October 7, 2011, - 5:47 pm

Wknd Box Office: Ides of March, Real Steel, Margaret

By Debbie Schlussel

Don’t hate me for liking the loathsome far-left wacko George Clooney’s new political thriller, “The Ides of March.”  But it’s the best of the new movies out this weekend and it’s really against his side of the aisle.  Sort of.


* “The Ides of March“:  Like many of you, I loathe the self-righteous, far-left king of arrogance, George Clooney, who directed and co-stars in a small part in this movie.  But I have to be honest, as it’s an entertaining and tightly woven political thriller.  It’s message isn’t new.  Not even close.  We all know politics is dirty.  So, it’s not original.  But it’s well done, if a little melodramatic and convenient.  And, if it’s any comfort, this movie is about the sleazebags on the Democratic side of the aisle.  In fact, Clooney’s character–a far-left, atheist governor who is running in the Democratic primary against an older, more conservative candidate–is a scumbag, a man with few morals who pretends to have them (like almost every other elected official).

The real star of this, though, is Ryan Gosling.  He plays a young, bright rising star in Democratic politics who is a little naive, despite his seasoning and experience.  As second in command and the media director of Clooney’s Presidential campaign, he has a relationship with a young campaign intern (Evan Rachel Wood) while at the same time, he makes an unrelated misstep and gets pinned every which way by it.  But he has an accidental ace to play that could cause a lot of people pain and change the race.  To say any more would give it away.  Aside from Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman is terrific as the campaign manager.  Paul Giamatti is good, too, as the rival candidate’s Machiavellian campaign manager. Marisa Tomei is a sleazy New York Times reporter.

While I prefer the less melodramatic “The Candidate,” that’s not a thriller, really.  This is.  And it slowly builds to thick suspense.  Liberals are the hypocrites and the enemies in this one, even if the message is supposed to be that all politics (left and right) is dirty.  It is.

The movie was shot in Michigan and was, unfortunately, subsidized by Michigan taxpayers with a Michigan film tax credit.  Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” (he told Republicans and conservatives to vote for Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in the later Democratic primaries) is mentioned more than once and scores a plot point in the election machinations.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Real Steel“:  I enjoyed this a little more than most critics, who panned it.  I enjoyed the ultimate close father-son dynamic, even if it’s not new–we’ve seen the “father and abandoned/neglected young son reunite and team up to help the down-and-out-on-his-luck father fight and bring home a championship and money” scenario before in “The Champ” and “Over the Top.”  (Those  had real boxing and arm-wrestling competitions and this one has the father operating the robot who does the fighting.)  But it’s been a long time since those flicks.  Most movies, today, ridicule fathers or portray them as absentee deadbeats.  So this was a pleasant change in that respect.

Still, the story was a little lacking in something, and the kid was a little too upbeat and saccharine throughout.  In fact, the actor Dakota Goyo in this film resembles David Mendenhall when he played the kid in “Over the Top.”  But this is aimed at kids and families.  And, for them, it’s fine.  It’s based on a “Twilight Zone” episode, starring Lee Marvin, about a down-and-out man who operates an old, out of date boxing robot, and when the robot doesn’t work, he poses as a robot and fights, himself.

The story is different here.  The year is 2027 (and the good or bad news is that in 2027 little has changed from 2011, including clothes, cars, etc.).  Hugh Jackman similarly plays a down-and-out man operating a mechanical robot, which gets destroyed in a fight with a bull.  He has no money left or any way to earn a living, without his robot.  But he learns that he had a son with an ex-girlfriend, who just died.  And when he goes to court for the custody hearing, he essentially sells the kid to his dead girlfriend’s sister and her husband for $100,000.  He gets half now and will get half when he turns the kid in after the summer.  Jackman uses the cash to buy a new robot, and the movie follows Jackman and his newfound son’s travails and struggles with new and old robots, as they struggle to make a living in fights with other robots at various venues.  At first, Jackman doesn’t want his son, but predictably they grow closer together as they struggle and grow together.

It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not great, either.  There are cool special effects and visuals.  And if you like boxing, you might like the boxing action and moves.  The robot and the kid break-dancing is cute, too.  But Jackman’s accent comes through the whole time, and he definitely doesn’t sound like he’s an American.  There are many scenes shot in Detroit venues, as this, too, was financed with the Michigan film tax credit subsidy from Michigan taxpayers.

Entertaining, but not a great or tight story.  And, as I said, it’s fine for families.

TWO REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Margaret“:  Possibly THE most annoying movie I’ve ever seen, complete with the most universally annoying, self-absorbed characters ever.  And it’s 2.5 hours–which felt like five hours–to boot.  Waaaay tooooo looooong.  It had like  a million side stories and tangents with as many characters.  The only likable guy in this movie was a cop and the only good scene is when an annoying Upper East Side New York Jewish woman throws her drink on a Hispanic/French man who says Jews and Israelis are “Oppressors.”  Like that–the water-throwing part–would ever happen.  The Upper East Side Jewish liberal would probably agree with the Jew-hater, which is why she probably voted for Barack Obama.  The people who made this movie have to be Jew-hating Jews, too because many of the characters are overtly Jewish and completely obnoxious and annoying. And that’s aside from the endless melodramatic screaming, crying, whining, yelling, etc. OYYYYYYY!

The story:  Lisa Cohen (whose father is Jewish and mother isn’t–they tell you this and every other detail), played by Anna Paquin, is a spoiled brat, self-absorbed Upper East Side liberal who goes to a fancy private school, where Matt Damon and Matthew Broderick are her teachers.  She is looking for a cowboy hat for a horseback riding trip to a New Mexico ranch with her divorced dad, but can’t find one she likes.  So, when she sees a New York bus driver wearing one, she distracts him from driving when she chases after the bus, flirts with him, and tries to get his attention so she can find out where he got his hat.  Because she distracts him, he runs over a woman when he runs a red light.  The woman’s leg is severed, and she bleeds so much that she dies.

Lisa lies and tells the police the light was green.  She never mentions to anyone that this was all her fault because she’s a spoiled monster with no conscience and distracted the driver.  But, soon, she decides the driver must pay, so she changes her story, researches the woman who died, seduces and sleeps with her teacher, sleeps with a druggie friend of hers, and tries to get the cops to arrest the bus driver. We also see multiple scenes of her self-absorbed, oblivious Broadway actress mother and her dating and sex life. Uh, no thanks.

I really couldn’t take this horrible movie, and yet, I had to sit through almost three hours of this crap.  YUCK!  And that doesn’t even include the multiple scenes of a Syrian Muslim student attacking America and defending HAMAS terrorists and the 9/11 hijackers.  Why was that in this movie?  Or, rather, why does this movie exist at all?  Absolute garbage.

Skip at all cost.

FOUR MARXES PLUS A BIN LADEN
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Watch the trailer . . .

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17 Responses

Oh wow. That film “Margaret” sounds like a film made to torture people like me who don’t take kindly to sociopathic Liberals. You are like me though, and saw through that even though they tried to show her as a “good person” after all… there was no way you were buying it. That movie would be like Chinese torture to me!

Hugh Jackman! I love Australia and the Aussies but to me, he has always seemed so poncey! Not my favourite Australian…by a country mile and he does NOT have the talent of Guy Pearce or Joel Edgerton…or Geoffrey Rush and the recently deceased (but greatly celebrated!) actor Bill Hunter…a national treasure. I’d prolly only enjoy his Aussie accent breaking through. It’s one of the hardest accents to do as well as tamp down. Although a good Brit actor (Cary Elwes) also had a hard time keeping the bugger out of his Yank roles.

Sexist George Clooney. Such a righteous uber-Liberal who can’t help but ooze out all he wishes to keep hidden. Such a compulsion to confess. I always enjoy watching his latest chippy thinking that she’s all kool-and-the-gang with him, but anyone with a brain know good, old Liberal George doesn’t respect women and he will dump her cute arse as soon as a new chippy comes along. And so it goes…tick-tock, tick-tock…

Skunky on October 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Real Steel or lifesize Rock’em Sock’em Robots?!..remember those, kids? I really wanted that toy but my parents were too cheap to buy it.
Anyway, they could have easily explained the Aussie accent in a sentence or two, you know like he just spent the last ten years studying the mating habits of platypusses or something.

DS: “It’s based on a “Twilight Zone” episode, starring Lee Marvin, about a down-and-out man who operates an old, out of date boxing robot, and when the robot doesn’t work, he poses as a robot and fights, himself.”
Weird ’cause I thought I knew Twilight Zone like the back of my hand but I don’t remember that one. Anyone recall the title?

As for looney Clooney, any chance he might be a closet Conservative posing as a liberal to keep in good standing with the other loons in Hollyweird?…just a thought, but probably NOT.

theShadow on October 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Nevermind, found it on NetFlix. Season 5, episode 2, simply titled ‘Steel’. Let’s see if it jogs my memory.

    theShadow on October 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    LOL Shadow! Your post had me howlin’!

    :D

    Skunky on October 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    The Twilight Zone episode WAS “Steel.” Just “Steel.”

    It was a gritty down and outer story. This one involved a dad who was also down and out, but once upon a time WAS somebody. Briefly.

    I took my 7 year old to see it. There was one scene (Semi-spoiler) involving the dad getting beat up that might be too tough for kids, but probably not—no significant gore. Most of the violence involves robots (and, incidentally, “Robot Wars” WAS a very popular TV show on cable for a while, so, yeah, there’s an audience for this), and thus is not particularly scary. Ike loved it.

    Occam's Tool on October 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Real Steel is executive produced by Spielberg and it seems like his kind of movie: dumbed-down, simple-minded, sloppily sentimental, with lots of gadgets and special effects. It panders narrowly to the eight-year-old-boy demographic, presenting Dakota Goyo as a street-smart tyke who gets his way (at one point) by threatening to throw the car keys down the sewer grating if his dad doesn’t do his bidding. In general, the film is a power fantasy for boys who think owning and controlling a robot and at the same time teaching their dad important life lessons would be cool. I found the story boringly obvious on the one hand and unhealthily anarchic and narcissistic on the other in the way it presented kids as smarter than their parents.

Ides of March for me was unrelieved torture–just as Margaret apparently was for you, Debbie. Clooney plays a Democratic candidate with a saintly vision: to eliminate the internal combustion engine “within ten years.” In that way, terrorism will naturally just evaporate because there will be no more dependance on Middle Eastern oil. See how that works? Of course. There were many scenes showing how backward Republicans were for opposing gay marriage and not wanting to elect atheists into the presidency. It was pointed out also that redistributing wealth isn’t really “socialism”–that’s just an evilly concocted word to “scare people.” It’s not really socialism, but rather…ummm, uhhh… well, it’s really just caring about the less fortunate. Yes, that’s it. In other words, the film was an excuse to propagate slickly packaged, Hollywood-favored Democratic talking points.

Clooney frequently plays people who begin as flawed characters caught up in dirty, conservative systems but who eventually become spiritually reborn as uncorrupted and spiritually enlightened liberals. Examples of this paradigm are the Clooney films The American and The Cleaner–and Up in the Air follows this plotline, too, except the end is bittersweet because the Clooney character never finally “gets it” even though he should. This film reverses the dynamic, though, showing how certain characters who begin as liberally enlightened and pure idealists eventually get caught up in the “dirty” mechanics of real-world politics. But the basic assumptions are the same and it’s the other side of the same coin: liberals-as-victims caught in a world of conservative greed and dirt, woe be to them, if only they could free themselves from all this mud of unwashed bitter-clinger fly-over-country attitudes, they and we could finally enter a kingdom of unicorn-and-rainbow liberal-fascist heaven.

Burke on October 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Burke, you pretty much nailed Spielberg movies. I never was able to put into words the sentiment that caused me to not like his films.

    PitandPen on October 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks, PitandPen. I think you can guess I’m not Spielberg’s greatest fan. I will say in Real Steel’s favor that at least it wasn’t crammed with obnoxious liberal politics like many of Spielberg’s other films. Mainly it was just a dumbed-down bonding film between a jackass of a father and his adorably cute and plucky son. Spielberg’s last (produced) film Super 8, on the other hand–essentially a remake of ET with all its flaws– also included a lot of propaganda about the evil military and that made that film doubly repellant.

      Burke on October 9, 2011 at 10:37 am

I don’t know why, but I usually never listen to critics. For some reason, I respect your overly critical reviews. I just wished you covered more.

Forsberg on October 8, 2011 at 2:30 am

Real Steel aka “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots the Movie”.

Might go see it, though…

Alan on October 8, 2011 at 3:29 am

Although it doesn’t show in the credits, Ides of March was also shot partially in Cincinnati, Ohio & Oxford, Ohio. The fawning of the talking heads & reporters on Cincinnati TV news, as well as the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, has been, & continues to be, nauseating. I’m not a George Clooney fan, never have been, & never will be. He’s just another brainless, out-of-touch, reality-challenged lefty who would fit right in with the “Occupy” mob.

Tony on October 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Every time I hear Clooney’s name, I think of that South Park episode “Smug Alert”. Best South Park ever, right up there with the “Night of the Living Homeless”.

pitandpen on October 8, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    No one in Hollywood is more smug than Clooney. That’s why liberals adore him. He’s their perfect role model. Feeling smugly superior is part of their ideology and mythology. They are the rational and superior elite in their own eyes and therefore the ones most qualified to tell the rest of us ignorant hillbillies what, where and how much we should eat, what we should teach and learn in government schools, and how we should raise our children. Just look at Joe’s comment right below. Joe came to Debbie’s site and confirmed in his mind how stoooopid Debbie is because her posts and articles don’t conform to politically correct views that everyone else in the LSM parrots. Instead, as he discovered, she views literally hundreds of current releases each year and gives closely reasoned, conservative analyses of the underlying subtext of each one of these. Now that’s just plain stooooopid of Debbie, isn’t it?

    (BTW, I have to agree with you, Poe fan, about the South Park “Night of the Living Homeless” episode which more than being just a clever parody of zombie films is artful political satire of the best kind on par with what Shaw, Voltaire and Aristophanes were doing in their day. Three cheers for conservative iconoclasts–Trey Parker, Debbie Schlussel, Thomas Sowell, Solzhenitsyn and Edmund Burke all included.)

    Burke on October 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

I read that “Margaret” was delayed from release for some 6 years due to legal reasons, sounds like it should’ve been permanently delayed.

No offense, but I have no interest in movie about New York Jews, or pretty much anything New York for that matter. I guess to movie makers, all that’s required for a movie “compelling” is to set it in New York City or maybe Los Angeles and have a bunch of scumbag characters that no one in real life would ever want to be around (SEE also one of the worst Oscar winners ever “CRASH”. )

Reel Steel vs Fake Flakes on October 9, 2011 at 9:34 pm

““Margaret“: Possibly THE most annoying movie I’ve ever seen”

More annoying than “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”?

Solomon2 on October 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

Personally, though a conservative, I don’t care what George Clooney’s off-camera politics are. On-camera is where it counts. And the trailer, at least, looks great.

The trope about “liberal propaganda” is way overdone. Everyone has a point of view — novelists, painters, playwrights. Movie-makers are no different. They’re not here to reinforce imagined preexisting mass viewpoints, as though a movie is nothing more than an “uplifting” political rally. Film has to be understood in the context of the filmmaker.

I also must rise in defense of Steven Spielberg. His sentimental father-son bonding side is but one aspect of his filmmalking; he also made “Minority Report,” “The Terminal,” “A.I. (“Artificial Intelligence),” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Catch Me if You Can.” I don’t see an “E.T.” there, although “A.I.” came a little close.

Seek on October 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

I always enjoy your comments, Seek, and I think you do a particularly good job of articulating your point of view this week. You are not only consistent in this argument of yours, you also have excellent film knowledge as well. I appreciate that.

As for Spielberg, I like several of his films, two of which you mentioned (A.I. and Minority Report). However, in my opinion, many of his movies do have certain unpleasant qualities which I listed, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, just read what commenter PitandPen above wrote–that I “nailed it.” Debbie, of course, liked Real Steel; and, also, by the way, she liked Super 8 (which I hated)–proving that there’s something more to film evaluation than looking merely at its politics.

The basic plot of E.T. is that a kindly alien (in type representing the liberal professorial class) is harassed and tortured by the U.S. military. The basic plot of Super 8 is that an innocent alien (in type representing noble savages which liberals have taken on as mascots) is harassed and tortured by the U.S. military. Structurally the films are the same, then; also, the narcissistic manner of making the children’s world the world of the film is the same.

Debbie’s posts are all about seeing the political and cultural subtext of a film, and she points out values that are implied by this subtext. For example, she’s aware of the lewdness and profanity in a film and believes that’s part of a film’s value-structure. Along these lines, last week she reviewed What’s Your Number where the main character played a self-satisfied slut. I suppose you think that her “judging” such a film on the basis of the moral qualities of the main character is somehow wrong because movies shouldn’t be intended to be an “uplifting cultural rally” (adapting your own phrase) that reinforces good, sound morals and behavior. Or do you think there’s a place for criticism of the moral subtext of a film along with further observations made about what this indicates about our culture’s general degradation? If you do think it’s okay to be critical of the subtext of morals in a film, why isn’t it okay to be critical of the subtext of political assumptions in a film? In Ides of March, there’s a non-stop barrage of phony liberal arguments intended to knock down straw-men conservatism. Do you think simply noting this fact along with the fact that the film’s auteur Clooney who wrote, directed and produced is a hard-left liberal with a political axe to grind is so completely irrelevant to the film’s analysis?

Obviously Debbie looks at more than simply the politics of the actors, directors and producers, otherwise she wouldn’t recommend and speak positively about films like Ides of March, Super 8, Midnight in Paris, Up in the Air and many others made by socialist filmmakers. At least, though, she’s more honest and upfront about her views than the sneaky weasels in the mainstream media who pretended that Avatar was a masterpiece despite its crude and clunky liberal shibboleths and didacticism yet universally panned the film Atlas Shrugged even though it was a fine interpretation of an important classic.

I might mention in passing that my own particular favorite movie of this year by far is Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, and there is perhaps not any film so suffused with left-wing views and philosophy or originating from so hard-left a filmmaker. But what I liked is that the film was originally stated and created– more than just a list of smug talking points which Hollywood accepts as fact, but something new, executed with daring concept and style. I think in general Debbie feels similarly (although she loathed that particular film): sometimes greatness or unusually compelling entertainment value transcends a corrupting subtext. That’s not close-mindedness; it’s simple honesty.

Burke on October 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

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