A big pile of poo(h)

Image copyright D’Souza Media

Exclusive to MeierMovies.com, August 4, 2018

I did something today I hadn’t done in years: I snuck into a movie. In my defense, I actually purchased two tickets (just for me) for a second film. After all, I didn’t want to steal from Regal Cinemas. Instead, I wanted to steal from the writer-director of the film I snuck into. His name is Dinesh D’Souza, and his film is Death of a Nation (½ star on my 0-5 scale).

I really didn’t want to see his ultra-Right Wing “documentary,” as I knew going in that it was sitting at 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. I also knew I wouldn’t agree with D’Souza’s politics, at least judging by his previous films, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party and 2016: Obama’s America, which I admit I never saw. But the film critic in me wanted to see whether all the negative hype regarding his latest pic was deserved. It is.

Billed as a tribute to President Trump (who pardoned D’Souza earlier this year after he was convicted of a campaign-related felony), Death of a Nation is so much more. It’s a shockingly inept piece of journalism combined with a jarringly amateurish exercise in filmmaking. It’s an attempt to redefine fascism and link Trump with Abraham Lincoln. And it’s a comparison of the Democratic Party and all Progressives (from the 1820s to today) to Hitler and Nazi Germany. D’Souza even goes so far as to call Hitler a Progressive. Let that sink in for a second. He does this not to defend Hitler but to brand every Democrat from Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama with the same swastika. I’m quarter-Jewish, but I was more than quarter-offended.

Interestingly, D’Souza does actually slip some truths into his hate-filled diatribe. This means that those with early-onset dementia and those recently suffering a brain concussion might be tricked into thinking that the entire documentary deserves consideration. It doesn’t. That’s because it’s packed with falsehoods, or, at the very least, gross misinterpretations of 200 years of American history – all in an effort not to educate or bring people together, but, seemingly, to monger fear. The end product is the delusional raving of an angry, ignorant clown.

The only reason I’m not angrier is that the movie doesn’t deserve my anger, just like it didn’t deserve my money – because it fails as craft. Laughably so. From the never-ending voiceover narration (by D’Souza himself), to the poorly executed interviews, to the cheesy music, to the heavy-handed historical reenactments, this film fails. In fact, it might be the worst theatrically released documentary I’ve ever seen, and I have full confidence that all my friends and colleagues would agree with me, regardless of their political leanings. (Hey, I guess D’Souza has managed to unite most of us after all.)

Perhaps Owen Gleiberman, writing for Variety, said it best: “In Death of a Nation, Dinesh D’Souza is no longer preaching to the choir; he’s preaching to the mentally unsound.”

So what was that film I paid double for? Christopher Robin (3 ¼ stars). Though it has some structural and narrative flaws, the new existential fantasy from Disney (directed by Marc Forster and starring Ewan McGregor) is sweet, kind, quiet and thoughtful: everything the film by D’Souza – the documentarian of very little brain – isn’t. Oh, bother.

Copyright 2018 © Cameron Meier