Politics and Cinema

trumpy

It’s a pathetic situation in America when the queasy combination of celebrities and politics can literally result in “celebrity politicians” — carnival freakshows like Donald Trump whose name-brand recognition is enough to propel his ignorance to the top of U.S. presidential polls. There’s of course no reason why passionate celebrity activists shouldn’t use their intelligent involvement to raise awareness of social issues, as America Ferrera demonstrated so beautifully when she took part in the transformative Women’s Rights documentary, Half the Sky (along with Diane Lane, Olivia Wilde, Nicole Kidman, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union and Meg Ryan). That, we applaud. Today America Ferrara made news with a blistering open letter to the GOP travesty called Donald Trump, thanking him for energizing Latino voters against the repulsive attitudes that he (and a weirdly large number of the Republican electorate) represent. She thanks him “for reminding us that there remains an antiquated and endangered species of bigots in this country that we must continue to combat.” Here’s her letter in full.

* * *

Dear Donald,

You’ve said some pretty offensive things about Latino immigrants recently, and I think they’re worth addressing. Because, you know, this is the United States of America, where I have a right to speak up even if I’m not a billionaire. Isn’t that awesome?

Anyway, I heard what you said about the kind of people you think Latino immigrants are — people with problems, who bring drugs, crime and rape to America. While your comments are incredibly ignorant and racist, I don’t want to spend my time chastising you. I’ll leave that to your business partners like Univision and NBC, who have the power to scold you where it hurts. Instead, I’m writing to say thank you!

You see, what you just did with your straight talk was send more Latino voters to the polls than several registration rallies combined! Thank you for that. Here we are pounding the pavement to get American Latinos to the polls, while your tactic proves most effective. Remarks like yours will serve brilliantly to energize Latino voters and increase turnout on election day against you and any other candidate who runs on a platform of hateful rhetoric.

Do you know why that’s such a big deal, Donald? Because Latinos are the largest, youngest and fastest-growing constituency in the United States of America. That’s right! You are running for President in a country where the Latino population grew by over 49 percent from 2000-2012, while the rest of the country grew by 5.8 percent. What’s more, we are the future. The median age of the average Latino is 27 years old, compared to 42 years old for white Americans. In case you need a translation, that means there are a whole lot of Americans who are Latino and have the right to vote. And, we’re not going anywhere.

This is the America we are actually living in. I hope by now you understand that without the Latino vote, there is no chance of you ever winning this election. If you don’t believe me, you could ask President Bush or you could even ask President Obama.

You, Mr. Trump, are living in an outdated fantasy of a bigoted America. Last week, America celebrated some amazing milestones — marriage equality, universal healthcare, removing of the confederate flag — making it clear in which direction the country is moving. That is why racist remarks that play to extremists won’t change the tide, no matter how hard you try. They will only serve to rally more Latino voters to the polls. Your negativity and your poorly thought out speech ignited a fire in our community. Thank you, Mr. Trump!

Thank you for reminding us that there remains an antiquated and endangered species of bigots in this country that we must continue to combat. Thank you for reminding us to not sit complacently at home on election day, but to run to the polls and proclaim that there is no place for your brand of racial politicking in our government. Thank you for sending out the rallying cry.

You have made your thoughts on the Latino community clear and you continue to stand by them. And in return, we will do more than tweet about our indignation and beat piñatas of your likeness. We will silence you at the polls. We will vote and use our growing position in U.S. politics. Our fellow Americans who understand and value our contributions will join us. We know there is nothing that scares you more.

The truth is, Mr. Trump, that your comments mean that you fail to see that immigrants are what have made this nation. They are at the core of our ideals, and they are the foundation that keeps us afloat. No, Mr. Trump, you may not reduce us to drug dealers and rapists. We are moms and dads, sons and daughters. We are valedictorians and honor students. We are college graduates, bankers, police officers, entertainers, teachers, journalists, politicians and we are the future of America.

Thank you for helping us in our work to energize the Latino vote and to usher in our shared future! Keep it up!

Sincerely,

America

Of Honduran decent, America was born and raised in Los Angeles and received a degree in International Relations from USC. An award winning actress, she is best known for her starring role in the ABC hit Ugly Betty. America is saluted by Congress for raising the profile of Latinos in popular culture, serving as a role model for young Latinas, and working to empower the Latino community.

America Ferrera discusses her involvement in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a landmark transmedia project featuring a four-hour PBS primetime national and international broadcast event. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. Embedded in the linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which still needlessly claims one woman every 90 seconds — is the single most vital opportunity of our time — and all over the world, women are seizing it.

selma

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell delivers the Last Word with a lesson about how and why filmmakers dramatize real life events.

“Movies are movies. History books are history books. Movies are works of art — some great art, some good art, some terrible art. Selma, to me is great art… We want to have that experience we can only have in a dark theater, locked in the grip of a movie. I had that watching Selma — which ended with the biggest and longest standing ovation I have ever experienced in a theater.”

elephants

“Even though you only bought a trinket, you paid for something bigger.” – In three powerful minutes, Kathryn Bigelow maps the link between elephant slaughter and terrorism.

mary poppins

via Funny or Die, Mary Poppins (Kristen Bell) is working for minimum wage, and really needs a raise.

new-york-daily-news-house-of-turds-cover-boehner

new-york-daily-news-house-of-turds-cover-boehner

It’s looking increasingly likely that Ashley Judd is ready to make a run for the Kentucky Senate seat now held by reptilian Mitch McConnell, one the most despicable do-nothings ever to slither up Capitol Hill. Howard Fineman writes today at HuffPo:

Judd told one close ally that she plans to announce her run for the Democratic nomination for the 2014 race “around Derby” — meaning in early May when the Kentucky Derby brings national attention to Louisville and the Bluegrass State…

“I know she knows she has to declare soon,” said one source, a highly placed elected official who declined to be identified because he was discussing private plans. “She could always change her mind,” he added. “I changed my mind twice before I finally declared. But as of now it is a done deal.” She has discussed her plans, sources say, with former Gov. Wendell H. Ford, the 88-year-old dean of Kentucky Democrats, among others.

Judd was born in California but grew up in Kentucky and attended UK in Lexington. She lives in Nashville now and will need to move back to Lexington before November to meet residency requirements. An avid UK Wildcat basketball fan, Judd is a wildcat herself. Howard Fineman says when asked if she was tough enough to take on McConnell and the GOP national attack machine, Judd reportedly answered, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell.”

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stewart

stewart

Jon Stewart will take a 3-month break from The Daily Show this summer to make his feature film debut.

(Deadline)Stewart has written the script, and will direct Rosewater, an adaptation of the book Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story Of Love, Captivity And Survival. Published in 2011 by Random House, the book is Maziar Bahari’s harrowing ordeal of leaving London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential elections. With a pregnant fiance left behind, the BBC journalist expected to be away for a week. Instead, he spent the next 118 days in Iran’s most notorious prison being brutally interrogated by a man he knew only by one thing: he smelled of Rosewater. Bahari wrote the book with Aimee Molloy. Scott Rudin will produce with Stewart and Gigi Pritzker. Pritzker’s OddLot Entertainment is financing the film.

Stewart will take about 12 weeks off in the summer. In his absence, Daily Show regular John Oliver will be guest host for eight weeks of fresh shows.

Ambitious undertaking and a nice variation on the parade of TV variety show personalities who make their move to feature films often doing little more than big-screen variations of their familiar comedic persona. Stewart has played this close to his vest, quietly optioning Bahari’s book under auspices of his own, Busboy Productions. It’s always clear that Stewart can deftly shift between news satire in the first half ofThe Daily Show whenever the situation merits a more serious tone. It’s also clear that he’s one of the few late night hosts who not only interviews authors but actually takes time to read their books. Deadline expresses some strange surprise, unable to “remember when a well established daily talk show host has taken a hiatus like this to pursue a passion project” — because, right, we’ve all been wondering when Jay Leno would write direct his big-screen epic about collecting classic cars.

A funny Facebook chat we had after the election you might like:

The highlight of Louis CK’s appearance this weekend on SNL.

Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.

What I’ve learned about the Oscar race from watching the 2012 election

There are many similarities between the Oscar race and the US presidential election. Pundits are generally divided up into teams, much like the Democrats and Republicans. The voters are bombarded with ads, charming persuaders, bloggers who try to tip the race in one direction or another because they believe in the best film winning. The critics and guild awards function like state by state polls. Various producers and publicists take informal polls that are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Odds-makers predict how the race will turn out based on those factors.

Like an ill-informed electorate, many people vote for the Oscars without watching all of the movies. Just like most citizens vote without knowing all of the issues at stake. Winners are chosen on the basis of perception in both the Oscar race and in the election. That President Obama’s momentum could have shifted so dramatically after the first debate bears this out. What else but perception could have tipped the scales in the favor of the more dynamic candidate’s performance — which contained half-truths and flip-flops? It wasn’t a matter of substance, but a failure of optics. By the same token, how else do we explain movies that gain momentum and eventually win Best Picture yet have no staying power beyond the three months or so after the Oscars?

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But oh how they huffed and puffed! Oh how they wagged their fingers at Dunham for daring to — um — use a funny metaphor? There is nothing the slightest bit filthy in what Dunham has said. She says “my first time” and she means it’s supposed to be about voting. If Ann Romney were saying the exact same thing no one would draw the conclusion that she was being vulgar. But because it’s Lena Dunham, outspoken, sexually expressive “bad girl” they figure — oh, it’s controversial. Watch the video. Does she ever say anything remotely vulgar? No!

She could have said: “your first time you want it to be with a guy who knows how to wait to come before you do!” But she didn’t. She could have said “you want the guy to be sensitive enough to put the condom on himself” but she didn’t.  Conservatives, heal thyselves.

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What is that sound? Oh, that’s the sound of panic.  The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the spigot for unlimited spending on candidates by Super PACs and while Obama’s campaign is taking in substantial donations it can’t compare to dump-trucks of cash the Romney campaign commands. So many billions of dollars are at stake here, not just the money being funneled with a fire hose into swing states as we speak, but hundreds of billions in lost revenue for the next 4 years if Romney takes over to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The power elite wants a candidate they can control and Romney is their guy — an etch-a-sketch cipher who stands for nothing. The less he stands for, the less he knows, the higher his poll numbers climb.  America eats stupid for breakfast, we’ve known this for a long time, but this kind of thing seems like it crosses the line.

Now, a major cable provider is allowing viewers to watch the Obama hate movie, arguably one of the stupidest things ever put on film. A 90-minute campaign ad called a documentary and then pawned off on the American people as a legitimate film, for free. Let’s see how many people we can brainwash with out-and-out lies?

A major cable provider is offering a notorious anti-Obama movie to all its subscribers for free. The company, Armstrong Cable, operates in six states including Pennsylvania and the critical swing state of Ohio. The move comes just days after the Armstrong’s Chairman of the Board donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The film, “2016: Obama’s America,” has been widely panned by critics and debunked by fact checkers. Written and narrated by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, it claims Obama’s “worldview… was largely shaped by the anti-colonalist, anti-white and anti-Christian politics of Obama’s supposedly radical Kenyan father,” who was largely absent from his life. The point of the movie, according to a review in the Washington Post, is to convince viewers “that Obama hates America.” It ‘s been roundly rebuked as “fear-mongering of the worst kind.”

Armstrong recently started offering the movie for free, on demand, to all of its subscribers.

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For the first time in my lifetime we are faced with a potential presidential administration that is prepared to overturn Roe V. Wade. The drastic changes to the Supreme Court are worth worrying about. After watching Steven Spielberg’s best film in twenty years about how Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet barely pushed through the 13th amendment reminded me how the Republican party used to stand up for freedom, not try to take that freedom away. And now look. They are being funded by the richest men in the world – brought in to help rich men get richer. But read between the lines, folks. It’s really about the Supreme Court now. Wake the f**k up.

The scary conservative response after the cut — calls Samuel L. Jackson a “slave” and “the new Uncle Tom.” It’s beyond horrifying. But these are the people who are about to take control of our government, formerly known as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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This is pretty great, this video. The truth is that three weeks before the election is probably not the time anyone is going to cool off – but after the election, if Obama wins, I will happy to stop getting angry at the other side. In the meantime, enjoy!

Yes, it’s 2012.   But believe it or not, “conservatism” has overtaken the Grand Old Party. They give lip service to freedom and all of that but what they really want to do is control women by controlling their reproductive rights. These are our rights. We fought for them. Now Meryl Streep, Tea Leoni, Amy Poehler and others are taking it to the streets.  We’re not fucking around, people.

Quite sly how Bill Maher lures Dinesh D’Souza into a false sense of security and then deftly sets a couple of traps for D’Souza to stumble into.

One more politically oriented post and then we’ll turn away, ok? Hard to argue that politics doesn’t have a place on a movie site when America’s most revered Oscar-winning movie legends are doing prop comedy endorsements, conventions are stage-managed by Hollywood producers, and movies like 2016: Obama’s America somehow exist. Campaign ads — and I’m including this movie — are often pure fiction and even when legitimate facts emerge, they’re framed for greater impact with movie techniques. I would like to think Dinesh D’Souza’s smear piece will peak this weekend and then shrivel into its own disgusting husk. But while the thing is still out there percolating hate, I’m glad to see some critics refuse to be blinded its shiny sheen of skillfully constructed sleaze. Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir dismantles Dinesh D’Souza the way he needs to be.

Somebody in Dinesh D’Souza’s shaggy, piecemeal right-wing screed “2016: Obama’s America” definitely has a problem with post-colonial theory and the conflicted ideologies of third-world intellectuals. But I don’t think it’s Barack Obama. A blend of genuinely fascinating observations and shrill, repetitious character assassination, “2016” is the surprise hit documentary of late summer, hypothetically lifting the spirits of true-hearted Americans as they battle to thwart the dastardly schemes of … well, the middle-of-the-road, drone-happy politician who has occupied the White House for the last four years, apparently without showing his true colors.

As far as actual argumentation about Obama goes, there’s nothing new here that Sarah Palin didn’t try in 2008: The president spent his childhood and young manhood pallin’ around with terrorists of various stripes and haunted by the specter of his Kenyan radical dad, and those influences have shaped him into a creature of unique deviousness. While the birthers may not be precisely correct when it comes to troublesome factual details – D’Souza does not endorse, disavow or even mention the kookier conspiracy theories – they’re right at the level of essence and insight. Obama is a dyed-in-the-wool anti-American who was born in a hospital with a funny name, reared on his absent father’s “Third World collectivism” and elected president in a nationwide racial pity party after concealing crucial elements of his own background. He is “weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis” and hopes to enable a “United States of Islam” in the Middle East while raising taxes to 100 percent at home. Any questions?

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