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I Surrender to the Inevitable

October 22nd, 2007 · 4 Comments

Each time I come across another semi-literate screed by Matt Barber, the male who seems to be the loudest voice of Concerned Women for America, I’m tempted to write a post pointing out how hilariously wrongheaded it is. (And they’re all hilariously wrongheaded.) But I never do, partly because it’s not clear anyone’s paying attention to him anyway, but mostly because his columns are so bad that not only refutation but even simple mockery seem redundant. However. His most recent farrago, about a pro-life indie film called Bella, is stupid in a slightly more subtle way than usual, so perhaps in this case it’s worth pointing out exactly how ignorant of his topic Barber is.

Reviews are, if not uniformly enthusiastic, strong enough that I’m happy to assume the film itself is pretty good. But, of course, Barber’s point is not so much to flog a good movie as to take shots at baby-killing Hollywood elites:

Having won the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, you’d think major Hollywood distribution companies would be crawling over one another for a crack at the film. But such is not the case. Bella’s central theme puts a premium on the value of human life – including life in the womb – and that is a value Hollywood just won’t tolerate.

Just as the Hollywood left scoffed at The Passion of the Christ, it has largely ignored the award winning Bella. The movie’s life-affirming message just doesn’t comport with Tinseltown’s narrow leftist agenda.

Leave aside such linguistic abortions as “central theme puts a premium.” Even someone with my cursory understanding of the film industry knows this is hopelessly, hopelessly confused. “Major Hollywood distribution companies” never pick up little thoughtful foreign films like Bella. Independent distributors like Lion’s Gate or quasi-autonomous niche distributors affiliated with one of the bigger companies do, as you can easily confirm by looking at the last dozen winners of that Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice Award. An award, incidentally, which is suggestive of box office potential, but hardly dispositive: There are plenty of hits (Life Is Beautiful, Whale Rider, Hotel Rwanda, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, American Beauty), but also a fair number of misses: Tsotsi grossed just under $3 million in the U.S.; Zatôichi less than $900,000; The Hanging Garden, under a million. Even the successful ones, though, aren’t getting distributed by Paramount.

Now, maybe Barberthinks these quasi-autonomous subsidiaries (Miramax, Focus) count as “major Hollywood distribution companies.” Let’s suppose. Were they shunning Bella? Well, it’s hard to say, since the movie did end up getting acquired by Lion’s Gate. Since they’re the biggest North American indie distributor, that outcome doesn’t tell us much about who else was interested: A deal with them would be attractive even if the other firms were “crawling over one another for a crack at” the flim. And way back in March, the film’s producer said explicitly in an interview that Lion’s Gate wasn’t the only interested distributor:

“Following our success at Toronto,” said Wolfington, “we already have three offers on the table. So landing a distribution deal is not our goal at [Miami International Film Festival] … “

But never mind, the point is that Lion’s Gate isn’t like those wretched Hollywood outfits, in thrall to lefty orthodoxy. Three cheers for Lion’s Gate, conservatives! Three cheers for… the company that distributed Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and co-produced the global warming disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow.

In short, and per usual, precisely no aspect of Barber’s narrative makes any sense. Perhaps it’s best to read it as an homage to David Lynch.

Tags: Stupid Shit



4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anonymous // Oct 22, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Well, now that I see the actual quote, I find it more baffling than before:

    Having won the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, you’d think major Hollywood distribution companies would be crawling over one another for a crack at the film.

    First of all, the People’s Choice Award is not much of an indicator of what a distributor thinks will sell (or is good). Second, “major distribution” companies is a category that I find ambiguous at best- since major studios are not, for the most part, distributors of anything they don’t own (whereas a “pickup” deal of an already-finished film is generally a licensing endeavour). And whether a deal with any distributor is attractive has just as much to do with the terms of the deal as the name of the company.

    The whole thing seems not worth much of an argument though, when one is operating on the premise that films would be purchased or not on the basis of the bias of the distributors- the only thing the distributors are interested in is whether the film will bring in box office and how much money that will take to accomplish. Unless we’re talking about much more obscure distributors, some of whom have an interest in releasing films they think are good.

  • 2 Laure // Oct 22, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    oops, that was me.

  • 3 Rhys Southan // Oct 22, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    I saw Bella in March at the SXSW film festival. At the Q&A, I recognized the director as some chump who had been in a film class with me at The University of Texas at Austin. I didn’t feel any pangs of jealously this time, as the movie was an abomination, one of the most absurd travesties I saw in the festival.

    Bella starts off as an “isn’t it cool that we live in New York?” movie, as the two main characters aimlessly wander around the city, dealing with minor problems (his bottom-line obsessed brother fired him from his job in a restaurant, she has some kind of money issue or something) and meeting “colorful characters” along the way. Could these two lonely yet not entirely uncharming singles find love together?

    No, because she’s pregnant and wants to get an abortion. Worse, he is so painfully earnest and wide-eyed, he can’t fathom anyone choosing abortion; he’s like a toddler finding out that mommy wants to kill his little sister before he gets to meet her. “But whhhhhyyyyyyy?!” His goal changes from getting into problem girl’s pants to protecting the life growing within her.

    Fortunately, after she meets his equally earnest family in the suburbs and has some very serious “spiritual” conversations, she keeps the baby. Also, his brother has a change of heart, realizing family is more important than money, and re-hires him at the restaurant. Inexplicably, problem girl doesn’t just give her baby over to earnest man, she gives it to him and then stays entirely out-of-touch with him for about five years. This isn’t an anonymous adoption, so why act like it?

    For the dramatic last scene, of course, when she gets to see her unusually beautiful and intelligent 5-year-old for the very first time (never abort, because your kid could have been good-looking), and instantly falls in love. How could she ever have thought about aborting this innocent fawn?

    Certainly there could be a good pro-life movie, even one about a heroic man protecting a fetus from a wayward woman, but Bella is humorless, cliched, thoughless and divorced from reality.

    That’s my theory why other distribution companies didn’t buy it.

  • 4 Gil // Oct 23, 2007 at 1:59 am

    I guess Lion’s Gate is involved with Atlas Shrugged, too.


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