QUITE THICK when it’s trying to be serious.
I’ve been home alone a lot over the holidays. I keep a TV on for company. USA’s character marathons have been a blessing. (Except for Psych, which has got to be one of the dumbest implementations of a neat concept ever.) But I also hear a lot of commercials. And right now, two movies are being plugged like the proverbial nickel — Valkyrie and Frost/Nixon. Each makes dumb assertions or implications in its commercials.
They bug me.
In the spots for Valkyrie, Little Tommy Cruise can be heard to say something on the order of, “This is a little known story about taking out the greatest evil ever known.” Something like that.
First: If the story is little-known to you, that’s your own damned fault. It certainly is not an obscure bit of history. The Von Stauffenberg plot is one of the major historical landmarks of WWII.
And as for Hitler being the greatest evil known to mankind… Sorry. Only if you’re one of Lenin’s useful idiots. Hitler is attached to the greatest evil ever by virtue — if you can call it that — of being a leader of a collectivist system, but the king of collectivists is Leninist-Stalinist international communism. Hands down. World class.
Compared to Uncle Joe Stalin, Hitler was a piker.
Of course, so many of Hollywood’s leading lights are out-and-out communists, fellow travelers, and useful idiots that it’s no doubt considered a bit gauche to say that.
But out here in Flyover Country, we is stoned immaculate. We aren’t afraid of the truth. I don’t expect Valkyrie to tank, but I do expect its domestic box office to be a disappointment.
In the Frost/Nixon spots, Nixon is quoted as saying, “When the President does it, it’s not illegal.” And the cheap David Frost knockoff looks shocked. We are to draw the conclusion that what Nixon says is so palpably wrong as to make you question his connection with reality.
But, actually, he’s right.
Under our Constitution, the three branches of government — Executive, Legislative, and the Judiciary — are supposed to be co-equal in power. The powers to make laws and to tax and spend are vested in Congress. But they have no authority over the actions of the Executive. Therefore, except for the Constitution itself, no law controls the Executive. The only control Congress has over the President is the power of the purse. He can do anything he wants, so long as he can get Congress to pay for it. But Congress can’t bind the President. (And as for the Judiciary, as Andy Jackson put it, “…let them enforce it …” (their rulings).)
I’m not sure why anybody thought Frost/Nixon would make a good theatrical film. Yeah, drama, history, conflict, blah-blah-blah. It’s still two guys sitting in a couple of chairs in front of cameras and jawboning. Not interesting. Not at this remove from the actual events in question. I suspect the only interest is from aging Boomers who can’t move on past Watergate and are still reliving the 1968-1976 period. Glory days, as Springsteen put it.
I do expect it to tank in theaters and do moderately well on DVD.