It's no particular insult to Dinesh D'Souza to say that he is not going to be the next John Huston or David Lean. In this era, when movies as an art form are on a slow -- or maybe not so slow -- inexorable decline into cultural oblivion and irrelevance, that scarcely matters.
Moreover, the personal political documentary genre in which he and his progressive mirror Michael Moore work is not noted for high aesthetics. Nevertheless, D'Souza's new offering -- Death of a Nation -- is at least better made than Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, which resembled one of those stultifying movies about tooth decay forced on us in the third grade, and won an Oscar.
No, D'Souza's goal is agit-prop and on that level it works well, at least it worked for me, which may mean that I agreed with virtually all he was saying. But the problem with filmmaking of this nature is the old preaching-to-the-choir issue. The people in the theatre are not the ones who need to see the movie. It's the ones who wouldn't be caught dead watching it who do.
To see what I mean, take a gander at how Dinesh's movie is doing on Rotten Tomatoes. So far ten out of the only ten critics who deigned to review it treated the movie as if it were total garbage or worse. Meanwhile 87% of the audience liked it. Go figure.
Well, don't. It's easy to see why. Critics, 99.9% of whom are lefties of one stripe or another, so loathe Dinesh's message that they wouldn't give him a decent review if he were the second coming of David Lean or Orson Welles himself.
In case you hadn't noticed, above the entrance to the arts, there's a flashing neon sign for all conservatives: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."
But back to the movie, I wish it were a little better and a little shorter because that message is important and should be mandatory for all the students in our schools brainwashed by progressive propaganda, cultural relativism, political correctness, critical theory, and the rest of the left-wing tripe. That's 110% of them.
The film traces the history of fascist movements -- Hitler, Mussolini, etc. -- and shows how they are all from the left, not just the Soviets and the Chinese, and drew a significant amount of their inspiration from U.S. progressivism. (Did you know Woodrow Wilson approvingly screened "The Birth of a Nation" in the White House, igniting a massive recruitment for the KKK across America?)
It also runs through this history of racism in our country, connecting its roots in the Democratic Party of Jackson's time with the Democratic Party of today. D'Souza does a skillful job of debunking the standard liberal rhetoric that Democrats switched roles with the Republicans in the sixties and became the party of racial tolerance and civil rights , something I gullibly believed for a while myself, alas. Most of the real racism comes from the left and always has.
He also emphasizes something I have written about often and consider of tremendous contemporary importance -- the nauseating Holocaust role of George Soros, the great financier of liberal causes. If you don't know the story, see the movie or at least look it up.
Lincoln, as in Dinesh's other film, is the hero and he posits Trump as the railsplitter's successor in our current time of crisis. Even though I've been accused of being a Trumpkin, I have to say Dinesh is on iffy ground here, or at the very least premature, especially since the president just pardoned him. (Admittedly, the pardon was merited. If there ever were selective prosecution, it was D'Souza's.)
I hope he is ultimately right about Trump, but Dinesh is definitely not premature in assessing the moment we are in as critical to the future of our nation, even its existence as we know it. And he has made the most impassioned film he could to help move people in the right direction. This alone makes it compelling. Most films are made for no reason at all but wealth and self-aggrandizement and show it.
The question remains -- as it is with all works of this nature -- will anybody see it who doesn't already agree with it? Reporting from my new home in Nashville, I am not optimistic. I was alone in the theatre with one other couple. Whatever the case, D'Souza has to be applauded for his effort. He's a patriot and an immigrant who makes a great case for legal immigration all by himself.
Roger L. Simon - co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media - is a novelist and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.