Two new documentaries promise to pump up a pair of progressive darlings. Michael Moore isn’t attached to either of them though. The far-left filmmaker’s time as a game-changing auteur is over. Consider the cancellation of his “TV Nation” reboot on TBS and the tepid box office tally from Moore’s 2018 flop, “Fahrenheit 11/9.”
No, the future of progressive documentaries is now, and two major media outlets are leading the charge.
First up is “Knock Down the House,” which Netflix just scooped up for a pricey $10 million. Why? One of the four progressive women featured in the film is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Does it matter that the freshman Congresswoman makes Sarah Palin look like Stephen Hawking?
Of course not.
The film, which follows four far-left neophytes running for political office, currently boasts a 100 percent “fresh” rating at RottenTomatoes.com. That certainly could reflect the film’s high quality. Or, another factor is in play.
Since the vast majority of film critics lean left, some dramatically so, they likely cheered the film’s rah-rah spirit, not its journalistic balance and dedication to the truth.
Consider the following review snippet as a prime example. The Variety critic shows her hand early on: “But the power of the film is that Ocasio-Cortez is not the only exceptional woman here.”
If you’ve heard Ocasio-Cortez’s word salad or eye-balled her hilarious Green New Deal you might have another adjective in mind.
The indiewire.com critic similarly waved her pom-poms at the documentary’s core mission: “Even better? It’s only the beginning. Green light the sequel now, we’re going to need many more.”
Expect more of the same from “Running with Beto.” The Spring release, gobbled up by HBO, promises an intimate look at O’Rourke’s close Senate loss to Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas.
Here’s part of HBO’s statement after acquiring the film: “The film offers an inside look at his unorthodox staff and a number of passionate, diverse supporters helping to spread a new message in Texas. Revealing the challenges of the campaign trail, RUNNING WITH BETO documents Beto’s battles with an onslaught of negative advertising, the inevitable strain on his family, and the pressure of delivering for those he inspires.”
The director also compared the energy behind O’Rourke’s campaign to that of Barack Obama.
Need more proof of the film’s potential bias? The documentary comes from Crooked Media, an outfit co-founded by former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor.
Gee, do you think their film will be remotely fair or balanced? Will “Beto” the movie feature Beto, the man who drove drunk and tried to flee the scene of the crime?
It doesn’t matter, though. The vast majority of film critics will shower it with praise for telling the story they want to hear.
Not the truth, which is what documentaries used to be about. That’s not important anymore, apparently.
Now, one or two documentaries can’t change the world. Chances are both “House” and “Beto” will rack up modest viewing figures, potentially.
That’s only part of the equation.
“House” will be heavily advertised by Netflix. Every time you log on to your Netflix account for several weeks you’ll see the film either in the “trending” section or the “recently added” lineup. That, on top of those fawning reviews and more press accolades for the movie will booster its cultural footprint.
The HBO documentary will enjoy a similar rollout, sans skepticism from the press.
And this is only the beginning. How many more documentaries will hit theaters and small screens between now and Election Day? Will some target President Trump while others cheer on his rivals?
Moore’s career decline does Democrat-friendly documentaries a huge favor. The Oscar winner’s biases are obvious to one and all. Any film he makes will be welcomed by progressives and avoided by anyone remotely right of center.
But few, if any, have heard of the folks behind “House” or “Running with Beto.” They are essentially anonymous directors whose films hit the marketplace with little to no baggage. Plus, Netflix and HBO may favor liberal programming, but their brands aren’t etched in progressive stone like, says, MSNBC.
It’s one of many reasons these two documentaries could have an impact on the 2020 election season.
Christian Toto is editor of the Colorado-based hollywoodintoto.com, The Right Take on Entertainment.
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