Tag: titus

ACF Asia #7: The Bad Sleep Well

 

The podcast’s back to Kurosawa: This week we’re talking about The Bad Sleep Well, a wonderful 1960 revenge drama about the corruption of post-War Japanese elites. Crony capitalism, murder, traditions traduced, false identities, and Jody Bottum and John Wilson to talk to me about it. Next week we’re talking about Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel, for those who want a recommendation!

ACF PoMoCon #13: Very Online Conservatism

 

My series on new developments and developing writers in conservatism continues. Here’s my PoMoCon talk with Tanner Greer, who’s writing a book on America since 2003 for Tyler Cowen, about old conservatism’s Trump-shock and new, Very Online Conservatism’s Great Awokening shock. Tanner has an NRO essay criticizing Reform Conservatism while agreeing with its reformist intentions and time-honored purposes. He argues that older conservatives worry about politics, whereas newer conservatives seem to worry about the very ground of politics. The previous assumptions about institutions are upended, down to the family, so it’s no longer a matter of how should we be doing things, but who even are we!

ACF PoMoCon #12: Plague Politics

 

Pete Spiliakos and I talk about politics in the age of the plague–what’s so insane about supply-side economics, what it means to think politically and prudentially, what the common good requires, and how to understand our weaknesses that we may deal with them. Fear is good, seriousness is required, preparing for the crisis unfolding, and planning for overcoming it is the sequence we need to go through. Pete and I have praise for Tucker Carlson and Sen. Tom Cotton, and a lot of criticism for everyone else.

ACF PoMoCon #11: The Three Waves of Liberalism

 

This weekend, the podcast’s back to cultural criticism–Oliver Traldi and I continue our series of conversations about the world the internet is making. We about the quarrel between Progressives and liberalism, about the noble free speech stand of the Intellectual Dark Web and their difficulties with accounting for that nobility, about generational politics–Boomers, X-ers, Zoomers, and Millennials fighting it out to define American culture anew, the transformation of the internet from a place of anonymity to competitive exhibitionism, and also Aristotle’s treatise on the soul!

ACF Critic Series #37: Network

 

So what kind of society is the TV society? Paddy Chayefksy’s Network suggests it’s one where everything from news to terrorism becomes a fantasy for us to consume, safely, if stranded, in front of our screens. One where human beings are reduced to humanoids. At the end of the age when TV matters, it’s good to look at its beginnings–we might recognize social media as the last form TV takes. For the audience interested in the conversation, my friend Telly Davidson has a book on media and politics, Culture War.

ACF PoMoCon #10: The Benedict Option

 

Folks, here’s a podcast for the weekend–my conversation with Rod Dreher on traditional conservatism’s new moment. We talk about his books, about Christian communities facing the Pink Police State (hat tip to our friend James Poulos) and the need to retrieve pre-modern resources for communities of faith. We also talk about what Rod has learned from Christians surviving communism (hat tip to our friend @FlaggTaylor).

ACF Asia #6: Kurosawa, ‘High and Low’

 

Time for more Kurosawa: I talk High and Low with Jody Bottum and John Wilson. This is a good pair for the big new Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite; it’s also a story about envy and class, about the rapid modernization of a country, in this case, Japan, in that, South Korea, and the crisis of justice. Kurosawa is quite Dostoevskian in his treatment of resentment and nihilism, a fitting way to end his series of modern movies.

ACF Asia #5: Parasite

 

Friends, here’s my conversation with Peter Paik on the big Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. We talk about the movie as a story of the conflict between liberalism and Korea’s older ways. We try to explain the new social and economic situation in South Korea, but also Bong’s interest in character study that reveals virtues and vices that reverse the judgments implied in the class analysis liberalism usually offers. This is not a story about wicked rich people, or systemic inequality, vs. innocent or virtuous poor people. It’s about the desire for self-mastery and the desire for comfort, or the difference between absorbing suffering and fleeing anxiety.

Writing on Oscar Movies

 

This was the year of Scorsese, even if only two people say so — the three-Oscar-winning writer-director-producer of the four-Oscar-winning Parasite, Bong Joon-ho — and me. Tarantino should have swept the Awards, but the Academy still desperately hopes that a sufficient number of sufficiently clever and sentimental auteurs will save cinema from the twin evils of Disney, perpetually snubbed, and Netflix, perpetually snubbed despite throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at winning a Best Picture Oscar.

Recent victorious auteurs include the insightful, but irresponsible enemy of liberalism Jordan Peele, the uninspired, sentimental Guillermo del Toro, his more insightful friend who’s absolutely clueless about the world we live in, Alejandro Inarritu — to say nothing of the other moralistic winners based on the hope that finally Hollywood will fix America’s race problems: Green Book, Moonlight, 12 years of slave…

ACF PoMoCon #9: Henry Olsen on 2020

 

Here’s my new podcast with Henry Olsen on democratic phenomena–vast increases in turnout in recent elections, which we expect will shock people in 2020, parties and administrations that cannot get a hold of their coalitions, much less represent them, and the entire shifting political landscape.

ACF Thanksgiving Edition: Scott Beauchamp on Community and Honor

 

Friends, we have a special interview today in our PoMoCon series–with my friend Scott Beauchamp, who like many other young Americans, signed up for the military and deployed to Iraq, and like a large number of veterans, has talked about his experience (in this case, in a book). What makes Scott unique is, his war book is not a memoir, but a work of cultural criticism, much more his intellectual and spiritual autobiography than talking about himself. Scott has a lot to say about the good that comes of war, given that war is terrible–the community of honor and how it helps a man to grow up and what it suggests about what we’re missing in our society.

ACF PoMoCon #7: Intellectual Dark Web

 

Hello and welcome to very online America–I talked to my friend Oliver Traldi about the online culture and academic wokeness that provoked the backlash of the intellectual dark web. To an extent, the internet gave voice to the pathological side of America, which is a complicated mess of escaping real life–meat space!–but also getting new things out of life that then turn out to have certain costs. Online conflict is between the woke attempt to perfect TED talks as a new ideology-etiquette for the urban, wealthier, more educated side of America–and their adversaries, who are themselves split between liberals and just angry people on the internet who don’t like woke bullying. The IDW attempt to restore Enlightenment public reason is for that reason noble, since it’s so unlikely that any institutional alliance could summon majority support.

ACF Critic Series #36: LA Confidential

 

Terry Teachout and I discussed L.A. Confidential, the last famous neo-noir, and yet another story about the origins of Los Angeles and the modern America defined by glamour. We have a reversal of the noir here–the femme fatale helps redeem rather than damn protagonists who were corrupt before they came to make a serious moral decision. Curtis Hanson’s movie makes for a revision of heroism away from noir’s tragic destiny toward American drama, where happy ends are possible, in limited ways, for some of the people who deserve them. It’s in that sense even better than the rather gloomier James Ellroy novel it’s based on!

ACF Europe #10: Red

 

Podcast’s back, with the conclusion of the Colors Trilogy–Krzystof Kieslowski’s story about the coming unification of Europe under the French Revolutionary banner of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Fraternity turns out to be a thornier problem since our desires are aroused and then disappointed by technology and, in chasing them, we become blind to what’s good for us. Nor can justice help us when our lives are ruined. Love might save people from abandonment, however.

ACF Europe #9: White

 

After Blue, we talk about White–after freedom, equality–the centerpiece of Krzystof Kieslowski’s Colors Trilogy! His theme is modern abandonment and so he looks at equality as the problem of revenge–getting even, dealing with dissatisfied desire in a hateful way, and all done through the forms of the law. This is the comic part of the trilogy, and yet it starts with a divorce in Paris and ends with prison in Warsaw. The Poland-France clash here points to the difficulties the EU would find trying to marry Western and Eastern European countries which are unequal in money, power, and politics–but equal in pride.

ACF Europe #8 Three Colors: Blue

 

So we’re doing a trilogy about the Colors Trilogy–Krzystof Kieslowski’s masterwork, and the end of his career. The least known of the Polish masters assumes the authority to tell Europe what the problem of reunification is–what the problem of the European Union is, in the terms of the French Revolution, whose tricolor replaced the aristocratic crests and Christian cross of medieval flags. Those three colors stand for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. We start with Freedom, of course–Paris, the beautiful Juliette Binoche, and our reliance on accident for insight.

ACF #33: Eyes Wide Shut

 

Friends, here’s our first Kubrick conversation–his last movie, Eyes Wide Shut, about the erotic temptations Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, I mean their characters, have to withstand at the turn of the millennium and how the spirit of Christmas might be replaced by a shocking and elusive conspiracy of elite perverts who dedicate themselves to restoring paganism!

ACF #32 The Hidden Fortress

 

Friends, here’s our second Kurosawa episode, after Rashomon: Jody Bottum and I talk about The Hidden Fortress, an extraordinary movie famous for inspiring George Lucas’s Star Wars, which was financed by Americans largely–through Lucas and Coppola’s efforts–and offers a rare mix of history and comedy, so that the tragedy of Japan can be brought to a hopeful conclusion. Toshiro Mifune gives his most sophisticated performance, ranging from scoundrel to legendary samurai, and alongside him we see a 16-year-old girl become a princess. We also talk about everything from Aristotle to Shakespeare to Austen and Dickens to John Wayne and John Ford!

ACF #31: Lady Vengeance

 

Today we’re concluding our conversations on Park Chan-wook, the most famous and successful director in South Korea, with the conclusion of his vengeance trilogy: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. The protagonist is a femme fatale and a loving mother looking for justice and happiness, back to the virtues the harshness of pre-modern Korea cultivated in the situation of the modern new South Korea. This is a wonderful, if mostly tragic story, unusual, especially by American standards, and a show of the very different forms of storytelling in East Asia. My interlocutors are American professors — George Dunn teaching in China, and Peter Paik in South Korea. Listen and share, friends.

ACF #30: The Black Dahlia

 

After Chinatown, we turn to another wonderful neo-noir vision of the foundation of Los Angeles, or rather its turning into Hollywood, the dream factory: Brian De Palma’s parting shot to Hollywood, The Black Dahlia. The movie came out in 2006, had a great cast: Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, and Scarlett Johansson, was based on a James Ellroy novel, whose L.A. Confidential had wowed audiences and critics in 1997, and was filmed beautifully by Vilmos Zsigmond, who was nominated for the Oscar for his work. Nevertheless, the audience didn’t really love it and the critics even less–it’s a more tragic story about Americans chasing after beautiful dreams and finding a horrible cruelty hiding behind splendor. But it’s precisely this tragic character that makes the film so impressive.