August 24, 2012, - 7:05 pm
I enjoyed one of the three new movie releases in theaters, this weekend. The other two, not so much. I did not review “The Apparition” or “2016: Obama’s America,” neither of which was screened for critics. And, then, there is the added fact that “2016” maker Dinesh D’Souza is a proud apologist for Islam and its extremist spokespeople, something I’ll tell you more about, later today.
* “Premium Rush“: I enjoyed this thriller. Full of heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat action and suspense. And just an all-around enjoyable movie filled with mindless escapism. Some of the stunts are not believable–or that the people survived them–but this is the movies. You have to suspend disbelief for a movie like this, just as you would for a James Bond or Bourne movie.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger in Manhattan, who is given an envelope to deliver by 7:00 p.m. in New York’s Chinatown. Soon, he is being chased by a man (with an obnoxiously thick New York accent), who he discovers is an unlikely assailant (Michael Shannon). While he races to deliver the envelope and also evade a cop on a bike, he also interacts with fellow bike messengers, including one he is dating, and tries to beat, evade, and get around traffic. The Chinese mob, lots of bike messengers and well-meaning cops are also involved.
There were a few things I did not like: the villain, the main man chasing him, is also a guy who decries the degradation and coarsening of language in American civil discourse. For saying he opposes the use of words and phrases, like “suck it” and “douchebag,” that makes him “square” and an even worse person, in the movie’s point of view. It’s not enough that he’s a corrupt authority figure chasing a bike messenger down. Weak Hollywood scripts make such obvious attacks on those of us who would still like America to have some moral high ground. Also, the main character’s girlfriend has a very, very thick Puerto Rican accent that is an annoying reminder of the equally undecipherable Rosie Perez. Remember her? I’d rather not. I also note that the plot of this movie is not entirely different from another movie, “Uncertainty,” in which the same star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is being chased all over Manhattan by an Asian mob seeking a cellphone he has.
Other than that, the movie was light and entertaining (though it might be a little too violent for young kids). This is a “better than August” movie.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Hit and Run“: Ugggh. I absolutely hated this movie. It features not just one, but two, scenes of full-frontal, sagging, naked senior citizens in swinging swaps in a motel room. And it just goes downhill from there. Raunchy, gratuitously violent, and absolutely stupid and pointless. I wanted like hell to walk out of this movie. And I would have, but then I’d be prohibited from reviewing it. If you waste ten dollars and almost two hours of your time on this crap, you need your head examined. Kristen Bell and her fiance Dax Shepard (who won’t get married until all gays have the legal right to be married in the U.S. . . . awwww) made and financed this utter dung heap. And it shows in spades. They invited a few of their friends, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper, Kristin Chenoweth, etc., to hang out and have fun for an obvious tax write-off they made in a few days. This is how the hypocritical portion of the one percent lives.
Bell plays a college professor who lives with her ex-criminal boyfriend, “Charlie Bronson,” who is in a witness protection program and is supervised by Federal Marshal Tom Arnold. But Bell gets a terrific job opportunity in Los Angeles, and Charlie decides to risk his witness protection status by going with her. A jilted cop who once dated Bell researches “Charlie,” discovers he’s a criminal and alerts the fellow drug-dealing criminal against whom he testified. And a chase by cops and the drug dealer ensues. Trust me–I’m making this sound far, far better than it is. It’s an insult to humanity.
Skip at all cost. Plenty of American dummies and lowlifes will love it, I’m sure. After all, there’s no accounting for good taste in America.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The Queen of Versailles“: Although this documentary is clearly made by an uber-liberal, anti-capitalist filmmaker, it’s extremely interesting in its bird’s eye view on vulgar excess. As a free market conservative, this is an obvious Occupy kind of film with the worst possible portrayal of the vilest and most unrepresentative of the one percenters. And yet, like a gawker, I just couldn’t stop watching. Sad to say, it’s that good, so long as you remember what this is all about. While I don’t hate or envy the rich, as this movie wanted me to, I definitely hated the people in this movie, David Siegel and his uber-bimbo third wife, former pageant queen, Jackie.
First, I must get the unspoken elephant in the movie theater out of the way. Yes, I know Siegel is a Jewish surname, but I wish to point out that Siegel is not a practicing or identifying Jew, and the Siegels celebrate Christmas. Jackie is a gentile former model/actress from upstate New York with obtrusive basketball-sized fake breasts, a two-story closet full of exorbitantly expensive but sleazy, low-class outfits that show too much of them off, and a penchant for marrying wealthy JISNOs (Jews In Surname Only) (her previous hubby was a wealthy investment banker with the last name of Solomon). That said, it’s hard not to believe that filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is a far-left, self-hating Jew. After all, she chose a Jewish bete noire extraordinaire in David Siegel, and he fits the false narrative of American Jews that anti-Semites love to parade. It reminds me of some of the anti-Semitic literature Nazis used to drop near American soldiers in Europe during World War II (stuff like, “While you are here fighting, a flashy, rich Jewish banker is back home ravishing your girl”).
She and billionaire David, CEO of Westgate Resorts–America’s largest timeshare company–met when she was crowned Mrs. Florida and still married to her previous husband. At 43 (at the time of the movie–she is now 46), Jackie is 31 years younger than her grumpy, braggart husband. They live in a 26,000 square foot Florida mansion with a menagerie of multiple servants, eight children (seven are theirs and one is Jackie’s niece), pets, stuffed dead pets, and other chintzy, gaudy accoutrements. And yet that is not enough. They built “Versailles”–a 90,000 square foot edifice said to be the largest residential home in America and modeled on the French Palace of the same name. When the movie begins in 2007, they are on top of the world. But that soon begins to crumble as the economy melts down in 2008. At first, we see the hard sell tactics used by Siegel’s employees to get America’s working class to invest in a lifetime time share at his new Vegas hotel. But as the economy crashes, these people–who never really had the means–default on their payments, and Siegel’s empire crashes with it.
Regardless of that and the fact that Siegel tells apparent gold digger Jackie to cut her spending, she still goes to her expensive spa to get botox injections and face peels. And then she goes to the toy store, buying several shopping carts full of toys, which fill her entire van. After that, it’s an expensive Christmas party at their mansion.
To say the Siegels are tacky would be the understatement of year. The word “garish” is embarrassed to be used in connection with them. While they’ve gone from private planes, hosting Miss America contestants at their home, and helping David’s friend, George W. Bush win the election (he says he helped him win but won’t say how, “because it might not be legal”), they are now sending their kids to public school, and David tells the spoiled kids they might not go to college and might have to get jobs and work instead. Since they are down to only a few overworked servants and nannies, the house goes unkempt. One of the Siegel boys steps on dog fecal material in his room. David’s son from his first marriage was running sales at his father’s company. He discusses his youth in poverty with his divorced mother, all while his father was already a multi-millionaire. His and his father’s relationship is business only. And there is almost no business left, as he’s had to lay off the sales force.
This is the stuff liberals love to see–the rich being taken down a notch and destroyed. But I don’t, and neither should you. I didn’t revel in it because, even though I quickly grew to despise the Siegels, I don’t hold their wealth against them. That is what most Americans aspire to, and those aspirations are what drive Americans to do great things, start businesses, employ people, and create new inventions and services to make our lives better. If the Siegels were still going strong financially (and some reports say things are better for them since taping wrapped on the movie), they would continue to employ thousands of Americans they were forced to lay off, both in their company and in the construction of their showy palace. Their employees (as depicted in the movie) all seem to enjoy working for them. If things were good for them, it would also mean things were going well for the rest of America. But, at the end of the movie, the Siegels are in a similar bind as many other Americans. Their palatial Versailles was in foreclosure.
But they aren’t exactly in the same boat. They still have plenty of wealth and aren’t–like plenty of other Americans in the Obama economy–worrying about how to feed their kids and themselves and put a roof over their shoulders.
That’s why it’s especially disgusting to hear Jackie Siegel whine that she is upset that the bank bailouts didn’t cause the banks to send the money to “the common people: us.” Um, Jackie, common people don’t build 90,000 square foot homes. And they don’t live in 26,000 square foot ones.
Like I said, this movie has an easy target in its “hate the rich” goal. Sadly, for any of the many mindless who will see it, it succeeds in spades. The movie is very entertaining and engrossing in a reality show sort of way.
But, remember, most of America’s top one percent don’t live like this–not even close. That’s how they keep their wealth while the Siegels are losing theirs.
After seeing this movie, I don’t hate America’s rich. I just despise David and Jackie Siegel, who unfairly make them look bad. Predictably, most people seeing this movie don’t have the intellectual capacity to make the distinction.
One other note: the movie is distributed and shown by companies owned by billionaire Mark Cuban. Although you don’t see his wife behaving the way Jackie Siegel does, I’ll bet he lives in a giant mansion, and I know he has a private plane, as well as many of the other trappings of the billionaire lifestyle. But you rarely see his wife in public interviews, and when you do, she’s tastefully dressed and comports herself well. You don’t see Mark Cuban mocking his lifestyle or agreeing to expose his private life in a documentary showing his appointments of wealth. Smart man (which I already knew he was). But maybe also a little bit of a hypocrite in distributing this movie which is an attempted statement on his lifestyle and that of all rich people, using the Siegels as an easy-to-hate proxy.
The Siegels, so obsessed with bragging and showing off, just didn’t have the guts to say no to Director Lauren Greenfield. They are their own worst enemies. Yes, a documentarian can slant anything they way he or she wants and put the truth on the cutting room floor (or these days, in the digital circular file). But the Siegels provided Ms. Greenfield with miles and miles of rope.
Watch the trailer . . .
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