October 17, 2008, - 1:08 pm

Weekend Box Office: “W.” Helms Bevy of Skipworthy Dreck; Still Running Western “Appaloosa” Not Bad

By Debbie Schlussel
I was unable to screen “Max Payne”, the latest vehicle of convicted criminal thug and racist Mark Wahlberg, which is based on a video game and is being universally panned by critics. I also skipped the screening of raunch-fest “Sex Drive”, which sounds disgusting. I’m including reviews of “Quarantine”, “Appaloosa”, “Battle in Seattle”, and “Miracle at St. Anna”, which I was unable to screen previously for various reasons:
* “W.“: Readers of this site know I’m no fan of George W. Bush and that I feel, as does this movie, that the guy is a lightweight and not very intelligent (the movie gets his “nuke-yuh-ler” pronunciation down pat).
But this movie was awful. It was like watching a prolonged very bad “Saturday Night Live” sketch. It was just stupid and silly, not to mention long and boring. What was two hours seemed like four. And I’m not sure what the point was, unless you and I need a selective refresher of a few things that happened over the last eight years. And, frankly, we don’t. We’re tired of it already. We just lived it . . . and are still living it. So, why would we want to see a dopey movie about it?

wposter.jpgsecretlifeofbees.jpg

The good news for conservatives: The movie wasn’t as bad in its portrayal of Bush as I expected. The bad news: like I said, the movie stank. The movie actually shows Bush making some smarter comments and observations in White House meetings than I thought he’d be portrayed as making, in this movie.
And it is true to life in showing Bush say he wants democracy spread throughout the Middle East and that he doesn’t care what kind of governments it brings in, so long as they’re democratically elected. Too bad that Stone doesn’t have the guts to show us the consequences of this dumb Bush policy. To wit, that this policy ushered in HAMAS, helped bring Hezbollah to power in Lebanon, and brought Iranian-allied Shi’ites to the helm of Iraq. That is the true Bush legacy, and would have been presented in a smart movie, which this isn’t. It’s just a clownish shell.
“W.” skips over 9/11, like it was a tiny ketchup stain on a black carpet. Not a mention, of course, of any of the biggest mistakes of the W years, to which we conservatives object: the lack of any substantive new restrictions on immigration since 9/11, the Bush push for illegal alien amnesty, and the palling around with and inviting to the White House of extremist Muslims of every variety.
And here’s where more of the unfairness comes in. It’s not just the selective quotes from Bush, many of which he actually, publicly said, if in a slightly different forum or context. It’s that the movie uses endless close-ups of Bush’s face and his Christian minister’s disfigured, sleazy visage, as if that is supposed to tell us: “Hey, they’re evil.” Sorry, but that doesn’t tell me a thing. It’s just a cheap Hollywood form of manipulation that didn’t work on me.
Nor do endless scenes of Bush and his cronies eating and drinking. Just another two-bit ploy. Is Bush the only person in America–the only person in politics–who eats, the only one who supposedly ever got part of his sandwich on his face? HUH? That’s just a baloney tactic and not very good manipulation. The same goes for the scene in which Bush choked on a pretzel. It’s almost as if Stone is cheering on this real-life event because he wanted Bush to die. Has none of us ever choked on anything because our throats are “smarter” than Bush’s? Dumb.
The other characters in the movie are like cartoons and caricatures. Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, or as we call her on this site, “Condi Clueless”–I just couldn’t take much of. While the movie gets her shallowness, lack of knowledge or contribution to anything substantive, and incessant pandering to Bush right, the voice that actress Thandie Newton used to sound like her, sounded like a woman with a stick up her rear. On the real Condi, that sorta works. But on this actress, it was incongruous and gave me a severe case of cognitive dissonance.
The other people, Bush’s father, George Tenet, Karl Rove, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney (played by uber-liberal Richard Dreyfuss), and Rumsfeld really didn’t look much like their real-life counterparts, but for the hair. And they were cartoons of themselves. They engaged in fictional conversations that probably never happened. So what’s the point? I mean, other than to further unfairly villainize Cheney and Rumsfeld, who were actually the good guys in this sorry administration.
The Laura Bush character is totally off the mark, showing her as a sweet, supportive, non-influential member of the Bush marriage, when in reality she’s a tough, liberal woman who donned a Muslim headscarf and dissed her husband because he announced he wanted Bin Laden “dead or alive.” That’s not depicted in “W” because why worry about fact versus fiction?
Josh Brolin looks a lot like Bush in the White House scenes, but as a younger “W”, he looks more like James Brolin (Josh’s father and Barbra Streisand’s BoyToy).
Much of the movie focuses on Bush’s early life as the Bush family black sheep, as a drunken loser who drifts from job to job while his father helps him via his cronies. It shows Bush as a failure at most things until he’s able to finagle his father’s friends in a shady financial deal that gets him the Texas Rangers team ownership without putting in much of his own financing. That story is true, but it’s only mentioned once and not examined at all. We also see dreams that Bush has. Dream sequences on a real life story in which none of the participants cooperated with the movie, is always a sign of trouble . . . and fiction. Not to mention, stupidity.
The movie tries to be, at once, a comedy (and there were some funny parts at which I laughed, but just a scant few) and a serious take on an eight-year Presidency that isn’t even done yet. It doesn’t show us anything about history and impact over time.
But that’s not the reason Oliver Stone made this movie. It’s no accident this movie comes out now, about two weeks from the election. In case you doubt that, Oliver Stone shows you footage of John McCain cheering a Bush State of the Union address.
“W.” is irrelevant and a waste of time. You can get the same by staying at home and watching Keith Olbermann or CNN. And those are insufferable, too.
THREE MARXES
karlmarxmovies.jpgkarlmarxmovies.jpgkarlmarxmovies.jpg
* “The Secret Life of Bees“: More like “The Not So-Secret Life of How to Waste Two Hours of Your Life”. This movie was yet another Obama commercial, replete with not so subtle reverse racism.
Based on a fiction novel, this is the story of a young Southern teen, played by Dakota Fanning, and her Black housekeeper, played by Jennifer Hudson, who flee Fanning’s abusive father and racism against the housekeeper in the mid-1960s (Lyndon Johnson is running for President and the Civil Rights Act has just passed). Fanning’s mother is dead and she never really knew her.
She finds a map and hints that take her to a town where three Black sisters keep beehives and sell honey for a living, where they are sheltered from their life on the run and fanning gets a Black boyfriend who is beaten by White racists. The three sisters include Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys. (You know it’s a bad movie when three singers are playing lead roles.)
The movie is maudlin, manipulative, and full of comments like “They [White people] hate us so much, but we raise their kids fo’ em’.” The ending is predictable, and what goes on in the middle is silly and boring. There’s constant melodramatic symphonic music playing in the background, telling me how I’m supposed to feel. It was annoying.
Yes, there was tremendous racism in the South. But this sappy movies about the evil White American man versus the saintly Black women who raise bees and save the abused White child, just didn’t cut it. But, hey, it’s just in time for plenty of people to see it before the November election.
TWO MARXES
karlmarxmovies.jpgkarlmarxmovies.jpg
quarantine.jpgappaloosa.jpg

* “Quarantine“: This extremely bloody and violent doomsday-style movie–about people stuck in a building quarantined because it contains a quick-spreading strain of rabies–is a low-budget film that’s high up in box office receipts. But I found it to be annoying and a waste of time. It’s a cheap rip-off of far superior movies, like “28 Days Later” and “Night of the Living Dead.”
The most annoying part of this movie is star Jennifer Carpenter, who plays a giggly airhead TV reporter, who constantly whimpers and yells and screams. Enough already. I wanted to kill her before the rabid humans did. On the other hand, she demonstrated well how useless, ignorant, and idiotic TV news reporters are, and how they invade privacy, get in the way of things, make them worse, and jeopardize lives.
The best part of this movie–other than when credits rolled–was when a religious Muslim Somali couple is located in the building. They can’t speak English and can’t understand what is going on, a perfect demonstration of why we don’t need more non-English speaking aliens in America and how their lack of English skills can endanger lives.
ONE-A-HALF MARXES
karlmarxmovies.jpghalfkarlmarx.jpg
* “Appaloosa“: It pains me greatly to praise a movie starring dual Marxists Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Harris, who also directed, was one of the most outspoken critics of the Lifetime Achievement Oscar given to anti-Communist, patriotic director Elia Kazan, a few years ago at the Academy Awards. He and his girlfriend, Amy Madigan, markedly sat on their hands when Kazan received his award, while others applauded. It was disgusting.
That said, this movie isn’t bad, as pure Westerns go. Harris plays a Marshal–Mortensen, his deputy–in a town that is run by a gang of murderous thugs headed by Jeremy Irons. They are brought in to bring law and order and justice to the town. Harris is sometimes overzealous, and his zealotry gets in the way of seeing through his new girlfriend, Renee Zellweger. A good juxtaposition of good and evil in the Old West, but not nearly as good as the infinitely far superior “3:10 to Yuma” (read my review) remake, starring Christian Bale.
TWO REAGANS
reagancowboy.jpgreagancowboy.jpg
battleinseattle.jpgmiracleatstanna.jpg

* “Battle in Seattle“: Charlize Theron’s D-List actor boyfriend wanted to make a stupid movie glorifying protestors at the WTO conference in Seattle. So she obliged along with several other actors and made this annoying, irrelevant, pointless piece of tripe. Protestors were violent and disrupted a city and a conference because they didn’t like possible future treatment of some turtles. Therefore, they are worthy of glorification and exaltation? I don’t think so. But they are the heroes in this movie. Long, boring, a complete waste of time. Oh, and it also co-stars the annoying Jennifer Carpenter who stars in “Quarantine” (see above review). Blechhhh.
FOUR MARXES
karlmarxmovies.jpgkarlmarxmovies.jpgkarlmarxmovies.jpgkarlmarxmovies.jpg
* “Miracle at St. Anna“: Out of all the great, true stories of heroic sacrifices Black soldiers made in World War II, anti-Semite Spike Lee chose to make this fictional, almost three hours of gobbledy-gook. This movie was a mess, replete with flashbacks and flash-forwards and pointless scenes and dialogue.
Long, boring, slow, this is the story of a Black WWII soldier who, years later, shoots a man while working at a post office. Soon, we see his story and that of his three unit mates as they traverse part of Italy during World War II, first fighting the Nazis, then fighting with a racist, incompetent commander and staying with an Italian family, as they struggle to return to their fellow troops and save an Italian orphan. Weaved into this are stories of partisans against the Nazis hiding in the forest, but also betrayed by their own and a mysterious head from a statue.
Also mixed in was the story of one of the Black troops, played by Michael Ealy, who is a creep and lecherous, bedding an Italian woman he targets for his predations. He’s not exactly something I’d say sheds light on Black heroism during WWII. In fact, he embodies the most negative of stereotypes.
A female lawyer in the movie says things to a judge that would be grounds for disbarment in real-life. Would never happen.
Like I said, this movie was long and a mess and really took away from the heroism of the story. It was a mish-mosh, not a movie. It never ends, and I was very happy–and antsy and tired–when it did.
If I were to make a film on the sacrifices and heroism of America’s Black soldiers during WWII, I’d make a movie of this story.
Miracle at St. Anna just belittles their contributions. It doesn’t honor them the way they deserve. The ending was touching but it wasn’t worth the almost three hours of boredom and annoyance to get there.
ONE-AND-A-HALF MARXES
karlmarxmovies.jpghalfkarlmarx.jpg

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Print Friendly, PDF & Email






9 Responses

Never liked Oliver Stone. His movies are always way too long and his camera angles can cause dizziness.
About Quarantine, it’s actually a remake of a far superior Spanish horror film called [REC]. The premise is the same but the cause of the infection is not and the fact that they did change it for the remake is pathetic. The cause of it in [REC] is much more interesting and will peak the viewer’s interest greatly. I recommend seeing the original, it’s so much better it’s not even funny. Also, the reporter in the original is not annoying.

solitary_dan on October 17, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Deb, I agree with the elections in Iraq being idiotic. We should have installed Pro USA dictator instead. But Hamas is no worse than Arafat and I have no idea how you can blame Hezzbollah on Bush. Hezzbollah can be blamed on Israel not having the balls to take them out.
[DD: VERY EASILY. 1) BUSH PUSHED LEBANON TO HAVE REGIONAL AND PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS AT A TIME THE PRESIDENT DIDN’T WANT TO HAVE THEM. THIS ELECTED MORE HEZBOLLAH MEMBERS THAN EVER, AND ALSO RESULTED IN A DEAL IN WHICH HEZBOLLAH HAD VETO POWER OVER ALL MINISTERS CHOSEN FOR THE LEBANESE GOVT. AND ALL ACTIONS TAKEN. 2) BUSH PUSHED ISRAEL TO STOP ITS WAR AGAINST HEZBOLLAH. 3) BUSH DIDN’T HELP THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT FIGHT HEZBOLLAH. BUSH IS VERY MUCH AT FAULT. ANYONE WHO SAYS THEY HAVE NO IDEA HOW BUSH CAN BE BLAMED FOR THE SITUATION IS AT LEAST TELLING THE TRUTH–THEY DO HAVE NO IDEA. DS]

Dennis D on October 17, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hey Debbie even though I voted for Bush twice (and I don’t regret it because Gore and Kerry would have been far worse, sort of like trading a toothache for 4 wisdom teeth extractions), actually voted for his goofy father twice as well even though I hated his freaking guts, and I think he surrounded himself with incompetents and was too much interested in “reaching across the aisle” to the Democrats, you cannot expect him to be a bigger Zionist then the pieces of pie excrement who ‘ran’ Israel during the last war – Ehud Olmerde the vain, incompetent, insolent and cowardly nonentity of a Prime Minister (whose true leftist colors have come out), Tzipi Livni (she was the one pushing the premature cease fire), bumbling in over his head chief of staff Dan Halutz, and the Obamian clown Amir Peretz as the criminally out of his league Defense Minister. Your anger should be directed at those pack of fools (most of whom really do deserve to be executed). I think the public will view this film as an unnecessary and ‘piling on’ hatchet job and will skip it in droves.
[R: YOU ARE RIGHT. PILING ON AND A HATCHET JOB ARE GREAT SUMMATIONS OF THIS MOVIE. AND I AGREE, BUSH WAS BETTER THAN THE ALTERNATIVE, BUT, SADLY, NOT ENOUGH BETTER. DS]

Ripper on October 17, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Only two Marxes for “Secret life of bees”? Only one and a half Marxes for Spiteful Lee’s latest propaganda?Based on your review, it deserves four – all of Spite’s films deserve four.

OldSchoolW on October 18, 2008 at 12:18 pm

“The Laura Bush character is totally off the mark, showing her as a sweet, supportive, non-influential member of the Bush marriage, when in reality she’s a tough, liberal woman who donned a Muslim headscarf and dissed her husband because he announced he wanted Bin Laden “dead or alive.” That’s not depicted in “W” because why worry about fact versus fiction?”
Debbie Schlussel is too damn smart for her own good: This is the best analysis of Laura Bush (by a conservative patriot) I have ever read. Hell, even the famous Mark Steyn mistook Laura for a sweet lady. Sweet, indeed! Thank you, Debbie!

gunjam on October 18, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Debbie, thank you for telling it like it is about “Bees” and, especially, “St. Anna.” Enough with the reverse racism and affirmative action: I respectfully submit that Spike Lee is overrated and only where he is because of his skin’s melanin content.

gunjam on October 18, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Ed Harris is indeed a Marxist. It is hardly an exaggeration to label him as such.
Strange, isn’t it? Marxists in Hollywood always seem anxious to be Marxist with OTHER people’s money and not their own.

There is NO Santa Claus on October 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm

I sure hope only a few kooks take Oliver Stoned seriously these days. Thankfully, it seems this movie doesn’t have any buzz and will be a flop, disappearing quickly.
Oliver Stoned seems totally nuts. Not the brilliant nuts type, but really nuts.
At least he made one of my all time fave comedies, JFK. That was one of the most silly, inept films. It’s a modern day Plan 9 from Outer Space for me, with the corny acting, the stereotypes (Everyone addresses Garrison, “Bawwwwwwssssss”), and the ridiculous storyline.

Jeff_W on October 19, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Miracle at St. Anna sounds like “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Malcolm X”: a dull, pointless movie. If there’s a more overrated director than Spike Lee, perhaps it’s Oliver Stone.

richardzowie on October 20, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field