12 Strong
John Hanlon
In some wars, the enemy is easier to identify. In Afghanistan, that doesn't apply.
(Review Source)
Ben Davies
(Review Source)
The Weekly Substandard Podcast

On this latest episode, the Substandard tackles (so to speak!) the playoff picture. JVL soars like an eagle. Vic hates getting interrupted. Sonny recounts his basement-dwelling years. Plus a discussion of post-9/11 war movies and a review of 12 Strong

(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
‘12 Strong’ is a welcome change from the ‘We’re all to blame’ war movies that leftists in Hollywood crank out.
(Review Source)
Sonny Bunch
12 Strong

BY:

There’s a moment in 12 Strong—a fact-based accounting of the first Special Forces team inserted into Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks—when the soldiers we’ve been following watch a video of a woman being stoned to death in Afghanistan. It is brutal and ugly but not what one of the men had asked for. “This isn’t intel, it’s motivation,” he says, adding that he doesn’t need motivation. He’s got two collapsed skyscrapers and 3,000 dead Americans worth of motivation.

(Review Source)
Christian Toto
Showcasing the best of the U.S. military.
(Review Source)
Michael Medved

Star Rating: 3.5 Stars
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña
Release Date: Friday, January 19, 2018
MPAA Rating: R
Brought to you by www.michaelmedved.com
(Review Source)
Christian Toto
12 strong review chris hemsworth

You may want to Google the story behind “12 Strong” before lining up to see it.

How could a small group of Green Berets strike a blow against the Taliban

The post HiT Movie Reviews: ’12 Strong,’ ‘Forever My Girl’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

(Review Source)
Christian Toto
american-sniper

I was attending a Christmas party over the holidays and, in the course of conversation, made the following statement:

“I can’t watch very many war movies anymore.”

My sister in-law,

The post Decorated Soldier Picks the Best, and Worst, War Movies appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

(Review Source)
Armond White
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Save Gone with the Wind to save ourselves.
(Review Source)
National Review Staff
Gone with the Wind has drawn controversy over its portrayal of African Americans in the antebellum South.
(Review Source)
Armond White
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Altman’s classic all-American tragedy returns.
(Review Source)
Sonny Bunch
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Why does this World War I film succeed where others failed?
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Vox Day
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The latest conspiracy news out of /pol/ points at the military-industrial complex in... Minnesota, of all places:
Last week at work I traced a massive subcontractors mysterious source to someone who is currently running for President.

The company produces nothing, I found it because we gained access to an area of this company that no one has been given access to before by a new employee not fully in the know. What we found were 165 items each individually valued at over $1,000,000 missing, all ordered in quarter 1 of 2019.

Our audit further lead us to investigate quietly and trace back over $10 Billion of undelivered, but paid for, Navy equipment and materials, and it all goes through the same subcontractor.

The subcontractor is fully owned by a shell company which shares a physical location with it but with two different street address, which are actually on two different street because it is a corner facility, very smart. During this process of tracking the missing items we went to the subcontractors facility to find it........completely empty. The two companies have a single office with some desks in it and over 400,000 square feet of empty warehouse in the middle of nowhere West Georgia.

Further tracking the shell company we found that it is owned by another shell company, which in turn is owned by a company which owns 5 luxury car dealerships, a big four professional American Sports Franchise, a VERY liberal movie studio, all of which have been noted as being unprofitable, and this single Navy Contractor.

The family that owns this company has a current Senator and a Current Presidential Candidate in it.
Translation: Amy Klobuchar, the Pohlad family, the Minnesota Twins, and River Road Entertainment, which produced 12 Years a Slave and Brokeback Mountain, among others.

I have to admit, it's a little bit bizarre to read about this, especially in light of the way I could still probably drive River Road, which connects the North campus to the South campus of the private school I attended, while wearing a blindfold.

Posted by Vox Day.
(Review Source)
Armond White
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Jordan Peele depicts black American identity as a freak show.
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
It’s tough to call.
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Fighting with My Family puts a quirky, continental spin on professional wrestling.
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
With a spate of box-office successes garnering nominations, AMPAS takes a small step toward solving its ratings problem.
(Review Source)
Vox Day
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Who knew that SJWs could make it even worse than it was? Milo observes that the feminist Ghostbusters is going to be an SJW-inspired disaster:
At this point, everyone who isn’t a Women’s Studies major realises that Ghostbusters is probably going to be a terrible movie. But who’s responsible? To anyone familiar with incompetence in Hollywood, the answer should be obvious. It’s Amy Pascal, of course.

Pascal is the former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment. She oversaw production of dozens of blockbuster titles over the years, until she was hoist on her own progressivism. A series of  embarrassing emails in which she cracked some not-funny racial jokes about President Obama clashed with her public image as a good feminist progressive, and Pascal promptly exited the company.

“Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” asked Pascal in a leaked email to a colleague on the topic of meeting President Barack Obama at a then-upcoming fundraising event. Her colleague, producer Scott Rudin, replied simply with “12 YEARS”, referencing ’12 Years a Slave’: another slavery film.

The two then proceeded to jokingly list numerous films concerning African-Americans. It wasn’t funny, and, considering Pascal’s public image as a Hollywood feminist, it wasn’t clever either. It was this series of emails among others that resulted in Pascal’s forced resignation from Sony.

But cinema still isn’t safe: Pascal is taking a producer role in a handful of upcoming films, including Ghostbusters. Pascal, SJW-watchers will note, is the producer behind the mooted Zoe Quinn biopic Crash Override: How to Save the Internet from Itself, which I’m sure will be at least as successful as the all-female Ghostbusters. (By which I mean: an utter disaster.)

It’s obvious Pascal is trying to recover her progressive credentials. But her movies are visibly suffering as a result.

Despite her self-proclaimed feminist values, Pascal has proven hilariously bad at pandering to her own tribe. After allegations of a pay gap at Sony, Pascal was quick to offer a tone-deaf rebuttal.

“I run a business. People want to work for less money, I’ll pay them less money. I don’t call them up and go, can I give you some more?” said Pascal in an interview at the Women of the World event in San Francisco. Pascal said actresses should learn to “walk away” if they weren’t satisfied with their jobs. “People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs,” she said.

In a final, desperate attempt to make herself likeable again, Pascal is now producing rancid films dressed up in social justice-friendly narratives. And it’s working! Progressives are rallying to her defence, crying “MISOGYNY” whenever moviegoers object to the garbage Pascal is trying to feed them....

I suspect the film’s defenders are also aware that the movie is an impending disaster, which is why they’ve rushed to the web to brand its critics misogynists. There’s a lot on the line for them. If Ghostbusters flops, it will be yet further proof that feminism and social justice don’t sell.
Addendum to Veblen. We're going to need a new theory to account for this new form of virtue-signaling conspicuous consumption.

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(Review Source)
Vox Day
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
While the Obama presidency has proven to be an even more amusing comedy of errors than I expected it to be, it's starting to get a little weird. Mr. Obama has fallen from being the Lightbringer capable of commanding the oceans to lying about crashing at his uncle's pad in college. And now, we're informed that he is beyond criticism because movie.
With "12 Years a Slave" petering out at the box office after a decent but unspectacular run (currently $34 million and losing screens), liberals are increasingly angry that the well-filmed, erratically-acted, and poorly-scripted biopic remake has failed to shut down criticism of President Obama. 
Pity George W. Bush never thought of that. How can you criticize me?  Did you not see "Lord of the Rings'? The problem most people have with Obama isn't that he's an uppity Negro. They simply dislike that he's a narcissistic fraud of modest intelligence.

Labels:

(Review Source)
Christian Toto
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
widows-review

“Widows” offers a few sit-up-straight moments long before the film’s plot kicks in.

You look at the cast (Viola Davis! Robert Duvall! Daniel Kaluuya!) and you wonder how they got

The post HiT Reviews: ‘Widows,’ ‘Instant Family’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Ed Driscoll "'Homicide' Creator Uses Slavery to Trash Constitution, Founding Fathers," Lawrence Meyers writes at Big Hollywood:Let me first praise David Simon for his terrific book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets which spawned one of the greatest American TV series in history, Homicide: Life on the Street. I also hear The Wire is great.Praise complete. Now I’ll bury this Hollywood liberal bully.Simon presses the liberal agenda of White American Guilt in his oh-so-noble praise of the new film 12 Years a Slave, which also demonstrates how yet another Hollywood know-it-all has absolutely no understanding of our Constitution. This is particularly galling because Simon is an accomplished journalist, and his work on Homicide demonstrated equal compassion for all human beings.Based on this passage from Brett Martin’s best-selling Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, I’m not sure if it’s fair to call Simon a “liberal.” Obviously not in the original laissez-faire definition of the word, and not even in the L-word's Orwellian hijacking during the FDR era: As much as Simon was devoted to the romance and art of journalism and, more important, to nonfiction, even he had to concede that fiction film and TV were the primary communication media of his era. “To get a best-selling novel on the New York Times Best Sellers list, you need to sell a hundred thousand copies. A poorly watched HBO show is going to draw three or four million a week. That’s ten times as many people acquiring your narrative.” And that mattered because, to Simon and his partner, Ed Burns, The Wire was explicitly a piece of social activism. Among its targets, large and small, were the War on Drugs, the educational policy No Child Left Behind, and the outsize influence of money in America’s political system, of statistics in its police departments, and of Pulitzer Prizes at its newspapers. The big fish, though, was nothing less than a capitalist system that Burns and Simon had begun to see as fundamentally doomed. (If Simon was a dyed-in-the-wool lefty, Burns practically qualified as Zapatista; by ex-cop standards, he might as well have been Trotsky himself.)Yet another reminder that it's not just Time-Warner-CNN-HBO's news division that wants to "fundamentally transform" America by continually shifting it to the left; it's a goal of at least some in their entertainment department as well.Oh, and speaking of their news division, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh at this Chyron de coeur:Disappointing news from Washington: pic.twitter.com/IyIC5cYMuB— Ellen Wernecke (@neithernor) November 5, 2013As with the rest of the gang on the Journolist, CNN certainly did everything they could to help Mr. Obama retcon history in 2008, however:[flashvideo file=http://pjmedia.com/media/video/CNN-Wright-to-Wright-Free-Zone6-7-09-rev-1.flv width=315 height=251 image=http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/files/2009/06/cnn-wright-to-wright-free-zone6-7-09-title-cardiii.jpg /] class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2013/11/6/home-barack-office/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'The Wolf of Wall Street Official Trailer', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); The Oscars won’t be given out until March, but Oscar season is already well underway as studio flacks hold parties and special screenings intended to sway voters. The leading contenders so far are:10 and 9. American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall StreetBoth films make the list solely because of the track record of their respective directors, David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) and Martin Scorsese. Unlike all of the other movies on this list, these two haven’t been publicly shown yet. Scorsese is still editing his Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film about finance-industry debauchery and isn’t expected to be finished until the end of November.Russell says his movie, which stars Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in a drama about a 1970s political scam, is almost ready. American Hustle is due in theaters Dec. 18, Wolf a week later.Likely Oscar nominations: Best Picture? class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/11/15/2013s-top-10-oscar-contenders/ previous Page 1 of 9 next   ]]>
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PJ Media Staff
Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': '12 Years A Slave - Official Trailer (HD) Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); One of the great tales of courage and survival is a book that you have probably never heard of before.  It is the story of Solomon Northup, a free black who lived in New York state in the 1840s.  He was lured to Washington, D.C., under the promise of work as a fiddler. In D.C., he was drugged and then sold as a slave.  Eventually, because of the intervention of several whites both in Louisiana and in his home state of New York, his freedom was restored.  It is the source of the new film by this same title.This is not the first time that Northup’s inspiring tale of faith and endurance has been made into a movie.  Gordon Parks made a 1984 version for television starring Avery Brooks (who some of you may remember as “Hawk” in the 1980s television series Spenser: For Hire) as Northup.  While faithful to the book, it was produced with about the same budget as some people spend on dental floss, and shot in three weeks.  The acting quality varied substantially, from quite excellent to positively dreadful.  Still, I often use the first few minutes of it in my U.S. history class to emphasize the fundamentally middle class values that many free blacks in America aspired to in that era.12 Years a Slave (2013) is what I had long hoped that Gordon Parks’ version had been.  Well-funded, it has a few big names (Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt) and exemplary acting performances throughout.  If Lupita Nyong'o (born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, educated in the U.S.), wins an Oscar for her performance as Patsey, I will not be even slightly surprised.  There is not a weak performance anywhere in this – but with material like this, what actor would fail? class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/11/29/we-need-movies-that-tell-the-truth-about-slavery/ previous Page 1 of 3 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Roger L. Simon Most folks on the right can't stand the Oscars -- and with justification. The movies of recent years -- not the movies of the Frank Capra era -- have been a collection of banal anti-American tracts, subtle or otherwise. There are exceptions, of course, but that's the main thing.Meanwhile, a few of us who vote in the Oscars -- including some very distinguished fellows like David Mamet and Tom Stoppard (arguably the best writer in the English speaking world) -- don't adhere to the sophomoric liberal politics. But we still have to vote in these things.So, like all the other six thousand or so Academy members from Sean Penn to Matt Damon, we have to wade through the annual onslaught of screeners to determine who wins the vaunted Oscar. (You can condemn it all you want, but it's probably a better known prize than anything but the Nobel and even that....)This year there has been a certain amount of libo-babble (to coin a term). The Butler is a salient example of what one might call Oprah Pix, the bathos-laden quasi-historical tale of a White House butler featuring Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan ('nuff said). Damon's anti-fracking Promised Land is another piece of babble the Academy seems to be ignoring.Indeed by and large the LQ (liberal quotient) hasn't been as egregious as in previous years. (The fine 12 Years a Slave should not be counted as liberal propaganda because no one could dispute its overall historical accuracy.) The times, as one semi-conservative singer once said, may be a changin'. In fact, there was even a movie that celebrated American bravery in Afghanistan, Lone Survivor. (Yes, I voted for it -- in nominations anyway.) class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2014/1/7/confessions-of-an-oscar-voter/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Lifestyle This is Week 2, day 4 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at [email protected]/* <![CDATA[ */!function(t,e,r,n,c,a,p){try{t=document.currentScript||function(){for(t=document.getElementsByTagName('script'),e=t.length;e--;)if(t[e].getAttribute('data-cfhash'))return t[e]}();if(t&&(c=t.previousSibling)){p=t.parentNode;if(a=c.getAttribute('data-cfemail')){for(e='',r='0x'+a.substr(0,2)|0,n=2;a.length-n;n+=2)e+='%'+('0'+('0x'+a.substr(n,2)^r).toString(16)).slice(-2);p.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(decodeURIComponent(e)),c)}p.removeChild(t)}}catch(u){}}()/* ]]> */The Oscar nominations were announced yesterday. Here's the full list at the Hollywood Reporter. Best picture nominees:American Hustle - Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, ProducersCaptain Phillips - Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, ProducersDallas Buyers Club - Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, ProducersGravity - Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman, ProducersHer - Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, ProducersNebraska - Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, ProducersPhilomena - Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers12 Years a Slave - Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, ProducersThe Wolf of Wall Street - Nominees to be determinedA few years back the Academy decided to expand the number of films they'd nominate for best picture, thus diluting the significance of the award. It used to be that only five films would be nominated and it could be a genuinely close race. In 2008 it was Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (The best of the them won, IMHO.) Then in 2009 it ballooned to ten, offering an assortment ranging from Avatar to Up to Precious and Inglourious Basterds. var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Slumdog Millionaire - Trailer', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); It seems weird to compare a blue aliens action flick to a Pixar family comedy to a ghetto sentimentality to a high-brow grindhouse bloodbath. But I guess that's just the nature of our postmodern film age. (Of the films nominated, fanatical Disney partisan I am, Up would've earned my vote.) var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'UP Official Movie Trailer #3', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); This year's list is similarly all over the map and I haven't seen any of them, though I imagine The Wife and I will catch some of when they start making their way to Netflix streaming. With her finishing up graduate school we tend to only make it to the theaters to see something that's really big and mind-blowing. The Hobbit films in IMAX 3-D are well worth whichever arm or leg you'll need to barter for a ticket. var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - HD Main Trailer - Official Warner Bros. UK', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); But for a comedy or a drama, why bother going out to the theaters? The effect of seeing it on a decent-sized screen at home isn't much different. And why bother trying to see all the best picture nominees before the show so you can talk about it when they've inflated the category to ten? That's a lot of work!Film is now a culturally dead medium. It's akin to painting, ballet, classical music, drama, and the literary novel. Other, newer technologies have spawned mediums with greater power and influence amongst the masses while high-thinking elitists talk mostly to themselves about how their art is saving the world.But kudos to Oscar for the delicious snub of Oprah Winfrey's hateful The Butler, a disinformation project designed to make people believe America and conservatives are racist. The one good thing about having 10 best picture spots to fill? Intentionally only pick to fill nine of them and the message to the one snubbed is loud and clear. Are we done with the Oscar-bait genre yet?Maybe now that "film" is dead individual movies can start to live more. Here's the best picture nominee I'm going to make a point to see: var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Her - Official Trailer 2 [HD]', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Here are 10 Interesting Stories From Around the Web on Thursday1. Michael Ledeen here at PJM: Exclusive: The Voice of Iranian DissentI’ve received what follows from Iran, via Banafsheh Zand, who has written at PJ Media on several occasions.  As you will see, it’s an open letter from one of the bravest men of our time, Heshmat Tabarzadi, a fighter for the freedom of the Iranian people who has repeatedly put his life on the line in that worthy cause.  Heshmat was one of the central figures in the Iranian student movement, and then joined the Green Movement that was cheated out of its electoral victory in 2009.  Along with other Green leaders, Heshmat was subsequently arrested, convicted by a “Revolutionary Tribunal,” and locked away.As he writes, he was recently paroled halfway through his 8-year sentence.  I rather suspect that the regime hoped he would take the opportunity to flee the country, but he won’t do that.  Like the Green leaders Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi, Heshmat is one of the most respected figures in contemporary Iran, and, so far at least, the regime prefers to keep them locked away rather than killing them, probably hoping they will die in prison.Today, January 15th, they arrested him again and he is incarcerated.  It behooves any one who really cares about human rights to keep his name in front of the civilized world, to condemn his imprisonment, and to call for his release so that he can publicly and freely promote his cause, in which the civilized world purports to believe.Read The Whole Thing. While Americans are having fun debating their popular culture other people are fighting for their freedom:My name is Heshmat Tabarzadi. I am an Iranian secular democrat human rights activist. I have been arrested several times on charges related to my activities, most recently after the green movement and the disputed election results of 2009. In October 2010, I was sentenced to eight years in prison, convicted of five charges of “insulting the Leader,” “insulting the President,” “propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding with intent to harm the state security,” and “disturbing public order.” I had already spent seven years of my life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for my activities as a student leader. Additionally I have spent another 4 years of my latest verdict and still have four more years remaining. I have spent part of every year of my life in prison since 1999 and while imprisoned I have been tortured on several different occasions. Meanwhile my different publications have been shut down, I have been denied the right to peaceful participation in two secular democratic and human rights organizations, and I have been prohibited from any social activities for 10 years.2. Mediaite: Fox’s Adam Housley Slams ‘Bigoted’ and ‘Pathetic’ Racial Remarks About His Interracial MarriageEarlier today we reported on OWN’s special interview with TV star Mowry, in which she tearfully recounted being called a “white man’s w***e,” among other slurs. Speaking with TVNewser, Housley excoriated those who wish to cut down their relationship.“The fact that in this day and age, we get attacked for our interracial relationship is beyond sad…it is pathetic,” he said. “Yes I am white. Yes she is half black. Marrying a white man does not erase her color and marrying a woman who is half black does not mean I am blinded. The problem isn’t pigmentation…the problem is backwards, bigoted thought from people who should know better.”3. Twitchy: Louis Farrakhan’s extraterrestrial ‘Wheel’ has nothing to do with Pat Sajak … Or does it?If you’re like the vast majority of human beings on this planet, you haven’t closely followed the preaching of minister Louis Farrakhan, former calypso music artist, extremist Islamist, black supremacist, and all around anti-Semite. Well, it’s time you caught up on all the craziness … and Twitchy is here to help!In short, it’s all about The Wheel. No, we’re not talking about the Wheel of Fortune. That’s Pat Sajak — different minister. It’s some kind of mothership from outer space that follows Farrakhan around. At some point, when he’s good and ready, he will climb on board to fly away from planet Earth and, for good measure, maybe kill off all of our planet’s blue-eyed devils.4. Newsbusters: Ann Coulter Challenges Ed Schultz: 'Invite Me on Your Show, You Lying P--sy'Moreover, I don't care that they're all a bunch of pussies at MSNBC, but cut the B.S. posturing when you won't allow any non-retarded conservative on your airwaves.5. Dana Stevens at Slate: Entry 9: Forrest Gump and the Sundance Kid snubbed by the Academy!So I promise to return to 12 Years in our next round (and please get started without me if you like). But first, a few observations about this morning's predawn rites: The biggest puzzle for me is why the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, a near-universal presence on top-10 lists throughout the land and certainly a far more accessible movie than their Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, has been entirely shut out of the major awards (though it did get some recognition in the technical categories, including a nod for its magic-making DP, Bruno Delbonnel, for his cinematography).6. Noah Rothman at Mediaite: A Fringe Coalition: When the Left and Right Join Forces to Discredit the CenterThe network’s prime time hosts have, in fact, gone all in (so to speak) in the effort to expose Christie as a vindictive and manipulative “bully,” going so far as to repeatedly broadcast arcane and unsubstantiated theories about Christie’s motives. National Review editor Rich Lowry correctly noted that the various theories posited by MSNBC personalities designed to make Christie a toxic property“failed to meet the most basic evidentiary standard of, you know, marshaling some evidence.”But those theories satisfy a purpose, one with bipartisan appeal, apparently: The desperate need shared by both the far-right and the far-left to smother the Christie juggernaut in its crib.Pundits on the cable news networks often lament the lack of bipartisanship that supposedly characterized an idealized version of American history, often while failing to recognize their own roles in an era of hyper-partisan politics. But these pundits could just as easily recognize it in the emerging fringe alliance. Both of America’s political extremes apparently view centrism as an existential threat and are willing, if reluctantly, to ally in order to guarantee that theirs remain the loudest and most influential voices in the room.I'll keep reading Rothman, who I regard as one of the best media writers around, but I found this one to be a misfire in the narrowness with which he chose to frame the "far-right" and "far-left." I registered my dissent with him on Twitter:I disagree with your ideological goal posts here @NoahCRothman Levin/RedState & MSNBC are not "far" on right or left http://t.co/upBPlCBpKi— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) January 16, 2014 7. New Ann Coulter Column: IS CHRIS CHRISTIE LESS BELIEVABLE THAN TAWANA BRAWLEY?Even in 1997 -- a decade after Brawley's story had been proved a hoax beyond a scintilla of a doubt -- Sharpton arranged for her to give a speech to his United African Movement at a Brooklyn church.I find it hard to believe that Al Sharpton did not know Brawley was lying about being raped by a Nazi cult on the Wappingers Falls police force.Brawley's boyfriend later told Newsday that she had admitted to him at the time that she cooked up the story with her mother. Is it believable that she didn't also tell her trusted adviser Al Sharpton?Is Al Sharpton a "far left" figure? Maybe he was when first starting out, but these days he's within the bosom of the Democratic Party. He's "left" and his views may be "far out" sometimes, but his views, as despicable as they are, count as within the mainstream of progressive/so-called liberal thought.How about this for a definition: you're not "far" anything if you choose to work through either the Democratic or Republican parties.8. Andrew Klavan at Truth Revolt: Lena Dunham Exposes the Truth About OnScreen NudityI’ve been thinking a lot about Lena Dunham’s naked body.  It’s a difficult job, but someone’s got to do it.  Last week, TheWrap’s TV Editor Tim Molloy got yelled at because he dared to ask why Dunham was always taking her clothes off on her TV show Girls.  Girls is an HBO series in which the 20-something actress daughters of famous people — including the daughters of newsman Brian Williams and playwright David Mamet — portray obnoxious, self-obsessed 20-something females trying to make it in New York.  About 870,000 people watch the show every week.  That’s not a lot, but I suspect most of them work in the media.  Anyway, that would explain why the show gets such ecstatic reviews.9. At Elle last month, hat tip to Kathy Shaidle: The Carrie Bradshaw Myth - What's Wrong with 'Sex and the City' - ELLEWell, guess what? I'm an editor at ELLE.com. I have a formidable pile of Miu Miu. My love life is actually pretty exciting. And with every TBS re-run or SATC marathon on the Style Network, I'm starting to realize something kind of sad: What I didn't "get" in my younger days wasn't the secret to Carrie's coolness… it was that Carrie Bradshaw is an idiot. And a sucker. And—this is the part that hurts me most—a really shitty modern woman....And I think that's what pisses me off most about Carrie Bradshaw, what makes me angry at myself for not seeing it before: Carrie pretends to be independent and free-thinking, but at her core, she's a totally passive woman who can't lead an adventure or survive without knowing someone (or actually, everyone) is totally in love with her. Despite her "girls just wanna be free" party line, Carrie Bradshaw still needs a guy to make her feel complete. And to me, that's beyond dumb. It's kind of unforgivable.10. Life News: 29-Year-Old Woman’s Beautiful Answer to “Why are You STILL a Virgin?”I admire Mandy’s stand. As a 32-year-old virgin who’s happily getting married this summer, I know how challenging it can be to save sex for marriage. As a woman who works at a pregnancy resource center, I also see the damaging effects of sex outside marriage. Sex is meant to be a holistic experience that touches our minds, bodies, souls, and emotions. It’s more than just a pleasure; it’s a pleasure that comes with great responsibility.PJ Media Story Round UpLead PJM StoriesBridget Johnson: $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Easily Approved by CongressBryan Preston: Get Ready, NRA: Harvey Weinstein Is Coming After You with a Movie Starring Meryl StreepBridget Johnson: Colorado Congressman Finds Obamacare Cancellation Number Higher Than ReportedAndrew C. McCarthy: KSM’s Prison Communiqués: Enemy Combatants Back To Being Criminal DefendantsBridget Johnson: Ellison: Tea Party Has ‘Destroyed the Republican Party and Use It Only in Name’Rodrigo Sermeno: Coburn to Congress: ‘The Problem Is Us’Bill Straub: Agencies Sobering Up Travel Spending After Conference PartiesNew at PJ LifestyleBryan Preston: Justin Bieber Should Be DeportedPJ Lifestyle Cute Animal Videos: The Talking Porcupine Likes PumpkinsHelen Smith: Why Marry if You Are a Call Girl?Becky Graebner: #WashingtonDC: Moments of Beauty Chronicled by InstagramKathy Shaidle: Is Canada Becoming the Proving Ground for Eco-Terrorism?Daily ReadingPage 19 of Frank S. Meyer's In Defense of Freedom: Frank S. Meyer's critique of scientism starts In Defense of #Freedom Excerpt from page 19 on the shortcomings of political science and other soft sciences that imitate the hard sciences. #politicalscience #politics #conservatism A post shared by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on Jan 16, 2014 at 8:43pm PST class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/1/17/why-this-years-oscar-nominations-confirm-film-is-now-a-culturally-dead-medium/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Batman: The Animated Series (good quality intro)', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); This is Week 2, day 5 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at [email protected]/* <![CDATA[ */!function(t,e,r,n,c,a,p){try{t=document.currentScript||function(){for(t=document.getElementsByTagName('script'),e=t.length;e--;)if(t[e].getAttribute('data-cfhash'))return t[e]}();if(t&&(c=t.previousSibling)){p=t.parentNode;if(a=c.getAttribute('data-cfemail')){for(e='',r='0x'+a.substr(0,2)|0,n=2;a.length-n;n+=2)e+='%'+('0'+('0x'+a.substr(n,2)^r).toString(16)).slice(-2);p.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(decodeURIComponent(e)),c)}p.removeChild(t)}}catch(u){}}()/* ]]> */Last year I started experimenting with Instagram. Inspired by PJM columnist Zombie I decided to create an account to A) confuse the hell out of people, B) stir up trouble, and C) explore the truth of what people believe in the world today without the baggage of my existing politically incorrect identity clouding how they addressed me.As with Zombie, with "Thoth and Ma'at Married" people can't even tell if I'm a man or woman -- the handle includes the names of both male and female Egyptian deities of writing (and thus serves as my stealth so-con way of promoting marriage too). They likewise can't tell at first glance what my religion, politics, or philosophy are. I use the account to engage with people all across the spectrum of cultures and ideas to try to learn more about where their values come from and how they think. On January 10, one of the atheists that I follow posted a photo in which he asked for anyone to ask him his opinion about anything. I asked which side he supported in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here's the exchange that followed and the revealing admission from an atheist about where he really learned right from wrong in our pop culture-dominated world today:So he simultaneously admits he knows nothing but expresses his preset ideological opinion that the governments are driven by money and the militaries by primitivism.Here's when I drop my counterculture conservative provocation, defining the evil in the issue and then seeing how he or any of his followers choose to react to the facts:Did my provocation catch any fish? Yes, two revealing responses. The first a somewhat innocent, naive idealist, and the second doubting my facts.One thing that I've learned in these exchanges over the years is to try to cut to the key points you want to make. Don't go on and on. Just give the link and state your idea. Over-writing is a sign that you're not confident in what you're saying.Here's where I pose the question that really matters to me for my research and writing: if you're an atheist, from where do you get your values? I then offer a number of possibilities. Usually I'll try to throw out five or six, here just three:Sounds like a good punk rock song title, doesn't it? "Let Me Stab to Be Corrected." This is a much more cordial exchange than many that I have with more hostile secularists. But then again, with this particular meme it allowed for more of a thoughtful discussion. Perhaps I should start experimenting with using "Ask My Opinion" and "Ask Anything" type images to fish for more interesting questions...I've found that one of the easiest ways to remind atheists that there are multiple ways of reading the Bible is to start talking about Maimonides. See Douglas Rushkoff's Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism for the accessible introduction that turned me on to the Rambam not just as a Jewish theologian, but as a foundational thinker of Western civilization and one of the inspirers of the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and the founding of America.And here's where I got the kind of off-hand, not-even-thinking-about-it, honest admission that I look for when engaging in these kinds of exchanges:It's hard for me to pinpoint with as much precision as @isaac_of_portage just which specific pop culture properties most influenced my values and understanding of good and evil. There are just so many from Star Wars to Super Mario to the Disney canon which shaped my childhood and initial adolescence much more than the irregular church attendance in mushy Methodism.Though, as I mentioned in the exchange, seeing Schindler's List in seventh grade -- amidst the controversy of it being broadcast uncensored, commercial-free on NBC -- did psychologically scar me somehow. But it's a way that I needed to be scarred -- it was one of the big beginning-to-wake-up-to-evil moments that would take a long time to process. Throughout my life in my obsessions with movies, books, comics, and video games, I understand that I've been influenced both for the good and the bad. Some pop culture properties derive from the foundational stories and myths of Western civilization, others are reinventions of the primitive, pre-modern death cults which one needs to understand in order to make much sense of the first five books of the Bible. (I've found from years of these kinds of exchanges that many secularists misinterpret the Bible to such an extent that they end up taking the side of the Egyptians and Canaanites, not realizing just what the ancient Hebrews were rebelling against -- nature worship, human sacrifice and temple prostitution.)So when I talk about Pop Culture Polytheism, I don't do so with complete condemnation, because it is a religion that I have practiced to one degree or another all my life and still do to a lesser, more controlled extent today. Pop culture polytheists are those who use pop culture properties as substitutes -- or supplements -- to religion. You can be a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, secular humanist, etc. first and a pop culture polytheist second -- many people are, more should be.When pop culture is understood as a tool for us to better understand and engage with the world then it's useful and valuable. When it's held up as how we should model ourselves, when the figures dancing across the screen become like the gods on Mount Olympus, then we've got a problem. And that's what we have to face and confront today. Pop culture polytheism can be a wonderful thing -- my wife and I bond deeply over our shared Disney and Star Trek enthusiasms -- but it is only a toolbox, not a foundation upon which to build a life. So in keeping with my third New Year's resolution...10 Headlines from Around the Web this WeekStarting With 6 Pop Culture Polytheist Idols of the Age1.Mediaite: The Church of ‘Yeezianity’ Is a New Religion That Worships Kanye West var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'New 'Yeezianity' religion worships Kanye', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); This is of course something that West has inspired since posing as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone. He put out the magick spell of himself as the Messiah and others took him up on his offer.2. Jessica Winter at Slate: Did Woody Allen Molest His Adopted Daughter 22 Years Ago?In November,Vanity Fair published Maureen Orth’s revisitation of the Allen-Farrow scandal, including the first-ever media interview with Dylan. The interview was a bombshell: Dylan (who now uses a different name) did not waver from the story she told at age 7 about Allen molesting and sexually assaulting her in the attic of her mother’s home in Connecticut, on Aug. 4, 1992. On her side is her brother, media-star-in-the-making Ronan Farrow. After Allen received a lifetime-achievement award at last Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony,Ronan tweeted, “Missed the Woody Allen tribute—did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”So what should an outside observer make of the Allen-Farrow debacle, two decades after the fact?....In his June 1993 ruling, Wilk also denied Allen any visitation rights with Dylan or his older adopted child with Farrow, 15-year-old Moses. In May 1994, in a hearing considering custody or increased visitation for Allen, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court cited a “clear consensus” among psychiatric experts involved in the case that Allen’s “interest in Dylan was abnormally intense.”Popular culture celebrates criminality -- both on screen and off. Someday a lot of people are going to be very ashamed that they gave Allen the benefit of the doubt for all these years. I suspect that some day we'll have a better idea of the full extent of the truth. If Allen is who his accusers claim he is then eventually more victims will emerge. And too many to be denied.But will anybody care? They still listen to Michael Jackson songs, don't they?3. Uproxx: If The Posters For This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Movies Were HonestWhy does Martin Scorsese have to keep remaking the same movie about violent, sex-obsessed, macho jerks over and over again?4. Buzzfeed: Why “12 Years A Slave” Star Lupita Nyong’o Should Be Your New Fashion IdolBut you should also know her as YOUR NEW FASHION IDOL AND A GODDESS WALKING AMONGST US.5. …but also oozes goddess in this sleek, formfitting little black dress.....13. And don’t let the white man’s lighting fool you, HER SKIN IS A FLAWLESS BLANKET OF FLAWLESS....BOW. DOWN.So is it her fashion sense that's being worshiped or her skin color?5. Andrew Johnson at National Review: ABC Swoons: 50 Ways to Celebrate Michelle Obama’s BirthdayIn preparation for the first lady’s 50th birthday on Saturday, ABC News hasserved up a fawning list 50 ways to celebrate the occasion.It highlights Michelle Obama’s most memorable and glamorous moments. Below, ten examples from the list, which you can read in full here:Dance to BeyonceMove into a massive new house with your family and invite your mother to move in tooMake the cover of VogueBuy a Jason Wu dressHang out with your friend, OprahSame question.6. Uproxx: 10 Better Ways Of Spending The $10,000 Jezebel Paid For Untouched Lena Dunham PhotosThere are no winners here. Anna Wintour put Lena Dunham on the cover of Vogue, and Photoshopped out all the physical imperfections that make Dunham, y’know, a human being. Meanwhile, Jezebel offered $10,000 for the untouched photos, and within “two hours of offering [the money], [they] received six allegedly unaltered images.” But not without controversy: Brooklyn Magazine perhaps put it best, or at least the most succinct, with the headline, “Jezebel Offers $10,000 For Unretouched Lena Dunham Photos from Vogue; So, F*ck You Jezebel.”The high priorities of the leading third wave feminist publication today.Last night The Wife and I watched the first two episodes of the new season. What struck me as very awkward during the sex scenes is that with the new short haircut and her insistence on displaying her body she honestly looks more boyish than feminine. So these supposedly heterosexual scenes end up having this creepy homoerotic undertone to them. Hannah doesn't look or behave like a mature woman; in both instances she's a teenage boy. I knew too many Hannahs in college. She unfortunately is a voice of a generation.That's really the nature of the show and of many secular millennial pop culture polytheists: today's politically correct ideology has pushed girls to aspire to be more masculine and men to be more feminine. In a bigger expression it's what we see in Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett making the big decisions while hapless, wimpy Barack Obama goes out to whine that his approval ratings are tanking because people just don't like the idea of a black president. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/1/20/what-is-pop-culture-polytheism/ previous Page 1 of 3 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Roger L. Simon If conservatives give up Hollywood, they give up the country. Game over.It's Oscar time again and, since I'm one of the half-dozen or so Academy voters to the right of Trotsky (okay, a little exaggeration there, but not much), I am often called upon to write something about it (and give my predictions) for the likes of PJM, National Review or City Journal.But every time I do, especially here, I get a slew of comments, sometimes dozens, reading to the effect: "I hate Hollywood. I haven't seen one of their putrid biased movies since a. The Marx Brothers' Coconuts, b. The Best Years of Our Lives or c. when Rock Hudson and Doris Day were still in the closet."Well, good for you, I say. We should all do what we want with our spare time and Lord knows there are better things to do with it than watch banal liberal propaganda. Have a good time playing Chinese checkers or reading Burke -- whatever, as they say, floats your boat.But as you run your personal boycott of Hollywood, remember this. Almost everyone else you know -- be it family, friends, business associates and, most especially, your children -- is not. They are consuming Hollywood entertainment in mammoth gulps. And politics, as the late Andrew Breitbart said repeatedly (and he was far from the only one), is downstream of culture.You give up Hollywood and you give up the country. Game over. And as we all know, it's almost over already. Want that? Well, if you do, you can skip the rest of this article.So... for those of you that are left... now more than ever is the time for conservatives and libertarians to take back at least some of the entertainment industry. Someone recently told me that Hollywood is like one of those football blowouts with a score of 90 for the liberals and 10 for the conservatives. We have to try to make it at least 70-30 (still a blowout, but there's a glimmer of hope). class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2014/2/28/take-back-hollywood/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': '', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); 1. Lupita Nyong’o’s beautiful acceptance speechIn her very first film role, the newly minted Yale Drama School graduate snagged the role of Patsey, a slave who is regularly raped by a plantation owner. Nyong’o struck exactly the right tone when she said,"It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” she said. “And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.”Respect was one element that made her speech special; another was the evident excitement on the beaming 31-year-old Kenyan’s face. Nyongo’ was simply adorable, the big star of the evening. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/3/3/the-oscars-in-review-5-highs-and-5-lows/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
PJ Media Credit: Academy Awards Here are some financial facts showing the disconnect between Hollywood and “the rest of us.” (Facts are so inconvenient.)Question: Of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture, how many ranked among the top-ten highest grossing movies of 2013 at the domestic box office?Answer: Just one, Gravity which ranked sixth highest, hauling in $270,465,000 according to  Box Office Mojo.Now to be fair, Frozen was the third highest grosser with $388,736,000 and that won Best Animated Feature Film but was not nominated for Best Picture.Here are the remaining eight movies nominated for Best Picture and their 2013 domestic rankings at the box office.12 Years a Slave: Winner of Best Picture  Rank 69 -- earned $50,260,000American Hustle: Rank 17 -- earned $146,710,000Captain Phillips:  Rank 32 -- earned $106,957,071Dallas Buyers Club: Rank 99 -- earned $25,318,000Her: Rank 101 –earned $24,604,000Nebraska: Rank 120 – earned $17,133,000Philomena: Rank 83 -- earned $34,629,000The Wolf of Wall Street: Rank 29 – earned $114,579,000For comparison, here are the domestic Top Ten Grossing Movies in 2013:The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:  $423,914,000Iron Man 3: $409,013,994Frozen: $368,736,000Despicable Me: $368,061,265Man of Steel: $291,045,518Gravity: $270,465,000Monsters University: $268,492,764The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug $256,952,000Fast and Furious 6: $238,679,850Oz The Great and Powerful: $234,911,825After seeing these rankings, please comment about whether you think Hollywood is out of touch with “the folks.”  And while you are commenting, how about answering this question: "Should success at the box office impact whether a movie deserves to be nominated or to win Best Picture?"Furthermore, it is my humble opinion that a complete snubbing of Lone Survivor (Rank 24: Gross $123,357,000) sums up everything we need to know about Hollywood culture and values in 2014.  In case you missed it, here was what PJM’s Roger Simon wrote about that snub back when the nominations were announced  in January.Finally, what Donald Trump thought about the Oscars was mentioned today in Politico’s Morning Score:"Was President Obama in charge of this years [sic] Academy Awards - they remind me of the ObamaCare website!  -   Donald Trump tweeted during the Oscars last night.Well, at least First Lady Michelle Obama stayed away from the awards show this year because we all know there is no connection between Hollywood and Washington.   class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/inconvenient-facts-about-what-the-oscar-movies-actually-earned-at-the-box-office-in-2013/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Reason and Emotion', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Dear Roger,I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with two points from you piece last week, "How Conservatives Can Take Back (Some of) Hollywood for Oscar Time." First, let's take a look at where you place the goal posts for conservatives to aim:But as you run your personal boycott of Hollywood, remember this. Almost everyone else you know — be it family, friends, business associates and, most especially, your children — is not. They are consuming Hollywood entertainment in mammoth gulps. And politics, as the late Andrew Breitbart said repeatedly (and he was far from the only one), is downstream of culture.You give up Hollywood and you give up the country. Game over. And as we all know, it’s almost over already. Want that? Well, if you do, you can skip the rest of this article.So… for those of you that are left… now more than ever is the time for conservatives and libertarians to take back at least some of the entertainment industry. Someone recently told me that Hollywood is like one of those football blowouts with a score of 90 for the liberals and 10 for the conservatives. We have to try to make it at least 70-30 (still a blowout, but there’s a glimmer of hope).70-30? Come on. Settling for a pittance of the country's entertainment industry is akin to aiming for a passing grade. Conservatives should proclaim bolder objectives with their efforts to enter the entertainment industry: to become billionaires and dominate the entire field through redefining it.I've been studying and blogging on Walt Disney with Chris Queen here at PJ Lifestyle for over a year now to try to understand the secrets of his success. What did Disney do to make his name synonymous with a new art form? He innovated -- a principle you as the co-founder of PJM know well. For Disney, his path -- which is worth recounting visually since we can easily thanks to YouTube -- made the first big splash with synched-sound cartoons in 1928: var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Walt Disney Animation Studios' Steamboat Willie', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Then Flowers and Trees, the first technicolor cartoon, in 1932: var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Disney '32 Silly Symphonies Flowers and Trees Pluto Dingo Daisy Donald Duck Minnie', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Then Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film, in 1937: var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Heigh Ho - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); And after World War II then leaping to television and theme parks simultaneously, using one to support the other, with the Disneyland TV show in 1954: var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Disneyland - 1.01 - The Disneyland Story - Part 1 of 4', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Nowadays Disney's TV and theme park divisions make much more money than the studio films. (BTW, from David P. Goldman, commenting on my Facebook: "Factoid: The market value of Disney Corp is larger than that of the whole Ukrainian stock exchange. So much for Marxists vs. Disney.")Conservatives should be looking to the future and to new mediums of entertainment. Humans are not going to amuse themselves by sitting around staring at screens forever. I still believe in the Breitbartian idea that the battle for the culture is more important than the fight over political ideology. Where I've changed is in realizing that there's actually a force more important and powerful to affect and control. Culture is driven by technology. Movable type came before the Gutenberg Bible. Edison's film camera came before Hollywood. The techniques of animation had to be discovered by Disney and his animators through years of experimenting with Silly Symphony and Mickey Mouse shorts before Snow White could be achieved.So yeah, politics is downstream of culture. But technology has the power to carve the shape of the river itself.And conservatives are even more behind when it comes to applying technology to winning elections. J. Christian Adams in the symposium last week spells out how now targeting the broad, mainstream culture isn't even necessary for winning elections when it's cheaper to churn out the base rather than work to persuade the undecideds:Modern elections are all about energy. Energy wins. Period.The left has developed an election data tool called Catalist. The GOP has no functioning counterpart.  This database allows leftist groups, the DNC, and the Obama campaign to activate the far left base in ways that were never before possible.How do they do it?  They collect massive amounts of data about everybody.  What you read, what car you drive, what you said in a poll, everything. A consortium of leftist users pump data in, and a consortium of left-wing customers extract data.The data about Democrat voters allow institutions to flip a switch and ensure a massive base vote.So what does this have to do with Ted Cruz?Democrats have realized that modern elections are won or lost by mobilizing the base, period.  Remember the treasured independent middle? Bah. Romney won them overwhelmingly but still lost the election.The left swamped Romney using Catalist. Romney’s counterpart base mobilizer, “Orca,” crashed and burned on election day – literally. While Romney was spending one dollar to win one vote in the middle, Obama (using Catalist data) was spending a dime to get one vote in the base.So the Romney campaign was doubly damned. They were outgunned technologically. But what were they shot with from all angles? Unrelenting images of Mitt the heartless corporate businessman, a symbol of the decadent 1%, lapped up by cultures and generations raised on the image of the evil executive. As I wrote about in the summer of 2012, "Why This Election Year America Is Carmela Soprano," today people no longer know how to recognize good and evil in their leaders or entertainment. When Americans celebrate crooks at the movies they'll surely vote them into office too.How to counter this? What sorts of stories can get people to understand that evil actually often appears harmless or even noble to try to deceive you? With films of military tough guys fighting wars in lands most Americans can't even locate on a map? I have another idea, and Sunday night's Best Picture winner victory speech inspired me. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/3/5/how-conservatives-can-conquer-hollywood/ previous Page 1 of 3 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
The film “12 Years A Slave” was easily the critics’ favorite last year. It just won the Golden Globe for Best Drama and will surely be nominated for and win many more awards. On Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates film reviews, the film has positive reviews from 93 percent of viewers and a whopping 98 percent of top critics. It’s not just that it’s good but that there is so little bad in it. If you have a strong enough stomach for visual depictions of unspeakably brutal violence, you likely will not regret seeing this movie. The source material, a memoir of one man’s enslavement, is straightforward. The acting is great. So don’t let the bullying from progressive critics or the lame protests from the professionally outraged dissuade you from seeing the film. To judge from box office receipts, people have been dissuaded. Or, at least, the film is not being seen by many. While someone at Salon thought the movie was “one of the most popular” of last year, that was not true. It was actually ranked 75th. As Jonathan Last pointed out, that means it was less popular than “42,” “The Smurfs 2,” “Jurassic Park 3D” and “A Haunted House.” But the critical reception of the film also demonstrates a dramatic change in critics’ appreciation for violence in movies. When my husband and I viewed the movie, I found it almost unbearable to watch. It reminded me of my response to “The Passion of the Christ,” the visceral 2004 film about the suffering and death of Jesus. Both films are very good. Both films are depictions of real people in history. Both films are full not just of violence but violence that must be depicted because it serves the central point. And both films deal profoundly with the effects of human sinfulness. Perhaps you’ll be as intrigued as I was in seeing the difference in critical reception not just for the films but also on the specific point of violence. Here’s the Rotten Tomatoes summary for “12 Years A Slave“: The blurb, in case you didn’t catch it: “It’s far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave’s unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant — and quite possibly essential — cinema.” Now let’s look at “The Passion of the Christ“: Unlike “12 Years a Slave,” “The Passion of the Christ” was wildly popular despite being in Aramaic and Latin — the third-most popular in 2004, coming in only behind the sequels in the Shrek and Spider-Man series. Its domestic receipts were more than $370 million. And even for that level of popularity, it had 81 percent positive reviews from viewers. If you look at the top-three grossing films each year since then, many don’t get that many positive reviews from viewers. Those that did — “Iron Man,” “The Dark Knight,” “Avatar,” “Toy Story 3,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Despicable Me 2” — also received favorable reviews from the professional critics. But check out that top critics rating for “The Passion of the Christ”: only 37 percent. “The Passion of the Christ” also received no major Oscar nominations. Whereas critics were much more favorable to the other hit films that year relative to the general audience (see Shrek 2 and Spider-Man 2), this was a move in the opposite direction. Dramatically in the opposite direction. And check out that blurb: “The graphic details of Jesus’ torture make the movie tough to sit through and obscure whatever message it is trying to convey.” I went ahead and looked at what top critics had to say for both movies. The comparison and contrast is intriguing. The snippets from these reviews show the vast majority of publications and critics evolved on the violence issue. Whereas many claimed they objected to “The Passion of the Christ” on the grounds of the violence it portrayed, many critics also claimed that the violent depiction of slavery was what made “12 Years A Slave” such a great film. San Jose Mercury News Passion: The extreme violence does not teach a lesson; it’s an end in itself, more suited to the S&M crowd than to anyone seeking an uplifting sermon on everlasting redemption. (Glenn Lovell) Slave: This is not medicine for America to swallow; it’s filmmaking of the highest caliber. (Randy Myers) Detroit News (same critic) Passion: A filmed bloodletting like no other on record, essentially a terribly graphic two-hour torture sequence. (Tom Long) Slave: “12 Years a Slave” lays out an institution so twisted and wrong that its honest portrayal has been avoided for centuries. Yes, it’s dark and brutal. It needs to be. (Tom Long) Boston Globe (same critic) Passion: A profoundly medieval movie, yes. Brutal almost beyond powers of description, yes. More obsessed with capturing every holy drop of martyr’s blood and sacred gobbet of flesh than with any message of Christian love, yes. (Ty Burr) Slave: “12 Years a Slave” isn’t the story of an American tragedy. It’s the story of the American tragedy — this country’s original sin….“12 Years a Slave” is to the “peculiar institution” what “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust: a work that, finally, asks a mainstream audience to confront the worst of what humanity can do to itself… This movie is this country’s Schindler’s list in that it takes this traumatic event that is crucial to the understanding in this case of our country and its history and shows it to us in a way that a movie has never really done before in a way that has impact that forces you to really think about what this country did and what it was founded on and what it was built on. (Ty Burr) New York Daily News Passion: The movie is a compendium of tortures that would horrify the regulars at an S&M club. (Jami Bernard) Slave: A harrowing, unforgettable drama that doesn’t look away from the reality of slavery and, in so doing, helps us all fully, truly confront it. (Joe Neumaier) New York Times Passion: The Passion of the Christ is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus’ final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it. (A.O. Scott) Slave: The genius of “12 Years a Slave” is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price. (Manohla Dargis) New Yorker (same critic) Passion: The movie Gibson has made from his personal obsessions is a sickening death trip, a grimly unilluminating procession of treachery, beatings, blood, and agony. (David Denby) Slave: 12 Years a Slave is easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery. (David Denby) Arizona Republic Passion: The basic message of Christianity — love your brother — is obscured under torrents of blood to the point of benumbing the audience. (Bill Muller) Slave: Slavery is revealed for the unrelenting horror that it was. About time. (Bill Goodykoontz) Globe and Mail Passion: So obsessively and so graphically bloody-minded that it comes perilously close to the pornography of violence. (Rick Groen) Slave: 12 Years a Slave, British director Steve McQueen’s antebellum Southern drama, sets a new standard in realistically depicting American slavery. (Liam Lacey) Los Angeles Times (same critic) Passion: A film so narrowly focused as to be inaccessible for all but the devout. (Kenneth Turan) Slave: When a director who never ever blinks takes on a horrific subject, a nightmare in broad daylight is the inevitable result. Welcome, if that is the right word, to the world of “12 Years a Slave.” (Kenneth Turan) Chicago Reader Passion: If I were a Christian, I’d be appalled to have this primitive and pornographic bloodbath presume to speak for me. (Jonathan Rosenbaum) Slave: Slavery here is not only a great moral darkness but a sweeping canvas for depicting the emotional deformities of the people who enforced and exploited the practice. (J.R. Jones) David Edelstein Passion (at Slate): This is a two-hour-and- six-minute snuff movie — The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre — that thinks it’s an act of faith. Slave (at New York Magazine): Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, is an even-toned but acid account of unimaginable horror. Toronto Star Passion: What graphic sex is to the use of the body in hardcore porno, graphic violence is to destruction of the body of Christ in this Passion. (Geoff Pevere) Slave: Believe the Oscar buzz. Britain’s Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) nails the horror of America’s slavery shame but also finds humanity in one man’s determination to free himself and return to his family. (Peter Howell) Time Out London Passion: With more than a suggestion of a horror film about it, Gibson’s searing, bloody re-creation of Christ’s tormented last hours – from arrest in Gethsemane, to trial, crucifixion and resurrection – is hard to recommend to any but the curious or the converted. Its insistence on the ugly physical nature of the ordeal is almost expressionist – the endless beatings, stonings, flailings and the like would have killed any man long before we see the welt-skeined, naked body hammered to the cross in slo-mo and extreme close-up. (Wally Hammond) Slave: It’s not too soon to call 12 Years a Slave a great film—ruined, tremulously sad, surreal in its evil. (Tom Huddleston) Entertainment Weekly Passion: Ecce Mel, the man who made ”The Passion of the Christ” all but proclaims in his gaudily tormented, pornographically blood-drenched, anything but literal interpretation of the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life: Behold the movie star, laying everything on the line — bankability, reputation, most personal of religious beliefs — like a Crusader among infidels. Yet the Traditionalist Catholic filmmaker only appears to be preaching a stern sermon to a crowd of modern moviegoing sinners in need of a dose of shock and awe. In reality, he is talking to himself alone, a mutter of confession without absolution. (Lisa Schwarzbaum) Slave: As a drama of the slave experience, 12 Years a Slave renders them all irrelevant. It is a new movie landmark of cruelty and transcendence. (Owen Gleiberman) So What’s Going On? There are many more examples of this evolution, including at The New Republic (Passion/Slave), the San Francisco Chronicle (Passion/Slave), the Seattle Times (Passion/Slave), Salon (Passion/Slave), Washington Post (Passion/Slave), Newsday (Passion/Slave) and Peter Rainer at New York and then the Christian Science Monitor (Passion/Slave) There were also outlets that were more consistent. Both films received favorable reviews at the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Passion/Slave), USA Today (Passion/Slave), Miami Herald (Passion/Slave) and New York Post (Passion/Slave). Did critics evolve or did something else happen? Film critic Victor Morton suggests that “The average bobo critic sees [12 Years A Slave protagonist] Solomon Northup as a more worthwhile and relevant Christ figure than the original.” I think he may be onto something. Let’s revisit the reviews of The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr. Burr thought the violence in “Passion” to be “medieval,” “brutal almost beyond the powers of description,” “more obsessed with capturing every holy drop of martyr’s blood and sacred gobbet of flesh than with any message of Christian love.” But with “Slave,” he found the story of “this country’s original sin,” a film that asked viewers to “confront the worst of what humanity can do to itself.” He thought “Slave” forced viewers to really think about that sin and how foundational it is to our country’s foundation. Isn’t that fascinating? In Christian soteriology, the Gospel or good news about Jesus is in response to the bad news of our sin. Or, as it’s written in Romans: For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Or one might remember what John the Baptist says in that beautiful and must-read first chapter of the Gospel of John: The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Burr suggested that the message of Christian love can be understood apart from a depiction of that “propitiation by his blood,” a depiction of what it means to be “the Lamb of God.” (Read more of what Christians believe was prophesied about Jesus in Isaiah 53.) Certainly other reviewers were hostile to these depictions. Our society is in general agreement that, apart from homophobia and racism, the only real sin is believing in sin. This creates a climate where a brutal depiction of what Christ suffered is frowned upon. At least one “Passion” reviewer was honest enough to admit this. Mike d’Angelo of Time Out New York wrote: If you feel personally responsible for every blow and lash Jesus receives, The Passion of the Christ, which is nothing but blows and lashes, may well be a deeply moving experience. For those who consider Jesus only a man, however—a group that includes this devout atheist—Gibson’s doggedly faithful, scrupulously brutal approach inspires little more than the recurring thought, Ouch, that’s gotta smart. And that might very well sum up the chasm between popular opinion on “Passion” and critical reception of same. There was one critic who was favorable toward “Passion” and slammed “Slave.” Yes, it was Armond White. From his review in which he said “Slave” belonged in “the torture porn genre“: Because 12 Years of Slave is such a repugnant experience, a sensible viewer might be reasonably suspicious about many of the atrocities shown–or at least scoff at the one-sided masochism: Northup talks about survival but he has no spiritual resource or political drive–the means typically revealed when slave narratives are usually recounted. From Mandingo and Roots to Sankofa, Amistad, Nightjohn and Beloved, the capacity for spiritual sustenance, inherited from the legacy of slavery and survival, was essential (as with Baby Sugg’s sermon-in-the-woods in Beloved and John Quincy Adams and Cinque’s reference to ancestors in Amistad) in order to verify and make bearable the otherwise dehumanizing tales. I can’t find White’s review for “Passion” but that year he did note the problem with reviews of same in a panel discussion at Slate: As for The Passion of the Christ, having spent the year outnumbered—because it seems no mainstream publication will hire a Christian movie critic (and I’m not talking about me)—I have found the discussion too oppressively lopsided, if not totalitarian. I can only “discuss” this movie on home turf. And that enrages me, because I have not read a single mainstream review that sought to appreciate Gibson’s basic, powerful imagery on its own terms. Does atheism rule? Does blindness rule criticism? To have this movie reviewed only by nonbelievers and half-thinkers is tantamount to fascism. Linking Gibson’s film with Michael Moore’s [Fahrenheit 9/11] also avoids the film’s aesthetics. Many critics choose to do just that, but I can tell you there are millions of readers who, understandably, feel the lack. They aren’t getting from criticism what they want/need to know about art, mythology, spirituality. They’re only getting objections, recriminations, and remonstrations. It is a problem that hasn’t gotten better since 2004. White, for his part, was just kicked out of the New York Film Critics Circle. Now, White is a famously cantankerous man who has been upsetting and challenging his professional peers for much of his career. Still, it’s worth asking how much his heretical belief that film critics should have some basic grasp of spirituality has hurt his standing among his colleagues. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
With the Oscars right around the corner the spotlight of public attention is about to shine again on Hollywood. In the light of this inquiry, questions about the moral fiber of Hollywood are sure to crop up. The Gold Standard of ethics in North America has historically been the Judeo-Christian worldview and for many the 10 Commandments are at the center of this worldview. Even if a viewer can’t list the 10 Commandments in order they generally have a good sense of when they are being broken. For this reason the 10 Commandments are often used as the guide by which the moral fiber of Hollywood is judged by the average person in the multiplex. Curiously the 10 Commandments are not all about what not to do. Embedded in these ancient commands are also positive elements. If the commandment says “Thou Shalt Not Murder” then it stands to reason that the positive thing to do would be to strive to help and support our neighbor in every physical need. With this in mind, a little look at Oscar favorites, nominated films, and other recent films may be in order. You Shall Have No Other Gods In 2013 Ang Lee won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing for his adaptation of the Yann Martel novel Life of Pi. Life of Pi provides an example of cafeteria style spirituality in film. The Commandment “You shall have no other gods” at its heart calls for spiritual fidelity. In a rather memorable segment of the film the central character Pi Patel tells about his childhood interest in Religion. His interest is diverse to say the least and could itself act as an allegory demonstrating Hollywood’s tricky relationship with the first commandments found within the 10 commandments. Seated around the Supper Table Pi Patel’s father Santosh voices his concern about his son’s religious beliefs saying, “[Y]ou cannot follow three different religions at the same time.” His son Pi responds asking “Why not?” To which his father replies “Because, believing in everything at once is the same thing as believing in nothing.” Pi’s mother defends the 11-year-old, “He is young, Santosh. He is still trying to find his own way.” You Shall Not Misuse The Name Of The LORD Your God The Oscars do enjoy a movie that’s spiritual but not too religious or a film that questions the role of spirituality and religion in society. Philomena, which has garnered a Best Motion Picture of the Year nomination, depicts an odd couple on their own kind of Odyssey. Dame Judi Dench, who plays one half of that odd couple, has received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Philomena Lee, an Irish Catholic woman who was pressed into giving up the child she bore out of wedlock for adoption. While the film as a whole is often unkind to the Christian faith, within the confines of the characterization of Philomena Lee a picture of positive fulfillment of the commandment “You Shall Not Misuse The Name of The LORD your God” emerges. This is particularly obvious in the way that her character calls upon God in prayer in a faithful way, even when it’s difficult to do so, and ultimately is able to forgive the nuns who took her baby from her. This is contrasted by the other half of the odd couple in the film Martin Sixsmith played by Steve Coogan who is unable to forgive in the name of God and thereby can’t find it in his heart to use God’s name in a proper way. Both Lee and Sixmith are locked in a kind of holding pattern throughout Philomena, neither character is moved much from their starting point. Lee is the woman of faith even in her trouble where Sixmith remains the man without faith. Remember The Sabbath Day By Keeping It Holy Philomena also provides both positive and negative examples of the commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day by Keeping it Holy.” In the opening scenes of the film Sixmith is shown disregarding the value of attending worship services while throughout the film Lee provides a much more positive view on church life and personal devotion amidst her personal struggles. The Second Table Of The Law The first table of the 10 Commandments, which focus on the relationship between God and humanity, is not the bread and butter of Hollywood. The real love of Hollywood when it comes to the 10 Commandments is the second table of the law: human’s relationship with each other, man vs. man, woman vs. woman, man vs. woman and vice versa. There is a reason for this: All good stories are born out of conflict and there can be no drama without conflict. This is where greed, lying, cheating, stealing, murder and poor family relationships come in handy to the Hollywood screen writer and the novelists whose work they often adapt to the big screen. The slate of film offerings in 2013/2014 are no exception to the rule. And Oscar loves a good bit of drama. Honor Your Father and Mother In the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Bruce Dern has garnered a nomination for his role of Woody Grant in the Alexander Payne film Nebraska. Woody and his son David, played by Will Forte (SNL), spend the film traveling together to Lincoln Nebraska, on a road trip from Billings, Montana. Much of the film is about David looking after his father. The relationship between father and son predominates the overall narrative of the film. For this reason the heart of the movie is the commandment, “Honor Your Father and Mother.” From scene to scene, David is shown struggling with this task of honoring his father Woody. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails. Interestingly, Nebraska holds up a mirror to viewers in which they are called to remember that their parents are to be honored even when they are not honorable in the eyes of the world. This is mercy and grace. Nebraska is surprisingly filled with grace–grace for characters who don’t deserve it. Spoiler alert: Nebraska ends with a genuinely positive and tender-hearted fulfillment of the commandment to honor your father and mother. You Shall Not Murder The theme of murder is popular in Hollywood films. But Hollywood didn’t invent murder, it’s been with us from the time of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4 and Jesus even says that the Devil was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). 12 Years a Slave, another of this year’s Best Motion Picture of the Year nominations, is perhaps the strongest recent film dealing with the physical needs of men and women and children. When people are bought and sold and used as implements, life becomes cheapened and the needs of those in slavery are not highly valued. While the film isn’t explicitly about murder, it is very much about the poor treatment of fellow human beings and this is at the heart of the commandment “You Shall Not Murder.” 12 Years a Slave is full of distressing scenes of physical peril. There is a disturbing scene at the house of Mr. Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), where Solomon Northup played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role), is lynched by an unhappy overseer. This overseer and his accomplices are sent running away by Mr. Ford’s chief overseer, but he doesn’t cut Northup down, leaving him standing on the tips of his toes. All day, Northup stands there in danger of slipping and breaking his neck. One woman slave brings him a drink of water but the others go about their routine as if Northup is invisible. Children play, slaves walk by, yet no one raises a finger. It’s a very distressing scene. It calls to mind not only how a person is to refrain from murder but also how people are to work to avoid doing anything to hurt or harm their neighbor in his body. The conclusion of the film sees the positive application of this commandment when Northup is rescued out of his slavery and he finally receives the help and support he’s been deprived of. You Shall Not Commit Adultery Last year’s The Great Gatsby by  Baz Luhrmann was snubbed from nominations in some of the most valued awards but did earn nominations for both Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Achievement in Production Design. One of the major narratives of the film is an illicit extramarital affair, This falls squarely into the territory of a perennial Hollywood favorite when it comes to the 10 commandments “You Shall Not Commit Adultery.” Gatsby, played by Oscar favourite Leonardo DiCaprio, wants to re-live the past by steeling away the wife of another man. Based rather faithfully on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name, the film recounts the scheming of the title character of Gatsby as he works to rekindle the relationship with this other man’s wife. A relationship Gatsby had had in his earlier life. This film is, in part, about the hardships connected with adultery. Many of the central characters in the film are rich and bored and they play fast and loose with their wedding vows and the wedding vows of others who are “less fortunate.” Looking for moments in recent Hollywood films were men and women are shown being faithful to their marriage vows and positively fulfilling this commandment? Look no further than World War Z and Gerry and Karin Lane’s marriage, as played by Brad Pit and Mireille Enos, in last year’s big zombie apocalypse thriller. A marriage, and family unit, that actually grows stronger in the face of trouble and remained the deciding factor in the decision making process of the central character Gerry Lane. Everything hinged on his wife and kids. Or you could look to Matt Damon’s James Granger turning down a very willing Cate Blanchett playing the French art curator Claire Simone in George Clooney’s World War II historical Drama The Monuments Men. You Shall Not Steal While not in the running for any Academy Awards this time around, The Monuments Men is certainly a film about theft, another Hollywood favorite. What on the surface looks to be a Word War II action film ends up being a kind of “heist movie” where one group steals and another group attempts to stop the theft and/or retrieve the stolen goods. This drops squarely in the lap of the commandment: “You shall not steal.” On one hand you have Hollywood’s perennial villains the Nazis taking their neighbor gold (sometimes in the form of gold fillings extracted from the mouths of Jewish men, women and children) and their neighbor possessions in the form of great works of art (including priceless works like The Ghent Altarpiece and Michelangelo’s The Madonna of Bruges), while on the other hand the Monuments Men seek to help their neighbors by protecting their possessions and returning works of art to their rightful owners. When it came to the great works of Art depicted in the film the Nazis were not just stealing from the Jewish people they were stealing from everyone they had under their boot. For the Nazis there was nothing dishonest about their plunder, to the rest of the world this theft was one of the horrors of war. The Monuments Men may not be burning up the box-office but it does portray the struggles inherent in keeping and upholding this commandment about theft. You Shall Not Give False Testimony Against Your Neighbor Actor  Philip Seymour Hoffman who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the 2005 film of the same name stared in the quintessential film dealing with lying. 2008’s Doubt details accusations of child abuse by a priest. The whole film has at its core the struggles that swirl around the commandment “You Shall Not Give False Testimony Against Your Neighbor.” The film is a mystery and only fully reveals its answers in the end. Hoffman plays the priest in question and he is joined by his accuser in the film Meryl Streep (who is up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her part in 2013’s August: Osage County). Doubt also features another of this year’s nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Amy Adams, who is nominated for her role in American Hustle. Where American Hustle revels in the ‘thrill’ of conning people, Doubt deals with the pain and suffering that come with unfounded allegations. With Philip Seymour Hoffman’s recent death Doubt is certainly worth a second look, especially when viewed through the lens of this ancient yet timely commandment about truth and falsehood. You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbour’s House, or Your Neighbours Wife, or His Manservant or Maidservant, His Ox or Donkey, or Anything That Belongs to Your Neighbour Hollywood has a bit of a love hate relationship with the end of the ten commandments. When it comes to “You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbour’s House, or Your Neighbours Wife, or His Manservant or Maidservant, His Ox or Donkey, or Anything That Belongs to Your Neighbour,” you can almost hear 1988’s Best Actor in a Leading Role winner Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street saying, “[G]reed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.” 2013 was a big year for greed, from Best Motion Picture of the Year nominee The Wolf of Wall Street to Best Motion Picture of the Year nominee American Hustle greed has been good, at least good for the box office. Themes of coveting pop up all over the place in the last year, it may in fact be the biggest theme of the year; from a dragon sitting on a hoard of gold in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to Gatsby in The Great Gatsby coveting another man’s wife, to a movie like last year’s Elysium where selfishness motivates almost every character. Coveting and the greed associated with it is the elephant in the room right. Largely unconsidered is that fact that the flipside of coveting is contentment. Any viewer watching a film like The Wolf of Wall needs to ask the question, “What make a person happy in life?” “what makes them content?” From time to time the 10 Commandments in film can be unevenly presented and/or difficult to fully grasp. What often gets overlooked are the virtues inherent in the commandments themselves: spiritual fidelity, humility, sanctity, honor, gentleness, marital fidelity, trustworthiness, honesty, and contentment. When the viewer sees these things displayed in an Oscar Nominated film or performance, the first thought isn’t “Hey look at that! The 10 Commandments!” Whether the negative or positive elements of the 10 Commandments jump out at you, one thing is for certain if there’s one thing Hollywood like more than conflict and drama it’s a happy or at least hopeful ending. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The problem that haunts movies that focus on sex is that bodies photograph better and more easily than souls. And because the people onscreen are strangers whom we do not love, the very act of photographing sex, no matter the intent, implies voyeurism by the artist and an invitation to voyeurism for the audience. As a result, scenes and movies that are about sex, as distinct from scenes and movies about love or about marriage, will always be dancing on the edge of pornography — and that dance either has a tendency to swallow the rest of the film or become faintly comic in its trying to avoid showing mere rutting (As Roger Ebert once wrote about one of Ken Russell’s fantasmagorias, “there is nothing quite so ridiculous as someone else’s sexual fantasies, and nothing as fascinating as our own.”). In fact, often the very best scenes in sex-drenched movies are the most surface chaste, or played for emotions other than eros or joy. Last weekend, the Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color” opened in New York and Los Angeles, with a rollout to follow in the rest of the country. Even though I haven’t seen it yet, I knew months ago from buzz/gossip from the Cote d’Azur that it contains the longest, most-graphic lesbian scene in the history of respectable movies. And I’ve heard of the subsequent criticism by the lesbian author of the graphic-novel source and of the charges of on-set brutality made by lead actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos against director Abdellatif Kechiche, and the subsequent feud by press conference. Which leaves the film with another 2 1/2 (approximately) hours to fill with … two women fully clothed, I guess (and what’d be the possible interest in that?). Similarly, as the late Stanley Kubrick’s swan song “Eyes Wide Shut” was gearing up for release back in 1999, all the speculation surrounded the film’s sexual content — did real-life married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman actually “do it” onscreen; was Cruise cross-dressing, or gay-bashed; is the ratings board gonna let the central orgy stand; are they gonna mess with it electronically? “Eyes Wide Shut” was the greatest joke ever played on pornhounds and libertines, about the necessity of repression, even for sex. As seems to be happening with “Blue,” the actual film got left behind. While sating its opening weekend curiosity, America learned to its shock that Kubrick had made a slow 160-minute dream about erotic simulacrum and about not being able to have sex outside marriage. The notorious orgy scene had breasts, butts and genitals on copious display but for all the eros felt, they might as well have been piles of melons, tripe and kielbasa carefully stacked for display in the produce section at Kroger’s. (Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang gets more charge out of the watermelons in “The Wayward Cloud” and a cabbage in “Stray Dogs” … and no, I’m not even slightly joking when I say that.) When Kubrick’s anti-eros played before 1999 audiences expecting “the sexiest movie ever,” there were widespread reports of bad laughs and boos. In an inversion of the usual bohemian script, the orgiasts were people with the most freedom and fewest inhibitions of any people in history and the result was un-erotic nausea. The few moments eros is present in the film (Kidman’s bedroom monolog, Kidman looking into the camera and Cruise’s occasional flash fantasies of her) are tied to the social convention of marriage and its soul-daemons. And then the Stanley Kubrick cheekily ended the film and his career with the f-word, followed by a cut to black. “Eyes Wide Shut” was the greatest joke ever played on pornhounds and libertines, about the necessity of repression, even for sex. We don’t believe that any more, in this enlightened era of liberation and freedom, a time which has given us a whole new genre of sex movie — the sex-addict film, of which I’ve seen four examples in the last few years (two of them still in theaters). Auto Focus None of the four are great and all, to a greater of lesser degree, stumble over the problem of the ubiquity of sex actually being the film’s subject, rather than the occasion. How does one believably portray a sin or vice without making either it too attractive or collapsing into tut-tutting moralism? Sin has to be at least somewhat attractive, otherwise how could temptation work; temptation has to be at least somewhat tempting, right? But a sex addict isn’t like, say, a bank robber or gangster. While audiences might root for James Cagney or Al Pacino (and at least in principle be inspired thereby), the very act of watching “Angels With Dirty Faces” or “The Godfather” isn’t anybody’s unmediated occasion for the sins of murder, drug-pushing, whoremastery, etc. A realistic portrayal of sex addiction, which nearly always involves consumption of imaginary images, i.e., cinema itself, is necessarily a trigger for some, including that part of the audience that “associates with” the film and is likely to especially seek it out. “Why do rock stars date supermodels,” a member of Duran Duran once was asked, and he answered “because they can.” The best of the four is the least-recent, “Auto Focus” from 2002 starring Greg Kinnear as “Hogan’s Heroes” star Bob Crane, who sank into a porn-and-whores habit that wrecked his marriage and career and, the film hypothesizes, led to his murder. Director Paul Schrader still has some of that ol’ time religion in him, but the film’s insight into Crane is that he’s largely a moral drifter, without passion or conviction, coasting through life and his career on good looks, charm and easy amiability. He wouldn’t think that playing drums in a topless bar is a great dilemma one way for good or ill — just be a good egg and go out with a bud (played by Willem Defoe: maybe a little too right as the devil figure). Crane doesn’t get any great pleasure from sexual decadence and the film offers little reverie. But he doesn’t get any great pleasure from his marriage either or apparently from acting. He was conventionally attached to marriage and temperance at the beginning of the film. When rich and famous, he floated just as easily along with the decadent zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s and into a sybaritic lifestyle on the “cuzzican” theory. “Why do rock stars date supermodels,” a member of Duran Duran once was asked, and he answered “because they can.” Shame In 2011, British director Steve McQueen, who also directed this fall’s “12 Years a Slave,” cast Michael Fassbender as a New York sexual compulsive in “Shame.” Compared to the 1970s setting of “Auto Focus,” in the present day, technological advances mean sex and porn are everywhere and one needn’t be a Hollywood star with access to special filming equipment and name recognition to get it. All you need is a modem or hotspot. McQueen, especially in his first film “Hunger” is a master of the set piece and a ferocious director of human flesh and of making bodies and things present to you, rather than mere images. This is a man so sunk in depravity, it’s all he can respond to. When Fassbender has what would be considered a normal date rather than a hookup/purchase, the woman, a co-worker played by Nicole Beharie, wants to know him and is attracted to him, but he cannot reciprocate, either emotionally and intellectually over dinner or physically in bed. Like Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris” (a far better operatic, moralistic film about sex) this is a man so sunk in depravity, it’s all he can respond to. There’s a subplot involving Fassbender’s sister, a depressive singer heroically played by Carey Mulligan despite being anemically underwritten, but “Shame” primarily follows Fassbender through a yo-yo of acting out sexually and regretting it, then expressing his regret by acting out, preferably in a manner designed to hurt himself, in body or soul. The word “yo-yo” is the hint to why  “Shame” failed as a dramatic picture for me; the actions, including a third-act death I didn’t buy for a second, are arbitrary. There is no organic dramatic reason for this moment, rather than that moment, to be (or not to be) the “hit bottom” moment or simply the latest valley to rise back from. That arbitrariness may be an accurate portrayal of addictive behavior, but it sucks as drama. I thought nearly the same thing about the Denzel Washington alcoholic-pilot film “Flight” from last year, also sometimes-superb but unsatisfying as a whole, which suggests that this is a problem with translating the ethos and worldview of the recovery movement to drama. Thanks For Sharing Which provides a nice segue to “Thanks for Sharing,” which resembles “Shame” in being about sexual compulsives — a whole group of them actually — but differs in that the Fassbender character is essentially alone and acts as such. “Thanks for Sharing” is a portrayal of a sex-addicts anonymous circle, principally five-years-sober Mark Ruffalo, longtime circle leader Tim Robbins, and two new members — Josh Gad, a serial public groper forced to come to SA as a condition of sentence, and promiscuous punk Pink. As the title suggests, “Thanks for Sharing” is basically Recovery Movement evangelism, a version of those evangelical films made to spread the Gospel, complete with scenes where the theology of Substitutionary Atonement or of the 12 Steps becomes the stuff of dramatic dialogue (I even saw it on a Sunday, and it made me feel like a Muslim at Mass). One thing “Thanks for Sharing” does do well — indeed better than “Don Jon,” the other film still hanging around in theaters about sexual addiction — is to show the ubiquity of “triggers” in ordinary modern life. The various plot threads illustrate the religion’s teachings and as with Christianity, everybody in this movie is some sort of sinner/addict, especially the ones who say they’re not and/or seem to have their lives most together. “I was attracted to an addict,” one sinner even confesses. As the talent suggests (Gwyneth Paltrow, Patrick Fugit and Joely Richardson have roles too), this is far better acted than such films, because of the makeup of Hollywood and the acting profession. Pink is surprisingly good, fully capable of holding her own in an awards-garlanded cast. While it’s the opposite of the randomness of “Shame,” “Thanks for Sharing” evangelical impulses are their own vice, making the whole thing seem predestined. “One step forward, one step back” also may be true, but if you’ve seen many movies like this, the first time you hear, for example, that Ruffalo has been sober for that long and takes care to remove TVs and computers from hotel rooms on business trips … you know this is gonna end, spectacularly. Which brings us to another unfortunate similarity “Thanks for Sharing” has with “Shame.” Both Ruffalo and Fassbender go on a bender, which the respective films present in what might be called a “montage of degradation.” With disfigured faces. The cutting rhythms are very similar, the shots getting shorter as Ruffalo’s and Fassbender’s faces get more distorted and breathless, and then shorter and shorter, and twisted and short of breath, and short of shot until … well, we’re all big boys here. And I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Fassbender is widely considered one of the sexiest actor-stars (one of the very first shots in the film leaves absolutely nothing about his body to the imagination) and that Ruffalo is by far the best-looking man in his ensemble cast. For equal opportunity, “Thanks for Sharing” does provide a good look at Gwyneth’s tight-as-a-bug’s-nostrils body prancing around in sheer and chic black underwear. Don Jon That mistake is very surprising because one thing “Thanks for Sharing” does do well — indeed better than “Don Jon,” the other film still hanging around in theaters about sexual addiction — is to show the ubiquity of “triggers” in ordinary modern life. By this I don’t mean porn at all, indeed quite the contrary — ordinary TV shows and ads, common forms of dress, posters in the street advertising legitimate products. (Frankly, if I could wave a blue wand that would eliminate all pornography but keep ordinary and general public space as it is, or wave a red wand that would return the latter to 1950s standards for propriety but keeping the porn industry as it is, I’d pick the red wand without much thought.) One of the best moments in “Don Jon,” initially titled “Don Jon’s Addiction” when it played at Sundance earlier this year, is when an ad for a fast-food fish sandwich that looks like a parody of “oversexed ad” comes up on the family TV. Writer-director-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though, says it was a real ad and it plays in the film at a time when his titular character is trying (not too hard admittedly) to limit his porn intake as a concession to a girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson) who he thinks might be The One. “Don Jon” doesn’t go as far as “Sharing” in pushing that topic, but it stands out. For 2/3 of its length in fact, “Don Jon” is quite a good film about porn addiction that ducks the language of recovery, a discourse that now, as my friend Eve Tushnet noted at Patheos apropos of “Thanks for Sharing,” seems to provide the only common language to discuss properly theological subjects like grace and redemption. Borrowing from Rousseau in the “Confessions,” Jon forthrightly says fantasy sex (porn and masturbation) is more satisfying than the real thing. And not because he has to “settle for” the fantasy: Jon has the looks and demeanor to get more-or-less any woman at the club to go to bed with him. It’s just that actual people don’t, can’t or only imperfectly fit the fantasies that his sexuality has increasingly molded itself around. It’s just that actual people don’t, can’t or only imperfectly fit the fantasies that his sexuality has increasingly molded itself around and that the highly segmented porn market, thanks to the genius of capitalism, adapts itself to pander to. In short, he’s a s**t whose soul has been reduced to gratification and objectification. But that attracts Jon to Johansson’s character, in fact, is her very inaccessibility, that she refuses to be picked up, used in a one-night stand, and forgotten a week later. After he has won her over and they’re discussing moving in, she walks in on his post-coital ritual of going to the computer for the better sex. She is properly appalled and demands that he stop using porn (which he interprets as “not use as much and not when she is around”). Unfortunately the third act goes off the rails — turning Johansson’s character into a controlling harpy, suddenly turning Jon’s mute sister (a wasted Brie Larson) into an oracle, and presenting as moral growth switching for fornicating a hot woman his own age to doing the same with a cougar who explicitly puts marriage off the table. (Da Joisey Tawk schtick of Gordon-Levitt and dad Tony Danza were an irritant throughout though.) The Damage Done So can a sex scene ever work? Obviously, as anti-eros … as the “Eyes Wide Shut” comparison suggests. Some strong scenes of erotic intimacy involve fully-clothed persons — Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the library “Atonement,” Henry Gayle Sanders and Kaycee Moore doing a slow embrace-dance while Dinah Washington sings “This Bitter Earth” in “Killer of Sheep.” I also was amused (as I rarely am) by a scene between Mel Gibson and Rene Russo in “Lethal Weapon 3,” because of the foreplay. They’re both badass cops proud of their war wounds and start showing them off, each trying to one-up the other. An inventive way to get their clothes off for what we knew had to happen from the start of the scene, it also played as a funny bit of characterization (wow, what a concept!) For years, I thought the best sex scene was one in which the couple is in bed, but don’t go through with it. In “A Man and A Woman,” as we hear heartbeats on the soundtrack, the recently widowed Anouk Aimee starts having recollections of her husband and, without excessive dramatics, asks Jean-Louis Trintignant to stop. It’s the sexualized version of the end of “Casablanca” — love sometimes means giving someone up. Then in the last decade I have seen two films that both made my Top 10 for their years with lengthy, very explicit scenes — the Israeli film “Late Marriage” and the Romanian “Tuesday, After Christmas” — in which the four actors are nude and you see all the parts eventually (though not hard core, neither film was rated; they would’ve been irredeemably rated NC-17 if they had). These two films suggest another idea — that onscreen sex works best when the takeaway is an establishment of casual intimacy over acrobatics and hotness, i.e., the audience enjoying sex for spectacle’s sake, which porn can always do better anyway. In both films, it’s the first time we see the couples together (in “Tuesday,” it’s the film’s very first scene) and it immediately establishes that these are longtime affairs. This man and this woman are totally comfortable nude around one another, joke about the mechanics of sex, and discuss topics ranging from the role of witchcraft on a woman’s body to Christmas gifts — for his family. It’s not a pickup where you’re worried about impressing or anxious to get her out of the house. And the films share that ease, the camera neither prurient nor prudish about the presence of two naked people. In “Tuesday” in fact, a la The Official Romanian Style, it’s a single shot in which the camera barely moves. Neither director strains for the best angle to assure us that that’s really the lead actor’s manhood nor goes for the “Austin Powers” effect — angles, movements and props placed to show as much flesh and as few pubic hairs as possible. The film takes the characters’ nakedness in as matter-of-fact a way as the lovers themselves do. If breasts are there in the shot, they’re there; if not, not. In “Late Marriage,” the affair is set in a Georgian Jewish culture that still practices arranged marriage, and he knows the woman, a divorcee with a child, would be unacceptable to his parents. It’s a complex and ambivalent film that, in the somewhat loserish character of the man, suggests more than the “follow your heart; arranged marriage is tyranny” template. It can just as easily (if just as oversimplistically) be read as “here’s the schmuckdom and immorality that modern mores produce.” As for “Tuesday, After Christmas,” the first scene, as good as it is and as perfect an overture as it is, isn’t even the best sequence in the most uncompromising adultery drama to be made in many a moon. That would either be a lengthy scene in which the man takes his unwitting wife and daughter to the dentist (his lover is the dentist) or the scene in which the wife confronts him with her suspicions. And is no schmuck. Or maybe the very last shot, on the titular Tuesday after Christmas — the sex has been fun, but the damage we see far greater.  Follow Victor on Twitter. ]]>
(Review Source)
John Hanlon
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
With 2013 now in the record books, this it’s now time to choose the best movies that the cinematic world had to offer last year. Yesterday, viagra dosage I compiled a list of the must-miss movies from the year , which included two films starring two-time Oscar winner... <img src="http://www.johnhanlonreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/12-Years-a-Slave-Poster-270x400.jpg" type="image/jpeg"/>
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John Hanlon
“She didn’t lose it. We did that to her.” –Peter Quinn So notes Quinn (Rupert Friend) in one of this  episode’s most heartfelt remarks. At the end of the third season’s premiere (last week’s episode), visit this Saul (Mandy... <img src="http://www.johnhanlonreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/12-Years-a-Slave-Poster-105x88.jpg" type="image/jpeg"/>
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The Federalist Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
As readers of The Federalist are no doubt aware, very few recognized movies in recent decades exhibit non-leftist themes, whether on free-market economics, moral imperatives, national security, or the evils of micromanaging authority. “Ghostbusters” comes to mind on economics. “Chariots of Fire” extols faith without cloying sentimentality. “Red Dawn” (the 1984 one, not that absurd remake) epitomizes our lives under Soviet occupation, and “Hanoi Hilton” provides a glimpse of the inhumane treatment a communist society metes out towards prisoners. “Braveheart” exemplifies Scottish struggle against thirteenth-century England’s tyranny. However, science fiction, the purveyor of future dreams, is largely a wasteland, with execrable fare such as “Avatar” and “Elysium.” No, “Apollo 13” doesn’t count. The dystopian Hunger Games series represents something of an exception, in that although critical theory socialists admire its portrayal of class divisions, non-leftists appreciate its acknowledgement that government enforces the misery of ordinary people, not the market, which in fact supplied the token “Mockingjay” pin Katniss Everdeen wears. Despite fans’ fondness for bold adventure in the original Star Trek television series, the movies lack much galvanizing purpose, as explained at length by Timothy Sandefur in The Federalist and Claremont Review, with the singular exception of “First Contact.” Hiding on the Edge of Civilization Nonetheless, sci-fi lacks a “leave me alone” epic tale, except for “Serenity,” a 2005 space western written and directed by Joss Whedon that continued from the short-lived “Firefly” television series in 2002 and featured the same cast. Set in the twenty-sixth century, Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion, currently the main character in the television series “Castle”) retired from the battlefield after having fought with the disbanded “browncoats” Independent side that lost against the Alliance. The Alliance is a domineering and paranoid hyperactive polity run by a central authority called Parliament that suffocates all in its embrace. The Alliance is a domineering and paranoid hyperactive polity run by a central authority called Parliament. In the “Firefly” series, Mal tries to avoid the Alliance, and to that end purchased a Firefly-class cargo spaceship with which to earn his keep by freight transport, as well as scavenging and smuggling. He names his ship “Serenity,” after the valley of the browncoats’ surrender. Fugitive passengers and a fractious crew join his struggles, while sharing neither his aspirations nor his decisions. The movie continues in this vein with a twist. The Alliance sets its sights on eliminating passenger River Tam (Summer Glau) as a security threat for her supposed clandestine knowledge. The Alliance assigns an assassin (Chiwetal Ejifor, best known for his starring role as Solomon Northup in “12 Years a Slave”) to search for her. The Operative, as he is known, eventually triggers River to alert him to her presence, and while tracking her down causes widespread and tragic whack-a-mole destruction. At last, Mal seeks refuge by retreating to a derelict planet called Miranda, but his ship must cross a no-man’s-land of Reavers who infest a region of space noted for mayhem and cannibalism. Once there, the Serenity crew encounters a recording that explains the demise of all the inhabitants: they stopped caring and died until the Reavers butchered the remaining few. To pacify the population, the residents had been administered G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate, an aerosol tranquilizer nicknamed “Pax.” Its effect eliminated motivation from the people on the planet, except for a minor remnant that became hyper-aggressive. These became the Reavers that prowl at the edge of civilization. Parliament had suppressed this information about Miranda’s mass carnage and, realizing River might remember that, also decided to kill her to prevent the public from discovering this secret. ‘I Aim to Misbehave’ At this stage, Mal delivers his “St Crispin’s Day” speech to the crew: “Sure as I know anything, I know this: they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.” ‘They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that.’ With that, they re-cross Reaver space and goad the Operative’s fleet to attack Mal’s Firefly, while followed by a hornet’s nest of Reavers. The respective ship formations are cringe-worthy from an orbital mechanics perspective, but ignoring that and other physics deficiencies, the plucky team manages to hold off the Reavers and broadcast the Miranda secret. In an act of mercy or acknowledged futility, the Operative ultimately decides to refurbish the damaged Firefly ship and send the surviving members on their way. Okay, cute. But, how can “Serenity” spawn libertarian or conservative precepts when the director is a Hollywood liberal and Obama donor? Well, inspiring principles need not originate solely from the righteous. Recall Luke 9:49-50 (and Mark 9:38-39), when the disciples asked Jesus to tattletale on an interloper who was casting out demons. The master chastises them, saying, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” We take our occasional allies wherever they come. The Evils of Do-Gooderism The social impulse to “make people… better” affects do-gooders across the political spectrum, albeit to different degrees and regarding sundry human traits. We are social creatures, and conformity develops cohesiveness, especially in times of adversity. Traditionalists in close-knit cultures enforce moral imperatives through community censure, both to constrain iconoclast expressions and propitiate the accepted deities their society worships. These ‘you didn’t build that’ redistributors neglect to consider or worse refuse to realize that severing incentives from reward leads ultimately to mass starvation. Social-justice advocates seek an economic order that permits everyone to prosper, but at the expense of the productive members—especially entrepreneurs, who accept a disproportionate level of risk. These “you didn’t build that” redistributors neglect to consider or worse refuse to realize that severing incentives from reward leads ultimately to mass starvation, as eventually one runs out of other people’s money, as a well-known British prime minister observed. The entomologist E. O. Wilson quipped about Marxism, “wonderful theory, wrong species.” Striking a balance between “live-and-let-live” and enforcing proper behavior continues to be a struggle in the modern age. On the tenth anniversary of its release by Universal in September 2005, “Serenity” reminds us to temper our impulse for enveloping others under suffocating control. That also goes for the Alliance-mimicking centripetalists, who dominate the media, arts, courts, universities, bureaucracies, and so much in between. They ought to watch that film also. One day, progressives too may find themselves with diminished license for pressuring others about what to do and how to think. Then perhaps they will recall the Roman warning to conquerors parading in a triumph: sic transit gloria mundi, thus worldly glory is fleeting. Even if we have to wait five centuries or so. ]]>
(Review Source)
Michael Medved
http://www.michaelmedved.com/wp-content/uploads/12-YEARS-A-SLAVE.mp3
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Plugged In
Drama We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewIn her book Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America, Carol Wilson writes, "The kidnapping of free blacks into slavery in pre-Civil War America has been a topic frequently noted by scholars but not examined in any detail. … [But] the kidnapping of free blacks for sale as slaves was an all-too-common occurrence in the United States during the decades between the Revolution and the Civil War." 12 Years a Slave, based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, tells the violently tragic, but ultimately redemptive, tale of one such kidnapping victim. It's 1841, and Solomon Northup kisses his wife, Anne, and two children, Margaret and Alonzo, goodbye for what they think will be a three-week separation. The well-educated violin player, living in Saratoga, N.Y., is then introduced to two men bearing a lucrative offer. Hamilton and Brown work with a circus in Washington, D.C., whose performers are in need of a violin player. The pair offers to pay Solomon handsomely for two weeks of work, and Solomon agrees. But after they pay him, they drug and abduct him. One minute he's enjoying dinner with Hamilton and Brown. The next, he comes to in shackles, where he receives the first of many beatings. Soon he's dumped into a paddleboat … headed south. Away from freedom. Away from dignity. Away from his family. Toward 12 years of slavery.Positive ElementsEn route to the cotton and sugar cane plantations in Louisiana, Solomon quickly realizes that pleading his status as a free man will only result in beatings. He also realizes that resisting is likely to end in death. So Solomon steels himself against his fate, determined to resist despair, to maintain hope, to return to his family again. Solomon befriends a mother of two named Eliza. And the pair is purchased by a plantation owner named William Ford, a man who, though kind in some ways, refuses to purchase Eliza's two children. Solomon tries to comfort Eliza in her grief and give her reason to not give up. (It's a repeated theme, as you can already see.) But there are very, very, very few consolations in what they now face. Never mind that Ford is more generous than many of his peers, even giving Solomon a violin at one point. The reality of their oppressive reality is one of grim violence, dreadful pain, rape and death. The positives in that morass of immorality and inhumanity? Again, that Solomon always looks for a way through, a way to keep living, a way to find his family. And that moviegoers are assailed with the superlative wrongness of treating human beings like animals. Worse than animals. At another plantation, Solomon meets another young woman, named Patsey. He becomes a father figure to her, and works hard to keep her alive (and help her want to stay alive). When she begs him to put an end to her severe suffering (more on that in "Spiritual Content"), he just can't bring himself to help her kill herself. Eventually Solomon meets a Canadian carpenter, a white man named Bass who's outspoken in his criticism of slavery. For example, when Epps offers Bass a drink and comments that he must be thirsty, Bass counters that he should be more concerned with the condition of his slaves. Bass tells Epps he believes that all men are the same in the eyes of God. He rejects the commonly held notion that blacks are brute beasts, saying, "It is a fact—a plain and simple fact—that what is true is true and right, white or black alike." Solomon tells Bass his story, and the man agrees to get in touch with Solomon's friends and family up north—which he actually does, at great risk to himself. Why? In part, he says to Solomon, "My life doesn't mean much to anyone. It seems yours might mean a lot to a lot of people."Spiritual ContentSlaves sing spirituals as they work. And at a funeral they sing "Roll, Jordan, Roll," which rejoices, "My soul arise in heaven, Lord, For to hear when Jordan roll." A man concludes his prayer for the deceased, "God love him. God bless him. God keep him." William Ford reads Scripture to slaves at a weekly church service. And it's Ford's faith that prompts his less harsh treatment of his slaves—even though he remains a slave owner and he employs overseers who are not even close to kind. (After Ford's men try to hang Solomon, Ford cuts him down and brings him into his house.) Epps quotes Scripture too, taking Luke 12 out of context and threatening slaves that if they fail to do their master's will, they "shall be beaten with many stripes." But his "faith," in contrast to Ford's, is more superstition than true Christianity. An example: After Solomon and a group of other slaves are purchased by Epps, his cotton harvest dips badly. Epps describes it as a "biblical plague" and attributes it to the new slaves. So he sends them to work for another plantation owner until his crops recover. Bass, meanwhile, labels slavery "unrighteous" and says that there's no justice in it. He insists that there will be a day of reckoning for slave owners. Another white man (a former overseer) says that torturing slaves wears down one's soul over time. "No man of conscience can take the lash to another human being, day in and day out, without being shredded," he says. And an older black woman says, "The curse of the pharaohs [is nothing] compared to what awaits the plantation class." Patsey mentions taking a walk to "commune with the Lord." When she's brutally whipped, she repeatedly cries out, "Oh Lord." Solomon dares to tell Epps that he'll face eternal justice for the sin of whipping Patsey; Epps replies that it's not a sin because Patsey is his property. He claims that God has given him Patsey as "the blessing and reward of righteous living." Epps' wife, Mary, has another perspective entirely, saying that Epps' sexual abuse of Patsey is "unholy." When Patsey begs Solomon to drown her, Solomon is horrified, saying, "Why would you consign me to the damned with such an ungodly request?" Patsey replies, "God is merciful, and He forgives merciful acts."Sexual ContentEpps rapes Patsey, an assault that's suggested to be habitual. We see explicit sexual movements from the waist up. Patsey is coercively compliant and unresponsive, knowing that resistance would result in beatings and/or death. When she stops breathing during the rape, Epps slaps her face, apparently to ensure that she's still alive. An older black woman tells a younger slave that she learned early on that enduring a slave owner's abusive sexual advances was a much better fate than being regularly whipped. Two scenes show slaves bathing with buckets of water and rags. We see male and female bare backsides, as well as women's breasts. At a slave market, several are lined up naked for inspection. We see nude male torsos from the midsection up and full-frontal female nudity. In a crowded room used for sleeping, Solomon rolls over to see a woman staring at him. She grabs his hand and places it on her breast—though Solomon (who is married) seems at first reluctant to comply. What follows are explicit motions and moans from her that imply much more sexual contact. Afterward, she cries, and Solomon looks pained. Her actions suggest how desperate she is for any tenderness and human contact; her crying indicates she knows it isn't right. Solomon and his wife are shown in bed together, clothed; they kiss.Recommended ResourceA Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About SexKevin LemanEven the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.Buy NowViolent ContentEpps orders Patsey to be stripped naked, tied to a post and whipped after she goes to another plantation to get some soap to wash herself. And the man he orders to whip her is Solomon. Solomon does land the awful instrument on her back about a dozen times. (We see her face and Solomon behind her.) But Epps isn't satisfied with how hard Solomon is punishing her, saying, "Strike her until flesh is rent and meat and blood flow." He puts a gun to Solomon's head and says he'll start killing other slaves if Solomon doesn't comply. Solomon whips her eight more times, harder, before the enraged Epps grabs the whip himself. Blood sprays from her back with each of his lashings, at least 20 more of them. We see the last few blows land (as well as her bare backside and breasts) as he nearly kills Patsey. Afterward, other slaves tend to Patsey's unimaginably injured back. Every day, Epps' men weigh the cotton his slaves have picked. Those who don't pick as much as the day before are whipped (which happens to Solomon at least twice). Solomon is also beaten severely with fists and a whip, which flays his back open. Solomon gets into a fistfight with Ford's man Tibeats. The overseer responds by trying to hang Solomon. Another man stops the hanging—sort of. He keeps Solomon from dying, but lets him dangle from the noose with his toes barely touching the ground for the rest of the day. For perhaps three or four very long movie minutes, Solomon hangs, choking, gagging and spitting, on the edge of suffocation. In a separate scene, Solomon comes across men in the act of hanging two slaves in the woods. A slave who tries to stop a rape is stabbed and killed. Epps' wife cruelly scratches and scars Patsey's face with her fingernails, as well as throwing a glass bottle at her head. Patsey is shown with one eye completely red and bloody, and it's clear she's been hit by either Epps or his wife. Epps puts a knife threateningly to Solomon's chest. An overseer repeatedly kicks a slave who collapses in the field, dying.Crude or Profane LanguageGod's name is misused a half-dozen or more times, four times paired with "d‑‑n." We hear seven or eight uses of "d‑‑n," three or four of "b‑‑tard" and one or two of "b‑‑ch."Drug and Alcohol ContentSolomon drinks several glasses of wine at a restaurant with Hamilton and Brown. It's implied that the wine is spiked with a drug that knocks him out. Epps is increasingly dependent upon alcohol. He drinks from a steel flask during the day and is repeatedly intoxicated. He hires a white worker who admits to having a whiskey addiction.Other Negative ElementsFord's wife grows weary of Eliza's continued mourning for her children. She cruelly tells the slave, "Your children will soon be forgotten." And when Solomon tries to plead his case to Ford, saying, "Master Ford, you must know that I'm a free man," the man replies, "I cannot hear that"—in part because he still owes money for Solomon.ConclusionEvery so often, a film arrives that aspires to be much more than just mere entertainment. I'm talking about stories that utterly transfix our attention as they force us to confront some of the most brutal—and yet most important—moments in our shared human history. Steven Spielberg's films Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan accomplished that. So did Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Lee Daniels' Precious. And now Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave does too. It delivers a riveting, shocking and heartbreaking glimpse into the practices of slavery in pre-Civil War America, giving viewers a documentary-like perspective while gazing unblinkingly at scenes of unthinkable brutality and inhumanity one moment, desperate hope and incredible tenderness the next. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Glieberman writes, "12 Years a Slave lets us stare at the primal sin of America with open eyes, and at moments it is hard to watch, yet it's a movie of such humanity and grace that at every moment, you feel you're seeing something essential." There's no question that this is one of the most searingly intense portraits of slavery ever committed to film, and that it exercises the brutality seen onscreen to bludgeon slavery's grim, cruel and conscience-less degradation. It's certainly worthy of the critical plaudits it's receiving. But I'd strongly suggest that this film, as important as its subject matter is, is equally worthy of careful and critical consideration regarding whether or not exposure to such violent and sexual images of degradation is necessary (or profitable) to understand how horrific such things were … and still are even in our modern world.Pro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
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Plugged In
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The story of Judah Ben-Hur has been one of the culture’s most popular, most powerful stories for more than a century now, and Jesus has always been at the center of it. Earlier this summer, I wrote a blog about the 1880 book Ben-Hur: The Tale of the Christ, discussing the faith journey of author Lew Wallace. It’s such a powerful tale that Focus on the Family Radio Theatre even created its very own top-notch production of the story. But most of us are probably most familiar with the 1959 movie starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd and the most exciting chariot race in cinematic history. Now there’s a new version of this timeless story charging into theaters this Friday—one crafted by executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. In Los Angeles, I (along with about 10 other “press” people) had a chance to sit down with Burnett and Downey, both committed Christians, and talk with them about the project, and why they’d want to remake a movie that’d already won 11 Oscars. [Note: When I asked a question or made a statement, my name is included. All other questions came from others in the room and are simply designated with a “Q”. Some editing of the original transcript was done for readability and brevity.] *** Q: It’s almost unimaginable how [some of the movie’s characters could forgive] at the end [of the movie]. Can you tie in that message of forgiveness of Christ and of the film? Downey: At our production company, Lightworkers Media, we have a mantra that it’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.  And it’s something that we have been committed to doing in the content that we create. I think that this film at this time hopefully can offer some kind of balm for the hurting world that we live in. …We’re just movie makers. This film comes to an audience as an action adventure movie and it doesn’t disappoint on that, but it holds within it more important, deeper themes of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of loving, of mercy. And the best we can hope is that these themes will touch and open hearts. Burnett: Obviously the faith audience will connect [with] why the forgiveness happened. [The] secular audience will connect [too because] Jesus, in the way [the scene] was shot, was speaking directly to Judah. I bet you many people that day at the crucifixion thought [Jesus] was speaking to them. And in fact He was. Then there’s also a supernatural element—a mystery that none of us actually understands—where things just happen. Sometimes you’ll be in a church setting or a movie or a meeting, and that the spring of the Holy Spirit within you can bubble up, flow through you into others. [You] just gotta make sure you don’t feel like you deserve the credit or it’s because of you it happened. It’s just passing through you. Q: Do you feel that since you’ve made The Bible [miniseries for the History Channel] and now you’ve made these other [biblical] projects, do you feel like something is coming through you? Burnett: I feel all different kinds of things at times. It’s very easy to feel proud of doing or to feel important for doing it. I bet you all the famous pastors sometimes feel that way or cardinals or the Pope feel that way, because we’re humans and we’re weak. Waliszewski: When people ask why remake a film that is so well known—like Charlton Heston’s 1959 classic with its 11 academy awards—what do you say? Downey: We say it’s such a great story and  it’s a story that needs to be seen, heard, and felt by a whole new generation of moviegoers. With all respect to the 1959 movie, it’s just so long ago. Waliszewski: And it’s so long. Downey: And so long. That’s right. Waliszewski: Three hours and 43 minutes. Downey: That’s right.  Our film is significantly shorter. It’s a really great story and we loved working on this screenplay with John Ridley, who of course won the Oscar for 12 Years a Slave.  I think it’s been retold in a way that is both exciting and profoundly touching. When you can for 2016 create [Ben-Hur] in 3-D as a new experience—[bringing on an] Oscar-winning special-effects team to create this amazing CGI as evidenced by the battle scene, the naval battle scene and of course the chariot race—it’s just breathtaking. You will inhale at the beginning when that kerchief drops and those horses come hurdling down that track and you will not exhale till that race is over. I think it over delivers in those scenes. Q: Again, comparing this film to the previous film, what do you think that you guys actually did better in this film? Burnett:  I don’t necessarily think it’s better or worse.  It’s just different. The book is great and the book’s from the 1800s. … I bet you a lot of people will actually want to read the book because of the movie. It’s really strange [how it works.] People write a book.  It becomes a play.  It becomes a movie and another movie and then people rediscover the book.  Not many things are like that. I bet you Shakespeare is a little like that.  The Bible certainly is.  We know millions of people rediscovered the Bible or discovered the Bible because of The Bible [TV] series. And to come back to your question about why remake Ben-Hur: If you stop to analyze the wisdom of it, you would not do it. You wouldn’t. There’s times where you just jump in. …Why would the chairman of MGM, Gary Barber, come to us and say, “We’re the studio that owns Ben-Hur.  We’re gonna redo Ben-Hur.  We’d like you guys to come on as producers on this movie.” The big-baby approach would be, “Whoa, no way!  That could go wrong. That could not end well for us.” And [we could] chart a very safe course. Or you [could] have a little recklessness. …When you get too safe and comfortable, then you probably don’t need to lean on God as much in your own mind. Downey: I think there was a boldness in doing this. We approached it prayerfully—a constant prayer [for us] is Less of me, more of you.  And we try to get out of the way and so that when the Spirit moves, we listen. It’s in every stage of this we just prayed it in and we called in prayers from the community, particularly for the big scenes. Particularly for the crucifixion, which, you know, is a difficult scene to film physically, emotionally, spiritually. And that morning we went up to that hillside with the prayers and support of so many in our community and so we prayed into the fiber of the film that the story that that moment when his heart is touched that people’s hearts will be touched.  That the movie will be seen not just in America but globally, and that there may be an opportunity for people to experience some of the grace and the transformation of his heart that Judah feels, or that Messala feels or that Ilderim feels. … It’s in our broken places often that the light comes in. *** Ben-Hur lands in theaters this Friday. And if you’d like a little taste of the story of Ben-Hur—courtesy our very own Focus on the Family Radio Theatre—click here. ]]>
(Review Source)
Plugged In
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were rolled out early this morning. And for the next several days, the entertainment world will be wholly reactionary. Who got in? Who didn’t? Who got snubbed? Meryl Streep again?! We at Plugged In will be thinking and talking about the Oscars over the next month, too. But for now, here are some quick snapshot reactions. Family Friendly? Not Quite. But: Oscar loves its edgy, adult fare. Typically, the derby for Best Picture is dominated by R-rated movies. But this year, for the first time since 2012, PG and PG-13 films outnumber them. Hidden Figures is rated PG. Arrival, Fences, La La Land and Lion are all PG-13, joining the R-rated Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight. And it’s not just the MPAA ratings that make this crop of nominees encouraging. For the last couple of years, the most honored films have been rather grim. Last year, Spotlight (about the Catholic clergy sex-abuse scandal) and The Revenant (about a guy who was mauled by a bear) duked it out for Best Picture honors (Spotlight won, but both took home plenty of statues). The year before, the dark dramedy Birdman was the buzz of Tinseltown. The year before that? Well, no one’s going to mistake 12 Years a Slave for a fun crowd-pleaser. But this year, the light-but-layered musical confection La La Land leads all contenders. Indeed, its 14 nominations tie Titanic and All About Eve for the most noms ever. Down the ballot, Lion gives us a gripping, emotional and ultimately heartwarming story about a man’s search to find his birth mother after being accidentally separated from her 20 years before. Hidden Figures is a rousing inspirational flick, shining a spotlight on three unsung heroes of the U.S.’s early space program and illustrating how excellence and integrity can combat institutional racism. And if you read our reviews of even the R-rated films up for honors, you’ll find that they, too, have their merits. For instance, Hacksaw Ridge—Mel Gibson’s admittedly bloody return to directorial relevance—is a hard movie to watch, but its hero is a man of faith who, despite refusing to carry a gun in World War II, wins the Medal of Honor. No More #OscarsSoWhite: For two years running, the Academy has come under fire for honoring solely white nominees in its acting categories. Not so this year. Ruth Negga’s understated powerhouse performance in Loving propelled her to a well-deserved Best Actress nomination. Denzel Washington, always a perennial contender, scored his seventh Oscar nom for Fences. (He’s won twice, for Glory and Training Day). Heavy favorite Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) joins Dev Patel (Lion), a British actor of Indian descent, in the Best Supporting Actor category. A trio of African-American women are up for Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for Fences, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures and Naomie Harris for Moonlight. Oh, and here’s a little bit of trivia for you: Davis, who gave I think the performance of the year in Fences, became the first black actress to score three Oscar noms. Perhaps this is the year she’ll win one. No Pixar? If the acting nominees were fairly diverse, the same could be said in the animated feature category. Disney subsidiary Pixar has long dominated this category whenever it’s had a major film in contention, and make no mistake: Finding Dory was a major film, earning more than $1 billion worldwide. But it was shut out of Oscar’s animation derby. Instead, two films from Disney proper—Zootopia and Moana—joined Focus Features’ Kubo and the Two Strings, the dreamy Japanese fable The Red Turtle (a film completely without dialogue) and the French-made My Life as a Zucchini. I’ve argued for years that animated films are as good as they’ve ever been. And while I still say that Pixar sets the standard by which all others are judged, perhaps this is a sign that the rest of the entertainment world has caught up to the studio. Academy Voters and Film Fans Still Don’t Live in the Same Universe. Sure, some big-budget blockbusters snagged technical kudos from the Academy this year. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the year’s biggest movie, was nominated for two awards, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Doctor Strange and even Suicide Squad scored a technical category nom or two. But when it comes to Oscar’s biggest categories, you’ll not see a blockbuster in the running at all. Arrival, a clever science fiction tale starring Amy Adams, is as close as it comes among Best Picture honorees, earning $95.7 million during its run thus far. La La Land is next with $89.8 mil. While these films will surely see their grosses grow in the wake of the nominations, this year’s Oscars won’t go down as an example of cinematic populism. ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
david oyelowodenzel washingtondiversitylupita nyong'oMoviesnate parkeroscarsoscars 2016oscars 2017will smith “Oops.” “Nevermind.” “Sorry we brought this up.” “We were wrong.” Surely that’s what last year’s Oscar protesters will be saying next winter, because it looks like last year’s Oscar blackout was an anomaly. Next year, by all appearances, will be the year of #OscarsSoDiverse. After last week’s Toronto Film Festival, many films about black life have emerged as serious Oscar contenders. “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age story about a young black boy in Miami struggling with his sexual identity, was hailed as a triumph that could win nominations and awards, maybe even the Best Picture Oscar. Footage from “Hidden Figures,” a feel-good movie about black women working at NASA in the 1960s that has been called “The Help” meets “The Right Stuff” and stars Taraji P. Henson and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, also earned raves. So did “Loving,” another fact-based historical drama, this one about the 1958 case of Mariel and Richard Loving (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton) that resulted in the Supreme Court finally backing interracial marriage. As did “A United Kingdom,” in which David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike play a prince from Botswana and a British typist who fall in love in 1947. “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o is being touted for another Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in “Queen of Katwe,” about a Ugandan chess champ. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington is starring in and directing “Fences,” which hasn’t been screened yet but is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning August Wilson play and is expected to be a strong awards contender when it’s released in December. And then there’s “The Birth of a Nation.” It’s a highly acclaimed film about the Nat Turner-led slave uprising in 1831 Virginia that way back in January sparked Oscar buzz at the Sundance Film Festival for its star, co-writer and director Nate Parker, although subsequent revelations that Parker had been tried and acquitted in a 1999 college sexual-assault case brought by a woman who later committed suicide have dampened enthusiasm for the picture. Oscar voters are being reminded that other artists with morally dubious records have won awards and the film earned standing ovations at the Toronto Film Festival, where attendees were well aware of the news about Parker’s past. SEE ALSO No, George Clooney, the Oscars aren’t racist George Clooney is absolutely right: The Oscars don’t look like... So, next year’s Oscar slate could include as many as five or six or seven films with black protagonists, all of which were in development long before last winter’s outcry. So what was all that fuss about in January, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences engaged in a public ritual of self-flagellation over the lack of black nominees? The social-media protests left the academy scrambling to institute a huge affirmative-action program, extending invitations to hundreds of members of minority groups, including some who seemingly have had little impact on the motion-picture industry (America Ferrara? Really?). The program is boosting minority representation in the AMPAS from 8 percent to 11 percent in one year. Chris Rock delivered a hilarious opening monologue as host of the 88th Oscars, saying “Why this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards. Which means this whole ­no-black-nominees thing has happened at least ­71 other times.”EPAYet all last year’s Oscar slate proved was the existence of statistical noise. In a country in which blacks are about 13 percent of the population, it isn’t surprising that the number of black nominees for acting prizes might sometimes be zero (as it was last year) and sometimes be five (as it was in 2004). Blacks are statistically over-represented in some categories (four of the last 10 Best Supporting Actress winners) and under-represented in others (only one Best Actress winner ever). Overall, things pretty much even out, at least lately: if you look at the last 15 years, 10 percent of acting nominees have been black, or almost exactly the same representation as you’d expect (blacks composed 12 to 13 percent of the US population in that period). Besides, why would the same group of people — Oscar voters — have suddenly turned racist between 2013 and 2015? In 2013, black artists won Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and the Oscar for Best Picture for “12 Years a Slave.” ‘Hollywood has never been more interested in telling stories about blacks than it is right now.’ Last year was simply not a particularly strong one for black cinema. Activists complained that Will Smith wasn’t nominated, but his film “Concussion” was a critical and commercial flop. “Straight Outta Compton” was expected by some to get a Best Picture nomination, but that film was made more for entertainment than art. “Beasts of No Nation”? A brutal, hard-to-watch film about African civil wars that grossed a paltry $91,000. The seventh “Rocky” movie “Creed” also had many admirers, but sequels rarely get Best Picture nominations (seven in the entire history of the Oscars). No fifth, sixth or seventh installment of any franchise has ever gotten a Best Picture nomination. Maybe the #OscarsSoWhite campaign made the Academy take a good hard look at itself, and maybe that’s a good thing. There still aren’t many black (or female) directors. But the protesters missed what was happening right under their noses: Hollywood has never been more interested in telling stories about blacks than it is right now. Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogleFacebook MessengerWhatsAppEmailCopy ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
In a sense, Hollywood is facing its first-ever real scandal. What’s going on now has made the movie industry do something it perhaps has never done before: feel deeply ashamed about itself. A famously self-confident, indeed smug, institution is questioning its basic norms. Of previous industry scandals there have been many, but Hollywood itself didn’t take any of them particularly seriously. The Roman Polanski scandal? Hey, it was just sex. Oh, it was sex with an underage girl who had been drugged past the point where she could give meaningful consent? Well, it was the ’70s. Anyway, the girl forgave him.
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Armond White
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Filmmaker Charles Burnett was awarded a career-achievement Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this past weekend. Who’s Burnett? That fair question is part of the Oscars’ ongoing problem, but it’s also part of film culture’s ongoing political crisis. Burnett is an honorable filmmaker whose movies fill the gap left by the racial exclusion of Hollywood studios that refuse to depict black American lives to any regular, authentic, or imaginative degree. But honoring him does not redeem the Academy’s current lack of popularity or relevance. Few people have seen Burnett’s best-known films: Killer of Sheep (1976), which was inducted
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