Whose America is it?
Joyce Petersen of Des Plaines writes: "Is it because of the huge crowds at the theaters to see '2016 Obama's America' that Dann Gire hasn't been able to write his critique on this film? Just asking."
Dear Ms. Petersen: I actually addressed that question in my Aug. 24 column when I wrote that "2016" wasn't press screened for local film critics. When distributors (in this case, a company called OAF LLC) think their movies are so bad they don't want the press to see them, I have learned over many years of experience to trust them.
I wrote that I also wasn't reviewing the horror movie "The Apparition" that week for the same reason -- no screenings by press deadline.
"2016" shocked Hollywood bean counters in August by earning a higher per-screen average than "The Expendables 2" and "The Bourne Legacy" combined. It has earned an impressive $23 million so far.
So when I had a break in my schedule during a New York City visit, I ducked into a 42nd Street AMC Theater to catch up with Gerald Molen's documentary.
Imagine my surprise when this unexpected hit movie turned out to be a journalist's nightmare, an axe-grinding political screed so devoid of hard facts that it makes Michael Moore's shoddy, biased reporting in "Fahrenheit 9/11" look like Pulitzer Prize-winning material. (By the way, "9/11" was screened for critics.)
Based on Dinesh D'Souza's best-seller, "2016" cites interpretations of Barack Obama's own book "Dreams From My Father" as ample evidence that he is a revolutionary and a socialist and an anti-colonialist who wants to "downsize" the United States.
(Being an anti-colonialist is bad, apparently, unless we're talking about our fearless Founding Fathers. Then, apparently, being an anti-colonialist is good.)
In the film's most revealing segment, D'Souza goads Obama's half-brother George with questions designed to foster conflict where none seems to exist. D'Souza keeps asking why the president hasn't "helped" George, since we are all supposed to be our brothers' keepers. (Isn't that a slightly socialistic idea, when you think about it?)
"I think he has other problems to solve," George cooly replies. He doesn't take D'Souza's bait.
Unlike I did when I bought a ticket to see what I presumed was a highly persuasive, journalistically sound documentary.
The only thing that worries me is do I now have to see "The Apparition," too?
Note: If you catch "2016," listen for the cheesy, horror-movie soundtrack intended to give the movie a conspiratorial "The Omen" ambience. You can hear it at youtube.com/watch?v=gRbqMGtvQD0.
Naperville fest hits 5
The fifth annual Naperville Independent Film Festival cranks up the projectors for eight days of movie mania Sept. 15 to Sept. 22 at five locations including the Ogden 6 and Hollywood Palms theaters in Naperville, plus Hollywood Bvld. in Woodridge.
The fest will offer features, shorts, documentaries, animation, student productions, workshops and several premieres, including "Vice" starring Chicagoans Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah. The family comedy "I Heart Shakey," filmed in Naperville, Wheaton and Chicago, starts the fest at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Go to napervillefilmfest.org for tickets and schedules.
Teachers rule! (in film)
School's back in session in the suburbs and so is Dann & Raymond's Movie Club, starting its fifth season at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20. Our salient topic: "Standing and Delivering: The Great Movies About Teachers" with clips from films such as "To Sir With Love," "Blackboard Jungle," "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," "Class" and many others. Not only is admission free, the California Pizza Kitchen will supply some goodies to commemorate our fifth anniversary. For more details, go to ahml.info or call (847) 392-0100.
Reel Life movie notes:
• The Super Terrific Film Festival returns to the Des Plaines Theater, 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines, Saturday night only, starting at 7:15 p.m. But don't expect to see Hollywood blockbusters. The fest was put together by Des Plaines natives Bos Alvertos, Benjamin Harris and Erik Strentz who founded the Rogue Lumen company. They will debut their new short "Two Parts Bourbon, One Part Murder!" as well as give viewers a sneak peek at Rogue's in-production feature "Dorothy Marie and the Unanswered Questions of the Zombie Apocalypse." Tickets cost $5. Go to RogueLumen.com.
• Sorry, Jennifer Lawrence fans. It's not looking good for her new horror tale "House at the End of the Street," opening Sept. 21. Relativity Media has scheduled a press screening the night before, long after newspaper deadlines, a sure sign that the scariest thing in the movie might be the loss of your admission money. Clichés include scenes shot from a killer's POV, the she-can't-find-the-car-keys-to-escape device, and the cheap heartbeat-on-the-soundtrack trick. See for yourself at bit.ly/Qys2jQ.
• "Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Life in Budapest" (1986) will be shown one time only at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the iPic Theater, 100 W. Higgins Road, South Barrington (in the Arboretum of South Barrington shopping center). Go to ipictheaters.com for tickets.
• The Chicago South Asian Film Festival runs from Thursday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 23, at both Chicago's Columbia College and the ICON Theater, 150 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago. Go to csaff.org for tickets and schedules.
• You can catch 13-year-old Des Plaines actor and Kidz Bop star Steffan Argus acting in the film short "Stitches" -- the title refers to the stitches on a baseball, not medical sutures -- when it shows at the United Film Festival running Sept. 22 to 27 at the Music Box Theatre, 3730 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. This traveling independent film fest also touches down in Los Angeles, London, New York, Tulsa and San Francisco. Go to theunitedfest.com/chicago for tickets and schedules.
• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!