Poster for the movie
12 Strong
The American Conservative Staff

The Death of the American Movie Theater Cliché films, assaulting sound effects—enjoying the show has become almost impossible. ... a review, etc. I don’t want to hear something specific but ...

(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
Taki Mag Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
PHOENIXVILLE, Pa.—Let’s look on the bright side of the new 20-hour nonstop flight between New York and Sydney. Personally I don’t expect to ever be that desperate to get to Sydney. I’m more likely to fly to El Lay, stay a few days, continue to Maui, spend a few days watching whales, proceed to Fiji […]
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)

22.01.2014 · 12 Years a Slave was just a lousy movie with gratuitous violence, no narrative, no back story, and with nothing redemptive to say about the suffering portrayed.

(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
Rounding up the candidates in contention for taking home the statuette
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
Earlier this week, I saw Steve McQueen’s film, “12 Years A Slave,” and came away awe-struck but also dissatisfied, and perturbed about that dissatisfaction. The film is powerfully acted, carefully written, and, it has to be said, beautifully shot – there’s something especially disturbing about brutality looking so gorgeous. But something about the narrative irritated me, and I had to figure out what it was. The story is a simple and brutal one. Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man of Saratoga, travels to Washington with two white men who say they plan to employ him as a musician. Instead, they drug him, kidnap him, and sell him into slavery. Unable to prove his identity, Northrup is sold down the river, first to a plantation run by a relatively liberal owner (played by Benedict Cumberbatch); he’s a genuine liberal, not a phony, which shows just how little a liberal attitude is worth when enmeshed in systemic evil. Then, after he gets himself in trouble by fighting with an overseer, he’s sold to a sadistic tyrant, Epps (Michael Fassbender), the only man who will buy him, where he is trapped for years until the opportunity presents itself to get a message out (through a sympathetic white Canadian carpenter, a cameo by producer Brad Pitt), and he is rescued by friends from the North who prove he was born free. Much of the commentary on the film has focused on its determination not to flinch, to show us the lash, the noose, the sexual violence that were integral to the enterprise. But another way in which the film doesn’t flinch is that it doesn’t frame Northrup’s story in a way that provides us with certain expected satisfactions: specifically, the satisfaction of the hero’s triumph over adversity (even though the hero does triumph in the minimal sense that he escapes, and returns to his family). The most common way Hollywood engineers that triumph is directly, through manly violence. But there are alternatives. The hero could triumph through a rejection of violence. Or the hero could triumph by losing, sacrificing himself for some larger cause. Or the hero could triumph internally – and be changed profoundly by the experience in a way that brings him or her to some larger consciousness or greater state of satisfaction. Or, of course, this could be a tragedy, and the hero could triumph over adversity in ways that destroy something more fundamental, ways we ultimately reject. Whatever the outcome, the narrative structure will be designed to impart meaning to the hero’s experience, the suggestion that the experience happened for a reason, even if that reason was impossible to discern from the outset. As Joseph says when he reveals himself to his brothers in Egypt: you intended evil (by selling me into slavery), but God intended it for good – to save our family from famine. Northrup’s story doesn’t work like that. Even though it’s his story, Northrup is, structurally, an observer character. I don’t mean to suggest he’s passive. He makes active choices all the time, though they avail him nothing until the very end. He chooses to use his engineering talent to help his first master, hoping to win favor and ultimately his freedom, which only winds up making him an enemy of the overseer. He chooses to beat the overseer who is unjustly abusing him, which nearly gets him killed and gets him sold to the sadistic Epps. He chooses to try to bolt from Epps’s plantation, only to run almost immediately into a lynching of two other runaways. He chooses to trust a white laborer for Epps, a former overseer who intimates a moral revulsion at slavery, to get a message out to the north; the man betrays him to Epps and thereby nearly gets him killed (he talks his way out of it in a scene that brilliantly reveals the genealogy of a whole tradition of African-American folk wisdom about how to fool the master – listen to how his voice changes in this scene). And by saying he’s an observer, I don’t mean to suggest that he doesn’t suffer directly – because he clearly does. But I felt more strongly the horrible abuses he observes, and can do nothing about, than the beatings he receives, even his hanging – it was a relief, honestly, when he suffered directly, instead of having to be passive. The deepest pain is reserved for Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), the beautiful slave woman for whom Epps has conceived a fierce and jealous passion. Epps rapes her; his wife tortures her; and he, in a fit of jealous rage, flogs her almost to the point of death. And the worst pain Northrup himself experiences is the pain of having to participate in that flogging, unless it’s the pain of having to refuse her request to be murdered at his hands rather than continue suffering. When I say he’s structurally an observer character, it’s because the the narrative is fundamentally a relation of his experience – what he saw and felt – in a way that doesn’t implicate him, neither in the sense of being truly at fault (though he clearly feels guilt at not being able to act in anyone’s defense), nor in the sense of being the one who rights a wrong. I don’t want to be misunderstood; I’m not saying Northrup is in any way emotionally detached. I’m saying he’s morally detached. This is unquestionably deliberate on the part of the filmmaker, because it’s a fundamental truth about slavery, not merely in that the slaves were collectively the victims of a crime, suffering unjustly, but in that they did not themselves force an accounting for that crime. You can tell true stories of individual heroism, but in a fundamental way the truest story is one of victimhood. And victimhood as such is narratively unsatisfying – because it is politically unsatisfying. Consider, by way of contrast, the ending of “Schindler’s List.” Now, in that movie, there’s a very clear protagonist – Schindler – which relegates the Jewish population to the status of object, of the Nazi extermination project and of Schindler’s efforts at rescue. That’s not a problem narratively – but it was a problem, for Spielberg, politically. So Spielberg did something at the end of the film: he introduced the Naomi Shemer song, “Jerusalem of Gold,” a song about longing for the unification of Jerusalem that just preceded the ’67 war. This is the music that carries us to the present in which the men and women Schindler saved can show their gratitude at Yad va-Shem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum. The film very explicitly “corrects” the narrative we’ve just witnessed by saying, in so many words: once, the Jews were objects, as they are in the story you just saw; but they aren’t anymore, because they have a state of their own. Now they are subjects – and, as subjects, they are in a position to show proper gratitude to people like Schindler, gratitude as something other than mere victims. McQueen doesn’t give us that uplifting twist. The last thing we see Northrop do is break down and apologize to his family – for, presumably, being unable to escape and return to them for twelve years. (His daughter, now grown and married, mercifully tells him he has nothing to apologize for.) In text afterwards, we learn that Northrup was thereafter passionately involved in the abolitionist movement, and pursued his kidnappers in court. He pursued them unsuccessfully, but the more important point is that we don’t see him pursuing them. McQueen could have shown us a determined Northrup engaged in that pursuit, vowing never to rest, and ended his movie on an “up” note. He chose not to. This broad, powerful choice has some fascinatingly perverse consequences. In my write-up of the movie, “Captain Phillips,” I pointed out how our sense of who the protagonist is changes in the middle of the movie. Initially, Phillips is the protagonist, actively working to outwit his would-be captors, and the Somali pirates are the antagonists. But once we’re in the lifeboat, he shifts to being more of an observer, just trying not to get killed, while the Somalis become the tragically doomed protagonists, facing the overwhelming might of the United States Navy as an antagonist. Something similar happens in “12 Years A Slave,” where Epps became the object of my most intense interest, the tragically doomed protagonist in love with his slave, disgusted by his own love, and flailing out with brutal violence in all directions. (I don’t know that it means anything, but “Captain Phillips” and “12 Years A Slave” also both end with the freed captive breaking down emotionally.) Epps has set himself up as a kind of god on his plantation, and in his twisted way he thinks he’s a loving god. He’s remarkably intimate with his slaves in general, always putting his hands on them, fondling and carrying the children, and his rage at Northrup’s deliverance is not merely about money or pride; there’s a real sense of betrayal. It’s alarmingly easy to see him as a kind of outrageously abusive father, to forget that he is no father of any kind, that his authority is completely and totally without legitimate foundation. I don’t know if that forgetting has something to do with my position as a white viewer, or if it’s the opposite, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome due to identification with the slaves – perhaps even a consequence, as a Jewish viewer, of refracting the slave experience through my own cultural memory of the Holocaust, and my feelings about that experience. But it might, again, be deliberate. McQueen has averred that he himself has profound sympathy for Epps, precisely because he cannot control his love for what he hates, or his hatred for what he loves. In any event, I walked out of the theater on the one hand creepily enthralled by Epps, and on the other hand furious – at Northrup, for, well, for being a victim. This is the core emotion behind nationalism, the desire to no longer be the victim, and instead have a chance to be (or magnanimously avoid being) the oppressor. This is the reason why nationalism will always be a powerful force in human affairs. And I have a sneaking suspicion that part of McQueen’s purpose is to point to the African-American experience as a paradigm of some other kind of response, precisely because nationalism has never been a realistic program for black Americans, howsoever appealing. (McQueen himself is a Britisher of Trinidadian descent.) But he’s not willing to point to liberalism or Christianity or any other historic response that seeks to make peace with the past by overcoming it, precisely because the terms of that peace have always involved a certain amount of discretion about what really happened. He’s looking, I think, for some kind of existential humanist response, for a global audience, with all varieties of historical connection with the Atlantic slave trade, including none to speak of, simply to confront the slave experience directly, without having their response dictated to them. To confront the past without contextualizing it in terms of its meaning today. I’m fascinated to see if it works. I wonder if I’ll know if it has. ]]>
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Well, I suppose not obligatory – nobody’s making me write it – but this is a year where there is a modest amount of drama in the “Best Picture” category, and it’s also a rare year where I’ve seen almost all the major-category nominees. So I should probably say something. This, then, is something. This is a funny year in which there was a large number of worthy films and no single film that is obviously a “Best Picture” film. Compare “12 Years a Slave” to last year’s “Lincoln.” I found Steve McQueen’s film to be far more interesting than Spielberg’s, but also much less-satisfying precisely because McQueen seems aggressively uninterested in providing the satisfactions of a traditional narrative. Or compare “American Hustle” with “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell’s 2013 nominee. His newer film is much more ambitious, much more complex – and much more of a narrative mess. That makes it more interesting in many ways – but also much less of a “Best Picture” type of film. Both of these films make you think about what they are doing even as you experience them. They don’t exactly carry you along. But that “on a great ride” feeling is a big part of what people love about the movies. So I think both “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” have a wall to get over to win Best Picture that another film – which I liked less – doesn’t. That film is “Gravity.” Compare “Gravity to last year’s “Life of Pi,” another technically-pathbreaking, spiritually-oriented film about an individual adrift in a hostile environment. “Life of Pi” had a metafictional frame that contained the “message” of the movie, while the main story was a frankly fantastical one. That metafictional layering was clearly intended to make you think, even as the story of the boy and the tiger had a visceral power. “Gravity,” by contrast, keeps you rooted in the experience of the film itself; the “message” is the weakest, least-interesting aspect of the film. That slightness might hurt it, of course; “Best Picture” films are supposed to be important. But I’m betting not. Best Picture is expected to be a contest between these three films, with the other six nominees as dark horses. I have a hard time seeing “American Hustle” win. I definitely preferred “12 Years a Slave” to “Gravity,” but I recognize the substantial technical achievement of the latter. (That long “shot” toward the beginning of the film deserves an Oscar all of its own.) There’s some talk that they may split the Picture and Director honors, Cuarón winning for Director while “12 Years a Slave” wins for Picture, but the funny thing is that what I liked best about both films was the direction, while other elements (particularly the screenplays) struck me as relatively weak. If I were voting, from these nine films, I’d probably vote for “12 Years a Slave,” which is a consequential, powerful but flawed film. There are individual scenes that are going to stay with me forever, even if the film as a whole felt like less than the sum of those scenes. But if I’m predicting, I’d predict “Gravity.” My thoughts on the rest of the “Best Picture” nominees: “Captain Phillips” (which I wrote up here) has stayed with me more for the performance of Barkhad Abdi than for anything else. “Dallas Buyers Club” is the only “Best Picture” nominee I haven’t seen. “Her” (which I wrote up here) has a great production design and a set of really compelling performances, but it is so, so sad, and not, ultimately, in a cathartic way. “Nebraska” (which I took two cracks at, here and here) hasn’t stayed with me as powerfully as I thought it might have. I still think Bruce Dern gave a great performance, and I did love June Squibb, but I worry that the film wasn’t a challenge for Alexander Payne – that it took him places that, mostly, he already knew. “Philomena” I haven’t had a chance to write up, other than in passing in my post from yesterday on religious films. I don’t have too much to say about it; it’s a sweet little film, well-written and well-structured. It certainly benefitted from low expectations on my part; it didn’t sound like something I’d like, and lo and behold, I liked it. I’m sure it’s thrilled to be nominated. “The Wolf of Wall Street” I also haven’t had a chance to write up – and I should. DiCaprio’s performance is technically amazing – that scene where he has to get out the door, down the stairs and into his car while unable to stand up because he’s taken too many quaaludes is a comic tour de force. And Scorsese is absolutely in control of his film. But I found myself falling between the “love” and “hate” camps with respect to the film, in a place of relative indifference. Why? Two reasons. First, the film is too short. I’m entirely serious. People chortled when Thelma Schoonmaker said it was really hard to edit the film down from four hours, but I felt like I could see what she meant. They managed to preserve all these set pieces, but I felt sometimes like multiple peripheral characters never got defined, or got lost, because there wasn’t time to let us understand who they were. And I assume that’s because too much was left on the cutting room floor. The second, more important reason, though, is that Jordan Belfort just isn’t a very interesting person. His story is a boringly self-aggrandizing one. This isn’t really a story about Wall Street, because Belfort was a petty criminal who just made it much bigger than you’d ever expect. It’s like, what would happen if Ricky Roma from “Glengarry Glen Ross” somehow made hundreds of millions of dollars. So, he’d be a jerk on a colossal scale. What else? Not much else. Now, for the other categories: Best Director: Cuarón, for “Gravity.” He’ll get this one whether “Gravity” gets Best Picture or not. Best Actor: Everybody says it’s McConaughey’s to lose, and since I didn’t see “Dallas Buyers Club,” I can’t really venture an opinion. Of the other four nominees, I would probably pick Bruce Dern. Best Actress: Everybody says it’s Cate Blanchett, who has swept every prior award this year. I saw “Blue Jasmine,” but haven’t written it up. I thought she was fantastic, and single-handedly saved the film from being kind of unbearable. I would certainly vote for her. Best Supporting Actor: Everybody says it’s Jared Leto, and again, I didn’t see “Dallas Buyers Club,” so I can’t say. I’d vote for Michael Fassbender from the other four nominees, but I wouldn’t be upset if either Barkhad Abdi or Bradley Cooper won. Best Supporting Actress: I predict Lupita Nyong’o. I’d also vote for her, even though I adored Jennifer Lawrence and think June Squibb is a hoot and a half. Best Original Screenplay: this will probably go to “American Hustle,” and I’m not sure how I feel about that because I feel like the screenplay has loads of marvelous stuff but also real structural problems. On the other hand, it’s a much more interesting screenplay than “Nebraska,” and I actively disliked the writing of “Blue Jasmine” – so maybe I’d vote for it after all. Or maybe I’d vote for “Her,” just for sheer cussedness. Yeah, I’d probably vote for “Her.” I wish I could write in “All Is Lost” – a screenplay with essentially no dialogue. Just for total cussedness. Best Adapted Screenplay: this will surely go to “12 Years a Slave,” which I’m not thrilled about since I think the screenplay is the weakest part of the film. I would probably vote for “Before Midnight.” I really hope “The Act of Killing” wins Best Documentary, because that film knocked me flat – it was by far my favorite film of the year. Would have written it up except Eve Tushnet got there first with the best headline ever (and an excellent review under it). I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve seen none of the Foreign Film nominees. Technical awards: “Gravity” should take the lion’s share of these: Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing and Mixing, Visual Effects. People say it will also win Best Score; I admit, I don’t remember the score. I do remember the score for “Her,” which drove me nuts, and which suited the film perfectly, so I’d vote for “Her.” “Gravity” might also win Best Production Design, but I would definitely vote for “Her.” Costume Design I would vote for “American Hustle;” I don’t really have a view on who will win. What else? Makeup? Feel free to tell me your own predictions in comments. I can still change mine for the pool up until Sunday night. ]]>
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
Culture media Art Film It’s that time of year again: the glitz, the glamor, the gowns. Who will go home with a coveted statue, and who will go home empty-handed? This year’s Oscar-nominated films were particularly heartfelt and inspiring (or about as close as Hollywood can manage), and TAC’s culture critic Noah Millman has seen most of them. He can tell you which ones are worth watching—or rewatching:  American HustleLoosely based on the Abscam scandal, David O. Russell takes a crack at screwball dramedy, with mixed results. Millman writes: “Russell wants it both ways – he wants you to enjoy the Scorcesean roller-coaster even as at every turn he’s showing you that his real pleasure tilt-a-whirl. And it turns out you can’t quite have it both ways.” 12 Years a SlaveThe film’s undiluted portrait of slavery that had audiences sobbing in the theater is nominated for Best Picture—and the two leads, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, are nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. Lupita Nyongo is also nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Millman criticized director Steve McQueen for failing to end the film on a positive note: “McQueen doesn’t give us that uplifting twist… McQueen could have shown us a determined Northrup engaged in t[he] pursuit [of his captors], vowing never to rest, and ended his movie on an ‘up’ note. He chose not to.” HerThe genre-bending romantic drama of a man who falls in love with his operating system is a thought-provoking tale of humans’ dependency on their machines. Millman describes the film as  “…a particularly clever Pygmalion story, one that is more attuned to what a modern man might actually want in a fantasy companion, as opposed to a mere sexual fantasy.” NebraskaMillman compares Alexander Payne’s newest film to his 2002 work “About Schmidt”, a rambling, dour film about an unhappy old man: “Payne’s new movie, ‘Nebraska,’ has a lot in common with ‘About Schmidt.’ Both are set primarily in Nebraska; both deal with elderly men who feel they have missed life somehow (and associate that missing out with having married June Squibb), and who go on a quixotic road trip in a roundabout way of trying to resolve their existential dilemmas.” GravityCritics have raved about the gorgeous cinematography and complained about the nail-biting twists and turns this film makes. Millman offers praise for the visual component of the film. “Enormous effort has been put into getting the physics right, and that effort pays off magnificently. The film is stunningly beautiful – more than that, it is sublime (to use the Burkean distinction).”  Captain PhillipsBased on a true story of a commercial ship hijacked by Somali pirates, Millman praises director Paul Greengrass’s ability to depart from the classic thriller structure to weave a more complex narrative: “The structure he’s chosen, which takes real risks in terms of pacing, allows him to draw that straight line between Captain Phillips’s resourcefulness and the might of the U.S. Navy, while also showing what, and who, lies on the other side of that line.” Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street Rod Dreher doesn’t comprehensively review these two films, but sheds very important light on the religious and moral undertones of both films, bringing their messages into stark relief. Noah Millman in his Oscar post calls Philomena  “a sweet little film, well-written and well-structured.” He gives faint praise to “The Wolf of Wall Street” but claims too much time is given to the protagonist, who, in Millman’s estimation, “just isn’t a very interesting person.” The Dallas Buyers Club While TAC did not review this film, the New Yorker’s review is more than apt, and appropriately highlights Matthew McConaughey’s transformation from romantic comedy beach bum to a serious dramatic actor. ]]>
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
On Martin Luther King Day, 2015, how stand race relations in America? “Selma,” a film focused on the police clubbing of civil rights marchers led by Dr. King at Selma bridge in March of 1965, is being denounced by Democrats as a cinematic slander against the president who passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the movie, King is portrayed as decisive and heroic, LBJ as devious and dilatory. And no member of the “Selma” cast has been nominated for an Academy Award. All 20 of the actors and actresses nominated are white. Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, says Rev. Al Sharpton, the higher up you go the whiter it gets. Even before the “Selma” dustup, the hacking of Sony Pictures had unearthed emails between studio chief Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin yukking it up over President Obama’s reputed preference for films like “Django Unchained,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Butler.” “Racism in Hollywood!” ran the headlines. Pascal went to Rev. Sharpton to seek absolution, which could prove expensive. Following a 90-minute meeting, Al tweeted that he had had a “very pointed and blunt exchange” with Pascal, that her emails reveal a “cultural blindness,” that Hollywood has to change, and that Pascal has “committed to this.” These cultural-social spats—LBJ loyalists vs. the “Selma” folks, Sharpton vs. Hollywood—are tiffs within the liberal encampment, and matters of amusement in Middle America. More serious have been the months-long protests against police, following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner on Staten Island, some of which have featured chants like, “What do we want? Dead Cops!” The protests climaxed with the execution in Bedford-Stuyvesant of two NYPD cops by a career criminal taking revenge for Garner and Brown. Race relations today seem in some ways more poisonous than in 1965, when there were vast deposits of goodwill and LBJ pushed through the Voting Rights Act easily, 77-19 in the Senate and 328-74 in the House. Only two Republican Senators voted against the VRA. But not a week after LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act, the Watts section of Los Angeles exploded in one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. After seven days of pillage and arson, there were 34 dead, 1,000 injured, 3,000 arrested, and a thousand buildings damaged or destroyed. The era of marching for civil rights was over and the era of Black Power, with Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, and The Black Panthers eclipsing King, had begun. In July 1967, there were riots in Newark and Detroit that rivaled Watts in destruction. After Dr. King’s murder in Memphis in April of 1968, riots broke out in 100 more cities, including Washington, D.C. By Oct. 1, the nominee of the Democratic Party, civil rights champion Hubert Humphrey, stood at 28 percent in the Gallup poll, only 7 points ahead of Gov. George Wallace. Though Nixon won narrowly, the Great Society endured. And in the half-century since, trillions have been spent on food stamps, housing subsidies, Head Start, student loans, Pell Grants, welfare, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits, and other programs. How did it all work out? Undeniably, the civil right laws succeeded. Discrimination in hotels and restaurants is nonexistent. African-Americans voted in 2012 in higher percentages than white Americans. There are more black public officials in Mississippi than in any other state. In sports, entertainment, journalism, government, medicine, business, politics, and the arts, blacks may be found everywhere. Yet the pathology of the old urban ghetto has not disappeared. In some ways, it has gotten much worse. Crime in the black community is still seven times what it is in the white community. Test scores of black students remain far below those of Asian and white students. While 40 percent of all infants are born to single moms, the illegitimacy rate in black America is over 70 percent. Whether it is dropout rates, drug use rates, delinquency rates or incarceration rates, the rates for blacks far exceed those of white and Asian-Americans, and of immigrants and Hispanics. White households have a median family income below that of Asians, but far above that of black Americans. White households have on average $143,000 in wealth in stocks, bonds, home equity and other assets, 13 times that of the average black household. At Howard University in 1965, LBJ declared, “We seek … not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” “Equality as a result”? Measured by the average incomes and wealth of Asians and whites and Hispanics and blacks, we have failed. And income inequality is back again, as issue No. 1. After 50 years of affirmative action and the greatest wealth transfers in human history, “equality as a fact” has not been achieved and will not be, absent a greater seizure of power by the U.S. government and larger and virtually endless transfers of wealth. The reports of Karl Marx’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of  The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2014 Creators.com. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
From the New York Times: And the Oscar Goes to … White People Also from the New York Times: Another Oscar Year, Another All-White Ballot And yet more on the Oscar Whiteness Crisis from the New York Times: Oscars So White? Or Oscars So Dumb? Discuss. By MANOHLA DARGIS, WESLEY MORRIS and A. O. SCOTT JAN. 15, 2016 Are these the whitest Oscar nominations ever? Or just the most recent Academy Award whiteout? For the second year in a row, the nominations failed to recognize any minority actors. Movies about black lives like “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” did receive recognition, but their nominations were for either white writers (“Compton”) or a white performer (Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”). The black directors of each movie along with their nonwhite actors were shut out. Creed is a good movie, but that’s because it’s great when Stallone is onscreen playing Rocky Balboa and only pretty good when he’s not. DARGIS Oh, I never thought “Straight Outta Compton” had a real shot for a best picture nod, even with the Academy’s recent — and laudable — attempts to diversify its membership. There’s just too much cussing, for starters, and the average age of the 94 percent white membership is 62 (as of 2012). And I’m guessing that when these dudes (77 percent) were teenagers, they were listening to the Beach Boys (nothing wrong with that!), whereas a new Academy member like Ava DuVernay knew exactly who Dr. Dre and N.W.A were when she was growing up around Compton. My point being that the lived, embodied experiences of the membership greatly matter and that sometimes even the most well-intentioned white people just don’t see the racism and sexism in front of them. Which is why the NWA biopic got only 1 Oscar nomination, while the Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy got … uh … zero. As I wrote last summer: Granted, comparing Straight Outta Compton to Love & Mercy on aesthetics is like contrasting “F*** tha Police” and “No Vaseline” to “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” But the hip-hop film, directed by veteran black hired gun F. Gary Gray (who also helmed Ice Cube’s Friday and Mark Wahlberg’s The Italian Job), is competent enough to trigger feelings of entitlement. As last year’s black complaints about Selma being handed one only Oscar suggested, when the Academy gave the Best Picture award a couple of years ago to 12 Years a Slave, it didn’t succeed in assuaging black demands for a few years as hoped. Instead, 12 Years’ Oscar seemed to convince racial spokespersons that blacks deserve to win Best Picture every year. Because black. This pattern could be a problem for the Democrats. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
This is one of those weeks where the inside pages of the newspapers (for those of you who remember newspapers) grab one’s attention better than the big headlines. The story that the comment threads are talking about: the four young blacks in Chicago who kidnapped and tortured a retarded young white guy. The blacks are in custody; their mugshots have been broadcast to the media. You don’t have to look very long at those pictures to know where we are here: on the left-hand side of the Bell Curve. Intelligence-wise, in fact, we’re on the left-hand side of the black Bell Curve—IQs in the high seventies or low eighties. It’s worth making the effort of imagination to see how the world seems to people like that. So how does it seem? Well, it looks the way the images and the Narrative promoted in our Main Strea m Media and the schools portray it. These blacks, aged 18, 18, 18, and 24, grew up on a steady diet of school textbooks, TV shows, and movies keeping alive the resentments about slavery and Jim Crow. Their teachers told them more about the underground railroad than about Thomas Edison; more about Harriet Tubman than about George Washington; more about Frederick Douglass than about Mark Twain. If they were given any poetry it was Maya Angelou, not Longfellow. Movie producers gave them The Butler, Twelve Years a Slave, The Birth of a Nation. All that picking at historical scabs left these dimwitted youngsters with the feeling that whatever happens to whites, they have it coming. Mix that in with the different behavioral profiles of blacks—low impulse control, high levels of psychopathology, the pack mentality—and you get events like this one. Indeed, you get much worse: anyone remember the Knoxville Horror? Do whites do cruel things to blacks? Yes, they do. One exceptionally cruel thing, the Charleston church murders of 2015, is still generating small news storie s on page sixteen. The differences are in numbers and style. Numbers: Single-offender interracial crimes of violence break five black on nonblack to one the other way. Five out of six are black on nonblack. That at any rate was the case up to 2008—when the Department of Justice mysteriously stopped producing the relevant tables. Style: And that’s single-offender style. I can’t find numbers for gang attacks, but my impression from news stories is that this is very much a black thing. If interracial single-offender violence breaks five to one, I bet gang attacks are at least twice as disproportionate. Race differences in behavior account for much of this, of course. But those differences are amplified by the strange modern fashion, among nonblack educators and media creators, to nurture and inflame black hatred of whites — to keep black resentment alive. There is a corresponding effort to keep white people hating their own ancestors, their own country, and themselves — keeping white ethnomasochism alive. So there’s nothing very surprising here. The main interest of this story in fact is that it goes against the cherished liberal Narrative of heartless whites being cruel to soulful blacks. Reporting on it therefore faced a headwind of fudging and equivocation from the Main Stream Media. It’s been almost painful to watch the reluctance with which respectable outlets dribbled forth the racial facts of the Chicago case. Without that Facebook video of the torturing, they probably wouldn’t have done so at all. The MSM air was thick with excuses and equivocation. The gem here was a 600-word piece in Thursday’s Washington Post: If the attackers had been white and the victim had been black, the incident would have, of course, conjured America’s ugly history of white mobs committing violence against black people. There is no parallel history of the reverse happening on anything remotely approaching the same scale. [Link (to a piece about lynching in the 19th and early 20th centuries) in original] Pro-Trump narratives converge in one awful attack streamed on Facebook, by Callum Borchers, January 7, 2017 As Steve Sailer commented on Borchers’s bizarre argument: Obviously, if you stop and think, hundreds of thousands if not millions of white individuals have suffered violence at the hands of mobs of multiple blacks over the last 50+ years, but that’s not a Thing in our national discourse. That’s just noise. Regrettable and forgettable. How many memorials to crime victims are there in this country? (I believe there is one in Orange County, CA and one in Long Island, NY.) Why do you even know such things? Are you racist? I’d like to see the actual statistics on gang attacks — in recent times, not in 1850-something. If the Washington Post were a real newspaper, instead of a preening mirror for insulated Goodwhite elites, it would have dug them up for us. I can recall some incidents of white gang violence against blacks — the Howard Beach vigilante attack back in the 1980s, for example [Michael Griffith dies fleeing a white mob in Howard Beach in 1986,NY Daily News Flashback, December 20, 2016]. But it really doesn’t seem to be much of a thing in this century, certainly nothing like as much a thing as black gang attacks on lone whites. Probably that’s just confirmation bias on my part, though. The truth of the matter could easily be shown by the numbers. So what are the numbers for gang attacks, black on nonblack versus nonblack on black? Didn’t MSM journalists used to research and publish this kind of thing so that the American public was well-informed? Hello, MSM journalists? Hello? Hello? … ORDER IT NOWJohn Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjectsfor all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He’s had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived atJohnDerbyshire.com. ]]>
(Review Source)
American Renaissance
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Diversity and tokenism in Poland’s media.

The post Notes from a White Country, Part IV appeared first on American Renaissance.

(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Scene from the new BIRTH OF A NATION---a bloodthirsty mob. Credit: VDare.com Anti-white snuff films are now practically their own genre. The newest movie following in the footsteps of Machete and Django Unchained is Birth of a Nation, a loving tribute to the 1831 Nat Turner slave rebellion which led to the death of more than fifty white men, women and children. Not surprisingly, it received a rapturous reception at the Sundance Film Festival. Less than 24 hours after its roaring arrival at the Sundance Film Festival, “The Birth of a Nation” has made history with the biggest deal in the festival’s history. Fox Searchlight has acquired world-wide rights to the Nat Turner biopic for $17.5 million — a whopping amount that reflects the movie’s critical and commercial prospects and the crowded field of bidders hitting festivals now. It was clear from the movie’s premiere that it would go for big money. The audience gave the movie an extended standing ovation through the closing credits, and Nate Parker, who directed, produced, wrote and stars in the film, left the auditorium as Sundance’s favorite son. [Fox Searchlight Acquires ‘The Birth of a Nation’ for $17.5 Million, by Erich Swartzel,Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2016] Here are some highlights from historian Stephen B. Oates’s October 1973American Heritage article, Children Of Darkness, detailing what the rebellion was like: As Turner’s column moved relentlessly toward Jerusalem one Levi Waller, having heard that the blacks had risen, summoned his children from a nearby schoolhouse (some of the other children came running too) and tried to load his guns. But before he could do so, Turner’s advance horsemen swept into his yard, a whirlwind of axes and swords, and chased Waller into some tall weeds. Waller managed to escape, but not before he saw the blacks cut down his wife and children. One small girl also escaped by crawling up a dirt chimney, scarcely daring to breathe as the insurgents decapitated the other children—ten in all—and threw then bodies in a pile. … And so it went throughout that malignant night, as the rebels took farm after farm by surprise. They used no firearms, in order not to arouse the countryside, instead stabbing and decapitating their victims. Although they confiscated horses, weapons, and brandy, they took only what was necessary to continue the struggle, and they committed no rapes. They even spared a few homesteads, one because Turner believed the poor white inhabitants “thought no better of themselves than they did of negroes.” By dawn on Monday there were fifteen insurgents —nine on horses—and they were aimed with a motley assortment of guns, clubs, swords, and axes. Turner himself now carried a light dress sword, but for some mysterious reason (a fatal irresolution? the dread again?) he had killed nobody yet. At Elizabeth Turner’s place, which the slaves stormed at sunrise, the prophet tried once again to kill. They broke into the house, and there, in the middle of the room, too frightened to move or cry out. stood Mrs. Turner and a neighbor named Mrs. Newsome. Nat knew Elizabeth Turner very well, for she was the widow of his second master, Samuel Turner. While Will attacked her with his axe the prophet took Mrs. Newsome’s hand and hit her over the head with his sword. But evidently he could not bring himself to kill her. Finally Will moved him aside and chopped her to death as methodically as though he were cutting wood. With the sun low in the east, Turner sent a group on foot to another farm while he and Will led the horsemen at a gallop to Caty Whitehead’s place. They surrounded the house in a rush, but not before several people fled into the garden. Turner chased after somebody, but it turned out to be a slave girl, as terrified as the whites, and he let her go. All around him, all over the Whitehead farm, there were scenes of unspeakable violence. He saw Will drag Mrs. Whitehead kicking and screaming out of the house and almost sever her head from her body. Running around the house, Turner came upon young Margaret Whitehead [age 18] hiding under a cellar cap between two chimneys. She ran crying for her life, and Turner set out after her—a wild chase against the hot August sun. He overtook the girl in a field and hit her again and again with his sword, but she would not die. In desperation he picked up a fence rail and beat her to death. Finally he had killed someone. Naturally, this film is basically guaranteed to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay next year, killing three birds with one black stone named Nate Parker. So what moved Parker to write his script? In between the standing ovation he received when he took the Eccles theater stage and the other “standing ovation that lasted through the credits, in what was arguably one of the longest standing Os in recent festival memory,” Parker had this to say: “I made this film for one reason, with the hope of creating change agents. That people can watch this film and be affected. That you can watch this film and see that there were systems that were in place that were corrupt and corrupted people and the legacy of that still lives with us,” said Parker. “I just want you, if you are affected and you are so moved, to ask yourself, ‘Are there systems in my life that need attention whether it be racial, gender?’ There are a lot of injustices.” Parker spoke about how he gave up acting for nearly two years to make the film, and the resistance he faced with getting it financed. “It was very difficult, for so many reasons,” he said. “I think any time we’re dealing with our history, specifically with slavery, I find that it has been desperately sanitized. There’s a resistance to dealing with this material.” [Sundance: ‘Birth of a Nation’ Receives Rapturous Standing Ovation at Premiere, By Rebecca Ford, Hollywood Reporter, January 25, 2016] What kind of change do you think he has in mind? Ironically, 100 years ago the real The Birth of a Nationwas released. This movie depicted white southerners banding together to protect their civilization against another program of “change,” radical Reconstruction. That Nate Parker would select the same title used in D.W. Griffith’s immensely influential silent film is obviously intentional, but hardly necessary. Black-run Newark, New Jersey has already canonized Nat Turner with the Nat Turner Park (at its unveiling in 2009, President Obama sent a member of his administration to the ceremony) [Newark opens Nat Turner Park in Central Ward after 30 years, By Cullen Nutt, NJ.com, July 28, 2009]. Men like Turner are the heroes of the new anti-America. And even the arch-leftists of Hollywood are having a hard time adjusting. Currently, the Oscars are under siege by spoiled black actors and directors who know they can count on the Main Stream Media to portray The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as racist. Indeed, the Academy has already caved, pledging “to double its membership of women and minorities by 2020 through an ambitious affirmative action plan that includes stripping some older members of voting privileges.” It will also add three new seats to the governing board exclusively for women and minorities [Oscars’ Film Academy pledges to diversify membership by 2020, CNBC, January 22, 2016]. ORDER IT NOWA Los Angeles Times study in 2012 noted The Academy was 94 percent white and 77 percent male, publishing a follow-up piece in 2013 detailing the horror that The Academy had only dropped to being 93 percent white and 76 percent male. [Diversity efforts slow to change the face of Oscar voters, By John Horn and Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2013]. (Of course, many of these whites do not identify as such. But that doesn’t seem to matter to blacks.) And even this majority non-black Academy was eager to celebrate “diversity” at the 2014 Oscars. As the LA Times article stated: John Ridley, an African American screenwriter who wrote the “12 Years a Slave”screenplay, took note of the irony: From all outward appearances, this is a banner year for diversity in Hollywood. His film, directed by the black filmmaker Steve McQueen, received seven Golden Globe nominations, and other black-themed films including “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and director Ryan Coogler‘s “Fruitvale Station” are getting awards-season buzz. 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture at the 2013 Academy Awards. Unfortunately,as with mayoral elections, many blacks seem to believe when “they” win something, it is racism if anyone else wins ever again. Considering the rapturous reception given to racism porn from The Butler to The Help, there will be plenty of similar films offered in the years to come. The government even subsidized the film Selma by buying free tickets for schoolchildren. And with each new film, there will be another controversy over alleged racism if it doesn’t win an Oscar. But Parker’s The Birth of a Nation raises the stakes. It’s not just going to promote white guilt but black violence. There can be no doubt it will be celebrated by Black Lives Matter and its allies. One can only hope the movie doesn’t inspire those seeing the movie to duplicate Turner’s actions. Considering how blacks haveresponded to past anti-white incitement from both academia, the MSM, and the American Left, there’s little reason for optimism. Paul Kersey[Email him] is the author of the blog SBPDL, and has published the books SBPDL Year One, Hollywood in Blackface and Escape From Detroit, Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White and Second City Confidential: The Black Experience in Chicagoland. His latest book is The Tragic City: Birmingham 1963-2 013. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
(”12 Years a Slave” is briefly mentioned in this.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2NbVRyZtQ Chris Rock’s Opening Oscar Monologue: A Transcript FEB. 28, 2016 CHRIS ROCK: Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that monitor. I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. So y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now. But this is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host, because we’ve got all this controversy. No, no black nominees, you know, and people are like “Chris, you should boycott. Chris, you should quit. You should quit.” How come there’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something, you know? No one with a job ever tells you to quit. So, I thought about quitting. I thought about it real hard. But, I realized, they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. They’re not gonna cancel the Oscars because I quit. You know? And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart, O.K.? I don’t need that. Kev right there — Kev makes movies fast. Every month. Porno stars don’t make movies that fast. Now the thing is, Why are we protesting? The big question: Why this Oscars? Why this Oscars, you know? … You gotta figure that it happened in the 50s, in the 60s — you know, in the 60s, one of those years Sidney didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say ‘62 or ‘63, and black people did not protest. Actually, as I pointed out in Taki’s last month, Sidney Poitier won best actor for his 1963 movie “Lilies of the Field” in 1964. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. You know, when your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short. But what happened this year? What happened? People went mad. Spike got mad, — got mad, and Jada went mad, and Will went mad. Everybody went mad, you know? Jada got mad? Jada says she not coming, protesting. I’m like ain’t she on a TV show? Jada is going to boycott the Oscars — Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited. Oh, that’s not an invitation I would turn down. But I understand, I’m not hating. I understand you mad. Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for “Concussion.” I get it, I get it. Tell the truth. I get it, I get it. You get mad — it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. Yeah, you’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for “Wild Wild West.” O.K.? Thing, you know, this year, the Oscars, things are gonna be a little different. Things are going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies. Hey, if you want black nominees every year, you need to just have black categories. That’s what you need. You need to have black categories. That’s what I said in Taki’s: “One possible response to the Oscar black lack would be to create a separate category just for blacks so they are assured of always winning something.” You already do it with men and women. Think about it: There’s no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting. C’mon. There’s no reason. It’s not track and field. You don’t have to separate ‘em. You know, Robert De Niro’s never said, “I better slow this acting down, so Meryl Streep can catch up.” No, not at all, man. If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories like Best Black Friend. That’s right. “And the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes. This is Wanda’s 18th Black Oscar.” But here’s the real question. The real question everybody wants to know, everybody wants to know in the world is: Is Hollywood racist? Is Hollywood racist? You know, that’s a…you gotta go at that at the right way. Is it burning-cross racist? No. Is it fetch-me-some-lemonade racist? No. No, no, no. It’s a different type of racist. Now, I remember one night I was at a fund-raiser for President Obama. A lot of you were there. And, you know, it’s me and all of Hollywood. And it’s all of us there. And it’s about four black people there: me, uh, let’s see, Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, Questlove. You know, the usual suspects, right? And every black actor that wasn’t working. Needless, to say Kev Hart was not there. O.K.? So, at some point you get to take a picture with the president, and, you know as they’re setting up the picture you get a little moment with the president. I’m like, “Mr. President, you see all these writers and producers and actors? They don’t hire black people, and they’re the nicest, white people on earth! They’re liberals! Cheese!” That’s right. Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain’t that racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, “We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is. But things are changing. Things are changing. We got a black Rocky this year. Some people call it “Creed.” I call it “Black Rocky.” And that’s a big, that’s an unbelievable statement. I mean, cause “Rocky” takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes. “Rocky” is a science fiction movie. There’s things that happened in “Star Wars” that are more believable than things that happened in “Rocky,” O.K.? But hey, we’re here to honor actors. We’re here to honor actors, we’re here to honor films. There’s a lot of snubs, lot of snubs. One of the biggest snubs no one’s talking about: My favorite actor in the world is Paul Giamatti. Paul Giamatti, I believe, is the greatest actor in the world. Think about what Paul Giamatti has done the last couple of years. Last year, he’s in “12 Years a Slave” — hates black people. This year he’s in “Straight Outta Compton” — loves black people. Last year, he was whooping Lupita; this year, he’s crying at Eazy-E’s funeral. Now, that’s range. Ben Affleck can’t do that…. You know, everything’s not about race, man. Another big thing tonight is — somebody told me this — you’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing anymore. There’s this whole thing, “Ask her more. You have to ask her more.” You know it’s like, You ask the men more. Everything’s not sexism, everything’s not racism. They ask the men more because the men are all wearing the same outfits, O.K.? Every guy in there is wearing the exact same thing. You know, if George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on, and a swan coming out his ass, somebody would go, “What you wearing, George?” Rock is part of the Revolt of the Comedians, with his friend Jerry Seinfeld out front, over the last couple of years of senior comedians complaining about political correctness that contributed to the current climate that Trump is tapping into. ]]>
(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
127 Hours
Steve Sailer
The exuberant 127 Hours, Director Danny Boyle’s first movie since winning the Best Picture Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, is surprisingly comparable to The Social Network. While 127 Hours is shorter, slighter, and more upbeat, both films are deftly made reconstructions of famous 2003 events within young elite subcultures: Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg founding Facebook and alpinist Aron Ralston walking away from a solo canyoneering accident by amputating his own arm. Both movies overcome their inherently static situations through showbiz razzmatazz. Aaron Sorkin enlivens a story of typing and giving depositions with snappy dialogue. Boyle employs flashbacks, hallucinations, alternative endings, and his zap-pow digital cinematography to juice up the tale of a man, his hand wedged to a canyon wall by a fallen boulder, contemplating his options. Namely, these options are: somehow survive in a crack in the Utah desert on a liter of water until somebody stumbles upon him; rig a pulley to lift the 800-pound rock; chip the boulder away; perform surgery on himself with a dull knife; or die. In contrast to the frenetic Slumdog, Boyle offers viewers time to think along with his hero by spreading out Ralston’s discoveries of his options. In truth, Ralston, a mechanical engineer from Carnegie Mellon who’d quit Intel to concentrate on climbing, identified all his possibilities within an hour after his fall. Getting audiences to like the real Ralston’s combination of cold-blooded rationality and recklessness, however, is a more complicated challenge than Boyle chooses to accept.“Both The Social Network and 127 Hours leave you wondering whether the middle-aged filmmakers, despite their undeniable expertise, truly understand their young subjects.” (In case you are worrying, no, the hero doesn’t spend all 127 hours sawing off his arm. While that took Ralston an hour, Boyle compresses the auto-surgery down to a couple of minutes, with his camera mostly on James Franco’s expressive face.) Both The Social Network and 127 Hours leave you wondering whether the middle-aged filmmakers, despite their undeniable expertise, truly understand their young subjects. For example, both films’ inspirations are more conventionally handsome than the movie stars who portray them. Franco (the kind-hearted dope dealer in Pineapple Express) looks weedy compared to the rugged-jawed Ralston. Boyle’s harsh digital colors and need to shoot with wide-angle lenses in the soundstage mockup of the four-foot-wide canyon slot leaves poor Franco looking pop-eyed and sallow. These casting choices enable the filmmakers to manipulate audience reactions. The Social Network portrays Zuckerberg as a lonely, angry nerd, even though he strikes programmers and venture capitalists as a natural leader of men. Last week, for example, Google granted all its employees pay raises to keep them from defecting to Team Zuckerberg. Next Page ]]>
(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
1917
American Renaissance
(”1917” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Celebrities make everything political.

The post The Academy Awards Culture War appeared first on American Renaissance.

(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”1917” is briefly mentioned in this.)
From the New York Times movie section: Stop Blaming History for Your All-White, All-Male Movie Movies like “1917,” “The Irishman,” and “Ford v Ferrari” have all used their historical settings as a shield to deflect diversity critiques. But the past had people of color and women, too. By Aisha Harris Ms. Harris is an Op-Ed...
(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”1917” is briefly mentioned in this.)
From the New York Times: Plus, "Little Women," which was ho-hum. Because you are gay? The Academy Awards are like the Big Gay Super Bowl, so they've finally taken my advice and rather than schedule them long after anybody could remember the end-of year releases, they moved the ceremony up in the year to the...
(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
Here's my movie review in Taki's Magazine: Read the whole thing there. For an example of Buster Keaton running:
(Review Source)
Taki Mag Staff
2019 turned out to be a good year for quality guy movies after all, as several veteran directors ignored the anti-male zeitgeist and just shot the films they’ve long wanted to make, such as Joker, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Irishman, and Ford v Ferrari. Sam Mendes, for example, delivers in 1917 an admirable […]
(Review Source)
American Renaissance

We are still in the shadow of the Great War.

The post ‘1917’ and the Suicide of the West appeared first on American Renaissance.

(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
The American Conservative Staff
(”20 Feet from Stardom” is briefly mentioned in this.)
You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for my Super Tuesday predictions – but here are my right-down-to-the-wire Oscar predictions. Amazingly enough, I’ve actually seen all the Best Picture nominees this year. Not sure that’s ever happened before. I haven’t managed to write much about any of them – I think the only one I properly reviewed was “Room,” though I also reviewed “Carol” which is nominated in a bunch of other categories. I had intended to write a long piece about “Spotlight” and “The Big Short,” and to at least say something about “The Revenant” and “Brooklyn,” each of which I thought was interesting and worth writing about. And perhaps I still will do so – but not before the Oscars. So: here are my predictions, and my feelings about them. Sound Mixing: I don’t really have a good idea, so I’m going with “Mad Max, Fury Road,” which I think will clean up in most technical categories. [UPDATE: Got it.] Sound Editing: Again, “Mad Max, Fury Road,” and I feel a bit more confident about this one than I do about mixing. [UPDATE: Got it.] Song: The only one I’ve heard is “Simple Song #3” from “Youth,” which I don’t think is going to win, so I’m giving it to Lady Gaga for “‘Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground.” [UPDATE: I don’t think I was the only one in the audience who was surprised to get this one wrong.] Score: Of the nominees, I’ve seen “Carol,” “Bridge of Spies” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Of those three, I vote for “Carol.” [UPDATE: Didn’t see “The Hateful Eight,” so don’t feel bad about not getting this one.] Visual Effects: “Mad Max, Fury Road.” I will be genuinely upset if they decide to honor “Star War: The Force Awakens” instead. Will be disappointed but not surprised if it goes to “The Revenant” – because that bear was pretty awesome. Will be surprised and pleased if it goes to “Ex Machina” which was marvelous. [UPDATE: I am surprised and pleased!] Makeup: “Mad Max, Fury Road.” “The Revenant” featured some really impressive wounds, though, so they’ve got a legitimate shot at this one. But “Mad Max” was so creative, I’m pulling for it. [UPDATE: Got it.] Costume Design: “Carol,” because costumes were such a huge part of the story, and were done so well, and because I think people will want to honor “Carol” somewhere. [UPDATE: I thought “Mad Max” would lose one of these technical awards, just picked the wrong one.] Production Design: “Mad Max, Fury Road.” It’s kind of crazy if they don’t win this one. [UPDATE: Got it.] Editing: This is a weird one, because the choices are so different from one another. Arguably, “The Big Short” is a pure creation of editing – but I didn’t like the way it was edited, so I can’t vote for it. In the end, I’m pulling for “Mad Max, Fury Road” once again. [UPDATE: Got it.] Cinematography: This is going to go to whichever film wins Best Director. So I’m giving it to “Mad Max, Fury Road.” I’ll be pretty bummed if “The Revenant” gets it, even though it was beautifully shot. [UPDATE: Honestly, I’m not bummed. “The Revenant” was gorgeous to look at. It’s a perfectly legitimate win. I just wanted Miller to win for Director and was being spiteful.] Foreign Film: “Son of Saul,” which I haven’t seen, is supposed to be a lock. So, that. [UPDATE: Got it.] Documentary Feature: I haven’t seen most of them, but my bet is “Amy” because I think sentiment wins. And also because it would be crazy to give it to “The Look of Silence” after “The Act of Killing,” which may be the best documentary I’ve ever seen, lost out to “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” which was, to be fair, very good. [UPDATE: Got it.] Animated Film: “Inside/Out” has to win this. But I’m rooting for “Anomalisa” because so weird, right? [UPDATE: Got it.] Adapted Screenplay: It’s going to “The Big Short,” and on some level that’s deserved because that was such a difficult job. But I’m not convinced the result is a success, and I think “Room,” “The Martian” and “Brooklyn” all also were marvelous adaptations. Heck, I’ll throw in “Carol.” They all deserve awards. [UPDATE: Got it.] Original Screenplay: It’s going to “Spotlight,” and I’m okay with that. [UPDATE: Got it.] Supporting Actress: I haven’t seen most of the performances, so this is a pretty ignorant vote. But I’m pulling for Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl” because she was so amazing in “Ex-Machina.” [UPDATE: Got it.] Supporting Actor: I’m rooting for Sylvester Stallone, for “Creed,” partly because he was wonderful, partly because the movie itself was so good (and deserved a Best Picture nomination), and partly because I was less-impressed by Mark Rylance’s turn in “Bridge of Spies” than everybody else seems to have been. [UPDATE: Mark Rylance is a wonderful actor, so I can’t really be too annoyed, but I really don’t get what the big deal was about that particular performance. And both “Creed” and Stallone really earned some love.] Actress: It’s going to be Brie Larson, for “Room,” and that is richly deserved – which is no knock on Charlotte Rampling, Saoirse Ronan, or Cate Blanchett. (I haven’t seen “Joy,” but I bet Jennifer Lawrence was excellent in it.) [UPDATE: Got it.] Actor: It’s going to be Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant.” Which is actually fine. [UPDATE: Got it.] Director: I really want it to be George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road.” But I’m betting it’s Alejandro Iñárritu for “The Revenant.” [UPDATE: Unfortunately, got it. I was very happy to see Iñárritu win last year for “Birman,” which I thought was wonderful. But if he deserved to win this year, then George Miller deserved to win more. The weaknesses of their respective movies were very similar. But Miller’s world-building was on a whole other level. “Mad Max” is a very simple story, but it’s a visionary tour-de-force.] Best Picture: This one is actually quite hard. If I were voting, myself, for the film that had the greatest impact on me, I’d be voting for “Room.” If I were trying to pick the most Oscar-y movie that was also well-made on every level, it’d be “Spotlight.” But it’s probably going to be “The Revenant.” [UPDATE: Guess I missed this one – but I’m going to give myself partial credit for saying that “Spotlight” is the film that should win if Oscar was being Oscar, and, indeed, it did.] And we’ll soon see what the Academy thought. ]]>
(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
The Unz Review Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The day Jeffrey Epstein turned up dead in a New York jail cell, I decided I needed to write something about Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Stanley Kubrick’s last and weakest movie. Epstein has quickly faded from the headlines, so
(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
From Variety (with some pictures I added): But ... That a few individuals' faces are worthy of being projected 40 feet high while millions of people with less glamorous faces sit in the dark, eat popcorn, and admire them? No! That's totally wrong. You see, Owen Gleiberman knows exactly what movies are about: Beautiful, fabulous...
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

If you haven't yet seen the movie Arrival, then stop reading, because there will be spoilers.If you haven't yet seen the movie Arrival, then what's wrong with you? Go!

(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The astringent new romance film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky might be the arthouse equivalent of that often-proposed high concept blockbuster Superman & Batman. Instead of “Who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman?” Dutch director Jan Kounen delivers: “Who would win in an affair: Stravinsky or Chanel?” In the 1913 prelude, the ambitious young dress shop owner attends the most celebrated classical music event of the last century, the Ballets Russes’s Paris premiere of The Rite of Spring. To her bemusement, a riot breaks out between the avant-garde claque who had received free tickets from the wily impresario Sergio Diaghilev and the paying customers, who are outraged by Vaslav Nijinsky’s angular choreography and Stravinsky’s polyrhythmically pounding score. Ever since, “Le Massacre du Printemps” has been portrayed as inaugurating a new golden age of music. Yet, looking back from the 21st Century, The Rite seems more like the grand finale of two centuries of musical glory, the greatest run any civilization has enjoyed in any artistic field. In 1920, the White Russian composer is back in Paris, down at the heels after the Bolsheviks stole his homeland. At a party with Diaghilev and a man named Dmitri, he meets Chanel. She offers to put him, his tubercular wife, and their four children up at her gorgeous Art Nouveau villa in the suburbs. At first, he refuses due to the impropriety. Although The Rite’s debut was the most famous triumph of the bohemian motto “spatter le bourgeois,” Stravinsky was himself a starchy bourgeois, a modernist man of the right like T.S. Eliot, whose 1922 poem The Waste Land was likely influenced by The Rite. Stravinsky eventually agrees to Chanel’s offer for his children’s sake. Mrs. Stravinsky, however, is not happy with being domiciled with France’s most chic exemplar of the liberated woman. Coco pursues him, and eventually Igor teaches her to play the simple right hand part in his new Les Cinq Doigts. Soon, they are making beautiful music together. “This hazy bit of cultural history about the couturier and the composer furnishes director Jan Kounen with justification for an exercise in old-fashioned modernism, stylistically reminiscent in its enigmatic elegance of 2001 and its Soviet rival, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.” She gains the confidence to choose her new perfume—vial No. 5, not surprisingly—while he overcomes his composer’s block to venture into a neoclassical style that reflects her understated taste in clothes. They break up, but she secretly gives Diaghilev the money to mount a triumphant revival of The Rite. The last scene suddenly shifts to the early 1970s, when the protagonists are elderly celebrities separately inhabiting neoclassical hotel rooms (rather like the one in that unnerving scene near the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the astronaut encounters his aged self). They pause to think briefly of each other. A recurrent problem with musical biopics is that by the time the musician—whether Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, or Igor Stravinsky—finally triumphs over his personal demons, he’s over the hill creatively. Both Stravinsky (1882-1971) and Chanel (1883-1971) were vastly famous for the rest of their lives, but his peak was 1913. In contrast, she went on to make her greatest contribution, the invention of the Little Black Dress, in 1926. This hazy bit of cultural history about the couturier and the composer furnishes director Jan Kounen with justification for an exercise in old-fashioned modernism, stylistically reminiscent in its enigmatic elegance of 2001 and its Soviet rival, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Stanley Kubrick used the fanfare from Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Richard Strauss to anchor his ponderous and baffling classic about killer apes and space aliens, so why shouldn’t Kounen build his love triangle movie around The Rite’s polished primitivism? Personally, I was held rapt for two hours by Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. I was enthralled by the Russian’s music, the Lost Generation clothes, the decor of Chanel’s villa, and by Anna Mouglalis’s self-assured performance as the designing woman. On the other hand, most of the audience found the movie too austere, too reticent, too eerie. Nor does it help that the tall, handsome Dane Mads Mikkelsen plays the squat, funny-looking, self-promoting Russian as if he were the monolith in 2001. The soundtrack is superb but emotionally opaque, which is the way the great man wanted it. Stravinsky, who endlessly expounded to the press on the Meaning of Modernism, asserted that “music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all…” The Modern Age is over, replaced by the Information Age, when expensive movies aspire to resemble documentaries. The abstraction of high modernism is now off-putting unless time-honored. It’s hard in 2010 to watch this unforthcoming film without being pestered by a need for more data. Who are these people? Why isn’t there a narrator informing us of their back-stories? For example, who is this minor character named Dmitri? Five minutes at home on Wikipedia reveals that he is Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, one of the assassins of Rasputin. Now, that’s interesting. googletag.cmd.push(function() {googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1456852648633-0');}); if(display_ads_server){document.write('<script src="http://a.intgr.net/tags/16_19.js"></script>');}; SIGN UPDaily updates with TM’s latest // delete this script tag and use a "div.mce_inline_error{ XXX !important}" selector // or fill this in and it will be inlined when errors are generated var mc_custom_error_style = ''; var fnames = new Array();var ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';var err_style = ''; try{ err_style = mc_custom_error_style; } catch(e){ err_style = 'margin: 1em 0 0 0; padding: 1em 0.5em 0.5em 0.5em; background: ERROR_BGCOLOR none repeat scroll 0% 0%; font-weight: bold; float: left; z-index: 1; width: 80%; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial; color: ERROR_COLOR;'; } var mce_jQuery = jQuery.noConflict(); mce_jQuery(document).ready( function($) { var options = { errorClass: 'mce_inline_error', errorElement: 'div', errorStyle: err_style, onkeyup: function(){}, onfocusout:function(){}, onblur:function(){} }; var mce_validator = mce_jQuery("#mc-embedded-subscribe-form").validate(options); options = { url: 'http://takimag.us1.list-manage1.com/subscribe/post-json?u=0ba7696a8a378946b7e688500&id=f7706afea2&c=?', type: 'GET', dataType: 'json', contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", beforeSubmit: function(){ mce_jQuery('#mce_tmp_error_msg').remove(); mce_jQuery('.datefield','#mc_embed_signup').each( function(){ var txt = 'filled'; var fields = new Array(); var i = 0; mce_jQuery(':text', this).each( function(){ fields[i] = this; i++; }); mce_jQuery(':hidden', this).each( function(){ if ( fields[0].value=='MM' && fields[1].value=='DD' && fields[2].value=='YYYY' ){ this.value = ''; } else if ( fields[0].value=='' && fields[1].value=='' && fields[2].value=='' ){ this.value = ''; } else { this.value = fields[0].value+'/'+fields[1].value+'/'+fields[2].value; } }); }); return mce_validator.form(); }, success: mce_success_cb }; mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').ajaxForm(options); }); function mce_success_cb(resp){ mce_jQuery('#mce-success-response').hide(); mce_jQuery('#mce-error-response').hide(); if (resp.result=="success"){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(resp.msg); mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').each(function(){ this.reset(); }); } else { var index = -1; var msg; try { var parts = resp.msg.split(' - ',2); if (parts[1]==undefined){ msg = resp.msg; } else { i = parseInt(parts[0]); if (i.toString() == parts[0]){ index = parts[0]; msg = parts[1]; } else { index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } } } catch(e){ index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } try{ if (index== -1){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } else { err_id = 'mce_tmp_error_msg'; html = '<div id="'+err_id+'" style="'+err_style+'"> '+msg+''; var input_id = '#mc_embed_signup'; var f = mce_jQuery(input_id); if (ftypes[index]=='address'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-addr1'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else if (ftypes[index]=='date'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-month'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else { input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]; f = mce_jQuery().parent(input_id).get(0); } if (f){ mce_jQuery(f).append(html); mce_jQuery(input_id).focus(); } else { mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } catch(e){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } ]]>
(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
21 Grams
Steve Sailer
(”21 Grams” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Who’s the leading leading man these days? Having sat through all 147 dolorous minutes of Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s follow-up to 2006’s Babel (a pretentious clunker gifted with seven Oscar nominations), I’ll nominate Javier Bardem. The Spaniard won’t win Best Actor this year to go with the Supporting Actor statuette he took home three years ago for playing the relentless killer Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, yet I likely would have walked out of Biutiful if anybody else had been starring in it. Anointing Bardem as the movie star of the moment isn’t terribly counterintuitive. After all, Penelope Cruz just married him. Still, what it is about Bardem’s visage that distinguishes him from earlier soulful brutes such as De Niro, Depardieu, and Crowe? Biutiful isn’t a very good movie, but it was envisioned around its star’s looks. González Iñárritu has numerous flaws as a filmmaker, but the man does have an eye. As Bardem’s hero—an illegal-immigration coyote who manages Senegalese street peddlers and Chinese construction workers—tries to do right by the people in his world before he leaves it, it becomes clear from all the lingering shots of religious icons on the walls that González Iñárritu wasn’t only thinking about Bardem’s acting dexterity when he wrote the role. He was thinking about Bardem’s nose. Going back at least 1400 years to the Byzantine Christ Pantokrator encaustic painting in a monastery on Mt. Sinai, a prominent nose that is vertically long but relatively flat in depth has been a standard part of Christian iconography. In 1995, Bardem’s nose got flattened in a disco punch-out, but his new nose has hardly hurt his career. (Bardem says he doesn’t know who slugged him, “but all I can say to the guy is, ‘Jesus, man, thank you.’”) Combined with his rugged brow ridge and severely sloping forehead, Bardem now looks like Caveman Jesus. Although Biutiful is better than Babel, it’s still a miserable slog. González Iñárritu’s very Mexican obsession with death leads him to inflict tribulations upon his doomed protagonist: terminal prostate cancer, a bipolar ex-wife who is sleeping with his sleazeball brother, and a reputation in his slum for being able to talk to the newly dead. This gets him invited to many funerals, which doesn’t improve his mood. Yet not only is Bardem compelling in a Casablanca-style role as a shady operator who turns out under stress to be a saint, the actor’s Christlike profile even makes some sort of sense out of González Iñárritu’s masochistic Mexican Catholic aesthetics. Next Page ]]>
(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
27 Dresses
The American Conservative Staff
(”27 Dresses” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Culture Film The romantic comedy film is either dying or dead, according to writers at The Atlantic and The Daily Beast. After watching “They Came Together,” a romantic comedy that parodies the genre, the Beast’s Andrew Romano argued that the romcom’s heydey has come to an end, due to shifts in audience targeting and gender preferences, as well as money problems and failed branding. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber thinks that romcom plots no longer address the “way we live now,” in the age of online dating and delayed marriages. Christopher Orr made a similar argument last year: he said romcom plots are too outdated for today’s society—we no longer have taboos against premarital sex, nor do we have societal class divisions. The romantic conflicts of yesteryear are outdated in today’s society. However, Noah Millman wrote a rebuttal to Orr’s argument, reminding us that the romantic movies of 1940 weren’t popular or good “because there were arranged marriages (there were none) and it isn’t because women couldn’t get a divorce (all the female protagonists of the movies I cited are or get divorced) or couldn’t have sex … they work because they go internal, into character, to find both the conflict and its resolution, and they work because they don’t isolate the world of romantic love from the rest of the social universe.” The troubles of the modern romcom may have monetary or societal threads, but it also has a problem with simplification and homogeneity that we can’t ignore. Most romantic comedies follow either a star-crossed lovers plot, or a “You Got Mail” storyline—the man and woman hate each other, or would never marry each other, but then slowly find out they’re perfect for each other (examples: “When Harry Met Sally,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The Switch,” “27 Dresses,” et cetera). It’s true that both these types are rooted in classics—the star-crossed lovers are classic “Romeo and Juliet,” while the we-hate-each-other-no-wait-we-love-each-other is usually some reincarnation of Pride and Prejudice. But both these classics had greater complexity and depth than most of their modern manifestations. Both told stories of class and family, prejudice and tradition, virtue and vice. Their supporting characters were just as important as their leads—we couldn’t have Pride and Prejudice without Mr. Collins or Mrs. Bennet. Modern films don’t usually give us this rich, colorful tapestry. As NPR’s Linda Holmes wrote in response to Orr last year, “The best [films] often have other elements, elements of real sadness, like the terrific and underappreciated Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts vehicle Notting Hill, for instance, which touches on not artificial obstacles, but on the way people in difficult circumstances sometimes hurt each other’s feelings and let each other down, not to mention supporting characters struggling with disability and fertility issues.” In contrast, says Holmes, “The [films] that take nothing seriously except dating … rarely work, and they’ve rarely ever worked, because love in life is usually mixed up with all kinds of other nasty stuff.” Millman agrees: The romantic comedies that suck are the ones that adhere to a formula that none of the great romantic comedies of yore followed. They try to make both protagonists as “relatable” as possible by making them into everymen and everywomen – thereby depriving them of any interest. They focus overwhelmingly on the romance, treating the rest of the universe as so much “business” for low comedy, rather than exploring other themes that might reflect productively on the romance at the center. And they gin up artificial external obstacles instead of persuasive, character-driven internal ones. Yet these are the films that we keep getting, with increasing regularity. They all tell familiar stories, with familiar conflicts—the plots may change somewhat, but they never surprise us. And romcoms aren’t the only films that suffer from this problem: modern cinema is teeming with stereotypical superhero stories, underdog sports stories, exploding/smashing action films, and their like. We can usually guess exactly how the plot will unfold in the first few minutes of the film. People increasingly want different, surprising stories—and we’re starting to see some that are new, interesting, and complex. Many explore themes of friendship, rather than romance. Disney created an international sensation when they released “Frozen”—and perhaps one of its greatest surprises was that it was mainly about sisterhood, rather than the usual romance. “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Monuments Men,” “Gravity”: all were primarily stories of friendship, trust, camaraderie, sacrifice. In the realm of television, many people love BBC’s new “Sherlock” series, and the friendship between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s Watson. We may be tired of films that tell the same old story—but that doesn’t mean we should get rid of the romcom, or the dystopian film, or the action movie. We just need to reconsider the stories we tell, the plots we create, and bring innovation and complexity to these genres once more. We need stories that allow tragedy in their endings, stories with real protagonists and real villains, stories that reflect the complexity and confusion of life. If we get rom-com movies that reflect these things, then perhaps the romcom will be revitalized. But for now, the genre feels much like a broken record. It isn’t that we’ve run out of stories to tell; we’ve just told the same story too many times. ]]>
(Review Source)
Poster for the movie
300
The American Conservative Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
In keeping with a proud tradition of not placing too much importance on most pop culture products and arguing vehemently against reading political messages in the plotlines of space operas, I had steered clear of the ever–widening circle of arguments over the political “message” of Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (I should mention at this point that I have not seen this movie).  There is a part of me that would like to encourage left-of-center movie reviewers to see every cinematic depiction of normal human behaviour as a coded conservative propaganda effort, thus reinforcing the association of normality with conservatism that any supposed propaganda effort would be trying to achieve.  This saves conservatives some of the trouble in actually producing our own films, as it attributes the production of films in which conservatives had no role to our supposedly vast network of Hollywood influence.  In addition to being very amusing, because it is so obviously contrary to fact, this serves to increase the public perception that such-and-such a popular, entertaining movie is “conservative.”  It also gives conservative movie reviewers things to write about, as they attempt to perceive the hidden references to Burke in The Bourne Supremacy*.  For the most part, however, I find this sort of movie criticism annoying because it is so obviously wrong and compels everyone to label quite arbitrarily different pieces of art, television and film according to mostly inappropriate or misleading political categories.  Instead of appreciating Pan’s Labyrinth as a work of magical realism, it seems as if everyone felt compelled to show off his anti-fascist credentials by talking up the supposed political lessons of the film.  Instead of trying to understand, say, the New Caprica sequence in Battlestar Galactica as an interesting attempt to tell a different side of a war story there was no shortage of observers who wanted to make it into a commentary on Iraq.  Interpretations of 300 were similarly obsessed with either its horrible Orientalism or its supposedly subversive attack on Bush.  I suppose there could be and are political messages worked into all sorts of stories (I am more sympathetic to interpreting Apocalypto as a conservative morality play, which is far less speculative given the well-known politics of the director), but I suppose I have never quite understood why this becomes the basis for criticising the story or, more dramatically, rejecting it outright.  This is my general rule of thumb: the less overt and clear the political references, the better the work of art.  If you can very readily glean a political message from a film (at least any film not explicitly intended as propaganda), it is probably not terribly well made and probably not worth watching.  Take V for Vendetta, for instance–please!   There have been some cases where Hollywood studio politics clearly clashed with the marketing and release of films that had potentially very un-P.C. implications, resulting in their narrow release and fairly dismal box office receipts (and possibly contributing a little to their later critical acclaim).  Children of Men and Idiocracy were two films that, even in the Cuaronised version of the Children of Men plotline, seem to have conveyed messages that so horrified their respective studios that the studios seem to have tried to sabotage their success.  Both films pointed towards–probably unwittingly for the most part–the issues of “birth dearth” and demographic collapse that might be taken as encouragement for a natalist politics, and Idiocracy also had the “bad” taste to clearly put intelligence and heredity at the center of its story.      *In case anyone couldn’t tell, this is not a serious example. ]]>
(Review Source)