And speaking of censorship,
the Independendent Film Festival of Boston's Sunday screening of Macky Alston’s’s
disturbing documentary “The Killer Within” might have been your last chance to see it. It’s
been pulled from release in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings. The story
of a mild-mannered septuagenarian psychology professor who suddenly revealed that he not only
murdered a fellow student back in 1955 but had planned a campus massacre that
would have predated Columbine by decades, it even-handedly and candidly
confronts such issues as what causes mass murders and whether such killers are
ever amenable to rehabilitation.
I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, and I'm sure otherwise he was a great guy,
but I think in the flood of encomias for Jack Valenti someone should mention
that he was instrumental in putting a stranglehold on creativity in American filmmaking
and ensuring the domination of studio mediocrity for
at least 40 years.
As expected, someone has figured out a way to blame the movies
for the mass murder at Virginia Tech. No, it wasn’t the fact that someone with
a long record of mental illness, suicidal impulses and stalking women could
walk into any WalMart in Virginia
and buy enough firepower to kill 32 people. It was because the guy was one of
the 200 or so people in America,
mostly critics like myself and others who recognized it as an outstanding film,
who saw the South Korean filmmaker (there’s a connection!) Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy.
It didn’t take long for the first presidential candidate to get on the censorship bandwagon, and we can thank Don Imus for that. Or maybe Al
Republican presidential nobody Mike Huckabee says that if Imus
gets the boot for “offensive comments,” so should everyone else, like Rosie
O’Donnell and Bill Maher.
Despite successfully keeping the film out of the grasp of
local alternative weekly reviewers, “Grindhouse” still laid an egg over the
Easter weekend. It is a deflation of overhyped expectations on a par with last
year’s (not as overpraised as “Grindhouse,” but nonetheless enthusiastically
received by critics who should have known better) “Snakes on a Plane.
Since the “Grindhouse” people decided not to screen the film
until Wednesday night, way too late for alternative weeklies, my review
won’t appear in print until next week. If you’re interested in an early look,
however, here’s what I wrote:
Too bad Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino didn’t make
the “Prevues of Coming Attractions” — Rodriguez’s “Machete” and Rob Zombie’s “Werewolf
Women of the SS” — into their “Feature Presentations” in this “parody” of a 70s
Z-movie twin bill.
None of us is getting any younger, and it’s probably just as
Maybe it was the memento mori of an orange Mickey Rourke spotted
recently in Miami
that leads me to that conclusion. At any
rate, some recent movie developments seem to confirm its truth. Like Darren
Aronofsky’s Fountain of Youth folly, “The Fountain,” which earned him withering
reviews and pitiful grosses.
Only 20 months to the next election, and not a
single presidential candidate has taken a stand against Hollywood
indecency. But they will, they always do. How can they resist the gift of the
perfect kneejerk campaign canard? One that allows them the maximum of
indignation with the minimum of consequence? They figure no one is going to come to
the defense of pornographers or peddlers of violence on the screen except maybe
awayward ACLU lawyer or film critic and believe the vast majority of Americans will share their outrage at how sex or violence in the
movies or in the media causes problems ranging from juvenile crime to Abu