Thursday, May 12, 2005

AND BESIDES, ORSON WELLES WAS FAT. This item about Michael Medved's recent on-air embarrassment reminded me that I hadn't heard much from the Flanders of Filmdom of late, so I visited his website. While Hollywood-Hatin' remains his hook, Medved seems to have branched out into mixed-use wingnuttery, and his site's collection of MM reviews is paltry and out of date.

Nonetheless it does contain the one review which I believe will represent Medved's peculiar approach to film criticism unto history: "Kangaroo Jack Hijacked to Partisan Agenda?"

Medved says he has no artistic problem with this film -- or, rather, the film ordinary mortals would see on actual screens -- but says it presents a "moral dilemma for conscientious filmgoers" because its story was written by Stephen Bing, "notorious even by the undemanding standards of Hollyweird" for not only behaving beastly to Elizabeth Hurley, but also contributing money to the Democratic Party. Is proof that Kangaroo Jack is no-goodski, despite superficial evidence of viewing experience!

Medved does recognize that "some sharp-eyed reader might assault your reviewer for inconsistency" because he had previously praised The Pianist, a film by a sex-crime fugitive. His explanation is marvelously instructive:
First, Polanski's well-publicized personal problems occurred decades ago, while Stephen Bing's made news merely months ago. Second, Polanski presently pursues no prominent political agenda, while Bing continues to devote much of his life's energy to bashing Bush and all other Republicans. And third, and most importantly, "The Pianist" counts as a serious, substantive, artful -- if flawed -- directorial tour-de-force about World War II suffering, while "Kangaroo Jack" amounts to mildly pleasing piffle about nothing in particular.
Bing demanded DNA testing to see if his girlfriend's baby was actually his; Polanski is accused of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old. But Polanski's is the lesser offense because it happened a big long time ago and because he doesn't wear any buttons with which Medved disagrees. (Doubtless, if Polanski denounces Bush at some future date, Medved will find that The Pianist has suddenly become double-plus-ungood.)

Not to be overlooked is Medved's third point, which suggests a lawyerly approach to the condemnation of films on political-parentage grounds: The Pianist is a good boy, your honor, with a record of service to its community. But Kangaroo Jack is a ne'er-do-well, a jackanapes! So please let the kid-fucker's movie go with a warning, but punish the Democrat's movie severely, and show our constituents that we're tough on thought-crime.

Medved gets bonus points for providing this classic bit of culture-warrior idiocy:
In Spielberg's case, the messages of "Saving Private Ryan" count as so patriotic, even heroic, that you can easily overlook the director's long-standing friendships with Clinton and Gore.
Now, by God, that's entertainment!

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