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Monday, May 28, 2007

SIFF Notes: Annoying Lefty Audience Gets Comeuppance

posted by on May 28 at 12:52 PM

I saw my 3rd SIFF movie of the weekend last night, another one of Annie Wagner’s recommendationsBamako.

It was a quiet movie about a makeshift courtroom that’s set up in the courtyard of a bungalow apartment complex in a dusty neighborhood in Mali. The court—with robed judges and earnest attorneys representing both sides—is trying the World Bank (!) for its rape of Mali.

The passionate anti-World Bank testimony from dispossessed citizens, citizen intellectuals, and even an old man who sings his testimony is all delivered as life goes on around the trial—including an elusive “plot” about a super foxy lounge singer (who lives in the complex) with her husband and sick daughter.

The poetic denunciations of World Bank policies—wholly accurate— were boiler plate leftism and got a bit tiresome. Some of the neighbors listening over a loudspeaker in the street outside the courtyard acknowledged this for the audience by unplugging the speaker at one point and announcing “this trial is getting boring.” The movie needed more comedy like that to lighten the often pedantic script.

Despite the longwinded speeches, though, the calm pacing, lulling electric fans, marvelous colors, occasional offbeat conversations, and snap shots of life going on outside the trial, made the movie a weird gem.

My favorite moment though was this: The typical Seattle audience (judging from the righteous head nodding at all the standard anti-Bush, lefty rhetoric) seemed thrown for a loop when the testimony veered—as all reactionary Leftism does—into demagoguery about traditional values.

Indeed, one or two speeches sounded like they were lifted straight from Bush’s own family values script. It was fun to observe the apparently simple-minded lefties in the audience (who had offered audible knee jerk, knowing agreement when the characters in the film as much as name checked Bush) get confused and fall into silence when the speeches started to sound more like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson.

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Thats the odd thing about politics today. Low-income, rural, and third world people are often the aim of left wing economic policies, however they more often then not have right wing social and cultural outlooks. Conversely upper class, urban, and first worlders often have little to gain, and sometimes often lose from leftist economic policies, often agree the most on social and cultural issues.

Posted by Giffy | May 28, 2007 1:28 PM

#1 Giffy -

Well said.

As for members of an SIFF audience nodding their heads in silence when disturbed, I like that idea. Much better than the morons, usually butch dykes (no brag, just fact) who attend the classic movie screenings just to loudly hiss at the sexual stereotypes.

Posted by Creek | May 28, 2007 1:54 PM


I would add to that the idiots who can't seem to have an emotional reaction without loudly vocalizing it. My movie going experience is not enhanced by you exclaiming "Oh No!" during every scene of slight peril.

Posted by Giffy | May 28, 2007 2:10 PM

I think I see your point, Josh - reminds me of how environmental movements in poor countries have disturbed northern ones when they don't want to keep rain forests (or whatever) totally untouched, but focus on sustainable development; we want to give them power, but they should really do it OUR way, etc. etc.

But it seems like you are being a little harsh on the audience - it is pretty natural for people to nod at the things they agree with and not at the things they disagree with. What else would you have wanted them to do exactly?

Posted by Jude Fawley | May 28, 2007 2:15 PM

Why should a political movie's audience be judged for agreeing or disagreeing? It's the purpose of a political film to take a stance, and if some people agree with it so be it. Maybe we should separate the idea of political reality from what aspects of it a film audience agrees with or not. Movies don't have to upend expectations, and if the cases they make are factual it doesn't matter what the audience thinks.

Political and social realities are a little more important than whether they gel with an audience or not. The real left isn't a subculture, it's a different ethical and moral way of looking at the world around us.

Posted by JMS | May 28, 2007 4:18 PM

People on the left are allowed to have an outlook. They're allowed to accept parts of a political argument and disagree with others.

Posted by Jay | May 28, 2007 4:21 PM

Same thing happened with my friends at the movie theater when the trailer for Evan Almighty came on. Everyone got excited when they saw it was a comedy with Steve Carell, but when they saw him all dressed up like Noah and building the Arc everyone got quiet. At the end of the trailer my friend said that he had mixed feelings about that movie because it seemed to churchy.

I really don't understand why everyong gets so freaked out by the mention of anything that might be viewed as churchy. I'm not very religious and it doesn't bother me at all. Seems to be a Seattle thing

Posted by Alex | May 28, 2007 8:57 PM

FYI The film returns to Seattle
AUGUST 10-16, Fri - Thurs at 6:30 & 9:15 PM (plus Sat & Sun at 4 PM) at NorthwestFilm Forum.

Posted by Bamakosuperstar | May 29, 2007 2:10 AM

FYI The film returns to Seattle
AUGUST 10-16, Fri - Thurs at 6:30 & 9:15 PM (plus Sat & Sun at 4 PM) at Northwest Film Forum.

Posted by Bamakosuperstar | May 29, 2007 2:11 AM

OMFG they're not exactly identical to us in Mali!

Big whoop. I heard the film wasn't that good.

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