Thursday, September 09, 2010


Conservatives never stop hoping that Hollywood will go right-wing -- although they also hope they can keep whining about the Hollywood's failure to go right-wing until the end of time. These contradictory impulses lead righties to try to storm what they see as Hollywood's liberal-fascist barricades every so often, in a half-assed way,. They rarely have any success, and I suspect it's because their heart isn't in it -- I think they enjoy the whining and sense of persecution far more than they'd enjoy boffo B.O.

There were two stories yesterday about cinematic conservatism. One, in The New York Times, concerned a documentarian of sorts -- and while he's unlikely to succeed at the box office, he sure got the Times to treat him as a victim of circumstance:

After Michael Moore screened his anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Hollywood's assembled royalty at the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences six years ago, the crowd broke out in a noisy ovation that it did not want to stop.

It has been lonelier for Ray Griggs....

But his film, like "Fahrenheit" before it, is now to be released in a heated political season. And that is at least a minor triumph for one of the less visible minorities: the Hollywood right.

Scheduled by Freestyle Releasing to open in about 500 theaters on Oct. 15, "I Want Your Money" is a long shot, even in the wobbly world of documentaries.

"I have no agent, no manager," said Mr. Griggs, a soft-spoken 36-year-old, discussing his film over coffee here last week. He added: "I had nothing to lose. My phone is not ringing off the hook from the studios."

By contrast, there is Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman," a documentary to be released by Paramount Vantage on Sept. 24, and Alex Gibney's "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer," due from Magnolia Pictures on Nov. 5. Both films come from past Oscar winners with strong progressive credentials. Mr. Guggenheim, whose film takes on the country's education system, was honored for his environmental manifesto, "An Inconvenient Truth," and Mr. Gibney for his examination of torture in the war on terror, in "Taxi to the Dark Side." The new Guggenheim and Gibney films have the advantage of heavily promoted showings at the Toronto International Film Festival this month....

So the fact that Guggenheim and Gibney have won acclaim and fairly wide audiences for their previous films (and remember, Guggenheim's last film was the non-political rock documentary It Might Get Loud) is, we're meant to infer, some sort of left-wing plot -- and we're supposed to believe this even though Gibney's new film is about a liberal Democrat's humiliating fall from grace.

Why is right-wing documentarian Ray Griggs in such a low place on filmdom's totem pole? Surely it must be anti-conservative prejudice. It can't possibly be because of his previous work:

Mr. Griggs is best known as the filmmaker behind "Super Capers," a superhero comedy that took in a few tens of thousands of dollars when Roadside Attractions released it in 2009.

Here's what Nathan Lee of the Times said about Super Capers at the time of its release:

There are bad movies and terrible movies, and movies so inexplicably, aggressively awful that your only possible response is to stare stupefied at the screen and ask yourself how such a fiasco could have come into existence. A black hole of a comedy, from which no joke, idea or molecule of entertainment can escape....

Wow -- must be liberal bigotry that led to that review, right? And these, collected at Rotten Tomatoes:

Featuring the production values of a commercial for a local used-car dealership in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Super Capers is a pathetic grab bag of spoofs. --Kyle Smith, New York Post

A bizarrely misguided attempt to revive -- and spoof -- the classic B-movie, Super Capers is the kind of experience that makes you want your 93 minutes back. --Lael Loewenstein, Variety

Slower than a glacier at the South Pole. More powerful than the strongest insomnia cure. Able to empty theaters with a single frame. It's a turkey! It's a Hindenburg! It's Super Capers! --Dan Lybarger,

There's more of the same at the Internet Movie Database (sample review titles: "Worst movie I have ever seen"; "Just plain awful"; "How did this movie get made?").

Wanna get a hint of the sensibility here? Check out this hamfisted still from the movie, and the preview:

What's the point of this? What's here that you can't get on talk radio or Fox News 24 hours a day, except more professionally done, and with the promise of occasional genuine bizarreness during Glenn Beck's time slot? Sorry, Ray -- if this flops, I'm sure it'll be because it sucks.


Also yesterday, Politico linked this:

The story of Ronald Reagan's life -- from boyhood to Hollywood actor to leader of the free world -- is about to spill out on the big screen in a way quite different from the miniseries that caused such a stir seven years ago.

The feature film, titled "Reagan" and sporting a $30 million production budget, is set for release late next year and will be based on two best-selling biographies of the 40th U.S. president by Paul Kengor: "The Crusader" and "God and Ronald Reagan."

Mark Joseph, who optioned the books four years ago, is co-producing with Ralph Winter and Jonas McCord wrote the script.

...The [2003] "Reagans" miniseries starred James Brolin as the president and was supposed to air on CBS until a controversy erupted over alleged left-wing bias and it was relegated to sibling premium cable outlet Showtime. It was seen by 1.2 million people.

"Only in Hollywood could you make an insulting, condescending movie about a much-loved historical figure, hire an actor who loathes the man, watch it flop and then somehow conclude that Americans don't want to see a movie about him," Joseph said. "I watched Americans line up and wait for 10 hours for the simple privilege of passing by his closed casket. They love this man." ...

Again with the victimization! Look, guys -- apart from JFK (which is about the assassination, not the life), what's the best-known recent film about a Democratic president? Right -- Primary Colors, about a horndog Bill Clinton. Does our side endlessly complain about that?

Good luck with this -- but why do you think people will pay money to see it? I think of the admired twentieth-century presidents on our side, and I really can't imagine a successful Hollywood movie about any of them, apart from JFK. Kennedy's story had sexual excess, mobsters, violence, Hollywood glam -- but FDR's, say? Yeah, war and polio, sure -- but it's too old-fashioned a yarn to play on the big screen. It's just too 1940s. Even if I liked Reagan, I'd say the same thing about him.

But you won't accept that argument. And when this movie flops, you'll blame a liberal conspiracy.

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