Political Content in this week’s new movies: Kick-A**, Death at a Funeral… plus a few reviews for movies opening only in NYC/LA…
1. Kick-A** (2010) [Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use – some involving children.]
summary from imdb.com:
Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.
starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Elizabeth McGovern, Yancy Butler, Xander Berkeley
John Nolte at Big Hollywood
Carl Kozlowski at Big Hollywood
Leigh Scott at Big Hollywood
Peter Suderman at Reason.com
movieguide.org Christian reviews
an article by Christian Toto: “Think ‘Kick-A**’ is inappropriate? Don’t expect much sympathy”
Poli-Bits: nothing… just a reference to vigilante justice…
2. Death at a Funeral (2010) [Rated R for language, drug content and some sexual humor.]
summary from imdb.com:
A funeral ceremony turns into a debacle of exposed family secrets and misplaced bodies.
starring: Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Keith David, Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, Peter Dinklage, Luke Wilson, Ron Glass, Zoe Saldana, James Marsden
Poli-Bits: the only political references I caught were: the deceased father was said to look “like Colin Powell”/”just like a republican”… and there was a message of tolerance at the end… (i missed part of the movie at the beginning, though)
here are some conservative reviews for movies that will only be playing in limited theaters this weekend:
Yep, the Jonses are a fake family put together by some major corporation (i.e. the villainous corporation) in order to push some kind of super-consumer lifestyle. They call it “stealth marketing,” and each family member has a certain group of potential buyers that they target. As a whole, they are selling the American Dream (or at least what the filmmaker feels is the American Dream). […] The only thing we are left with is a blurry anti-capitalist/anti-consumerism message that doesn’t hold much water. The film endorses and idea that Americans are so stupid that they feel the only key to happiness is to spend a lot of money.
The film takes a few familiar and painfully predictable turns that leaves it as a rushed combination between American Beauty and Boiler Room. We get it, Hollywood hates capitalism. The nice thing about this film is that is attempts to poke fun at how movies utilize product placement as well. Of course, that is strategically left buried under the mountain created by its “capitalism kills” message. Ultimately, this is the kind of film Michael Moore would make if he was a halfway respectable filmmaker and slightly less combative.
Even though the film stands strongly against the idea of marketing and capitalism, it would have been enjoyable had it been either cast differently or written with more control. […] The only consistent aspect was a weak attempt to “tell the truth” about the “evil” corporations.
Pity the poor American consumer. Evidently, a little charm and a winning smile are enough to sell them anything. They voted for Obama after all, although this film probably does not have that example in mind. It is those nefarious guerrilla marketers fleecing unsophisticated suburbanites that are supposed to stir our moral indignation in Derrick Borte’s The Joneses, which opens today in New York.
Steve Jones is not really Steve Jones. He is a former car salesman hired by a shadowy marketing company to pose as the father in a Potemkin model family pushing high-end consumer goods on their unsuspecting neighbors. His lovely wife Kate is really their boss or the slightly sinister sounding “cell” leader. All ridiculously good-looking, the Joneses (Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Pineapple Express’s Amber Heard, and a dude from a cancelled CW show) effortlessly bedazzle those dumb, hardworking rubes. Before they know it, they are buying ugly track suits and sports cars they cannot afford because of the “ripple effects” generated by the Joneses’ extremely unsubtle product placement.
Therein lays the greatest problem with The Joneses. While it unequivocally reproaches the supposedly predatory capitalism practiced by the phony family, it simply drips with contempt their hapless targets. This is personified with excruciating clarity by the Joneses’ Mertzes: Larry and Summer, the couple next door. Though he supposedly owns his own business, he is a classic hen-pecked husband, nauseatingly ineffectual in every way. Summer is an equally unsympathetic figure, obsessed with her motivational tapes and her Mary Kaye-like cosmetics sales program. Sure, the Joneses wreck havoc on their lives, but it seems like the film can hardly blame them for taking advantage of such easy marks.
Of course, it is hardly shocking when the Joneses’ neighbors start having economic problems, since nobody in this film ever seems to work. Instead, they spend all their time on the golf course or at the spa. When asked what he does for a living, Steve Jones replies “a little of this, a little of that, but mainly just keeping my wife happy.” This would arouse plenty of suspicion in Middle America, but everyone in the Joneses accepts it, no questions asked.
Indeed, the filmmakers seem to have little or no familiarity with “flyover country.” Predictably, the Joneses’ predominantly white upper-middle class neighborhood is presented as an intolerant enclave of conformity. To emphasize the point, when the gay fake son Mick comes on to the wrong guy at a party, he naturally gets a beating rather than a firm but polite rejection. As a result, Duchovny’s constant moral agonizing seems hollow and misplaced. Frankly, had the audience been encouraged to root for the Joneses to make their nonsensical sales targets, the film might have worked better.
Obviously, Moore and Duchovny make an attractive couple. To be fair, as they evolve from coworkers to tentative lovers, they demonstrate enough chemistry to suggest a straight-up rom-com might be worth exploring for them. Unfortunately, they are squandered in a thoroughly unbelievable, frequently unpleasant film.
Sure, the plot is predictable and the characterization is problematic, but the Joneses’ faulty premise is its Achilles heel. It suggests American consumers are inherently irrational and utterly immune to economic incentives. Yet, it is flatly contradicted by hundreds of years of economic history, including the predictable drop in demand that always follows tax increases levied on luxury goods, shocking absolutely no one except perhaps a stray filmmaker here and there. The truth is average Americans are decidedly rational. It is The Joneses that could use an infusion of common sense. It opens today (4/16) in New York at the Chelsea Clearview.
…An old buddy (Steve Buscemi) from Harry’s days in the Navy 30 years ago calls to tell Harry he’s dying — and is afraid of going to hell because the two men and several other sailors viciously beat another sailor, a gay man who made a pass at one of the group.
This episodic movie is at times stagy, as Harry, increasingly desolate with regret, visits several of the sailors involved to help him remember the parts of the incident he has blacked out. As one of the old buddies, “Deer Hunter” star John Savage is reeling, prideful and damaged in a strong performance. But an episode with a professor (Aidan Quinn) who turned pacifist feels formulaic.
The story quietly builds to a rueful and fraught climax in which Campbell Scott does his usual exceptional work, while Harry absorbs some hard lessons. But as one character puts it, “We’re here to learn.”
For parents of kids in public schools, the heartbreaking documentary “The Cartel” is a revelation.
Documentary filmmaker Bob Bowdon takes us through the inept, corrupt, embarrassing and spendthrift New Jersey public school system to expose what lies in plain sight: Teachers’ unions work for their own interests, not those of the children. They defend the miserable status quo while making mountains of money (Jersey spends more than $17,000 per pupil) disappear.
Talking to Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, children and adults, Bowdon meets frustrated parents in Jersey City whose rigorously assembled application to create a charter school was rejected on a technicality.
Bowden discovers that you can attend Camden schools for 10 years without learning the alphabet, and captures the tearful face of a little girl who learns, at a lottery for places at a charter school, that she’ll be stuck in her present failing institution indefinitely.
In Camden, desperate parents have formed the Camden Educational Resource Network — a jerry-built alterna-school, with volunteers and virtually no budget — in a church. Tuition is 30 bucks a month.
The teachers’ unions demonize vouchers, which would supply competition, but as Bowdon points out, food stamps and Pell Grants are vouchers. Moreover, private and public schools enjoy healthy competition at the university level.
Witty animation spots nail down excellent points: If your car was determined by your ZIP code, and people who lived in certain ZIP codes got Yugos whereas others got BMWs, would anyone seriously stick with the Yugos — and call for more money to be spent on them?
The worst you can say about “The Cartel” is that every reasonable observer (even om Brokaw is shown making supporting cases in clips) already knows why public education is failing so many children.
But few documentaries have covered such an important matter so convincingly and with such clarity. When it comes to public education, we are all New Jerseyans.
The Frenchman, Thierry Guetta, started out filming the moonlit escapades of such graffiti masters as “Invader” and Shepard Fairey, who before creating a famous Barack Obama poster obsessively plastered a stylized image of wrestler Andre the Giant on any inviting outdoor surface.
After meeting, Banksy and Guetta shared a droll escapade at Disneyland, where Banksy planted a life-size mannequin that looked like a Gitmo prisoner and earned his captured accomplice four hours of interrogation in the House of Mouse.
Very strong Christian worldview with some strong Bible references, lots of prayers, lots of positive descriptions of God and Jesus, strong Catholic priest, strong black minister, mitigated by many moral problems and politically correct socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-American elements such as mean factory owner, factory goes out on strike to listen to their children play Little League baseball, boy disobeys father to play baseball, coach lies as a major plot device, one lie rebuked but another not addressed, a negative view of legal immigration, a negative view of patriotism, a hostile view toward police, and the white Little League teams; […]
Faith in the movie is very strong. Prayers are made in the name of Jesus. Prayers are miraculously answered. When the Padre has to return to Mexico because of a visa problem, a strong black Baptist preacher becomes the team’s spiritual advisor. Eventually, even the Doubting Thomas comes to faith.
Although the faith is so strong, there are some troubling moral moments. Angel walks out on his father, although they’re eventually reconciled. Cesar lies to the team. One of his lies is rebuked, but another is never addressed. Equality of all people is stressed, but often at the expense of showing all white Little League teams, white policemen, and white newspaper editors as being bigoted, mean-spirited racists. The politically correct anti-white race card is played in the first scene and continued throughout the movie. There are other movies dealing with the same issues, like PRIDE and GLORY ROAD, which much more breadth, depth and less racism. There are also several scenes that seem to have politically correct anti-capitalist and anti-American themes.
Thus, THE PERFECT GAME is a mixed bag. The movie’s Christian worldview and ending are inspiring, but there are holes in the acting and the politically correct morality.