Recently, twelve high-school students and four staff members of our non-profit went to see the exciting political thriller, “Fair Game” at the Tivoli Theater in University City. The movie is the true story of Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson and how their work resulted in Ms. Plame being “outed” by the Bush Administration as a CIA operative.
As outstanding as the movie was, its “box office” revenue reveals the poor state of American political cinema. In St. Louis, it is showing only at the two, indie-oriented Landmark Theaters (Tivoli and Frontenac). The saleswoman at the Tivoli box office (incredibly nice: She helped us scalp two tickets after we had overbought) was somewhat distressed that other films at the Tivoli were outdrawing it. Combine Fair Game’s limited run with the fact that the exceptionally powerful Pat Tillman Story was in St. Louis for only ten days, and it’s virtually impossible to see any meaningful cinema about contemporary or recent historical events.
We can complain until the cows home about the lack of thoughtful, meaningful films in our theaters, but the bottom line is that Hollywood and other producers of movies are only feeding the public what it thinks will sell. As is frequently the case, we see part of the problem with our schools. There are terrific teachers who encourage students to see enlightening films. However, most teachers and schools in general just follow the bland or hyped popular culture that populates our movie theaters.
Above the National Archives Building in Washington, DC is the inscription, “What’s past is prologue.” If we as citizens don’t show more interest in historically relevant films, we increase our chances of repeating the mistakes of the past. There’s still time to see “Fair Game” if you have a chance, and we suggest checking it out.