Look, there's really no cinematic value to Dinesh D'Souza's latest film Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.
It's just not well-made. It's an aesthetically empty, historically dubious screed against the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential candidate that relies too heavily on risible re-enactments of questionable history and the co-director's Shawshank Redemption-type prison experience. It also employs a soundstage dressed out as "Democratic Headquarters" where all the dirty secrets are kept in a literal basement.
Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
66 Cast: Documentary, with Dinesh D’Souza, Jonah Goldberg, Andrea Cohen
Directors: Dinesh D’Souza, Bruce Schooley
Rating: PG-13, for some violence, thematic elements and smoking
Running time: 100 minutes
If you don't like Hillary Clinton, you'll find a lot here to give you comfort, but there's no way any intellectually honest critic could make the case that it's a good movie. And I don't intend to spend any time refuting any of the revisionist history D'Souza cites here. My Facebook feed convinces me that people are determined to believe whatever they have to in order to support the worldview they want to have. So go see this if you want to. Or if you want something to get outraged about. Just don't pretend it's a good movie. It's not.
What D'Souza seems to want to be is a right-wing Michael Moore. Now let's leave aside the question of why he would want to be that for the moment -- it might be better to be any number of things, including Donald Trump's running mate, which D'Souza probably could have managed had he wanted to and stayed on the right side of campaign finance laws (though he posits himself as a martyr persecuted by Barack Obama) -- and just accept that's what he wants. He obviously models his on-screen persona on Moore's noxious faux-amazed naif. He employs the same sort of wheedling, fake naivete. He has the same habit of extrapolating general conditions from a single, perhaps extraordinary case. He exhibits the same prosecutorial arrangement of facts.
But he does so without any of Moore's filmic intelligence or humanity -- and without a trace of Moore's ever apparent empathy for those he considers his ideological enemies. This is a movie within a thesis that sounds like a collaboration between William Castle and John Birch: "What if the goal of the Democratic Party is to steal the most valuable thing this world ever produced?"
Which is America. Yes. The Democrats. From the beginning (which they weren't around for), they've been trying to drag Murica down. (Wait, maybe D'Souza plagiarized my Facebook feed?)
I don't get this. D'Souza started out as an interesting if not always fair-minded writer, an obviously intelligent advocate for post-racial neoconservatism. Over 25 years or so, he has devolved into a downmarket propagandist, willing to manipulate at a lowest common denominator level. All I can figure is that this -- and his previous films -- are cynical (and successful) ploys to make money.
Which it will. Which means that maybe I'm the stupid one here. On a per-screen average, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Hillary's America opened with the best per-screen average of any political documentary this year -- far outpacing Weiner, about the disgraced former New York congressman, and Moore's Where to Invade Next. So D'Souza is winning, I guess.
At least in the material world.
MovieStyle on 07/22/2016
Print Headline: Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party