Friday, June 15, 2012

Open Thread, Film Style

Once again, I got nothing for ya today. So sad. The old brain-thingy just couldn’t get it focused, nothing I watched spoke to me, and the world has run out of ideas. So let’s turn the floor over to you, loyal readers! Tell us about some of the movies you’ve seen lately, old or new. What’s been good? What’s been bad? What did you like? What didn’t you? Or tell us about something else. Speak your mind.

133 comments:

K said...

I see where man caused climate change is trying to crawl out of it's box again. I took this as a signal to again find and read Michael Crichton's Caltech Michelin lecture from 2003.


http://www.tsaugust.org/images/Lecture_by_Crichton_at_Caltech.pdf

highly recommended.

ScottDS said...

So I saw Prometheus last week. Technically, it's stunning but that's par for the course for a Ridley Scott film. Art direction, cinematography, visual effects... all first rate.

But the film left me... wanting. Believe me, I think it's great that a summer blockbuster movie has the nerve to ask big questions and not spell out everything for the audience (with no shaky-cam or Bourne-style editing either!). But it's a bit of a mish-mash, as if they tried to cram too many ideas into one movie instead of settling on one and going with it. The characters don't talk to each other - they simply dole out exposition. The film needed some camaraderie or at least one mealtime scene where we can see these people as people. We don't get to know anyone, save for Noomi Rapace's character and her boyfriend. The ship seems to be mysteriously empty at critical moments - we're introduced to some security people who disappear when the movie needs them to.

Michael Fassbender is great as the android David but I honestly didn't know if his actions were inspired by his programing or bad writing! The film isn't satisfying as either an Alien prequel or an intellectual exercise - it would've been better if the creators didn't jerk us around with the "Is it a prequel or isn't it?" routine. Again, pick one and go with it.

The movie didn't accomplish what it set out to do, at least for me. When it comes to Big Ideas, I'd say Contact and even Star Trek: The Motion Picture were more satisfying in that regard.

DUQ said...

Did anybody see this Game of Thrones thing with Bush's head? That upsets me. That shows how sick Hollywood had become.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I haven't seen Prometheus but I sort of got that vibe from the previews. As much as it pains me to say this, it struck me as what a generic Ridley Scott film would look like, should such a thing exist. And apparently it does.

DUQ said...

Scott, I was afraid there would be a let down. I like Ridley Scott a lot, but you know he's going to miss sometimes and this had such a huge buildup that I figured it couldn't possibly be as good as people hoped.

AndrewPrice said...

K, Thanks for the link. tryanmax clued me in to Crichton's essays a couple weeks back and the few I've read so far are pretty good.

Here's you're link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's too bad. I had high hopes for the film. I'll still see it. I think the biggest problem I'm seeing in science fiction today is what you say about the characters not talking to each other and instead just giving information. That seems to have become very common in science fiction for some reason.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I saw that at Big Hollywood about Game of Thrones and it ticks me off. Talk about inappropriate, especially for something without a political message otherwise. That's very annoying.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I didn't get that feeling for a long time, but the latest round of previews give me that exact feeling -- this is what a generic Ridley Scott film would look like.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, so I guess at this point there's really nothing big to see at the movies until Dark Knight Rises comes out next month. Because let's be honest--the Spider-Man reboot is gonna suck.

ScyFyterry said...

I finally saw Avengers and I really enjoyed it. As comic book films go, this was great and I liked that they didn't go anti-American.

ScyFyterry said...

T-Rav, I have no plans to see the Spiderman reboot. I didn't like the last cuople Spiderman films and I don't think this will be anything more than those.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry and T-Rav, I'm not looking forward to the Spiderman reboot. I'll probably watch it when it comes to HBO, but I figure it will be on the same level as Green Lantern.

Dark Knight, however, interests me a lot.

ScottDS said...

I wasn't gonna chime in about the Game of Thrones thing but the questions no one seems to be asking is, "For what project was this head originally constructed?"

(I really hope BH doesn't run this story into the ground like they've done with so many others.)

By the way, I'm working on my first movie montage for my color theory class. I'm illustrating the color wheel (red, orange, yellow, etc.) using clips from movies. I'll post a link when I'm done with it!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's a good question. I was assuming it was just a Halloween mask, but if it wasn't, then what were they planning to do with it or did the Game of Thrones people do this intentionally?

In either event, I think this shows the level of obsession and hatred out there that they would do something like this. And let me point out, if it had been an Obama head, the same people would be screaming racism and people would have been fired by now.

ScottDS said...

From what I understand, the creators had to use whatever heads they had lying around. Assuming it was simply on a shelf in the creature shop, then one must ask, "How did it get there?" (In other words, the Game of Thrones people didn't have it custom made - it was made for something else.)

Yeah, maybe I'm giving the benefit of the doubt since the show/creators have been otherwise apolitical (and I have no reason to think that'll change)... BUT we still don't know when they found out whose head it was. On the set? During editing?

AndrewPrice said...

That's what surprises me about all of this. The show has been entirely apolitical. I can't think of a single thing which struck me as anyone trying to make a statement about anything. So this coming out of the blue was a bit of a shock, and that's why I find it troubling.

If the whole thing is entirely innocent, i.e. they grabbed a series of rubber masks that were in the studio makeup shop and his happened to be one, then I don't have a problem with it. But if it was more, then I am troubled by it.

ScottDS said...

Oh, and re: Prometheus, I'd be interested in your take on the film (when the DVD comes out?). The criticism about people talking/not talking came from a friend of mine who absolutely hated it. Oddly, my other friend loved it.

I've read many theories about the film and it's all interesting but one shouldn't have to read an interview with the director in order to formulate said theories.

Without spoiling anything, I believe my initial comment was, "This movie was missing the 'What does God need with a starship?' moment." :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'll review it the moment I see it. If I had the time, I would see it right now.

Nice use of that phrase. That actually sums up the whole idea of not only the philosophical point of a film, but the moment it gets clearly expressed and resolved in a film. Bravo! :)

Ed said...

I just saw the headline on the Game of Thrones thing but don't know the details. I don't watch the show so I can't say it bothers me as a viewer, but it continues my being bothered by Hollywood.

Ed said...

Also, I saw Sucker Punch the other day. You were right. They should burn the print on that one. Horrible, horrible, offensive film.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Sucker Punch is exactly what the name implies. Do not see that film.

Kit said...

Is it offensive on the basis of its moral/political view or is the movie of such poor quality that it offends morally?

AndrewPrice said...

Here is how I would describe it: It's a film about teenage-looking girls who dress up in skimpy costumes and fetish gear and then kill hundreds of people in rather gruesome ways all as part of an elaborate fantasy to free themselves from a mental institution/orphanage turned strip club.

The film consists of a series of fight scenes intermixed with scenes where the rather brutal club owner threatens the girls before they go back into the fantasy world. And that's it.

There is no plot and there is nothing redeeming here. It's basically a snuff film, a rape fantasy and teeny-porn mixed together.

Kit said...

Last night I watched some old BLUE BLOODS on cbs.com
Pretty good. Not far-far-right but definitely right-leaning show.
At least what I've seen.

Kit said...

Andrew,

So its both?

Kit said...

Scott,

"Without spoiling anything, I believe my initial comment was, "This movie was missing the 'What does God need with a starship?' moment.""

Thank you, now I'm having flashbacks to Uhura striptease dancing.

Must. . . Get. . . Brain Bleach . . .

AAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kit said...

Anyway, haven't watched GAME OF THRONES but I'm waiting to read the books this summer.

But I have watched the VEEP. Funny show. No Yes, Minister, but that ain't a condemnation (Yes, Minister was Pure Brilliance).

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It's actually well shot in terms of how it looks, but it has no story, bad acting, and it's morally repugnant.

AndrewPrice said...

I watch Game of Thrones and enjoy it very much. I started reading the books, but I'm enjoying the television version better because they've cut out lots of waste from the books.

I don't watch Veep because the ads turned me off. They look like yet another slam at Republicans.

T-Rav said...

I still haven't watched much of Game of Thrones so I really don't have anything to say about this story. It still seems like something that could be explained as an innocent mistake or as...well, Hollywood being Hollywood. I have no idea either way.

By the way, isn't the midget from Elf on there now?

AndrewPrice said...

Yes, Peter Dinklage. He's my favorite character on the show by far.

Kit said...

"I don't watch Veep because the ads turned me off. They look like yet another slam at Republicans."

I've yet to find a real slam at Republicans.

The main character and characters are liberals, likely Dems (main character has a "Green Jobs Bill") but more concerned with poll numbers than anything else.

Here is Jim Geraghty's review, which convinced me to watch it:
<a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/296607/finally-veep-who-deliberately-makes-us-laugh-jim-geraghty>LINK</a>

Kit said...

Here it is:
LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks for the link Kit, I'll check it out. The initial presentation looked very much like "check out the retarded Republicans".

Kit said...

It is surprisingly not so.

Now the writers, producers, and actors in the show are all likely left-wing and there are signs of a liberal view on things (green jobs) but the show's heart is, in some ways, despite the 20,000 f-bombs, conservative.

Politicians are not noble public servants but ambitious people largely acting in their own interest.


Also,
On f-bombs. You get queasy at the hearing of the word "fuck" you might not like it. It's like the dialogue was written by Rahm Emmanuell. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I have no problems with f-bombs so long as they aren't just there to make the characters sound tough (i.e. poor writing).

I'll check it out.

T-Rav said...

By the way, here's the Red Letter Media guys' take on Prometheus: LINK

It's not very different from what Scott had to say; they thought the first half of the movie very good, solid acting, great visuals throughout; but the last third or so fell flat, or at least seemed poorly thought-out.

CrispyRice said...

Well, I just flew to Europe and back, with my choice of probably 50 movies on the plane's system each way. (Plus games, music and more, very nice...) Anyway, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's on the way out, and the original Men In Black on the way back.

I gotta hand it to Tiffany's. Really, there's no sort of plot there, and yet, it's just an enjoyable movie to watch.

And MIB, well, it's held up. The laughs are still there.

Oh, and then we watch Contaminated Man on Netflix when I got home. William Hurt and Peter Weller and an outbreak of contagion in Hungary. What could go wrong?? Well, good thing I was jet-lagged. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Thanks! I haven't been over there in a while so I didn't know they'd reviewed it. I actually usually agree with their take on films.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, That's neat. The last I knew, they were still showing one film to everyone -- usually a real sleeper.

I like Breakfast at Tiffany's a lot, though I can't really explain why. It's just a good movie, I guess with interesting characters.

I haven't heard of Contaminated Man. Was it good, dull, scary, pointless?

DUQ said...

This just in, Lindsay Lohan found unconscious at hotel... no one surprised.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, When has she not been found unconscious at a hotel?

CrispyRice said...

Contaminated Man... Think of the exciting adventures you could have watching William Hurt starring as part of the UN Hazmat team!! Trying to stop a one-man plague (Peter Weller) before the evil NSA (working with the evil chemical company) can kill him. All set in dreary, dreary Hungary.

Actually, it wasn't horrible, but it drag on a bit.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Um... yeah, I'll jump right on that.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Thanks to Netflix I've watched a few good ones...

1. Emilio Estevez's film The Way. I think it's a great film. Martin Sheen plays a Dad whose only son dies in France in the Pyrenees while walking a pilgrimage to a shrine to St. James the Apostle... Sheen, grief stricken has to go retrieve his son's remains and then decides to walk the pilgrimage. Along the way he meets a bitter Canadian woman, a partying Dutchman, and a blocked Irish writer.... It was very moving, funny -- a small simple film. Clealry a labor of love for Estevez. And the setting in the Pyrenees and Basque country is awesome.

2. Killing Bono... a truish story about an Irish band that were high school mates with U2. It's got some great music, humor and heart, and a lot to say about the music industry and it is a spot on illustration of envy and its destructive nature.

3. I watched the Dizzy Dean story on FOx Movie Channel this morning... Hilarious piece of entertainment.

4. Melancholia... the only redeeming thing to say is that Kirsten Dunst has nice boobs. This was the most nihilistic thing I have ever seen -- and I've worked in criminal justice for over 15 years. Meth tweakers have more hope. Beautifully shot.

5. Atlas Shrugged, Part 1. Ugh. Really? How can conservatives be taken seriously? The acting wasn't all that bad, but the writing was horrible and the actress who played Dagny Taggart was beautiful, but didn't deliver her lines very well... whether that's on her or the directing and writing I don't know.

6. Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go. I liked this one a lot... Ferrell has a lot of depth in his acting. I liked Stranger Than Fiction too.

*** Yes I am a professor in the summer -- hence the movies. :-) I really do work sometimes.

Kit said...

Floyd,

How bad is ATLAS SHRUGGED?

Was part of it because Ayn Rand fans made it? Not enough executive oversight (people saying "CUT THIS DAMN THING DOWN!")

Floyd R. Turbo said...

It's not awful awful... but the political dialogue in the Star Wars prequels is about as scintillating.

I don't think that movie was the editor's fault.

Kit said...

What I meant was, no producer telling the writers and filmmakers "no".

Also, I just read an NRO article on it and it seems that one of the big guys involved, chief financier and co-writer, had almost no experience in the film industry.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, When she's been found unconscious in an alley.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I've heard nothing but bad things about Atlas Shrugged. That's depressing. It's such a neat story that it should make for a great film (though it would need a heavy-re-write as a script from the book). Conservatives need to start making better films if they want to be taken seriously.

"Meth tweakers have more hope" -- wow! I shall avoid the film like the plague, though I am interested in the one Jed reviewed on Wednesday.

The Way sounds interesting. These small labor of love films often turn out to be either really great or really horrible. I'll check that one out!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

T-Rav/Andrew

or behind the wheel of a car

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Good point. Hotels are a bit swank for her. Maybe the reporter was just being nice?

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Yeah, see a lot of those pictures of her too. She "does stoned out her mind" really well.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, My guess at what went wrong is this: when you read Atlas Shrugged, it strikes you as a story you could simply transfer to film. But you can't. The dialog is stilted and aimed at philosophizing rather than showing people speaking. There is too much repetition. You never get to know the characters personally, and it breaks down in these 20 page speeches which just can't be done on film.

My guess is that they didn't realize that the book cannot be made into a screenplay without a considerable re-write/re-imagining. So when they tried to follow the book, then ended up with a very two-dimensional and uninteresting film.

Kit said...

This is what I know about ATLAS SHRUGGED from various articles, reviews, and comments by other people.
-The general plot: The government is cracking down on the brilliant minds of the world, architects, engineers, etc. so they decide to strike and somehow civilization gets wrecked and they start anew. Which will be kinda weird since none of them appear to have any interest in procreation.
-There is a mysterious hero named John Galt.
-It has a 60 page speech.
-There are a lot of other speeches.
-There are two types of people in the word: producers and looters. Producers who create and looters who just feed off of the producers. (Or something like that).
-The characters are 2-dimensional. The good guys are smart, beautiful geniuses and the villains are incompetent, ugly idiots. (according to Whitaker Chambers)
-Its biggest fans will claim until doomsday that it is not science-fiction despite the book having a lot of the makings of a science-fiction (futuristic science, semi-futuristic tech, etc.)

AndrewPrice said...

That pretty much sums it up, although there is one truly key aspect to add: modern democrats act exactly like the villains, and make the same mistakes, and get the same results.

Kit said...

I also know Whitaker Chambers loathed the book.

"From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber — go!'"


Also, I know that Ayn Rand never forgave William F. Buckley for publishing Chambers' review of ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Kit said...

"modern democrats act exactly like the villains, and make the same mistakes, and get the same results."

Well, from what I also heard/read, with Ayn Rand it was more about looking down on people she didn't like. Much the same way you had emotes and tv shows featuring good, noble, smart, super-competent liberals going off against evil, corrupt, ugly, incompetent Republicans.

About making yourself feel better about yourself by making the other guys look as bad as possible. The result is typically bad art.

AndrewPrice said...

The thing is, he misunderstood what she was saying. She wasn't saying "there are good people and everyone else must be killed or should be left to die." She was saying, "you can't drag the good people down just to make everyone else happy."

And her economic point was that if you let the government (who represents the inept basically) take over and run business, you will slowly drive business out of business. The best answer is to let the people with the ideas and the drive do their think and that will benefit everyone.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, If you go too far into her theories, then yeah, they become pretty ugly. But you get the same with any philosophy you can think of. Too far into Christianity leads to the crusades and the Inquisition.

If you look more generally at the ideas she's advocating, it's not about putting anybody down, it's about leaving people alone. It's an anti-government philosophy which says that government is the tool of those who lack the skill to compete, who then use government to squelch the competition, to stop them from innovating and improving, and who drain them dry to support the people who never should have been in the business in the first place.

ScottDS said...

Floyd -

I agree about Melancholia... beautiful to look at (in more ways than one... ahem) but man is it dreary. I have no problem with dark movies and dark subject matter but why would anyone want to watch this movie more than once, let alone for enjoyment? We talk about this in art class and it's like, "Am I the only person who doesn't get off on f---ing with people?!"

Kit -

Nice to see a fellow Veep fan!! If you like it, you need to track down its British predecessor from the same team, The Thick of It (it's not out on DVD yet in the US), which had its own movie spinoff, In the Loop.

These guys turn profanity and nicknames into an art form. (NSFW!!)

Kit said...

Here is Chambers' review LINK

Kit said...

And what is with Ayn Rand and her lack of Children?

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Not everyone has kids and sometimes society is better off for that. Imagine how much nicer the world would be if Pelosi's parents never had kids?

Kit said...

Good point.

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, I'd always heard it was rumored that she was gay. That might explain it, if it's true.

Kit said...

Here is the first part of conservative sci-fi blogger Republibot's review of ATLAS SHRUGGED
LINK

AndrewPrice said...

I've seen him post at Threedonia occasionally.

CrisD said...

Hi Guys-

Atlas Shrugged...we really wanted to like it...but lets face it , it was awkward diologue on steroids.

Floyd, thanks for the tip on "the way". This is my type of film if good. I first knew Martin Sheen through the Sunday morning TV show "Lamp Unto My Feet". Religious dramas. As a preteen , I really responded to the philosophy of religion and it has remained a passion for me.

Andrew-my computer is on the fritz...help!!! If I always read along and if I lose touch, I will be buying a new computer, perhaps an IPAD!!! Happy Friday. Am watching TCM a lot.

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, Yeah, I wanted to like Atlas Shrugged very much, but I couldn't. I wish they'd worked more on making it a good movie than being true to the book.

Sorry to hear about your computer and I wish I could help! Best of luck!

I've been watching a LOT of westerns lately, but I did go to TCM the other day to watch Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, a fantastic film!

ScottDS said...

Pelham One Two Three... oh man, what a badass movie! (The awful remake has numerals in the title.) I only saw it for the first time a few years ago but it was love at first sight. Everything about the movie works and the supporting cast is brilliant. I especially like the bed-ridden mayor. "You think they're from out of town?"

And Robert Shaw... need I say more?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I total agree. Yeah, I should have written out the numbers. I love that film. That's an example where Hollywood did everything right. I almost reviewed it for today, but saw it too late.

And yeah, the remake is a classic example of where Hollywood has gone wrong these days.

ScottDS said...

One comment I read about the remake was that it might've been better if Washington and Travolta switched roles. Food for thought...

Too bad Tony Scott has become so completely self-indulgent over the last decade or so. Sure, Man on Fire is a cool movie but the man needs to quit caffeine! Domino is a movie that should've been awesome: supermodel becomes bounty hunter? Sign me up! Instead, we got an epic mess.

AndrewPrice said...

That's an interesting thought actually, if they had switched roles. It might have made a huge difference. The problem, as I see it, was that Travolta was way too over the top to take the film seriously.

Tony Scott does have talent, but he can't seem to break away from the idea his feels need to feel frenetic. And that makes it hard to like his film.

T-Rav said...

Well crap, I missed a whole discussion of Rand.

Actually, what I always heard about Ayn wasn't that she was gay (I mean, maybe she was), but that she had a sexually sadistic streak in her. I don't know how else to explain it; basically, she carried on with a married man, then when his wife found out, browbeat her into accepting the whole deal, because he could obviously only find sexual fulfillment in her. Then she broke it off after finding out he'd started having another affair, this time with someone who wasn't over 60 and decrepit. That meant he was no longer worthy of her.

As for the Chambers angle, I have to agree with Kit. At times, she wasn't suggesting that the producers should flourish and leave everyone else to die, she was directly saying it. I remember one passage in Atlas Shrugged where heroine Dagny Taggert shot and killed a guard not for threatening her, but because he had orders and couldn't let her into a restricted area. "To a gas chamber--go!" may not have been the nicest way of describing Rand's philosophy, but that doesn't make it inaccurate.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, If I remember correctly, and I haven't read it in some time, the guard she shot had tortured the hero, John Galt, and was using "I am just following orders" as an excuse for that and for still holding him prisoner.

ambisinistral said...

The original Flight of the Phoenix, which I have on DVD and watch from time to time. It's a hell of a good movie, with some slowly evolving character twists that are amazing as they play out.

Never saw the remake. They couldn't manage to make a trailer that hid the ridiculous nature of its rewrite, so i just skipped it.

But, if you've never seen the original -- get it and watch it.

AndrewPrice said...

ambisinistral, I love that movie! What a great premise, a great drama, and some great character twists as it plays out!

I saw the remake a few years ago and it was basically forgettable.

Kit said...

The same torturers that had to be "corrected" by the person they were torturing?


Well, that's what I heard happened in the book.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I don't recall the good guys torturing anyone, just leaving them to the mess they created themselves, i.e. withdrawing their labor from society and letting the leaches try to make a go of it without someone to leach from.

Kit said...

"Actually, what I always heard about Ayn wasn't that she was gay (I mean, maybe she was), but that she had a sexually sadistic streak in her. I don't know how else to explain it; basically, she carried on with a married man, then when his wife found out, browbeat her into accepting the whole deal, because he could obviously only find sexual fulfillment in her. Then she broke it off after finding out he'd started having another affair, this time with someone who wasn't over 60 and decrepit. That meant he was no longer worthy of her."

I think they made a movie about that.

If true, then why is she held up as a model ethicist.

Some of her supporters claim that "she got her husband's permission", which makes adultery okay -according to them.

ScottDS said...

I see John Hanlon over at BH reviewed Adam Sandler's latest film. In short he hated it. I'm kinda surprised BH ran with the review since Sandler is considered one of those guys who makes movies "for real Americans" which is all well and good but it's no excuse for crap!

And I say that as someone who was pleasantly surprised by Grandma's Boy which I thought was a trip! I'd love to see Sandler try something else, like he did with Punch Drunk Love a decade ago.

Kit said...

"Kit, I don't recall the good guys torturing anyone, just leaving them to the mess they created themselves, i.e. withdrawing their labor from society and letting the leaches try to make a go of it without someone to leach from."

No, I meant something I read that while the bad guys were trying to torture a character, John Galt, they were having trouble with the machine and John Galt told them how to operate it properly.

I remember someone mentioning that event as an example of how the novel is bad, bad writing.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Because she wrote about ethics. You don't disqualify someone's words just because you don't like the way they live their lives.


On Galt instructing them in how to use the device, I don't recall the book enough to say for sure if that did or didn't happen, but that doesn't sound accurate. There are a lot of people who hate her books because they disagree with her philosophy, so be careful trusting what you read and I would personally ignore the people who are grading her on style, they've missed the point.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, there's large sections of the book I haven't read at all, so that's entirely possible. But from the way that passage read, it didn't seem like this particular guard had done anything or had a prior history of cruelty, he was a mere cog introduced and then shot down in the same page. Again, I could be wrong, but that's the way I read it.

By the way, this is the same kind of slippery morality on display in The Matrix. There, the enlightened few have the right to kill innocent civilians who just happen to have been hijacked by agents; in Atlas Shrugged, the "heroes" have no compunction about abandoning a large portion or even a majority of the population to its grim fate, so they can be the ones to rebuild after the collapse. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying things, but it seems very anti-human to me.

Kit said...

"Kit, Because she wrote about ethics. You don't disqualify someone's words just because you don't like the way they live their lives."

I'm referring to the people who worship every word she wrote and excuse her actions that were immoral.


"On Galt instructing them in how to use the device, I don't recall the book enough to say for sure if that did or didn't happen, but that doesn't sound accurate. There are a lot of people who hate her books because they disagree with her philosophy, so be careful trusting what you read and I would personally ignore the people who are grading her on style, they've missed the point."

I think I read it at a conservative site and the author was a conservative.
But good point nonetheless.

I will say that Andrew Klavan, who has praised how she championed free market, said she was a "bad novelist".

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, They don't really tell you that you can't run something at BH, so it's not really a surprise they would let Hanlon run with that.

I'm not a Sandler fan at all.

Kit said...

"I'm referring to the people who worship every word she wrote and excuse her actions that were immoral."

Let me finish that sentence.
"I'm referring to the people who worship every word she wrote and excuse her actions that were immoral through moral jump ropes."

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, On abandoning people, what is the alternative? If I told you, "T-Rav, you must work really hard so I can take what you make to feed families I think deserve it." Would you say that it's immoral for you to walk away just because those families now choose to depend on you? Doesn't that mean slavery is now moral if I can put you to work and keep you at work simply because you stopping would negatively impact others?


On the guard, like I said, I don't recall the book in enough detail (read it 15 years ago) to tell you specifically. But in terms of killing innocent people, there are two points I would make. First, are you really innocent if you are doing the dirty work of an evil regime? And secondly, outside of a true superhero like Superman, innocent people die all the time when good people do things like fight wars. It's the nature of the beast.

Kit said...

Here is an article at NRO on Ayn Rand: "The Great Ghastly Rand"
LINK

Kit said...

"On the guard, like I said, I don't recall the book in enough detail (read it 15 years ago) to tell you specifically. But in terms of killing innocent people, there are two points I would make. First, are you really innocent if you are doing the dirty work of an evil regime? And secondly, outside of a true superhero like Superman, innocent people die all the time when good people do things like fight wars. It's the nature of the beast."

I believe this debate came up in THE CLERKS: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Kit,
I'm referring to the people who worship every word she wrote and excuse her actions that were immoral.

I understand your point. My point is that you don't tear down someone's philosophy just because the person themselves didn't live according to your moral liking. Martin Luther King was an adulterer, but he was right about his dream. It's the principles which matter, not the person who espouses them.


On Klavan calling her a bad novelist, I agree. These are not great story-novels. They are instead, philosophical pieces put to story. The characters are archetypes and aren't meant to be seen as real people. The situations are meant to be extreme (though today they aren't), and the resolutions are purposefully provocative to make a clear philosophical point about right and wrong. So while they are novels in the storytelling sense, they really aren't if you get my point. They are like very wordy parables.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I laughed really hard when I saw that the first time about the independent contractors on the Death Star. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

The NRO article is stupid, quite frankly. Flip around his outrage and you will see that he is advocating slavery only he's not smart enough to realize it. He's just made the case that no matter how badly the government uses you and how much the government takes, you have an obligation to work your hardest for the children.

Kit said...

"Martin Luther King was an adulterer, but he was right about his dream. It's the principles which matter, not the person who espouses them."

Good point. I do get annoyed when people worship humans as if they were god.
See: Roddenberry, Gene


"On Klavan calling her a bad novelist, I agree. These are not great story-novels. They are instead, philosophical pieces put to story. The characters are archetypes and aren't meant to be seen as real people. The situations are meant to be extreme (though today they aren't), and the resolutions are purposefully provocative to make a clear philosophical point about right and wrong. So while they are novels in the storytelling sense, they really aren't if you get my point. They are like very wordy parables."

From what I know she glorified what she called "the ideal man" -who doesn't exist at all.
Which might be why some have called her novels and heroes "dull". They aren't people.

Kit said...

"The NRO article is stupid, quite frankly. Flip around his outrage and you will see that he is advocating slavery only he's not smart enough to realize it. He's just made the case that no matter how badly the government uses you and how much the government takes, you have an obligation to work your hardest for the children."

His problem, as I read it, was the pleasure she seemed to take in killing them off. She enjoyed killing everyone, even the children.

And he did praise FOUNDATIONHEAD, on the second page.

Kit said...

And here is Klavan and Whittle discussing her LINK

That link does not have the "Bad novelist" quote, that came from a lecture he gave.

But I think he does, near the end, incidentally, point to the reason so many conservatives are nervous about her: her extreme humanism.
Republibot goes into it here, maybe its in Part 2 or 3, of his reviews.
LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It annoys me too that people mix ideas with the people who have them and begin to worship the man instead of the idea.

Her heroes are dull because they aren't people. They are basically vessels for ideas.


In terms of Dagny taking pleasure from killing them, that's simply not true. She never took pleasure from anything. She is entirely emotionless throughout the book.

I saw that he praised Fountainhead, which is more evidence of his stupidity. Roark is Dagny. They are the same character, the same idea, and they take the same kinds of actions. Roark even blows up a building to deprive society of it. So basically, the NRO guy is taking contradictory positions. I think he missed the point to the books quite frankly.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, There are two branches of conservatism, religious conservatism and libertarianism. She represents libertarianism, and that bothers religious conservatives. The problem is that religious conservatives are responding to her atheism and rather than simply sticking with that point, they look for reasons to hate her entire philosophy. And in the process, they end up making arguments which undermine their own beliefs.

It's the same way many conservatives want to write off Ron Paul as crazy and they end up attacking everything he believes even though they share many of his beliefs.

Also, let me point out that much of the criticism is hypocritical in the sense of the people making it criticize her positions BUT simultaneously flat out refuse to acknowledge the implications of what they are saying. The NRO guy is a great example of this. He attacks Rand for having a character who say she has no obligation to work for others. He claims that's immoral. Ok. That means he believes morality requires those who can to work for the benefit of society. That's communism, but he ignores the second part of the equation because he doesn't want to espouse it.

It would be like me saying that the Declaration of Independence is wrong when it says that all men are created equal, but then denying that I think some are created better than others. It's willful blindness or dishonesty.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, if I was presented with that dilemma, my guess is that I would probably keep working. I don't feel I could just walk away, knowing people would suffer because of my inaction. Or I could just be a schmuck. Both are equally possible.

However, there's a difference in what happens in this book. I might be just a grunt, but Taggert, Galt, and the others are powerful business owners with the ability to save others--not everyone, of course, but they could at least try. But they are openly unconcerned with the fate of other people. Maybe you'll say they have every right not to be concerned, but that's a cop out. This is about morality, not legal technicalities, and whether or not Rand's idea of morality is warped. The protagonists are, as you yourself said, utterly lacking in compassion or any other kind of emotion. They may have the "right" to be like that, but what kind of society would that be? Would there even be a society at all? This is what happens when you take liberty and individualism down the rabbit hole: you get a world where everyone is as independent and alone as an island.

This is not to say that I believe anyone should be forced by the government to show compassion. You can't do it, and you shouldn't try it. But refusing to be compassionate doesn't make you a good person. It makes you a jerk. And I know what you'll say: "Yes, but the point is that they have the right to be jerks." So what? They're still jerks.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Let me also add, this train scene doesn't appear in a vacuum in the book, though the critic is trying to isolate it because he doesn't want to deal with the uncomfortable parts.

At this point in the book, the government has turned into a redistribution machine. It takes from those who have to give to those who want and it does so with the fiat of government power and the power of the rifle. When she says the people weren't innocent, that was her point, that these people ratified the actions of the government and many of them even partook.

And what killed them wasn't something Dagny did or didn't do, it was that they put in place a government which let its members order the public to do things which violated common sense. This idiot on the train made such an order and everyone ended up dying.

Her point, which is the point to the book, is that if you support an evil government, even passively, then you have no right to complain about the negative consequences.

To flip this around, as the critic would, would result (for example) in saying that all Germans were innocent in WWII unless they specifically gave orders to kill Jews.

T-Rav said...

This also goes along with the point made earlier about Rand and children. It wasn't just that she didn't want to have children (which is fine), she utterly loathed them and anything having to do with childhood. In fact, she hated the family in general, denouncing it as a form of enslavement that kept the individual from realizing his or her true potential. You could have heard the same thing from Karl Marx back in the day. You may disagree, but one commentator on Rand's work said that her extreme libertarianism was not based on an appreciation for the dignity of human beings, but on an almost Nietzschean thirst for the exceptionally talented few to assert their superiority and power, the fate of everyone else be damned. I wouldn't be surprised.

T-Rav said...

By the way, I thought Hanlon's rant against Sandler was hilarious. Can anyone remember the last movie he made that didn't totally suck? Because I sure can't.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree with you in part. Morally, yes, they should try to help people. I would and I would not like anyone who didn't. BUT morally, we have no right to force them. To the contrary, it's immoral to force them. And the fact they have special abilities doesn't change the equation. Humans are human and morality needs to be equal for all or it's not morality. Either we are free or we are not. And if we're not, then some pretty sick implications arise out of that -- basically fascism or communism.

Also, let me point out that you are making a mistake in reading this as a book about morality generally. It's not about morality generally, it's about morality when it comes to the individual's rights against the government. It's very narrow in that regard.

Also, it needs to be pointed out that Dagny and the others do their best for a very long time in the story. They struggle against an oppressive government which takes their property, imposes rules on them, interferes with their companies, and treats them like garbage all in the name of redistribution and fairness. It's essentially what the communists did in Eastern Europe.

They don't just quit because they feel like it or because the government passed a law or two they didn't like, they quit because the government pushes and pushes and pushes and they finally reach a point where they decide it is impossible to continue, so they go on strike.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, She did have some ugly views, but it doesn't undo her better ones.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, As for Sandler, nope, they've all sucked for a very long time now. In fact, I can't think of the last one I liked.

Gordon Winslow said...

I'll plug a couple of summer movies that have underperformed.

John Carter is a movie I'd been waiting for since I was a kid and read the Edgar Rice Burroughs adventures. A bad marketing campaign and grossly unfair pre-release coverage in the entertainment press tanked it. It did not deserve that. It isn't a masterpiece, but it's a really fun movie.

It's got problems--the script tries to cram too much in from future books in the series, for one thing, in an attempt to set up sequels that will never happen--but on the whole it's a hugely entertaining science-fantasy action spectacle, just what the doctor ordered for a Sunday afternoon. Everyone I know who has actually seen it (with one exception), really enjoyed it.

Men in Black III was also a lot of fun. Not as good as the first one, but a damn sight better than the second.

AndrewPrice said...

Gordon, I haven't seen either yet. John Carter absolutely had a horrible marketing campaign. I never read the books and I didn't see a single ad which made me want to watch it -- most made it look like generic/modern Conan the Barbarian. But I intend to watch it when it hits HBO.

Men in Black III looks pretty good and I enjoyed the first two a good deal -- though you're right that the first was much better than the second. I intend to see that one too.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I am of course aware of all that. But again, my point isn't really whether or not you should try and force people to act a certain way. Obviously, you can't. But what you do with your liberty does matter. If you use it to help others and in general be a good, civic-minded person, well and good. But if you use it merely for the accumulation of wealth and personal decadence--yes, you have that right, but that doesn't change the fact that you're degrading yourself and those around you.

This is why I don't see libertarianism as a stable philosophy. When we talk about classical liberalism, we often pretend it was a single, small-government ideal, when in fact it went through phases. The later ones developed because political leaders saw that there was social/moral rot in a lot of places with the extreme libertarianism of the mid-19th century, because not everyone exercised their liberty in a judicious manner. This was when many liberals mistakenly thought they could tweak the system to guide people to the right path through legislation, so they tweaked it more and more, until by the early 20th century they had pretty much thrown in with the socialists. Their activist mindset was to blame, but so were the conditions that gave them an excuse to be activist in the first place.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree with that and that's why I think extreme libertarianism won't work. It produces an unstable situation where too many become advocates for taking from those who have, and it ultimately results in socialism. It also gets mixed too much with libertine thinking, which again results in a backlash which results in a form of theocracy when people have finally had enough.

That's why I personally believe the best form of government is a bias toward libertarianism, but a recognition that the government must regulate to the extent of keeping society somewhat level. In other words, they need to do things like regulate to prevent the waste of forcing everyone to watch out for themselves (e.g. people needing to build their own roads), regulate to the extent necessary to allow for the well-functioning of markets, regulate to protect the citizenry from predatory acts (e.g. cops arresting robbers), and regulate to the extent of protecting the few from foisting their own version of morality on the common morality.

Once you get beyond that, however, government quickly becomes a tool for the connected to steal and oppress others.

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, that would probably make a pretty good post because people ask me all the time what standard we should use to decide if regulation is good or not.

Gordon Winslow said...

Andrew:

The reason John Carter looks a bit like Conan is because the novel it was based on (A Princess of Mars) appeared in 1912, marking the beginning of the pulp era that Conan was a major figure in. Its influence is felt throughout that era and far beyond, from Flash Gordon (in all incarnations) to Star Wars. It invented swashbuckling space adventures.

It looks like a ripoff of other things because its source material inspired so many other things, and the movie is quite faithful to its source!

It just hit home video, so HBO should have it soon.

As for MIB III, it's worth seeing just for Josh Brolin's incredible performance as a young Tommy Lee Jones. He absolutely nails it. It's almost scary.

Gordon Winslow said...

Now that I think about it, I've seen four summer-type movies this season (JC was in the spring, but it's a summer movie) and enjoyed them all. I also liked The Avengers and The Hunger Games. I haven't seen any masterpieces, but got my money's worth with all four.

That's pretty good for it only being June. There have been summers quite recently where pretty much everything that should have been just an old-fashioned good time at the theater really sucked.

T-Rav said...

Based on all the stuff I saw, the new MIB is at least watchable. However, as I understand, there were a couple of moments at the end where the movie screwed up its own time-travel rules, which may or may not affect one's ability to enjoy the movie. That said, Brolin does seem pretty good as a young Agent Kay.

AndrewPrice said...

Gordon, Let me clarify. I'm not saying the series is a rip off of Conan. Not at all. I recognize the history, though I haven't yet read any of the John Carter books (I have downloaded a couple to Kindle recently (free)).

What I meant was that the ads for the film made it look like the remake of Conan, just another muscle guy who fights a lot of CGI monsters with no apparent plot. That's why I think the marketing was so bad, because it made the film look like the most bland versions of the remakes of Conan or Clash of the Titans and it gave me no hope there would be a story to go with it.

AndrewPrice said...

Gordon, This does seem to be a better summer than the past couple. I don't remember if it was last summer or the one before, but there was nothing that even vaguely caught my eye.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I can live with them messing up their time travel rules because it's a comedy. If it was serious science fiction, I'd probably write a nasty review based on that. :)

Gordon Winslow said...

Oh, there's a story...too much story in fact. But, yeah, the advertising campaign was awful. The funny thing is, everyone knew it was awful when it began many, many months before the release of the film, but Disney never corrected course when it could have easily done so. It will be a Harvard Business School case study one day.

It's better than that recent Conan movie. Then again, the films my friends and I shot on our parents' VHS camcorders back in high school were better than that recent Conan movie...

AndrewPrice said...

It's unfortunate when marketing is the reason a film fails, but I think people are being rational in that regard. When the marketing shows you something which looks like every other piece of garbage Hollywood has put out lately, it makes sense to assume it's just more of the same.

It sounds like someone should be fired at Disney.

Yeah, that new Conan movie stunk.

Gordon Winslow said...

Don't remember the fellow's name, but someone pretty high up on the food chain was fired.

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, Rich Ross, the Chairman of the company resigned. They lost $200 million.

PikeBishop said...

Direct TV giving us a free weekend of Showtime (wife and I love these free previews, load up the DVR with movies we would have Netflixed anyway) and we checked out the original series "Tell me a lie" about ruthless management consultants, starring Don Cheadle.

It has its moments, and has some good satire, but it is nowhere near as well-written as it thinks it is. And since this is Showtime we have to have the obligatory three different sets of bare breasts every episode (talk about overkill)

Show also suffers from "Don Draper" syndrome. It gets old when every single being with two x chromosomes and a vagina want to F**K the main character. (Everyone of course except Kristen Bell's member of his team, character). In episode two he goes to the principal to argue against the casting decision of his son's role in the play. In walks the Mom of the rival student.....boom, sparks fly....cut to the kids acting on stage while, Cheadle and Mom are outside, doing it doggie style in a minivan in the parking lot (and yes, her breasts are the 3rd pair in tonight's episode).

Lazy characteriztion, lazy writing. May give it a few more episodes.

rlaWTX said...

just read through all these comments - skimmed the Rand ones: too deep for a Saturday - y'all been busy...

Going to see Prometheus this evening.
Saw Snow White & Huntsman - CTheron and Thor were great, KStewart was better than I expected (which was a very low bar), enjoyed the movie.
I want to see Rock of Ages just because it looks kinda fun and they'll be playing the music I like...
Looking forward to Dark Knight!!
And Magic Mike - I think I should feel a little ashamed about looking forward to going to that one with a bunch of friends - but I don't!!! :)

A while back there was a discussion here about "foreign" leading men that I also had with some friends - I just gotta say that I appreciate Australia's actor exports. There's a interesting new show on A&E "Longmire" set in Wyoming, the actor playing the sheriff is... Aussie!

BH had an article about "Madison Rising" a rock group with a decided conservative bent. BH had a video of them doing "Star Spangled Banner" - quite good. SO, I bought the debut cd. They aren't real deep (music sounds similar song to song), but I really like "In the Days that Reagan Ruled"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They definitely have a perspective: "Right to Bear", "Soldiers of America", American Dream", "Where Was the Media Then", "Before the Hyphens Came". "Honk if You Want Peace" is interesting - makes fun of OWS types and pushes the negatives of them getting in the way, specifically of the route to the hospital...
"Reagan" uses clips of Reagan speaking.

patti said...

watched "the way" on netflix and enjoyed it.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti and Floyd, It sounds like something to be checked out!

Thanks for the recommendation folks. :)

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I remember the ads, but I haven't watched it.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Australia has sent some very good actors over here.

Tell us what you think of Prometheus.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: Watch the first three episodes and let me know. I taped the whole marathon yesterday and have still not decided if I will watch beyond. That is how ambivilent I am about this show.

Also, its called "House of Lies." I was in error about the title.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I've experienced that, where I tape an entire series and then can't really make myself watch it. HBO's Rome was that way for me. I watched the first couple and felt so ambivalent about it that I just couldn't get myself to decide if I wanted to watch the rest. I eventually gave up.

rlaWTX said...

Prometheus was pretty good. Less gory and intense than Alien/Aliens. Interesting story.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Glad to hear it! We'll tell ScottDS that he's wrong! :)

rlaWTX said...

(remember... I am an easy audience member!!)

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