11 posts categorized "politics"

April 04, 2016

THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD

Brainwashing-of-My-DadJen Senko’s workmanlike (Kickstarter-funded) documentary examines American media’s propaganda-led phenomenon of extreme rightwing bigotry with a fine-tooth comb. The right’s “media phenomenon” of sophisticated public think tank-invented propaganda has accomplished its goals on a lot of citizens, even if however not as many as its primary architect Roger Ailes intends.

Senko does her homework. Interviews with such key figures as Noam Chomsky, David Brock (Media Matters), former Fox News commentator Jeff Cohens, and authors Gabriel Sherman and Claire Conner provide a wealth of background information and context. This is a solid political documentary with style and grace to spare.

The Brainwashing of My Dad (2015) - IMDb

Senko’s filmic journey comes from personal experience. Jen’s once Kennedy-loving father used to be the kind of guy who would address a homeless person as “sir.” Long hours spent listening to Rush Limbaugh while commuting alone in his car turned the old man into a hate mongering “ditto-head,” furious about such non-threats as “feminazis.” Frank’s discovery of Fox News amped him up further into a proper monster who treated even his own family members like dirt. Frank spent his time reading and forwarding dozens of rightwing emails to his friends and family members daily.

Can we save loved ones from Fox News? "I don't know if it's too late or  not" | Salon.com

The Kickstarter element is significant to “The Brainwashing of My Dad” because the fund-raising format caused dozens of people to reach out to Senko with their own stories about people close to them “becoming enraged and unreachable after obsessively listening to, or watching, rightwing media.” Through interview clips with some of these victims we get a sense of the enormous toll that right’s 24/7 media propaganda campaign has taken on millions of families in America.

BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD

A canny clip from a Hilary Clinton “Today Show” television interview from 1993 captures the career politician speaking from the gut when Clinton says, “The great story here for anybody willing to find it, write about it, and explain it, is this vast rightwing conspiracy.” She is (no doubt) referring in part at least to the rightwing media cabal that monopolized American print, television, and radio media in the years after Reagan became President. Conservative think tanks play a role in what gets taught in universities and which professors get hired. Senko uses captivating visual techniques, such as animation (courtesy of Bill Plympton) to help her audience process a deceptively large amount of information on hand.

Review: 'Brainwashing of My Dad' looks at talk radio and Fox News' effect -  Los Angeles Times

Keep in mind that Clarence Thomas likes to brag that he tries to listen to Rush Limbaugh three-hours a day. If you’re wondering where so many Trump-voters came from, here’s your answer.

Brainwash

Not Rated. 90 mins.

4 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

October 13, 2012

THE PAPERBOY — NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2012

PaperboyOpenly anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynist, and racist, there’s something to offend nearly everyone in this wrongheaded ‘60s era sexploitation misadventure from director Lee Daniels. Once assigned to Pedro Almodovar for directing duties, Pete Dexter’s pulp novel “Paris Trout” — about some of the dumbest fictional characters ever imagined — finds confused cinematic fulfillment in the hands of director/co-screenwriter Lee Daniels (“Precious”). Daniels draws from an incongruent batch of ‘70s films (“Deliverance” included) to create a fantasy hodgepodge whitesploitation drama calculated to shock, disgust, and arouse the viewer.

Paperboy

Zac Ephron continues to bring the kiss of death to every film he appears in — this time as Jack Jansen, a twentysomething beefcake dilettante who returns to his small-town Florida roots after being thrown out of college for an act of vandalism; he drained the school’s swimming pool. Genius. It’s the summer of ’69. The eternally horny Jack likes to lay around his family home in his tighty whities to see what kind of rise he can get out of African American housekeeper Anita (Macy Gray). Anita does narration duties to instill the movie with an illogical bird’s-eye narrative perspective. Note to filmmakers everywhere — show, don’t tell. Evidently, Lee Daniels never studied the rules of screenwriting 101. It gets worse. Much worse. Anita informs the audience about the murder of the town’s sheriff.

Paperboy

Enter Jack’s older brother Ward, a Miami reporter for the family newspaper. Ward brings with him his equally horny African-American colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo). Yardley speaks with a fake British accent that serves to draw more attention to the film’s purely fictional underpinnings. If you’re sensing a pattern, yes every character in the movie is starved for sex. Ward is the researcher; Yardley is the writer. The duo are in town to investigate questions surrounding the murder, allegedly by one Hillary Van Wetter, a swamp-living piece of white trash who has been keeping busy in prison writing love letters to Nicole Kidman’s Charlotte Bless — horny, natch. Ward, Jack, Yardley, and Charlotte team up to prove Hillary’s innocence that he might be freed to pursue a (cough) relationship with the supremely slutty Charlotte.

The-paperboy

The movie plays its salacious trump cards during a few waywardly erotic scenes. The first arrives on the group’s initial visit to Hillary in jail. Not minding an audience, Hillary instigates a simultaneous masturbation session with Charlotte who has conveniently worn a super-short skirt to the appointment. She tears open her pantyhose at the crotch to reveal her womanhood for Hillary to openly pleasure himself. Cheers. Charlotte’s exhibitionism flames Jack’s imagination. Ward too has some difficulty keeping his hands off his own privates. A visit to the beach for Jack and Charlotte turns into an excuse for some gratuitous fetish play after Jack suffers multiple jellyfish stings. Charlotte fights off a trio of local girls for the right to pee on Jack’s wounds that cover his chest, back, and — you guessed it — his face. Plot leaps and character revelations come out of nowhere. Nothing is supported with any amount of logic.

Paperboy

If newspaper articles could get people out of jail, it would open up a whole new media stream. Every character on display is an artificial construct of vaguely pornographic intent. “The Paperboy” wants to be a hardcore porn movie. Indeed, the film could conceivably have been made into an interesting example of Hollywood A-list actors creating a new genre of reverse crossover porn. As a curiosity, “The Paperboy” reaches for a cult status that it is sure to achieve.

Rated R. 106 mins. (D+)

Five Stars

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

January 05, 2009

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

Brain And Heart

Rod Lurie Makes a Political Thriller for Our Times

Colesmithey.comClearly inspired by Judith Miller's role in the Valerie Plame case, writer/director Rod Lurie ("The Contender") takes dramatic liberties to allow for a provocative treatment of an ongoing battle for civil liberties exacted in the name of national security. Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) is a newspaper journalist working on a story that will expose her soccer mom neighbor Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga) as a covert C.I.A. agent. After the story runs, the Government assigns special prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) to induce Rachel to hand over her source or face a prison sentence that she is fully prepared to serve. Lurie balances the tragic repercussions of two women drawn into a swirling riptide of political neglect, judicial irresponsibility, and sudden violence. Lurie's pitch-perfect dialogue keeps the thriller humming with expressive tension and biting satire.

Colesmithey.com

Peeking out through the straight-forward thriller is a question about the evaporation of government accountability and its inability to police itself. The government's hollow-tipped spear of "national security" taking precedence over Rachel's First Amendment rights, serves as the theme line that Lurie suspends his multi-dimensional characters from.   

Colesmithey.com

Rachel and Erica are painted as likable but fiercely committed women, poised as polar rivals in their professional lives. Lurie eloquently connects a specifically female logic that comes home to roost in a third-act stroke of thematic and narrative wit that beautifully answers a fundamental narrative question.  

Colesmithey.com

We are drawn to Beckinsale's spunky journalist whose team of editors at the Capitol Sun Times support her decision to out Erica Van Doren's classified identity after an assassination attempt on the U.S. President, allegedly by the leader of Venezuela. That Van Doren's husband recently abandoned his role as ambassador to Venezuela due to conflicts with the White House administration doesn't connect as an editorial clue that perhaps the paper is being manipulated by the Administration in its run up to a war with Venezuela.

Colesmithey.com

The movie suffers from two minor flaws — Erica's non-present husband, and her un-spy-like behavior at a critical moment in the driveway of her home. These narrative ruts in the road are overshadowed by the sheer force of the tightly-turning plot and the psychological drama at hand. Rachel is tossed in jail while her husband (David Schwimmer) publicly pursues other women, and she loses touch with her young son. Behind-the-scene courtroom battles bristle between Rachel's skillful high-stakes attorney Albert Burnside (wonderfully played by Alan Alda) and Matt Dillon's brutally determined prosecutor Dubois.     

Colesmithey.com

As much as there are similarities to the Valerie Plame/Judith Miller case, "Noting But the Truth" makes no bones about using a piece of that complex chronicle as a dramatic stepping-off point to construct a polemical representation of ethical questions facing America. The film comes alive in several priceless scenes brimming with emotion and conscious resolve. Vera Farmiga explodes from the screen in a particularly thorny cemetery conversation with her C.I.A. officers, and she nails a scene with a Barbara Walters-styled television interviewer trapped in her own web. The powerful performances that Lurie extracts across-the-board from his actors is commendable. Angela Bassett and Noah Wyle give strong supporting roles in a solid political thriller that is equal parts brain and heart.

(Yari Film Group) Rated R. 107 mins.Four Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos

COLE SMITHEY’S MOVIE WEEK

COLE SMITHEY’S CLASSIC CINEMA

Throwback Thursday


Podcast Series