Political Film Society - Newsletter #77 - July 20, 2000

July 20, 2000


Originally on cable television in 1999 as All the Rage, the feature film Itís the Rage, released in Hollywood on July 7 and directed by James D. Stern, has two heavy bookends sandwiching a story about how several people die because of the easy availability of handguns. Before the movie starts, actual news clippings flash on the screen reporting how several persons died under odd circumstances because they were shot, sometimes unintentionally, by individuals possessing handguns. The film begins at a house (and cast) reminiscent of Pleasantville (1998). Warren Harding (played by Jeff Daniels) lies in wait to shoot his wifeís lover Justin at 5 a.m. and then pretends that he was shooting at an intruder, not knowing that he was Justin. Warren then beats a murder rap, thanks to attorney Tim Sullivan (played by Andrť Braugher), but his wife Helen (played by Joan Allen) walks out on him. The attorney, who is bisexual, in turn receives a handgun as a present from his mentally disturbed male lover Chris (played by David Schwinner), but later ends up accidentally shooting Annabelle Lee (played by Anna Paquin), a female prostitute. Many of the lines evoke laughter, but the audience stops chortling as several other characters, who are mentally disturbed, acquire handguns and use them, resulting in further murders. The bookend after the film consists not only of the hypnotic song "If It Were Up to Me" and titles explaining the fate of some of the characters in the movie but also a dedication by scriptwriter Keith Reddin to his college roommate who was shot to death at the age of 23, presumably from a bullet fired from an easily acquired handgun shot by someone who did not know what he was doing.

As a statement against the use of violence to settle disputes, the Political Film Society has nominated Itís the Rage for an award as best film on peace for the year 2000. Filmviewers are urged to stay to the end to hear the final song, "If It Were Up to Me," which accompanies credits of the film; after reciting a long litany of alleged causes of violence in contemporary America, the song concludes "Iíd just take away their guns." MH

Two recent films depict Iranian children wandering about a city. For The Girl in the Sneakers, the city is Tehran; a fifteen-year-old girl runs away from home because parents and police will not allow her the simple freedom to walk in the park and talk with a boyfriend. For Surviving Paradise, the metropolis is Los Angeles; a ten-year-old boy and his eight-year-old sister are stranded because their mother is kidnapped at the airport in the mistaken belief that she has come to sell an original copy of Aristotle's "Poetics." In both cases, the wandering is a paradigm of contemporary Iranís search for itself. Much of the territory covered in the walking is among the poorer sections of both cities, where the children find danger but mostly compassion.

LíHumanitť, an introspective French film that takes place in Franceís northernmost province, on the Belgian border, focuses on the senseless rape of an eleven-year-old girl by one of the best friends of the police detective assigned to investigate the case. The movie subliminally asks why such violence could possibly come from a nice guy.