Raise Hell: The Life and times of Molly Ivins @ The Ross

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I’m a Texan. I drive a pick-up truck. I drink beer. I hunt. I’m a liberal. So What?

Let’s have fun, do good, raise some hell! Dance with them what brung you! That’s what Molly Ivins demanded.

Directed by Janice Engle, Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, documents the life of the late outspoken journalist, activist, and columnist, and author of her New York Times best selling collection of essays Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?; and, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America; and, You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You, another collection of essays.

There is no narrator to guide our thoughts in Raise Hell. We feast on her interviews and speeches and the voices of her friends, family, and colleagues. She is a fellow southerner with a booming southern accent; a maverick and outsider as she describes herself. Engles makes known that this 6 foot Texan carried the heart and soul of journalism into political moments what with her witty and raucous insights, especially on the former President George W. Bush whom she affectionately named Shrub.

I accidentally became an authority on George W. Bush. Like the guy who climbed Everest, it was there.

Over the course of her career Molly Ivins, navigated the waters of journalism during the time when men dominated the papers. A fast paced documentary, Engles backs up and allows Ivins to delve onto the landscape of Texas Politics

Texas has always been the national laboratory for bad government.

and, later, into the terrain of national politics

We keep pretending that the political spectrum runs from right to left; it doesn’t. It runs from top to bottom. It’s not those people in Washington; It’s not those people in your state capital. This country is run by us.

Political digs and insults aside, Raise Hell showcases a woman—a privileged southern white woman–born into a staunch Republican family. Her political views tantalized her father, General Jim Ivins the authoritative gas and oil executive because, as one friend revealed, General Jim could control his family and those who worked for him but he could not control his liberal-minded daughter. To add such insult to his psyche, Molly dared to bring an African American man to the Ivins home and, get this, General Jim arrived to find him swimming in the pool! – this in the heat of America’s civil unrest. Oh yes she did, too. Even The New York Times could not control her.

They wanted Molly for the unique voice, for the iconoclast, but they wanted her to fit into the times, but as we say in Texas, that dog don’t bark.

~ Linda Jann Lewis, Oral Historian

Through an objective lens, Engles brings to us a journalist who found her calling, and as did the late Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, Ivins realized words have power, and Ivins squeezed from them the juices of their influence.

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Her friends boasted that she could drink any man under the table; and drinking with the good ol’ boys gave her power and access into circles closed off to women. But that power and access had a price, and Ivins paid dearly for it with bouts of alcoholism. Later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But she kept on living. She kept on talking until the last edition of her spark and wit. In 2007, Mary Tyler “Molly Ivins” passed away of breast cancer at the age of 62 in her beloved Austin, Texas.

 

 

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