Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: Steal This Movie

So, I voted in the New York Senate primary the other day. I ended up voting for the guy who won, Mark Dunau.

Bizarrely enough, it’s a ton of fun being a registered Green and voting in a primary, mostly because for the second time this year we were denied a line on the machines in NYC. I’m on the NY Green email listserv, so I had received instructions days ahead of time about how to “properly” vote Green.

First off, us Greens are a suspicious bunch, but I think have every cause to be. I mean we did get screwed again by the NYC Board of Elections who keep sticking us on paper ballots. So, looking to screw them right back, I was told to look for two things in my polling location: 1) a cop on duty, and 2) a posted Green sample ballot. The first thing I saw when I walked in the door of the classroom was a cop, so that was covered. Then, while I didn’t want to be obvious about it, I scanned the walls of the classroom. My heart lept! No Green ballot! Woo-hoooo… D’oh!! I must have been blind or just looking for trouble. The ballot was hanging right there, next to the Democrat’s sample. Tonight wasn’t going to be my night to right the wrongs of a corrupt “democracy”.

The other fun thing about being a Green voter is having to announce that I’m a Green, which means special treatment from the perplexed poll workers. They’re given the paper ballots and the special instructions to deal with them, so they know we is a comin’. They just don’t know what the Hell we are. “What is a Green?” they ask. “So, you’re voting for Ralph Nader, hunh?” is about the only thing we’re known for. One poll worker was confused because Nader’s name wasn’t on this ballot. “Because Nader’s running for President. This is a Senate primary,” I had to explain.

But both times I’ve voted as a Green, the poll workers were all very nice and helpful and wasn’t acting like I was inconveniencing them. And this time there was an elderly gentleman working the table who asked me if I was voting for Nader. “Yes,” I replied as definitively as I always do when I’m asked this question. The man responded, “He’s a good man. He’s not going to win, but he’s a good man.” Each time he said Ralph is a good man, it sounded very heartfelt, but also sounded of a man convinced third party candidates can’t win in our system. Just remember, the Republican party was a “third party” once.

I’m sure all this talk about voting is boring the crap out of ya’ll, but I’m completely sincere that it’s very thrilling for me and I can’t help but to talk about it.

Part Two of this boring story is that even though I voted for Mark Dunau I didn’t really know much about him except for some vague stories on the NY Green email listserv. I chose Mark through a process of elimination: I knew I didn’t like the other two candidates very much.

A couple days after the primary I went to a rally for Mark in Union Square, NYC, so I could learn more about my candidate. I was expecting a big to-do, but not very many people actually showed up. In a way, it was kinda sad. Most of the people who showed up were the active Greens I’ve known through the listserv. Though I had never seen or met any of them before, I could tell who they were by looking at them. I didn’t introduce myself.

Like I said, us Greens are a suspicious bunch, but even if I weren’t a Green I’m an overly suspicious person as it is anyway. I don’t like getting too involved with people. So, as Mark was being introduced to some of the Greens who showed up and who didn’t know him, I watched from a safe distance able to hear dribs and drabs of conversation. I wanted to stay back until the actual “rally” started.

However, just before Mark gave a speech to the crowd lounging around Union Square I saw him standing by himself so I ran over to shake his hand and to tell him I had voted for him, I will vote for him and to wish him general good luck. He asked me about myself and I told him about my encounter with the elderly man at the primary. Mark echoed my sentiments: People need to vote for who they believe in, not to just throw their vote so “the other guy” doesn’t win. Mark also gave me a booklet outlining his platform, which I will get off of my lazy ass and read soon. He seems like a good guy.

Someone who probably wasn’t a very nice guy, but is vital to American history is Abbie Hoffman, the famed Yippie and anti-Vietnam activist. STEAL THIS MOVIE is a biopic about his life starring Vincent D’Onofrio.

I don’t normally read movie reviews before I see movies, but Paul Krassner had a long article about the flick in IN THESE TIMES that I was too anxious to read until after I’d seen the movie. If you don’t know who Paul is, he was part of that whole radical crew back in the Sixties and probably one of the very few who is A) not dead, nor B) sold out. Abbie never sold out, either, but Krassner feel the filmmakers did.

Krassner pointed out all the film’s inconsistencies and deceptions, which is normal with biopics when they condense a person’s life into 90 minutes. So, I ended up having the same problem I did with the movie about Andy Kaufman, MAN ON THE MOON. I had read so much about Andy that when the facts were wrong it royally rubbed me the wrong way. And since Abbie is dead and this isn’t really his life but some other people’s opinions about it, I’d have to believe in Krassner who actually lived this shit. I couldn’t believe in the movie and D’Onofrio played Abbie as being too preachy. I felt like I was given the Disney “Hall of Presidents” version of Abbie and not the real person.

However, I now have conflicting emotions over Janeane Garofalo, who plays Abbie’s second wife Anita (although in the film you’d think Anita was his first and only). I used to love her. Then she was in so many crappy movies, I got fed up and started hating her. But, my God, she must get cuter every movie. She’s beautiful in this movie even though it’s another great acting job by her in an inferior flick. I don’t know what to feel for her anymore.