ANAHEIM — Who knew that movie press junkets were such a threat to one’s mental health?
The pained, disingenuous reaction of many of the nation’s leading film critics to last week’s release of the lunatic puppet satire, Team America: World Police, is further confirmation that the junkets appear to have helped spread in viral fashion the mentality of left-wing Hollywood blowhards from la-la land to critic land.
One result: Sean Penn and Roger Ebert now appear to be swapping material. For one of the many examples he’s given us in recent years, Ebert might as well have been channeling Penn when he likened the 19th-century Bill the Butcher mob-boss character in 2002’s Gangs of New York to 2000 Florida election official Katherine Harris. Both, you see, were about one thing — seizing power.
Janeane Garofalo couldn’t have done a better job of being simultaneously smug, glib, and inane.
A little background is in order before we get to the critical reception for Team America.”
Given that even devout conservatives like George Will and Richard Lugar question the administration’s Iraq record, it’s understandable that a pundit in any field, even a film critic, might find occasion to take on President Bush. But as is made clear in a brief perusal of www.rottentomatoes.com — the wonderful online compendium of film reviews — we’re not seeing a thoughtful, reasoned uneasiness about America’s post-9/11 maneuverings in articles about movies that attempt to comment on our times. Instead, it’s often just a shallow recitation of conspiratorial blather and moralistic preening. This, of course, was most apparent in the collective critical orgasm over Fahrenheit: 9/11.
Those with long memories will recall that it was Pauline Kael — Ebert’s predecessor as America’s most powerful film critic — who first showed Michael Moore to be a charlatan with her dissection of the fact-fudging in 1989’s Roger and Me.
Kael, alas, died in 2001, and stopped writing reviews well before that. Two other influential critics with reputations for integrity are also out of the picture. John Simon now focuses solely on theater, and Gene Siskel — Ebert’s unsentimental, tough-minded partner on their popular TV show — died in 1999.
SO WHAT HAPPENED THIS spring when Moore came along with a pseudo-documentary that built from the astonishing libel that our 41st and 43rd presidents took a $1.4 billion bribe from the Saudi royal family? That depicted Saddam’s Iraq as a benign, tolerant Shangri-La? That changed the date and context of a newspaper clipping and presented it as fact?
No one in critic land gave a damn.
Ebert called Moore “one of the most valuable figures on the political landscape,” and, incredibly, praised him for being “cautious” in marshaling his evidence.
Ebert’s current TV-show partner, Richard Roeper, trumpeted the movie’s “revelations” and called it “hard to refute.”
David Edelstein of Slate described Moore as irresponsible, but then said so what, Bush had it coming: The film “is, all in all, a legitimate abuse of power.”
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle raved about Moore’s emergence as a “political thinker” and his depiction of the nightmare that America became “from the moment that the networks took Florida out of the Gore column on election night 2000.”
Now, four months after Fahrenheit: 9/11 broke box-office records for “documentaries,” this shrill partisanship is again on display — but in reaction to a movie that lambastes the Bush administration.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online