Oppenheimer (2023) – A Movie Review

I finally got around to watching this movie.  This won’t be a full review because I don’t think I can be completely fair to the movie.  Christopher Nolan has been a big-time director for a good long while.  His Batman trilogy earned gazillions of dollars and was actually very good.  Now this movie is a very different animal.  I don’t think it is supposed to be entertainment in the same way.  It’s a biopic and a historical recreation of a very important event, the Manhattan Project; the invention of the atomic bomb.

As the story of the Manhattan Project, it is fascinating and compelling.  The biopic is a combination of experiences.  Oppenheimer himself is very odd duck.  From his own admission he was not a great physicist like Fermi, Einstein or Bohr.  He was a dilettante who found himself surrounded by the generation that invented quantum mechanics and became their interpreter and project manager in shepherding all the pieces needed to allow the US military to get the a-bomb in 1945.

And we hear his history as a retrospective because the movie is really the story of how Oppenheimer; this critical individual in the ushering in of the nuclear era, loses his US government security clearance due to his former association with communists and other less reputable individuals in his circle of friends.  We are also led through the less than honorable path of his love life.  And we see how his concerns about the dangers of nuclear weapons seem somewhat inconsistent depending upon where his role in producing the bomb stands.  While ensconced in the project he seems not at all conflicted.  But once he and his colleagues have handed over the bombs to the Army and the spotlight is no longer on him, his qualms grow exponentially.  As a viewer of the story, this seems clear.

The movie is populated with famous names and faces, some of them very hard to recognize.  Robert Downey Jr. is Lewis Strauss, Oppenheimer’s implacable foe who hounds him out of the government circle of influence.  Emily Blunt is Kitty Oppenheimer, his wife.  Matt Damon is Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project.  Josh Hartnett is Ernest Lawrence, a Nobel-winning nuclear physicist.  Kenneth Branagh is the brilliant physicist Niels Bohr.  Tom Conti is Albert Einstein and weirdest of all Gary Oldman is Harry S. Truman.

And there’s all kinds of good acting.  I especially enjoyed the “physicists seemingly engrossed in the endless details of making a weapon out of their incomprehensible mathematical equations.  There is a critical scene where Edward Teller, the father of the H-Bomb stops the project when his calculations seem to indicate that there is a very high probability that setting off a fission bomb could ignite the whole atmosphere of Earth and end all life on the planet.  That is a pivotal scene where eventually even Einstein is consulted.

And the climactic Trinity test scene in the desert is very effective.

But it’s a three-hour movie and that means we see quite a bit of J. Robert Oppenheimer and I have to admit I didn’t find him the most sympathetic character to follow for that three-hours.  It’s a good movie.  But I ended it wishing it had been more about Matt Damon’s character and that’s an odd feeling for me.

An Entertaining Movie Review of “Independence Day”

There is a YouTube channel for a guy that calls himself “The Critical Drinker.”  He has some kind of Gaelic brogue whether it’s Irish or Scottish or fake.  And he pretends to be drunk in every review.  And he swears a blue streak so be warned in advance that his videos are not safe for work or home or anywhere that genteel ears are present.  But he is extremely funny and his criticism is often very accurate.  This review of Independence Day is well done and identifies why this ridiculous film is still so enjoyable despite being a ridiculous film.

H/T to TomD for the Link to This Review of Civil War

Finally some reviews of this movie from the non-Leftist perspective.  As I suspected the general tenor is the usual Hollywood narrative.  Intrepid reporters risk life and limb to reveal the dastardly outrages of the troglodytic dirt people as they murder the good people.

Last word:


My Thoughts on the New Movie, “Civil War”

I have not gone to see the new movie “Civil War.”  And unless something comes out to convince me otherwise, I won’t be.  I watched a bunch of video reviews by people who went to the early IMAX screening.  And based on these reviews I understood that the director wanted the audiences to feel that the movie is drawing no comparison between the existing political sides in the United States and the fictional factions that are at war in the movie.

The director wants the audience to think that the movie is about the unstoppable desire of the four journalists to document the war and also about the horrors that would break out in the event of an American Civil War.  So that doesn’t sound like a partisan set-up waiting to mug unsuspecting conservatives after they plunk down their hard-earned movie money.  But the more I thought about the details of the movie the less convinced I was that this was an even-handed film.

I think the first “tell” I found was the fact that in the movie the dictatorial three term president had disbanded the FBI.  Now everyone knows that the FBI is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Obama/Clinton/Biden crime cartel.  And that Donald Trump has called for the FBI to be purged and possibly closed down.  To me this is the clearest sign that the rogue authoritarian president is meant to be Trump.

The second sign that the civil war is being presented as a battle between the Left and the Right is the scene where a “white” militiaman is pointedly asking the non-white journalist what kind of an American he is.  The implication is that at least one of the seceding entities is made up of white nationalists murdering non-whites.

But for me the thing that makes it most likely that I won’t enjoy this movie is the choice of protagonists.  The heroes of this drama are intrepid journalists.  These pillars of democracy are there to present the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help them CNN.  After all, when might we have seen journalists reporting from a war zone with less than the complete truth?  Hmmm.  Oh, I remember, the fiery, but mostly peaceful George Floyd riots when half of America’s cities were looted and burned.  Yeah, that was it!  Why wouldn’t I buy into a movie where these paragons of objectivity were the heroes?

Based on the reviews and the statements made by the cast and director they are putting this forward as a completely neutral film.  Well, of course they are.  Alienating the half of the country that enjoys action movies is a recipe for box office failure for a movie like this.  But I’m extremely tired of paying for movies that portray me as what’s wrong with this country.  I’ll let someone else pay for that.

And it’s a shame I won’t be going.  From what I’ve read and seen, the war sequences are pretty exciting.  And they do blow up Washington DC pretty convincingly, which sounds like fun.  Maybe I’ll wait until it’s streaming for free or I can rent it from the public library.  Oh, and one last thing.  The guy who plays the evil president doesn’t look like him but he sounds exactly like Mike Pence.  I’m okay if the Western Alliance takes old Mike away for high crimes and misdemeanors.  That I’d be okay with.

The Ride of the Rohirrim

Peter Jackson’s cinematic recreation of Tolkien’s Ride of the Rohirrim doesn’t capture every detail of Tolkien’s text accurately.  But it’s damn close.  And it is a stirring visual spectacle that may be the highlight of the whole movie trilogy.  Kudos to Jackson.

16MAR2024 – And Now for a Message from Our Sponsor

Saturday dawns sunny and brisk.  Very refreshing.  So much so that I resent sitting here to write.  But yesterday was a clamorous and dreary day of work.  So as Bob Cratchit observed, “I am behind my time.”  So here I am and I will take the time to provide cogent analysis on whatever it is that demands comment.  But “demands” is a stretch here.  I refuse to write further on Trump’s many legal battles.  When and if they reach a critical juncture, meaning, when they actually drag him off to the gulag, then I shall say my piece.

As for the latest political polls; yes, yes, we all know Trump’s winning.  Even a Democrat shill like Nate Silver is openly admitting that Biden is losing significant minority voters along with other important components of the Democrat coalition like the young and women.  But that’s all been said.  Sure, I’ll mention it in passing if it seems especially pointed.  But we are months and months away from even the conventions and by then, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny may be the Democrat candidate.  So, no, let’s put that aside for now.

I’ve already spoken about cannibal migrants this week.  Check.

Camera Girl has complained about the ruinous price of food including the corned beef for her birthday celebration this weekend.  Check.

Russians killing Ukrainians and Ukrainians killing Russians.  Check.  Check.

So, what, what, what?

Well, truth be told, I don’t feel like talking about any of that crap right now.  It’s been said and we can take a break from saying the same things again.

If you notice I’ve been putting up some stuff from movies and books.  I find this stuff makes me feel better.  And I’m looking for more of it.  This kind of stuff makes the day better and reinforces the things I think are good and healthy to think about.  And I openly encourage anyone who has anything that they want to share with the rest of the readers to link it and I’ll put it up.  Even Weird Al Yankovic (within reason of course).

Inevitably because I’m old and because a lot of what’s new stinks, the things I’ll point to will be old.  And the amount of high definition will be limited.  I hope my younger readers will forgive this.  But honestly watching some black and white footage won’t hurt any of them too badly.

I was thinking the other day that Shakespear died more than four hundred years ago and yet his English is still ninety percent understandable by even average readers.  Newness isn’t really a very good selection criterion for entertainment or really much of anything outside of technology.  Humans are still humans.  What needs to be done is to attempt to reintroduce the younger audience with their cultural heritage.  Whether it’s Shakespeare or the Marx Brothers, the human condition is pretty constant.  Iron Man and Odysseus are similar characters with similar problems.  Thor is just Achilles with CGI added in.

So, I apologize in advance if I stop banging away quite as often on how the end of Western Civilization is approaching and instead put-up examples of why we should care if Western Civilization is saved.  I’ll try to strike the right balance of outrage and fond remembrance so that your experience here is stimulating.

On with the show.