I’ve watched two of the videos allegedly composed by Jared Lee Loughner, the 22 year-old right-wing nutter who shot Democratic Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others five or six hours ago. Tea Party gun wackos are all over Arizona, but are you going to tell me that Sarah Palin‘s “Take Back The 20” website (which has since gone down) and its use of rifle-sight imagery to target Giffords wasn’t an inflammatory factor?
After Giffords’ office was attacked, she spoke to MSBNC about being the target of Sarah Palin’s campaign that had Congressional areas in crosshairs. “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district,” she said, “and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” She stated that such imagery was trying to “incite people and inflame emotions.”
N.Y. Times Update: “Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik offered an emotional, angry assessment of the state of America in the wake of the shootings in Arizona, saying that two of his close friends — Ms. Giffords and Judge John Roll — were among the victims.
“Mr. Dupnik blamed the crime on the rhetoric — presumably political rhetoric — in the country.
“‘When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,’ he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
“Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to ‘do a little soul searching.’
“‘The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business…This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.'”
Update: An HE reader made a fair point in linking to this 12.13.04 Democratic Leadership Council page with a map targeting red states that were deemed possibly winnable by Democratic candidates in future elections. Each state is marked with a target icon similar to Sarah Palin’s Take Back The 20 website. Yes, it’s the same idea but — key distinction! — the Democrats used archery target icons while Palin used rifle-sight icons. Bows and arrows are inherently less lethal and obviously an anachronistic alliteration. If and when an assassin tries to kill a politician with a bow and arrow, let me know and we’ll talk.
I haven’t seen Martin Scorsese‘s American Boy for over 30 years, but I remember it well because its subject, Steven Prince, was a world-class raconteur. Guys who can tell stories with just the right levels of smirk and emphasis are like jazz musicians, and are few and far between. I’ve known four or five of them in my life, and they’ve just got something that you can’t help responding to.
In the above clip Prince, best known for playing the gun salesman in Taxi Driver, tells about (a) working as a stagehand (or was he tour manager?) for Neil Diamond and receiving an injection of pure meth from a fellow worker, (b) managing to wangle a 4F classification for homosexual tendencies, and (c) pulling a gun on a guy who’d tried to rob him, and then dealing with a cop who happened by.
At some point in the doc Prince, a former heroin addict, tells a story that was later used by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, about using a medical dictionary and a magic marker to inject adrenaline into the heart of a woman who’d overdosed. There’s also a story about Prince shooting a tire thief who’d tried to attack him with a knife. This story was retold in the Richard Linklater‘s Waking Life.
I suspect that HitFix’s Drew McWeeny knows something when he says that Jason Eisener‘s Hobo With A Shotgun is “genuinely deranged” and “far bloodier and nastier” than a Troma film. I just want to add to what Steven Gaydos wrote about how Hobo might be (and certainly should be) a great social-vengeance metaphor about an angry disenfranchised guy blasting expensively-cut hair all over them walls. It should be, in short, double-billed with Inside Job.
Hobo With A Shotgun, unseen, has caught on. Do I believe that Eisener had the slightest inkling of making a shotgun-splatter film that could function as a payback metaphor for the grand theft that caused the financial collapse of ’08? Of course not. I’m sure, being a friend of Eli Roth‘s, that he’s made a common abbatoir film. But maybe on some level Hobo can be interpreted that way anyway, despite the presumably slovenly motives that were in Eisener’s head. Now excuse me while I dream about Wall Street yuppies being gutted like hogs.
Update: A film critic friend just wrote to say he’s “not sure that today is a good day to be encouraging fantasies of violent revenge. Remember: The saloon door swings both ways.” To which I replied, “I was basically continuing the thought of Steven Gaydos about an apparent fact, which is that a Wall Street revenge fantasy may have already been created and put into a forthcoming grindhouse exploitation film. What’s better — a straight slaughterhouse film for the mongrel audience, or a slaughterhouse film that seeks to express social anger a la Inside Job?”
Season of the Witch is down to an historic 1% Rotten Tomatoes rating, and it’ll still make $11 or $12 million by Sunday night. Which is more than Fair Game has made since opening in early November. Blue Valentine is 20 times better than Season of the Witch and most of the Snookis and Guidos out there would rather die than pay to see it. All because they want to hang with their friends. And to them, Nic Cage, Ron Perlman, murky medieval landscapes and CG demons fall under that category.
Joel and Ethan Coen‘s True Grit beat Little Fockers, earning $4.5 million in 3124 situations to Fockers‘ $4.2 million on 3675 screens. Again, how and why are people still going to see Fockers? It’s awful, it’s hateful, it’s not funny and it’s made roughly $115 million so far. Why? Because Fockers is a kind of comfort blanket, and because Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Alba are pallies who make audiences feel good on some level, no matter how rancid the film is. It’s diseased but that’s what most people seem to want. I need to breathe into a paper bag.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, the 24 year-old film obsessive who will begin co-hosting Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies (along with Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire) on 1.21, has compiled some kind of “Annual Critics Survey” preferred films of 2010 list, as posted by Indiewire. All I can say is that I hope Iggy knows how to charm the camera and that he and Lemire get some chemistry going.
At The Movies co-host Ignatiy (a.k.a. “Iggy”) Vishnevetsky.
I was amused from the start by the perversity of Ebert choosing a guy who’s arguably dweebier than Richard Brody to co-host a TV show aimed at American film lovers whose idea of stirring high-class cinema is The King’s Speech.
Vishnevetsky’s choices confirm my initial gut read on the guy, which is that (a) he’s quite headstrong and highly intelligent (anyone who puts Roman Polanski‘s The Ghost Writer at the top of the list has my allegiance), and (b) is averse to American-made films of any size (particularly those with pseudo-populist themes or stories about individual perseverance), and strongly prefers small-scale European flicks about complex social-political conflicts and/or glum family situations with an occasional Asian crime film thrown in.
In short, he’s one of those brilliant and impassioned cinefile types you see every year at the Cannes Film Festival with a crowd of six or seven at some side-street cafe, loudly and exuberantly proclaiming their preferences and revulsions and clearly determined to push their anti-mainstream, Euro-Turkish-Iranian choices as a way of gaining attention and favor with the international festival elitist crowd. Which is obviously one way to go and best of luck, etc., but I’d be astonished if Joe and Jane Popcorn take to the guy on Ebert’s show. And if I’m proved wrong, great. I’d much rather watch a young Russian eccentric than another Ben Lyons-type guy.
But I have to say that Vishnevetsky’s aversion to American-made stuff seems excessive in a best-of-2010 context. To not include even one or two of the year’s finest U.S. films — The Social Network, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, Blue Valentine, True Grit, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone — but include George Romero‘s Survival of the Dead is, for me, a little game called tweak. It takes me back to the days when Village Voice critic Stuart Byron would argue that Mark Lester‘s Truck Stop Women was far superior to Costa-Gavras‘s State of Siege. I’m reminded of a passage from The Film Snob’s Dictionary about “reverse film snobbery” and how the snob will sometimes flaunt “his populist, un-arty taste.”
And yet most of Vishnevetsky’s preferred 2010 films are arty and conventionally tasteful and thoughtfully downish and socially striking in a mostly Euro-centric way.
1. Roman Polanski‘s The Ghost Writer
3. Marco Bellocchio‘s Vincere
4. World on a Wire (the 37 year-old Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, right?)
5. Claire Denis‘ White Material
7. Johnny To‘s Vengeance
8. George A. Romero‘s Survival of the Dead
9. Jacques Rivette‘s Around a Small Mountain
10. Manoel de Oliveira‘s Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl.
Postscript: I’m presuming that you’re supposed pronounce Vishnevetsky’s first name as something like “Ig-nyah-tee.” Well, forget it. Nobody’s going to be able to begin to say that correctly (remember Hillary Clinton trying to pronounce Dmitry Medvedev?), so that’s why I’m calling him “Iggy.” I’m doing the guy a favor, trust me, because that’s something that Joe Schmoe can relate to.