Forgot to mention this earlier, but the 2010 Magill’s Cinema Annual, a book of reviews to which I contributed, is now out. Steep cover price given its academic/reference source leanings, but check it out on Amazon if you so desire.
Laurence Fishburne’s daughter is making the leap into porn, it seems, releasing a sex tape through Vivid Entertainment. For an AVN interview with the 19-year-old Montana Fishburne in which she cites Kim Kardashian as a role model, click here. She wants to “jump-start” her career, and eventually start a business, she says. What kind of business? She’s not sure about that yet.
Fifteen years ago, it certainly wouldn’t have seemed likely to your average fan of MTV’s Singled Out, but Jenny McCarthy has become the most recognizable public face of the anti-vaccine movement, owing to her eight-year-old autistic son, and belief that overly aggressive vaccinations play a part in the onset and spread of autism. So it comes to be that she’s on the cover of The Vaccine War, along with then-boyfriend Jim Carrey.
A one-hour documentary, The Vaccine War goes behind the lines in a growing national debate over vaccines and their impact on our health. Public health scientists and clinicians tout vaccines as one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, but for many ordinary Americans vaccines have become controversial. Young parents are concerned at the sheer number of shots — some two dozen or more inoculations for 14 different diseases by age six. Some advocacy groups, like McCarthy’s Generation Rescue, argue that vaccines are no longer a public health miracle but instead a scourge — responsible for alarming rises in disorders like ADHD and autism. With scientific medicine and the public health establishment on one side and a populist coalition of parents, celebrities, politicians and activists on the other, it’s a din unlikely to die down any time soon. While short on concrete answers, The Vaccine War provides ample platform for debate, and at least sparks thought and lively conversation. If those things are of interest to you, you might be intrigued by this title.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, The Vaccine War comes to DVD with an English language Dolby stereo audio track. There are unfortunately no supplemental bonus features, save some recommended Internet links. To order a copy of the documentary, phone (800) PLAY-PBS, or click here. Alternately, to purchase the DVD via Amazon, meanwhile, click here. B (Movie) D (Disc)
Starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht and Laura Ramsey, co-writer-director George Gallo’s Middle Men is a rangy immorality tale and crime drama inspired by the true story of a mid-1990s company that revolutionized the peddling of pornography online. The film has energy and some sleazy fun around the edges, but critically fails to ever locate a sincere and deeply lasting feeling, be it titillation or trepidation. It’s also dinged mightily by Wilson’s performance, sad to say. For the full review, from Screen International, click here. (Paramount, R, 112 minutes)
Filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev follows up the fascinating My Kid Could Paint That with this unsettling, emotionally affecting look behind the curtain of American mythmaking — a film that examines the truth behind NFL player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman’s April 2004 death in Afghanistan from friendly fire, and exposes the high-level Army cover-up (and, yes, grinning, flag-waving media complicity) in knowingly packaging a phony version of this event as a heroic adjunct in a two-for-one narrative about noble wars of necessity.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those with an abiding interest in the intersection of media, politics and the particular history of American aggression will certainly find the movie gripping on that level, but it’s also affecting in nearly a dozen ways both specific (familial) and broader (rousing one’s independent-minded patriotic ire at such overt governmental manipulation). Interview footage with comrades provides a clear-eyed view of the tragedy itself, while family reminiscences give heartrending color to Tillman’s ghost. Some of the archival material is bracing (Tillman’s younger brother, Richard, strides to the podium to eulogize him with beer in hand, and pointedly tells the assembled pro-military crowd, including John McCain, “He’s not in heaven — he’s fucking dead”), and agonizingly illustrates the often hidden personal toll of what is now a war nearing a decade in length — in this case a family torn asunder once, and then re-traumatized through the betrayal of their government. Powerful and thought-provoking, The Tillman Story is sure to be on the documentary short-list for Academy Award consideration. For more information, click here. (Weinstein Company, R, 94 minutes)