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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

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    Hollywood Message Movies Flop

    By kyle | July 14, 2013

    Blockbuster movies usually tank when they get bogged down with political messages. More in my Sunday column.

    Topics: Movies | 10 Comments »

    10 Responses to “Hollywood Message Movies Flop”

    1. Don Reed Says:
      July 14th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      “India’s last telegram will be sent… the country’s state-run telegraph service shuts down… in decline for decades… once touched the lives of millions of Indians ever year…

      “The last telegram will be sent at… 16:30 GMT on Sunday 14 July.

      [I dare them. Send out, “Thank you. Come again.”]

      ” ‘The new generation doesn’t even know about telegrams,’ says Shameem Akhtar, senior general manager at… BSNL.”

      “If you want to send a message, use Western Union” is now on thin ice!

      Too bad Moss Hart himself didn’t see one of the great virtues of telegrams: The succinct format.

      His autobiography, “Act One,” started out brilliantly, then vanished into a swamp of mile-long sentences. Pulped.

      Still in all, I would rather have read AO than Brad’s autobio, the contents of which can be summarized in a telegram.


    2. Don Reed Says:
      July 14th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      By the way, how come these lousy film studios never go out of business?

      On the final day of the Herald Tribune (NYC), on April 23, 1966, speaking of the final telegrams, this was either a telex or a telegram, sent by James Bellows (the last NYHT editor) from their Washington Bureau to New York:

      “For I am already being offered & the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. II. TIMOTHY 4:6” — 3:23 pm

      “To New York Herald Tribune, New York City:

      “How Do I love thee? Let me count the ways… I shall but love thee better after death. ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING…” — 3:32 pm

      “To everyone in New York: I will instruct my sorrows to be proud: for grief is proud, & makes his owner stoop. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE…” — 4:24 pm

      “SS New York from SS Washington Bureau:
      “We are taking on water slowly. Power almost gone. List increasing. Understand your situation similar.

      “Morale good here, considering. Reports some drinking below decks, but crew still loyal & mutiny unthinkable. Some fear about casting off in lifeboats on icy seas, unknown waters.

      “But what the hell. She’s been a good old ship which kept afloat long after finks ashore said she was doomed to sink.

      “So down we go, lads, but with our ensigns flying & guns firing. Go to hell, New York Times… & may truth in print, & honesty in reporting, & integrity in publishing reign foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…” — 5:10 pm

    3. Moe Says:
      July 15th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      I have no desire to see garbage like White House Down either, but what does it say about our country that only mindless entertainment and comic-book kiddie films do well. I would be more worried about the infantilization of our society than about politically charged films to be honest.

      Yeah one should hope that any political viewpoints a filmmaker is trying to impart be handled with subtlety and an open-minded adultness… but lets be honest… politics/partisanship itself has become the refuge of idiots (poisoning everything and everyone). I don’t expect nuance from Hollywood anymore than I do from Fox News or NY Post.

    4. K Says:
      July 15th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Verbinski’s Pirate sequels had the same anti-capitalist anti-West slant. Another Howard Zinn disciple, no doubt.

    5. SK Says:
      July 15th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Excellent point about Disneyland ticket prices.

    6. JimmyC Says:
      July 16th, 2013 at 11:29 am

      I like movies that have enough brains to be politically aware, but enough sense not to be partisan. Pacific Rim is a good example; it’s mostly about spectacle, but Del Toro throws a little red meat to both liberals and conservatives.

      There’s a line of dialogue about how human pollution has (inadvertently) caused the monster invasion. But on the other hand, the plot revolves around the fact that the robot Mechs humans use as their only real line of defense against the monsters are forced into retirement by some idiotic UN bureaucrats who think that building a big wall will keep the monsters out. You can guess how well that works out.

    7. Robert P. Says:
      July 18th, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      Kyle, if you just waited a few weeks you could’ve used Elysium as a prime example of liberal propaganda in movies. The “privileged” live on Elysium where the “rest of us” live in poverty. The hero is Matt Damon and has to destroy Elysium to save “the people”. Enough said.

    8. Kyle Says:
      July 19th, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      yeah, another one-percenter movie. I’m sure it’ll do as well as pro-one percenter The Dark Knight Rises.

    9. Don Reed Says:
      July 21st, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Robert P.: That’s a joke, right? Not an actual movie – or is it?

    10. Don Reed Says:
      July 21st, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      In a related subject, from Mark Olsen of the LA Times:

      “The film frequently runs into what has become the true scourge of modern cinema of scale, that once the screen becomes dominated by computer generated imagery, the brain somehow unconsciously picks up that it’s all zeros and ones dancing about and the heart checks out.

      “With anything made possible, too often nothing matters.”