You're told you're not supporting the troops." Redford added: "If you're against us, you're not patriotic." They also say the American people don’t care so much about war as they do about celebrity dirt, and according to Streep, we face the tragedy of the unheeded peace-loving left: "we went forward, in the face of all sorts of warnings that are now proven to be the truth. Americans have been anesthetized by good fortune."
There have been a number of stories in the press in recent months about Geographically Challenged America. None tops the report about Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder confessing he hadn't known that people spoke English in London.
"I couldn't find London on a map if they didn't have the names of the countries," he explained. "I swear to God. I don't know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot."
I suppose we'd all have another chuckle if Crowder were asked to find Estonia on a map, but in truth how many can? And for those of us who can, how many of us know anything of significance about this seemingly insignificant little country?
How many of us know that Estonia, one of the smallest countries on the face of this earth, is responsible for one of the most extraordinary, and certainly the most unique, revolutions in modern history? How many of us know that this tiny Baltic nation defeated the Soviet Union -- with a song? This is not meant as hyperbole. It is literal truth.
In a political act loaded with cultural symbolism, Senator Hillary Clinton endorsed an effort to earmark a million taxpayer dollars for a museum in Bethel, New York celebrating the circus of 1969, the Woodstock music festival. Other senators smelled the pork and successfully voted to remove it.
The tie-dyed, drug-soaked post-war babies that populated that muddy plain are now approaching Social Security age, and the aging hippies that made their way into the establishment want to imbue the notorious excesses of their youth with respectability. The New York Times said the Bethel complex would be "what Cooperstown is to baseball" – a hippie Hall of Fame.
I liked that music. I still do. Then as now, I simply ignored the cultural and political messages. Many others didn’t.
The bohemian worldview of Woodstock Nation is in some ways dominant, and in some ways passe in our popular culture. Hallucinogenic drugs are no longer the rage, but the "free love" spirit of "if it feels good, do it" still runs strong, especially in our entertainment world. And yet, burbling beneath a noisy culture of sexual excess and self-love, there’s a quiet undercurrent in our movies carrying subtle, and even obvious pro-life themes.
NewsBusters readers are well aware of the recent controversy involving Al Gore’s schlockumentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
A few weeks ago, a British judge cited nine errors in the film. Team Gore responded Thursday in a rebuttal published at the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog.
Now, famed climate change skeptic Christopher Monckton, in a detailed report published by the Science and Public Policy Institute, not only refuted Gore’s defense of the movie's contents, but also listed a total of 35 errors in the award-winning abomination responsible for most of the global warming hysteria sweeping the planet (emphasis added):
Of all people, you'd think a movie director would understand the importance of sticking to the script. But no . . .
There was a delicious moment on this afternoon's "Hardball." Host Chris Matthews had billed a new movie as standing for the proposition that Saudis hate Americans [note the screen graphic]. But when the movie's director came on, he declined to buy into Matthews's sweeping generalization, pitched capitalism as the answer to the region's problems, and even speculated that Iraq war has helped America's relations in the Middle East.
In his opening tease, Matthews proclaimed "Let's talk about why the Saudis hate us . . . in our second story tonight, why do Saudis hate Americans?"
Then, after an interview about Iran with Mario Cuomo [yes, he's still around], Matthews, teasing the next segment:
The problem with writing politicized movie reviews is that often most of what is seen depends on the viewpoint of the reviewer. Such was the case of the dueling movie reviews of "3:10 to Yuma" in the Huffington Post. Bill Robinson saw this movie as an allegory about the Iraq war:
As the reviews will tell you, it's an exceptional film, with gorgeous photography, stunning action and hypnotic, sublime performances. But what I am surprised I have not read, are the all-too-real parallels to Iraq.
Reliably liberal New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis lauded activist-actor Leonardo DiCaprio's "The 11th Hour," the latest documentary of environmental apocalypse.
"To judge from all the gas-guzzlers still fouling the air and the plastic bottles clogging the dumps, it appears that the news that we are killing ourselves and the world with our greed and garbage hasn't sunk in. That's one reason 'The 11th Hour,' an unnerving, surprisingly affecting documentary about our environmental calamity, is such essential viewing. It may not change your life, but it may inspire you to recycle that old slogan-button your folks pinned on their dashikis back in the day: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
Here's something you don't see that often: The major movie studios are engaged in a bidding war over a book written by someone who served in the military and is...an outspokenly conservative Republican.
[T]here's a frenzied Hollywood bidding war going on today over the No. 1 book on The New York Times non-fiction bestseller list: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell. Studio toppers are interrupting their vacations to try to get this book which was sold to Little Brown by superagent Ed Victor for a seven figure advance.
Perhaps we should have expected this but apparently The Bourne Ultimatum which opened this weekend is chock full of liberal proganda. So who is making this charge? Some vicious rightwinger with an axe to grind against liberal Hollywood producers? Nope. This is the claim of a liberal movie reviewer, Anthony Kaufman, who wrote the following in his Huffington Post blog, Jason Bourne: An Anti-Cheney American Hero?
A stinging rebuke against Cheney-esque black ops and torture tactics, Universal Pictures' The Bourne Ultimatum is more than just a heart-stopping international espionage thriller: It is Hollywood's most direct attack against the Bush Regime since George Clooney's one-two punch of Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana. If those more "sophisticated" dramas preached to the choir about our deteriorating civil liberties and oil-fueled overseas obsessions, the third film in the mega-successful Bourne action franchise offers up a picture of corrupt clandestine leadership for all to see -- where every Matt Damon fan can also enjoy high-powered American government officials as arch-villains committing treasonous and reckless activities without oversight.
Although most reviews of the comedy movie, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, were generally scathing, a Huffington Post blogger has claimed that you need to wear "special gay decoder glasses" to really appreciate the message that seems to have been hidden from the other reviewers. Joan Garry, Executive Director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), admits that she at first hated this movie:
First it was the traumatized Vietnam veteran, now are Iraq vets set to become the next "progressive" cliché?
Being the strapping patriot sort of folks that they are, the Hollywood left is gearing up to release a bunch of anti-military movies that portray veterans of the Iraq war as deranged psychopaths, screwed up by an "unjust" war. The New York Times's Michael Cieply reports (h/t Instapundit):
Now some in Hollywood want moviegoers to decide if the killing is emblematic of a war gone bad, part of a new and perhaps risky willingness in the entertainment business to push even the touchiest debates about post-9/11 security, Iraq and the troops’ status from the confines of documentaries into the realm of mainstream political drama.
A recent article by writer Manish Vij, The Apu travesty, in The Guardian has stirred up something of a hornets nest of controversy as was chronicled here in NewsBusters. Vij took a strictly PC approach and condemned the portrayal of Apu from "The Simpsons" as being racist. However, his opinion is far from universal among people of ethnic Indian background. Journalist Saptarshi Ray who is based in the Washington, D.C. bureau of The Guardian has a very different view of the Apu character in his response, The wonder of Apu:
In this day and age of Political Correctness it can almost be expected that someone will object to the portrayal of Apu in the upcoming "The Simpsons" movie as racist. Sure enough, writer Manish Vij, made just that accusation in the July 17 issue of the British newspaper The Guardian with an article titled, The Apu travesty:
...The Simpsons has long irritated some Indian-Americans because of the thickly stereotypical character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the effete cornershop owner with fractured English, excess fertility, bizarre religious practices, illegal immigration status and a penchant for cheating customers.
Apu is quite a unique character on The Simpsons. Unlike the show's parodies of policemen and Irish-Americans, he's the only character to mock a small American minority relatively unknown in the mainstream, and he's by far the most visible immigrant. For desis (South Asians) growing up in America, just one eighth as concentrated and visible as in the UK, Apu shadowed us at every turn.
Michael Moore is still waiting for an apology from CNN. On July 13, he released a letter that threatened to become the cable network’s “worst nightmare.”
“Think again. I'm about to become your worst nightmare. 'Cause I ain't ever going away. Not until you set the record straight, and apologize to your viewers. ‘The Most Trusted Name in News?’ I think it's safe to say you can retire that slogan,” wrote Moore.
Ironically, in the letter Moore admitted to being treated well by CNN in the past.