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Andrew Klavan

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October 31, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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[CONTAINS SPOILERS TO THE FILM THE EAST.]

A cute new Ford commercial (echoing a cute old Coke commercial) promotes the superiority of AND over OR. Good horsepower AND good mileage is better than horsepower OR good mileage, just as hide AND seek is better than hide OR seek. And so on.

This is largely the way I feel about the arts. I have no desire to silence the cultural voices of people I sometimes disagree with. I only want to ensure that other voices aren’t gray listed, demonized, or stifled out of existence.

When I saw the film Prisoners the other day, it had moved from the mainstream theaters to one of the local art houses. As I waited for the show to begin, I wandered the lobby looking at the posters for upcoming shows. There were four: a movie about a gay Catholic priest who falls in love with a man; a movie about a lesbian love affair; a movie about a little Muslim girl who has to learn the Koran in order to win a bicycle; and a Yiddish film about a love affair during the Holocaust.

Now truly, I have no problem whatsoever with any of these films being made or distributed. A gay priest choosing between his religion and love is an inherently dramatic situation, as is a Jewish love affair during the Holocaust. The film about the little girl is by Saudi Arabia’s first female director and so should have some real insights into a world we rarely see. And when the lesbian film comes out on DVD, you’ll be able to skip ahead to the ten minute sex scenes. (Oh, all right, I’m joking…)

My problem, as always, is with the films that aren’t getting made. Like, say, the one about the not-gay Catholic priest who heroically tries to help sex slaves in Turkey until he’s assassinated by a man shouting “Allahu Akbar!” Or the one about Norman Borlaug, who led the green revolution credited with saving over one billion people from starvation, despite the attempts made to stop him… by environmentalists.

Speaking of environmentalists, the other day my wife and I sat down to watch an obscure thriller called The East, which I’d heard was good. It began with a terrorist attack on an oil executive by radical environmentalists. ”Don’t tell me the environmentalists are the bad guys,” said my wife, surprised. “No,” I said wearily. “The female agent will go undercover to stop the terrorists but will fall in love with their leader and discover that they’re actually the good guys and the oil companies she works for are evil.” To which my wife replied, “You know, it’s not always that much fun to watch movies with you.”

But it’s not me, really it’s not. When only one point of view is being told, the arts will by necessity become boring, predictable and solipsistic. It’s the sound of one hand patting itself on the back.

Andrew Klavan’s newest novel is Nightmare City.

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Top Rated Comments   
...or you could read a book. Increasingly thats the only sensible way to tune out the nonsense. With the wasteland that is TV and movies, it's a better way to spend your down time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

--- The Ten Commandments of Hollywood ---

1. The person wearing the cross will always be a villain.
2. The gay teenager will always be a victim.
3. The oil company executive will always be guilty of polluting the environment.
4. The U.S. military will always be portrayed as oppressing the native population of other lands.
5. The so called Muslim terrorist will always turn out not to have done the crime.
6. Christians will always be portrayed as uninformed, tyrannical, obsessive or bigoted.
7. Sympathetic characters who are politically identified will always be Democrats.
8. Gay characters will never be shown engaging in criminal activity.
9. Atheists will always be portrayed as cool and reasonable.
10. People from the south will always be portrayed as racist rednecks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I love the ensemble cast of NCIS, but the show is doing a lot of the same thing. If there's a wealthy person or a big corporation involved, that's the villain. Almost. Every. Time. Or it's the corrupt commander/superior officer. It's awfully predictable that way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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No wonder I quit watching broadcast television. The only recent video entertainment I take in is either Eureka, Warehouse 13, or Supernatural. Beyond that, I typically prefer Red Dwarf reruns or rewatching Mystery Science Theater 3000. When I'm not working on cars or the house.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Occasionally, one slips by the censors.

For example, on a whim I recently bought + watched a scary movie on DVD starring Sandra Bullock, called something like "The 39th Case". I was pleasantly surprised.

Of course it started off with ALL the worst lib cliches -- you know, "All men are pigs", "Marriage is slavery", "Religion is bigotry", "All children are abused by their parents" and "The government social worker is always the good guy". But thanks to a sharp plot twist, by the end of the movie, EVERY ONE of those lib cliches was turned on its head, which was very satisfying (as well as delivering a good scare).

So I guess the lesson is that Hollywood censors only watch half-way through each movie. So to all you wanna-be conservative film-makers out there: Just be sure to wait until the 2nd half of your movie to debunk the lib cliches, and you'll have a better shot at getting past the censors!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Got a link? Can't find it on Amazon, Wikipedia or IMDB!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hey Harry -- Boy is my memory bad! I went back to the DVD, and it turns out the movie stars Renee Zellweger, not Sandra Bullock, and the title is "Case 39", not "The 39th Case"! That said, my recollection of the basic plot IS correct, and a few links for you are here:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795351/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_39
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_7?url=search-alias%3Dmovies-tv&field-keywords=case%2039%20dvd&sprefix=case+39%2Cmovies-tv%2C198
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
P.S. Of course the film got terrible reviews! Can't let the religious, married parents ever be the good guys!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nearly all television is over-the/top idiocy in pushing/ increasing indifference to a myriad of social causes.

Causes which WOULD have taken place far more naturally and with less division than the insultingly invasive, insulting mechanisms implemented by H-town, government and Illiberal chodes.

As for the 4 movies Klavan mentioned.. geez us.. are you freakin' serious?

Mr. Klavan, with all due respect those sound like the most gawd awful movies, movie house I've EVER heard of.

I'd rather take in Yentl, The English Patient and An Inconvenient Truth back-to-back-to-back on an uncomfortable backless chair than 10 minutes of ANY of those 4 sanctimony ridden nonsensical pictures.

Better yet, I'll watch the always crummy Seth Rogen acted picture you'd mentioned last week!

Those 4 'movies' sound like absolute torture. To even share a zip code with people whom watch, let alone 'expect' those types of preachy nonsense to be in my hood.. yikes!

And this is coming from a guy whom watches plenty of subtitled flicks and streams French spoken films.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
...or you could read a book. Increasingly thats the only sensible way to tune out the nonsense. With the wasteland that is TV and movies, it's a better way to spend your down time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I must say that I find television very educational. Every time someone turns it on, I leave the room and read a good book."
-- Groucho Marx
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

--- The Ten Commandments of Hollywood ---

1. The person wearing the cross will always be a villain.
2. The gay teenager will always be a victim.
3. The oil company executive will always be guilty of polluting the environment.
4. The U.S. military will always be portrayed as oppressing the native population of other lands.
5. The so called Muslim terrorist will always turn out not to have done the crime.
6. Christians will always be portrayed as uninformed, tyrannical, obsessive or bigoted.
7. Sympathetic characters who are politically identified will always be Democrats.
8. Gay characters will never be shown engaging in criminal activity.
9. Atheists will always be portrayed as cool and reasonable.
10. People from the south will always be portrayed as racist rednecks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
tvtropes.com is great for debunking your ideas.

1. The Last Temptation of Christ, too easy
2. Spring Breakers, teenage lesbian villains
3. There will be blood, only his soul gets polluted
4. The Marine, too easy
5. Zero Dark Thirty, too easy
6. The Blind Side, too easy
7. Tons of good guy repubs on this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_United_States_Republicans
8. Same as commandment 2, hollywood god must be lazy
9. Batman, the Joker
10. Mud, only stereotypical thing are the accents
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Throwing out a few exceptions is not disproving the thesis. One in a hundred is not disproving the thesis. Every one of your examples are an exception to the rule and they are vilified by Hollywood in general.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The Last Boy Scout" starring Bruce Willis, has a gay assassin. But that is the only one I've seen in the modern era.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You must have worked for a studio. You certainly have a command of the rules.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, you're right. I don't see many movies these days. I always get ticked off by the predictability of their politics. They don't even try to be subtle about it. Between politics and blatant product placement, movies aren't much fun anymore.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My friend's second wife is a flaming lib and irritatingly arrogant about it. She's always telling me I should see the lib flick of the week or a chick flick to get perspective. I tell her the network news and primetime TV give me plenty of perspective. Why should I pay $8 for a movie to bash me over the head when I can get that for free on TV? Like all elitist libs, she thinks I'm not getting the message instead of rejecting it. We just need enlightenment. And if enlightenment doesn't work, there's nothing wrong with forced re-programming.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I love the ensemble cast of NCIS, but the show is doing a lot of the same thing. If there's a wealthy person or a big corporation involved, that's the villain. Almost. Every. Time. Or it's the corrupt commander/superior officer. It's awfully predictable that way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
True. I think the worst case was the episode where a terrorist attack was a false-flag operation perpetrated by a group of upper-middle-class suburban Americans.

The people who make NCIS do like to lecture us. But they're also trying to put on an interesting whodunit show. If they had the same villains every week - Islamist terrorists - we'd get bored. So I think they try to mix it up a bit, giving us stories in which the real villains are NOT the obvious ones but somebody completely unexpected. Nothing wrong with that.

Unfortunately, they get lazy. Misdirection is useful - maybe essential - in a detective story. But when the writer misdirects us in exactly the same way every time, it's not misdirection anymore. It's a pattern. No mystery, no tension, no excitement. No story.

We're all on to NCIS's "It's not the extremist, it's the conservative" pattern. The last episode was a good example. It wasn't the radical environmentalist, it was the oil company lawyer. And we all knew that's who it would be. It felt like the writers were phoning it in. Why bother?

Yawn.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Um, which episode was it that had the Islamic terrorist who really did commit the crime? I think they left that one out. Can't have the same villain every week if you've never used him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Howdy Monster
The heck of it is, the more straightforward cases are usually the most interesting ones. Perhaps by repetition, the corrupted-power-figure cases are among the least interesting. Some of the cases have been veerrry good, others much less so. The Harper Deering series was good but played too long, I thought.
The play between the team members is the show's biggest draw and always has been.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ALL night time dramas are that way.

I haven't had cable tv in 10+ years. For what, NCIS and other dumbed down, emotionally based idiocy type shows?

Lame.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gosh, Andrew, you heard it was "good?" You need to get out of LA County. Put. Down. That. L. A. Times.

Personally, I won't watch any more movies with "hidden" "progressive" messages. They're a waste of my time and money.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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