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Truth Gets Screwed in Larry Flynt Documentary

Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone is the ideal companion piece to the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt. That Oscar-nominated movie airbrushed much of Flynt's unsavory life to show him as a First Amendment warrior of the highest order.

Sure, he peddled smut. But free speech laws were made for people like him.

The Right to Be Left Alone goes a few steps further. You might want to add Flynt's mug to Mount Rushmore if you believe everything being spun here.

The new documentary, which airs August 7 at 9 p.m. on IFC, casts Flynt as much more than just a First Amendment warrior. He's a one-man truth squad, saving America from the lies told by the mainstream press.

The documentary eschews traditional narration, a risky move but one which can work under the proper supervision. But director Joan Brooker-Marks shows no ability to shape her film in anything resembling a coherent fashion. It's so unfocused that even Flynt's genuine accomplishments get lost in the shuffling.

Still, it's hard to imagine anyone else compiling a feature as accommodating to its source as The Right to Be Left Alone.

The man himself is the only connective material here. He speaks at length on a variety of subjects as if his fame and misfortune qualify him to be a pundit extraordinaire. He can be eloquent on some issues, and his mea culpa over the famous "meat grinder" cover of Hustler is a rare moment of candor. But more often he's a self-promoter first and foremost, one who's been able to change with the times to suit his PR needs.