Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins
Molly Ivins was so cool, funny, and smart that she turned C-SPAN into must-see TV.
This and other water-to-wine achievements are at the heart of Raise Hell, Janice Engel’s energetic biodoc about the late great syndicated columnist that takes traditional non-fiction components and arranges them in a thoroughly engaging manner.
The cradle-to-grave approach suits Ivins’ active life, tracing her journey from a tradition-oriented Texas upbringing to realizing her destiny as an active citizen and polarizing, free-thinking journalist.
Utilizing copious archival footage from the aforementioned typically snoozy political network, late night talk shows and elsewhere, Engel and a crackerjack crew (including Asheville’s own Maryedith Burrell, serving as a catchall “creative consultant”) tell Ivins’ story in her own words so that viewers get the purest distillation of her wit and charms — at least in a film constructed by other people.
Interviews with contemporaries (e.g. Dan Rather) and next-generation reporters (e.g. Rachel Maddow) further help convey Ivins’ cultural impact, one that’s sadly evaporated since her death in 2007, which coincided with the sharp decline in print media and its celebrity journalists, and therefore her currency with Millennials and Generation Z.
But in Raise Hell, Ivins’ magnetism and her many human assets and flaws shine through in a compact, enthralling cinematic package — and is just the type of creative work with the potential to spark a new generation of Ivins acolytes and civic-minded Americans.
Grade: A-minus. Not rated, but with adult language and themes. Starts Sept. 20 at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Magnolia Pictures)