October 22, 2010, - 3:11 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Hereafter,” “Conviction,” “Stone,” “Paranormal Activity”

By Debbie Schlussel

A few decent movies at the box office, this weekend:

*  “Hereafter“:  I loved this movie.  Moving, deep, intense.  One of the two MOST POWERFUL movies of the year (the other is “Mao’s Last Dancer,” and I haven’t posted my review of that yet, but I will).  Directed by Clint Eastwood, don’t let the fact that uber-liberal Matt Damon is one of the stars in this ensemble cast movie.  It was terrific.  And, especially, if you are a person of faith and believe in the afterlife/heaven, as I do, you will love this. It’s well done, well directed, well acted, well shot.

Three sets of people, psychic Matt Damon, a French newscaster, and a set of very cute, young English twins are touched in various ways by death and communication by deceased loved ones and others.  Damon is tired of being a psychic–he was once a successful one–because it keeps him from ever having a normal relationship.  But many people, including his semi-sleazy, opportunistic brother (Jay Mohr) try to get him back in the biz.  Meanwhile, in England, young identical twin boys must care for their alcoholic mother and be the adults in the family.  It makes them tight in a way only young kids affected by such trauma can understand.  And a famous French journalist (terrific, beautiful actress, Cécile De France) finds herself clinging to life in the middle of the tsunami, while she is vacationing in Asia.

The twins, George and Frankie McLaren, are so incredibly cute, and their acting is fantastic–which is amazing, given that this is their first and only acting credit. At this point, I plan to vote for them for “Best Breakthrough Performance” in the Detroit Film Critics Society voting at the end of the year.

The movie successfully weaves current events, like the tsunami and the 2005 bombing of the London subway by Muslims.  If there’s one drawback to the movie, it’s that, sadly and typically, the movie doesn’t show you or tell you that Muslims did it.  Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and NPR must have helped write the script–nah, typical Hollywood stuff.  And there are a couple of ways they stealthfully push Islam on you, showing a peaceful, smiling Muslim girl in a hijab in the classroom of the twin boys.  And showing a YouTube video pushing Islam, though it is kind of shown in a mocking way.

I don’t want to tell you much more than that, or it will spoil the movie.  But I liked it so much that when it was over, I wanted more.  It ends on the right note with the perfect ending, though. I don’t think atheists will like this.

FOUR REAGANS
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* “Conviction“: Hillary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, the real-life mother and sister, who got her GED, went to college and law school, and passed the bar–all to help get her innocent brother out of prison for a murder he did not commit.

Although this is very slow-moving at times, it’s uplifting in the end and I liked it for a number of reasons. It shows the brother, played by Sam Rockwell, as not the nicest of guys. In fact, he is a criminal, a thug, and a lousy guy. The movie doesn’t glorify him as some sort of saint, as movies like this typically do. I know, as an attorney who does some criminal defense work, sometimes the innocent are crappy people, which is often why cops, prosecutors, and juries are so willing to go after and convict them. Plus, you don’t have to be a bleeding heart liberal to know that sometimes innocent people are convicted of crimes, and sometimes big government and its corrupt actors go after those innocent people, as was the case here. That’s actually a conservative view.

In the movie, Waters’ desire to free her brother is stronger than his. She loses her marriage and custody of her sons in her quest to do what is right. She asks her two young sons what they would do in her place, and only one of them said he’s sacrifice it all for her brother like she did. And that’s a sad epidemic of society. Few will fight for what’s right. Not that you should sacrifice your family for that as Waters did in the movie (I am against abandoning your family and she could have done this without doing that), but her fight was righteous, even if it was for a man who wasn’t the most decent of human beings.

I’m not sure the constant flashbacks to their bad childhood were necessary, as a bad upbringing is never an excuse for what you do later in life as an adult, a premise the movie seems to press. But otherwise, the movie grew on me after I saw it.  It’s directed by actor/director Tony Goldwyn, scion of the Goldwyn family of Hollywood’s yesteryear.

Though the movie’s end is positive and uplifting, in real life, the crime here is that Betty Ann Waters’ brother died six months after gaining his freedom, the result of an accident on a ladder. Sometimes Hollywood leaves out the most cruel of endings we face in real life.

TWO REAGANS
reagancowboyreagancowboy

Watch the trailer . . .

* “Stone“: I absolutely hated this movie. I thought with Robert De Niro in it, I would like it, but it’s an anti-Christian, left-wing movie, in which those who believe in the Bible are frauds and hypocrites, and the scum of the earth criminals are the smartest of them all. (De Niro, by the way, has really sunk to new lows in the roles he plays. As you’ll recall, this summer, he was in the pro-illegal alien “Machete” (read my review), playing a murderous state senator who opposed amnesty for illegal aliens. New Equation: De Niro = De Nada.)

De Niro plays a religious Christian parole officer in a Michigan prison, who must decide whether or not to recommend psychotic killer Edward Norton for early release. Norton’s wife, Milla Jovovich, comes on to De Niro in order to try to secure the release. I didn’t buy Norton’s cornrow hairdo (Memo to White Men: Don’t Do Cornrow) or his fake Black accent (Memo to White Men, including Eminem: Don’t Do Ghetto Accent). And I didn’t buy the rest of the performances. Nor did I need to see dismembered bodies being set on fire and a prison inmate being brutally bludgeoned and stabbed to death by other inmates.

To make sure you know that De Niro and his crazy wife are religious Christians, scenes show them at church, reading the Bible, and listening to conservative Christian talk radio. And the movie doesn’t even get that part right, since De Niro mentions that he’s an Episcopalian, and clearly he and his wife and the talk radio to which they listen are Evangelical.

Sickened that this movie–made in Michigan to collect the Michigan Film Tax Credit and rebate of 42% of all money spent–was financed in large part by the taxpayers of Michigan, a good number of whom are the Evangelical Christians this movie very clearly defames as cheating, lying, corrupt, oversexed hypocrites and frauds.

FOUR MARXES PlUS A BIN LADEN
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* “Paranormal Activity 2“: This one is far better than the original version, which stank (read my review). It’s also scarier and scarier more often. But it’s still very boring and seems soooo much longer than its 1.5 hours. And it has a lot of the same plot points, in terms of what happens. It is helpful to see the original first, but not necessary. This movie explains what happened in the first movie and is sort of a prequel/sequel to the first installment.

A family discovers frequent break-ins into their home, so they install cameras to tape all of the rooms. Strange things continue to happen. I saw it with a largely Black audience, whose frequent comments and mocking of the movie were appreciated–in this case only. This movie is aimed at teens and 20-somethings. If you are over 40, you probably won’t enjoy it.

ONE-HALF REAGAN
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23 Responses

I am looking forward to the Eastwood move. I also saw the original Paranormal Activity and found it pretty scary. I even had trouble sleeping that night, and I am a jaded horror movie fan!

Oscar on October 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Its a subject close to my heart and this one will remind people of “Ghost.” Secular Hollywood rarely approaches faith and spirituality in a moving and profound way. Usually its more slashing, cynical and stereotypically insulting as in “Stone.” Its is to its credit “Hereafter” approaches the the notion of the hereafter/afterlife as it does and one can show the positive side of faith when one wants – which is after all in the service of G-d. We need more of that in our popular culture today.

    NormanF on October 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Re: Stone

Hollywood always mixes and mingles its images of what it deems Christianity… Evangelical, Catholic, Episcopalian, they make no distinctions and show themselves to be the ignorant bigots that they are.

Evangelicals with “holy water” or statues of “saints” or making “crucifix cookies”, etc… Catholics holding a revival meeting or sporting “Jesus Saves” bumper stickers, etc. I’ve noticed that for years.

bleechers on October 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Are you changing your mind on Sarah Palin?

“In the movie, Waters’ desire to free her brother is stronger than his. She loses her marriage and custody of her sons in her quest to do what is right.”

DS: Ha, I knew some Palinista would make this absurd comparison. It’s just soooo predictable. But RIF–Reading is Fundamental. As you’ll note, I explicitly say that I don’t approve of abandoning your family for even this reason. Still, comparing Sarah Palin’s selfish abandonment of her family for her own ambitions and self-aggrandizement is the same as fighting to get an innocent man out of prison, who is wrongly convicted of murder? PUH-LEEZE. Not even close. Anyone who thinks so is a complete moron. DS

DShowIt's on October 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I refuse to pay money to see any movie that America-hater Matt Damon is in. He produced A “People’s” History for the “History” Channel. Nothing like seeing Howard Zinn’s communist propaganda being put on televison and also infiltrating our classrooms. In my opinion he is nothing short of a traitor and you really have to wonder what the hell is up with Clint Eastwood to work with such a despicable person.

Daniel Middleman on October 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Do I care for his politics? No.

    Don’t let that dissuade you from seeing a good movie. And from what I’ve seen of in the Robert Ludlum “The Bourne” series, he’s a terrific actor.

    The character he plays are compelling and believable.

    NormanF on October 23, 2010 at 1:22 am

I have to agree with middleman on the Damon movie. I really have a gut dislike for that freak. I can’t watch it unless maybe on Showtime due to his presence. The sight of the man pisses me off. I guess I have to work on that.lol
As far as watching prisoners kill each other, that’ll be one ticket at the emagine theater for me!
As far as the crowd of goof balls yelling during the movie, you really should consider venturing further out away from the big smelly “D”. It’s nicer the further away you get. White teen agers can be a pain in the ass but they usually don’t start shooting guns all over the place over trivial matters.

Samurai on October 22, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Gosh, I love good politics and a good movie.

I agree with the Damon haters…ick, never been into him and don’t think he is good-looking at all.

DS’s review made me wanna see it though…as well as the Swank film. I am a big fan of a sad ending…so I’d prolly see it if they ended it the ironically truthful way.

I’d like to recommend a foreign film I really loved (serbio-croatian)….Netflix or rent “THE TRAP”. You’ll just love it!

Skunky on October 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I refuse to see any more matt damon films. He is another Marxist Howard Zinn true believer. Vote with my money.

dwall on October 23, 2010 at 12:17 am

I went to watch Hereafter last night. Incredible movie. Here’s a TV ad that sets the mood for it better than the official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnhmJd3xDUE

MS on October 23, 2010 at 7:07 am

And Deb, you’re right about atheists hating it, all of the lib movie reviewers are calling it “hokey” and “directionless”.

MS on October 23, 2010 at 7:12 am

I think you may have misunderstood the hijab scene, it seemed that Eastwood was drawing a comparison to the double standard of the boy being forced to remove his hat, while she is still allowed to wear the hijab

D: Nah. I made the comparison to myself while watching, but don’t give Eastwood too much credit, as I don’t think he meant to do that. I didn’t misunderstand at all. Instead, you are attributing something good to a scene that really wasn’t there as a result of the deliberate act of the filmmakers. DS

D. on October 23, 2010 at 8:03 am

Debbie, I saw Stone yesterday and agree with your review 100%. You laid out in detail precisely why the film stinks. It seems to be all about a Christian conservative who has a crisis of faith and suffers as his world of conservative values tumbles around him. “Yes!” shout out the liberal viewers in satisfied delight; they love seeing conservatism fail. This is Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman again or Jack Lemmon in Save the Tiger, this time with gratingly condescending digs at talk radio, church, guns and Bibles.

I also mostly agreed with your your take on Paranormal Activity 2, which I preferred also to the first because it was slicker and less minimally boring than Paranormal 1. A masterpiece? No. But, thankfully, there are still scary stories that don’t feature mostly teens (as Wes Craven films do) and don’t carry a liberal subtext.

I did not like Hereafter. I thought Damon’s particular story in the film about the way he suffers because of his “gift” was excruciatingly dull and obvious. I also did not like or admire the French news reporter whose job it was to bash business CEOs about the way they “exploit” poor people in underdeveloped countries–I guess she was a heroine? I found the film score (which Eastwood composed) annoyingly artsy and cloying by turns. Like Dwall, Middleman and Samurai above, I despise Matt Damon. The one thing I did like was the boy, almost supernaturally mature beyond his years like Cameron Bright in Birth; the English are good at pointing out that not all children are necessarily bossy, narcissistic barbarians (a la Jaden Smith, eg).

B: Gotta disagree on Hereafter with regard to the French woman. Actually, the movie pointedly showed that the French reporter’s interest in the afterlife was a far more worthy pursuit than bashing corporate CEOs, something which she wasn’t into anymore, after her experience with the tsumani. It made what she was doing before–with the CEOs, etc., seem empty and stupid (which it is). Yes, the film score was cloying at points, as it is in nearly every movie. So, what else is new? Still was a great, moving movie. DS

Burke on October 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

And this is why hollywood is failing and losing money whenever they put out their films, it’s because hollywood is so disconnected with we the american public, they attack & trash everything the majority of us stand for and represent. Hollywood today might as well be a propaganda arm of the Democrat party, you see folks, back in the old days, hollywood was very patriotic towards this great country and they NEVER put propaganda films that bashed this country and became a thorn in the american public’s side. And you guys studied “HUAC”, where the federal government back in the 1930s & 1940s who were pretty honest by investigating anti-americanism in hollywood, and a few actors & actresses back then were blacklisted from hollywood, and those few actors & actresses called themselves the “Hollywood Ten”!

And as I’ve said in previous post, we need to bring back HUAC back into the political spectrum in this country, because their are plenty of stuff that needs to be investigated with anti-americanism, propaganda, corruption, etc., that goes for the media, federal government, local & state government, hollywood, printing press (newspapers, magazines, etc.), educational system, unions, organized crime groups, etc. All of those stuff that I’ve named are either corrupted or seemed to be corrupted!

“A nation is identified by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on October 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

Debbie, I saw Paranormal Activity II. It was deja vu as I had the exact same annoyance and boredom I had when I suffered through the first one. The only good part was before the movie when I sneaked my contraband organic iced tea past the usher with the old off hand routine. I think my audience that night paid for a good part of the movie’s production cost, too. If I want to see girls with big tushes scream, I don’t need to pay $10.

A1: Ha. Funny. You were forewarned, as I did say it was a lot like the original only scarier. I hear you. The Black audience’s comments at the screening I attended made it funny. DS

A1 on October 23, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Hmmm. Got to admit you’ve got a point about the French woman, Debbie (in Hereafter). She starts off as a CEO basher but comes to realize that left-wing politics are trivial compared to deeper spiritual matters. How often does that happen in a film? Not many times, I think. I can see better why you like the movie so much.

Burke on October 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Off topic: in New York, a gay guy was beaten nearly blinded by Muslim pizza parlor employees for dropping some cheese.

Muslims can get provoked into violence actually over very little.

Don’t frequent pizza parlors owned by Muslims if you value your life.

And do ya think the gay hate angle will be played up by the mass media? Nah.

After all the ROP doesn’t do such things or we’re led to believe.

NormanF on October 25, 2010 at 1:39 am

Avoid ANY movie having ANY connection to Matt Damon. Damon is a hollywood POS: can’t act, can’t think, can’t do anything of value. He is just a another scumbag liberal who is promoted by the perverted hollywood leftists. I give anything with Matt Damon 4 Turds.

Ralph Adamo on October 25, 2010 at 1:43 am

Paranormal activity 2 was boring. The original was a bit scarier but neither had any real scares. I give the guy credit because he made the first one for so few bucks. However, you have to have more intensity. This film just didn’t have any raw terror. The father acted like an idiot and nobody used any logic in looking at the problem.

spaceship22 on October 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I saw “Hereafter” and its really an Eastwood de force. Everything works, from the locations, to the story to the mood down to the final scene.

It leaves one wondering what kind of connection the main characters make in the end but one suspects its personal as well as spiritual.

Its not marketed as a love story but the next to last scene echoes an idea from Dante’s Paradiso: “The love that moves the sun and the other stars.”

In my own experience, I think the hereafter exists since when I had to watch my father suffer as he was dying I wasn’t prepared for I saw after he passed away. I was full of grief but it was tempered by the expression I saw on his face. He seemed to smile and he looked very happy.

I lost my fear of death after realizing my father’s suffering could end on a such a beautiful note, there is hope for all of us that this life is truly not the end of us.

For that G-d gave me a reason to live and I thank Him always for His kindness that he showed by father and me.

The movie speaks to someone all of us have felt in our lives, that our tears and sorrow mean that those we love are never lost to us and that our lives have great meaning.

We have much to thankful for and to show G-d our appreciation even if our stay is brief in this world.

NormanF on March 24, 2011 at 10:46 pm

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