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:

DON’T BOTHER WITH THIS MOVIE.

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.

What is This Quintessence of Dust

 

 

Back when all I knew of Mel Gibson was Mad Max, the Road Warrior, if you had told me that he would play Hamlet I would have laughed and said, “Sure, and Sylvester Stallone will be playing King Lear and Macbeth too!”

But who knew?  Gibson is good.

I like this speech because it seems to cover the fact that depending on the events of the day each of us can view the world and all in it as either a lovely frame or a sterile promontory.  Humanity can be either like an angel or the quintessence of dust.

Gibson is a good actor and I don’t think he loses by comparison to Olivier or Branagh when performing Hamlet.

Helen of Troy (1956) – A Movie Review

No spoiler alert needed.  It’s just that bad.

I’ve read chunks of the Iliad in Homeric Greek.  Unlike some of my professors who preferred it to the Odyssey I’m more partial to that more human scale sequel.  But I profess that there are scenes in the War Poem that are evocative and stirring.

I watched a 1950’s sword and sandal “epic” called “Helen of Troy.”  They somehow roped in Sir Cedric Hardwicke to play Priam in this spectacle.  I guess his salary ate up most of the salary budget because not another name of an actor or actress was recognizable to me except a very young Brigitte Bardot who played “the slave girl Andraste” mostly with her clothes on.

The movie had a budget of $6 million and in 1956 that was a lotta dough.  And you can see where they spent it.  There was a cast of extras that must have numbered in the thousands for the battle scenes and the elaborate props like siege towers and war engines not to mention the walls of Troy and the giant horse must have cost a bunch to make and then burn which of course they did in the last scene.

And it made about $3 million at the box office so it lost a lotta dough.  And I can see why.  The acting is shockingly wooden.  The script is laughably bad and the fight scenes look as if the combatants had never seen a sword or a spear used, even in movies.  My favorite fight is the duel between Achilles and Hector.  Instead of hurling their spears at each other they use the butt ends as cudgels and only after pounding away at each other for a while does Achilles skewer Hector as if he were a pork roast.

Mercifully the gods are completely omitted from this remarkable cinematic monument.  That surely would have been too much.  But humans suffered enough here.  Some of the Trojans are portrayed sympathetically.  Unfortunately, none of the Greeks were.  Achilles, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Ajax and Patroclus are all presented as swine of one variety or another.

The action of the war is compressed from ten years to something like a weekend.  Hector and Achilles are finished off within five minutes of each other and before you know it the wooden horse is unloading its deadly cargo of Hellenic hoplites.  As the final credits are rolling Helen is on the trireme headed back to Sparta and she muses how even though Paris was just brutally murdered by her once and future husband Menelaus and his henchmen in the preceding scene and died the beautiful death, in a sense he would always be there with her.  Or something.

You know I like bad old genre movies.  If I’m in the mood I can watch Demetrius and the Gladiators or Quo Vadis.  They’re full of bad acting and historical inaccuracies but somehow, they manage to allow me not to suspend disbelief but rather, to revel in the conceit that I and the moviemaker both get to wink at each other and still enjoy a fake Age of Caesar or Bronze Age Greece that he’s conjured up.  But this thing is not that.  It’s too completely pointless and the characters are too unlikeable.  Pass!

24 GOP Governors Message Solidarity With Abbott in Texas

24 GOP Governors Message Solidarity with Abbott in Texas

So, I was watching the Big Lebowski tonight.  That movie has an odd effect on me.  It’s a comic tour de force.  It piles absurdity on absurdity with nothing but bizarre characters as far as the eye can see.  And I find most of the humor highly entertaining.  But it always sort of depresses me too.  I guess it’s because even in their comedies the Coen Brothers are always laughing at us.  And it’s not a friendly laugh.  They’re dramatizing the meaninglessness of human existence.  Well, at least that’s how it affects me.

Then I read this.

The full list is:

Governor Kay Ivey (AL), Governor Mike Dunleavy (AK), Governor Sarah Sanders (AR), Governor Ron DeSantis (FL), Governor Brian Kemp (GA), Gov. Kim Reynolds (IA), Governor Brad Little (ID), Governor Eric Holcomb (IN), Governor Jeff Landry (LA), Governor Tate Reeves (MS), Governor Mike Parson (MO), Governor Greg Gianforte (MT), Governor Jim Pillen (NE), Governor Joe Lombardo (NV), Governor Chris Sununu (NH), Governor Doug Burgum (ND), Governor Mike DeWine (OH), Governor Kevin Stitt (OK), Governor Henry McMaster (SC), Governor Kristi Noem (SD), Governor Bill Lee (TN), Governor Spencer Cox (UT), Governor Glenn Youngkin (VA), Governor Jim Justice (WV), and Governor Mark Gordon (WY).  The only abstainers were Republican governors in Vermont and Nevada.  But those aren’t conservative states so there’s no surprise here.

So, this is a mildly encouraging sign.  Maybe the Republicans are starting to realize they have an enormous amount of leverage because of the panic about getting money for Ukraine.  They should demand that Biden deport ten million illegal aliens before he gets a penny.  But what are the odds of the House holding out for that?  Probably pretty slim.

But I do see some good coming of the Republican governors finding common ground.  And of course, I fantasize that they’ll go beyond a letter of support.  What they should do is coordinate a plan to not only close the border but to eject the illegals whenever they show up in the red states.  This is another case of federal law that is being ignored by the federal government.  They could announce to the country that they are going to arrest all illegals and give them a chance to hand themselves over and instead get free airfare back to their homes.

This is the basis of what I was calling the Red State Council.  The red states coordinating to circumvent the sabotage of the federal government and protect each other by enforcing the Constitution within their own borders.  So there’s the tie-in to the Big Lebowski.  It’s filled with nihilism, both explicit and implied.  And that is what the federal government stands for and enforces.  But luckily for us we don’t have to have a Coen Brothers moral to our story.  It is possible to end up with a happily ever afterward story line.  All we need is a bunch of red state governors who decide that twenty five states is enough to stand their ground and refuse to be stampeded on by Biden and his minions.  Well, I guess I should get around to doing a review of the movie.  After all, the dude abides.

British Perspective on the Movie “The Holly and the Ivy”

The Holly and the Ivy is one of my favorite Christmas movies.  But it is an intensely English movie and so I thought it would be interesting to hear what a British movie critic would have to say about it.

Whether it is interesting or not I’ll leave to the individual viewer but I enjoyed it.  However I was already a fan of the movie and didn’t require any convincing.

The Fountainhead (1949) – An OCF Classic Movie Review

The Fountainhead is a novel by Ayn Rand about an architect named Howard Roark who embodies Rand’s ideal of the individualist.  It was made into a movie with Rand providing the screen play.

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

Gary Cooper is Howard Roark, a young man who wants to build buildings where the form corresponds to the function of the building and the materials it is made from.  But the architectural profession demands that only the established patterns, like classical columns and facades be used.  Unwilling to compromise on these points he is scorned by his profession and denied any commissions by the corporate establishment and is forced to get work wherever he can find; a gas station here, a factory there.  But slowly he gains a reputation as an innovator who can build modern buildings that are structurally sound and gracefully beautiful.

During these years he meets friends and enemies that help or hinder his career and he meets his soul mate; Dominique Francon (played by Patricia Neal) who is the daughter of a prominent architect and is the first to recognize Roark’s great talent and integrity.  But because she sees that the world will try to destroy him, she leaves him to spare herself the agony of watching it happen.  He meets Gail Wynand (played by Raymond Massey) the owner of the New York Banner, a tabloid newspaper that profits from yellow journalism.  He is also Dominique Francon’s new husband.  Wynand recognizes Roark’s talent and hires him to build a mansion for him in the country where he will live with his wife.  Neither Dominique nor Roark keep their former relationship from Wynand and in fact Roark and Wynand become close friends.

Working for Wynand at the Banner is Ellsworth M. Toohey, the newspaper’s architectural critic (if you can imagine such a thing).  He is also Ayn Rand’s mouthpiece for the collectivist ideology.  He believes that individualists like Roark are criminals for defying the will of the majority and should be treated as such.

Eventually we reach a crisis when Roark agrees to design a low-income housing project on the condition that his design would be adhered to completely.  When the powers that be betray him and change his designs, he dynamites the buildings before they are completed and is put on trial.  Wynand attempts to defend Roark in the Banner but Toohey organizes a boycott of the paper and Wynand is defeated and must recant his defense of Roark.

In the climax of the picture Roark gives a summation speech to the jury defending every man’s right to the fruits of his labor, in his case the design of his buildings and the agreement that they would not be altered.  And of course, he is found not guilty.  Wynand sells the Banner and uses the funds to commission Roark to build the tallest building in the world and then shoots himself.  The movie ends with Dominique Roark taking a construction elevator to the top of the million story Wynand Building tower with Howard Roark standing there with his hands on his hips while the wind whips his shirt.

O good grief.  Where to start?  Ayn Rand was a novelist and social critic who proposed a theory of human values that she called “objectivism.”  It seems to be a justification for a libertarian view of human interaction.  It espouses individualism and the right of everyone to live life according to the individual’s free will without constraint as long as no one else’s existence is constrained by this behavior.  For Rand, the antithesis of objectivism and the epitome of evil is communism.  Since Rand had grown up under the Soviet regime, she knew something about how communism worked.  She was also a novelist and her books reflected her philosophy.  And Howard Roark was one of the exemplars of her philosophy.  And the book is a very interesting read in some respects.  But subtlety was not one of her attributes.  There are no shades of gray.  Howard Roark and Dominque Francon are demigods of individualist virtue and Ellsworth M. Toohey is a communist slug dripping slime wherever he goes.  But even this would be a starting point for a movie.  What is missing though is anything like actual human behavior.  The characters are there more or less only to mouth talking points and diatribes for their particular points of view.  Even the romantic entanglements are presented as examples of how these mythical objectivist supermen and women would behave.  At no point can you find yourself suspending disbelief and becoming immersed in the characters.  It’s more like one of those public service film documentaries from the fifties where you are told about how the air raid shelter will allow us to survive World War III and get on with our lives in the glorious future that awaits us.  I enjoy watching the movie as a lark.  But except as a philosophical treatise on Ayn Rand and objectivism I don’t think it can be recommended for entertainment value.

Cure (1997) – A Movie Review

“Cure” is a Japanese psychological horror film written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, starring Kōji Yakusho as a Tokyo Metropolitan Police detective named Kenichi Takabe investigating a string of murders by different killers that are only linked by the throats of all the victims being slashed with an X shaped incision.

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

Takabe and his partner the forensic psychologist Sakuma suspect that a powerful hypnotist is implanting the idea of the murders into each of the killers.  They track down a strange man named Mamiya that was present at several of the murder scenes.  He behaves as if he has no memory of his own identity or his history.  Sakuma has Mamiya committed to a hospital for observation.  Mamiya uses his hypnotic powers to learn the details of Takabe’s family problem from a hospital employee.  Takabe’s wife is seriously mentally ill and the stress of living with her is undermining his own mental balance.  Mamiya uses this information to torment Takabe during an interrogation.  Takabe begins imagining his wife committing suicide.  He has her placed in a psychiatric institution to safeguard her.

Next, we see Mamiya implant a murder suggestion in a young female doctor and shortly afterward she murders a man.  Afterward Mamiya even causes Sakuma to commit suicide.  Finally, Mamiya escapes from the hospital and Takabe who is now enraged against his tormentor tracks him down to an abandoned hospital and after being taunted by Mamiya shoots him.  When Mamiya’s last motion is to attempt to implant the murder suggestion in Takabe the policeman empties his pistol into the madman.

After killing Mamiya Takabe finds an old phonograph player in the hospital and listens to a recording that seems to be the source of Mamiya’s knowledge of the deadly hypnotic technique.  In the next scene we see the corpse of Takabe’s wife at the mental hospital with an X cut into her throat.  In the last scene we see Takabe in a restaurant finishing a meal.  As the waitress leaves his table, we see her walk over to a counter and grab a butcher’s knife.

This is a very strange movie.  And of course, since it’s spoken in Japanese that adds another layer of distance for the non-Japanese speaking viewer.  But the movie is quite compelling.  The Mamiya character is extremely unnerving.  Whenever someone attempts to interrogate him about his actions or even his history it always ends up with him turning the interrogation around.  The movie viewer develops a strong revulsion for the character.  He manipulates the interrogators and eventually implants his suggestion.  Because of this antipathy I felt a great sense of satisfaction when Takabe emptied his pistol into the homicidal hypnotist.

I’m not sure how to provide the recommendation for this movie.  My impression of this movie was definitely positive.  I did enjoy it.  But it’s such a strange movie that I’m having a hard time selecting what audience this movie is made for.  I guess we’ll have to start with audiences that enjoy crime dramas.  A somewhat similar type of movie might be “Silence of the Lambs.”  But added to that is the foreign language aspect which might be problematic for many viewers.  I guess I can only qualify this film’s audience with these two factors.  That will have to be my recommendation, as vague as it is.