' ' Cinema Romantico: When Exactly Did Donald Trump Think They Stopped Making Movies Like They Used To?

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

When Exactly Did Donald Trump Think They Stopped Making Movies Like They Used To?

This past weekend one Donald J. Trump, The Great Orator of Mar-a-Lago, unleashed a sermon that registered at least 9.5 on the Batshit Scale, in which, amongst other things, he became the first Presidential nominee in American history to attempt to prove himself fit for office by imitating his opponent with pneumonia. It was fodder for comedians and historians alike. Of more interest, however, to we cinephiles was a statement, of sorts, that came further down the line. It’s so what’s-it-how’s-that? that it’s best if we simply quote the passage in full.

“Right now, you say to your wife: ‘Let’s go to a movie after Trump.’ But you won’t do that because you’ll be so high and so excited that no movie is going to satisfy you. Okay? No movie. You know why? Honestly? Because they don’t make movies like they used to — is that right?”

Well. Let’s set aside, if we can, the latent erotic connotations of this passage and simply examine the key declaration – that is, “…they don’t make movies like they used to — is that right?” So, is that right? People had thoughts, believe me, as Comandante Trump would say, as the Sharks and the Jets of Film Twitter quickly raised their blades and dug in their heels, with many defending the honor of the Movies, often by employing the old Movies Aren’t Just McDonald’s analogy, and a few defending Trump himself, backing up the assertion that the Movies aren’t what they used to be, and that those of us who think they are must be cinematic sheeple, I guess, that only read biased mainstream film criticism, or something.

Do I think they don’t make movies like they used to? I mean, in a way, yeah. Like, if Trump is arguing that they don’t make movies like they did during the studio-system’d Golden Age, when figureheads such as Zukor and Zanuck and their Big Five cronies ruled with an iron fist, and when they kept stars on contract and had writers locked away cranking out rigid if effective formula, then he’s right. But who knows if that’s what Trump means. His statement – “Because they don’t make movies like they used to” – is basically just a Tweet spoken out loud, a thought, in a manner of speaking, off the top of his head, which he hasn’t really been considered and for which he has no corresponding notes than other the purple dreams of his own cuckoo consciousness.

And so we here at Cinema Romantico became intrigued. We were curious to know precisely when he thought they stopped making ‘em like they used to. The problem, however, is the lack of Trump’s clarifying statements. There is no money quote where he explains that the New Hollywood revolution forever saddled us with auteurist dopes who don’t have a clue, or a tangent on how that loser Barry Sonnenfeld forever ruined the modern blockbuster with “Wild Wild West”. We are forced instead to glean Trump’s attitudes through his favorite movies. (Find a list of his favorite movies here.)

It’s been pretty well documented, of course, that Trump’s favorite movie is “Citizen Kane”, and he has also mentioned adoration for “Gone with the Wind”, even if I find myself skeptical that Trump has actually sat through this entire movie in one sitting, and so we can imagine based on these selections that Trump at least liked movies up through 1948 went the Big Five got brought down.

Trump’s thoughts on 1950s cinema eludes us, which is unfortunate because I’m really keen to know if he considers Dana “Dynamite” Holmes a misunderstood hero, but cites Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as a favorite, which suggests Trump, noted philistine, might have a revisionist sensibility after all. And he also likes “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas”, which suggests he’s a fan of the auteurs, or perhaps suggests he just wishes he had been a mafia don, or even suggests he abides by the Joe Fox Theory that “’The Godfather’ is the answer to any question.”

Beyond the favorites list, however, Donald Trump also cited Jean Claude Van Damme’s “Bloodsport” (1988) as a favorite in Mark Singer’s 1997 New Yorker profile on The Great Orator of Mar-a-Lago and at Trump’s campaign stops this year his “Air Force One” entrance music prompted him to name Harrison Ford’s 1997 action thriller as a personal favorite because Ford “stood for America.” And after this, Trump’s cinematic preferences dry up on the Interwebs, which sort of confuses me because, well, hey, if likes ‘em, he likes ‘em. But you’re telling me they don’t make ‘em like “Bloodsport” and “Air Force One” anymore? Don, dude, cue up any Wesley Snipes direct-to-video opus and you’ll find “Bloodsport” part deux, believe me.

Is Trump anti-shaky cam?
But, I thought, wouldn’t all this suggest that Trump still loves movies? Like, say, The Bourne movies, what with their macho bursts of ass-kicking, or any part of Michael Bay’s oeuvre, given his fervent militarism, or even Christopher Nolan, since Trump fancies himself a populist. Yet Trump’s opinions on these movies appear non-existent, aside from his boasting about how the garish Trump Tower was featured in “Transformers 3.” And so I found myself wondering, did multiplex cinema’s shift toward rapid-fire editing and shaky cam alienate Donald Trump? In The New Yorker article he decries exposition but perhaps, without even knowing it, he was tired of getting motion sickness on his beloved Trump Plane not from flying but from movie-watching.

There is no way of knowing, of course, and I am merely speculating here, tossing out theories the way Trump tweets under the cover of the night. And so as long as we’re here and irresponsibly speculating it is also crucial to note that near as we can tell Donald Trump’s last favorite movie was released in the same year that one Barack Obama first served in elected office as an Illinois State Senator for the 13th District. And so a theory emerges. Mr. Trump has laid blame for pretty much everything else at the feet of our current President and so what if The Donald thinks America’s failure to produce good movies is Obama’s fault too?


Derek Armstrong said...

Nice consideration. Now I'm curious about looking up Hillary's choices. I know she likes Lincoln. I'm guessing Primary Colors is not a favorite though.

Nick Prigge said...

I have generally seen Hillary's favorite movie cited as "Casablanca." Which, hey, I love "Casablanca", but that is just the perfect centrist, Clintonian answer.