Political Content from dvds released on March 02, 2010: 2012, Where the Wild Things Are, Gentlemen Broncos, Cold Souls, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee… plus some older dvds from last month: Serious Moonlight, Bronson, Adam, Sorority Row… and finally, a pro-troops dvd from last year: Taking Chance
We’ll start off today with a Pro-Troops dvd from last year entitled “Taking Chance” starring Kevin Bacon… Please click here
1. 2012 [Rated PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language]
summary from imdb.com:
Dr. Adrian Helmsley, part of a worldwide geophysical team investigating the effect on the earth of radiation from unprecedented solar storms, learns that the earth’s core is heating up. He warns U.S. President Thomas Wilson that the crust of the earth is becoming unstable and that without proper preparations for saving a fraction of the world’s population, the entire race is doomed. Meanwhile, writer Jackson Curtis stumbles on the same information. While the world’s leaders race to build “arks” to escape the impending cataclysm, Curtis struggles to find a way to save his family. Meanwhile, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes of unprecedented strength wreak havoc around the world.
starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Pratt, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover
John Nolte at Big Hollywood
Carl Kozlowski at Big Hollywood
Peter Suderman at Reason.com
a brief blurb from Kyle Smith
Sonny Bunch at the Washington Times
movieguide.org Christian reviews
plus a crack appears between the hands of God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel ceiling, symbolically suggesting that God’s life-giving support of Man has been withdrawn somehow.
The formula is also meant to remind those who like to be thought of as “media savvy” that this is, like so many others these days, essentially a movie about movies — which is why it comes as no surprise when we are told that its geological Armageddon is “going to start in Hollywood.” This is one of many little in-jokes — like having an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike on TV reassuring the people of California that all is under control as the hero says: “The guy’s an actor; he’s reading from a script.” Who cares that Governor Schwarzenegger will be out of office in 2012? This kind of thing also helps to remind us of the formula, since we know that, in the movies, conspiracy-theorists are as often right as they are often wrong in real life. Where would we be without such classic lines of the genre as this: “All our scientific advances, all our modern machines, but the Mayans saw this coming thousands of years ago./Likewise, Oliver Platt’s de facto political leader of the small remnant of Americans — after Danny Glover’s saintly President goes willingly to share the fate of the rest of his people — muses wonderingly: “The nut bags with their cardboard signs had it right all along” That’s the classic paradigm of the Hollywood holocaust/ This movie’s politics are adolescent too, though of course that’s no liability these days, given that our national politics are also dominated by fantasy. The oriental wisdom of the Chinese grandma who agrees to take on the party containing our heroes when they are stranded in the Himalayas about sums it up: “We are all children of the Earth. We will take them all.” This prefigures the same decision, after the urgings of hero Adrian on the TV monitor in his Chinese-built ark. “The moment when we stop fighting for each other, that’s when we lose our humanity,” he says. “Everybody out there has died in vain if we start our future with an act of cruelty.” Remind you of anything? Of course, everyone advises that opening the gates of the ark to the locals who are understandably unhappy to have been excluded will lead to disaster but, equally of course, it doesn’t. As in Obamaland, it seems, politics never presents us with any hard choices. Being nice and kind and moral and unselfish comes without any cost — at least to our heroes./For what it’s worth, parents ought to be aware that allowing their children to attend the latest propaganda effort on behalf of such fashionable one-worldism will also expose them to a certain amount of — mostly implicit — anti-Americanism. The collapse of the Washington Monument, along with so much else, doesn’t come untinged with malice. It’s also interesting that the land of “can-do” only a generation or so ago is now more like the “pitiful helpless giant” of Richard Nixon’s nightmare. When the remnant of humanity — and a Noah’s ark sampling of animals — has to be herded into movie’s own, apocalypse-proof arks, it’s Chinese engineering, not American, that proves equal to the task. “Leave it to the Chinese,” says somebody. “I didn’t think we could do it in the time available.” That sounds to me like a self-fulfilling prophecy. For a start, all our best technical talent has given up working on military hardware and is now concentrating on computer-generated imagery. “
The other moment in which two figures are strikingly separated by a sudden split in a crumbling edifice occurs in Rome, where a crack runs the length of the Sistine Chapel ceiling—directly between the adjacent fingers of God and Adam. Outside, a crowd of thousands keep vigil in St. Peter’s Square, holding candles, while the pope looks down from his balcony and a knot of cardinals prays within the basilica, until St. Peter’s goes the way of all landmarks in a Roland Emmerich film. (It’s been a rough year at the movies for St. Peter’s; first the antimatter bomb in Angels & Demons, now this.)
Well, most landmarks, anyway. At the urging of Emmerich’s co-writer Harald Kloser, who warned Emmerich that he ran the risk of a fatwa, the Kaaba in Mecca, Islam’s most sacred site, isn’t destroyed onscreen. Rio de Janeiro’s colossal Christ the Redeemer statue: not so lucky. Because, you know, Christians don’t do fatwas. (The movie does take a verbal poke at the Taliban militia who demolished the ancient Buddha statues in central Afghanistan.)
Is all of this meant to add up to some sort of religious outlook or statement? Well, perhaps not. Even so, by the climactic act, believers may be thinking of a biblical promise that seems to be pretty decisively broken. There’s also a final subtitled dateline that seems to put the whole Christian era in a relative context, as if the Christian calendar as well as the Mayan calendar has run its course.
Then there’s the scene in which the president, as an ecumenical prayer on behalf of the world, starts to recite Psalm 23—but the transmission cuts out before he can even finish the first line. What, Ejiofor gets to quote one line after another of Cusack’s crappy fiction, but Glover can’t get off one lousy Bible verse at the end of the world? Here is a melancholy thought: How many people in the audience won’t even know how “The Lord is my shep … ” ends, or where it’s from?
Solar flares cook up the earth’s molten core, which in turn cracks up the tectonic plates we all call home. The forecast is for volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and a life raft will buy you what’s left of the United States./Chiwitel Ejiofor is the scientist who brings this to the urgent attention of the White House back in the good old days of 2009. By 2010 the president (Danny Glover) has let the other G-8 leaders in on the secret, and plans are under way for an emergency evacuation of the best and the brightest — or, at least, the executive elite and anyone wealthy enough to reserve a seat at a billion euros a pop./The rest of us are allowed the luxury of ignorance.
From a religious perspective, the movie tends to be dismissive of prayer and shows disasters coming to many who pray. It indicates that relying on governmental cooperation is the answer to disasters (though since over 5,700,000,000 people apparently die in the movie, that seems an odd answer).
Where else are you going to get a chance to see the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy drift down the side of a mile-high tsunami and take out the White House?
bits of dialogue:
person 1: the President has ordered us to clear out the White House.
person 2: ’bout time somebody cleaned up that mess
[there’s a G8 summit with protesters and chanting “No G8” and signs saying “No G8” and “Drop the Debt”]
Woody’s conspiracy radio show host character:
did you hear that? authorities in L.A. say there is nothing to worry about… i’d love to see their dumb faces when Malibu and Beverly Hills get sucked into the gurgling maw of the Pacific… where are they gonna plug in their electric cars then? Ha Ha Ha…
articles at Big Hollywood:
Images of multicultural bliss, so out of touch with statistical reality, saturate 2012. Evil capitalists, black scientists and heroes teaching dull whites, and a good ol’ American racist, form a pathos so strong that the impressionable don’t have a chance when it comes to interpreting how a cataclysmic world should be structured. Moreover, it’s clear that in this movie, Emmerich defines multiculturalism, and religious plurality, in a way that contradicts the terms’ purported essence. Emmerich’s take on diversity is, Less of us and more of them. Less, not necessarily in numerical terms, but more so in the sense of influence. On one hand, we see this by Emmerich’s errant portrayals of how social dynamics works, but underneath the surface, his dilution of our influence can been seen in the gross capitulation he made to the one group that violates all of the rules of the cult of multiculturalism and diversity, Islamic extremists.
Those who Emmerich sets out to offend in this film make up about 90% of his paying public (Westerners, the Westernized, Christians, or all of the above), while those to who’s culture he pays homage are those, who by Emmerich’s own admission, COULD SAW YOUR HEAD OFF, if their religion is seen in less than an august light. I’ll get to this admission later. So why would Emmerich tailor his message to satisfy the whims of the insipid, who make up such a small percentage of his audience, while fomenting an overtly bigoted message against those who consist of a culture to which he himself belongs?
At a press junket for 2012 that I attended, our annihilative director suggested that he hates structured religion, and judging by the way he lays waste to virtually all of Christianity’s most significant icons, this seems to be true. Looking a little deeper, however, we find that 2012 does not announce Emmerich’s hate for structured religion, it announces his hate for Christianity. Take what is arguably the most structured, small-minded, and intolerant religion in history, Islam. Emmerich depicts this faith in a beautiful, picturesque way. Pious Muslims are seen reverently circling the Kaaba (Islam’s most holy site) in such a way that it would make even a war thirsty prophet become as soft as hummus. How can you hate structured religion, yet when the opportunity arises, not take a shot at the most structured religion on planet earth? Emmerich’s Islamo-celebratory images are juxtaposed with the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro crumbling to dirt, and St. Peter’s Basilica belly flopping on to a crowd of hundreds of erase worthy Christians. In his famous work, The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo depicts God breathing life into the first man, Adam, but with a left hook, Emmerich knocks the wind from the Christian God and detonates the fresco once and for all. Some call for religious pluralism, tolerance, and diversity, eh?
“Independence Day” is one of the most profitable films in history — and after the original “Poseidon Adventure,” one of the greatest bad films ever — but there was no sure-fire, money-making blockbuster sequel because President Bush — The Abraham Lincoln of the Middle East — won the presidency:
“In Independence Day, it was about a king who leads his country into a fight against an outside invader. I didn’t want to make that movie during the Bush years. It was not thought that George W. Bush would have made a great king. Now with Obama, it’s another story.”
2. Where the Wild Things Are [Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language.]
summary from imdb.com:
An adolescent named Max has an active imagination, and he will throw fits if others don’t go along with what he wants. Max – following an incident with Claire (his sister) and her friends, and following a tantrum which he throws as a result of his Mother paying more attention to her boyfriend than to him – runs away from home. Wearing his wolf costume at the time, Max not only runs away physically, but runs toward a world in his imagination. This world, an ocean away, is inhabited by large wild beasts, including one named Carol who is much like Max himself in temperament. Instead of eating Max like they normally would with creatures of his type, the wild things befriend Max after he proclaims himself a king who can magically solve all their problems.
director: Spike Jonze
starring: Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo
voices of: James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose
Poli-Bits: the only leftist bit was a single mention of “global warming”:
dialogue from teacher character to students:
…the sun, after all, is just fuel burning ferociously… and when it runs out of fuel, well, it’ll be gone… well… after that, the solar system will go dark permanently… I’m sure by that time the human race will have fallen to any number of calamities: war, pollution, global warming, tsunamis, earthquakes, meteors… hey, who knows, right?
3. Gentlemen Broncos [Rated PG-13 for some crude humor.]
summary from imdb.com:
Benjamin (Angarano), home-schooled by his eccentric mother (Coolidge), is a loner whose passion for writing leads him on an journey as his story first gets ripped off by the legendary fantasy novelist, Ronald Chevalier (Clement) and then is adapted into a disastrous movie by the small town’s most prolific homespun filmmaker.
directed by Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess
starring: Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, Jennifer Coolidge, Mike White, Sam Rockwell
Poli-Bits: nothing detected
4. Cold Souls [Rated PG-13 for nudity and brief strong language.]
summary from imdb.com:
Paul Giamatti stars as himself, agonizing over his interpretation of “Uncle Vanya.” Paralyzed by anxiety, he stumbles upon a solution via a New Yorker article about a high-tech company promising to alleviate suffering by extracting souls.
starring: Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, David Strathairn, Lauren Ambrose, Michael Tucker
“Cold Souls” offers a head blendy of sci-fi trickery wrapped in social commentary, including how foreign countries exploit stateside hunger, but only at their own peril.
Bankruptcy and hedge funds. Even petty cost-cutting: Giamatti is dismayed to learn his soul may be kept in an out of town New Jersey storage facility.
Here the two main parts of the plot-heavy story intersect, as a group of Russian soul smugglers we’ve been getting to know gets hold of Paul’s soul for the boss’s wife, Sveta (Katheryn Winnick, who looks a lot like Scarlett Johansson), a soap opera actress so vapid she actually wants an American soul./And the real cold souls are not so much the little lumps chilling in the clinic’s storage unit as the people who take advantage of the economically or emotionally vulnerable to traffic in those souls. Among them is a smooth-talking, amoral hedge fund partner who’s bankrolling the business. More chilling than Sveta’s gangster husband, he’s a real modern villain.
First-time director Sophie Barthes offers a brilliantly unique debut rich in insight and imagination, and its Jungian themes and capitalist critiques never come off as laboured or indulgent./DD: Is there also a political or social critique in the idea of trading souls?/SB: It was a comment about how far capitalism can go; sometimes you have the feeling that everything is for sale. I think if it was possible to trade souls, people would consider it. There’s so much marketing surrounding drugs that promise to make people happy. Soul extraction is like Prozac – if it was available maybe people would do it tomorrow./The funny thing is that the bit at the end of the film when the company collapses and the hedge fund takes over, I wrote before the economic crash last year. Sometimes when you write you don’t know consciously but you have a feeling that things are not going the right way. Maybe it was just from this feeling I had that the whole thing was going to collapse. New York was insanely crazy in the last few years before the economic crash, there was so much money floating around. Everyone was living on credit, and living way beyond their means.
person 1: “We’re selling Russian souls to Americans… what about selling American souls to Russians?”
person 2: “Who wants to buy an American soul?”
[homeland security removing souls from the building… unclaimed souls being transferred to hedge fund]
person 1: “we’re not a charity business, we’re a hedge fund”
person 2: “you’re speculating in human souls…”
5. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee [Rated R for sexual content, brief nudity, some drug material and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
At fifty, Pippa Lee positively glows with female serenity, the devoted wife of a brilliant publisher thirty years her senior, proud mother of successful twins and a lovely and adored friend and neighbor. But, when her husband spontaneously decides that they should leave New York for a retirement home as a “pre-emptive strike against decrepitude,” and has an affair with someone even younger than she is, Pippa finds her beatific persona unraveling in alarming ways. The truth is, the gracious woman of the present day has seen more than her fair share of the wild side. She has finally found love and security in a family of her own. And now, that cozy world, too, is in danger.
starring: Robin Wright Penn, Mike Binder, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder, Maria Bello, Cornel West, Shirley Knight, Keanu Reeves, Blake Lively, Julianne Moore, Monica Bellucci
movieguide.org Christian review
Despite hosting the occasional dinner party (academic Cornel West has a cameo at one meal),
profile of Marxist intellectual Cornel West from David Horowitz’s DiscovertheNetworks.
We find out how she got here in a series of flashbacks, narrated by Pippa herself, which show her progress from an awkward childhood as the daughter of a pill-popping desperate housewife of a mother (Maria Bello) and a wild-child youth (during which she’s played by Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively) featuring kinky S&M lesbian photo sessions with Julianne Moore’s photographer and copious drug-taking, to the calm of her marriage to Herb.
The movie tries to play both sides, criticizing the sterility of Penn’s upper-middle-class existence (especially in contrast to Reeves’ “realness”) while taking seriously her near-paralyzing anxiety over her relatively stress-free life.
The couple’s two children Ben (Ryan McDonald) and Grace (Zoe Kazan) suggest the not-unusual paradigm of a father-daughter/mother-son alliance, with Grace especially acting the pill. Home from an assignment shooting Baghdad war zones for a prominent magazine, Grace personifies the naive pomposity of a young person certain that no one has ever done anything as important as what she’s doing right now. Her contempt for Pippa, expressed at a family dinner in which she barely acknowledges her mother’s typically benign expressions of admiration are notable but not quite unusual; young and on fire with ambition and self-possession, Grace seems to want to defeat Pippa — who belongs to others and always has — with every anecdote of IED’s and open fire.
some bits of dialogue:
Pippa: my birth was marked by several unusual occurrences… first of all, i was covered in fine blond fur…
Pippa’s momma: why is she furry??
doctor: oh no, that’s nothing to worry about… when a baby’s this late it sometimes has time to grow a little vestigial hair… from the time that we were monkeys… you can expect to have a beautiful baby girl… the hair is just vestigial… as i tried to tell your wife… y’know, i’m sorry if it offends you, Father, but we believe that millions of years ago, humans were covered in fur…
Father: i know that…
child: so is it a baby or a pet?
so how have you been? how’s your paper coming?
what’s it about?
the right to die…
the right to die?
or the right to kill…
person 1: this lunch is in honor of telling it like it is… y’know how we all eat chops and hamburgers and we don’t think of the faces of who gets killed?
person 2: anybody here a vegetarian?
person 1: here’s the truth as i see it: a pig, for a cow… a fair exchange…
person 1: isn’t it funny… how men always marry women who are easier and easier to dominate? until they end up with an imbecile…
moving on to a few dvds released last month:
1. Serious Moonlight [Rated R for language and some threatening behavior.]
summary from amazon.com:
Things aren’t going exactly as planned for high-powered
Manhattan lawyer Louise (Meg Ryan). Her husband of 13 years, Ian (Timothy Hutton), announces that he s leaving her for a younger woman (Kristen Bell). Taking things into her own hands, Louise holds Ian captive until he agrees to work on their marriage. The unexpected arrivals of a gardener turned opportunistic thief (Justin Long) and Ian’s impatient mistress serve only to complicate the spiraling situation.
starring: Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Justin Long, Kristen Bell
2. Bronson [Rated R for violent and disturbing content, graphic nudity, sexuality and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
In 1974, a hot-headed 19 year old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement. During that time, Michael Petersen, the boy, faded away and ‘Charles Bronson,’ his superstar alter ego, took center stage. Inside the mind of Bronson – a scathing indictment of celebrity culture.
starring: Tom Hardy
at first, it seemed like it would be another leftist prison-reform movie as this amazon.co.uk user review mentions:
It’s not easy to make a film about such a subject, and this one is rather special in its depiction of sad suburban England, and the narrowness of our prison system.
but after it was all over, I agree with this amazon.co.uk user review:
A deeply disturbing film. If ever a film was designed to make you feel uncomfortable it’s Bronson. This is as far from family entertainment as it gets.
This is about Charles Bronson, he’s Britain’s most violent prisoner, who has been in jail for 34 years, mostly in solitary. Believe me, this isn’t about any injustice nor are there any attempts to paint him as a hero, he deserves every year. He has fought against the system at every turn and ends up in darker and darker hell-holes.
Tom Hardy plays an extremely violent individual. Short tempered, deeply disturbed Bronson wants to be famous for something and the only thing he’s good at is fighting. He is an out-of-control animal, Hardy is very believable as Bronson but this film won’t win him any plaudits simply due to the subject matter.
from another amazon.co.uk user:
Prison cell fakery: At a time when every human rights lawyer is queuing up to ensure prisoners have every modern comfort, We see 4 filthy walls, dirty old mattress, soiled sink and we are supposed to believe that these conditions exist in a UK prison – the same prisons where most cells appear to have a TV, access to the Argos catalogue and more. Our intelligence is further insulted when we see ‘Bronson in solitary’. Yeah, right. The prison reform trust would be spitting feathers if a any prisoner was placed in a room with four walls, bread and water.
A final title card tells us that Peterson has, as of this date, spent 34 years in prison. Of those, 30 have been spent in solitary. We are, I’m sure, supposed to have conflicted and complicated feelings about that.
But I’m afraid the dominant one will be relief.
3. Adam [Rated PG-13 for thematic material, sexual content and language.]
summary from amazon.com:
Adam is not a typical romantic comedy. The death of his father leaves Adam (Hugh Dancy, Confessions of a Shopaholic) living alone in the apartment they shared. When a friendly young woman named Beth (Rose Byrne, Damages) moves into the building, Adam doesn’t know how to express his attraction–he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism that prevents common human empathy. So he invites her into his apartment to experience his homemade planetarium and takes her to the park in the middle of the night to look at raccoons. Despite herself, Beth is intrigued. At first she’s baffled by Adam, but when she learns the source of his awkwardness, she starts to appreciate Adam’s honesty and lack of guile–particularly as family secrets start to emerge when her father (Peter Gallagher, The O.C.) is indicted for financial misdoings. Just as the nature of Asperger’s Syndrome lifts Adam from the ranks of conventional romance, the committed and thoughtful performances by Dancy and Byrne keep Adam from being a disease-of-the-week movie or yet another “”mental handicap”” flick. The movie treats the problems of such a romance honestly, but also sees a kind of hope in the way these two grapple with their difficulties.
starring: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, Frankie Faison, Mark “Perfect Strangers” Linn-Baker
Poli-Bits: just this bit of dialogue:
person 1: you don’t have to know a lot about Islam, to understand hunger… or or or or… anger… or desperation…
person 2: we don’t understand who these people are… how they think…
person 3: i don’t understand people from New Jersey…
person 1: look… either you believe that human beings share some basic similarities… or you just throw the towel in…
4. Sorority Row [Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and partying.]
summary from imdb.com:
“Sorority Row” sees a group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.
starring: Briana “daughter of Greg Evigan” Evigan, Rumer “daughter of Bruce Willis” Willis, Audrina “The Hills” Patridge, Carrie Fisher
Poli-Bits: nothing political, really… but there was this bit of dialogue:
person 1: Claire, I like being your friend… because… it makes me multi-cultural… without having to do anything…
person 2: that’s so racist!
Finish up with a couple of Links of the Day:
1. here’s an early review for a movie about:
A surly stepfather (Garret Dillahunt) has had enough of his stepdaughter (Briana Evigan) and autistic stepson so he does what anyone would do: set loose a ravenous circus tiger in their home. Trapped inside during a terrible hurricane, the two stepkids must find a way to survive the night before they become tiger chow. Believe it or not, Burning Bright isn’t anywhere near as ridiculous as it sounds and actually manages to build several intense set-pieces. It’s a pretty conventional entry in the survivalist/nature-run-amok subgenre, but it’s well executed enough and gets major props by forgoing CGI to use a real-life tiger in the carnage scenes.
starring Greg Evigan’s daughter, Briana…
2. tune in tomorrow (friday) to Dennis Miller’s radio show to hear some Oscar talk with Christian Toto