I like to tweak NY Times movie reviews (heck, any MSM movie reviews), because of the relentless Progressive punditry that characterizes them, regardless of the movie’s actual content. With a movie about Jimmy Carter on the table, I was therefore prepared for a full frontal case of anti-Bush commentary in the review. It wasn’t there. Instead, Manolah Dargis wrote a surprising review of Jonathan Demme’s hagiographic new movie about Jimmy Carter, including language actually critical of the one-sided (read: pro-Palestinian) approach to the Middle East that both the Left and Carter invariably display:
This sense of simplicity is underscored by Mr. Carter’s folksy manner and by Mr. Demme’s representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a tidy loop with images of Israelis bulldozing Palestinian homes followed by images of dead Israelis after a suicide bombing. I couldn’t help but wonder what the leftist intellectual Ellen Willis would have made of Mr. Carter’s interest in Israel. In a 2003 essay, “Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I’m an Anti-Anti-Zionist,” Ms. Willis wrote that “the left has focused on Israeli acts of domination and human rights violations with an intense and consistent outrage that it fails to direct toward comparable or worse abuses elsewhere, certainly toward the unvarnished tyrannies in the Middle East (where, for instance, is the divestment campaign against Saudi Arabia?).”
The former president’s evangelical Christianity makes his focus on the Holy Land all the more intriguing. Yet, while Mr. Carter invokes Jesus almost as much as he does Israel in the documentary, Mr. Demme never directly puts these two parts of his subject’s life into play with each other. Neither does the filmmaker engage with any of the more inflammatory claims from Mr. Carter’s book, including this: “There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank, but because of powerful political, economic and religious forces in the United States, Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories.”
“Man From Plains” isn’t about engagement; it’s about disengagement from Mr. Carter’s critics and his more provocative beliefs.
Credit where credit is due: this is not a knee jerk review. I’m impressed.