Oscar Reflections

 

Miss me, Ricochet? I’ve been busy trying to place my reflections on American-prestige-at-the-movies in various venues, trying to tell conservative America: Pay attention, at least a little attention, at least during awards season! The ugly truth is, it’s really hard to get people to care, but very easy to get them angry and contemptuous at Hollywood out-of-touch-elitism, so I’m busy trying to avoid all the dark passions. But while people still make lovely movies worth the praise, I will try to show you what they’re about and how to navigate through the sophisticated concerns that give poetry its great dignity.

So here’s my list of Awards movies conservatives should support, nay cherish. They’re all but one featured at the Oscars. I picked three all-American stories, two of which are true stories such that the movies actually understate the miracles they depict. They’ve all been remarkably successful at European art-movie festivals, even at the highest level. They’ve not been too successful in America, but they’re doing ok mostly, and getting another chance at prestige in awards season. This is the sort of stuff conservatives should support, both because it is poetry worth supporting and because it supports the conservative case for American goodness and greatness.

  1. Hacksaw Ridge. The best show of Christian America at war I can think of — so naturally, the conservative press ignores it altogether. A war picture, a remarkable technical achievement, independently financed and produced with great savvy — and then it gets lots of Oscar nominations, including the first for Mr. Mel Gibson in perhaps 20 years. Shock after shock. I think we should be bipartisan about this and do at least as much as Hollywood liberals have done, so I’m doing my part!
  2. Kubo and the Two Strings. This is the most beautiful surprise of 2016. A film almost entirely free of the sordid, which tells a broken-family story Americans should love, while at the same time doing the sophisticate poetic work of analyzing grief in terms of the grief song, threnody, and trying to show where poetry stands in-between the city and the moon.
  3. Hell or High Water. This was the anguished manliness movie of the year. I’ve written about it at length on my website, but those are notes for a very limited audience. I’ve also produced a popular essay, but I’ve not found someone willing to publish it yet…
  4. Loving. This is the most surprising sort of civil rights picture you’re going to see. It’s a respectful and very American portrayal of the moral virtues that make private life a joy, a shelter, and a benefit to the country as a whole at the same time. It’s one those true stories that makes so many of us wonder at the ways in which Americans are blessed and innocent.

Then there are movies really worth the attention of conservatives who care about the culture, but they are not really lovable and I cannot recommend them. I suppose I don’t need to, either, as they’ve been plenty successful:

  1. Deadpool. This is the most striking success of the year and heralds a new departure in individualism. If you wanted to make filthy stuff a thing of pride for middle-class Americans who shudder to think of themselves as middle-aged, this is it.
  2. Arrival. This is a super-feminist story, in ways I’ve not seen anyone even talk about, so I’ve done it myself.

I’ve not found homes for my essays on the other three movies, so no link, sorry. I’m still trying, so I’ll update this post if I find conservative editors interested in telling America at least as much about good movies as liberal America is doing.

There are 41 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Good luck in getting the other essays published, my friend. It’s all a numbers game. At some point, you’ll have enough of these essays for a book.

    • #1
  2. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Waiting to watch Hacksaw Ridge, (It’s in my streaming collection.) but a documentary I watched this Summer on Desmond Doss was powerful and moving, indeed.

    • #2
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    Waiting to watch Hacksaw Ridge, (It’s in my streaming collection.) but a documentary I watched this Summer on Desmond Doss was powerful and moving, indeed.

    Yes, indeed! There’s a lot of understated reflection on what it means to be a Christian in America, at war, in a family, so this might be an especially good movie for you!

    That said, the half of it that deals with war–the ugliness of war & what it does to desecrate the body–it’s all there–it’s a sharp contrast to what it means for man to be made in God’s image, but hard to watch…

    I simply recommend to all people of sensibility to look away-

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Good luck in getting the other essays published, my friend. It’s all a numbers game. At some point, you’ll have enough of these essays for a book.

    Thanks. I’m thinking that way, too. The truth is that the few people interested in publishing prefer stuff that’s not going to raise anyone’s eyebrows. It looks like you have to be a liberal to get to publish thoughts on American culture that could really provoke thoughts. One wonders why liberals don’t do more of it, being that the opportunity is there… So that if I get a shot at doing things in book form, then there’s way more depth to fathom-

    • #4
  5. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    Waiting to watch Hacksaw Ridge, (It’s in my streaming collection.) but a documentary I watched this Summer on Desmond Doss was powerful and moving, indeed.

    Yes, indeed! There’s a lot of understated reflection on what it means to be a Christian in America, at war, in a family, so this might be an especially good movie for you!

    That said, the half of it that deals with war–the ugliness of war & what it does to desecrate the body–it’s all there–it’s a sharp contrast to what it means for man to be made in God’s image, but hard to watch…

    I simply recommend to all people of sensibility to look away-

    Mel’s Passion of the Christ did similar things with the physical elements of Christ’s crucifixion, so I’m not unprepared.  It makes Doss’s determination to save and preserve life all the more powerful…And, “It’s only a movie…”.

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Well, I saw it in San Diego, when it debuted. I watched it with some friends, who are also Christians, so it affected them, too. But it was a packed hall at a local mall & at the end, people were quiet & unhurried. It has quite an effect. The hierarchy of impressive is: Wow, then applause, & above all, silence. I saw it again in Bucharest with friends. The Romanian audience was also similarly impressed-

    • #6
  7. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Thanks, folks, for the votes of confidence, so to speak! I really do appreciate it–I am forever trying to get things published, so I appreciate the help with the humility wrought of frequent failure!

    • #7
  8. Eb Snider Inactive
    Eb Snider
    @EbSnider

    I liked Sully directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks. Aside from being a good story and and well done movie, it actually has conservative lessons. It shows why practical work experience matters and how experts and bureaucratic review boards can be so wrong. I like how a man who saved lives from his own seat of the pants skills and informed intuition successfully defended himself against a second guessing NTSB/ insurance investigation committee. Sully knew better than the lot of them put together. Seems like the material for a post if somebody hasn’t already done it.

    • #8
  9. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Eb Snider (View Comment):
    I liked Sully directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks. Aside from being a good story and and well done movie, it actually has conservative lessons. It shows why practical work experience matters and how experts and bureaucratic review boards can be so wrong. I like how a man who saved lives from his own seat of the pants skills and informed intuition successfully defended himself against a second guessing NTSB/ insurance investigation committee. Sully knew better than the lot of them put together. Seems like the material for a post if somebody hasn’t already done it.

    I’ve written on it. I tried to make it interesting for a broad audience, but the truth is that my website is all about obscure insights. But you should try it if you liked the movie: The posts are short & they really do show the American questions that show up in the story.

    But at the time it came out, I was touring America, so I didn’t really get a chance to write something & send it to someone to publish it &, one thing you learn in America, after a week or so, nobody wants to put these things out there. It’s old news, I guess. So I’m happy you brought it up–I’d be sad to see people forget it. It was a very successful movie–released in advance of the 9/11 anniversary…–but not much talking was done.

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    It’s a strange movie, very slow, not a lot of thrills, & that seems really important to the story. It’s also part of the legacy part of Mr. Eastwood’s career, so it has a lot to do with what American men are like.

    I managed to get some talk about it published in my year-in-review post. People mostly liked it for the list.

    • #10
  11. Eb Snider Inactive
    Eb Snider
    @EbSnider

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Eb Snider (View Comment):

    I’ve written on it. I tried to make it interesting for a broad audience, but the truth is that my website is all about obscure insights. But you should try it if you liked the movie: The posts are short & they really do show the American questions that show up in the story.

    But at the time it came out, I was touring America, so I didn’t really get a chance to write something & send it to someone to publish it &, one thing you learn in America, after a week or so, nobody wants to put these things out there. It’s old news, I guess. So I’m happy you brought it up–I’d be sad to see people forget it. It was a very successful movie–released in advance of the 9/11 anniversary…–but not much talking was done.

    Well, I pleased you gave it attention. Aside from the obvious plot there’s a lot of background and peripheral meaty issues in the story. I read your link. Though I’m puzzled by the line: “It’s not easy to explain the utter absence of Christianity from this otherwise all-American story.” Religion has nothing to do with it. It’s a story about facts, events, clinical analysis, and motives. Not every American story has to be connected with religion. It’s not required. This is a story around a mortal man and his actions.

    • #11
  12. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Well if you don’t get your article on Arrival published maybe you can post in on Ricochet. I would be curious to read how you can to your conclusions about it. This being the one other movie I have seen from your list of movies. I honestly can say feminism was not on my mind when I saw it or after, so I am curious how it came into yours.

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    You can call it a hunch or a wild guess, but I’m not sure you can find 160 Americans & their families who could go through this & not have religion come into it.

    Maybe these are facts people want to leave out of the story. That is not unacceptable. But one learns to think about this as well, in regard to stories, the relation between what is put in & what is left out…

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Well if you don’t get your article on Arrival published maybe you can post in on Ricochet. I would be curious to read how you can to your conclusions about it. This being the one other movie I have seen from your list of movies. I honestly can say feminism was not on my mind when I saw it or after, so I am curious how it came into yours.

    I also thought about that. I might. It’s just not my first thought to deny it any chance to be read by most of my friends…

    • #14
  15. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Well if you don’t get your article on Arrival published maybe you can post in on Ricochet. I would be curious to read how you can to your conclusions about it. This being the one other movie I have seen from your list of movies. I honestly can say feminism was not on my mind when I saw it or after, so I am curious how it came into yours.

    I also thought about that. I might. It’s just not my first thought to deny it any chance to be read by most of my friends…

    We’ll bump it up to the main feed. Or at least we will try.

    • #15
  16. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Well if you don’t get your article on Arrival published maybe you can post in on Ricochet. I would be curious to read how you can to your conclusions about it. This being the one other movie I have seen from your list of movies. I honestly can say feminism was not on my mind when I saw it or after, so I am curious how it came into yours.

    I also thought about that. I might. It’s just not my first thought to deny it any chance to be read by most of my friends…

    We’ll bump it up to the main feed. Or at least we will try.

    I have also considered that, but it seems somehow not entirely cricket to keep asking people to do it. I’ve done it before & often enough, people here have favored me. But it also feels like a kind of numbers game & that’s annoying. I do a lot of movie talking. It’s fun talking about stuff on Ricochet–except politics, which is ghastly–but we all have limited time & most people I know are not here. So it’s not going to win a lot of the time when I’m forced to choose.

     

    • #16
  17. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I’m sure not everything I’ve sent around is going to be published. I’ll publish some of this stuff on Ricochet & take my chances with my friends here & the editors. But that also has its drawbacks–it’s taxing on friendship & it also feels wrong to say, whatever won’t stick anywhere else, is good enough for Ricochet! That’s not how I look at things. But organizationally or logistically, I’ve got no better options…

    • #17
  18. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    I don’t think you should have this view it all in such harsh light. The conversations about movies and books are in fact some of the best, and I always welcome them, even if I don’t participate in all of them. But, the way I see it is not so much that Ricochet gets your scraps. What often is needed on Ricochet is prompts for conversation, more than detailed defense of a thesis. So really just give us what you got. Especially if it has an interesting hook or take. We can improvise the rest ourselves in the comments. After all it is also as much about the comments as it is the OP. Also I don’t think you should feel bad if you can’t get into the comments. We all got lives and other things to do. Giving us a prompt is contribution enough I say.

    • #18
  19. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Titus Techera: Miss me, Ricochet?

    No.

    Sorry, it’s impossible for me not to swing away.

    • #19
  20. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    I remember Brian Watt pretty well savaging Arrival as well.

    There aren’t many movies I seek out – but I’ll try to get to seeing Kubo.  Can’t watch Hacksaw with the wife around, though, she’s very squeamish about war movies.

    • #20
  21. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    I’m planning to see Hidden Figures tomorrow with family.

    We liked Kubo very much, especially the visual spectacle, but had some complaints. We all found the ending less than perfectly satisfying but admire the filmmakers’ vision. This was fun:

    • #21
  22. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    skipsul (View Comment):
    I remember Brian Watt pretty well savaging Arrival as well.

    There aren’t many movies I seek out – but I’ll try to get to seeing Kubo. Can’t watch Hacksaw with the wife around, though, she’s very squeamish about war movies.

    Kubo is good for the whole family!

    • #22
  23. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):
    I remember Brian Watt pretty well savaging Arrival as well.

    There aren’t many movies I seek out – but I’ll try to get to seeing Kubo. Can’t watch Hacksaw with the wife around, though, she’s very squeamish about war movies.

    Kubo is good for the whole family!

    I, my 6 and 4-year-old nephews – and their parents – all really enjoyed it.

    • #23
  24. BD1 Member
    BD1
    @

    I’m sorry that Mel Gibson is the one making quality films that portray Christians in a positive light.  He is a turbo-creep.

    • #24
  25. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    That said, the half of it that deals with war–the ugliness of war & what it does to desecrate the body–it’s all there–it’s a sharp contrast to what it means for man to be made in God’s image, but hard to watch…

    I simply recommend to all people of sensibility to look away-

    I so wish we could see it.  We are watching only the the Red Carpet portion of The Oscars and saw the interview of the actor who portrays Desmond Doss.  It was very moving.

    • #25
  26. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Trink (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    That said, the half of it that deals with war–the ugliness of war & what it does to desecrate the body–it’s all there–it’s a sharp contrast to what it means for man to be made in God’s image, but hard to watch…

    I simply recommend to all people of sensibility to look away-

    I so wish we could see it. We are watching only the the Red Carpet portion of The Oscars and saw the interview of the actor who portrays Desmond Doss. It was very moving.

    @trink, it’s on Amazon Video to rent; cheaper than tickets…There are also documentaries on YouTube

    • #26
  27. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Meh.  I want entertainment not a “conservative” message.  More Martian.

    • #27
  28. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    @trink, it’s on Amazon Video to rent; cheaper than tickets…There are also documentaries on YouTube

    Oh Nanda  . . .  I know it’s an incredible story of heroism and love . . . but I’m unable to emotionally handle the suffering and carnage.   Thank you, though,  for the pointers if my hubby should try to watch it.

    • #28
  29. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    @trink, The documentary I watched was long on info, short on shock-value.  It centers on Doss’s faith and compassion – not to mention his consistency. Here’s a link: https://youtu.be/4E3reiJYFpw  (As my sister reminded me, when watching films at home, one has access to fast-forward.)

    • #29
  30. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

     Folks, our own Eric Wallace has just written on Lalaland, one of this year’s Oscar winners, & he has a brief, moving reflection on young Americans & how difficult they find it to take a chance on love. Read it & if you like it, vote it up so we can share it with the world!

    • #30
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