As the Academy squabbles about what were the best movies to hide out with in tumultuous 2016, here are a few movies that will NOT make the 2017 Academy Awards:
Mr. Censor Goes to Washington: Set in the murky and stifling halls of Congress, a Senate majority leader who resembles Mitch McConnell right down to the mumble forbids a fellow senator from reading the words of civil rights leader Coretta Scott King in her statement against the nomination of a racist attorney general. The female senator from Massachusetts was wrestled to the ground and silenced with Rules 19 duct tape. Rules 19 says senators are not allowed to badmouth each other. According to the director’s notes, this arcane regulation is most often used by those who fear a loss of power and those with exceptionally thin skin.
The Travels of 1984: A typical Minnesotan family—middle class, smart, charitable—lends their copy of George Orwell’s 1984 to a neighbor. The story tracks the journey of the book as it makes the rounds of all the neighbors until someone, finally, burns it. The resurge in demand for the book, which depicts a dystopian society where minds are erased and thought processes replaced by omniscient Big Brother, is not unusual. The publisher says this always happens when people fear they are going to be living in a repressive state. The son in the movie says with the brio of Alex P. Keaton, “What’s the problem? Prez 45 said he would put people back to work. They’re printing 75,000 more copies to meet the demand.”
Excuse Me, I’m Protesting Here: Time traveler Mary Richards, who is said to be able to turn the world on with her smile, attends her first protest. “Excuse me, sorry, excuse me, boy, there sure are a lot of people here,” she says, elbowing and smiling her way into the midst of the march on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall. “Excuse me, I’m a reporter, and I just want to know your grievances. Why are you here? What? They’re banning people from entering the United States because of their religion?” In the final, revelatory scene, Mary tosses her beret into the air and shouts, “Doggone it, that’s just not right!”
Those Darn Cats: This documentary traces the history of protest from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. to Vietnam to millions of women flooding the streets in pink, homemade, knitted bonnets with pointy ears. It includes knitting instructions for bonnets.
That’s it for now, but movies are being churned out practically by the hour. So pass the popcorn—and a strong drink.
In light of current events, it has taken me a long time to find my voice. For many weeks, I have not written. I have watched and pondered. I have considered the rights being trampled and been proud of those who will not allow America to go gently into the dark night. Still, I do not want to add more anger to this world, so I have chosen these satirical pieces. Some may call them fake reviews, but I prefer to define them as “alternative reviews.” I have a dishcloth from the Nobel Peace Center on my writing desk, one of those biodegradable Swedish wonders made of wood cellulose and cotton. It quotes Martin Luther King Jr: “The time is always right to do what is right.” So this is the time. — S.R.