Political Content in this week’s new movies: Alice in Wonderland and Brooklyn’s Finest
1. ALICE IN WONDERLAND [Rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.]
summary from imdb.com:
19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.
starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Christopher Lee, Imelda Staunton, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry
John Nolte at Big Hollywood
Carl Kozlowski at Big Hollywood
Darin Miller at Big Hollywood
Sonny Bunch at the Weekly Standard
John Boot at Pajamas Media
movieguide.org Christian reviews
Poli-Bits: feminism, post-traumatic stress from war, oh the Victorian oppression…
“Gloria Steinem in Wonderland”: Hollywood Turns Alice Into Feminist Manifesto, Anti-Male Action Flick/If you’re planning to see Disney’s new version of “Alice in Wonderland,” know that it really isn’t Alice in Wonderland at all. It’s Gloria (Steinem) and Betty (Friedan) and Susan (Sarandon) in a high tech, souped up, feminist wonderland. It’s like NOW (the National Organization for Women) invaded a kids’ flick and turned it into a horror movie. There’s nothing wondrous or wonderful about it. It’s dumbed down baloney./The new “Alice” is about the horrors of marriage and how, even back in the 1800s a young girl knows more about business and trading in far off lands than a wealthy English tycoon. The movie, which debuts in theaters tonight, bears very little resemblance to the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” While the 3-D effects were okay and some of the movie was cute, the destruction of Carroll’s charming tale is a huge disappointment. And it simply wasn’t “Alice in Wonderland.” It was the feminist manifesto fraudulently and deceptively dressed up in that name./Instead of a young Alice, bored and sitting with her sister, falling asleep and dreaming of Wonderland, Disney’s latest Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is 19 years old, her father has died, and she’s on the way to a party, which everyone but her knows is her engagement party. She’s about to be married off to the son of a wealthy English noble whom she barely knows and in whom she has no interest. But that’s not before she spies her brother-in-law cheating on her older sister and that sister lectures her about how she must get married before she “loses her face” and becomes an “old maid.”/Of course, Alice’s wanna-be fiance is a slobbering idiot, as pretty much all the men in this movie are. The only decent human male in the whole flick is the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), and he’s crazy. When Alice is ambushed with the marriage proposal, she runs away and falls down a hole in a tree stump, which is where her action adventure in a dark fantasy world powered by women begins. There is no King of Hearts in this movie, only a Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), who has an oversized head and is supposed to be the Queen of Hearts from the original. And there’s her sister, the rival White Queen (Anne Hathaway), who is good./At the end of the movie, when Alice elects to go home from Wonderland and the White Queen, she publicly declines her male suitor’s proposal for engagement to marry, tells off her non-feminist married sister and her lecherous brother-in-law, and tells the world that marriage simply isn’t for her. Then, she instructs the father of her rejected suitor on how to open new business in China. You see, they are now partners in business, and she being a 19-year-old in 1800-something knows more about how to succeed in business than a wealthy man in his 50s who has been a success in business for most of his career./The end. Make sure to complete your NOW membership card before you turn in your 3D glasses to be recycled./Lewis Carroll, ne Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is turning over in his grave. But, hey, a women’s rights activist, Linda Woolverton (who wrote this screenplay), and a bizarro director, Tim Burton, turned his deep kids’ tale into a shallow, “updated” political polemic for the 2010s./The ghost of Betty Friedan is laughing at poor Mr. Carroll, assuming they went to the same place. And I don’t.
At last, we have an Alice in Wonderland for these times: Gloria Steinem meets Joan of Arc — with a touch of Carrie Bradshaw.
Tim Burton’s big-budget movie loses touch with a lot of the whimsy from Lewis Carroll’s Alice books in favor of lots of girl-power feminism. That doesn’t ruin the movie, but in a world that’s supposed to grow curioser and curioser, things quickly get conventional and conventionaler.
Alice (newcomer Mia Wasikowska) is the headstrong daughter of an English businessman, now deceased. At 19, she is a proto-feminist who refuses to wear a corset (“Who’s to say what’s proper?”) to a splendid garden gala that, she discovers with a shudder, is her own engagement party. She is facing the public humiliation of being asked for her hand in marriage by a dim and chinless aristocrat. “You know what I’ve always dreaded?” her prospective mother-in-law asks her. “The decline of the aristocracy?” Alices replies. We’re only minutes into the film, and already the script has established that Alice is exactly how the girls and women in the audience see themselves: modern, free-thinking, populist.
How rebellious is this film? It is surely the first one in history to be rated “PG for fantasy/action violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.” A movie that arrives in an age when our children must be warned that a mythical creature might smoke is likely to be wary of taking chances./Of course, that could have been fixed if Underland had actually changed Alice into a feisty, combative, confident young woman. But that would mean the first act of the movie would have had to show Alice being both a credible heroine the audience could sympathize with and a proper, demure, passive Victorian lady. Apparently, even to spend ten minutes defending Victorian values is too fantastic an idea for today’s Hollywood to contemplate.
whereas Burton understands and respects Carroll’s classic text purely as a study of propriety, delighting in presenting his heroine’s anarchic journey as something akin to a feminist rising./Their behavior makes sense if you understand it as Burton’s lampoon of people’s willful allegiance to the most absurd of Victorian mores./Burton conceives the Mad Hatter’s lunacy as being a form of post-traumatic stress in the wake of the Red Queen and her Jabberwock’s cruel incineration of Underland, and Depp, resembling a cracked-out Elijah Wood, reflects this suffering with ever-volleying physical movements and alterations in speech, but the idea of the character being damaged by war still feels underimagined—or maybe it’s just that the actor’s heavy makeup gets too much in the way of his natural gifts/Less a grappling with her subconscious desires than an elaborate test of her will and goodness and acknowledgement of her destiny, her journey throughout Underland simply constitutes a training mission toward an inevitable, glass ceiling-crashing denouement./Burton proclaims his magical feminist intention early on via a series of gorgeously framed scenes that significantly depart from what we know of Carroll’s world. Suffocated by the rules of her society and her priggish would-be husband’s proposal before an intimidating throng of aristocrats, Alice’s sojourn to Underland becomes a kind of time out from a world that has corseted her true ambitions. It’s an interesting expansion of Carroll’s story that would be easy to disregard as a concession to modern political fashion if it weren’t so stunningly crafted.
2. BROOKLYN’S FINEST [Rated R for bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content and pervasive language.]
summary taken from imdb.com:
Three unconnected Brooklyn cops wind up at the same deadly location after enduring vastly different career paths.
starring: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Vincent D’Onofrio, Brian F. O’Byrne, Will Patton, Lili Taylor, Ellen Barkin, Sarah Thompson, Lela Rochon
Poli-Bits: racism, police are just as bad as criminals, moral relativism, sex trade, police brutality protesters
there’s no right and wrong… just “righter and wronger”
“There’s only righter and wronger” observes the character played by D’Onofrio (who only appears in the film’s opening scene). This vague ideology seems to be the film’s overriding sentiment.
Sal becomes no better than the criminals, but his motivation starts with trying to help his wife and kids./Tango’s story has no moral center. He even says that he has been undercover so long he has begun to think and act like a criminal. Seeking revenge for his friend’s murder is wrong, and Tango pays the price for it./The theme of the movie, if there is a clear one, is that the police are no better than the criminals.
Hooray! It’s a movie for grownups! A film outta Hollywood these days that doesn’t deal in blacks and whites and doesn’t pretend to have answers to all the hard questions feels like such a rarity./Even the blacks and whites in Finest comes in shades of gray. Don Cheadle’s (Hotel for Dogs, Traitor) been undercover in a powerful drug gang for too long, and he’s begging to get out, feels he’s earned a nice, quiet, comfortable desk job where he can wear a suit every day. The precinct is on tenterhooks, ready to explode, as the film opens: a white cop has shot to death — murdered, no question about it — a young black honor student whom the cop was trying to rob. And Cheadle’s Tango is worried for himself, fearful that’s he’s starting to go over to the bad guys’ side out of sheer frustration… not to mention the racism he has to deal with himself, even as a cop. And then there’s Ethan Hawke (Daybreakers, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), assigned to an anti-drug squad, the kind of badass gang that flies in, guns ablazin’, to clean up dealers’ operations. Hawke’s Sal, in one scene, beats up another white officer, enraged over the other guy’s obnoxious racism… and this is perhaps Hawke’s most electrifying bit, even considering how Sal’s story is mostly about how he can’t keep his hands off the drug money, which is only going to end up comfy-fying the offices of NYPD bigwigs from the slush fund it’ll end up in. Doesn’t Sal need it more, what with his pregnant wife sick from the mold infesting their house? Of all the clichéd metrics of the genre avoided in Finest, Sal may well be the avoiding-est.
Instead, the film’s ending wavers between pettiness and slick irony, redeemed somewhat by a brave rescue set in a horrifying pit of sex slavery.
There have been a few new conservative reviews of Polanski’s The Ghost Writer lately. They are from John Nolte, Christian Toto, Debbie Schlussel, and Sonny Bunch.
Just for kicks, enjoy this review of the movie from the World Socialist Website! (it’s just as fantastic as you might imagine)
the intellectual as right-wing thug, confident that his “disinterested” pronouncements on world affairs will be backed by brute force.
The course of Polanski’s own life has been bound up with the twists and turns, often tragic, of modern history. That remains the case: the attempt to return him to the US for some sort of scandalous show trial is a political campaign, in which prosecutors and media are appealing to the basest sentiments in the population. The Swiss, for their part, arrested Polanski to distract attention from banking scandals and win friends in Washington.
need a political rental idea for the weekend? can’t do much better than the HBO documentary “Left of the Dial” about the first few years of Air America… check out this 8-minute youtube video to see some clips showing how disorganized Air America was in the beginning… plus you’ll love the dispirited look on the face of Janeane Garofalo as Bush is re-elected in 2004…
(the dvd also includes a clip of Michael Moore being a real jerk)
Click HERE for the political content in this past week’s newly-released dvds… plus a pro-troops dvd from last year…