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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Roy Cohn

“WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?”  My rating: B

97 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Disbarred attorney and right wing political fixer Roy Cohn was such a creepy  character (those sociopathic hooded eyes) that liberals may be forgiven for wanting to forget all about him.

They do so at their own risk.

Matt Tyrnaer’s “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” is, in most regards, a conventional bio doc.

It follows Cohn’s life and career from boyhood (his parents assuaged their own unhappiness by treating him as a little prince) and his first real brush with corruption (at age 15 he used a bribe to get a teacher out of a traffic ticket) to his death from AIDS at age 59 in 1987.

The film covers all the high (or low) points you’d expect:

  • Prosecuting the Rosenbergs and personally lobbying the judge to ensure a death sentence.
  • Serving as counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in his infamous Red Scare campaigns.
  • Playing a major role in Army-McCarthy hearings (Coen tried to blackmail the U.S. Army to gain preferential treatment for PFC David Shine, a friend and colleague with whom he was infatuated).
  • His Machiavellian law practice, frequently on behalf of the corrupt and  powerful, including organized crime bosses like John Gotti. (Cohn’s motto:  “I don’t care what the law is. I want to know who the judge is.”)

But it is in the film’s final third that things get monstrously topical.  For here Tyrnaer’s examines Cohn’s mentoring of young Donald Trump, for whom Cohn cut numerous illegal deals that would pave the way to the erecting of Trump Tower.  Donald Trump who may not have been much of a scholar but apparently he remembered everything he heard and saw in Cohn’s presence and has been exploiting it ever since.

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“AMERICAN CHAOS” My rating: B

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Every liberal -minded American should see “American Chaos.”

Good luck with that.

Because however insightful it may be, Jim Stern’s documentary about Trump supporters is almost too painful to watch.

The film begins with a montage of Presidential campaign newsreel footage, starting with Teddy Roosevelt and ending with Donald Trump.

Stern then goes on to describe himself as growing up in a classic Kennedy Democrat household in Chicago. He still reveres Bobby Kennedy, whom he describes as generating “a feeling of empathy so deep it was infectious.”  Not until Obama did he feel a similar level of enthusiasm for a Presidential candidate.

But shortly after the beginning of the 2016 race Stern noticed something different about Trump and his adherents, something that bothered him so much that he grabbed his camera and spent several months crisscrossing America to interview Trump  voters.

The resulting documentary doesn’t tell us anything we haven’t heard elsewhere, but it’s interesting /frightening to hear these citizens explain their support.

Stern went into these conversations knowing that he wasn’t going to debate with his subjects, make snide comments or even speak disapprovingly of Trump (which doesn’t mean you can’t catch him biting his tongue on numerous occasions). He genuinely wanted to know what these folks believed…and why.

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trumpland3-master768“MICHAEL MOORE IN TRUMPLAND” My rating: B+

67 minutes | MPAA rating:  R

Who’d have guessed that one of the sanest evaluations of this crazy political season would come from lefty satirist Michael Moore?

“Michael Moore in Trumpland” is a record of a one-man comedy show Moore recently gave in Trump-leaning Wilmington, Ohio. It has elements of his old TV show — a couple of faux news reports and pre-taped skits (the least effective part of the experience) — but for the most part it’s Moore pacing the stage of a grand old theater and talking to an audience of local voters.

Moore says he wanted to reach out to Trump supporters  (you can tell who they are in the audience…mostly men who sit with their arms folded while everyone else is laughing); to make conservatives more comfortable he has seated all Mexican and Muslim audience members in the balcony.  The Mexicans are surrounded by a large cardboard wall; the Muslims watch the show while being monitored by a hovering drone.

But mostly Moore delivers the most rational, low-keyed apologia for Hillary Clinton I’ve ever seen.

At one point he asks audience members to call out things they don’t like about Clinton…and then quietly demolishes all of them. He appears to genuinely admire Hillary…though he can hardly be accused of wearing rose-colored glasses.  She’s got baggage and he knows it.

Moore can often be snarky when dealing with the rich and powerful, but his analysis of Trump’s core supporters is insightful, incisive and weirdly sympathetic.

They are, he says, “people who are hurting, and it’s why every beaten down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle-class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they’ve been waiting for.”

 “Trump’s election,” Moore says, “is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history—and it will feel good.  It will feel good…for a day. You know, maybe a week. Possibly a month.
“Because you used the ballot as an anger management tool and now you’re fucked.”
For all his talk about reaching out to Trumppies, Moore’s obvious target are the undecided (Christ, after all this how can anyone be undecided?!?!?!) and especially Millennials who might opt to (1) vote for a third party candidate or (2) not vote at all.
He makes a convincing case. Now let’s see if anyone’s listening.
| Robert W. Butler

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