John Nichols

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The Milagro Beanfield War Review


Excellent
Who'd of thought that a battle over water rights would make for such an interesting tale? This small movie, Robert Redford's second directorial endeavor after Ordinary People, is surprisingly watchable and gripping, despite a terrible title and a setup that would have mainstream audiences running for the exits. In a tiny New Mexico town, a huge resort development is getting underway, and the locals are getting trampled underfoot. But not Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera, the spitting image of Bruno Kirby), who diverts water from the resort project onto his small bean field. Naturally, the titular war develops: Corporate America vs. the little guy -- with the media thrown in for a kick. Surprisingly lively stuff, full of local character, fun performances, and a plot that builds up steam faster than you'd think. It's Jean de Florette, Western style, and the kind of movie John Sayles wishes he could make.

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism Review


Good
This may come as a surprise to you, but the FOX News Channel is considered by some to be a partisan network that spins the news to the right. I know, I know, stay seated because I'm sure your head is spinning at this assertion.

This is the basic premise of the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, which is produced in part by MoveOn.Org and the Center for American Progress, two left-leaning organizations that are working overtime these days to boot George W. Bush from the White House.

Continue reading: Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism Review

Bowling For Columbine Review


Weak

Point for point, I agree with just about everything mordant muckraker Michael Moore has to say in his gun violence documentary "Bowling for Columbine," but pardon me if I shoot the messenger (ooh, the horrible pun!) for his propagandist approach to the subject that comes close to crippling his credibility.

Inspired in part by the 1999 school shootings in Colorado that lend the film its title (teenage gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went bowling before school the day they killed 12 classmates and a teacher), this film is a potent and sometimes profound bully-pulpit examination of the extent of our nation's propensity for violence, and a quest for the problem's roots. In the tradition of his General Motors-haranguing sardonic-umentary "Roger and Me," Moore travels the U.S. and Canada interviewing city officials, riding along on training missions with the Michigan militia, and opening an account at a small-town bank where free checking also comes with a free firearm (no fooling).

The man has a talent for giving his interviewees just enough rope to hang themselves, like James Nichols -- the borderline-psychotic brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols -- does when he gladly volunteers that "it's an American responsibility to be armed." Soon thereafter he jokingly puts a loaded gun to his head before launching into a conspiracy diatribe that almost has him foaming at the mouth.

Continue reading: Bowling For Columbine Review

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