Media Matters Highlights Levant’s Latest Screw-Up, A Pitch For A Canadian MM & Why Soros Should Follow Columnist’s Twitter Account

In more than six years of existence, they’ve thrown the spotlight on those who purposefully and consistently mislead the public about political matters and, most especially, liberalism.  Whether we’re talking about political conservatives, pundits or journalists, anyone who screws up gets written up.  Bill O’Reilly, Don Imus and Laura Schlessinger are just three of the many media personalities whose reputations have deservedly taken hits thanks to the singling out of their very public mistakes.
 
You can now add Ezra Levant to the list.
 
On September 5th, The Toronto Sun published a column of his they probably wish they hadn’t.  Repeating a false story that numerous conservatives have recited over the years, Levant erroneously claimed that when Hungarian billionaire George Soros was a teenager he “collaborated with the Nazis” in order to spare his own life during World War II.  It’s a dastardly canard that Ann Coulter, among others, have asserted with zero proof in recent years.  (The real story about that period of his life can be read here.  It’s quite chilling.)  Not only that, Levant wrongly asserted other nasty falsehoods which are thoroughly debunked here.
 
Eight days later, the paper received a “letter of complaint” from Soros’ attorney.  Unsurprisingly, the column has since been removed from torontosun.com as well as ezralevant.com.
 
On Sept 17th, The Globe & Mail reported Soros’ plans to sue Levant and the tabloid for defamation.  That same day, The Sun noted in a four-paragraph piece published in the Comment section that despite “always intend[ing] to publish a retraction and apology for this column”, both parties couldn’t agree “on the content of a retraction.”.  Nevertheless, the paper unreservedly retracted Levant’s false claims and apologized “for the distress and harm this column may have caused to him.”.  Translation:  please don’t sue us, George.  We admit it.  We fucked up.  Now leave us be.
 
Three days later, Media Matters For America picked up the story.  The non-profit liberal organization, long dedicated to exposing conservative misinformation about liberals and various other subjects related to politics, finally highlighted a Canadian newspaper and a columnist long worthy of their scrutiny.  May it not be the last time they do so.
 
This whole embarrassing episode reminds me of an idea I’ve wanted to express in this space for years, so here goes.  We need a Media Matters For Canada, a Great White North offshoot of the American non-profit that is as equally dedicated to calling out bullshit in our media as the original group is south of the border.  We need people with strong stomachs and excellent journalistic credentials to keep a close eye on publications like The National Post and The Toronto Sun (while they still exist).  Put it this way:  As long as Ezra Levant has a job in the media and continues to appear on TV, the need for an organization like this remains high.
 
Meanwhile, despite the removal of the libellous column and the offering of a retraction and apology, there’s still the business of Levant’s Twitter account.  If you dig deep into his archives, you’ll notice that many of the false claims he asserted in his column can still be found on numerous entries dating September 7th.
 
Presenting the debunked smears from his infamous column as questions, he nevertheless stubbornly insists that “every word of it [is] true” and that “U may disagree with my commentary but u can’t dispute my facts (Soros doesn’t)”.  (What is he, Prince?)  Judging from the letter of complaint and the public retraction by The Sun, the billionaire actually does dispute his “facts”.  Strongly, in fact.
 
Never one to shut up when he fucks up, Levant keeps piling on dangerously.  Soros is “morally hollow” and “dead inside”, he lamely asserts.  “He could have resisted evil. Or even stayed neutral. But he joined evil and helped it,” he dishonestly claims.  When fellow twitterer Rob Helms (rjhelms) asks, “So was your piece about SunTV and the Avaaz petition, or was your main point Soros is a Nazi?”  Levant’s reply:  “Both I guess. They’re related.”
 
There’s more but you get the idea.  Interestingly, as of this writing, Levant has not acknowledged the removal of his column nor offered any personal remorse for his unprofessional conduct on Twitter.  Despite a succession of entries in the last two weeks, he’s stopped writing about Soros altogether.  Considering how Levant attached his name to The Sun’s apology and retraction, is it really that smart to keep these libellous tweets on his account a second longer, especially when his employer no longer supports what he wrote in the paper? 
 
Mr. Soros, you’ve got more ammunition for your lawsuit.  Follow this twit’s tweets.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
2:52 a.m.
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Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 2:53 am  Leave a Comment  

I Love You, Beth Cooper

Denis Cloverman is a strange little man, a charmless, sheltered Star Wars fanatic who still wears Spider-Man underwear and whose only friend is an annoyingly compulsive movie quoter in denial of his own homosexuality.  He needs a life changing experience.  Pronto.
 
He’s about to deliver the Valedictorian address at his high school graduation and all he can think about is…her.  The cute blond who sat in front of him in class after class.  The mysterious cheerleader he’s been crushing on since the seventh grade.  The elusive dream girl he doesn’t deserve to be with.
 
Terrifyingly awkward, the shellshocked teen proceeds to embarrass himself and all in attendance by declaring his love for a fellow graduate he barely knows.
 
So begins I Love You, Beth Cooper, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  It contains not a single laugh.  Not one.  There’s also not a single believable moment in this deeply insulting piece of cinematic trash.  No credible characters, either.  It may the most unpleasant teen comedy ever produced.
 
The charisma deficient Paul Rust is saddled with the role of Cloverman, a painfully uncool nerd who is the poster child for social discomfort.  His sole compadre, Rich (the incredibly annoying Jack T. Carpenter), convinces him that their public graduation ceremony is the perfect opportunity to break the ice with Beth Cooper (a less than lovable Hayden Pantierre), the aforementioned cutie he’s long been way too shy to talk to in private.  His argument is so ridiculous one wonders why anyone, let alone the overly tolerant Denis, would give it any serious consideration. 
 
Oh, but Denis follows his friend’s bad advice alright and unfortunately gets carried away with his own adrenalized boldness.  As a result, he angers a number of people he shouldn’t, including Beth’s incredibly hostile boyfriend, Kevin (Shawn Roberts), who must be allergic to smiling.  (Scowling’s more his thing.)  It takes all of one second to realize that pissing that guy off for any reason is a death sentence.  For a Valedictorian, the smarmy Denis sure isn’t that bright.  (He also outs Rich and humiliates a few others by revealing things a classier human being would keep to himself.  Denis isn’t classy.)
 
And yet his couragous gesture does the trick.  Beth actually starts talking to him (which aggravates the relentless Kevin).  So he invites her to his house for a party.  Even more incredible, she shows up with her two hot but equally vapid friends.  Along with Rich, it’s just the five of them.  No one else was invited.  Their entire high school is relieved. 
 
It’s unbearably clear, though, that these heartless bimbos could care less about their dweeby hosts whose mutual inexperience with the opposite sex (and hosting house parties) results in one cringe worthy moment after another.  It’s a difficult sequence to watch.  Five unlikeable characters standing around not relating to each other at all with meanspiritedness the only item offered on this unwelcome menu.
 
Then, the rather resourceful Kevin (a crazed, drugged out military guy who Beth later insists was sweet and kind when they first dated) crashes the party with his two goons.  After an impromptu kitchen renovation (think microwave through the wall and lots of broken glass) and an absurd bedroom fight sequence (a toy light saber vs. two arms ripped off a skeleton), the insufferable fivesome make their escape with the chiselled Kevin and company never too far behind.
 
As we get to know Beth, looks aside, we wonder why Denis is so enamoured with her.  She’s the complete opposite of a dream girl.  It’s more accurate to describe her as a dour rulebreaker with no hope for the future.  (She worries about peaking too soon.)  She’s also confused, reckless, inconsiderate, insensitive, trampy, unfunny, dumb and without a doubt, a strong candidate for the title of America’s Worst Driver.  In fact, nearly midway through the film Denis openly admits his disappointment to an agreeable Rich who urges him to move on.  But the horrendous screenplay has other ideas, mainly forced bonding.
 
And so the film keeps these five idiots together for the duration so that predictability replaces cruelty.  Well, not entirely.  This tasteless movie is jerky from start to finish. 
 
Furthermore, Beth must have incredibly low self esteem.  Essentially, she has to choose between an unfaithful, coked out warrior with a proficiency in stalking (Kevin) and a personality deficient geek whose "love" for her is more creepy than endearing (Denis).  This dilemma reminds me of Urban Cowboy when Debra Winger had to choose between a physical abuser (Scott Glenn) and a mental one (John Travolta).  Did I mention this is a comedy?
 
Another reason to despise Denis is how he treats his ex-girlfriend, Patty (Anna Mae Routledge in a truly thankless cameo), who he openly refers to as his "secret shame".  When we meet her at a more happening house party (you know the kind with cool tunes and more than five people), she seems perfectly nice.  (Who cares if she’s riddled with acne?)  So does her friend, Angelica (Violet Columbus), who actually pays Denis a compliment for his speech.  (Good Lord, what a bitch.)  These two assclowns look for any excuse to get away from them.  Once they learn from Angelica that Kevin is in the vicinity, they shamelessly bolt.  Quite frankly, they did those ladies a favour.  Patty and Angelica deserve much better.
 
This formulaic dreck moves about as fast as a turtle in quicksand as you continually squirm impatiently in your seat waiting for the goddamn thing to end already.  As a result, you grow tiresome of the stubbornly closeted Rich and his irritating ongoing obsession with reciting movie lines which no one asked him to do.  (And don’t get me started on his mad skillz with a wet towel.  It’s more sad than anything else.)  You puzzle at the idea of Denis and Beth growing closer and acting less awkwardly with each other when they have zilcho chemistry.  And you wonder why Denis’ parents (the wasted Alan Ruck and Cynthia Stevenson) never once get upset with his antics.  (Humiliating fellow students at graduation?  Throw a party, son!  Have a good time.  You let a psycho destroy our kitchen?  I guess you should be grounded.  Maybe.)
 
In a decade stained with garbage, I Love You, Beth Cooper is right up there with the cream of the crap.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, September 16, 2010
3:21 a.m.
Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 3:21 am  Comments (2)  

My One And Only (2009)

It’s 1953.  George Deveraux is an upper class 15-year-old trying to buy a new car in the opening scene of My One And Only.  The salesmen won’t sell it to him until he explains where he got all that money he’s carrying.  The aloof teenager quickly brings them up to speed. 
 
His housewife mother, Anne (a terribly miscast Renee Zellweger), has finally left his father, Dan (a terribly miscast Kevin Bacon), the philandering leader of a travelling swing band.  He’s a one-hit wonder on the charts but a superstar in the sheets.  (Good luck remembering the melody of the song that made him famous.)  When Anne unexpectedly returns to their New York apartment on the Upper West Side a day early (she was on a solitary vacation), she catches his latest conquest in their bed and finally decides to leave for good after nearly 20 years together (hard to believe considering the lack of chemistry between them).  Dan doesn’t think she means it but when she gets back on that elevator, she exits her old life for good (without filing divorce papers (unless I missed that part) or reverting to her maiden name, it should be noted).
 
Unfortunately, she’s a stereotypically dumb blonde.  How dumb is she?  When she tries to pull her two sons, George (Logan Lerman) and the theatrical, effeminate Robbie (the sometimes funny Mark Rendall), from class, she goes to the wrong school.  Once she finds them, she makes a pit stop to the bank where she empties her safety deposit box of cash and a loaded pistol and leaves behind her wedding ring.  She gives George the money to get proper transportation for their forthcoming journey.
 
Right after George tells this uninteresting story, she arrives at the dealership and the salesmen fawn all over her before teaching her the art of negotiation.  (Haven’t these guys seen a cute girl before?)  Not long after that, the family of three are on their way to Boston in their new ride, their first stop of many on the long road to California, a pattern which mostly annoys George who spends much of the film homesick.
 
Anne is overly optimistic about their future.  (Dan correctly points out that she has "delusions of grandeur".)  She doesn’t desire to look for employment, though.  In fact, she’s on the prowl for a new, rich husband, a human gravy train she can hitch the family wagon to.  (She’s too stubborn to accept Dan’s money which she’d be entitled to if she ever divorced the lech unless they’re actually split up.  I was never sure.) 
 
In Boston, she literally bumps into old flame Wallace McAllister (Steven Weber) who actually attempted suicide years ago when Anne turned down his wedding proposal.  (Really?)  On their dinner date, however, he has no interest in starting things up again.  His business is floundering and he desperately needs to borrow 75 grand (but he’ll settle for 50) to keep things afloat.  (He never actually mentions what his business is, which is kind of weird.)  He even raises his voice to emphasize the serious nature of his request.  Turned off by his boldness, Anne excuses herself momentarily to regroup in the bathroom.  When she returns, he’s already split.  It probably wasn’t a good idea to leave your purse there, Anne. 
 
Stuck with the dinner tab and no dough to pay it, a military man named, and I’m not making this up, Harlan Williams (not played by the Canadian comic but by Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth, who I also think is miscast here) saves the day.  Soon thereafter, Anne is engaged.  (Shouldn’t she have legally split from Dan well before making this bad decision or did I miss something?) 
 
Her sons can’t stand the Colonel.  He’s humourless, gruff and territorial (although Noth isn’t nearly intense enough in the part to truly warrant our loathing).  But thankfully, an act of rare selflessness on the part of Anne leads to an argument with Williams (and an altercation with George) and the engagement is kaput.  Exhausting exactly two options in Boston, she uproots her family to Pittsburgh.  It’s here we meet the lovely and intelligent Wendy (Molly C. Quinn in a terrific performance) and her brother, Bud (Nick Stahl in full-on James Dean mode).  He’s a normally quiet mechanic who suddenly becomes chatty around the disinterested but flattered Anne (he’s not rich enough for her tastes) and she’s an upfront redhead who takes an immediate liking to George.  They’re united in their own cynicism.  During the drive-in sequence, he convinces her not to do something demeaning for money rightly noting that she’s better than that.  It marks one of the few times you like him.  For much of the movie, he’s far too unhumourously sarcastic and emotionally detached to warrant much sympathy.
 
It’s too bad their relationship doesn’t get more time to develop because after Anne goes through three more suitors (only one of which is actually interested in her and not for anything serious), the family is off to St. Louis.  She swallows her pride as she reluctantly visits her unhappily barren, deeply jealous sister, Hope (Robin Weigert) and her husband, Tom (J.C. MacKenzie) right around dinner time.  Realizing the bagging-a-rich-husband plan is deeply flawed (since her taste in men is horrendous), Anne tries her luck as a waitress only to get fired right away.  But things quickly turn around at her next place of employment.
 
Increasing sales of house paint at a franchise supply shop in town, she catches the fancy of Bill Massey (The Office’s David Koechner who deserves funnier lines), the nicest rich guy she’s ever met.  She’s led to believe he’s the heir to the Massey paint store fortune and that their impending marriage is the solution to all her problems but a stunning plot twist crushes her dreams.  You know what that means.  That’s right.  Another change of scenery.  And more trouble to come.
 
Believe it or not, My One And Only is somewhat of a cinematic memoir of George Hamilton’s teen years.  (I didn’t even realize this until the final scene of the movie where we learn how he came up with his stage name for his then-burgeoning Hollywood career.  He served as an Executive Producer.)  Unfortunately, it’s not very compelling.  Despite some intermittent laughs, the biggest of which come from Mark Rendell’s character, and some good supporting performances, the film lacks consistent comedy and real drama to draw us in entirely.  The PG nature of the film greatly limits its potential for stellar moments of emotional power.  Ultimately, I felt very little.
 
It also doesn’t help that Zellweger’s character is so dopey.  Self-absorbed, clueless and seemingly asexual, it’s hard to fathom how any man would be so drawn to her.  She’s quite charmless, too, not to mention overly mannered for a character so detached from the idea of loving kindness.  That gets quite tiresome over time. 
 
Zellweger’s an attractive actress but the wrong beauty to play this role.  She’s cute, but not as devastatingly beautiful as the character should be, especially if she is to have so many potential, wealthy suitors begging to be with her.  Anne is remarkably selfish and unsympathetic, too, particularly towards the needs of her two sons, only one of whom was fathered by Dan.  (We never do meet Robbie’s dad who mentions seeing a picture of him once in passing.  What the hell happened to him?) 
 
Speaking of Robbie, there’s an unamusing running gag involving him being cast in big roles in school play after school play but beyond uttering three words as Oedipus, he never gets a chance to deliver a single, complete performance.  (The Oedipus gig is cancelled due to a tornado warning.)  That turns out to be a blessing in disguise.
 
By the end, when Anne comes to a rather unconvincing realization about her personal life (just make better choices, damnit) and George & Robbie begin their Hollywood careers, you feel rather disinterested about the whole enterprise.  Throughout, the movie’s heroes are curiously muted emotionally which makes it very difficult to feel attached to them.  I can understand them being politely stoic in public (this is the 1950s we’re talking about) but where are the private screaming matches whenever Anne’s spontaneous travel plans interfere with her sons’ attempts to find happiness in one city?  There are arguments and one predictable slap to the face, but not much passion.
 
My One And Only is one of those projects that kicked around the Hollywood studios for years without much hope of being made.  Spearheaded by the late Merv Griffin and obviously approved by George Hamilton himself, it played very briefly in American theatres in August 2009. 
 
It was never exhibited theatrically in Canada.  Having seen it, I now understand why.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, September 5, 2010
6:41 p.m. 
Published in: on September 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment