'Criticism is the only thing that stands between the audience and advertising.' - Pauline Kael


Dr David Archibald, University Of Glasgow
Film International, Financial Times, Cineaste

Liza Bear,
Bomb Magazine

Dan Bessie
Filmmaker and Culture Critic

Prof. Dennis Broe
Jump Cut, NY Newsday, Boston Phoenix

Dianne Brooks
The Film Files,

Lisa Collins

Benjamin Dickenson
Bright Lights Film Journal, UK

David Ehrenstein
Quarterly Review of Film and Video

Miguel Gardel
Proletaria Press

Michael Haas
Culture critic

Laura Hadden
Pacifica Radio

Gerald Horne
University Of Houston

Reynold Humphries
British Film Historian

Sikivu Hutchinson, KPFK Radio

Jan Lisa Huttner, Films For Two

Cindy Lucia
Cineaste Magazine

Pat McGilligan
Film Historian

Prairie Miller
WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network

Logan Nakyanzi
Go Left TV, Huffington Post

Gerald Peary
Boston Phoenix

Steve Presence
Radical Film Network, UK

Louis Proyect

Sandy Sanders

Nancy Schiesari,
BBC, Channel 4,
Univ. of Texas, Austin

Rebecca Schiller
Culture Critic

David Spaner, Hollywood Inc.

Luis Reyes
, Arsenal Pulp Press

Christopher Trumbo
RIP, January 8, 2011

Dave Wagner
Mother Jones, Film International

Linda Z
LFC Film Club

Noah Zweig

Paul Robeson With Oakland, Ca. Shipyard Workers, 1942

Black August

So in order to best cover all bases, progressive film critics tend to consider three categories of assessment, rather than two: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The first two are self-explanatory. And the third category is reserved for movies that may have been impressively put together, but there's just something offensively anti-humanistic about them.

Stay tuned......

The Organizer

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hollywood Flexes Its Political Muscle In 2008 Election

By Ed Rampell, Columnist
Posted: 11/16/2008 12:00:00 AM PST

HOLLYWOOD played a role on the electoral stage in the Nov. 4 election in three primary ways.

First, as the ATM for campaigns.

"L.A. is a great stop for people running for high office to come to fundraisers," said President Nixon's former White House counsel, John Dean.

Second, for celebrity endorsements, which attract press and crowds. Take, for example, September's star-studded Beverly Hills Barack Obama bash headlined by Barbra Streisand. "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduced vice presidential contender/hockey mom Sarah Palin at an October rally, while Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Samuel L. Jackson used their star power against California's Proposition 8.

The third way in which Tinseltown influences voters is by using its mass-communications skills for campaigns, candidates and causes.

But did Hollywood really change the election?

It tried. In the months before the Nov. 4 election, Hollywood debuted several political movies. Kevin Costner's get-out-the-vote fable "Swing Vote" debuted in August and was followed in September by Michael Moore's documentary about his 2004, 60-city voter registration drive, "Slacker Uprising."

As the presidential race rediscovered terms that almost vanished from America's political lexicon, including "working class," Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta and Woody Harrelson co-starred in "Battle in Seattle." This September release dramatizes 1999's anti-globalization mass strike
pitting organized labor and eco-activists against riot police and the World Trade Organization.

Shortly before the election, Oliver Stone's biopic of George W. Bush, "W." was released. James Cromwell, who plays George H.W. Bush in the film, said its impact in the election is "a very hard question to answer .... People don't vote on the basis of a film."

Maybe not, but politics was very much in fashion in film this year.

HBO comic Bill Maher's polemically incorrect "Religulous" ridiculed religion even as the evangelical Palin was being nominated for GOP vice president. The documentary by "Borat" director Larry Charles earned $12 million-plus since Oct. 3 and is a nonbeliever's frontal assault on the religious right.

The John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign called Obama a "socialist" while Steven Soderbergh's epic about the world's most famous socialist, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, was screened Nov. 1 at AFI's filmfest in Hollywood.

The movie goes into limited release Dec. 12. Actor Benicio Del Toro depicts the revolutionary icon in "Che," a masterpiece of political filmmaking emerging just as capitalism faces disasters.

Meanwhile, under the guise of investigating a 1929 child-abduction case, Clint Eastwood's "Changeling," starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich, may have reminded moviegoers of the Bush regime's legacy of civil liberties violations via the Patriot Act, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

The small screen - television - rang up its own victories with political satire scoring huge ratings.

Tina Fey's flawless impersonation of Republican vice presidential candidate Palin on "Saturday Night Live" might have saved America from four years of Palin.

Social networking sites, blogs and videos also impacted campaigns, as the Internet got into the political act.

In person, Palin touted small-town "real America," but online the "Mayberry" and "Happy Days" votes went to the other team.

To endorse Obama, movie director Ron Howard donned his Opie duds and reunited with Andy Griffith in a skit that went viral. In the same video, Howard sported his Richie Cunningham letterman sweater and talked up Obama with the Fonz.

Guerrilla producer/director Robert Greenwald regularly skewered McCain online, exposing his politically expedient "doubletalk express," wealth and medical history in shorts on YouTube.

Greenwald calls movies "an activist tool." His Brave New Films presented Moore's "Slacker Uprising" online for free.

In that documentary, the Oscar-winner tossed ramen and clean underwear to students pledging to vote. Republicans charged Moore with bribery, while genre spoofer David Zucker ("Airplane!" and "Naked Gun") excoriates him in "An American Carol," starring Kevin Farley as an unpatriotic Moore-like documentarian who wants to outlaw July 4.

"An American Carol" repeatedly derides documentaries as inferior to features, but five weeks after its release, the low-budget "Carol" scored merely $7 million at the box office. (By comparison, Moore's 2004 "Fahrenheit 9/11" earned $250 million.)

"Carol" co-stars ex-anti-establishment actors Dennis Hopper, James Woods and Jon Voight, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor as an antiwar activist in 1978's "Coming Home."

To be sure, audiences generally buy more tickets to escapist flicks than socially conscious ones. In five weeks "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" made more than $88 million, outearning "Battle in Seattle" 412-to-1. Still, the outcome of the vote indicates cinema and other mass mediums do more than passively reflect America; they actively contributed to the outcome.

Despite celeb endorsers and deep pockets, Proposition 8 won - maybe because there was no big screen pro-gay movie, like 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," during the election cycle. Sean Penn's "Milk," about California's first openly gay elected official, opens in December - too late to impact Proposition 8.

But the fact that so many of 2008's topical movies leaned left proves political power grows out of the barrel of a camera lens.

L.A.-based film historian/critic Ed Rampell is the author of "Progressive Hollywood."

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