VJ Morton
(”Let the Sunshine In” is briefly mentioned in this.)

All the 2018 US-release films I've seen, from best to worst. Only films that have currently been released are here; films I've seen at fests will be added when released.

  1. Let the Corpses Tan
  2. Leave No Trace
  3. Ben Is Back
  4. Madeline's Madeline
  5. Roma
  6. Infinite Football
  7. This Is Our Land
  8. The House That Jack Built
  9. Arizona
  10. Lean on Pete

...plus 90 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

(Review Source)
VJ Morton
Let the Sunshine In

★★★½ Watched 08 Oct, 2017

LET THE SUNSHINE IN (Denis, France, 2017, 7)

Yeah, I don’t believe it either. For the first time I can recall, Denis displays a sense of humor, and for maybe only the second time, she has a coherent narrative with more events than ellipses — and those extras are like carbonation that turns heavy sickly syrup into a refreshing soda, albeit in this case a pungent one. Leaving the theater with Steve, I actually compared this film to THE RULES… more

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(Review Source)
VJ Morton

Between this and THE BATTLE OF SAN PIETRO, John Huston may be the most "cynical" documentarian of the war era. It all ends well, of course, and some of the therapeutic-security-in-utero talk inevitably rubs me wrong. But the raw footage of some of these shell-shocked troops reliving their war experiences is too powerful and harrowing (and you get why the Army thought it might be embarrassing) is something you'll never forget, like scenes in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Only this is real.

(Review Source)
Plugged In
(”Let There Be Light” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Once upon on a time way back in the last millennium, actor Kevin Sorbo visited many a living room weekly via his popular action-adventure series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. These days, though, he’s often in movies that focus on another kind of adventure—a spiritual one. Sorbo’s latest faith-based film, Let There Be Light, lands in […]

The post A Conversation With Kevin Sorbo appeared first on Plugged In Blog.

(Review Source)
Christian Toto
let-there-be-light-review

Faith based indie films may have noble intentions, but they can be stiff in places where it matters most.

A clunky laugh line here. An ill-advised supporting turn there.

Not

The post Here’s How ‘Let There Be Light’ Shames Studio Dramas appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The biopic Tolkien is worth seeking out if your idea of a magical realm of yore is Edwardian England.
(Review Source)
Society Reviews
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Savage (Xue Boao) intense storytelling and stylish camera work delivers a film that accomplishes more than most Chinese big budget films.
(Review Source)
Mark Steyn
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Die Hard with a Vengeance ('15', selected cinemas) Could try harder Mark Steyn Movies have been around 100 years now, and, as with the State Opening of Par- liament, they've developed their own time- honoured conventions, as quaintly perplexing to the modern world as Black Rod or the Cap of Maintenance. For exam- ple, Die Hard with a Vengeance is a cop thriller, so naturally there's a moment when
(Review Source)
Mark Steyn
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Asked about the difference between American and British comedy, Eric Morecambe replied that in America they had funny lines but no funny men. I sort of know what he means: A funny man is someone an audience is happy to hang out with even when the funny
(Review Source)
Mark Steyn
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Enemy at the Gates (15, selected cinemas) Stalking in Stalingrad Mark Steyn The old-time Hollywood execs would have identified the problem easily enough: Nazis vs Commies — who cares? The riposte, of course, is that, set against the thrilling backdrop of the siege of Stalingrad, this is a gripping cat-and-mouse tale of two snipers stalking each other and so drawing us into their primal struggle
(Review Source)
VJ Morton
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
gibsonbraveheart.jpg

A good piece in the Village Voice (really)

Thanks, Phil (are you part of an Experiment by the way?) for pointing me to a piece by Jessica Winter on Mel Gibson’s filmography. As you said in the comment field, it’s kinda dumb when discussing THE PASSION OF CHRIST or religion as such. I had to grit my teeth through the nonsense phrase “fundamentalist Catholic” and the imputation of anti-Semitism on the “Traditionalist Catholic” movement (to which the relationship of Gibson himself, rather than his father, is not crystal-clear in any event. Certainly Mel has said some interesting things, but to my knowledge, he’s never publicly declared himself a Sedevacantist, called the Second Vatican Council invalid, or even spoken of his religious beliefs in detail at all).

But when Winter cuts the crap and gets down to discussing Gibson’s movies, she is quite intriguing. If it hadn’t been for SIGNS or BRAVEHEART, I would have been inclined to pooh-pooh the theory of Mel as Christ figure. After all, Jesus is only the most influential figure in Western history. The kinds of images of Christ that Winter analogizes to moments in Gibson’s filmography have centuries of Western iconography or language (“crucified” can now mean just “persecuted unjustly”) behind them, and moviemakers of every variety have drawn on various pieces of them to illustrate images of suffering or “holiness” (first example to pop into my head: Oliver Stone’s PLATOON). And to her credit, Winter recognizes that — there’s a tradition behind whatever gore will be in THE PASSION OF CHRIST that the LETHAL WEAPON movies don’t. But the very lack of context would push me toward the conclusion that it was just writers, directors and actors just using a quickly-available concept without thinking it through (like the superfluous “Death of Marat” shot in ROAD TO PERDITION).

But those two films do make it seem like Gibson’s been leading toward this. I liked SIGNS quite a bit (and a film about a priest regaining his faith fits my own life’s trajectory as a revert), though I preferred it more as a straightforward creepy Twilight Zone episode rather than as Christian theology. It’s pretty threadbare on those latter terms, basically a God of the Gaps. Nothing in SIGNS committed the film to any conception of metaphysical truth. But viewing it as religious psychology, as Winter does, makes it more about how “a man who’s lost his faith in God is as a petulant child who hasn’t gotten his way.”

The execution of Wallace in BRAVEHEART referenced the Crucifixion 100 ways to Sunday. Check out the first picture on the Voice article, which is as clear a Crucifixion reference as it gets, in contrast to say, the pictures from LETHAL WEAPON (which looks like an S&M club), from MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (which looks more like a Hindu or Muslim funeral, than a Christian or Jewish one), or from PAYBACK (a reference to RAGING BULL or 1,001 other boxing movies). People who have seen THE PASSION OF CHRIST said the violence reminded them of BRAVEHEART, and certainly secular nationalisms, Scottish or otherwise, have tended to try to latch onto a martyr figure. When I was learning Scottish history as a boy, though, Robert the Bruce and his final victory at Bannockburn got a lot more press time than William Wallace and the defeat at Falkirk; Wallace’s execution was mentioned, but not gone into detail, though I was only a wee lad at the time. In other words, Gibson was pouring Scottish history into a Christian template with Wallace as Jesus.

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November 10, 2003 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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(Review Source)
VJ Morton
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Liberalism as product placement

(Putting on my best Anne Robinson voice…)

Reese Witherspoon’s ensemble isn’t the only thing “pink” about LEGALLY BLONDE 2.

Actually, that’s a gross exaggeration. LEGALLY BLONDE 2 is a not politically radical at all (or even politically very deep, more anon), but that’s what makes it annoying. It’s just a not-very-successful retread of a concept that was a delightful comic gem when it was fresh a couple of years ago — innocently cartoonish kewpie doll shows how smart and effectual she really is when Harvard/Washington look down their noses at her. The half-life of this formula is pretty short — and BLONDE 2 lost two-year’s worth of energy and originality. Everything (with one exception) is a rehash. A genuinely great scene of Witherspoon’s innocently-truthful video application to Harvard Law gets put through the motions here as a Power Point presentation on the life of her pet chihuahua Bruiser that had material obviously calculated (in the character’s mind, I mean) to make a point.

The film wouldn’t be worth chewing over if it weren’t for that one new element — the switch in venue from Boston/Harvard to Washington/Congress. Now, I’m not one of those conspiracymongers who believe “Hollywood” is a singular noun that wakes up in the morning and asks itself over its first latte “what can we put into movies to help the left.” LEGALLY BLONDE 2, for all its surface political subject matter, is primarily a money-spinning frothy comedy — so featherweight that you can’t hold seriously against it the details it gets wrong. It concludes with a staff member giving a speech to a joint session of Congress; it occurs in that alternate political universe where Big Tobacco/Big Oil/Big Lipstick/Big Whatever, can defeat an incumbent congressman on demand merely by giving money to his opponent. That kinda stuff.

But this very fact about it (it’s neither a prestige, “adult” political film like THE CONTENDER nor an indie polemic like BOB ROBERTS) is precisely what makes LEGALLY BLONDE 2 revelatory. Just as “virtue is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking” or “a lord’s character is determined by how he deals with his slaves rather than his king,” the very fact that the film isn’t a seriously political film means that the unstated assumptions, the “of courses” of the world of entertainment show up in sharper relief. LEGALLY BLONDE 2’s understanding of political psychology says a great deal about the climate of political orthodoxy in the entertainment industry and the precise way that its liberal consensus finds its way into films. The film’s basic plot device is that Elle finds out about Bruiser’s mother being used for testing cosmetics. So, just like she went to Harvard Law just to be near her boyfriend, she goes to Washington to pass a law outlawing animal testing and free Bruiser’s mom. Once there, she undergoes the same “airhead fish out of water” humiliations she did at Harvard, but gradually wins everyone over to her team through her pluck and self-assurance and graduates/gets her bill passed.

OK, no problem in principle. But comically speaking, there is absolutely no reason why animal rights has to be the cause (a few easily rewriteable detail jokes aside) — all that’s necessary for the film is that Elle have one. It’s the comic version of a Hitchcockian MacGuffin — she could have gone to Washington to pass a bill to save her family from having to sell their homestead because of the estate tax (first example to pop into my head). Yet when the writers of this film needed a political MacGuffin, they (and, the key point, as in *every other recent commercial, apolitical Hollywood film*) came up with a liberal or left example. The last time I recall a conservative cause at the moral center of a Hollywood entertainment was the risible LISTEN TO ME, where Debate Stud Kirk Cameron persuades the Supreme Court to outlaw abortion. In 1989. But after all, as the head writer on MURPHY BROWN once said, “you write what you know.” And as has been copiously documented (and collected by Michael Medved), the entertainment industry is too well-marinated in liberal orthodoxy to “know” conservatives except as demon Other.

This shouldn’t be taken as too harsh a judgment on any individual film, except that since this sort of political product placement entirely goes one way, you can’t not notice it after a while. Apolitical films in Hollywood today will show only liberals or the left in this sort of neutral or indifferently-positive manner, as a way to fill out the movie. There’s no more reason, for a comedy like LB2, that the cause has to be animal rights rather than abortion, any more than a character has to drink Coke rather than Pepsi. At least with real product placement, the filmmakers are paid to make a choice that is dramatically indifferent. Liberalism gets it for free. And once you start to see it, it begins to work against the movie in question in precisely the same way product placement does — by calling attention to itself and highlighting its selectedness. You see Danny Glover’s daughter at the dinner table in a routine sequence in one of the LETHAL WEAPON sequels wearing a “Save the Whales” T-shirt and your mind wanders to think whose idea it was to pick *that* cause. And why it’s always Coke, Coke, Coke. It becomes the elephant … er, donkey, I guess … in the room.

Not that LEGALLY BLONDE 2 is very much better when politics, primarily animal testing, is explicitly on its mind. Very early on, Elle finds out about Bruiser’s mom and so goes to her law firm and says they should crusade against animal testing because “it’s wrong to harm any living thing merely for profit,” and when the other members of the firm protest, she says “doing the right thing profits everybody in the long run.” As a former grader of undergraduate political philosophy essays filled with unwarranted leaps of reasoning, I just wanted to wince at the former … “and that is the moral standard because …?” and at the latter … “is that really so …?” It’s not that an animal-rights backer could not potentially answer these questions, it’s rather that the film doesn’t see that an animal-rights opponent potentially could deny them. But Elle states the insight as if it were self-evident and it’s never challenged in the movie, except on role-playing terms (“they’re our clients”), legislative flim-flam (Sally Field’s character), personal venality (the chief of staff). Never does the film think to ask why cosmetic firms test the safety of their products — is it really because executives get pleasure or profit *from* torturing bunnies? There’s a throwaway line where Elle says that banning animal testing would provide jobs for “thousands of scientists” to develop alternative methods of determining cosmetic safety. Does one laugh or cry? Do the letters o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y c-o-s-t-s spell anything meaningful? Yet LEGALLY BLONDE 2 continues to move blithely on ahead as if showing gory pictures of animals were some miraculous persuader, before which all opposition crumbles (why hasn’t PETA succeeded yet, if the matter were that simple). As the Washington City Paper complained, the film looks down on characters for treating Elle as a stereotype, but does so by turning everyone else into other sorts of cartoons. This betrays the film’s real conception — essentially it’s a form of wish-fulfillment for its makers and their animal-rights-backing soulmates in the audience. Which is everybody, right? After all, they write what they know.

What made LEGALLY BLONDE 2 especially sad is that the glorious Reese Witherspoon, one of the era’s best actresses, has made an infinitely better political movie. In fact ELECTION is just plain one of the best movies of recent years. After coming home from LB2, I popped in my DVD and watched some of its best scenes — the campaign speeches, Tracy Flick’s self-introduction, Mr. McAllister explaining democracy to Paul — just to reassure myself that smart, serious political satire with noncartoon characters really can be made in this day and age. There is hardly a topical reference in the film, but it explains, just to name one aside, the force behind Clinton’s driven personality in the look on Tracy’s face and her voiceover as she looks out the school bus window. And Paul’s foreshadowing of Dubya in some ways is so funny precisely because it couldn’t have been intentional — the film was released in spring 1999.

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Oh yeah, there's films I've seen, Part 1In "Woody Allen"

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Not the Goddess of wisdomIn "clueless liberal critics"

August 20, 2003 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
PJ Media var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Danny Glover backs Obama college plan: 'State Universities Should Be Free'', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Actor and political activist Danny Glover endorsed President Obama’s plan to offer two years of community college for free, telling PJ Media that all state universities should be free.Glover was asked if he supported Obama’s proposal to allow individuals who meet certain requirements to attend community college for two years at no charge.“Absolutely, I think going to state universities should be free. It was free at one point in time or there were loans that allowed it with appropriate interest, that allowed students to go to college for free, basically a small loan,” Glover said after an event at Busboys and Poets featuring Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).“When I finished at San Francisco State, I think I was at $7,000 in student loans, of course we’re talking about 1971 but certainly I think it’s important. I also had work-study so I made additional money with the work city,” Glover also said.Glover, best known as a star of the Lethal Weapon films, was under the impression community college was already free.“Community college is not free?” he asked.“I don’t remember paying to go to San Francisco City College in 1964 and 1965. Maybe it was. A lot has changed. Maybe I should be aware of how much has changed,” he said, adding that he spent a “pretty penny” sending his daughter to New York University 12 years ago.Glover, who has been an outspoken critic of George W. Bush’s administration, was asked for his opinion of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush considering a run for president in 2016. He predicted that the GOP would probably not win the White House in the next election.“Republicans are, as I say, behind the eight ball, in a sense. Even though they have the Senate and even though they have the Congress, I don’t see the possibility, the possibly is very weak for winning the White House, I think,” he said. “I don’t know but those are the kind of politics I reference, but I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the outcome or analysis is in terms of that.”Glover said he is more focused on the Democratic Party’s future.“If the Democratic Party does what it needs to do and it comes out on a platform around working people, poor people and comes out on a platform in which we can stand on and support the common man and common women, I’m with that,” he said.When asked if Hillary Clinton should be the Democratic nominee in 2016, Glover was not sure. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/danny-glover-talks-to-pjm-state-universities-should-be-free/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
PJ Media Mel Gibson is back. In TV interviews to promote his latest movie, Edge of Darkness, the increasingly irascible actor and director came out like a boxer, mixing it up with entertainment reporters. He was at times unrepentant and disingenuous with a Texas-sized chip on his shoulder.Gibson was arrested in 2006, we recall, for drunk driving during which, according to the police report, he yelled out that the Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world. He then asked the arresting officer if he was a Jew. He was.In an interview late last month with KTLA-Los Angeles reporter Sam Rubin, Gibson wouldn’t even concede he made those remarks. He shifted the focus instead to Rubin, asking him if he has "a dog in this fight." You’ve got to give Gibson credit -- he nailed it. In terms of outing Jews, Mel is two for two. There’s a lot he doesn’t know. Jews he knows. He can only hope his movies achieve that kind of success.Apparently his breadth of experience, which also includes exchanging a wife of 28 years for a 24-year-old mistress, qualifies him to deliver advice to Tiger Woods. "You have to try to make amends if you can," Gibson told the UK's Daily Mail. "You have to shut up and move on and not whine about it. And you have to deal with it like a man."Tiger and Mel have something else in common. Both don’t seem much interested in the advice of media-relations gurus and image rehab consultants. Tiger has chosen to avoid the media while Gibson prefers to mix it up with them. It’s been three months since we’ve heard from Tiger and the anticipation is building for tomorrow's one-way, or unilateral, “news conference,” better described perhaps as a statement. On everyone’s minds: Will Tiger show up drunk and blame the Jews?As we know, the media are in the business of telling stories or “narratives.” A story needs a protagonist, or antagonist in this case, who undergoes dramatic change by the end of the story. A story requires a good arc, but Gibson isn’t playing that game. He doesn’t do change.Tiger seems to think his narrative will fade as long as doesn’t give it fuel, while Gibson is feeding his narrative with nasty comments that only serve to undermine his mea culpa tour four years ago. For the narrative to have closure, the protagonist needs to be redeemed if not transformed. And so Gibson was asked by Chicago’s WGN-TV reporter Dean Richards: “Do you feel like you’re a different person now, a better person?” class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/apocalypto-now-meet-the-new-and-improved-mel-gibson/ previous Page 1 of 3 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Ed Driscoll Has the disparity between how two celebrities disport themselves onscreen and off ever been as wide as Danny Glover and Mel Gibson? The two had Hope-and-Crosby-level charm as a duo in their Lethal Weapon movies -- and yet each man has worked very hard to destroy their audience's goodwill via their boorish behavior offscreen.Gibson's renowned antisemitism has been thoroughly discussed. But Greg Gutfeld sums up Glover's unique hypocrisy with this headline: "Same Danny Glover Blaming Right for Tucson Violence is Out Promoting Black Power Film:"It’s worth noting that Glover is busy promoting a film he coproduced called The Black Power Mixtape. The movie is about, as you can guess, Black Power, an oft-romanticized phenomenon rife with authentically violent rhetoric, much of it leading to authentically violent violence!Remember the Black Panthers in their commie berets, posing with guns? Or that vicious nutbag Angela Davis, once tried for murder? And of course, there was Huey Newton – a brutish criminal who died a brutal death.And there’s nothing more heartwarming than little black kids taught to sing, “pick up your guns.” All the new footage came from Swedish journalists, so you know they think it’s cool.Stick to meatballs, people.Anyway, out of fear of being perceived as racist, the media always wraps this movement in phony language – rather than condemn it, they say it simply illustrates how divisive the country once was.So rag on the Tea Party instead. As one idiot reviewer notes, the film “made me think… of how many of the radical statements espoused by the Black Panthers are now being echoed by the Tea Party.”Well… I guess that means the Tea Party should be expecting better press!Time for Park Avenue and Hyde Park to start calling! class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2011/1/29/lethal-hypocrite/ ]]>
(Review Source)
John Nolte
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
One of the four-thousand trailers that ran prior to my “Furious 7” screening Thursday night was for the upcoming James Bond entry “Spectre.” And what a bummer those 96 seconds are.  In Daniel Craig’s fourth go-round, the world is still colorless, Bond is still working through his prissy emotional baggage, and the tone is one of oppressive brooding seriousness. Nevertheless I don’t mourn the loss of a simpler and better era when a new Bond film promised a grand old escapist time at the movies. That, after all, is why God invented the “Fast and Furious” franchise. The most improbable mega-franchise in movie history launches its seventh chapter this weekend, and it is everything James Bond films used to be: insanely action-packed, exotic locales, colorful cinematography, and a never ending supply of beautiful feminine eye candy. “Furious 7” picks up not long after the previous chapter. It also ends a trilogy that began with “Fast Five,” which is when the series morphed from the anti-hero car genre to the heist genre. “Furious 7” comes straight out of the Men (and Women) On a Mission genre, and knocks it out of the park — not as far as the previous two
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”Lethal Weapon” 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)
The Federalist Staff
For your viewing pleasure, I present the year’s most interesting yet neglected American movies. They reflect the varieties of American cinema and the kinds of reflection on American society that the movies can produce. Most will appeal especially to conservative audiences, but that does not exclude other audiences, nor does it include every kind of conservative. You will find with each one of the movies a link to my essays on them, whether you want to be convinced to watch them or to give them a second thought. Here I explicate one of the big themes in American public discourse in 2016: what’s happened to American men? Whether it’s the white working class or political correctness or the future of the economy or the family, Americans know we have a manliness problem. Of course, manliness is not an acceptable word in the American press, and perhaps even in public more broadly. Americans disagree, frequently along partisan lines, whether it’s possible, necessary, or acceptable to focus on men. These movies explore these questions with insightful, worthwhile reflections on American society. They’re not the box office successes of the year; nor are they the year’s most prestigious movies. They’re mostly unpopular, but nevertheless movies conservatives should watch, on the assumption that conservatives care to conserve the good in American society and to learn therefore about what’s good and what’s bad in it, and how they mix. ‘The Finest Hours’ (January 29) This is the year’s most neglected movie, yet a good and entertaining one. It was costly and used its budget to make the sea look terrifying and American men look heroic with a combination of stubborn hope and practical skill in face of the sublime spectacle of the sea. These are not important men, but American men with an important story. This is also a true story of a 1952 Coast Guard search and rescue in the most unlikely disaster imaginable, two ships sinking near one another in the same storm, off Cape Cod. Chris Pine of Star Trek fame and Casey Affleck, a likely Oscar nominee again this year, deliver good performances as admirable men who have to rise to lead among equals in a situation of crisis. The movie might be dismissed as 1950s nostalgia, but it hardly glamorizes the Fifties. It says that in America various kinds of people could come together in a time of need and act for a common good, despite their private tragedies and life’s hardships. That’s a lot to say for any society, but it’s hardly the way to talk about a golden age. It’s a realistic movie in its dwelling on human suffering and the mistakes inevitable to life. One wishes it had said much more about New England and the difficult relation men had to society. Nevertheless, it has charm and excitement on a first viewing and rewards some discussion of character and setting, so belongs on any list of the year’s worthies. ‘The Nice Guys’ (May 20) This is the new Shane Black action comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in their best comedic work to date. Black is the best writer American action movies had in their heyday a generation back. He started his career in Hollywood with “Predator” and “Lethal Weapon,” then it collapsed with the action genre. He’s revived as a writer-director, with the hilarious action-comedy “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), which helped revive Robert Downey, Jr.’s career and sent him back to Hollywood success as the helmer of “Iron Man 3” (2013). In this film Black gives us a tour of Los Angeles in the 1970s. It’s by turn shockingly comic and shockingly immoral. The confusions of American freedom, in short, are everywhere on display. You cannot love what you see, but you have to admire the skill with which it is portrayed, including the manly yearning to protect something good and how a detective story can be a search for something truly worth protecting. Black stories are attempts to find a place for heroism and manliness in modern urban America, though properly chastised by comedy. The story is a tad sentimental and the plot includes unlovely anti-capitalism, but these turn out to be small faults compared to the achievement of the film and the promise of more to come should a receptive audience be found. The movie is all about how men are judged against standards families set. Also, if you like action-comedies, Black stories are always set during Christmas, so this is a good season to go back and see them. ‘Love and Friendship’ (June 3) This new Whit Stillman movie stars two of his lovely actresses, Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. Yes, America’s Jane Austen finally decided to adapt an Austen story, if one of her juvenilia. Stillman is also America’s premier conservative writer-director, but rarely has a chance to find an audience, because his sense of humor is understated, and that does not fit an age of gross humor. Witty remarks are bound to lose the competition with attempts to exploit the body that basically reduce to existential despair. A defense of moderation in an age of excess won’t please many people. However, he deserves conservative support. He’s about the last director who can tell interesting stories while preserving the decencies that make life civilized. His films are almost entirely free of the sordid and show a gentle sophistication that many will love if they but get the chance to experience it. There should be a place for that in American cinema, but there hardly is any, to judge by how rarely the man gets the money it takes to make one of his movies, a small fraction of what is spent on any one of the many blockbusters of America. For all that, the Regency settings, dress, and manners are bound to charm some audiences in this age of English revival. The delightful story also doubles as an education about love and marriage, in a mode and with an intent that are far truer to Austen than the more famous adaptations of her more famous novels. ‘Midnight Special’ (March 12) This is the first of two movies made this year by the most interesting young director in America, Jeff Nichols. His previous movies—from his debut, “Shotgun Stories,” to his most prestigious picture, “Mud”—illustrated what has become a highly politicized subject in America in 2016: the white working class and the terrible problem of anguished manliness. This time, however, we get a strange story that blends rural America and science fiction. The result is wonderful, because it tells the story of a man trying to be a good father and to make sense of the world that way while running through a variety of strange American phenomena, from cults to the now omnipresent anxiety about America’s surveillance state. At the same time, Nichols has some things to say about American religion and its place in society, as he did in one of his previous movies, “Take Shelter.” This film questions whether Christianity, with its faith in miracles, is a scientifically provable insanity or some kind of revelation of our true situation as mortal beings seeking God. ‘Hell or High Water’ (August 26) This is the other movie about anguished manliness this year, the tale of two brothers in impoverished West Texas who turn bank robbers out of hatred against a mortgage company. Chris Pine and Ben Foster, who acted remarkably well together in “The Finest Hours,” have a very different, but even more compelling relationship in this movie, and one that dominates the story. Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham are their opposite pair: an about-to-retire U.S. marshal with politically incorrect ethnic jokes and his ironic deputy, an Mexican-Indian Catholic American. Throughout the story we see women who suffer in a land where men are lawless or unsuccessful and the collapse of a society that once prided itself on self-reliance and whose defiance, bereft of the skills and the economy that made life possible, turns to self-destruction. The story is not without beauty and humor, but it is morally serious about killing and breaking the law and the strange sense of responsibility men can develop when it comes to failure. The writer, Taylor Sheridan, is also the writer of the recent hit drug war movie “Sicario,” and he seems to have a future in finding out where it is still possible to tell a story about the contradictions and dangers of manliness in America. ‘Sully’ (September 9) ‘Sully’ is the only big commercial success on my list. It’s the latest Clint Eastwood story and a show of his mature view of his responsibility as a film-maker, as was the recent “American Sniper.” Eastwood seems to think retiring is the same as dying, so it’s probably smart to think of these movies as his legacy. He’s trying to give America some sense of a future together as a country, despite the partisanship and fears that lead different groups into hatred. This time, he’s trying to show that it’s still possible for Americans to find heroes in their everyday life. He takes his definition of manliness straight from Ernest Hemingway’s famous answer to Dorothy Parker: Grace under pressure. Chesley Sullenberger, the man who landed a passenger plane in the Hudson after massive engine failure, is America’s mythical or poetic answer to 9/11. His story is in a sense boring or even banal. Very little happens. The only thing that’s really thrilling is the crash-landing, and that is what the direction denies us, the chance to treat this event as a thrill. In America, everyone calls the man Sully, shakes his hand, and pats him on the back, but this story forces us to enter, as far as we can, into something like the friendship informality suggests. Eastwood wants Americans to take seriously a man who shows such manliness in a moment of crisis, in order to make it possible for Americans to have more reasonable expectations and a more reasonable admiration of men. ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘lo (November 4) ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is the second movie Mel Gibson made this year, in this case as a director. It is the true story of Army Medic Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. This is a movie about American manliness being tamed and redirected by the Christian faith and how this complex psychological make-up was necessary for America to win World War II without losing humanity. “Hacksaw Ridge” is, for emotional impact, the Oscar movie on the list. Doss portrayer Andrew Garfield, who used to do ridiculous boy movies about Spiderman, gave another shocking, Oscar-worthy performance this year in the new Scorsese movie about Catholics being persecuted in medieval Japan, “Silence.” He has shown remarkable ability and made great choices for story and director, so I recommend him to your attention in future. This movie is also an answer to “Saving Private Ryan,” which invented the modern way of making war films and started off the World War II nostalgia that goes on to this day. Most movies find it easy to focus on realism in depiction and find it very difficult to say anything worth mentioning about American character and about America. Where Spielberg came up with a meaningless myth, Gibson tells the truth about the war in a true story. And if you think Gibson is sensationalizing the hell of war and Doss’s shocking achievement, read his Medal of Honor citation. If anything, the director is understating things. ‘Loving’ (November 4) This is the other Jeff Nichols movie that came out this year, a story about the couple at the center of the best-named case in Supreme Court history, Loving v. Virginia, the anti-miscegenation ruling of 1967. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga give very good, but understated performances in a story that’s itself too understated. Partly, the story respectfully and adroitly avoids giving us the illusion that we know what is in their souls even as it shows us their private lives. Partly, it works under a certain burden: The couple famously were photographed for Life magazine, in a show of forward-looking liberal support for civil rights against a backward, unjust political order. But the couple did not attend the Supreme Court hearing of the case, although they could have. Nichols tries hard to show how the case arose out of their characters and the opportunities America gave them, for better and worse, but he fails or refuses to give the movie a powerful emotional appeal. I recommend it not merely because its subject is of historical importance, but because of what the movie says about that importance. Loving is presented as a simple man from the rural South, looked down upon for his rusticity, but from a background that made him so friendly to black people that he simply treats them like other people. He is bound to misunderstand the political troubles of the South, and he wants no part in them. Loving believes what Americans believe about family and happiness, and he seems decided to live out those beliefs. He is both a shy and a strong man. Instead of proposing to his wife, he takes her for a ride to show her the land he bought and his plan to make her a house. He is a bricklayer. Mrs. Loving, on the other hand, is far more outgoing and it is she who insists on the lawsuit, in the context of the struggle for civil rights. At the same time, she refuses to turn the justice into a substitute for love and family, which is a shocking contrast to the civil rights pictures Hollywood makes. I will add two more movies, briefly,   which are too flawed to make the list, but which you might want to see, guided by elective affinities. ‘Bloodfather‘ (August 26) Starring Mel Gibson, “Bloodfather” is a movie about self-destructive manliness turning toward protection and sacrifice, looking for redemption. It is a pretty good action movie and its moral core is surprising for its humanity, but it is not well written, either in plot or characters. Realism about suffering and about how difficult family reconciliation really is also recommend the story. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (August 19) This American animation set in medieval Japan is the story of a boy who has to learn about grief, how to separate the living and the dead, and what future he may have if he does not succumb to family tragedy. The writing is not good enough to recommend, but the Laica studios’ stop-motion animation and the moral core of the story are far superior to most of the animations that are massive successes in America. This film is also remarkable for insight into the importance of poetry and music. It you want a shocking or provoking thought, the story teaches that grief is not an emotion, despite all modern psychology, with its stages and its fake rationalism or scientism. Instead, it is a song. Go See Good Movies Finally, movies are a business, so let me show the numbers for these, by worldwide box office / budget, to sketch the problem with making movies about America: It looks like a recipe for bankruptcy. Consider that a movie needs to make at least twice its budget at the box office to be profitable and you will see that telling important stories about America is not a winning proposition. This is something conservatives need to change if they want to take the culture seriously. Generally, half the money a movie makes stays in movie theaters and the other half goes to the studio or distributor or whoever paid for it. “The Finest Hours”: $48 million / $70 million The Nice Guys”: $57 million / $50 million “Love and Friendship”: $19 million / ? “Midnight Special”: $7 million / $18 million “Hell or High Water”: $32 million / $12 million “Sully” $228 million / $60 million “Hacksaw Ridge”: $121 million / $40 million “Loving”: $7 million / ? “Bloodfather”: $1.8 million / $15 million “Kubo”: $69 million / $55 million A majority of these films opened in the three most prestigious European film festivals. Cannes: “The Nice Guys,” “Loving,” “Hell or High Water,” and “Bloodfather.” Berlin: “Midnight Special.” Venice: “Hacksaw Ridge.” Further, “Love and Friendship” opened at Sundance. Strangely, this year’s most interesting American stories made bigger waves in European festivals than in American multiplexes. It’s good to see European interest in genuine American storytelling, not least because it allows American artists to reach at least some audience, but there’s a real problem both in the press and in show business if audiences and stories cannot be brought together. ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
What do movies like “Salt” and “Knight and Day” have in common? They both don’t make a lick of sense. And that, it seems, isn’t uncommon on the big screen these days. Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman nailed the dispiriting trend in his review of “Salt.” “A lack of plausibility used to be thought of as a liability in movies. When a critic, or an audience, complained that a plot twist was too luridly far-fetched to believe, that it stretched and snapped the bonds of reality (a rather vague concept, to be sure), that would generally go down as a negative assessment. Over the past couple of decades, though, expectations have shifted. Fantasy has leaked, like an oil spill, into everything, even naturalistic thrillers, and that has changed our relationship to them … yet [‘Salt’] doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that; to call it out for being ludicrous would be like complaining that Superman flies. Besides, ‘Salt’ knows how to stay one step ahead of you in devious, if jaw-droppingly contrived, ways. The movie is fun, dammit. So who cares, really, if it’s trash” Depressing, but true. And this critic found “Salt” charming despite all the nonsense that passed for plotting. It’s hard to mind preposterous movies like “Salt” or even “Wanted,” Angelina Jolie’s recent action film which made “Salt” look for a documentary. But sometimes it feels like Hollywood is getting a bit too cozy with these reality-free movies. Just re-watched the 1987 smash “Lethal Weapon,” the archetype of the ’80s cop movie. Yes, Mel Gibson’s mullet isn’t aging well, but it wasn’t a story of two superhero cops saving the day through ridiculous scenarios. It featured flawed, vulnerable men trying to bring down a drug dealer. The story was easy to follow, didn’t have any triple twist reveals and only stumbled when it shoe-horned a fist fight into the final reel. Can we expect more action films like “Lethal Weapon,” or is “Salt” the more accurate template for future films?]]>
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”Lethal Weapon” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Americans disagree whether it’s possible, necessary, or acceptable to focus on men. These movies explore these questions with insightful reflections on American society.
(Review Source)
John Nolte
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
"Midway" does not hit you with even one stupid moment, not a single one of political correctness.
(Review Source)
Conservative Film Buff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)

I’m not sure any aspect of this film worked. It’s not good. The characters were either shallow or stereotypical. The story meandered and didn’t have a compelling point. The look of the cinematography is dated and ugly. The acting is actually bad at parts. Many scenes made me cringe, such as the scene where Ira lamely swings a chair around at some police officers in the middle of the street. Or any of the many scenes involving some variation of John Slattery saying “this will really get people to open their wallets” when the soldiers would try to sell war bonds.

It seems like Eastwood rushed through this. Like he didn’t want to do more than one take, ever, and didn’t want to spend too much time getting the script or editing right. Maybe he thought, “we have a story about the iconic flag at Iwo Jima and the soldiers who put it up. What could go wrong? People will love it. Let’s focus more instead on getting the Japenese side right in Letters from Iwo Jima.” 

Letters is by far the better of the two films. The clear difference in quality is odd, since they were made concurrently and were meant to be seen as companion pieces. But Letters is just a more interesting, well-done narrative. Flags never convinces. Instead of helping us learn more about the soldiers involved in the events of Iwo Jima and the raising of the iconic flag, it leaves us feeling negatively toward them. Or are we supposed to feel negatively? What’s the moral again? All I got was that heroes aren’t real and that young soldiers like to go swimming when they get the chance.

(Review Source)
VJ Morton
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
twoeastwoods

Don’t judge the book by the auteur

I intend to see GRAN TORINO later tonight, after having prepared myself to take advantage of Mike D’Angelo’s suggestion that this movie, which he has dubbed LISTEN, EGGROLL, might be the funniest movie ever if you watched it drunk. Many are called, few are chosen …

But anyhoo, recently Clint went off in “Grumpy Old Man” mode (HT: Steve Skojec) that he’s apparently playing in GRAN TORINO, saying that America has gone to hell in a welter of psychologizing and sensitivity.

Tough guy Clint Eastwood believes America is getting soft around the middle – and the iconic Oscar winner thinks he knows when the problem began.
“Maybe when people started asking about the meaning of life,” Eastwood, 78, growls in the January issue of Esquire.
The actor/director recalls the deeper questions were rarely posed during his Depression-era California childhood – and says that wasn’t a bad thing.
“People barely got by,” Eastwood recounts. “People were tougher then.”

That mentality is gone, he laments.
“Everyone’s become used to saying, ‘Well, how do we handle it psychologically?'” Eastwood says. “In those days, you punched the bully back and duked it out.”

Now, I agree heartily with what Clint says … US foreign policy in particular, especially under liberal administration but also somewhat under conservative ones too, has become indistinguishable from therapy. (Or as Sicinski put it in his review of STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE: “But there is something to be said for Robert Frost’s old joke about liberals being too broad-minded to take their own side in an argument.” As if we think Hamas just needs to be understood and have its legitimate concerns addressed.)

But most of Eastwood’s last several movies, at least the ones I’ve seen, are exactly what Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name preaches against (at least in part; several are more complicated obviously).

What is UNFORGIVEN but a movie about the psychological burden of killing? What is FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS if not a film about how war and having to kill people screws people up in the head (oh … the strawberry sauce) … especially if you’re from an Official Oppressed Ethnicity? What is LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA but an attempt at psychological understanding of The Enemy, and a painting of Japan’s wartime army as Modern Asian-Americans? What is MILLION DOLLAR BABY but an apologia for euthanizing people who don’t think their lives have any more meaning? How is MYSTIC RIVER a tragedy, or indeed anything but a meaningless tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing, unless its audience is the introspective sort that frets over the meaning of life?

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January 2, 2009 - Posted by | Clint Eastwood

7 Comments »

  1. I’m very close to you politically, but come on. Yes, UNFORGIVEN is about the psychological burden of killing. But no one, conservative or otherwise, can argue that there isn’t a heavy psychological burden that comes with such an act. UNFORGIVEN is about bad guys, not good guys. The characters in that movie often do the wrong thing, and they should be burdened with the guilt their actions come with. There is nothing soft or liberal about that movie, in my opinion. We’re not all created equally and some people can be deeply screwed up from war and having to kill people. It doesn’t take a member of the anti-war crowd to figure that out. We are all, even the pro-war people, anti-war. Ya know?

    Comment by James | January 2, 2009 | Reply

  2. grgrgrgrgr

    What do you know about life and death?

    rrrrraaaahhhrrrrrrrr

    You’re just an overeducated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold superstitious old ladies’ hands and promise them eternity

    rrrrrrrrr

    Comment by vjmorton | January 3, 2009 | Reply

  3. Gran Torino’s a great flick. What strikes me again about Eastwood is how he confounds the viewer with his movies’ conclusion.

    As for fighting and killing, self-preservation is the first instance of rationalism. Eastwood’s willing to put it on the screen. Even great directors like Spielberg have a hard time balancing moral clarity against “compassion” for the other.

    Interesting debate, in any case.

    Comment by Americaneocon | January 3, 2009 | Reply

  4. WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS

    What strikes me again about Eastwood is how he confounds the viewer with his movies’ conclusion.

    Well, its being essentially an unarmed suicide mission to provide a murder the police could pin on the Hmong gang was surprising — you’re led to expect Dirty Harry. The previous scenes are (hamfistedly-obvious) preparations for death, sure, but a death with the guns blazing.

    The problem is that the denouement (“they’ve got witnesses now, they’ll be in jail a long time”) makes no sense unless we’re supposed to believe that the Hmong neighbors will testify to this crime, against an outsider and stranger, but not crimes against one another (“the Hmong sure know how to keep their silence,” the priest says after the attack on the siblings).

    But far more importantly, GRAN TORINO and Eastwood’s performance … rrrrr … are so (literally) laughably bad, camp-masterpiece bad (“get me some of that good gook food”), in every facet of execution … that an attempt at Christ-sacrifice profundity in the last scene can only appeal to my sense of irony. Plus it proves that the rest of the movie wasn’t an intentional parody (“Eastwood really takes this seriously,” you’re saying to yourself while clutching your head in disbelief).

    Comment by vjmorton | January 3, 2009 | Reply

  5. V.J.: Yeah, well … much comes across pretty realistic, IMHO (especially the gangland culture), and K. Turan made the point that who else could have made made the grunts and snarls that menacingly realistic besides Clint…?

    Enjoy the movies my friend…

    Comment by Americaneocon | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  6. Clint Eastwood did a great job of using his outward crankiness to come across as mean as well as somehow heroic this newest film of his

    Comment by coffee | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. […] “But far more importantly, GRAN TORINO and Eastwood’s performance … rrrrr … are so (literally) laughably bad, camp-masterpiece bad (“get me some of that good gook food”), in every facet of execution … that an attempt at Christ-sacrifice profundity in the last scene can only appeal to my sense of irony. Plus it proves that the rest of the movie wasn’t an intentional parody (“Eastwood really takes this seriously,” you’re saying to yourself while clutching your head in disbelief).” (vjmorton) […]

    Pingback by Gran Torino » Pierced to the Heart | October 31, 2009 | Reply


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(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Gunga Din Theatrical Trailer', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); "It is well that war is so terrible," General Robert E. Lee lamented, "otherwise we would grow too fond of it." On the other side of the Civil War, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman stated more simply that "war is hell." They knew fighting for a cause always meant good soldiers suffer; some make the ultimate sacrifice; and often innocents get tragically caught in the crossfire. War always comes at a terrible cost.Here are ten war films to watch this Memorial Day that will make you weep.#10. Gunga DinA 1939 adventure film "inspired" by the Rudyard Kipling poem follows the exploits of three British army lieutenants -- Cutter (Cary Grant), MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) --  on the Indian frontier.  The movie is all dash and panache, except for the erstwhile native water carrier, Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), whose only dream is to be a real soldier. In the end, it's the regimental "beastie," shot, bayonetted, but carrying on, who saves the day before he falls. Sob along at the end of the film when the colonel declares over the funeral pyre, "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/5/26/10-war-movies-guaranteed-to-make-you-cry/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
PJ Media Clint Eastwood is sort of like one of those Supreme Court justices who goes to Washington with one set of ideas, firmly established over a lifetime. After a few years' exposure to bright shiny new folks who drop hints about how warmly they'd welcome him if only he'd merely renounce everything he stood for, the justice discovers the virtues of "evolving" -- and the price of holding firm.Once Eastwood made military movies, Westerns, and cop movies. Now, following his anti-military (Flags of Our Fathers) and anti-Western (Unforgiven) films, he has one last mission to complete, with the anti-cop picture Changeling. By coincidence, his early movies never won Oscars. Now Eastwood finds himself with armloads of awards every winter. He is fully evolved.Changeling isn't a terrible movie. It's a well-made if workmanlike product, an involving drama with an especially pleasing sense of period detail. But it's also small, earnest, and formulaic. Its dialogue lands consistently on the nose and the superb production values dress up a story with the same DNA as your standard woman-against-the-world TV movie.Angelina Jolie, who has crossed the line between thin and emaciated, plays a young single mother in 1928 Los Angeles whose son disappears while she is at work at the telephone company. After a while, cops deliver her son back to her. Except, as she loudly insists from the start, it isn't her son. The cops tell her to pipe down and not make trouble lest she be thrown in a mental institution. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/dirty-harry-makes-anti-cop-movie/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Lifestyle Clint Eastwood’s woeful, inept biopic J. Edgar may not be the worst movie he’s ever made (that’s debatable), but it's so histrionic, one-sided and unserious that it will stand as the Mommie Dearest of G-man pictures.J. Edgar is a “Please don’t” picture; mentally, you’ll find yourself saying “Please don’t” when, for instance, Eastwood shows Leonardo DiCaprio’s J.Edgar Hoover lounging around in silky dressing gowns with Clyde Tolson (a campy Armie Hammer, who played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network) making bitchy remarks about Desi Arnaz’s shoes. Please don’t, Clint. And if a squabble should break out between the two of them, please don’t let it end with Clyde straddling a breathless and sweaty Edgar on the floor and forcefully kissing him.Yet that’s exactly what happens, and it’s not even the worst scene in this dreadful movie. That honor must go to the soon-to-be-notorious scene in which Edgar, stricken by the death of his domineering, gay-hating mom (Judi Dench), puts on first her necklace, then her dress, then breaks down in tears.We can take J. Edgar Hoover as a self-aggrandizing creep who abused his authority and served eight presidents, mostly as FBI chief, by making them fear he might blackmail them with his confidential files. But must he also be a crybaby?DiCaprio is awful. He spends most of the movie under about four inches of makeup as he plays Hoover in the 1960s, reflecting on his youth while trying to bring down Martin Luther King Jr. and blackmailing the Kennedy brothers. The device of Hoover telling his life story for posterity, which screenwriter Dustin Lance Black effectively used in his Oscar-winning script for Milk, this time feels forced and false, not to mention stiff and unoriginal. An FBI agent who takes down Hoover’s reminiscences keeps cross-examining and second-guessing him, as indeed do virtually all of the characters Hoover encounters in the movie.The incessant attacks on Hoover that constitute this movie don’t even fit together. If he was such a terrifying, nearly omnipotent figure, why does everyone he meets feel free to tell him everything he’s doing wrong? class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2011/11/11/j-edgar-the-mommie-dearest-of-g-man-pictures/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
A new collection of essays, 'Tough Ain't Enough: New Perspectives on the Films of Clint Eastwood,' discounts one of America's greatest actors and filmmakers as little more than a Republican celebrity.
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
In a time of disillusionment and anxiety, nostalgia for the 1940s reveals our desire to visit a time and people of whom we could be proud.
(Review Source)
The Federalist Staff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Mel Gibson should have been the king of Hollywood, but he did two things that ruined him. First, he made “The Passion of the Christ,” the most successful R-rated and independent movie in America. It revealed the deep chasm dividing Americans after 9/11. For all the political hysteria that surrounded its release, the deafening silence of America’s movie artists meant more. They were not going to try to reach the audience Gibson had brought to their attention: neither to include it in America’s public culture nor even to acquire some of its considerable money. Secondly, Gibson made several awful comments when stopped for drunk driving. This put an end to the most startling director in America ten years ago. Despite all this, Gibson’s 2016 film “Hacksaw Ridge” has resurfaced the greatness inside his soul. It’s been nominated for six Oscars, and Gibson’s first nomination for Best Director in 20 years. The Oscars at their best are about one simple thing: Beautifying what is worth beautifying in American movies. This year, that’s Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge.” Would America’s award institutions actually reward a patriotic movie that shows Christianity in American society as a source of hope and unity, rather than fear and division? The Academy should, because it is our first serious movie confrontation with what World War II meant for America. It is also popular, and already at 97 in the IMDb list of top 250 movies. Users there have given it an 8.5 rating. It is also number 14 on the search popularity list. All this helped drive the film to three Golden Globe nominations, which failed to secure a win. Will the Oscars follow suit, or come through? Whether this movie will be rewarded with the honors and the stamp of approval of America’s institutions of prestige, the awards really will depend on the place of an informed patriotism in the self-understanding of these institutions and their voters. An Exploration of the American Heart “Hacksaw Ridge” is the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist whose deeds in service to his country were so shocking and so free of the sordid that is the element of war that they seem to us a miracle. We owe Andrew Garfield some gratitude for portraying with utmost clarity a change in the conception of heroism in America: a sense of personal honor proved by martial prowess is replaced gradually by a sacrificial concern for the good of one’s fellow soldiers, fellow Americans. The accent moves from taking lives to saving lives. The movie is long, but does not feel long. It is ugly, but does not seem so. It is full of suffering, but holds out the hope that suffering may be redeemed. It portrays the America that went to war after Pearl Harbor without much glamour, but with a lot of affection, for the tragedies as much as for the romances. The first half of the movie is not merely a fine period piece, it is an insistent investigation of the way of life that made it possible for a remarkable man, a typically American hero, to appear. I will give one example of the American mind reflected in this story. The military authorities quite reasonably ask Doss, a volunteer, why he should be allowed to serve in the military if he is not willing to take up arms in defense of his fellow soldiers. Doss answers that he knows boys who committed suicide in shame for having been considered useless to defending America after Pearl Harbor (4F status). He implies that a country that exercises such influence over the minds of men owes it to them to allow them to serve. This is a deep truth about American heroism obvious to anyone who reads WWII citations for the Medal of Honor. Gibson lays bare the conflict between Christianity and manly honor that accounts for Southern men’s particular contribution to the American military. America’s self-understanding was at risk in WWII, not merely its security. It was partly heroes like Doss who rescued humanity from the age of horrors that was the first half of the twentieth century. Teaching Americans About Their Heritage It is wise and generous to try to teach Americans about World War II. Gibson has made a good contribution to that effort, if Americans avail themselves of his offering. The institutions that bestow prestige have a part to play in recommending and beautifying this movie to attract an audience and legacy. The press has its own part to play in fostering public conversation. Ultimately, the people decide for themselves, but conservatives should do their best to make the case for the importance of stories like “Hacksaw Ridge.” The second half of the movie is the hell of war. We see the reward of Doss’s unyielding insistence that he serve America. In a world renowned for hype and overselling, where everything is advertised as awesome to even have a chance of being noticed, Gibson awes the audience with a true story that nevertheless understates the facts. Americans are shown WWII movies constantly, but rarely allowed to see why so many people killed and died. The stories are always told from a narrow perspective, to avoid noticing that America was involved in it as a country, not merely on an individual basis. Consider America’s premier movie-maker about manliness: Clint Eastwood tried and failed to teach Americans about the largest war in their history and the crisis that led to America’s rise as the most powerful country in the world. His movies “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” end up cowed by the awful grandeur of the war. War is described as an accident and people as a kind of pawn in a game far beyond their understanding. When Realism Blinds You to Reality The violent realism of our modern war movies blinds us to the need to understand what previous generations did and why. This robs us of insight and therefore any possibility of understanding the people we call the Greatest Generation. Understanding is replaced by good branding. We feel good saying “the greatest generation,” so we keep doing it. One man alone is responsible for this catastrophic fake realism. For empty talk about the hell of war and an accurate, belabored, fascinating show of violence and slaughter, see Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” In that movie, a realistic depiction of the hell of war distracts from the question of why Americans were storming the beaches of Normandy in the first place. It is a breathtaking show of taking what matters most out of war. Remember Lincoln’s phrase, “that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion?” There is none of that there. Instead, one gets a fairy tale that’s a kind of watered-down Christianity, a search for a lost lamb. Everything about that plot is fake, and the movie-maker’s skill is put in the service of selling that fake, one clever, fascinating detail after another. At the end, the audience knows nothing more about WWII than they did at the beginning. Indeed, they know less, because they have been brutalized and sentimentalized while being robbed of insight. Possibly, the audience is persuaded there is no there there—that the war was a mistake, or pointless, or an accident. In “Hacksaw Ridge,” instead of a director’s tricks, we get a true story to liberate us from the fake history. Now, all that remains is to see whether we can make this movie our own, and attract the public’s attention in this age of distractions. ]]>
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The World War II film Hacksaw Ridge is in contention for multiple Oscars, and I hope it wins a gaggle of them. It is a fine, well-made film, and a rare attempt in mainstream cinema to portray the heroism of a faithful Christian believer. Having said that, I have to lodge an objection. Without the slightest ill intent, the film contributes to a pervasive lack of understanding or appreciation of the U.S. role in that vastly significant conflict, the popular memory of which is utterly dominated by radical and leftist perspectives. For most people under forty, the war is recounted in terms of the country’s allegedly pervasive racism, bigotry, and sexism, in which the only heroes are those resisters who defied that hegemony. It has become Exhibit A in the contemporary retrojection of modern-day culture wars into the transmission of American history. Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, whose religious views forbade him accepting military service. As a conscientious objector, he served as a medic, and found himself on the extraordinarily bloody battlefields of Okinawa. His feats of courage and self-sacrifice earned him the only Congressional Medal of Honor ever awarded to a conscientious objector. No one would have dared invent such a story, which clamored to be told. But here is the problem. If such a treatment were part of a broad range of accounts of the war, then it would be a wonderful contribution, but it does not form part of any such continuum. While the main narrative of the war has faded into oblivion, major events like Okinawa are recalled only as they can be told from a perspective that appeals to liberal opinion, and even to pacifists. For many years, I taught a class on the Second World War at Penn State University, and I have an excellent sense of the materials that are available in terms of films, textbooks and documentaries. Overwhelmingly, when they approach the American role in the war, they do so by emphasizing marginal perspectives and racial politics, to the near exclusion of virtually every other event or controversy. At that point, you might legitimately ask whether minority contributions don’t deserve proper emphasis, as of course they do. Waco, Texas, for instance, was the home of the magnificent Dorie Miller, an African-American cook on the USS West Virginia, who responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by blasting at enemy aircraft with a machine gun. Miller was a superb American hero, as also was (for instance) Daniel Inouye, of the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who suffered terrible wounds and was later awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. The legendary Tuskegee Airmen produced a legion of distinguished (black) fliers, but we might particularly cite Roscoe Brown, the first US pilot to shoot down one of the Luftwaffe’s terrifying new jet fighters. All these individuals, and many like them, have been lauded repeatedly in recent books and documentaries on the war, for instance in Ken Burns’s 2007 PBS series The War. They absolutely deserve to be remembered and honored. But they should not be the whole story, and in modern cultural memory, they virtually are. If you look for educational materials or museum presentations about America in World War II, I can guarantee you will find certain themes or events constantly placed front and center. By far the most significant thing to be highlighted in the great majority of films, texts, and exhibitions are the Japanese-American internments. Depending on their approach, other productions will assuredly discuss women’s role on the home front, and “Rosie the Riveter”. Any actual tales of combat will concern the Tuskegee airmen, or the Navajo code-talkers. Our students enter classes believing that the Tuskegee fliers were basically the whole of the Allied air offensive against Germany. A like emphasis dominates feature films of the past couple of decades such as Red Tails (2012, on Tuskegee) and Windtalkers (2002, the code-talkers). Especially when dealing with the Pacific War, such combat-oriented accounts strive very hard to tell their tales with a presumed objectivity, to avoid any suggestion that the Japanese were any more motivated by pathological violence and racial hatred than the Americans. That approach was amply illustrated by Clint Eastwood’s sprawling duo of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima (2006). Western productions virtually never address the mass murders and widespread enslavement undertaken by the Japanese regime. Not surprisingly, the Japanese neo-militarist hard Right loved Eastwood’s Flags and Letters. (Fortunately, you are still allowed to hate Nazis, or we wouldn’t have the magnificent Saving Private Ryan.) The consequences of all this are apparent. For many college-age Americans today, America’s war was largely a venture in hypocrisy, as a nation founded on segregation and illegal internments vaunted its bogus moral superiority. If awareness of Nazi deeds prevents staking a claim of total moral equivalence, then America’s record is viewed with a very jaundiced eye. Even setting aside the moral issues, the degree of popular ignorance of the war is astounding. I have complained that the materials available for teaching military history are narrowly-focused and tendentious, but the opportunities even to take such courses have all but collapsed in recent years. Most major universities today will not hire specifically in military history, and do not replace retirements. Courses that are offered tend to be general social histories of the home front, which can be excellent in themselves, but they offer nothing of the larger context. In terms of actual military enterprises, under-40s might at best know such names as Pearl Harbor, Omaha Beach (exclusively from Saving Private Ryan) and maybe Iwo Jima (from Flags / Letters). Maybe now, after Hacksaw Ridge, they will know something about Okinawa—but only as seen through the eyes of one pacifist. (So what were U.S. forces actually doing in Okinawa? Why did the battle happen? How did it end?) Military buffs apart, younger Americans know nothing about the Battle of the Bulge, which claimed nineteen thousand American lives. They have never heard of Guadalcanal, or Midway, or the Battle of the Coral Sea, or a series of battles that prevented the Pacific becoming a Japanese lake, and the main trade route of its slave empire. They know nothing about the land and sea battles that liberated the Philippines, although that could be politically sensitive, as it would demand coverage of the mass killings of tens of thousands of Filipino civilians by Japanese occupiers. That might even raise questions about the whole moral equivalence thing. Younger Americans know nothing of the battle of Saipan, one of the truly amazing moments in U.S. military history. Within just days of the American involvement in the D-Day campaign in France, other U.S, forces on the other side of the planet launched a near-comparably sized invasion of a crucial Japanese-held island, in what has been described as D-Day in the Pacific. In just a couple of days of air battles related to this campaign, U.S. forces in the Marianas destroyed six hundred Japanese aircraft, an astounding total. Japan never recovered. Quite apart from any specific incident, most Americans have virtually no sense of the course of the war, or American goals, or the political context. Nor will they appreciate the stupendous feats of industrial organization that allowed U.S. forces to operate so successfully on a global scale, and which laid the foundations for all the nation’s post-war triumphs. There was so much more to the story than Rosie the Riveter. Nor do they appreciate the critical role of the war in creating American identity and nationhood, in forging previously disparate immigrant communities into a new national whole. So the Civil War was the American Iliad? Then World War II was our Aeneid, an epic struggle against authentic evil, which at once created the nation and framed its destiny. It should not be commemorated as a study in victimhood and injustice. Philip Jenkins is the author of The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels. He is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University and serves as co-director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion. ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
My senior colleague Lou Lumenick today issues a 4-star rave for the Facebook movie “The Social Network” and says it tops his list of Oscar contenders. He even says it might be the first great fact-based movie of the century. (Maybe “Milk,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Good Night and Good Luck,” “Almost Famous,” etc., now seem not so great to him? I’ll have to ask.) I’m of two minds about “The Social Network.” Aaron Sorkin, who wrote it, is forthright about how the heart of it is basically made up. It’s not a documentary, it’s art. OK. The movie is art — it’s fast, funny, smart, full of blazing personalities, with dialogue as tart as a bottle of vinegar and all the freestyle arrogance of youth. It has something to say. David Fincher has basically shot the whole thing like a zingy music video, and you’d be surprised how entertaining he can make a series of depositions and ownership disputes. I enjoyed it a lot, and there aren’t a lot of movies that are intelligent enough to grab your attention and make two hours fly the way this one does. But something nags at me. If Zuckerberg wasn’t motivated by trying to get into the right final club at Harvard, if he didn’t tell a girl that and cost himself a relationship, if he didn’t spend the following years mooning over her… then the movie is, at the beginning, end, and at its core, a lie. If Sorkin wanted to make up a cautionary tale about a headstrong young entrepreneur, why didn’t he write a movie about a made-up guy named Steve Goldschmidt and how he started a site called weconnect.com? Answer: Because then no one would care about the movie. It’s the “this really happened” bit that gives the movie so much of its voyeuristic allure. Can you have it both ways — use reality as marketing bait and then make up anything you want? Especially when the events in the movie concern living people, over the last seven years, and many of the conversations we witness are a matter of official record, having been transcribed in notarized depositions? I think fictionalizing the life of, say, Henry VI (no living witnesses, few if any transcripts, all sorts of details unknown and unknowable) is a lot more okay than making up stuff about, say, a televised 1970s interview, seen by tens of millions, of an ex-president. Or fictionalizing stuff that was in the newspapers last week. ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”Letters from Iwo Jima” is briefly mentioned in this.)
birdmanboyhoodcalvarycaptain americadawn of the planet of the apesinterstellarinto the woodsnightcrawlerselmathe imitation gamethe theory of everythingwhiplash This has been a year when audiences flocked to the likes of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I,’’ “Transformers: Age of Extinction,’’ “Guardians of the Galaxy,’’ “The Fault in Our Stars’’ and “Gone Girl.’’ What did The Post’s film critics prefer? Lou Lumenick and Kyle Smith sat down to hash out their own top picks: Lou: We’ve been working together on the movie beat for nearly 10 years, and we’ve only matched our top choice twice. This year, at least, each of our No. 1 films of the year are somewhere on the other’s list. Kyle: Didn’t you call “Boyhood” a gimmick movie? I thought “Birdman,” which is styled to look like most of the movie is a single take, was the ultimate in artifice for its own sake. In any case: Both made your list! Viva the gimmick! Lou: Well, “Edge of Tomorrow’’ on your list is also a stunt — it’s the first Tom Cruise movie I’ve liked in years, plus it’s got a badass Emily Blunt. I suspect “Boyhood’’ and “Birdman’’ are strongly written and acted enough they would have worked without being stunts. Kyle: “Birdman” is not only one take, it’s one-note. Spare me the showbiz-is-agony woe. But I agree that “Boyhood” would be equally great if different actors played the kid over the years. The scene in which the mom — heartbreakingly good work by Patricia Arquette — cries when she sends her boy off to college might be the best of the year. “I just thought there would be more,” she says. Indelible. Another great parenting film was “Interstellar,” which yielded the profound thought that the reason we’re here is to make memories for our children. Lou: I think the emotional content was too much for some of our colleagues, who were complaining about the “incomprehensible” physics while claiming to understand Jean-Luc Godard’s inscrutable “Goodbye to Language.’’ Another celebration of out-of-the-box thinking — in physics and an unconventional marriage — can be found in “The Theory of Everything,’’ with super performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Kyle: A surprisingly uplifting movie considering the hero spends most of it in dire straits. Given two years to live in 1963, Stephen Hawking is still cracking jokes, still enlarging our sense of wonder. Another movie that caught me unawares and made me cry was Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam.” The very word “Vietnam” is synonymous with folly and dishonor, yet this doc shows how, with ingenuity, tenacity and courage, US forces saved thousands of Vietnamese from the barbarians at the gates as Saigon fell in 1975. I would love to see this important, seldom-told story get the full Hollywood treatment. Lou: We’ve got a couple of great movies this year about real-life war heroes who meet unhappy ends. “The Imitation Game’’ has a fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch as closeted genius Alan Turing, who invents the computer to defeat the Nazis, only to end up prosecuted for his homosexuality. And then there’s your favorite, “American Sniper,’’ the first movie I’ve seen with Bradley Cooper where he actually disappears into the character. Kyle: Yes, he embodies the character — physical, taciturn, focused. The film’s director, Clint Eastwood, continues to be a puzzlement. Half the time his military movies amount to Howard Zinn anti-American propaganda, like “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.” And yet “American Sniper” is anything but. It’s a mature, thoughtful, sober work — the capstone to his directorial career, the best military movie since “Black Hawk Down” and a tribute to the warrior class that is the guts of this country. Lou: At the other end of her career, Ava DuVernay arrives as a major filmmaker with “Selma,’’ an epic telling of the ’60s voter rights struggle in Alabama with a terrific David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. politically outmaneuvering Tom Wilkinson’s Lyndon Johnson. The marchers’ confrontation with cops on the bridge is the most powerful scene in a movie this year. Kyle: It reminded me of “Lincoln.” Many long, slow, quiet, dimly lit scenes. Both King and Abe deserved more exciting films. I much preferred the complex mind games in “Calvary” and “Whiplash.” The former is a devastating parable about the issues facing contemporary Catholicism, the latter a thrilling exploration of the pain that may be involved in attaining true mastery of craft. Lou: Hope you mailed your “Calvary’’ review to your No. 1 Catholic fan, Philomena Lee! I do think “Whiplash’’ is well worth seeing for J.K. Simmons’ mesmerizing performance as an abusive music teacher, though I question making him a role model. Another dark character I loved was Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy TV cameraman in “Nightcrawler,’’ debuting director Dan Gilroy’s blackly hilarious mash-up of “Network’’ and “Ace in the Hole.” Kyle: It was amusing, but Billy Wilder was 10 times as caustic. The “serious” movies in general disappointed me this year, but I enjoyed a bunch of summer blockbusters. The new “Apes” movie was smart, eerie and gripping, and the second “Captain America” was nearly the equal of its predecessor — funny banter, sinewy action, well-drawn characters, a pleasingly complicated plot and one of the most ingeniously designed exposition scenes ever — Toby Jones explaining it all as a Nazi ghost speaking through 1970s computers. Lou: To me, “Captain America’’ was an interminable one-joke movie — Robert Redford collecting a paycheck playing a Nazi. Meanwhile, the unlikely collaboration between the Mouse House and Stephen Sondheim has turned out what may well be the best Hollywood musical so far this century — the deeply subversive “Into the Woods,’’ with fantastic singing by Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep. Just don’t bring the kids, PG rating or no. Kyle: Another one about the agonies of parenting. I venerate Sondheim, but the big-screen version is a bust. All I want for Christmas is for somebody to greenlight the “Wicked” movie already. Lou: Don’t hold your breath. I almost forgot to mention Lukas Moodysson’s “We Are the Best,” a delightful comedy-drama about aspiring punk rockers in 1980s Stockholm. Kyle: Time to get on out of here. I have to go convince my 6-year-old that “Big Hero 6” isn’t the greatest movie ever. Lou: And I have to buy a “Frozen’’ doll as a fifth birthday present for my granddaughter — who dismissed “How To Train Your Dragon 2’’ as a “boy movie.’’ Lou Lumenick’s Top 10 1. “The Theory of Everything”2. “Interstellar”3. “Selma”4. “We Are the Best!”5. “The Imitation Game”6. “Birdman”7. “American Sniper”8. “Nightcrawler”9. “Boyhood”10. “Into the Woods” Kyle Smith’s Top 10 1. “American Sniper”2. “Boyhood”3. “Calvary”4. “Whiplash”5. “The Theory of Everything”6. “Edge of Tomorrow”7. “Last Days in Vietnam”8. “Interstellar”9. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”10. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogleFacebook MessengerWhatsAppEmailCopy ]]>
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Crosswalk
Amazon Prime excels at delivering packages to your doorstep in two days or less.But did you know your Prime subscription also includes thousands of free movies, including some of the best faith-based ones ever made? In fact, the Prime streaming service has more Christian titles than Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu combined – including unique ones you’d normally only find on a Christian-owned platform.For this list, we included well-known and award-winning titles, as well as a few that involve names you might recognize.Here are 17 Christian movies streaming on Amazon Prime, for free, in 2020:Photo courtesy: Kayla Koslosky
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Crosswalk
Amazon Prime has more than 100 million members, and the majority of them – 79 percent – pay for the service primarily for the two-day shipping.
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Crosswalk
Movies DVD Release Date:  August 10, 2010Theatrical Release Date:  April 9, 2010 Rating:  PG (for thematic material) Genre:  Drama Run Time:  110 min. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); Director:  David Nixon, Patrick DoughtieSEE ALSO: Simple Faith in the Face of Tragedy Fuels Letters to God Actors:  Tanner Macguire, Jeffrey Johnson, Robyn Lively, Bailee Madison, Ralph Waite, Christopher Schmidt, Michael Christopher Bolten, Dennis Neal, Maree CheathamLetters to God is the latest film made by Christians and aimed directly at the evangelical audience. It's a competent, old-fashioned production that puts Jesus Christ front and center, and one in which every needy character embraces faith as an answer to their problems. While not demanding a big-screen viewing experience, the film goes down easy, with respectable performances and craftsmanship to help it along.How is the film old-fashioned? It starts with a sequence in which a postal carrier (Christopher Schmidt) delivers mail to a group of residents who wait patiently for his visit. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to be doing nothing but waiting for the mail. One man carps about the letter carrier's delivery time, but the letter carrier smiles and carries on with his route. That route includes the Doherty home, where the man picks up letters addressed to God. They're sent from 8-year-old Tyler (Tanner Macguire), who's fighting cancer. He puts his prayers into letter form, seals them in a stamped envelope, and addresses the correspondence to the Almighty.The postal carrier concludes his route and begins a long period of leave from his job, but not before warning his boss (Dennis Neal) that he should carefully consider the person who takes over his route. Enter Brady McDaniels (Jeffrey Johnson), a hard-drinking father who wants custody of his son. His life has been falling apart since a drunk-driving arrest that endangered both Brady and his child. Also troubled is Tyler's mother (Robyn Lively). After Tyler's 30 radiation treatments for brain cancer, she's glad to see him return to school but concerned about his stamina and the threat that the cancer may not be completely eradicated. Her other son, Ben (Michael Christopher Bolten), isn't making things easier. He's frustrated with all the attention Tyler is receiving. The only person providing stability in the Doherty house is Tyler's grandmother (Maree Cheatham). She calmly prays when others become exasperated by whatever life has thrown at them and she quotes Scripture frequently.Meeting Tyler changes Brady. Although he's directed to put Tyler's letters in a "dead letter" bin, where they will remain until destroyed, he holds on to them and takes them to Tyler's church. There, the pastor there tells Brady, "It seems to me God put these letters in your hands for a reason. Listen to God. Let him tell you what to do with them." He then prays with Brady, acknowledging that God's plans are always good. "I know you're about to do something wonderful," he prays.Another key character is Tyler's friend Sam Perryfield (Bailee Madison), who defends Tyler at school against a boy who teases him. Her grandfather, Cornelius Perryfield (Ralph Waite, who played John Walton Sr. on The Waltons), proves to be Tyler's strongest male role model. He says Tyler has been handpicked by God to be one of his warriors. "Ride forth in truth, humility and righteousness," he tells Tyler. "God is truth, and it's your job to point [others] to him. And if they turn to him, they find the truth. Wouldn't that be a wonderful victory?"Co-directed by David Nixon, one of the co-producers of the hit Christian films Facing the Giants and Fireproof, and Patrick Doughtie, who also is credited with the story and screenplay, Letters to God is one of the most explicitly Christian films in recent years. Believers will be heartened to hear characters reference biblical ideas and pray fervently for God's intervention in the lives of troubled souls. If there's a head-scratching aspect to Letters to God, it might be the title. As the art of letter writing—the very idea of letter writing—continues to fade from public consciousness, is the film's main plot device already a relic? The closest the film comes to acknowledging e-mail and other twenty-first century means of quick communication is Tyler's comment that his letters are "like texting your best friend." The young Tyler lives a Christlike life, saying he'll do what Jesus would do when faced with taunts from classmates about his appearance, but the film's most eloquent expressions and testimonies of the peace that passes all understanding are reserved for its two most senior cast members. A minor quibble with Letters to God is that it risks reinforcing the idea that strong Christian faith is primarily for an older generation. Everyone else is in need of their direction and guidance. Tyler's example is mainly to suffer with dignity. While wisdom and age often go together, it would be nice to see a film in which the most outspoken Christian characters are adults not facing extraordinary illnesses or major crises, but who nevertheless set an example not only for their children but also for their elders.Letters to God might not be the most cinematic film viewers will see this year, but it's a faith-affirming story competently told. Viewers tired of having their beliefs assaulted whenever they watch a movie will take comfort in this production, which, for a change, affirms what they believe and demonstrates the power of their shared faith.Questions? Comments? Contact the writer 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){}}()/* ]]> */.CAUTIONS: googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Language/Profanity:  None.Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  Man drinks at a bar, and at home, where he keeps beer in the refrigerator and a bottle of whiskey; Brady has flashbacks to a previous drunk-driving arrest.Sex/Nudity:  None.Violence/Crime:  A dog jumps on a postal carrier, but the attack is not vicious; Tyler has a scar on his shaved head from earlier surgery, and is shown being injected and having blood drawn; off-screen vomiting; Sam pushes a classmate's face into his lunch. Religion:  Story is steeped in Christian language and themes; grandmother advises her grandson to pray and leads him in a prayer in Jesus' name; Tyler says he'll do what Jesus would do when Tyler is picked on by classmates; letters to God are dropped off at a church; a pastor prays for a troubled man; an older man tells Tyler he's been handpicked by God and chosen to be one of His warriors who points people to the truth; Tyler's mom tells her mother to stop quoting the Bible to her; Tyler leads two friends to Christ; Tyler is a given a bracelet with "John 3:16" and the word "Believe" on it. SEE ALSO: Facing the Giants Scores a Touchdown for Faith-Based Films ]]>
(Review Source)
Crosswalk
Movies DVD Release Date:  September 14, 2010Theatrical Release Date:  May 14, 2010Rating:  PG (for brief rude behavior, some language and incidental smoking)Genre:  Romantic ComedyRun Time:  101 min.Director:  Gary WinickActors:  Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal, Christopher Egan, Vanessa Redgrave, Daniel BaldockFirst, the good news: Unlike the last rom-com Gary Winick directed, the criminally annoying Bride Wars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, Letters to Juliet is infinitely more enjoyable.However, the bad news is that even with a breathtaking Italian backdrop, a nod to literature's favorite star-crossed lovers (Romeo and Juliet) and not one, but two, potential happy-ever-afters packed into an hour and a half, Letters to Juliet is still only a notch above mediocre.In terms of perfectly frothy, purely escapist entertainment, Letters to Juliet had possibility in spades. It's the faulty execution, not to mention the clichéd storytelling, that didn't work out so well. Let's just say it could've used a little more Shakespeare and a little less cheese.Before heading to Italy, we learn that Sophie (Dear John's Amanda Seyfried) is a wannabe writer who's stuck fact-checking at The New Yorker instead because her editors say she's so good at it. Engaged to Victor (a hilariously self-absorbed Gael Garcia Bernal), she and her amour have been so busy (she's working late, he's in the midst of opening his first NYC Italian eatery) that they decide to head to Verona for a romantic, pre-wedding honeymoon.Naturally, Sophie has a million romantic plans for their time together in Verona, the City of Love. But once they arrive, Victor immediately snaps into "work" mode and is obsessed with tracking down the best wine and exotic mushrooms for his new restaurant rather than properly lovin' on his girl.Despite her obvious disappointment, Sophie is still the perfectly doting fiancée and lets Victor do his thing. That detail aside, it doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out this isn't quite what Sophie envisioned for her romantic getaway—or her love life.And for whatever reason, the screenwriters actually forgot to provide even one compelling reason to root for this couple's future marital bliss anyway, a way-too-convenient plot device for what happens later on (not that you couldn't probably guess from the film's overly revealing trailer anyway).Aside from the fact that these genetically superior individuals would probably have cute kids together (and trust me, the camera absolutely loves both of them), Sophie and Victor have absolutely nothing in common, a flaw that doesn't exactly help the story's cause. In fact, you hope she finds someone—anyone—but Victor because every girl should be loved more than a perfect plate of fettuccine.While her fiancé's behavior is definitely lame, Sophie doesn't sit in her hotel room and sulk. Resolved to enjoy the glorious sites of Verona on her own, she eventually visits the home of the fabled Juliet and discovers something rather unusual in the process. Turns out, lovelorn women of all ages have written letters to Juliet about their ill-fated romances and have left them near the wall of the courtyard.But rather than letting these confessions simply gather dust, a group of pro bono "Juliets" answer each and every grief-infused letter. And now that Sophie's curiosity instinct has officially kicked into overdrive (the mark of a good writer, no?), she follows one of Juliet's secretaries and watches them in action.Then in a moment of true rom-com serendipity, Sophie discovers another letter of longing trapped behind the brick. Dating all the way back from 1957, Sophie is particularly inspired to play Juliet and answer this woman's plea for another chance with Lorenzo, the true love she left behind in Italy more than 50 years ago now.While we don't have the privilege of hearing what Sophie said until later, her words were apparently inspiring enough to encourage a hopeful Claire (a radiant Vanessa Redgrave) and her easily annoyed grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) to travel all the way to Verona from England to locate the "Juliet" who wrote her.Armed with the youthful optimism that "Claire's Lorenzo" still might be out there, Sophie eventually asks to join Claire and Charlie on the quest to find him. Of course, Claire agrees without blinking an eye much to her grandson's chagrin, and the three embark on a Tuscan road-trip that's rather easy on the eyes.Now as utterly romantic as this all sounds, the premise would've been far easier to buy into if there weren't a surplus of sappy dialogue along the way. Rather than actually having real conversations, these characters speak in cheesy platitudes like "I didn't know that true love had an expiration date" and "Do you believe in destiny?"And that disconnect with any sort of reality is what inevitably compromises the whole experience. Sure, there's nothing wrong with fantastical, wish-fulfillment entertainment; after all, that's why many of us love the movies so much. But when it's this contrived and predictable, well, not even two sets of Romeos and Juliets can fix it.CAUTIONS: Drugs/Alcohol:  Wine is a big part of Italian culture, so it's regularly consumed with meals. Language/Profanity:  A few exclamations of God's name, plus a couple of mild profanities. Sex/Nudity:  The only nudity is of an artistic variety (bare breasts shown on historic statues, etc.). There are also a couple of double entendres in the humor department. Violence:  Only of the comedic, slapstick variety. SEE ALSO: Don't Bother RSVPing for Bride Wars googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.  For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); SEE ALSO: Even as a Sappy Romance, Dear John Doesn't Deliver ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
A little hate mail for the Amanda Seyfried romantic drama, “Letters to Juliet,” in which her New Yorker fact checker helps an old lady (Vanessa Redgrave) find her true love while being exasperated by his hottie grandson (Christopher Egan). My review is up.]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”Letters to Juliet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
My learned colleague Sara Stewart has a post on what she calls the “‘Sex and the City 2’ Backlash Backlash.” Previous argument: Give this flick a break, there are no women’s pictures! (Except for, in the last six months, “It’s Complicated,” “Did You Hear About the Morgans,” “Valentine’s Day,” “The Back-Up Plan,” “Please Give,” “Mother and Child,” “Babies,” “Date Night,” “Dear John,” “Letters to Juliet,” “The Bounty Hunter,” “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too,” “Leap Year,” “Just Wright,” “The Killers,” “The Runaways,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”….but not, oddly, “From Paris with Love.”) Hell, even “Robin Hood” is a women’s picture, if by “women’s picture,” you mean “picture that shamelessly panders to female ticket buyers at the expense of any hint of sense.” Cate Blanchett with a mace knocking huge men off their horses? To put it in femalespeak: I. Don’t. Think. So. Current argument: Okay, so “Sex and the City 2” sucks. So do all the other movies out there! If I were a feminist, I think I’d keep my powder dry for a better movie. And maybe for one that was actually written and/or directed by a woman. Underrated film critic William of Ockham says, “If a movie sucks, and everyone says so, is that really so surprising?” I say, stick a fork in “Sex and the City 2,” mainly because I want to see a blog post entitled “Kyle Smith Advocates Impaling Strong, Independent Women.”]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
(”Letters to Juliet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
May might have been the worst one for movies in many years. “Iron Man 2” was about it, and “Robin Hood” (so bad that indefatigable commenter Hunter Tremayne apparently didn’t even like–he has been uncharacteristically silent on it ever since it came out), “Letters to Juliet,” “MacGruber,” “Shrek Forever After” and “Sex and the City 2” were all abysmal. I didn’t see “Prince of Persia” but no one has encouraged me to get to it. Now June is looking . . . much like May. Warner Brothers, which is the one studio that is least likely to hide its films (one reason it’s my favorite studio is that it almost always offers its product to critics on Monday afternoon of the week of opening) is delaying showing “Jonah Hex” until Wednesday afternoon. I don’t know anything about this picture but that spells all but certain disaster. Nor am I enthusiastic about this week’s dueling party-like-it’s-1985 remakes of “The A-Team” (which I haven’t seen) or “The Karate Kid.” At the end of the month, we can look forward to Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups,” the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz actioner “Knight and Day” (don’t you hate aggressively dumb titles like that one?) and the third “Twilight” movie, whatever that’s called. Ugh. The worst May ever, followed by the worst June ever? Strong possibility. I do hugely recommend the Jonah Hill-John C. O’Reilly comedy “Cyrus,” however, a wicked little indie comedy coming June 18, and I have no reason not to be optimistic about “Toy Story 3.”]]>
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