Reel vs. real violence
This email had already been printed in the Lake County edition of the Daily Herald. But it raises good points, so here it is once more:
Talk about timing! On Christmas Day, the ultimate day of peace and hope for 1.5 billion Christians, the Daily Herald featured its movie critic Dann Gire singing the praises of the unholy, sick and violent film "Django Unchained." In his own words, Gire tells readers that Django features "graphic killings, torture, racism, and anachronistic rap tunes" and goes on to say it contains "insanely huge blood squibs."
After the tragedy in Connecticut, one would think that maybe Gire would challenge this violence and denounce it. Nope, Gire says that "Django ranks as one of 2012's freshest treats."
This may be the best example I have seen of the Freak Show Media's assault on traditional American values and its contribution to "The Culture of Violence in America" that killed those innocent children in Connecticut.
It is the perfect illustration of the hypocrisy of Hollywood that attacks 99.9 percent of peaceful gun owners that harm nobody while personally making millions of dollars making horrific movies that pollute our children and teenagers with cruel violence that is turning them into violent zombies.
Jamie Foxx, Leonardo Di Caprio, and Samuel Jackson constantly attack traditional American values while they make millions in "Django" promoting horrible and gratuitous violence.
Jamie Foxx even joked about how "great" it was "to kill white folks" in Django. Can you imagine a white actor saying the same thing about killing "black folks" in a movie?
The destructive hypocrisy of the Freak ShowMedia and Hollywood is beyond comprehension. -- Randy Rossi, Grayslake
Dear Randy: Clearly, you have great passion for one of the most troubling issues in our society. I also sense that you're someone who knows what you're talking about, so it goes without saying that you've seen "Django Unchained" and are able to pronounce judgment upon it as being "unholy, sick and violent."
We'll have to agree to disagree about the "unholy" and "sick" parts. After all, "Django" is a black comedy (no double meanings intended).
I am confused as to which kind of violence you think I should challenge and denounce. So, to set the record straight, I would denounce any real-life violence against innocent people. I would also denounce fake violence when it's horribly mounted, as in really stupid mad slasher films and ineptly made gladiator movies.
However, I would celebrate and endorse fake violence when it's been executed with finesse and artistry, as in war movies ("All Quiet on the Western Front," "Saving Private Ryan,"), westerns ("The Wild Bunch," "The Unforgiven"), gangster films ("The Untouchables," "Good Fellas") cop dramas ("Dirty Harry," "The French Connection") and Grand Guignol theater ("Dead Alive," "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn").
In drama, violence represents external conflict. And conflict is the essence of all drama. (Neil Simon and his brother Danny discovered this, and they wrote comedies.)
In your email, you allude to Hollywood attacking 99.9 percent of peaceful gun owners and creating "horrific movies that pollute our children and teenagers with cruel violence that is turning them into violent zombies."
If this simplistic "monkey-see, monkey-do" theory held true, the 1980s would have produced millions of violent zombies weened on splatter movies popularized by Sean Cunningham's 1980 "Halloween" ripoff "Friday the 13th," the most influential film of the decade.
Last I looked, most all those young, bloodthirsty horror fans grew up to be moms, dads and taxpayers.
But I digress.
"Django Unchained" would not have been my choice of a film to see or even release on Christmas Day.
But you'll have to admit, having seen Tarantino's movie, that it's an unusual take on the time-honored concept of retributive justice.
Thanks for writing. -- Dann
Reel Life mini-review: "In the Hive"
Robert Townsend's drama "In the Hive" doesn't have characters; it has stick figures that deliver speeches instead of spout dialogue.
"In the Hive" has a big heart, but it never musters a beat, which is deadly for a movie that so desperately wants to appeal to the better angels of our natures.
It's the story of 16-year-old Xtra Keys (Jonathan "Lil J" McDaniel), a troubled teen on the road to a bad future when he winds up at "The Hive," an alternative school run by a human angel of restraint and understanding (Loretta Divine).
Her hard-nosed assistant (Chicago's late Michael Clarke Duncan) plays the bad cop in their Southern rural school, filled with enough optimistic saccharine to clog the senses. The upside: a deliciously "Shameless"-quality performance by Vivica Fox as Xtra's floozy mom.
"In the Hive" opens at Chicago's Chatham Theaters. Rated R for drug use, language. 110 minutes. ★ ½
Reel Life film notes:
• Join me and film historian Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents "And the Oscar Goes To ..." at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Schaumburg Township District Library, 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. We'll have clips from all nine of the Academy award-nominated best motion pictures. Go to stdl.org or call (847) 985-4000.
• Arthur Penn's classic gangster drama "Bonnie and Clyde" will be screened at the Studio Movie Grill Wheaton at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at 301 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton. It's sponsored by the Chicago Film Critics Association as part of the theater's "Film With a View" program. Critics Jeanne Kaplan and David Kaplan of KaplanvsKaplan.com will host. Go to studiomoviegrill.com.
• Forty-five student filmmakers have entered the first Emerging Filmmakers Contest scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at the Muvico Theater in Rosemont. The event is sponsored by Chicago's Columbia College and the Chicago Film Critics who will award the winner a scholarship of $5,000. Check out muvico.com.
• Tickets to the 24th annual Chicago Film Critics awards are on sale at muvico.com. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Muvico Theaters, 9701 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont. "Glee" star Jane Lynch will accept the Commedia Extraordinaire Award for her work in comedy. Former "Saturday Night Live" superstar Joe Piscopo will be there along with local "Flight" co-star Nadine Velazquez, plus local filmmakers Robert Teitel and George Tillman, recipients of the Commitment to Chicago Award. ABC-7's "Windy City Live" roving reporter Mark DeCarlo will be the host. Go to chicagofilmcritics.org or muvico.com.
• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!