[sixties-l] Fwd: Running On Empty (Steal This Movie!)

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Aug 28 2000 - 04:07:19 CUT

  • Next message: David Horowitz: "Re: [sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-Robert Scheer Sells Out"

    >Running on Empty
    >The Abbie Hoffman story, sanitized
    >for popular consumption
    >By Richard von Busack
    >MetroActive Movies
    >counterculture glory, sanitized for your
    >protection: Do not try this revolution at home;
    >polygamy is not healthy for children or other
    >living things; drugs are bad, m'kay? Even though
    >Vincent D'Onofrio plays Abbie Hoffman, the
    >pallid Steal This Movie is a Lifetime channel
    >version of 1960s revolution. The film's decision
    >to make Hoffman a nostalgia item is the first
    >note of trouble. Steal This Movie begins in the
    >mid-'70s, years after Hoffman has gone
    >underground. Reporter David Glenn (Alan Van
    >Spang) is interviewing Abbie's wife, Anita
    >(Janeane Garofalo), and friends who knew him
    >for a profile of the rebel.
    >One of the subjects is Abbie's lawyer (Kevin
    >Pollak), who hints darkly of FBI schemes to
    >discredit Hoffman. In flashback, we see
    >Hoffman's actions: his demonstrations, his
    >nomination of a pig for president and the trial of
    >the Chicago Seven. Eventually, Hoffman is
    >unearthed, living under an assumed name with
    >his new girlfriend, Johanna (Jeanne
    >Tripplehorn), in upstate New York. Hoffman's
    >efforts to reach out to his estranged young son,
    >america, are juxtaposed with the end of his long
    >run as a fugitive and his problems with bipolar
    >The real Hoffman can be sampled in the pages
    >of Steal This Book, from which the title of this
    >movie is taken. Rejected by 30 publishers, Steal
    >This Book is a 1971 version of The Anarchist
    >Cookbook, with tips on shoplifting, hijacking
    >planes, building pipe bombs--and more
    >artsy-crafty stuff, like making sandals out of
    >used automobile tires. Re-reading it, I can
    >imagine that Hoffman would feel right at home
    >today on the Internet, distributing pranks and
    >communiqus of various usefulness.
    >[The Anarchist's Cookbook isn't a very kind
    >comparison, considering that its bomb recipes
    >will blow up in your face and its drug recipes
    >will poison you. --DC]
    >It may be that Hoffman's seriousness is only
    >proved in opposition to his serious enemies: the
    >FBI and the Nixon regime's determination to
    >stamp out extremists in the youth movement.
    >Steal This Movie doesn't capture the funny side
    >of Hoffman's protests. Not because time has
    >made them unfunny, not at all, but because
    >they're badly staged by director Robert
    >Greenwald. The only way to make Hoffman live
    >onscreen is to show him in his time, absolutely
    >convinced that the government is about to
    >topple. But Steal This Movie tells us that
    >Hoffman's life as a husband and father is more
    >interesting to a modern audience than the
    >politics. Part of the film's failure is due to
    >Garofalo, the most un-'60s actor imaginable. In
    >one scene, she describes how she sometimes
    >preferred it when her husband was sick, because
    >then she could take care of him. "I don't know if
    >that's normal or not," she says. Has Garofalo
    >ever struck you as a woman who had a
    >moment's doubt in her life about what was
    >normal or not? On the contrary, her dedication
    >to normalness is what makes her such a
    >tiresome, limited performer.
    >At the end, D'Onofrio's Hoffman addresses the
    >youth of today about their duty to be
    >revolutionaries, but this film doesn't give them
    >much impetus to rebel. Seeing Hoffman's pain,
    >exile and paranoia would make them disinclined
    >to struggle. If you were there in the 1960s,
    >watching Steal This Movie will scramble your
    >memories, leaving you feeling old and
    >disappointed. If you're young, here's another
    >impatience-producing lesson about what great
    >days they were, and what a noble fight it all was
    >... and yes, mistakes were made--the usual
    >lecture, nothing a young person wants or needs
    >to hear.
    >Steal This Movie (R; 108 min.), directed by Robert
    >Greenwald, written by Abbie and Anita Hoffmann, Marty
    >Lezer and Bruce Graham, photographed by Denis Lenoir
    >and starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Janeane Garofalo,
    >opens Friday.

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