Al Franken: God Spoke, Jesus Camp, Michael Papantonio
Franken, Trial Lawyer Papantonio In New Films
If God were really to speak with Al Franken, what would He say? How about "why didn't your liberal radio network give the inner- city kids back their money before the Department Of Investigation got involved?"
And that's exactly why one shouldn't expect Al Franken: God Spoke, a new documentary film, to paint anywhere close to a true picture of Stuart Smalley's last several years on our planet.
From the preview trailer (click below to view), we see that God Spoke is far closer to a Michael Moore- style editing job than any real account of a very controversial figure in American politics.
Initially, we had hoped that the film would shed some light on Al's true nature, but it's now clear that isn't going to happen. Previously, we've covered its release here, here and here.
For the full review, the Radio Equalizer will defer to Powerline, which is examining it in- depth and will publish a review sometime this week.
Oddly enough, in the same week, another film featuring an Air America Radio host hits theatres, as well. In this case, it's notorious Florida trial lawyer Mike Papantonio, a former law partner of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who co- hosts "Ring Of Fire" with enviro-hypocrite Robert F Kennedy Jr.
Rated: PG-13 for some discussions of mature subject matter
"Jesus Camp," directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady ("The Boys of Baraka"), follows Levi, Rachael, and Tory, to Pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire" summer camp in Devil's Lake, North Dakota, where kids as young as 6 years-old are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in "God's army." The film follows these children at camp as they hone their "prophetic gifts" and are schooled in how to "take back America for Christ." The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's political future.
The film also features a counterpoint, in the form of excerpts from Michael Papantonio's "Ring of Fire" show on NPR's Air America. Though he frequently takes aim at the fundamentalist Christian movement, Papantonio is an active Methodist who admits that his moral compass comes from his faith.
Will this film serve to pump up "Pap's" ego even further? Will he cook up a class- action suit against these crazed religious zealots? We'll try not to give him too many ideas.
UPDATE: Cinema Blend gives God Spoke a fairly harsh review:
Maybe you like Al Franken's politics, maybe you don't. Whatever you think of him, there's no denying that the guy has a unique kind of wit. Unfortunately, a few years ago he gave up straight comedy to become a political talking head, and I guess someone decided to record it.
The result is Al Franken: God Spoke, a scattered documentary following Franken's politics laced exploits from the release of his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" in 2003, through the launch of his liberal radio station Air America", and up to his announcement that he'll run for governor of the great state of Minnesota.
Following Al Franken around with a camera for a few years is an idea that has potential. He's an interesting figure, and someone whose personal life usually stays pretty much in the shadows. Unfortunately, none of that will change with this documentary, which does little more than skim the surface of who and what Franken is. It plays as if he had final cut approval on it, and went out of his way to make sure they removed anything that might cast him in a bad light. Smart move if you're a political candidate and you want a propaganda video; not so great if you're trying to participate in an honest, even-handed documentary.
Maybe that's not true, and maybe Al Franken is a truly wonderful guy. But even wonderful guys have their bad days. Even at his lowest, after George Bush won a second term, Franken never loses his cool.
You know what; I'm actually willing to believe that Al Franken really is that nice, funny, gentle, kind-hearted guy in this documentary. I'd be even more willing to believe it if there was any depth to what we're being shown. But the camera never follows him much beyond his job. There's a short, very short sequence of him at home with his wife, but it feels tacked on, as if to say "hey you should elect this guy as governor because he's great and look, he has a really normal home life too!"
I'm not sure I agree with all of his politics, but I've always liked Al and I just think he's better than this. The film is flimsy, little better than a sketch comedy bit, an advertisement for Al Franken's burgeoning political career. Directors Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus were given a gift in Franken as their subject matter, but they never capture much of his true essence, just the public figure mode we've already seen him in. If this is the best they can muster, I'd suggest giving it up and getting a job working directly for the Democratic National Committee. Doob and Hegedus would do a great job counter-punching all the Republican propaganda flooding America, but they don't seem to have a clue about what it takes to find the truth of Al Franken.
Thanks for your continued and vital Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order!
God To Al: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer