9 quotes about politics & the world out there: From Pedro Almodóvar & Michael Moore to Aamir Khan & Susan Sarandon
This post focuses on nine quotes (plus one added bonus quote) by various film/film-related figures discussing topics as disparate as the Catholic Church’s long-standing anti-gay bigotry, what makes a Mexican transvestite unique, U.S. President George W. Bush’s cinematic wretchedness, Hollywood movies that glorify war, alleged anti-British sentiment in a notable Bollywood release, and the right of celebrities to speak their minds about sociopolitical issues.
These – quite international – nine quotes come courtesy of, among others, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar; Mexican actor Gael García Bernal; U.S. filmmakers John Sayles, Michael Moore, and Oliver Stone; Bollywood star Aamir Khan; and U.S. actress Susan Sarandon.
2 Pedro Almodóvar quotes: Confronting Catholic Church’s anti-gay bigotry + bonus same-sex marriage remark
Below are a couple of Pedro Almodóvar quotes that are, however obliquely, connected to his latest effort, Bad Education / La mala educación, the opening night presentation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A daring mix of humor, romance, film noir (in color), and psychological drama, Bad Education has at its core the issue of child sex abuse at the hands of a gay Catholic priest.
Recently, Almodóvar opined on the Catholic Church’s fight against equal rights for gays in Spain, where the socialist government of prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has paved the way for the legalization of gay marriage.
“What the Church is doing – really badly – is fighting against citizens. As secularism grows stronger and stronger every day, the role of the Church is growing smaller and smaller.”
But how small?
Fast-forward to July 2005 (update + bonus quote): Gay marriage became legal in Spain on July 3. The Netherlands (2001) and Belgium (2003) are the only two other countries where same-sex marriage is legal. Canada should soon follow suit.
At the time of the Spanish decision on same-sex marriage, Pedro Almodóvar shared a few more thoughts on the matter:
“I don’t like marriage. I am not going to get married. But it is important for this to be called marriage so people know that it is the same thing for everyone.”
Bad Education cast
Bad Education features four-time Ariel Award winner Daniel Giménez Cacho (Cronos) as the pedophiliac priest; Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También) as, among other entities, a femme fatale-ish transvestite (more below); and Fele Martínez (Open Your Eyes) as an Almodóvar-esque filmmaker. In addition to Lluís Homar, Francisco Maestre, Francisco Boira, and, in brief/not-so-brief cameos, Talk to Her actors Leonor Watling and Javier Cámara.
Plus some near-explicit gay sex, old movie clips illustrating Sara Montiel’s emotional impact on impressionable boys, and an homage to the power of cinema.
Pedro Almodóvar quotes: first quote via Time magazine; second quote via NBCnews.com.
1 Gael García Bernal quote: Musings on everyone’s ‘inner transvestite’
Gael García Bernal has discussed reports claiming that he had a tough time during the making of Bad Education because, as the film’s mysterious homme/femme fatal(e), he had to dress up in drag and play several near-explicit gay sex scenes.
In the New York Times Magazine, the Guadalajara-born Bernal clarified the issue:
“Everyone has their inner transvestite, but my inner transvestite is Mexican-Caribbean, and that’s a very different way of putting on a show than Pedro’s. Making this film was very hard, but in Bad Education, as in all of Pedro’s movies, we see a world we have never seen.”
One movie world García Bernal had definitely seen before is the one showcasing – however more chaste – man-on-man physical intimacy. Check him out in Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También, co-starring Diego Luna.
4th quote: U.S. President George W. Bush voted scariest movie villain
We now go from Pedro Almodóvar and Gael García Bernal quotes to unflattering comments about the current leader of the United States: Total Film editor Matt Mueller has attempted to explain why U.S. President and Fahrenheit 9/11 star George W. Bush – who may or may not have a mysterious Jesus Christ connection – has been chosen by the magazine’s readers as the most frightening movie villain of the year:
“It is possible that people have been a little bit tongue in cheek here, but they are also saying that Bush was very scary in Fahrenheit 9/11. He was absolutely terrifying in that film. He looked like a man who had lost control – the famous scene where he sits there in a school, absolutely paralyzed, after being told about the twin towers, is just one example.”
Bush – who, as it happens, ascended to the White House despite having lost the popular vote – beat some stiff competition, including the creepy Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina in Spider-Man 2), the cannibalistic Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), the Deadly Viper Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill: Vol. 1), and the scheming Gollum (Andy Serkis in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).
A reported 10,000 people took part in Total Film’s “scariest movie villain” poll.
Matt Mueller’s George W. Bush quote via The Register.
2 Iraq War quotes: Michael Moore & John Sayles
At a July speech in Phoenix, Arizona, Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker Michael Moore talked about a few brief scenes in his controversial blockbuster documentary, which shows brutal dictator Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a place of peace and happiness until the American-led invasion turns the country into a living hell.
“I wanted to put a human face on the people there. Those Iraqi people – those people – they are human beings with souls and they have every right – every right – to live the same as you or I. They are no different. … We all pay our taxes and that means we paid for those bombs. That means your name and my name is [sic] on those bombs.”
John Sayles (Eight Men Out, Lone Star) is another U.S. filmmaker against the Iraq War and its enablers. Sayles, whose latest film, Silver City, is an exposé of the American political system, recently attacked the U.S. media’s complicit coverage of the Iraq War. At Today.com, he is quoted as saying:
“These miniseries were running on the American news that just seemed liked pep rallies. Despite reporters being embedded, we felt like we were watching Armed Forces Radio and TV. It didn’t feel like there was any perspective at all, any analysis, or even any facts, in some ways. So we felt like, we’ve got to get into the conversation.”
Apparently, Silver City is John Sayles’ way of getting into the conversation. But unfortunately for those involved in the project, not many were eager to hear what they had to say. Silver City ended its run after collecting only $1 million at the domestic box office.
Starring Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation, 2002) as a privileged dimwit aspiring to become Colorado’s next governor – until a corpse threatens to derail his plans – Sayles’ political satire/drama mix features a stellar supporting cast: Maria Bello, Danny Huston, Mary Kay Place, Thora Birch, Miguel Ferrer, Darryl Hannah, Michael Murphy, Ralph Waite, Kris Kristofferson, and Best Actor Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, 1977).
Michael Moore quote via CNSNews.com.
1 Aamir Khan quote: Is Mangal Pandey: The Rising anti-British?
When asked by a Times of India interviewer whether his upcoming film, the historical political/biographical drama Mangal Pandey: The Rising, is anti-British, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan replied:
No it’s not. I think that’s taking a very narrow view. [Mangal Pandey: The Rising] is anti-colonization. In The Rising, it’s just that the oppressor happens to be British. It could have been anyone. Look at America’s role when they invaded countries like Vietnam or Iraq. Like all societies, the British had good and bad aspects to their history.
Directed by Ketan Mehta, Mangal Pandey: The Rising tells the story of the Indian soldier whose deeds are supposed to have sparked The First War of Indian Independence in the mid-19th century. Besides Aamir Khan, the cast includes Rani Mukerji and Toby Stephens.
Aamir Khan also stars in Ashutosh Gowariker’s 2001 period political/romantic musical Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, which, like Mangal Pandey: The Rising, depicts (at least some of) the British colonialists in a negative light. That didn’t prevent Lagaan from receiving a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nomination.
While we’re at it, let’s not forget David Lean’s (mostly) British-made 1984 Best Picture Oscar nominee A Passage to India, another notable anti-British-colonialism tale. In the cast: Best Actress nominee Judy Davis, Best Supporting Actress winner Peggy Ashcroft, Victor Banerjee, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers, and James Fox.
1 Oliver Stone quote: Down with pro-war Hollywood movies
Two-time Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone (Platoon, 1986; Born on the Fourth of July, 1989) says it’s hypocritical for critics to rant about his violent 1994 social satire Natural Born Killers while praising movies that glorify war.
“Natural Born Killers is a satire, whereas movies like [Ridley Scott’s] Black Hawk Down and [Steven Spielberg’s] Saving Private Ryan contribute to an aura of patriotic inevitability and an awe of the military.”
Set in Mogadishu, Somalia, the real-life-inspired flag-waiver Black Hawk Down (2001) earned Ridley Scott a Best Director Oscar nomination.
The World War II flag-waiver Saving Private Ryan (1998) was the runaway favorite for the Best Picture Oscar, but, in a major upset, it ended up losing to John Madden’s romantic period comedy Shakespeare in Love.
Nonetheless, Spielberg did take home his second Best Director Oscar statuette. The first one had been for another World War II-era drama, Schindler’s List (1993), which also won Best Picture.
Oliver Stone quote via The Irish Times.
2 Susan Sarandon quotes: The need for political activism + sexy older women
Below are a couple of recent Susan Sarandon quotes apparently delivered while the liberal activist and veteran actress (The Other Side of Midnight, Pretty Baby) was taking a break from promoting Peter Chelsom’s romantic comedy-drama Shall We Dance, the Hollywood remake of Masayuki Suo’s 1996 Japanese-made international hit Shall We Dance?*
Susan Sarandon quote no. 1, referring to the U.S. presidential election and, indirectly, to the Iraq War (via The Toronto Star).
“I was talking with one of my kids, and he said, ‘You’re so involved in politics.’ I said, ‘When you’re talking about current events, that’s not politics, that’s your life. It’s easy to dismiss that as politics, but what we’re talking about is, you may be drafted depending on who wins this next election, and that’s something you should be aware of.’”
Susan Sarandon quote no. 2, about her being offered roles of sensual older women involved with younger men (via TV Guide).
“I think I’ve done just about every role [of that kind]. There are a few more that have been offered to me lately. I think I have cornered that market. Sigourney [Weaver] did [Tadpole] and I thought, ‘How did that get by me? I didn’t get offered that one?’”
* Neither the Japanese film nor its U.S. remake is related to the 1937 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical Shall We Dance. Instead, they’re named after the Deborah Kerr-Yul Brynner ballroom-dancing sequence – to the tune of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Shall We Dance?” – found in Walter Lang’s 1956 blockbuster The King and I.
In the 2004 Shall We Dance, Richard Gere stars as a Chicago businessman in dire need of new interests – and ballroom dancing might just be the thing. Also in the cast: Jennifer Lopez as a dance teacher and, in a subordinate role, Susan Sarandon as Gere’s wife.
The Exonerated & Romance & Cigarettes + George W. Bush’s wife
Next in line for the Dead Man Walking Best Actress Oscar winner is Bob Balaban’s cable TV movie The Exonerated, based on Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank’s real-life-inspired play about several people sentenced to death after having been wrongfully convicted of murder and other crimes.
On a lighter note, Susan Sarandon is also scheduled to appear in John Turturro’s musical comedy Romance & Cigarettes, featuring an international all-star cast that includes Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Mary-Louise Parker, Bobby Cannavale (also seen in Shall We Dance), Barbara Sukowa, Elaine Stritch, and Amy Sedaris.
There’s more: Playbill reports that Sarandon will portray Laura Bush – that’s Fahrenheit 9/11 villain George W. Bush’s wife – in a reading of Tony Kushner’s Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, to be staged at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, on Oct. 25.
According to the play’s press release, Kushner’s exploration of “political morality and moral relativity” centers on Laura Bush reading Dostoevsky to the ghosts of Iraqi children dressed in pajamas.
Gael García Bernal Bad Education image: Sony Pictures Classics.
George W. Bush Fahrenheit 9/11 image: Lionsgate Films / IFC Films.
Susan Sarandon Shall We Dance image: Miramax Films.
Aamir Khan Mangal Pandey: The Rising image: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.
“9 Quotes: Pedro Almodóvar vs. Catholic Church’s Anti-Gay Bigotry + Bernal’s ‘Inner Transvestite’ & More” last updated in January 2020.