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In a near future, after the nuclear explosion of a bomb dropped by India in
Pakistan, an American non-governmental group decides to bring the Iranians
orphans to Idaho. The silly governor of Idaho (Beau Bridges) is the
political opponent of the American president (Phil Hartman) and decides to
not permit the immigration of the children to his state. Indeed his greatest
concern is relative to his sexual and affective life with the
American-Mexican journalist Christina (Elizabeth Peña) and he does not give
much importance to his statement. The stupid president decides to follow the
advice of Jack Buchan (James Coburn) and his advisors, and sends the U. S.
Army to the border of Idaho, which is protected by the National Guard
troops. Due to the last chapter of a famous soap opera, the president gives
sixty-seven and half hours to Idaho permit the ingress of the children. The
greatest American network covers all of this confusion in a sensationalist
way. All of these absurd misunderstandings together culminate in the
American Second Civil War. This movie is a great dark and dramatic comedy,
made before the tragedy of September 11th. In Brazil, it was not promoted
and I found the VHS by chance on sale. When I saw the name of Joe Dante and
the cast, I decided to buy and watch it. It was a worthwhile entertainment.
It is a sort of `tribute' to the politicians, lobbyists and press in USA,
and without the participation of Michael Moore. Martyn Burke and Joe Dante
explore the warrior spirit and the racial segregation of the American
people, the immigration problem, the lack of common sense and the search for
votes of the politicians, the unreasonable advices of lobbyists and
civilians and military advisors and the performance of the manipulative
press in a funny (and even sad) story. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): `A Segunda Guerra Civil' (`The Second Civil War')
This movie was an original film made by HBO and was shown in 1997 and
Why? Too many un-PC remarks is my guess. At one point Dan Hedaya (head of the CNN look-alike NetworkNews) yells that somebody needs to get the White House on the phone "unless Tokyo has foreclosed on it!". The story is brilliantly created and the cast is amazing.
Look at the cast and ask yourself how this film could just disappear.
The mayor of Los Angeles is giving a speech, and the newsroom is frantically looking for a translator. but NOT to translate into Spanish. No, to translate HIS speech into English.
I say shame on HBO for letting this film slide into oblivion, You can still find it, used, on VHS but it never went to DVD. You cannot buy it from HBO.
You gotta ask yourself why...
It is the near future and a nuclear attack on Pakistan from India has
left millions as refugees. As a planeload of orphans leaves for
America, the Governor of Idaho declares Idaho's borders shut to
immigrants. With one eye on the opinion poles, the President of the
United States reacts with a strong hand and gives the Governor 67.5
hours to change his mind (thus avoiding a ratings clashing with a
popular soap opera on a non-news channel). As a news network tries to
engineer the best view of the action, events spiral out of control with
racial tension being triggered in Texas and Los Angeles.
I do not know which film came first but in 1997 this film was put out on TV at around the same time as Wag the Dog was released. Wag was a superb film that was very sharp and funny and it is to this film's detriment that it is very easy to compare the two. Although the plots are different they both satirise the media's influence on politics and politics' concern with image and winning votes and do so with a big cast and a mix of tension and laughs.
However it is not as well carried off here as it was in Wag The Dog and it gets bogged down in rather sappy and obvious messages about acceptance of one another. In some way this is pointed out in funny ways such as Congressman Singh having a deep south accent, the Governor eating Mexican food for breakfast and in love with a Mexican woman; but too often it is obvious and a little sappy. This takes away its intelligence and makes it feel less clever than it really should be to be as sharp a satire as it clearly wants to be. On the flipside of this the film isn't nearly as funny as it should be it has the occasional really funny bit (James Coburn suggesting that the Irish can be taken off birth control to outbreed the other races and thus win votes was akin to some of Dr Strangelove for my money!) but generally it is not as funny as it really should be.
However I still really enjoyed it and felt it was both clever and funny and even if too much of it wasn't up to the standard of really good satire, it is still worth seeing. The cast echoes the ensemble feel of Wag The Dog even if it lacks a couple of really big names in the way Wag did. None of them really dominate the film or really stand out, instead they seem happy to share the lines and the screentime without overplaying only Coburn really goes for it and makes a good impression on the film. Having said that the majority do OK with what little they have and it is hard to ignore a cast that features so many famous faces. CoBurn is great even if Hartman, surprisingly, fails to make much of an impact. Bridges but lumbered with much of the 'message' in later stages, Jones is worth seeing although it is Hedaya and Perlman who dominate the newsroom scenes. Leary makes the bridge between this and Wag and the rest of the cast features all manner of faces including Elizabeth Peña, Dick Miller, Kevin Dunn and Kevin McCarthy.
Overall this is a good film but not as good as it should have been; for my money satire needs to be funny and clever and, while this manages to be both at times, it is not as consistent as it really should have been. It gets bogged down in the message and it loses it's edge when it really should be getting stronger and sharper. It is by no means as good as Wag the Dog but it is still worth a look as, although not consistent it is still interesting in its comments and is sporadically funny and clever.
"The Second American Civil War" appeared in the cinemas in Italy and caused
many discussions probably because of the correspondences between its plot
and the matter of secession in Northern Italy promoted by the Lega Nord
party. Anyway, this movie is great for other reasons and deserved to be seen
in the cinemas of any country. The only lack of the movie is the weakness of
the characters such as the pathetic figure of the old wise journalist (James
Earl Jones). However the real main character is the background, that is the
society, the medias and the political class. Dante strikes all these
categories with a brilliant and grotesque satire and represent all their
The influential News Net spread idiotic and mediocre message. The politicians only care about keeping their careers with the political tricks (the ultimatum mustn't interfere with the popular soap-opera). Finally Dante paints a society that can't find an alternative between "We are all brothers" and "This is my land and here I command".
You MUST SEE it, if you have the chance because it is far the best movies of is genre (much better than "Wag the Dog")
This movie raises a number of excellent points about retaining ethnic identities in a world of melting point political rectitude gone wild. It shows that every ethnic group in the WORLD has formed a special interest political faction in the US, but when the citizens in Idaho say, enough, we like our OWN national identity, war is declared. A number of GREAT quotes and sound bites! Overall plot edgy and unpredictable. Played for a few laughs, but all in all quite a serious treatment of this issue, even more relevant today (2005) than it was when issued. It must be seen in the context of what was going on at the time, specifically, the later half of the Clinton presidency. A blatant ripoff of the ideas in "The Turner Diaries", right down to using the same states and caricatures of certain ethnic groups, without, of course, giving any credit to the original material, but well worth watching, and a worthy companion piece to the book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Second Civil War" is a film that may touch the hearts of many
people or it may make your blood boil, depending on which side of the
fight you're on! I am talking about IMMIGRATION. In the film, the
governor of Idaho does not want to grant amnesty to a group of
immigrant refugees and it causes national tension thanks to the news
channel covering the incident.
Beau Bridges plays Jim Farley, the governor of Idaho who himself is in love with a woman who is an immigrant and of Spanish origin, but blocks the refugees from another nation from entering his state. Meanwhile, the President of the United States (played by Phil Hartman) threatens to send in troops if Farley does not allow the immigrants' entrance to Idaho.
The whole fiasco of a civil war could have been avoided if it wasn't for the reporters covering the event. Hearing the wrong thing said, the reporters put pressure on the President to fire on the Idaho National Guard, conflict ensues. Denis Leary plays a reporter on the front lines in Idaho when the first shots are heard.
This is not a comedy! This film is meant to be something we should all think about. Do we go so far to protect immigrants over citizens that it causes a civil war?
A funny, old-fashioned political farce set in an up-to-the-minute
situation. An aggressive woman who heads an organization to "save the
children" plans to move Pakistani orphans to Idaho. The governor of
that state (Beau Bridges) decides to play to anti-immigrant sentiment
by saying he will close the borders against further immigration.
The American President (Phil Hartman) is a simpleton who managed by his political adviser (James Coburn). They're only interested in re-election, and are perfectly willing to resort to civil war to make it happen.
A CNN-like news organization, "NN", which employs a rainbow of immigrants, and whose announcer is James Earl Jones, plays the potential conflict for all the advertising dollars it's worth.
The governor (Beau Bridges) is really much more interested in his affair with a Mexican American reporter for "NN", and she seems to be the only person aware of the irony.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an excellent film wonderfully acted by all. Very very funny Beau Bridges is excellent and even dear Brian Keith as the General is extremely funny. The whole concept of of blocking borders of a state because of imigration is as up to date then as it is now. Its a great shame that films today are not of the quality onf films of yesteryear. Story lines and acting is much more superior than those junk movies of today. The use of the F word today seems must be included and jet the older films did not need it as the scripts were better. Lately i have been watching or rather erewatching these older films and the new are not a patch on them.
This is a very relevant film with a brilliant cast. I saw it when it was shown on HBO and, although it was supposed to be a comedy, I found it quite chilling in the end. The comedy is almost all irony and we are talking real irony, not simply funny, unfortunate situations. I saw the ending as chilling at the time because the premise and the ending was/is a real probability. Sure, not likely, but it should serve as a warning. It took me awhile to find this film again and I was not surprised to see the film was/had been buried. I presume because of its very not politically correct writing. Luckily I did a search on Netflix and found that it has been released on DVD. See it!
In the near future, a planeload of immigrant orphans are on their way
to a charity facility in Idaho when the Governor of the state closes
its borders and refuses them entry. This sparks a division of military
forces, between states government's National Guard and federal
government's Army, each hell bent on protecting their own version of
the American Dream, as well as their media images. At the center of
this Constitutional storm is a President unable to make a decision
without checking with his advisers and referencing one of his
predecessors, a Governor more interested in liaisons with his immigrant
news reporter mistress than dealing with immigration laws, a newsroom
where facts and truth balance with viewer shares, and a TV audience
more interested in their favorite daytime soap opera. The Great
American Melting Pot is about to uncivilly boil over.
This HBO black comedy is an excellent mix of political and news media parody, race relations satire, and morality tale. Wonderfully quirky, and sometimes deeply meaningful, dialogue. Characters run the gamut from dignified to loony. Performances from a large cast are all vibrant and spot on. A movie gem. Favorite Line(s): "Can't make an omelet without busting some sacred eggs. We're making history here and you ain't with us, are you?" "No I'm not." "You should be. Why not?" "Maybe because I'm a reporter, I ain't with anybody. Maybe because too many sacred eggs are getting busted. See, I rode the buses back in the 60s to bring people together. Pretty unfashionable now, isn't it?" "Your wife, she's Jewish, ain't she?" "You know, I forgot what she is, all I remember is that we met on the back of a bus." "I'm trying to remember the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. I said it a million times when I was a kid. Right now I can't seem to remember the words."
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