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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.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

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    The Politics of Sundancing

    By kyle | January 26, 2010

    Here at the Sundance film festival, each feature is preceded by an animated short of a minute or two that illustrates one theme or another of the SFF. One of the most frequently shown ones, “Rebel,” begins with the 2008 presidential red-blue electoral map. As techno-rock plays, the states start to thrust and dance and change colors — until every color is purple. The word “REBEL” flashes again and again and then is replaced by this, hilarious, title: “Dare to Come Together.” Ah, so rebellion equals conformity. If the country is in safely Democratic hands. Whatever happened to opposing the establishment? Joining it may or may not be smart, but it certainly isn’t daring or rebellious. Sorry, lefties: You don’t get to play it both ways.

    I was thinking about this while perusing the Sundance program, which is stuffed with films that say Jihadists are really just sweetly endearing goofballs (“Four Lions,” a satiric “comedy” from the UK), that terrorists are people too (“The Oath”), that the military shamelessly exploited Pat Tillman (“The Tillman Story”) or that Iraq vets are mired in disillusioned despair (“The Dry Land.”) At the opening press conference, Robert Redford opined, “We don’t take a political side. I might personally — I have and I will — but not the festival.” Er, what? Just a couple of minutes later, an English reporter asked Redford whether, since the Sundance Film Festival had done such a good job of illustrating “the danger of the Bush administration” and clearly served as a “resolute form of political opposition, do you still see it the same way?” Redford’s answer: “Yes.” He added that “telling stories that are hard to get out…it’s a form of social activism. So yeah, we are committed to that.”

    Topics: Movies, Politics | 6 Comments »

    6 Responses to “The Politics of Sundancing”

    1. Christian Toto Says:
      January 26th, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Oh, so brave. No documentarians care to hold Obama to all his broken campaign promises … or the press which collectively rolled over and asked him to rub its belly?

      Good for Guggenheim for going against the ideological grain with “Waiting for Superman.”

    2. Guy Montag Says:
      January 26th, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      No surprises in “The Tillman Story” for those who have closely followed the Tillman story over the past five years.

      If you would like to learn more, I believe the single best short introduction to the Tillman story is Gary Smith’s Sports Illustrated’s (9-11-06) cover story “Remember My Name.” I’ve placed a link to that article in my document “Remember the Iconoclast, Not the Icon” at

      . . .

      In his book, “Where Men Win Glory,” Jon Krakauer blamed the Bush administration and the Army for the whitewash of Pat Tillman’s death. However, the cover-up has actually been a thoroughly bi-partisan affair.

      In particular, the Democratic Congress and the Obama Presidency have protected General Stanley McChrystal from scrutiny and punishment for his central role in the handling of the aftermath of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death.

      If you would like to learn more, I’ve posted several detailed documents to the Feral Firefighter blog that focus especially on the actions taken to protect General Stanley McChrystal from punishment for his role in the cover-up
      by Congressman Henry Waxman, Senator James Webb (along with Senators Carl Levin and John McCain), the New York Times Pentagon Reporter Thom Shanker, and the Washington think-tank Center for a New American Security’s (CNAS) Andrew Exum.

      . . .

      And,the binder “Battle for the Truth” discusses the parallels between Pat Tillman and Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu who died at the Raid on Entebbe in 1976.

    3. K Says:
      January 27th, 2010 at 2:35 am

      “We don’t take a political side.

      I’ve hated Redford since he dumped Natalie Wood in “Inside Daisy Clover”.


    4. Bugg Says:
      January 27th, 2010 at 9:52 am

      Obama choose McChyrstal to oversee the AFghan war knowing all this. And as Ralph Peters documents every week in your paper these wars long-term are doomed. And doomed because McChrystal has been allowed to sell this dubious nation building nonsense, and Obama is too scared to be called weak on defense to pull out, or at least cut back troop levels. You cannot take centuries of culture ( and a backward and barbaric culture at that, especially in Afghanistan) and turn such a society into a quai-Western fucntioning country.

      We kid ourselves when we think the surge in Iraq changed much in that society beyond a short-term stabilization. We aren’t good at empires nor nation building, and McChrystal is Exhibit A why not. These generals really believe they can do all this insanity with just a few more thousand troops.The grunts know this. And yet other than Ciny Sheehan the Left doesn’t go after Obama for perpetuating this dangerous stupidity. Soliders are dying, but with a D next to the president’s name now the artists don’t care.

    5. yankeefan Says:
      January 27th, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      @Christian. The idea that the left and the “liberal” media are still rolling over for Obama ignores most of the media coverage in recent weeks and months and the disillusionment of many of his once-starry-eyed supporters. (I am a Democrat and supported Obama from early on, but always saw him as a pol not the Messiah.)

      Since we’re on the subject of documentarians, here’s none other than Michael Moore with some harsh words for the President (interview starts at 10:00-ish):

    6. J. Says:
      January 29th, 2010 at 11:20 am

      Sundance has representation of all relevant political movements: socialism, marxism, communism, etc. Copious levels of diversity!