February 11-13, 2000
volume 11, no. 30

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    For reviews of movies currently playing in theatres or in the video stores, see
Film & Broadcasting
Division of the National Conference
of Catholic Bishops

    In order to provide the reader more than just a rehash of what a movie or video is all about which really only serves to promote a film or program despite the rating, we have decided to bring you a more in-depth feature by enlisting Michael Vincent Boyer, editor and publisher of the excellent monthly tabloid magazine "Goodbye Hollywood". Like fellow columnist Pat Ludwa, Michael also hails from northern Ohio but for the past twenty plus years has lived in the deep south. Yet, because of his intrinsic inside work with the Hollywood establishment as Director of the Alabama Film Commission, he is well aware of the state of the industry and most of what he has seen is not compatable with the teachings of the Church. For that reason he began his monthly publication and has begun writing a regular in-depth, thought-provoking, sometimes shocking column for the DailyCATHOLIC. After Lent he will expand even further in providing a brief daily guide of programs that may not be all they're cracked up to be, or a program that might slip through the cracks and be forgotten even though it is excellent. This happens often and Michael will be on top of it to enlighten readers as to what Hollywood is truly up to as he infiltrates the devil's workshop - Hollywood USA!

    Because he will dealing with how all this affects Catholics we continue to call it: "MOVIES & MORALS." Also, because he will be treating videos both in VCR rentals and video games and how we need to be on our guard, we're also calling it: "VIDEOS & VIRTUES;" and finally, he'll also be covering programs and programming decisions for television and how we need to keep in mind the great cardinal virtue of Temperance to guard and guide us in our viewing - thus calling it: "TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE." Therefore, all three titles are appropriate to effectively convey the topics he'll be covering.

    For past columns by Michael Vincent Boyer, see MOVIES & MORALS-VIDEOS & VIRTUES-TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE Archives.    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

What Hollywood doesn't want you to know

Why Hollywood kills good movies

      " 'The Straight Story' is a masterpiece of redemption. One problem: even after unanimous glowing reviews, Disney has failed to actively promote and advertise the film except for a small site on its web page. And they continue not to promote it despite the fact that the lead actor, Farnsworth, is considered a leading contender for the Best Actor category on Oscar night."

        Warner Brothers actually produced a memorable animated feature in 1999 titled "The Iron Giant" in a move that might have given the studio a starting advantage to compete with other Hollywood feature animators such as Dreamworks and Disney. The story surrounds a young boy who befriends a mysterious giant robot hiding in the woods. The dialogue between the two actually plays out as a morality play that deals with problem-solving, values, alienation, ignorance, love, fear, and making responsible choices. Of the 500 plus features released by the industry in 1999, it was actually one you could watch together as a family.

        Why did it not succeed? For reasons unexplained by the studio, Warner Brothers barely publicized it with few, if any ads, movie trailers, TV exposure, or even theatre posters. However, Warner Brothers had no problem promoting "Natural Born Killers" with a multi-million dollar budget.

        The conclusion is that the studios do promote a philosophical bent that ultimately rests with the Chairmen at the top of the media-conglomerate ladder; in this case, co-chairmen Levin and Turner; two individuals responsible for some of the most morally corrupt entertainment currently shown at theatres and on television. Without promoting positive entertainment, decision-makers like Levin and Turner can always argue with their critics, which comprises most Americans, that, "We tried family entertainment, and it just didn't sell." Now you know the dark underbelly of entertainment.

        It was former Education Secretary and best-selling author William Bennet who stood up at a Time-Warner stockholders' meeting and read the lyrics to a Time-Warner record division song titled "Cop Killers". The record division was sold shortly thereafter.

        In the wake of the "Iron Giant" fiasco by Warner Brothers, it was Disney's turn to do what it does best, kill one of the year's best movies, and promote one of the decade's worst. The strategy is a reflection of Disney's demented "creative" decision makers and marketing department executive who fear that Disney might actually have the potential to be a producer of quality films again where families can actually go to the movies together. Imagine that ever happening? But the studio's "dark-siders" appear to be pulling the strings with the full permission of Disney chief Michael Eisner.

        Such is happening right now with the movie "The Straight Story" based on the true life of Alvin Straight, an elderly Midwesterner who has not spoken to his ailing brother in decades. The role has merited Richard Farnsworth an Oscar nomination for his role as Straight. When he discovers that his brother might not have much time to live, Straight buys a large John Deere lawn tractor and hooks up a small wagon to travel the 360 mile journey to make amends between the two of them. The tractor-mower is his only mode of transportation since poor eyesight does not allow him a driver's license.

        Along the way, Straight meets several interesting people and camps out in the cornfields under stunning starlit nights and reflects on better days as a younger man without grudges; a man who fought in World War II and realizes that too much time has passed without reconciliation. "The Straight Story" is a masterpiece of redemption. One problem: even after unanimous glowing reviews, Disney has failed to actively promote and advertise the film except for a small site on its web page. And they continue not to promote it despite the fact that the lead actor, Farnsworth, is considered a leading contender for the "Best Actor" category on Oscar night.

        Disney is adopting the same strategy Time-Warner did with "The Iron Giant." By limiting the release to only a handful of theatres nationwide, the movie is guaranteed to fail. When critics complain about the degrading content and quality of films, Disney will use this as their "token" example of "we tried, but nobody came" strategy, thus justifying their continuation of increasingly debased entertainment, giving the audience what "the industry" wants you to see, not what you want to see. At the same time, Disney/Miramax is promoting the decade's worst movie, with a large advertising budget and distribution to ten times as many theatres and in a few weeks it will be released in video stores with more hoopla, even though it did not garner great box office during its short theater run. That's another reason it is coming to video so soon, it's a sure sign it's a dog! In "Dogma" God is portrayed as a woman who comes to earth as an elderly man along with a profanity spouting "13th" apostle who complains he was killed for revealing the sex lives of the other apostles. Together, this "holy union" intervenes in the life of the story's heroine, a young girl working in an abortion clinic who claims to be a descendent of Mary and Joseph! Most major newspapers carried large display ads for "Dogma" and only the showtimes for "The Straight Story," if it was playing at all. The current strategy is an example of value manipulation and moral corruption at Disney. Consider that Disney chose to promote "The Straight Story" in only 153 theaters nationwide while "Dogma" contaminated 1,287 movie plexes during the same first week of December. The Evidence speaks for itself. No wonder Disney's financial picture continues its declining roller-coaster ride. Just more evidence of value manipulation and practices Disney doesn't want you to know. We can only hope that with the publicity Farnsworth will receive for his Academy Award nomination, that the people will demand it be shown in a theatre near them and Disney will be forced to capitualate and eat crow! Maybe someday they'll remember who they are supposed to be and what Walt had in mind: family entertainment the whole family can enjoy and share!

Michael Vincent Boyer

February 18-20, 2000
volume 11, no. 35

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