October 10, 2008, - 3:44 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
**** UPDATE, 10/12/08: One thing I forgot to note about “Body of Lies.” It’s executive produced by my distant cousin, Charles J.D. Schlissel, who has also produced other propaganda/BS movies sympathizing with Muslims and portraying Americans as the bad guys, like “Flight Plan“. You know what they say: You can’t pick your family. I don’t know the guy and don’t plan on it. ****
In this week’s reviews, I’ve also included a couple of movies already in theaters (which due to Jewish holidays, etc. I couldn’t screen or review), the brilliant “Flash of Genius” and the lame “Allah Made Me Funny”, plus this week’s new releases. “Quarantine” was not screened for critics, usually a sign that it’s a dud.
* “Body of Lies“: The Good News: This movie wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The Bad News: This movie was horrid and very anti-American.
I had mixed feelings about this movie, but overall it stank. I’ve never seen a movie that had that many explosions and killings that was this boring and pointless. Plus, DiCaprio just looks way too young to be the head of CIA operations in Jordan. It’s not credible.
The reason I have mixed feelings about the movie is that it’s about a CIA counterterrorism operative, Leonardo DiCaprio, who works for a fat, unethical boss in Washington, Russell Crowe. I’m no fan of the CIA, as I believe the agency is pan-Arabist, anti-American, and works counter to the goals of our country. Scholar Laurie Mylroie has written some excellent books on this. This movie essentially makes the same point. Except that the point of this movie is really not about the CIA. It’s against America in general. And that’s why it’s wrong.
Basically, this movie’s message is that America’s counterterrorist operatives overseas set up innocent Muslims and frame them as terrorists, leading to their deaths; that America betrays those Muslims who give us intelligence overseas and lets them be killed by rivals; that basically America is not the good guy in the war on terror. We’re the stupid jerk and scumbag. I’d say that would be accurate domestically for FBI counterterrorism and ICE superiors.
In the war on terror abroad, I’m confident that America is the good guy far more than anyone else. We are not the same as they are.
But writer/director Ridley Scott recently told USA Today he thinks we are morally equivalent to the terrorists. That’s why there’s a horrid scene in which Islamic terrorists hammer off agent DiCrapio’s fingers and tell him, “Welcome to Guantanamo.”
Disgusting. Anyone who compares our kid glove, bountiful halal buffet, La-Z-Boy chair, Harry Potter books and videos treatment of Gitmo prisoners to this, is sick in the head. And that includes not just the makers of this movie, but all of those who act in it and lend their endorsement via their participation.
And, oh yeah, did I mention that agent DiCrapio has a sexy, religious–and largely fictional– Iranian Muslima girlfriend? Talk about smoke and mirrors.
* “City of Ember“: This is, by far, the best new release of this weekend, and it’s great for the whole family, since it’s targeted to kids. I loved this science fiction-meets-doomsday-meets-“Journey to the Center of the Earth” flick. It’s a great adventure and a tribute to individualism versus statist predetermination.
The city of Ember is buried underneath the earth, reliant on an ever-failing generator and Christmas-style lights for illumination. The founders of the city built it to get away from the bad influences of earth, feeling that their future generations would have a better life.
The city is run, almost Communist-state-esque, by a corrupt Mayor–Bill Murray–who steals from the city’s store of food. The citizens survive on old cans of food and the few greens grown at a single greenhouse on the city’s outskirts. Upon graduation, every high school graduate must pick out of a hat to learn his/her new profession for life–menial tasks like pipe-worker and messenger.
But as the generator’s blackouts get longer and longer and come more frequently, a few realize that the city’s future may soon end. Among those few are an entrepreneurial boy and a girl who’ve just received their live’s assignments and aren’t looking forward to it. Together, they exercise their individualist spirit to find a way out and up to earth. But they face many obstacles, not the least of which are Mayor Murray and his supporters.
Yes, lefty Tim Robbins is in this, but only in a minor role and he leaves the politics at home.
Charming, magical, and fun.
* “The Express“: There were points–many points–during this movie that I thought I was watching a Barack Obama campaign commercial. And, since star Dennis Quaid–who plays the Syracuse coach of Ernie Davis, the first Black man to win the Heisman Trophy–is in the tank for Obama, I don’t think this is a coincidence.
This is the story of Davis, his football-playing days at Syracuse and how he, sadly, died of Leukemia before he ever got to play a down for Art Modell’s Cleveland Browns, with his hero and friend Jim Brown. But this is no “Brian’s Song.” Not even close. Instead, it’s filled with sports movie cliches and seems old hat and manipulative.
In fact it is. I already saw this movie in 2006. Then, it was called, “Glory Road“, and instead of college football, the racial-barrier-breaking sports movie was about college basketball. Different sport, same difference. Both movies had an over-dramatic coach, in this one Quaid far over-acts. Both had similar scenes in bars where athletes went to dance because Blacks weren’t allowed in other places. Both had the racists that I know existed. But it seems like the same lines and same script over and over again.
Still, there are touching moments in this movie, like seeing Ernie Davis with his family, or how as a boy he learned to run fast from racist boys who wanted to beat him. And it’s sad when he learns he is sick with Leukemia. I would have liked to learn more about Ernie Davis the person. The parts that showed that and some of the racism he endured were moving. The scenes of NAACP meeting urging a boycott of Kresge, not so much. Those were the parts that reminded me of an Obama commercial. That and other hackneyed lines and scenarios.
Still, Rob Brown as Ernie Davis is phenomenal. He steals the movie, and I expect to see him more of him on the silver screen.
With all the “evil White guy” movies out there, I can’t wait ’til they make the movie about a White guy trying to make the Syracuse team in 2008.
* “Flash of Genius“: This is one of the best movies of the year–definitely the best still in theaters. It’s a testament to the individual versus the collective. As someone who is often plagiarized and ripped off, I especially liked this story of one man’s fight to claim the credit that was stolen from him.
It’s the true story of a Detroit engineering professor Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear), who invents the intermittent windshield wiper, inspired by the loss of vision in one of his eyes. Ford Motor Company steals it from him, and he loses everything–his unsupportive, dream-killer wife, his kids, his job, and his livelihood–in his long fight to get credit and royalties for his invention.
I loved the fight in this man, who turned down a $30 million settlement from Ford because they would not credit him for his invention. The best parts are the scenes in a courtroom in which this non-lawyer single-handedly takes on Ford. Kinnear is at his best here.
Great lessons in this movie for your whole family and a tribute to the sacrifice and–sometimes–victory of the entrepreneurial spirit and individualism.
* “Allah Made Me Funny“: More like, “Allah Took Away the Funny”. This is basically a filmed version of one night at the “Allah Made Me Funny” tour, a traveling group of three Muslim comedians who aren’t funny. I laughed once during this almost 1.5 hours, which seemed far longer. Here’s a tip to the Palestinian uncomedian: yelling doesn’t make you funny. It doesn’t make your old, tired jokes from the fifties any less stale.
The stand-up routine is also filled with plenty of anti-White, anti-Southern, and anti-American jokes. Thanks, allah. Haha, funny. Predictably, the audience shots are filled with Muslims laughing like crazy at every single humorless utterance. I guess when your life is dominated by the “Religion of Peace”, everything seems funnier if it doesn’t involve IEDs, honor killings, and repression.
They also show us dumb, uninteresting clips of each comedian with his family. I loved how the Palestinian Muslim’s daughter is Elyse Gutierrez. I think I’d take my mother’s name, too, if I were her.