Tag: Movies

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A halfway decent movie about ranchers and cartels on the unprotected border? It’s no joke.  The Arroyo is slow and dry like a desert day. It’s straightforward like an honest Texan, with simple characters and few twists. But it’s compelling enough to maintain interest in the blunt dialog and brutal truths it carries.  Preview Open

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Not many of the younger generations are familiar with black-and-white films, aside from a handful of classics replayed around Christmas. Somehow, even my siblings escaped that education while I spent countless hours on guided tours of cinematic history with my dad. One consequence is that I was exposed to humor of 1930s vintage.  I learned […]

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Kim Jong Un-believable? Sony to ‘Amend’ Rogen Film

 

The-Interview-movieKorea observers no doubt expressed the same disappointment as I did Friday when reading this: “Sony Will Amend Seth Rogen’s The Interview After North Korean Threats.” I’ve been looking forward to a lampooning of the 30ish dictator. He’s got an interest in popular culture that ensures his attention to the movie.

Quick no-spoiler synopsis: The CIA recruits two journalists (Rogen & James Franco) that landed an interview with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Their mission: kill Kim. 

I’m actually more bummed about having to wait until December instead of October for the film. In reality, this is not a U.S. backing off in the face of North Korean bombast. Making the movie is a statement in itself.  It’s more about Japan.

Back to the ’80s

 

Broadcast_NewsLast night, I watched Broadcast News for the first time in nearly 30 years.  What a trip down memory lane!  Those clothes!  That hair!  VHS tapes!  Brought me right back to high school.

The movie lacks a plot line, but the characters are likable and believable.  The dialog was honest and engaging.  The thing as a whole was funny and touching and sweet.  But the main thing that stood out to me was its shocking moral innocence—naiveté, almost.

I was about 20 when it appeared and very religious in the Catholic-evangelical mode.  So, to me, then, morality was all about no sex, no drugs, no drinking, no swearing.  The rest—things like kindness and honesty and integrity—I took completely for granted.  I don’t think “innocent” would have been my prime impression of the movie in 1987.  The female lead is clearly “sexually active.”  She drinks.  She swears.  I wouldn’t have approved at all.

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.

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Of Cartoons and Advertising

 

My younger generation might not know symphonies and concertos by name, but we recognize many melodies. Relatively few of us have attended classical performances — and fewer still seek them out — but we have at least a passing knowledge of the great composers’ works, even if we never listen to the songs all the way through and know little about the composers themselves. 

How did we gain this basic familiarity with classical music?  Through TV advertisements, film soundtracks, and (like Baby Boomers) through Looney Tunes.  The latest generation is learning these songs through video games like Peggle.  

220… 221… Whatever It Takes

 

Yesterday at lunch, one of my former co-workers shared that she’s “educating” her 12-year-old son regarding some of her favorite movies by spending the summer “screening” them for him. Her reasoning? Because she uses so many lines from each movie’s dialog that it has become part of her everyday vernacular. She wants him to understand the context behind the comments so he now could join in the conversation and truly be part of her family’s movie culture/language.

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So let me get this out of the way: Guardians of the Galaxy is a very entertaining film. Even better, it’s entertaining in a way that doesn’t cater to a specific audience, i.e. my fellow comic book nerds. It instead manages to be accessible to just about anyone who watches it and can reasonably suspend […]

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I suppose in writing this, I’m guilty of what I accuse the Baby Boomer generation of doing ad nauseum: being overly vocally nostalgic of one’s past. However, I revel in my nigh-hypocrisy as I look back to the year 1982 and what a great year for film that was. Take a look at a list […]

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Movies that Missed

 

shutterstock_179931563On The Great Debate thread about superpowers (specifically the superpower of flight), a comment by Carey J reminded me of the not-so-great superhero movie Hancock. I thought Hancock had real potential. The basic premise is an alcoholic superhero — but not a mostly functional alcoholic like Tony Stark; a real Skid Row-type alcoholic with Superman-like powers, who can’t fly straight because he’s blind drunk. He causes damage just taking off to fly, not to mention all the havoc he creates while flying, stopping crime, or saving people. Then a PR guy comes along who wants to reform Hancock and rehabilitate his image. The publicist is a loser and schmuck who is also unsuccessfully trying to get a charity campaign off the ground. If you haven’t seen Hancock, what follows is a spoiler alert. 

The PR guy’s wife is actually another super-powered immortal like Hancock and is really Hancock’s wife.When the two of them are together, they start to lose their powers and become vulnerable (she is his Kryptonite and vice versa). she left him back in 1931 after he had suffered serious brain trauma so that he would be invulnerable again and could recover and serve the world. The movie just sort of falls apart from there. It’s a mess. The story has more loose ends than knots that come together.

But it could have been a great movie. It’s like they had this one great image in the beginning, and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. They had the start of the story and a general them (redemption), but had no idea where to take it. Maybe it was the editing of the movie, the rewrites, or a thousand other things besides the original script, but the movie that should have been made did not come together. It’s a terrific example of a film that could have been great but wound up mediocre.

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.

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Once again, faithful reader(s), I turn to review the movies! Get ready, true believers, as today we have another amazing adventure of Spider-Man! Today’s review even has 100% less spoilers! Yes, I managed to write a review without having to warn people away from my writing. I may actually get people to read my reviews if […]

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With an ever increasing array of on-demand TV services, parents have never had so many options for selecting their children’s entertainment. In addition to new programs like Blue’s Clues and Wild Kratts, many shows from previous decades are now available for streaming. Some old favorites, like Scooby Doo, have even been refreshed with new episodes.  […]

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Am I The Only Person Who Doesn’t Care About the Noah Movie? — Tabula Rasa

 

Some things are best left to one’s imagination. That’s how I feel about most biblical “epics.” 

That’s also why the new movie about Noah fails to engage my interest, even though I like its cast. My unwillingness to get excited about the movie is totally aside from the arguments that God is strangely left out, or that it is basically an environmental screed, or that its special effects are the main character. 

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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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The Future The development of cyborg technology cheapened human life. The sky city Tiphares came to dominate life on the surface of Earth, and directly beneath it, built on the trash it threw away, was a unique community called the Scrapyard. That is the scenario in Yukito Kishiro’s long running (created in 1990) manga “Battle […]

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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?