Then there's this account from Lloyd Grove in today's WaPo
Yesterday's secret screening at the Motion Picture Association of America included columnists Peggy Noonan, Cal Thomas and Kate O'Beirne; conservative essayist Michael Novak; President Bush's abortive nominee for labor secretary, Linda Chavez; staff director Mark Rodgers of the Senate Republican conference chaired by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); former Republican House member Mark Siljander of Michigan; and White House staffer David Kuo, deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Well Mel Gibson is here, he's in town. He's two blocks away. He sends his regards. He'll be making the rounds on this one. This may be the last movie Mel Gibson makes, Pat Buchanan. This is the ultimate film. It's magical. Best picture I have seen in quite some time, and even people like Jack Valenti were in the audience in tears at this screening. There was about 30 of us. It depicts a clash between Jesus and those who crucified him, and speaking as a Jew, I thought it was a magical film that showed the perils of life on earth
Gibson has continued to speak earnestly of his film as "conforming" to the New Testament. Unless he ditched the script with which he was working as late as March, wrote an almost entirely new one, re-assembled his cast, re-shot his movie, and then edited it in time to be screened in June, this statement, too, must be false. Six pages of our report lay out for him exactly those places where he not only misreads but actually contravenes material given in the Gospels. And his historical mistakes, no less profound, are spelled out for him there, too.
This is fascinating. It seems clear that Gibson is up to creating buzz by letting constituencies sympathetic to the film see it or trailers and have personal contact with him. It's working, but with unfortunate consequences, I think. He's letting the sympathetic see it, and holding it back from more critical viewers, thereby creating even more hostility in the latter group than there probably would be otherwise. I would think he needs to get this movie out pretty soon (is there a distributor yet?), I would think...
Oh, and, as a reader asks, where's the screening for the Catholic Bloggers going to be?
Another reader writes: The hypersensitivity, hyperbole, and accusations over a film that virtually no one has seen means . . . something. But what?