The People Vs. Larry Flynt
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Two-time Oscar winner Milos Forman (Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) directs Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love and Edward Norton in this "smart, funny, shamelessly entertaining" film called "a blazing triumph" by the New York Times. Based on the true story of the notorious Hustler publisher who was sued by the Religious Right and paralyzed by a fanatic's bullet, THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT is a stranger-than-fiction comedy about one man's outrageous public persona and eccentric private life. Chronicling Flynt's raunchy business savvy, his wildly unconventional marriage and his infamous courtroom antics, THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT is "the most scintillating and outrageous message movie of the decade. An ultra-pop masterpiece!" Playboy Magazine.
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The subject and language may be offensive to some, but it is a landmark case, and although the subject matter may be objectionable, it is exactly why it is so important. It teaches that although one might not prefer to read Mr. Flynt's magazine, taste cannot be legislated, nor our freedom of speech weakened.
As unappealing as he may be, Larry Flynt showed courage, and yes, character that is so sadly, rarely seen today.
Even after being paralyzed from the waist down by a lone sniper, he continued his fight.
I think one of the most important things we can teach our kids is to understand the importance of our freedoms, and to be tolerant.
It is easy to support freedom when it's familiar and acceptable. The test of freedom is when we support it even if we personally find it unacceptable.
Along with Gideon's Trumpet, it therefore ranks high among the most realistic portrayals of oral argument before SCOTUS on screen.
The fact that it's a true story makes it even better.
As portrayed by actor Woody Harrelson, porn-publisher Larry Flynt wasn't a guy you'd want for a son-in-law. He was loud, crude, sleazy, narcissistic, sociopathic, greedy, and a bully. Harrelson makes him terrifyingly real; I'm sure if I met the real Flynt, i'd be perplexed and wonder why he didn't look like Woody. There's a lot of very skillful acting in this film, and brilliant directing by Czech-American Milos Forman, whose previous films had included: Loves of a Blonde, The Firemen's Ball, Taking Off, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hair, and Amadeus. Honestly, I would never have watched "The People vs Larry Flynt" if it were not for my respect for Milos Forman as a director.
But I have to confess that the first fifteen or twenty minutes of this film left me skeptical. Flynt is obnoxious, the sleaze shots are nauseating, the whole scenario seems pointless ... until the "good people" of Ohio, people including Charles Keating, resolve to make a martyr of Flynt. And then the film becomes increasingly powerful even while Flynt himself becomes increasingly unpalatable. It is a film about civil liberties, about freedom of expression, about the right of any individual to resist the oppressive of any self-proclaimed "Moral Majority". Actor Edward Norton delivers some ripping good rhetoric in favor of freedom-of-conscience in his portrayal of Flynt's lawyer, Alan Isaacson, in front of the Supreme Court. Flynt's personal life may be seen as a tragedy with laughable elements -- he does get shot and paralyzed, his wife does become a junkie and an AIDS victim, and he does become mentally unsettled -- but the film is has a triumphant happy ending.