Day By Day

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Fall Film Season -- Movies to Miss

There are a lot of films I will not be seeing this fall. Hollywood will be rolling out a whole series of anti-war, anti-Bush films, some of which it is fair to say, are even anti-American.

One of the worst is Redacted by Brian DePalma. Entertainment Weekly describes it as "anti-war porn."

DePalma [has] populated his movie with evil, buffoonish, ugly-American soldier stereotypes who rant about "sand n-----s" before raping and murdering them. If Arabs upset at the American presence in Iraq kidnapped some American actors and forced them to make a propaganda film, they'd be hard-pressed to make one much more simple-minded than Redacted — though at least theirs probably wouldn't resemble a stagy, overacted, off-off-Broadway play quite as much as this one does. On a formal level, Redacted is fascinating; it consists entirely of faked "found" video footage, culled together from soldiers' camcorders, surveillance footage, and even terrorist websites. Yes, it's Casualties of War meets The Blair Witch Project. But the conceit of having sneering American soldiers passionately plan, commit, and cover up their heinous misdeeds in the full view of camera lenses ensures there's not a believable minute in a film that styles itself as a faux documentary. By the time you get to the actual rape scenes, you may feel you're watching a new genre: anti-war porn.
Read it here.

And for you net-flix fans you can give "Shooter" a pass, too. Jonah Goldberg watched it and had this to say:
Director Antoine Fuqua made "The Shooter" into an extended Democratic Underground fantasy flick (at least I can only assume this isn't a loyal adaptation of the book). Not only are the bad guys CIA-Haliburton-Republicans willing to do the most evil and horrific things purely because of their rank greed, but they're stupid enough to admit it in long agitprop style speeches. It's as if Don Rumsfeld shouted at his staff "We're doing this because we're evil men who hate democracy and want to get rich!"

I should have known that Danny Glover as the ex-military CIA contractor guy was all you needed to know about the movie. I used to have a rule that if Ed Asner, Martin Sheen and a few other likely suspects were in a movie even remotely about politics, you could be sure it'd be annoying. I guess I gotta dust-off that list and put Glover on.

There were so many little annoyances. In every office Glover's in, there's a picture of George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan on the wall. When the Latino FBI agent sees the light that the entire government is run by evil, murderous, money-grubbing men, he goes rogue and puts on his Che t-shirt. And so on.

The cartoonishness of the whole thing does conjure Soviet theater, but I think it's more pornographic.
Read it here.

Hmmm..., do I sense a theme here -- lefty political porn? Jonah in his post explains why the term is appropriate [go ahead and read it].

And then there is the Bourne Ultimatum, which is still in theaters and is racking up huge receipts outside the US -- we're talking about a 2-3 billion dollar franchise here -- but which Jonathan Foreman describes as:
indeed one of the most anti-American movies made since the early 1970s. It's abundantly clear that the people who made it believe that there is no real threat from terrorists or rogue states — merely a mirage conjured up by sinister right wing politicians. Never mind that there are real international conspirators who carry out murders in foreign cities: in this film the only dangerous people on the planet are the CIA — depicted as a high-tech international gestapo whose many targets are all innocent victims.
Read it here.

Actually, I'm cheating here a bit since "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I have already seen the Bourne flick [for some reason that escapes me "She" likes Matt Damon] and my reaction to it is quite a bit more nuanced than Foreman's. I will have a lot more to say about this film and the franchise in a later post, but for now his criticism is a valid indicator of the movie's tone.

And, I might note, this left-wing paranoia is nothing new in the American film industry. A couple of days ago I again watched Renny Harlin's "The Long Kiss Goodnight" starring his then wife, Geena Davis and Samuel Jackson. It's an amusing film, mostly because of Jackson's performance, but it eerily foreshadows the entire Bourne saga. Davis plays a CIA assassin [superman type] who failed in a mission, suffered amnesia, and slowly begins to regain her memories and deadly skills over the course of the movie [sound familiar?]. In the film the CIA is a rogue agency that is staging fake terrorist attacks [including the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center] in order to get Congress to restore their funding to cold war levels. They do this with full knowledge and tacit approval of the President, and in the process they form shifting alliances with international criminals and terrorists.

The point I'm making is that there is nothing new in this recent spate of anti-Bush films -- the film-makers are simply rolling out tried and true formulas from past seasons. This time, though, they seem to have miscalculated. They assumed, many months ago when these projects were greenlighted, that by now Bush would have capitulated to media and Congressional pressures, that the US would have been driven out of Iraq in disgrace, that the world would have risen to condemn the administration as international criminals, etc. [basically a replay of the Vietnam experience]. Instead Bush has stood firm, the war effort is showing progress, public support is growing, the political coalition supporting the war has held together for the most part, and pro-Bush governments have taken over in Germany, Canada and France.