Now that the summer box office failed miserably in its effort to recoup the money spent on their major tent-poles, Hollywood has cheerfully leaped onto the road to financial ruin for their fall and “awards season” lineups, offering up a spate of social justice sermonizing and “timely” parables about America’s dark history that just feels eerily similar to the Trump era.
As noted by the Associated Press, movies “take years to make” in a town like Hollywood, with rarely the best script winning the day. As studios eschew the mid-budget movie in favor of costly blockbusters, the independent producers now dominate the “serious movie” market, and their tastes and sensibilities dictate the movies made (all of whom think that Moonlight rightly deserved the Oscar for Best Picture, for example).
This means that instead of giving us introspective flicks about the human condition in the existential vein of Ingmar Bergman — what independent movies used to mean — we get movies about some random civil rights case we never heard of or old farts complaining about the Iraq War.
Not that either of those are bad in and of themselves, but when that one ideological viewpoint (always left wing) represents the entire spectrum of “serious” filmmaking, some of the righteous questions they may pose neither unsettle us nor stir us, but rather dull us into becoming mere depositories of ideological talking points.
The Associated Press profiled the leftist tripe Hollywood plans to give us this season, all of which the makers claim seeks to challenge the Trump era:
Writer-director Peter Landesman (‘Concussion’) found himself making a film about the FBI battling White House interference while a curiously similar conflict played out between Trump, James Comey and the FBI. His movie, ‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House’ tells the story of Felt (played by Liam Neeson), the legendary Watergate source known as Deep Throat, who was the No. 2 official at the FBI during the scandal. It’s been in the works since 2005.
Writer-director Peter Landesman has convinced himself that his film coming out at this time should be seen as divine providence.
“This movie could have been made ten years ago or five years ago. The fact that it’s coming out this year has a supernatural relevance,” said Landesman, who juxtaposed Mark Felt with that of fired FBI director James Comey. ”Mark Felt just wanted to be left alone to do his job, however it turned out. Jim Comey wanted to do the same thing.”
Director Steven Spielberg will rip open the wounds of Vietnam once again with his star-studded movie The Post, about The Washington Post’s 1971 publishing of the classified Pentagon Papers, revealing the many lies told by the United States government during the Vietnam War. It is doubtful that film will include a story about the millions of people murdered at the hands of communist tyrants following our withdrawal from that region at the behest of those like Spielberg and Meryl Streep, who will also overact her way to another Oscar nomination in this film.
Then we have Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, about a trio of geezers traveling across the country to prevent a soldier’s burial at Arlington in protest of the Iraq War. Linklater said this ties into the Trump era because men like him will launch a war without understanding the cost — even though Trump ran on a populist, anti-globalist platform and even adopted left-wing talking points on the Iraq War during his campaign.
“It will mean killing civilians. It will mean dead Americans. It will mean exorbitant costs. It will mean all that. That’s what war is,” says Linklater. “That’s what does worry one about Trump. It’s always the guys who didn’t fight that want to prove their manhood by launching some bombs and missiles and being a tough guy. Both Republicans and Democrats it’s the same. We haven’t had a soldier anywhere near leadership in so long.”
The film Thank You for Your Service, starring Miles Teller and Haley Bennett, will profile “three soldiers returning from Iraq, adjusting to civilian life and fighting post-traumatic stress disorder.”
To recap, we have two films about shady government machinations during the Vietnam War and two films about the Iraq War (neither reflecting the war — or its soldiers — in a positive light).
Entering on stage left, we have also the intersectionality movies, reminding America of its racist “original sin” that it never repented of.
Other films will recall civil-rights icons. ‘Marshall’ (Oct. 13), stars Chadwick Boseman as a young Thurgood Marshall defending a black chauffeur in 1941 against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial. Rob Reiner’s ‘LBJ’ (Nov. 3) stars Woody Harrelson as the 36th president, taking office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and passing the Civil Rights Act.
Whether all of these films will resonate any differently in 2017 than they might have another year remains to be seen. George Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’ (Oct. 27), which he directed from a script by Joel and Ethan Coen, is about a bucolic 1950s suburb with a violent and racist underbelly. Clooney, who recently announced a grant of $1 million with his wife Amal to combat hate groups in the wake of Charlottesville, says the film is about out-of-control white-male paranoia.
“Trump got elected while we were shooting it,” said Clooney. “A bunch of crew members came up to me and said, ‘It’s too bad it’s not coming out today.’ And I said, ‘Unfortunately these issues never get old.’ So, yes, it’s timely, but unfortunately it’s always timely.”
The road to financial ruin is paved with stupid intentions. You made your bed Hollywood, so sleep in it.