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ReelPolitik

Why You Shouldn't Be Surprised by the Muddled Politics of "World War Z"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 30, 2013 2:40 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Some folks around the web are shocked and astonished -- astonished! -- that word comes from Brad Pitt that the political subtext of "World War Z," the actor's upcoming apocalyptic epic, has been neutered. In an interview from Entertainment Weekly that has been oft-quoted, Pitt says, "I was really interested in a more political film, using the zombie trope as a kind of Trojan horse for asking, 'What would happen to sociopolitical lines if there was a pandemic like this?... But it was just too much. We got bogged down in it.... It gutted the fun of what these films are meant to be." But come on, folks, aside from the occasional "V for Vendetta," when has Hollywood ever provided penetrating social critique?

The Risks of Indian Poverty Porn: "Revolutionary Optimists" vs "Blood Brother"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 27, 2013 11:48 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Ever since the success of Oscar-winning films "Born into Brothels" and "Slumdog Millionaire," India's slums and impoverished children have been a popular topic for Western filmmakers. Accusations of "poverty porn" are inevitable, however, and, when it comes to this former British colony, there's always a question of whether these films perpetuate age-old stereotypes of some backward "Orientalist" land, plagued with dirt, poverty and illness, all wrapped in exotic colors and bouncing music. Of course, huge portions of India, as revealed in "The Revolutionary Optimists" (opening Friday) and "Blood Brother" (this year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner) do lack basic services, but there are more and less responsible ways of conveying this predicament

The Revolution Will Not Be On Demand: Free Angela

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 26, 2013 8:38 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"The revolution will not be on demand, brother: the revolution will be live," sings rapper poet Black Ice in a new viral video (see below) out to promote the new doc "Free Angela and All Political Prisoners," which opens in theaters on April 5. It's a witty line, among many, in this timely update of Gil Scott-Heron's 1970 protest anthem. While the song references the original, the lyrics are altogether contemporary, admirably sending up many of pop culture's current distractions -- erectile dysfunction, American idol, Real Housewives, the Kardarshians, YouTube clips, Taylor Swift, and a host of black stars that presumably have done little to foment substantive revolutionary change. Or at least that's my interpretation of it.

A Decade of Iraq and the Movies

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 19, 2013 3:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments
More: Iraq

Right-Wing Unveils More Poorly Made Agit-Docs: Watch Out for D'Souza's "America"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 18, 2013 10:22 AM
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  • 2 Comments
At CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, NPR reports that there were more than 20 new right-wing documentaries on display, from "Hating Breitbart" to "FrackNation," as well as a trailer for author Dinesh D’Souza's follow-up to his right-wing agit-doc “2016: Obama’s America," simply called "America," which reportedly extols the virtues of American exceptionalism. But no matter how much money "2016; Obama's America" made, I contend that the film and its brethren have done little to change the quality of these films.

Tribeca Fest Has Issues: African Big Oil, U.S. War Crimes, Same-Sex Marriage, and more

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 5, 2013 2:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments
One of the best things--perhaps the only best thing--about the Tribeca Film Festival is its documentary programming. Every year, the fest manages to line up a strong series of nonfiction films, filled with stinging political import ("Jesus Camp," "The Devil Rides on Horseback," or the more recent "The Revisionaries") or poetic artistry (last year's "Planet of Snail," "Downeast" and "Wavumba.") With this year's competition lineup announced, here's a preview of some of the most provocative or potentially noteworthy docs:

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