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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

A.O. Krazy 2

Where Scott goes off the rails is not in trying to come up with a more complex analysis of genre films, but in tying their existance and tone to some sort of intent.
As pointed out by others here, the subtext of what is perceived as audience friendly is a discussion. The idea that Just Like Heaven, which is not only completely derivative of films from every decade of the history of narrative cinema, but which was launched before Bush was re-elected, is wacked.
Additionally, adding a context on intent to Emily Rose, which was never intended to be anything but a thriller cheapy, is way off base.
Even if you want to play this game, how about some balance? The top movie of the summer, Star Wars, is on its face anti-empire. On the flip side, it could be said that it is pro-Iraq, as the next films are all about freeing the people from The Empire, which is what Bush-ites would say Iraq is all about. That is the beginning of a long, complex, and unwinnable conversation.
It is insane to sit there at try to deconstruct some screenwriter

32 Responses to “A.O. Krazy 2”

  1. joefitz84 says:

    It is some critic trying to be thought of as “smart”. Thats it.

  2. Angelus21 says:

    That is some delusional writings from supposedly a national writer. Where do they come up with these things? During a viewing of Flightplan?

  3. Wrecktum says:

    I think an argument can be made that Hollywood is taking conservation (read: religious) audiences a bit more seriously after the success of The Passion, but certainly that’s only a business decision, and not what Scott is proclaiming.

  4. Sanchez says:

    Wait a second here. Conservative and religious people have started going to the movies? This is genuis reporting. Thank God for the NYT.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    True that Wrecktum. The Greatest Game Ever Played is being marketed to church groups and the like, and I doubt that would be happening if not for the success of The Passion. There’s certainly nothing religious about the movie.

  6. Nicol D says:

    A nice response.
    I have never taken Scott seriously and indeed it is hysterical ramblings like his that have allowed a more ‘right-wing’ alternative media to proliferate.
    Sadly, one of my favourite directors also went into a similar rant recently. I saw David Cronenberg interviewed during the film fest and when one journo asked him about the hard-right ward lurch of the ‘MCAA’ (he said MCAA not me) Cronenberg went into a rant about the fact that since Constantine got an R and not a PG-13 with a warning of ‘demonic imagery’ it made him frightened of the theocracy to come. It does seem that you can’t go wrong overestimating the paranoia of the ‘New Left’.
    I do think that after the Passion the studios want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the dollars that Icon got but they don’t want to have to work to get it. Hence they are remarketing old G rated classics like Oklahoma to give their DVD libraries a boost. When MGM tried to market the very gay-themed and very Christian bashing ‘Saved’ to the Passion crowd I just laughed incredulously. Ditto to those that think ‘Earl’ and the ‘Dukes’ represent red America.
    They don’t however want to make thoughtful, well intentioned films that these people (all people) might want to see.
    I do not think family values are just for conservatives. I do however think that every party has a left, right and center and for too long Hollywood/arts culture has been allowed to represent ‘liberalism’ and its mainstream when they are in fact quite out of touch with the average person and represent the hard left-wing of liberalism. Sadly…the Clinton’s opened the door to this and moderate liberals pay the price.
    As for the films themselves…I do not think there is some grand liberal conspiracy in Hollywood. I do think films and film culture overwhelming skew left but this is more cultural.
    Most stories by necessity must have protagonists who reflect a ‘good’. All stories do. Since most current Hollywood types skew toward the left we constantly see stories where the protagonist champions ‘left’ values over ‘right’. The problem for many is not the stories that are being told but the stories that aren’t.
    Why can’t I go to the video store and rent a massive Oscar winning epic about the horrors of communism under Joseph Stalin? Where is the film about the life of Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey)? Where is the thoughtful feature film about the life of Pope John Paul II taking him through WWII to the fall of communism? No one wants to make these?
    People are talking more about this now because we are now beginning to understand the effect of film as an art form. We can look at the history of film in our homes now and see what films are not being made…and what ones are getting made more often.
    The Passion was a cultural watershed in this respect. Love it or hate it, it made people realize that other stories can be be told artistically. It will be over a decade before we can truly analyze the effect that it had if any. I’m banking it will.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    Interesting post Nicol. I enjoyed reading it. However, I’m curious about something. When you say that the protagonist usually champions left values over right, what exactly are you talking about? Could you be more specific? I’m not saying that I agree with Cronenberg, but Constantine is an incredibly tame R.

  8. PandaBear says:

    Wait here. The Left doesn’t have any values. So how can you shift them? Seriously.

  9. lindenen says:

    I think I’ll believe that Hollywood isn’t Leftist when they finally release a film depicting Muslim terrorists beheading innocent people and hijacking planes. How many years since 911 and the obvious is still being strenuously avoided. Instead, we get Flightplan where you’re supposed to be shamed by the insane and racist thought that Muslims might be responsible for hijacking a plane!

  10. Harley says:

    Dear Dave,
    You can dink your beer in your underwear all you want, but this will not make you a regular guy. Better than average typo, tho’.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    I hated that lindelen. They introduce that guy as a potential hijacker and milk it for as much suspense as possible, and of course there’s an obnoxious American. But then, it turns out that the Arab guy is really a nice, harmless fellow, and we’re all taught an important lesson about stereotyping. Stupid.

  12. joefitz84 says:

    Hollywood is afraid to show how Muslims really are because that wouldn’t be fitting with their Leftist values. That they are innocent people who have to fight the great big wrong, ie the West. The Big Bad West.

  13. Martin S says:

    Dave – I’d say that was a really great breakdown of Scott, but it’s more like a micro-study of NYT reporting nature as a whole. The Frank Rich school of journalism.
    I can’t speak directly for Nicole, but if I had to hazard a guess as to what she might mean by left values over right…if I had to pick a single term…it would be the liberal obsession with moral relativism.
    To keep this in a film context, I’d sight for example the hyper-tendancy to humanize the villain, whether it be in some melodramatic fiction like Hannibal, or in the attempt to skewer real events like Patty Jenkins did with Aileen Wurnous. It’s one thing to try and get into the mind and motivations of the criminal, like Michael Mann has done with Manhunter, Thief and Heat, but it’s something else altogether when you try and rationalize it.
    I understand in some cases, like Cronenberg has done on several occassions, you dig into the morality of the character through metaphor and this in turn humanizes an otherwise horrendous person. But the Cronenberg approach has become more the exception to the rule due to Hollywood bias.
    Studios would rather sell something that romances truly immoral people because it’s viewed as a sexy lifestlye that someone who greenlit the picture found socially acceptable. When this is called out, studios and producers always use the same euphemisms to dance around the moral issue. In some cases, like Scorcesse or The Sopranos, you can argue that a balance is shown in how these characters lives end. But in other cases, like an Oliver Stone movie, objectivity is thrown right out the window in favor of personal dogma.
    And to try and provide a little balance, if Walden Media ever succeeded in their bid to be a player, I’d expect the same bias from them except skewing hard right. So until the day comes that Big Media has to truly compete in a non-centralized industry, I expect Oliver Stone to be allowed to cast Maggie Gyllenhall in a movie about 9/11 and claim objectivity without a question raised from anyone within the biz.

  14. Sanchez says:

    Letting Oliver Stone direct a movie about 9-11 shows that Hollywood doesn’t have a clue about really anything. Real smart call on that one. Almost as smart as the people trying to get a place in the new Ground Zero that praises Muslim terrorists and bashes American policy. Smart as heck I say.

  15. jeffmcm says:

    Dave P., you’re wrong about Emily Rose. It may be a thriller cheapie, but it also has faith as a major contingent of its reason to exist. The director went to a private Christian college. It’s a horror movie for the Passion of the Christ crowd.
    In other news, Panda, Joe, and Sanchez continue to be racist idiots.
    Sincerely, a hate-filled liberal.

  16. David Poland says:

    J-Mc… you could be right… if the film itself had a thimbleful of relevance to the opening weekend.

  17. David Poland says:

    P.S. Is liberalism now a race?

  18. Nicol D says:

    Stella’s Boy, Martin S’ post explains a some of what I’m taking about…I’ll try to elaborate.
    We all have values. We all have a notion of what is good, bad, right, wrong and what we value. Stories by their nature usually feature a protagonist and an antagonist. The protagonist embodies the good or goal of the narrative, the antagonist the bad or obstacle.
    What more and more people are noticing is who is the embodiment of this ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in Hollywood films.
    Religion, Catholics, Evangelicals, big business, the military, conservatives, traditional families, sub-burbs, rural types, fathers, etc. are usually portrayed in most Hollywood films as the ‘other’ or the antagonist. The obstacle the protagonist has to overcome in order to re-achieve the ‘good’.
    Martin S, mentioned Hannibal. In the world of Hannibal (the film) he is not bad humanized…he is in fact the protagonist. We cheer him on and root for him.
    Now I have no problem with any subject matter being used or made into a film, but what people are now noticing are the types of stories that aren’t being made. That shows bias.
    Capote gets a bio-pic but Mother Theresa doesn’t?
    Frida gets a bio-pic but Churchill doesn’t?
    Che gets several but Pope John Paul II is just the butt of a joke?
    And it is not just conservatives noticing.
    Many of my liberal friends saw the Passion and enjoyed it not because they were ‘Christian’ but because it was different. A story they as a younger generation hadn’t been told.
    Some of you discussed Flightplan…
    I saw The Interpreter on a flight to England a month ago. At one point they are looking for a suicide bomber and Sean Penn briefs his team…he says that suicide bombers have no demographic, they can be any race, aged 9 to 99, male or female, any religion.
    What planet do these people live on? More and more Hollywood films feel like a trip to Bizzaro World from Superman. People are being asked to celebrate that which they cannot and it seems for many, the party is over

  19. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Surely, people like Frida and Capote deserve to have a film made about their lives as much as anybody else. In fact, they probably deserve one more than someone like Mother Teresa. Everybody already knows about her. Winston Churchill is one of the most famous men in history.
    I’m definitely not saying they don’t deserve their story to be told (In fact, I’d love for them to be told. Who would they cast as Mother Theresa???), but I don’t think their some weird anti-conservative bias or whatever going on.

  20. Phoveo says:

    That’s funny that you all are chomping at the bit to see Muslims as the bad guys again – you could always go to the video store and rent one of HUNDREDS of movies. Maybe we could get Gene Simmons to resurrect Cannon films – both he and Chuck Norris could use the work.
    I remember when the awful “13th Warrior” came out a few years ago – I thought it was remarkable for it’s somewhat positive portrayal of an Arab character – really, it was a first.
    And the last time I checked, Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph were both white Americans.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Apologies for my last angry post.
    Nicol, you have some interesting points up there. However, the reason why the likes of Mother Teresa have been passed over for movie biopics in favor of the likes of Frida Kahlo is somewhat simple: the lives of saints are boring. They’re born, they decide to do good stuff, they die. I’m sure Teresa faced plenty of adversity in her life, but saints simply aren’t as interesting as characters as people who are more flawed and complex.

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    Nicol: No offense, but you might try checking your facts before making statements that end up making you look ignorant at best, foolish at worst. There have already been TWO biopics focused on Winston Churchill — “Young Winston” (Oscar-nominated big-budget feature directed by Richard Attenborough) and “The Gathering Storm” (much-hyped HBO production, winner of several Emmy Awards). Mother Teresa hasn’t fared quite so well, I admit: A made-for TV biopic “Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor” (with Geraldine Chaplin) aired in 1997 on the Family Channel.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Also, Nicol, the group you list as being typically the ‘antagonists’ of movies – big business, religious leaders, the military – are a group that could collectively be called ‘The Establishment’. American audiences like protagonists who take on The Establishment, lone eagles doing their individualistic thing.
    Plus there seems to be no shortage of movies featuring military heroes – Stealth, Jarhead – or religious ones, like Emily Rose.

  24. lindenen says:

    “Nicol, you have some interesting points up there. However, the reason why the likes of Mother Teresa have been passed over for movie biopics in favor of the likes of Frida Kahlo is somewhat simple: the lives of saints are boring.”
    hahaha You don’t know much about saints! The lives of the saints were seriously kinky. I read once about a saint who believed the foreskin of Jesus appeared in her mouth. When they weren’t having their eyes gouged out, they were being strapped to spiked wheels for refusing to spread their legs.
    “Also, Nicol, the group you list as being typically the ‘antagonists’ of movies – big business, religious leaders, the military – are a group that could collectively be called ‘The Establishment’.”
    That’s only half the Establishment. There’s also the Ivy League, government bureaucrats, the people who decide what’s art and what’s not, what’s on tv and what’s not, the culture-type people, Bakunin’s The “New Class”. And in this country today, I would say that I don’t think religious leaders have a foot in the door at the Establishment. If they did, things like school prayer would be allowed. Mel Gibson would have had people in Hollywood jumping at the chance to make The Passion.
    “Plus there seems to be no shortage of movies featuring military heroes – Stealth, Jarhead – or religious ones, like Emily Rose.”
    According to an LATimes article about Jarhead, one scene features an American soldier mutilating the corpse of an Iraqi. Oh yes, this film features military heroes. Please.
    I can’t believe you think it’s racism to want a film that clearly and honestly depicts the American experience since thousands of our citizens were murdered on 911.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    Isn’t Jarhead nonfiction? So isn’t it safe to say that the scene is an accurate depiction of what Swofford experienced over there? What’s the problem with that? It’s one thing to expect a film that honestly and clearly depicts the American experience. It’s entirely different to say things like, “All Muslims are terrorists.”

  26. David Poland says:

    When Julia Roberts wants to play Mother Theresa with Mel Gibson as the priest who “defrocked” her at an early age, they’ll make that feature.
    Biopics are almost always passion pics. Walk The Line was a decade in the making. Getting Frida made was an act of passion by Salma and an act of subjugated horniness by Mr. Weinstein. And let’s not forget, while Churchill is left to HBO or PBS, a revisionist though still Republican makes him complex enough for a modern director to be interested – is coming.
    I hate conspiracy theories.
    The reason there is no “next Passion of the Christ” is the same reason there is no “next My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” The same reasons major studios didn’t pick up The Passion is the same reason they didn’t pick up Fahrenheit 9/11.
    The only conspiracy is keeping the machine running green.

  27. lindenen says:

    Stella’s Boy, if you look around the internet, there are more than a few people who claim to have been marines, who will state that Jarhead was mostly fiction. I haven’t read the book though and am not a marine, so I just don’t know.
    If it’s an accurate depiction of what happened, they should show it, but then don’t turn around and tell me this is a depiction of American heroes. It’s not. Hollywood used to make films featuring American heroes all the time. Now it’s mostly the ugly underbelly we see. There is such a thing as balance here.

  28. lindenen says:

    “The same reasons major studios didn’t pick up The Passion is the same reason they didn’t pick up Fahrenheit 9/11.”
    Fahrenheit 9/11 had major studio funding. And this comparison doesn’t even make sense. There are over a billion Christians out there in the world. That’s a lot of potential ticket and dvd buyers who would have an intense interest in seeing this film. Gibson knew that. It’s Hollywood business to know that. Why didn’t they?

  29. Stella's Boy says:

    I guess I really don’t feel like there’s a lack of Hollywood movies showing American heroes these days. Seems to me that there are plenty of those still being made. I also found it interesting that someone mentioned Hannibal being portrayed as a hero, which apparently makes a political statement. I never rooted for him or saw him as a hero. The thought never crossed my mind while watching the movies he’s in, considering his crimes.

  30. jeffmcm says:

    I would LOVE to see a Lives of the Saints movie featuring Jesus’ foreskin and eyes getting gouged out. Could that be Mel Gibson’s next project? A cross between Passion of the Christ and Pasolini’s Salo?

  31. jeffmcm says:

    To answer Lindenen, I also think that I already know that most American soldiers are heroes (Abu Ghraib excepted). Tell me something I don’t already know. I want movies to show what I can’t see on the nightly news.

  32. lindenen says:

    “Tell me something I don’t already know. I want movies to show what I can’t see on the nightly news.”
    There was actually an article inthe NYTimes recently that was very funny. The article bemoaned the fact that there didn’t seem to be many well-known heroes from this war. This is ironic because maybe there would be if the NYTimes ever bothered to cover them. A lot of people don’t feel like the media is actually showing American heroism, including apparently the NYTimes. The most well-known soldiers seem to be the ones involved in Abu Ghraib, so yes, I agree please show me something I can’t see on the nightly news.

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