Bourne to raise hell

Some accuse me of reading too much politics into popular movies. I plead guilty, but I’m not alone. Take conservative critic John Podhoretz’s recent appreciation of the life and career of Ingmar Bergman in the July 31 “New York Post.”

“Bergman used motion pictures to explore grand and grandiloquent themes - the fear of death, the horrors of old age, the mysteries of womanhood, the disasters of marriage, the trauma of living without God.”

Holy shit, that almost sounds like real life. If we start making movies about that, the next thing you know it might start popping up on the news and in White House Press Conferences.

 “Happiness, contentment, even momentary good feeling are all but absent from a Bergman movie, which is a portrait of a traumatized species.”

Yeah, that “Magic Flute” is a real bummer. Mozart, lighten up! Actually, isn’t all of classical music a drag, too? And Shakespeare, Greek tragedy. Art, when you come down to it, is like one long whine.

What we want is entertainment, and the lower the common denominator the better. Anyone looking for anything else is a masochist. Some, like the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, in fact, are so masochistic that they don’t like Bergman because he’s TOO entertaining. But that’s another issue.

“They didn't admire the medium,” continues Podhoretz’s description of the movie-haters.  “They were offended by its unseriousness, by its capacity to entertain without offering anything elevating at the same time.” It comes as no surprise that the writer’s favorite movies are “Cinderella Man,” “Road House” and “Phantom Menace.” And as for those who admire such freakish anomalies as “Vertigo” (“silly”), “The Searchers” (“turgid, wooden, boring, weird”) or “2001” (“a crashing bore”) as well as the works of the late Swedish pretender: thy are "embarrassed by the movies.”

How so 1960s! Don’t they know that the delusion that movies can be BOTH entertaining and intelligent died out at least 25 years ago?

“[Bergman]  stopped making motion pictures in 1982, though he wrote and directed several small films for television. And the truth is, he quit just in time. His day had passed.”

Yes, his day had passed. It was morning in America. Reagan was in the White House. Greed was good. Americans had become willingly blind to whatever might disturb their materialism, entitlement, hedonism and false piety. And movies had gotten over their airs of artiness and recognized their role as providing mindless stimulation to the bored, empty and stunted. They became at last what they always were, a billion dollar industry grinding out tawdry fantasies acting out the basest desires and anxieties of the hordes that went to see them.

This is a good thing, unless the fantasy starts to tresspass on someone’s ideological, or “faith-based” interpretation of the real world. Hence Bill O’Reilly’s recent umbrage at the commercial and — most suspiciously! — critical success of “The Bourne Ultimatum:”

“I knew this movie was trouble when I read the reviews,” he writes in his column “The Bourne Boffoonery.”  “Almost all the critics liked it. The only way American movie critics would like a violent car chase film like this was if it bashed the USA, which, of course, it does.”

My first response to this: Bill O’Reilly reads reviews? Maybe my profession isn’t as moribund as I thought, movie haters and American haters though we are. And since only Stephen Hunter didn’t like the film, O'Reilly's conspiracy theory is probably onto something.

And what do you know, it turns out that Bill’s suspicions prove correct (as usual!). And why does the movie bash the USA? Because the actors and filmmakers are “far left.” Like that Commie Matt Damon:

“ The actor also told the Idaho Statesman that the CIA's use of waterboarding is an erosion of our American values. Guess what? There's a waterboarding scene in the flick. What a coincidence!”

Waterboarding an erosion of values? The next thing you know he’ll be saying there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And its “coincidental” inclusion in the movie -- doesn’t that prove that liberals' claims that US interrogators use torture are as farfetched as a Hollywood fantasy?

And did I tell you that the director is not just an American hater, he’s not even an American? And get a load of this:

“The director of the movie, Paul Greengrass, told the Times of London that he purposely tapped into the mistrust the world has of the USA. In my opinion, Mr. Greengrass has used his skills as a filmmaker to create a slick propaganda package that will make him millions of dollars. And standing between Mr. Greengrass and real life terrorists who would slit his throat are, of course, real life American intelligence people.”

Sounds like Greengrass could use a little dose of waterboarding himself.

Sad to say, though, lots of Americans seem duped by this diabolical “movie” passing for entertainment. $70 million worth last weekend alone. These losers fall into two basic groups:

 “America-haters will love The Bourne Ultimatum and apolitical others may enjoy the action and carnage. The movie is a perfect storm of misguided ideology, silly plotting, and absurd conclusions. In other words, it's a blockbuster.”

  Don’t tell me it’s just a movie. It almost makes you nostalgic for the films of Ingmar Bergman
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