Political Docs A-plenty—The New Mexico Media Literacy Program is bringing filmmaker Sut Jhally to Albuquerque on Thursday, Aug. 5, to premiere his documentary Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of the American Empire. The film examines how a radical fringe element of the Republican party used the trauma of the 9-11 hijackings to further their pre-existing agenda. The San Francisco Chronicle called the film “sober, yet ultimately uplifting.” The screening will take place at 7 p.m. on the campus of Albuquerque Academy in Simms Auditorium. Jhally, a professor of communication at UMASS and the executive director of the Media Education Foundation, will stick around after the screening for a Q&A with audience members. This event is free and open to the public. Log on to www.mediaed.org for more info.
Director M. Knight Shyamalan is a talented filmmaker. Make no mistake: He's got intriguing ideas, he's good with a camera, he's a master of atmosphere and he's not afraid to take risks. But the guy is so married to his perceived “gimmick” that he's all but squandered his rather significant Hollywood hype.
Back in 1962, the politically charged film The Manchurian Candidate was not your average thriller. Based on Richard Condon's equally cynical book, the film concentrated on a group of Korean War soldiers brainwashed by the U.S. government. In the still patriotic post-World War II era, it was one of the first mainstream films to express a certain distrust in The Powers That Be. In an untimely bit of coincidence, however, the film was pulled from theaters shortly after its release by producer/star Frank Sinatra when President John F. Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullet (closely mirroring a major plot element in the film). Considered a “hidden classic” until a home video revival a decade or so ago, The Manchurian Candidate remains a prescient political potboiler.
HBO continues to impress with its Sunday night lineup. By maintaining a constantly rotating stable of fine comedy and drama—“The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” “Six Feet Under,” “Carnivale,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Deadwood”—the network is able to keep viewers glued to the day, even if the top shows are canceled (“Sex ...”) or on painfully extended hiatus (“Sopranos”). The newest show to hit HBO's Sunday Night “must see TV” slate is the Hollywood exposé “Entourage.”