Film Review: ‘Raise ****: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins’

Variety | 4/16/2019 | Dennis Harvey
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One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise ****.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native state, where her liberal stance would’ve been controversial no matter how it was articulated. The late journalist’s career and witticisms are smoothly encapsulated by veteran documentarian Janice Engel’s slick feature, which seems a natural for broadcast, streaming platforms and possible limited theatrical release.

Journalism seemed a natural fit, and the Smith College graduate was soon ruffling feathers by writing exposes of local racial disparity for the Houston Chronicle, then other papers. By 1971, she was covering the Texas legislature for the Texas Observer, ruthlessly sending up the good-old-boy politicos she could (and did) also “drink under the table” — a talent that would become a problem later on. Outsider politics combined with the insider status of a privileged upbringing (subsequent Gov. Ann Richards was an old friend) gave her unique access, and her caustically funny voice began accruing a following.

Ivins - Admirers - New - York - Times

Ivins’ admirers soon included The New York Times, though once she was working there, its chief minders fast set about trying to tamp down the rowdy spirit that had gotten her hired in the first place. In 1981, she gratefully accepted an offer of “complete freedom” from the Dallas Times Herald, her column (eventually syndicated in up to 400 newspapers) winning Pulitzer nominations and best-selling book collections, and a launching her on a lucrative lecturing career. We see numerous excerpts from those speaking engagements, as well as her appearances as a pundit on TV, and no one who watches “Raise ****” will be left doubting that Ivins...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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