Archive for July, 2009

Trailer: The Hurt Locker

Screening the Politics Out of the Iraq War

By David Sterritt, Ph.D.
DavidSterritt.com

The Hurt Locker, the widely praised movie about American soldiers on a bomb squad in Iraq, has arrived in theaters with enough rave reviews to fill two dozen quote ads. While the film is excellent in some respects, its politics are worrisome – not because they’re wrong, but because there are no politics in a film about the most politically fraught conflict in recent memory. And the eagerness of critics to overlook or excuse this bothers me just as much.

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

DVD: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith holds up over time better than most of the films shot in the 1980s. This is a “classic,” but that’s not why it’s a top pick on most political film lists. It’s more than a classic; it’s about something real. Jimmy Stewart turns in a tour de force performance the kind that still sends chills 70 years later. And it’s funny, with great comic timing and scenes that sear.
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Sicko

DVD: Sicko

Sicko proves beyond a reasonable doubt that America’s health care system is sick, real sick. Moore makes his bid for Universal Health Care, or Single Payer, and shows directly and unequivocally that Cuba’s health care system is superior to our own. Cuba’s health system cared more about our citizens than our own. It is astounding, and yet true.
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CASABLANCA
DVD: Casablanca
Blu-ray: Casablanca

Casablanca Revisited

By David Macaray

With the Motion Picture Academy having recently announced a change in next year’s format (i.e., going from five Best Picture nominees to a whopping ten), it might be useful to revisit the classic 1943 Best Picture winner, “Casablanca,” one of the most celebrated films in Hollywood history.

Not only is it still ranked as one of the greatest movies ever made, not only does it feature one of the greatest movie songs (“As Time Goes By”) ever written, and one of the most-quoted movie lines of all-time (“Play it again, Sam”), but it managed to beat out an astonishing nine other nominees to win Best Picture.

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The Motorcycle Diaries
DVD: The Motorcycle Diaries

Brazil’s Bid at a Continental Cinema
Walter Salles Jr.’s Motorcycle Diaries in context

by Norman Madarasz

By awarding Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 the Palme d’Or, the 2004 Cannes Film Festival jury, presided by Quentin Tarentino, only did what was natural at this moment in time for art. It used the film to denounce the tyranny of Bush and the neocons for having intensified the violence and terror they claim to have been eradicating, and for doing so primarily to seize central Asian natural resources for personal and family gain. France happened to be the ideal place to declare such a message for more reasons than one.

Apart from the country’s opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the festival was also set against the social strife affecting France’s arts industry workers—the “intermittents du spectacle.” In the summer of 2003, they had managed to bring the Avignon Theatre Festival to a halt in protest of the Chirac government’s attempt to rid their status of job security and unemployment benefits. In the end, neither the intermittents nor the American occupation of Iraq made the Cannes dream-machine flicker into a fade out. Nor was there much discussion about the stance that art ought to take on the world’s current flow.

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By David Macaray

“Hollywood isn’t so much a place, as a state of mindlessness”
—John Gregory Dunne

Tinsel Town is addicted to “star power.” As evidence, look no further than SAG’s (Screen Actors Guild) latest contract with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), and you’ll see that, while the Alliance is willing to pay A-listers top dollar, they continue to chip away at the incomes of those “marginal” actors who live off residuals and supporting roles.

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Recount 2008
DVD: Recount

The 2000 election fiasco, and the theft of same, are dramatized in this HBO film starring Kevin Spacey and Laura Dern.

Recount does a few things right. It sticks to the historical record pretty tightly. It also includes some revelations that perhaps weren’t known at that moment, but were later revealed to be pivotal.

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