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When people say "they don’t make them like they used to" usually they’re discussing entirely different things. But for the most part, people can agree that the age of the Hollywood message movie is in its twilight. Not necessarily because people in the industry don’t care about contemporary issues anymore, but because there are more studios making less films, and word-of-mouth (on which "issue" movies would depend) no longer works as well as over-familiar advertising based on developed properties and content. Audiences need to be tricked into a social message film, and today’s moviegoers are too savvy to be forced to eat their vegetables when, in the next theater across the hall, Captain America is fighting aliens.
The Weinstein Company is out to change that, however, and they’ve picked a helluva target. The studio announced, via Deadline, that they would be tackling a film called The Senator’s Wife and that it would specifically target the National Rifle Association. The Weinstein Company have been outspoken about their criticism of the organization, and their answer is this film, partially inspired by Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and starring Hollywood’s most bulletproof personality, the Weinstein’s August: Osage County mascot Meryl Streep. The story would involve the struggles of politicians who folded after a series of shootings in a failed attempt to secure tougher gun legislation.
What’s unusual is that this announcement comes with a level of fire and brimstone attached as opposed to writers and directors. A picture like this is only as good as who’s in charge, and right now it just comes across as a couple of neat ideas scribbled on a napkin: how common do you think it is that some frustrated writer in Hollywood would have written down "Meryl Streep issue movie" on a piece of paper, then sat listlessly in front of a keyboard trying to think of inspiration? The report does say that the notorious tinkerers at TWC would be seeking "top talent," but when the Weinsteins say, "They’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them," will anyone jump on a project with no script, only an intention to kick a hornet’s nest? They’d better find a heckuva collaborator if Harvey wants to become the face of Oscar once again.
Regardless, this is a story that should be told, and to think some would call it political is grotesque, given that the story potentially will deal with the deaths of innocents. There’s thick nuance on the part of those arguing for status-quo gun laws, some believing that the lives lost are sacrifices to freedom and liberty, others in full trust of the system in place. But, primarily, one could argue the system isn’t working, and the financially-motivated actions of the NRA are ultimately deplorable and insidious: as the report mentions, the organization was cold-calling relatives of those lost in both the Aurora and Newtown shootings requesting support against legislation. This should be an angry film: hopefully the Weinsteins understand that anger alone will not win the day.