Wearing your Leftist heart on your sleeve

I’ve become very fond of David Denby’s movie reviews in the New Yorker, largely because he can’t resist letting his politics leak out all over the place. I’ve blogged before about his slobbering praise for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, and his compulsion to use Garrison Keilor’s Prairie Home Companion as a forum for attacking George Bush. The same leakage occured when he reviewed Little Miss Sunshine, although to a lesser extent. Although I can’t get my hand on a copy of that review right now, I know that he attributed the family’s impovished state to George Bush’s America. Apparently Denby’s been a bit out of contact with the good news about the American economy.

This time, we’re told that Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center is a good movie despite the fact that conservatives like and praise it. I’m not kidding — that’s precisely what he says:

“World Trade Center” is about courage and endurance as a function of family strength; it’s about suburban and small-town America trying to save the big city. Those are conservative themes, much praised for their appearance in this movie by the kind of right-wingers who have long hated Oliver Stone. Some of the euphoria—Cal Thomas, a columnist and a commentator at Fox News, calls the movie “one of the greatest pro-American, pro-family, pro-faith, pro-male, flag-waving God Bless America films you will ever see”—is not only inane, it’s enough to turn you off moviegoing altogether. Can “World Trade Center” really be that bad? No, the ideologues laying hands on the movie won’t sink it.

The ostensible review spends only a scant one paragraph talking about the movie before turning to a rundown of Stone’s career, all aimed at assuring us that Stone loves his country:

For all the rough talk and messy action in “Salvador,” Stone was as earnest as any collar-grabbing country preacher: he wanted Americans to confront the country’s sins. The conservatives who began to attack him after “Salvador” had him all wrong. Stone was not some anti-American crank but an anguished patriot with an outsized capacity for anger and shame.

After the hagiography about stone, Denby returns to a couple more paragraphs of movie review. Then we get the last criticism: how can you believe in an ex-Marine who will drop everything, put on his uniform, and go to save people?

There’s only one element in the movie that feels too stiff. A slab-faced ex-marine, Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon), an accountant who lives in Connecticut, hears God’s call on the morning of the attack, dons his old uniform, and moves into the smoking ruins after the official rescue teams have been called off for the night. Stone’s iconic treatment of Karnes could have used a touch of humor—like many inspired men, he seems a bit mad. But Karnes, solemn and remote as he is, may be important to Stone in ways that go deep. The vets in “Born on the Fourth of July” longed for home and for “things that made sense, things you could count on, before we got so lost.”

Of course, we all know that this is precisely the type of thing an ex-Marine will do.

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  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Denby says that Staff Sergeant Karnes’ story “…feels too stiff.”

    Does he not know that Stone is telling the story precisely as it happened? Or is it just that he finds most Americans (who love God and their country, and actually feel moved to do selfless things at times) “stiff”? What is with the guy?

  • zhombre

    Stone knows how to put together a movie and after a couple of box office disasters he needed a hit, simple as that.

  • jg

    I admit that most of our movie watching comes from AMC/FMC and is best done in black and white. Definitely cinema has a few millenia to put under its belt before it can challenge a good book. Still I am aware of the desperate state of today’s video world, especially when a critic celebrates in these terms: Stone is “better at violent spectacle and at capturing the stages of dying than any other director.” Violence and death.

    We the viewer/reader/audience get to choose which themes we will accept. Mr. Denby knows that final secret. It is we, the public audience, who will decide over decades and centuries what matters and what does not.

    We read Dickens and Twain, watch Myrna Loy, admire Norman Rockwell; and not their contemporaries. All of these do exactly what Mr. Denby denigrates: exalt the good. And we love our country, “our.” I dare say Denby cannot. I think Denby and his intellectual coteries actually prefer today’s killers and their awful world.

    “The world may not make sense anymore” because of an intellectual and moral depravity simply too great on his part. Does Denby shows his jealousy of Stone’s ability to come home? while he–the media gate keeper– can only lament ‘” before we got so lost.”’

    Denby is no “anguished patriot with an outsized capacity for anger and shame” but simply futile, worthless, and–with an implacable enemy he refuses to see having already torched his New York once– finally damned.

  • erp

    Re: Stone’s nonpartisan new film.

    In my opinion this is only the first of a series of films he plans to make about 9/11 with each one gently moving the meme along that America/Israel and George Bush are to blame for pushing Moslems into a corner where they see killing innocents as their only recourse to secure justice.

    The last frame in the last film in a possible trilogy would depict Bush’s impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, possibly with elected Democrats playing themselves.

    Thus is the stuff of moonbat dreams.

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  • http://paragraphfarmer.blogspot.com/ Patrick O’Hannigan

    As dad still says, “once a Marine, always a Marine.”

    I’m guessing Denby fears Dave Karnes, Jason Thomas, and men like them, only dimly realizing that they’re there to protect him from threat.

  • jg

    PH: “I’m guessing Denby fears Dave Karnes, Jason Thomas, and men like them..”
    Makes sense. Perhaps he’s possessor of an unadmitted sense of inferiority, also.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    I think Denby believes strength comes from bragging and status and fame. He believes in illusion over substance, wind over earth, promises over duty.

  • zhombre

    Erp: yes. Sequels are now in the talking stage. Gary Busey is in the running to play George W. Bush. Provided Busey drops 30 lbs and completes rehab. Alec Baldwin is being considered to play Russ Feingold. Provided Baldwin drops 30 lbs and completes anger management courses. Danny Glover is a shoo-in for the role of Kofi Annan.

  • Ymarsakar

    Talk about propaganda.

  • zhombre

    Ymarsakar: you realize I made it all up. Except the part about Baldwin’s required anger management; I believe this was a condition of his divorce from Kim Basinger.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    Ya, I suspected that. Which is why I’m refering to Stone or Hollywood making anything about 9/11. It’s just their way to revise history. What you said referenced that, so it created a link in my mind.

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