Politics

Iron Man 3 Iron Patriot

Spoiler warning: There will be spoilers. Since 2008, a great deal of ink (or, at least, the Internet’s equivalent of ink) has been spilled on the political weight of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films. From the depiction of post-9/11 trauma and Batman’s Patriot Act-style tactics in The Dark Knight to The Dark Knight Rises’s ideologically incoherent depiction of Gotham’s Occupy-enabled descent into a metropolitan anarchist dystopia, multiple theories and debates have assessed where the Nolanverse lies on the 21st century American political spectrum. The self-serious tone of these superhero films lend themselves to similarly solemn allegorical readings – Nolan’s Batman films are inferred as brimming with meaning and intent by virtue of an auteur director envisioning an alternative vision of America on a mass scale. But most political readings of the Dark Knight films inevitably encounter contradiction – the ambivalence of these films always fails to match their allegorical promise. The Robert Downey, Jr.-led Iron Man series presents itself as lightweight, goofy summer entertainment, a media object designed to be consumed passively rather than interrogated for its layers of meaning. But Iron Man has explored far more legible, richer, and more interesting politics than its darker counterpart. Its two directors (Jon Favreau and Shane Black), while talented, are situated less as auteurs and more as contributors to a collective, synergistic corporate vision. Iron Man’s politics, while often foregrounded narratively, are presented as a set of ideological assumptions rather than an active investigation of contemporary political tensions. And that’s exactly what makes […]

read more...

Election

Election Day is stressful. No matter which side you fall on, Democrat, Republican or that guy who wants to legalize pot, this 2012 Election has been one for the books. It’s a race that will come down to the wire as the nation shows how split it is ideologically. And for anyone with emotional investment in either candidate, there will be some grey hairs gained before it’s all said and done. As a born-and-raised Ohioan, my thoughts are with the pummeled masses in my home state. Friends and family who have all had their lives shaken up with an onslaught of campaign ads and robocalls. As someone who lived through two elections as an adult living in Ohio, I can vouch that it’s torture. So this list is for you, my dearest friends and relatives in Ohio. A list of 7 movies you can watch today that are political and enjoyable. Because it’s Election Day and we should celebrate our democracy by doing our civic duty. But we also should be able to relax and have a little bit of fun. So download one (or more) of these to your iPad to watch while you’re waiting in line for hours just to get to the polls.

read more...

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 […]

read more...

Joss Whedon Endorses Romney

Hurricane Sandy may be en route to obliterating our friends on the East Coast, the western area of the country remains unaffected. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still focused on impending doom. All the way out in Hollywood, The Avengers director Joss Whedon has publicly announced his endorsement in the Presidential Election. And while you may think that Hollywood is full of bleeding heart liberals, you’re absolutely right. But even a Hollywood liberal can endorse Gov. Mitt Romney, right? Stranger things have happened. As it turns out, this one is about the issues. Because as Whedon explains in the following video, a vote for Romney is a vote for the zombie apocalypse. And if movies have taught we movie fans anything, it’s how to survive such an event. So grab your sword and your sawed-off shotgun and head to the polls, friends. We don’t usually get very political around here, but we’ve got to admit that following the man who directed The Avengers sounds like a reasonable thing to do. He hasn’t let us down yet…

read more...

Criterion Files

As America anticipates the first general election Presidential debate of 2012 tonight, it’s clear that there’s one thing on everyone’s mind: what does The Criterion Collection have to say about American politics at the executive level? The Collection certainly has a multitude of world leader’s represented, from Idi Amin in Barbet Schroder’s General Idi Amin Dada (1974) to Ivan the Terrible in Sergei Eisenstein’s two-part masterpiece of the same name. But Criterion also has three of the best movies made about real and fictional 20th century American Presidents and Presidential candidates…

read more...

Culture Warrior

The upcoming election might make the air feel a bit more politicized than it usually does, but there’s one arena that is investigated and interrogated for its supposedly partisan leanings far more often than every four years: the mainstream entertainment industry. Hollywood and prime-time television are continually called into question for supposedly left-leaning tendencies. Hell, there are even entire websites that profit off the flimsy thesis that Hollywood is an evil institution devoted to the full-scale indoctrination of feeble young minds into sullying the name of Ayn Rand and buying Priuses (Priusi?). However, the latest accusation made toward Hollywood as a liberal indoctrination machine came from an unlikely source: Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine. While it’s interesting to hear these points articulated from a self-defined liberal rather than a conservative culture warrior (yes, I’m well aware of the irony of my column name when I write stories like this) who stands to benefit more from the critique, Chait makes several of the same stumbles that conservatives encounter when voicing this familiar argument, like failing to provide a stable definition of what institutions the term “Hollywood” describes or an adequate explanation for the process by which an institution made up of mostly liberal people actually translates into liberal products.

read more...

Lisa Cholodenko

Director Lisa Cholodenko’s latest film, and her biggest success to date, was the domestic drama with paternity issues The Kids Are All Right. Starring names like Mark Ruffalo, Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson, The Kids Are All Right was an ensemble acting piece, and essentially a small in scope character study, so it may come as some surprise that the newest project the direct has in the works sounds like it’s going to be pretty plot-heavy. The Wrap reports that Cholodenko has signed on to make a political thriller called November Criminals. Set in Washington D.C., this Steve Knight- (Eastern Promises) penned script tells the story of a student who has to explore the underbelly of Washington society in order to investigate the death of a classmate. Those details, in conjunction with the film’s title, probably serve as a good indication that this story isn’t going to be a very kind representation of our current political system.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Will Ferrell is a funny man. This seems to be a fact undeniable even to those who don’t otherwise care for his brand of comedy. Even though his schtick has become reliably familiar – he often plays variations of an over-privileged adult child who is hopelessly naïve in certain categories of social life and prone to random bursts of livid anger – its regularity has yet to prevent Ferrell’s comic talents from growing stale. There seems to also be some indescribable aura at the core of Ferrell’s comic talent, something about his appearance and demeanor that can’t be explained through analyses of timing and punchline, as evidenced by his strange appearance on Jimmy Fallon last May. For many, Ferrell’s comic appeal has been this essential, indescribably funny core since his SNL days. Ferrell is funny not exclusively because of his physical comedy or imitable characters; he, as a force of nature, is pure farce (a farce of nature?). But as his film career continues to accumulate titles and as his unique comic sensibilities become better-known with his roles as producer and writer, it’s clear that, beneath his farce, Ferrell has a confrontational political and satirical streak underlying much of his work, which has naturally led to him portraying a politician in Jay Roach’s The Campaign. Ferrell’s roles, however, often exercise a fascinating and occasionally self-defeating tension between satire and farce, with one element substituting, rather than laying the groundwork for, the other. Here’s an overview of the politics of Will […]

read more...

Culture Warrior

Two nights ago, Aaron Sorkin’s heavily-anticipated and rather polarizing new show The Newsroom aired its debut on HBO. With the pilot’s central focus on the BP oilrig explosion, the premium cable network has established itself (alongside with their recent TV movies) as the primary venue for dramatizing recent political history. However, other contemporary television shows have addressed political issues well beyond the headlines of the past few years. In this election year, it seems that TV comedies and dramas from several networks have a surprising amount to say about the political process in a way that resonates with this uncertain, often frustrating moment. Here’s how The Newsroom stacks up against a triumvirate of other TV shows with overtly political themes…

read more...

Fidel Castro

Back when Fidel Castro was a younger man, trying hard to overthrow the mustache-twirling Fulgencio Batista and declare Cuba free from his tyranny, an American named William Alexander Morgan apparently helped him with the cause. According to the extensive “New Yorker” profile from writer David Grann, Morgan was only the second non-Cuban to earn the title of Comandante – the other being T-shirt logo Che Guevara. According to The Hollywood Reporter, George Clooney and Grant Heslov have optioned the article, “The Yankee Comandante,” to produce as a directorial project for Clooney. It probably won’t be soon though. Clooney is attached to several other projects as an actor and director. However, it’s a fascinating topic – and Grann’s writing is thorough and engrossing. Morgan is a complicated figure – one in the middle of three governments, trying to stay alive during brutal fighting and to maintain his very existence. Give the piece a read and tell me that won’t make a hell of a moving picture. Plus, with Clooney’s background, he’s more than qualified to bring it to life. Hopefully this comes sooner rather than later.

read more...

What would the state of American education be if Ned Flanders controlled what went into school textbooks? Folks in the Lone Star State came dangerously close to finding out during the 2009-2010 Texas State Board of Education hearings to determine the curriculum for millions of students. Made up of locally elected officials (some with academic training, some without) the SBOE was chaired by affable yet arrogant dentist and “young Earth creationist” Don McLeroy, and had the power to decide what information would go into textbooks. The position is one of great significance because Texas’ size makes it the country’s biggest purchaser of textbooks. The standards set by the board influence textbook publishing across the country. While it would seem that one’s religion would be irrelevant in such a setting, it took center stage when McLeroy and other members of the board fought to undermine the theory of evolution in the state’s science textbooks with the right wing side pushing for them to accentuate the “weaknesses” of such a theory. This fight is at the heart of The Revisionaries.

read more...

In 2010, the Republican-leaning Texas Board of Education approved a new set of standards which either 1) re-corrected the balance of historical education away from the liberal bias it tends to or 2) created a new tool for teaching young children that Creationism and a Conservative agenda are correct. The trick here is that a small group of people define what they want to see in textbooks, and the textbook writers have to abide or risk not selling millions of books. Since Texas buys so many, it often (alongside California) informs what the rest of the nation will be learning. At the heart of all of this, was a dentist. The new documentary The Revisionaries – which played Tribeca last week – focuses on Dr. Don McLeroy, the dentist and Creationist in question who is seeking re-election to the board. McLeroy, who recently went on The Colbert Report to discuss his views, is frank about his opinion that Liberals have taken over colleges and that evolution should be questioned while Creationism is giving equal footing in science classrooms. It’s an arrow that hits right into the heart of a cultural divide in America, and it’s one that ensures this doc has a deeply compelling subject. Check out the trailer for yourself:

read more...

“Yes, the same Jane Fonda who has been described as a communist, was part of the “F” the Army too and is an enemy sympathizer.” “Perhaps Fonda will be perfect at mangling history on film, since she’s certainly done that in real life.” “Of all people Hollywood could haven chosen to portray Nancy Reagan in a new film, they come up with Jane Fonda. It’s like they’re trying to offend half of America before the movie is even made. ” “Arch-liberals Fonda and [John] Cusack playing a pair of major figures on the Right? Conservatives should stock up on antacids starting … now.” That’s Townhall.com, News Busters, The Lonely Conservative and Breitbart.com in response to the Variety story that writer/director Lee Daniels (Precious) has hired Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan for his new movie The Butler, which follow the story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served under eight, count ‘em, eight presidents during his career.

read more...

The Hunger Games

Maybe our science fiction writers have failed us with all their damned pessimism, or maybe we’re all just obsessed with the world ending because it’s definitely going to stop spinning this year. Either way, everyone on this doomed planet is currently obsessed with the cold, distant Dystopian futures of hits like The Hunger Games. Now it’s time to figure out what it all means (which also means a bit of psychoanalysis). Good thing the Jennifer Lawrence-starring flick has people hungrily dissecting it for meaning. The results? Old Jewish heroines, our cinematic past, Occupy Wall Street, unspoken sexuality and the anti-Twilight.

read more...

The Best Short Films

Why Watch? It’s fairly obvious what The Flower is all about, so the text at the end seems completely unnecessary, but the short itself is a whimsical, animated argument for why marijuana should be legalized. That synth-scored joyousness makes the impending darkness even harsher, and even though this is a grand simplification of a political point, it’s still clever in more ways than one.   What will it cost? Only 4 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

read more...

The Coroner

The horror genre gets a bad rap. Virtually all horror movies are dismissed out of hand when it comes to having something to say. Who can take a message out of all that blood and violence? Well when the world is bloody and violence, I say horror films are the perfect venue to tell some stories and in a graphic way. Undocumented, from first-timer Chris Peckover, uses the topical subject of illegal immigration in America as it’s setting. Don’t run away! While there is obviously some politics at play here, the film doesn’t delve too far into the seriousness of the politics, but it does perhaps give you pause to think about the situation, at least some aspects of it. The film follows a group of grad students making a film about illegal border crossings and those who take advantage of illegal labor. During a border crossing for their documentary, the group ends up getting kidnapped alongside the illegal immigrants by a violent border control group.

read more...

Normally the blue birds that deliver the mail sing a song as they fly along, but today they seemed grim and despondent. Perhaps it’s because they had to drop the lump of coal that is the press release announcing a greenlit Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 into the old inbox. Or perhaps they’ve just been sick. Either way, a follow-up to the completely inept filmmaking of the first film will be standing awkwardly in front of cameras soon. Not only that, it will ambitiously seek to have the movie ready for theaters by October of this year at the zero hour of, what the release calls, “a fever pitched presidential election season.” It even comes with its own poster and a spooky teaser trailer where pundits can’t agree on how pronounce Ayn Rand‘s name:

read more...

In October of 2011, Representative Lamar S. Smith (of the great state of Texas) introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act to Congress. The bill’s aim was to bolster copyright holders in fights against those that infringe upon them, and that’s an important task. Intellectual property theft can be incredibly injurious to the victim. In fact, FSR had to cut through red tape in the fall of last year to stop a Chinese-based website from stealing its content and republishing it wholesale. Plagiarism is despicable, and stealing the hard creative work of others is too. However, SOPA is tantamount to drinking drain cleaner because your nose itches. The bill is unduly generic – granting massive powers to the government and entities who would wield it like a plaything to shut down websites for spurious reasons and to keep them down throughout what would inevitably be a drawn-out legal process. In short, for an accusation with no meat on it, some of your favorite sites could be shut down on a whim, creating both temporary and possibly permanent damage. As you can see from our masthead today, we’re in full support of the protest against SOPA (and PIPA, it’s cousin in the Senate). While we don’t know how powerful the SOPA blackout might be, we genuinely wish we could go dark as well, but it’s just not feasible for a site like ours that operates on a smile and a shoestring. Losing a day of revenue is just too much of a […]

read more...

When HBO wanted to create an adaptation of the best-selling book “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama, they picked up the phone and called Jay Roach – the director behind Austin Powers and The Fockers who also delivered them the television movie Recount. Now, Roach has covered, semi-fictionally, politics in 2000 and in 2008. Slog through the dialogue between Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt (the Republican strategist) and Ed Harris as McCain, and you’ll be rewarded briefly with who will inevitably be the real star of the show, Julianne Moore slingin’ a down home twang as Sarah Palin. The question is this: with so much going on socially and economically, are we really interested in going back in time to examine a reality television star?

read more...

Why Watch? Master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami delivered the Israeli/Palestinian problem as a schoolyard fight back in 1975, but its message and meaning still resonate today. Especially almost a year into the Arab Spring. Or, you know, for any situation where society clashes with society. What does it cost? Just 4 minutes of your time. Check out Two Solutions For One Problem for yourself:

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Comic-Con 2014
Summer Box Office Prediction Challenge
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3