Tag: ACF

Memorial Day Weekend Podcast: Battleground


Hello, Ricochet, I bring you a conversation I recorded with former National Review publisher Jack Fowler about Battleground, the first major cinematic depiction of the Battle of the Bulge, a big box office, critical, and Oscar success in 1949. Also, a worthy attempt to help Americans remember WWII as a trial of national character.  Enjoy the weekend–happy Memorial Day!

ACF#26: The Fury


Dear Ricochetti, I’ve a new podcast to recommend: The Deep State Horror. It struck my friend John Presnall and me that the fears of gov’t once associated with the paranoid left–remember the ’70s–are now our fears, and we have pretty good evidence to go on. So we talked about De Palma’s amazing dramatization of the idea of secret agencies creating human weapons with superpowers–you know, the best and the brightest. People talking about the UN as the future, but involved in fairly dangerous espionage. Also, you get Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes–enjoy!

ACF Europe #17: The Teacher


Here’s one from the headlines, Ricochet: Tyranny in the classroom, ideology threatening to break up the family, coming between parents and children! My friend @FlaggTaylor recommended I go on Amazon Prime & watch the 2016 movie The Teacher, to do a podcast on it. It’s a Czech story about Slovakia in the ‘80s, about a school where parents and the principal have to deal with a teacher high up in the local Communist party. Just before the collapse of Communism, the question of freedom through education comes up—who will educate the first generation of children destined, unbeknownst to themselves or their parents, to become democratic citizens. With freedom in the near future, there’s something maddening about the corruptions of ideological dictatorship, including the intrigue, abuse of power, and despotic behavior it encourages and covers up for. Of course, something not entirely different, certainly an ideological dictatorship and some parts of despotic administration are driving Americans mad now. So the experience of totalitarianism in Europe might be of us to Americans…

ACF Podcast: British Decadence for Christmas


It’s not the greatest gift, but it’s a good discussion–my friend Ben Sixsmith joins me for a discussion of his first volume of short stories, Noughties: Eleven Echoes of a Dismal Decade. We talk about the strange times at the beginning of the 21st century when it seemed like there would be a cultural rebirth in England. This proved not only short-lived but a deception–a self-deception for the English.

The most obvious sign is Tony Blair, who won three consecutive elections. He seemed first to resurrect Labour after Thatcher; and then to make Labour the only acceptable political party for cool, modern, intelligent Britons looking forward to a bright, global future. Yet, Blair has ended up loathed almost universally, Labour has collapsed, Brexit has happened, Britain’s Middle Eastern war-making alongside America was a catastrophe, and it’s harder and harder to say what the future might be, much less who can lead and who is inclined to follow in which direction.

ACF Podcast: Birth of a Nation


So here’s something that might interest you on a weekend afternoon: Long time Ricochet member Eric Cook joined me to talk about silent cinema–about the beginning of American cinema, of cinema in general–the first great or at least very impressive movie. It’s a story of the Civil War, since people used to know, that’s the definitive American story! It was made in 1915 and it lasts three hours, it involves everything from portraits to long shots of battles, and pioneered or perfected every technique from playing with shadows and lighting to editing. As Chaplin says, D.W. Griffith was the father of all artists in cinema. It’s also a shockingly racist movie–the more so when you think about the Progressive pacifist politics of the director and of the movie. But in certain ways we will try to explain, all the successes and failures make sense together–the promise and disappointments of Hollywood can already be glimpsed. Eric is an expert on silent cinema, is involved in music for silent cinema, scoring, conducting, and playing, and has studied Griffith with great care, so you are in for a delight! Listen, my friends, and get to know Griffith, or look at him with fresh eyes!

ACF on Cinema Post-9/11


So after the World Trade Center podcast, I bring you a wide-ranging conversation with my friend Telly Davidson on movies and TV after 9/11, on the effects of catastrophe and war on Hollywood, or rather on the American mind, so far as its reflected in and affected by storytelling. We talk about the way superhero fantasy became the official way of showing young Americans what 9/11 meant, the way TV turned to espionage stories like 24 and then Homeland, which are evocative of the Bush and Obama administrations respectively, and what went wrong with the various attempts to tell America what the nation had gone through and what the nation was going to do.

ACF 9/11 Edition: World Trade Center (2006)


Friends, for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I have some sober reflections on Oliver Stone’s fine, patriotic movie about the virtues of the middle-class men and women of America. It’s the first podcast, you will notice, that I have done alone. I hope I do not sound too grave, but thinking about this matter has had an effect on me.

ACF Critic Series #46: The Green Knight


So here’s a conversation I recorded on David Lowery’s new movie, The Green Knight, a modern adaptation of the medieval Arthurian poem, with Justin Lee and Dave Woods, who teach medieval and modern fantasy literature in college and high school. We talk about boys trying to become men, about artists dealing with their poetic inheritance, about the tensions in our souls revealed by fantasy–pagan/Christian, honor/skepticism, aristocracy/democracy… Listen and enjoy–next, we’ll turn to the poem itself!

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


Friends, today my guests on the ACF podcast are Peter Robinson and John Yoo — really, I was their guest. They led me through a number of conversations, ranging wildly from British aristocracy to the jury system in America and voir dire (ultimately from the Latin verum dicere, tell the truth, the jurymen’s oath), but we also talked about movies, TV, and novels. Mostly, we talked about Master And Commander, the naval adventure of the Napoleonic Wars, and the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels on which it’s based, but also about the older famous series, Hornblower, and then for land warfare, Sharpe. Then we also talked about the latest things in production or out on streaming, the Bosch TV series and the Lincoln Lawyer, which was a movie and is now a TV show, both from novel series by Michael Connelly. Altogether a whirlwind tour through our storytelling pastimes and a funny but honest defense of middlebrow art.

Peter Robinson and John Yoo’s High Seas Adventure


I don’t have the graphics skill to give you @peterrobinson and @johnyoo comically pictured as Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey and doctor Stephen Maturin (also scientist, spy, and confidant), so you’ll have to just imagine it. I can give you something better, though, and closer to the real thing: This week, we’re recording a trio piece–no, not Locatelli or Bocherini–a podcast, and it only will be musical if humor can be said to be musical. We’ll talk about Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World, the wonderful 2003 Peter Weir movie starring Russell Crowe (on the heels of three consecutive Oscar nominations, for The Insider, Gladiator, for which he won, and A Beautiful Mind) and Paul Bettany (before WandaVision), as well as the series of novels by Patrick O’Brian on which it is based.

You’ll hear about the romance of naval warfare in the Napoleonic era. Indeed, we should say naval warfare in the era when the British Empire assumed domination of seas and oceans! Some nostalgia for imperialism might come up on my end. The O’Brian novels are apparently again being adapted by 20th Century and it’s a good time for conservatives to talk about them and how they should be treated. We’re willing to start the chatter. Hopefully, there will be so much of it, a consensus will form and conservative opinion will have some influence in the culture.

ACF Middlebrow #35: Metropolitan


So the most conservative notable director of the last generation is Whit Stillman, who specializes in romantic comedies that hew closer to Jane Austen or, for that matter, Trollope, than to the rather more perfervid, not to say lurid, movies to which we have become accustomed. His debut was Metropolitan, a funny, melancholy story about the passing away of the debutante balls and the gradual reduction of the WASPs to ordinary Americans. It’s a lesson to young filmmakers in how to tell a story and look impressive without a budget–it got Stillman to the Oscars, to Cannes, and it opened up a career for him. For us, it’s a wonderful reflection on young men and women at their least offensive and it sheds light on the current very online conservative factions now developing.

ACF Europe #14: Dear Comrades


So the ACF series on totalitarianism and cinema continues with our first Russian movie–the best movie of 2020, at that–Andrey Konchalovsky’s story of a young workers’ protest which turned into a Soviet massacre, indeed one so thorough that even knowledge of it, even the corpses of the murdered protesters, were suppressed. The artistic view of this evil deed opposes to ideology the private side of human life–a mother and daughter, the possibility of faith, the importance of burial. The movie is available in streaming and it’s a wonderful contribution to the recent European interest in stories about the evils of communism. @FlaggTaylor and I have talked about a lot of them, and we have some more upcoming!

ACF PoMoCon #34: Angelo Codevilla


So I talked to the most vigorous polemicist I know, Angelo Codevilla. I read him for decades in the Claremont Review of Books, and recently in American Greatness, the Tablet, and elsewhere. He’s got good news: Cancellation is a two-way street–the more of us are cancelled, the weaker the position of the oligarchy and their media minions becomes, since they are a small minority. To those who deny us respect we should deny respect in return. We talk about about media, education, the need for political leadership, the corruption of the CIA and FBI, and about good horses and bad riders.

ACF PoMoCon #33: Vaccines and Digital Media


Today I bring you news about the epidemic–Matt Shapiro, Polimath on Twitter and Substack, joins me to talk about his long-running data project on COVID. Next week he’ll have a new monthly update for cases, deaths, vaccines, each state tracked by the region where it seems to fit in a pattern, so you can sign up for his Substack. We also talk about the great big good news story the media isn’t dealing with: America’s vaccination success, which seems to augur a return to normal life–or a chance to put life back together — by summer. (We also talk about digital media, what conservatives might do to build trust, and Looney Tunes!)

ACF Europe #13 Afterimage


So here’s Ricochet’s own @FlaggTaylor back on the podcast to talk about Andrzej Wajda’s artistic testament, Afterimage (2016), a movie about Poland’s most famous painter, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who stood against Communist ideology in art education and was destroyed for it. Communism is gone, this art has survived, but on the other hand, there’s a new ideology canceling art and reducing it to ideology–the militant woke. So–art and tyranny, education, the souls of children.

ACF PoMoCon #32: Slackers


So I talked to my friend Oliver Traldi about slacking–partly, the music, movies, and attitude of the ’90s, but also the way slacking has been replaced by woke activism, therapy, and work, including in worrisome combinations like Woke Capital. Slacking is what idleness is called in America, where it’s perpetually under suspicion–yet slackers are needed critics of the hyper-activity and restlessness of our times. Further, Socrates was a slacker!

ACF PoMoCon #31: Marriage Problems


So the podcast’s back after our long election-to-inauguration holiday. America’s still standing, thank God, but the madness continues, which we’ll have to bear the best we can. Today, I bring you one of my scholarly friends, Scott Yenor, who has a wonderful book on the successes and failures of feminism: Choice as far as the eye can see, and unhappiness on its heels. It’s called The Recovery Of Family Life and it analyzes the feminism, sexual liberation, and contemporary liberalism ideas and policies, and their unintended consequences. Scott points out that the great middle-class republic seems to be turning into a different regime because of family problems: Family is rare among the poor–but even though it is dominant among the rich, it is superfluous rather than foundational. Marriage comes last.

ACF PoMoCon #30: The Crisis of the Election


On the eve of the election, Pete Spiliakos and I complete our conversation on rhetoric and politics. We talk about the incredible corruption in the GOP, the weakness of the law and order campaign Trump kept tweeting about, and how difficult it is to even persuade people that being outlawed by tech corporations–social media, banking, news–is dangerous. We need new elites, populist and principled, that is, patriotic, serious about doing good things for the American people. Otherwise, we’re advancing with new shocking steps every week to what Pete calls “managed democracy” and what I call democracy without a demos. Egalitarianism that hates the majority…

ACF PoMoCon #29: Democracy & Rhetoric


So just before the election, we have a conversation on the catastrophes of the Republican Party, which seems to have succumbed to its own corruption. In 2020, patriotism would be quite helpful, since America’s elites are now openly anti-American and want a democracy built on excluding the majority of the American people. The most privileged white liberals talk incessantly about white supremacy and systemic racism–always someone else’s fault–like normal people say hello and goodbye. Yet America turns out not to have a Republican party willing to defend the nation, much less lead, and all this during a presidential election. Pete Spiliakos and I talk about what we learned about politics and rhetoric from Peter Lawler, and we apply it to our times.