Tag: Film

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I’d like to talk to you fine fellows about Hitchcock’s sense of humor a bit. It’s hard to find a scene in this movie without any jokes. They do not necessarily do something for the plot–nor yet do they accomplish something like what some people call style, because they are minute or throwaway–maybe it’s better […]

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The Most Conservative Film I’ve Seen in Years


whiplash01I saw Birdman. Interesting movie. Michael Keaton was terrific. I never need to see it again. The first thing I did after watching Whiplash was to buy the Blu-ray.

What makes Whiplash so superb is that it doesn’t take the stock, convenient approach to its characters—the approach that a lesser film might have taken. A Whiplash in which J.K. Simmons’ Terence Fletcher is purely an evil, sadistic taskmaster and Miles Teller’s Andrew Nieman is simply the sympathetic underdog could have been a decent movie. Forgettable, but decent.

***Obvious spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen Whiplash, don’t read any further***

Why The Left Hates “American Sniper”


American_Sniper_posterFrom the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Mark Hemingway:

[T]he film portrays Kyle as a proud southern, rural, religious, patriotic jock and gun enthusiast who was much more anguished about the people he was unable to save in Iraq than about the 160 confirmed sniper kills that the Navy credits him with. All of these traits are anathema to the left, though nearly all of the great soldiers in American history possessed one or more of them. Leftists simply can’t digest the fact that their own safety is predicated on the willingness to fight of courageous men they openly disdain.

Their own safety, predicated on the willingness to fight of courageous men they openly disdain.

Can Hollywood Be Saved?


Last year, a number of films were made for and marketed to the Christian market. For a Facebook page I manage, I thought I’d see how much they grossed in the U.S. and compare that to the films nominated for Best Picture (one film is on both lists).

Son of GodThe domestic grosses for 2014 “Christian” films – Unbroken ($109 million), Heaven is for Real ($91 million), God’s Not Dead ($61 million), Son of God ($60 million), Selma ($32 million), When the Game Stands Tall ($30 million), Left Behind ($14 million) and Moms’ Night Out ($10 million) for a total of $407 million.

“When The Game Stands Tall” And My IMDB Formula For Films with Christian Content


WGST_DOM_1SHEETHere’s how it works for me: I see Jim Caveizel promoting his new film, When The Game Stands Tall, on Raymond Arroyo’s show on EWTN; he’s so intense, so purposeful. I’m sold. I’m going to see it. I look it up on IMDB.com. It has a 6.9 (out of 10) rating. I add two points because I believe there is a league of people giving 1 (out of 10) ratings to any film with a positive Christian message. So I’m excited to take my wife to a 8.9 rated film. That’s a guaranteed winner.

I see the film. I am right. It deserves an 8.9 rating. Why do I have to do such math? Who are these people dragging down the ratings of positive films? That’s rhetorical. Of course we know who they are. Most negative reviews I read of the film don’t just pan it, they ask people not to see it. They want to destroy the kinds of messages these films bring and ruin their business. Well, I’m telling you the opposite: see this film. See it soon so the box office results will not hinder this kind of filmmaking in the future.

The Giver: New Film Warns of Big Government Utopia


Last weekend, I attended the Red State Gathering in Texas, and had the good fortune to attend a screening of upcoming film The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s classic book. It was, and I don’t say this lightly, an absolute must-see.

Set in an land of the future, the world of the giver is a big government Utopia, a land where everyone and everything is kept equal. One’s life is completely planned from conception to death, and members of society are kept complacent and unquestioning. This is for their protection, they are told, this equality keeps them safe from so many unpleasant situations and emotions. This pre-determined life without conflict remains unquestioned. That is, until our teenaged hero Jonas discovers that there is more. This one boy, learning the truth, is then determined to wake up his world, to make a change.

American Movie


Last week I attended a showing of Dinesh D’Souza’s America: Imagine the World Without Her.  And I witnessed a movie resplendent with inspiring, patriotic imagery and a complete dramatic story arc full of tension and heartbreak and evolution and ultimately resolution and glorification of what it is to be an American.  Unfortunately, these were two different movies.

Born_On_The_4th_Of_JulyThe latter experience was Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July.  It was released 25 years ago and I’m an admirer of Stone’s work, but I had not seen it before.  A reluctance to subject myself to a full color, wide screen exploration of the horrors of war, combined with Stone and Kovic’s overt political agenda kept me away.  Stone’s previous movie “Platoon” is one of my favorites of the 80’s and it is a variation of the same recipe.  But Platoon‘s arguments were safely buried in the past, firmly fixed on an old war for which the political wisdom of fighting it did not affect the contemporary context (by the way, Platoon was released in 1986, a mere 11 years after the fall of Saigon, but at the time, to a teenager, it felt like near ancient history).  Of course, Born on the Fourth of July is about the same old war.  But its agenda was forward-looking, the lessons learned from Vietnam were intended to be visited upon political decisions made in the current day.  That was made clear by Kovic’s continuing political activism in the name of “peace” but in exclusive service of the Democrat party and whoever on the world scene happened to be opposing the United States.  So, I skipped it, until now.

Would You Read Conservative Fiction?


NR Cover 2014.07.07National Review’s current cover story makes for an interesting companion to our discussion last week about what makes for great fiction. In it, book publisher Adam Bellow suggests that conservatives open a new front in the culture war: prose fiction.

To hear some conservatives talk you’d think movies were the Holy Grail, the golden passkey to the collective unconscious. This gets things precisely backwards…

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis both produced big-budget movies that reached millions of people with what most of us would probably agree is a subtly conservative message. Yet both of these successful movie franchises ultimately pale in comparison with the impact of the books. Even at their best, movies are essentially cartoons and their effects are superficial and fleeting. Books engage the reader much more deeply, at a level of identification with the characters and plot that can instruct the soul and edify the mind. A hundred years from now, moreover, these classic books will still be read all over the world in dozens of languages when the films on which they are based are long forgotten or superseded by new forms of entertainment.

Reactionary Adventures in Cinematic Time Travel


shutterstock_149151383Being a reactionary, I’m a sucker for high-production-value period piece movies. The period piece is the native genre of the reactionary. A really good period piece creates the optical illusion of time travel – backwards, of course, to a place with worse hygiene, but better costumes and manners. As everyone knows by now, according to Oakeshott, “To be conservative … is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant….” etc., etc. Well, the past is most of these things by definition.

Time travel into the future, by contrast, is for liberals. To be a liberal is to believe that history is an orderly procession toward the broad, sunlit uplands of enlightenment and flying cars; to believe that certain ways of thinking are outmoded, while others are modern and progressive, with good people marching forward and bad people standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” This view is popular with Whig historians, Hegelian idealists, children, H.G. Wells and Lincoln Steffens (who, in Soviet Russia, saw the future, and it worked!). But such people are wrong: history is not an unstoppable freight train of progress – it’s a bunch of half-blind people stumbling around in the dark from one dead end to another, stepping on each other’s fingers.

Not all retro time travel works for me. Star Wars doesn’t, even though it takes place a long, long time ago. Nor does The Hobbit. Yes, Tolkien’s vision of a green and pleasant mythical arcadia appeals to a certain kind of conservative anglophilia. But all the magical flimflam is in violent conflict with Oakeshott’s precepts. A good period piece is all about gritty, granular realism; it abhors magic, mysticism and CGI.

Budapest Journal: One Two Three


My last night in Budapest was terrific. At a remarkably preserved 1930’s Art Deco movie house on the Buda side of town, the Danube Institute held a screening of Billy Wilder’s breakneck comedy One Two Three.

It’s a Cold War comedy, set in 1961 before the Wall came up — awkwardly, the Berlin Wall was constructed during the filming, requiring the entire unit to decamp to Munich to finish the shoot. And it’s about as politically incorrect as imaginable. James Cagney stars in what was to be his final film, until the small role in Ragtime 20 years later.

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For the sake of argument, set aside the particular subject of this statement from Glenn Beck and consider only what it might imply about the general effects of different media: “This movie, if it becomes successful – if we take our churches and we all go and everything else – our children will look at […]

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What Are Your Favorite Obscure Movies?


At the bottom of a webpage, between the “Actresses Who Age Badly” and “Bizarre Creatures of the Sea,” was a clickable list I couldn’t resist — “9 Great Movies You’ve Never Seen”. It turns out I had seen two of the movies, both of which I liked; the original Das Boot (with subtitles), and Fearless.  The ones I hadn’t seen were:

  • Amazon Women on the Moon
  • Swimming With Sharks
  • The Wild Blue Yonder
  • May
  • Secretary
  • Hard Eight
  • Bob Le Flambeur

Have you seen these films? If so, opinions please! What other lost gems should I be watching?