Barack Obama

Dinesh-DSouza-America

There are very good intentions at the core of America: Imagine a World Without Her, Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan‘s follow-up to their smash hit 2016: Obama’s America. In focusing much of their attack on Howard Zinn, the filmmakers look to rewrite history again, this time in a more positive manner. That isn’t to say the documentary is out to defend slavery or imperialism or any of the other shameful things spotlighted in “The People’s History of the United States,” but it does concentrate on how the nation has continually gotten on the right path and put its wrongdoings behind. Narrating and appearing on screen as the film’s main driving force, D’Souza implies that America is great because we did have that Civil War and eventually abolished slavery. Basically, he believes we should be celebrating the fact that we no longer treat people like property, not harping on the fact that we once did. What should be an easy bit of spin, though, winds up a terribly argued thesis on why America is the best – which comes down to stating that at least it’s not that bad — with an ultimate agenda to literally demonize Saul Alinsky and of course note the “Lucifer-like” activist’s influence on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The latter even gets a teenage portrayal in one of the film’s many bland simulations, the worst of which opens America so awkwardly and persistently that it could turn viewers off immediately. Just as with D’Souza and Sullivan’s last documentary (also produced by Schindler’s List Oscar winner Gerald R. Molen), this one stumbles in its judgment of what […]

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USA PFC Bowe Bergdahl

In the time since U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released from the Taliban, his return to American society has been fraught with controversy. The details are still a little bit hazy on how it happened, but five years ago he was taken as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. He was freed on May 31st of this year, when the U.S. government negotiated his release by exchanging five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for the 28-year-old’s safe return. The deal has raised eyebrows and probably got you a few “FW:FW:FW:FW: AMERICA THE FREE?!?” emails from your aunt. If Kathryn Bigelow has any say in the matter, you’ll soon get to see the whole saga play out on screen. According to Variety, she and her Zero Dark Thirty writing and producing partner, Mark Boal, plan to bring the tale to life. It might be a little soon to be thinking about a movie — Bergdahl hasn’t even been back on American soil for a month, having only just returned to a U.S. medical facility in San Antonio for evaluation on June 13th — but there’s really no time like the present to snatch up the rights to an interesting and provocative story while the getting’s good, before someone else beats you to the chase. Especially when the real-life story is maybe as controversial and puzzling as Bergdahl’s.

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Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 8.45.49 PM

What happens when you’re the loudmouth who spoils an episode of Breaking Bad for President Obama? Recently, The New York Times did an oddly in-depth piece on the viewing habits of the 44th President of the United States, and though I’m disappointed he’s not working his way though the Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition box set, as everyone should be, his list of series he’s keenly interested in is a solid one nonetheless.  Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad is a series the president is late to the game on, where, as noted above, there appears to be a standing order not to spoil his early entry into the world of Walter White. On the opposite end of that spectrum, the entire Obama clan likes to catch episodes of Modern Family and NBC’s Parks and Recreation, thought the president himself has noted that his alone-time viewing habits tend to go a bit darker. Political thriller Homeland, led by Claire Danes’ oft upset and cry-faced CIA operative Carrie Mathison, political drama House of Cards, of which Obama was invited to cameo by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, fall under his must-watch list. I’ll leave other journalists to pick apart any subtle associations between Mr. Obama’s viewing habits and his current occupation. Also, the guy loves HBO’s The Wire, calling it “one of the greatest shows of all time,” which is fine, and pretty standard. Like, I’m almost certain it’s a requirement for sealing the Presidential deal, like taking the oath of office.

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Culture Warrior on 2012

In this end-of-year editorial, Landon Palmer discusses the pattern that movies demonstrated in 2012 for telling stories through protagonists defined by their various personality traits rather than through conventional, straightforward characters. In so doing, movies this year showed how our individual identities have become divided within various aspects of modern social life. This trend made some of the year’s movies incredibly interesting, while others suffered from a personality disorder. Landon argues that movies ranging from The Hunger Games to The Dark Knight Rises to Holy Motors alongside cultural events and institutions like the Presidential election, social media, and “Gangnam Style” all contributed to a year in which popular culture is finally became open about its constant engagement with multiple cults of personality. Six years ago, Time magazine famously named its eagerly anticipated “Person of the Year” You in big, bold letters. Its cover even featured a mirror. As a result of the established popularity of supposedly democratized media outlets like Facebook and the home of the cover’s proverbial “You,” YouTube, Time declared 2006 as the year in which the masses were equipped with the ability to empower themselves for public expressions of individual identity. More than a half decade later, social media is no longer something new to adjust to, but a norm of living with access to technology. Supposing that Time’s prophecy proved largely correct, what does it mean to live in a 21st century where we each have perpetual access to refracting our respective mirrors?

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Obama Wan Kenobi

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly mashing together of things about film and television because that’s what the kids on the Internet are into these days — mashing things together. Obama Wan Kenobi – We begin this evening with an oddly drawn but somewhat sensible conclusion about what Barack Obama had to do with saving Star Wars. And by “saving,” we’re of course referring to the part where George Lucas sold Star Wars and LucasFilm to Disney, placing it in capable, active hands that will no doubt save it with many wonderful films that have nothing to do with the prequels. Or something like that. Either way, /Film found this link and I say it’s worth a read. 

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Election Day Culture Warrior

Please permit me in some indulgent, semi-autobiographic self-reflection for a moment. I first began writing this column on February 2009, less than a month after the current President’s inauguration. My first post was titled “A New Wave of Cinematic Optimism,” and attempted to cull together several films released in late 2008 in connection to the optimistic rhetoric of then-candidate Obama’s historic campaign (it’s a bit prescriptive – not my best work). While I strive, week-by-week, to both critique and celebrate the art of cinema in various ways through this column, I’ve also thought of filmmaking for much of my adult life as a fundamentally political practice. The practice of making films, particularly studio films, is deeply invested within and respondent to the plural political landscape of a given moment. Thus, my work on FSR for the past three and a half years has been thoroughly – sometimes overtly – contextualized by the political events that have occurred during the Obama administration. The death of Osama bin Laden, the residual effects of the 2008 financial crisis, Occupy Wall Street, LGBTQ rights, post-Arab Spring politics, the Tea Party, and Iron Marx have all served as direct or indirect subjects of this column. This has not been an effort to simply incorporate the latest hot-button political topic into a movie site. Instead (and against the fundamental logic by which the Internet works), I’ve attempted to use this space as a means of continually working through an evolving understanding of the contemporary intersection between […]

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Drinking Games

By now, you have to be sick of pretty much any political campaign. Just think, in a short week, this will all be over and you’ll either cheer or cry, depending on your candidate of choice. Don’t you love American politics? In this last week of the 2012 election season, you can watch the absurd election comedy The Campaign, and then you can realize that in the context of the races going on around the country, it’s really not all that absurd. That thought alone should drive you to drink, so why not enjoy some structured drinking as you enjoy the movie?

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What is Cannes in 60 Seconds? If you say it with a pompous accent, it’s a hilarious pun on a classic Nic Cage/Angelina Jolie film that no one can rightfully claim is at all terrible. If you say it with a normal accent, it’s still a news and review round-up from the South of France. The biggest news comes from the mouths of critics after seeing the opening night flick – Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom. It’s garnered high, near-universal praise. A smattering of reviews can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. But that’s not all that’s going on:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of movie news and editorial links that will certainly be living long and prospering. Both because it is what our super hip Commander-in-Chief commands of us and because of you, the faithful reader. We begin this evening with a shot of President Obama and Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols in the Oval Office, giving up  the “live long and prosper”  salute that originated in the first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series’ second season. The two racial barrier-breakers met recently, with the photo following from Ms. Nichols’ Twitter feed. It’s room for hope, you know, that the Star Trek future will eventually come true. Also, Obama’s a nerd.

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Culture Warrior

There are those on the right who have said that Game Change is a partisan smear. At the same time, some on the left may have gone into the program expecting a SNL-style “look-how-dumb-Palin-is” work of predictable affirmation. But while hit jobs and hagiographies might make for effective 30-second political ads, they can’t sustain a two-hour block of television. Game Change, by contrast, is a gripping (though by no means perfect) two-hour block of television. But the term “block of television” does not necessarily carry the same connotations as “TV movie.” The distinction here is important. Game Change’s central thesis is not a political point about either John McCain or Sarah Palin as candidates (what could a TV movie possibly say that’s new or urgent in this respect?), but is instead a lamentation about how our political landscape is determined (on all sides of the ideological spectrum) by the media cycles of Celebrity 2.0. HBO has been preoccupied for quite some time by the major chapters in American history, rolling out expensive and impressive miniseries detailing the canonical moments that Americans learned about during their primary education: whether it be The Revolutionary War and the stories of the Founding Fathers (John Adams (2008)), WWII (Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010)), or man’s journey to the moon (From the Earth to the Moon). However, HBO’s original programming has also taken microscopic examinations of recent, not-so-canonized history with smaller-scale projects like Recount (2008), Too Big to Fail (2011), and, of […]

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Culture Warrior

The Help has started a conversation that’s stretched far beyond the 137-minute confines of the film itself. And in its second week in a row atop the late-summer box office, the critical conversation surrounding the film has continued amidst (and, sometimes, against) the sleeper popularity it endures in a fashion similar to the success of the book it was based on. In interest of full disclosure, I have deliberately chosen by this point not to see The Help (perhaps a combination of my reservations against it combined with its daunting running time). However, in following the many editorials published in response to the film’s release, it oddly enough feels appropriate to comment on the conversation that the film has inspired without having seen it, as it’s a conversation that is hardly limited to the film itself. The Help seems to represent a breaking point, the last piece of white liberal guilt that broke the clear-cut racial fantasies of Hollywood cinema’s back, so to speak. The film is bearing the brunt of a decades-long history of similarly minded feel-good studio fare about race relations. While The Help certainly has its full-throated detractors, one interesting component about the overall critical reaction to the film is that it is politically simplistic while also presenting good or perfectly competent filmmaking, carried by a couple of strong female performances at its center (which, when considering what’s lacking in terms of identity and representation in Hollywood, is itself no small miracle).

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Chill out, Mainstream Media. We’ve already trademarked the word, “Barackumentary.”

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What if the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates abandoned DC for Hollywood?

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John McCain and Barack Obama

We know that the Election Night coverage can be a bit monotonous, but while you’re waiting for the results to trickle down, you might as well watch a couple movies.

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You could forget about the math and the swing states, because the outcome of this election was predicted in 1988 by John Carpenter’s film They Live.

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Officially Cool

Most of us were going to balance the ups and downs of the McCain/Palin team and the Obama/Biden team. Well not so fast kids, what about the dynamic duo making waves on the independent ticket as we speak? Don’t know who I’m talking about? None other than presidential hopeful John McClane and his running mate Hans Gruber.

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Officially Cool

Using the character creation feature on the smash hit video-game Soul Calibur 4, one YouTuber has created Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, John McCain and Senator Hillary Clinton.

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Scarlett Johansson shows her support for Barack Obama

Through much of the year, most celebrities stay out of politics. But when an election rolls around, they suddenly mistake their star popularity for public interest in what they have to say about the issues.

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It turns out we’re going to be voting for President or mayor or something soon. Strap in as FSR takes you LIVE to the Democratic National Convention via my crappy apartment on Capitol Hill.

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Josh Radde takes offense at Kevin Carr’s cheese references, love of Cylon-leadership and empty rhetoric. Why are we still talking about politics on a film website? Your guess is as good as mine.

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