Politics

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:

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Why Watch? Whether you agree or disagree with the Occupy Movement‘s messages or goals, it’s still fascinating to see how our culture and our political structures are dealing with a mass demonstration in our time. This, clearly (but cleverly) one-sided short documentary takes footage from the latest ouster of the protesters from Zuccotti Park and inserts a stirring, ironical melody behind it. Draw your own conclusions. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out The Raid on Zuccotti Park for yourself:

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Is there really any doubt? With Meryl Streep‘s consistent successes and the added bonus of a win for The King’s Speech last year, all that The Iron Lady has to do is prove that it’s not a carbon copy with a female in the lead to make Academy voters happy. There’s a shot in the new UK trailer for the film where Streep, as former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, stands tall with her chest out and her chin held out in the air. It’s followed immediately by a somber shot where she hangs her head low while seated in the shadows. I can only assume that the film will focus on both aspects of her life, the trials and triumphs, the personal and the political. She’s joined by the brilliant Jim Broadbent, and the whole basket of crumpets was directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, Macbeth). It’s a gorgeous trailer. Check it out for yourself:

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Audiences are no strangers to political films these days. While they usually have more of a thriller angle and focus on government figures already in power, there have been a decent number that follow candidates on the campaign trail and as such, any new film tackling old ground needs to make a conscious effort to distinguish itself in some way, to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, The Ides of March makes no such effort and seems content to languish in probable obscurity. The film is a character study following Ryan Gosling‘s Stephen Meyers, a whip-smart but naive young campaign staffer during his time working for Governor Mike Morris. Morris, played by George Clooney who also co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film, is a presidential hopeful, and the film takes place during his campaign to win the Democratic party nomination. Meyers is essentially the number two man on the campaign at only 30 years old working directly under campaign manager and political mainstay Paul Zara, played with zeal by the incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman. Their competition is technically a Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell), though the opposition is almost entirely represented by Paul Giamatti, who plays Pullman’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy. Duffy and Zara are old school, both having come up around the same time, with Duffy seeming to have been in Zara’s shadow to a certain degree. Duffy and Zara are hardened political guys, but Meyers is still idealistic, believing in a man who can truly bring change to the country. He’s put […]

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Continuing a noted dislike for creative types, Iran has arrested six filmmakers who they claim are creating negative news stories about the country while in the employment of the BBC Persian Service. Today, the BBC released a statement affirming that the news service had purchased the rights to the filmmakers’ films, but disavowing that they were direct employees. According to Fox News, the filmmakers were not identified by name. This move comes amidst the claims by the Iranian government that the BBC is responsible for encouraging and creating dissent amongst its citizens which led directly to the large-scale protest of the 2009 presidential election wherein incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedineejad beat reformist challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi. It also comes after the Iranian government effectively ended the career of internationally known director Jafar Panahi in December of last year. Is the BBC setting the record straight, or is it redefining employee status in order to help them get out of detainment? Without more information, it’s unclear what exactly is going on here, but it’s still safe to say that Iran is not a big fan of free speech.

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Why Watch? Because we all have questions for those who came before us. Doug Karr is the grandson of controversial journalist and businessman David Karr, but he never got to meet him. Since his grandfather was so strangely famous, he has some questions. This short sizzles with a sort of kinetic energy while it plays around with different styles. Doors of family kitchens open up into autopsy rooms, picture albums turn into to living live-action scenes, and it’s all done with a sleekness that seems effortlessly cool even if all of the questions Doug wants to ask will never get an answer. It’s a film that delivers mystery more than anything else, but it’s done brilliantly, and (oddly enough) intimately. How do you reconcile a man who’s equal parts famous bizarre figure and father to your father? What does it cost? Just 7 minutes of your time. Check out Ten For Grandpa for yourself:

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A woman gets coffee from McDonald’s, spills it on herself, sues, and gets a bunch of money. That’s all there is to the story, right? We know it, and we can move on. Apparently not. Director Susan Saladoff wants to examine the human story behind an elderly woman who got third degree burns and needed skin grafts after a cup of coffee hot enough to give her third degree burns that required skin grafts spilled while she was sitting (idle) in the passenger seat of a car. In bypassing the Late Night Comedy Show butt of the joke story and heading straight for the facts of the case, Hot Coffee delivers a frustratingly compelling case for taking those kinds of lawsuits seriously. But more than that, the movie heads past what became the poster child for a corporate movement to protect large businesses from being culpable for any and all wrong doing, and explores the world that’s been created since. It’s not a pretty picture.

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We previously reported that The Undefeated, an emo band I used to go see in high school a documentary about Sarah Palin painting her as an underdog who fought against the system to rise to prominence in Alaska (and then, of course, to the national political stage), would be released in primary states leading up to the election. However, it looks like if you live in Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Atlanta, Orange County, Phoenix, Houston, Indianapolis or Kansas City (the good one), you’ll get your chance to see it as well. According to Politico, filmmaker Steve Bannon has signed with AMC Theaters to get the doc on the big screen in select cities July 15th. That makes it counter-programming for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Salvation Boulevard and the new Winnie The Pooh movie. Bannon told NPR that he sees people responding to the film as a Rocky style narrative. He also mentioned that his method is in the same vein as Michael Moore, calling the documentarian a “master of the craft” and saying that he was still learning it. The former Goldman Sachs employee might be newer to filmmaking, but he’s definitely chosen a compelling figure to focus on. No matter how you feel about the politician, she knows how to get a crowd gathered.

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She may have never actually said that she could see Russia from her house (that’s the power of Palin parody), but the former Governor of Alaska will have plenty of chances to deliver new quotables when The Undefeated hits screens. In what must be either a self-mockingly ironic (considering it focuses on someone who’s literally been defeated before) or a metaphorical title, Sarah Palin will be seen rising through the political ranks, earning her spot as Governor of Alaska, and securing a place on the 2008 Presidential ticket for the Republican Party. Directed by Stephen K. Bannon, it features footage from former campaigns, interviews with Palin, and talks with Palin’s allies according to Movieline. The oddity here is that it’s not an indie aiming for festivals – it’s a non-objective documentary being released in Iowa. Then New Hampshire. And South Carolina. And Nevada. You know, the primary states.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we get our hands dirty with an important political question: was Abraham Lincoln a member of the X-Men? We also tackle Mark Harris’s instantly popular “The Day the Movies Died” article, the concept of marketing as storytelling, and Rob Hunter is challenged with bringing up the movie Little Giants at some point during the hour and a half show. Plus, we find time to review I Am Number Four and Unknown before settling into the real question of the night: Is there a liberal bias in Hollywood. Special guests Vic Holtreman from Screen Rant and John Nolte from Big Hollywood join Hunter and I on this magical, magical journey that will touch your heart. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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While it’s not the media witch hunt of the mid-90s, it needs to be reiterated that movies and other pieces of art are not to blame for violent acts. A national tragedy has both left us numb and stirred up the slumbering emotions of a fevered national discourse, and while it’s important to air those grievances (no matter what end of the spectrum we fall on), it’s imperative that pundits of all stripes keep a level head and avoid irresponsibly throwing art under the bus for the sobering acts of one individual. Unfortunately, several media outlets have – in their hurry to toss more examples onto the argumentative fire – evoked the name of a four-year-old festival film from Britain (that few people saw) in order to help prove a trend in filmmaking of inciting violence against public officials. A trend, of course, that does not exist. To callously toss Death of a President out into a sea of negative context and to suggest that public entities of varying types should have decried the film as hateful is to tacitly champion censorship of the worst kind. It’s to quietly claim that some subject matter is off limits, and that’s unacceptable.

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Night Catches Us, the drama featuring Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) and Kerry Washington (For Colored Girls), aims its sights on racial tension in 1970s Philadelphia to show another side of brotherly love. Director/Writer Tanya Hamilton got to speak with Black Panther artist and Minister of Culture Emory Douglas who gives some fascinating insights into the goals of the divisive group and the personal elements of the racial struggle. The film hits theaters this Friday.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. You guys were probably too busy watching “The Dark Knight” again to notice we had an election, but it was a pretty huge night that led my roommates and I into a discussion social change and movies. Question time: What movie actually changed your mind about a social or cultural issue? Thanks. – Ted F.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, the editor of The New Ledger and podcast host of Coffee and Markets Ben Domenech brings his velvety voice to the show to suggest that John Lithgow play a werewolf-hunting FDR, question the Spider-Man casting, and create a list of movie characters that should run for office (we’d totally vote for Judy Dench’s M). Plus, we find time to review Megamind, Due Date, and implore you to see Four Lions. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen director Doug Liman in the world of dialog-driven filmmaking. With Go and Swingers, you got the feeling Liman knew how to make dialogue pop as action, but then he transitioned to actual popcorn action. After spending time on major tentpole releases, the director has returned to his roots. Fair Game is somewhat of a marriage drama, similar to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but without the gunplay. It’s definitely not the “high-octane” thriller it may, and most likely, will be sold as. Doug Liman had plentyto say when I sat down with him. His answers were thoughtful speeches when it came how he initially dreamed of only making dumb action movies, his visual style, and what exactly happened on Jumper.

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I’m sitting on the second row of my Senior year English class. My teacher, Mrs. Kallas (which was appropriately homophonic), uses her stringent voice to tell us the story of populism within the universe of The Wizard of Oz. The symbols of the political fight, the shoes, the farming scarecrow, the working tin man, something about William Jennings Bryan. It’s a great story, and all the symbols fit, but it’s not a good interpreation. For some reason, the myth of Wizard being an allegory for populism in the early 20th century has been perpetuated despite the true personal politics of L. Frank Baum. It’s a sign that anything can be read into anything. Enter Andrew Klavan and his editorial about Toy Story 3 as a political message against the politics of the current Democratic Party. Director Lee Unkrich responded to the infantile shoehorning of something relevant into something entertaining by saying, “Really? REALLY? Please keep Toy Story 3 out of your politics,” which is the appropriate response as a creator. Since I’m not the creator, I figured I’d have some fun with the idea and show how absurd Klavan’s article is by doing some shoehorning of my own. Here are three just-as-nonsensical interpretations of Toy Story 3.

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Even though I’m no longer in the bunker of Reject HQ in Austin, I still like to keep my ear to the ground to catch the political rumblings. So far there’s been a lot of talk about how much mansions are worth, how you get 8 pounds of hair to stay put, and something about an amendment to create a committee to look into committee creation. Boring stuff, I know. Nothing was all that interesting until I hit upon an entry on the Alamo Drafthouse’s calendar for October 5th (after the mad, mad, mad, madness of Fantastic Fest is over) that claimed to be a showcase of political short films made especially for the current gubernatorial race between Rick Perry and Bill White.

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Explore the mind of a man who would defraud the Native Americans, help keep sweatshops open and cuddle up nice and close to politicians while showing how his actions played a role in the collapse of the housing market.

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From the director of An Inconvenient Truth comes an inconvenient truth about our school system.

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Gay rights. The Mormon Church. Prop 8. No matter what side of the debate you fall on, the trailer is damned good.

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