March 27, 2006
I'm stealing the idea of reviewing by weekly Netflix movies from Robbo the Llama Butcher
. I signed up a couple of weeks ago and I've found that probably the best thing about this service is that because of its flexibility I end up watching a lot more DVDs that I have in a long time. Hey, when you have young kids, it's hard to motivate yourself to go out to Blockbuster or some other video store and wander up and down the display of new releases (a buddy of mine designates it as the "wall of shame") and find something - anything - worth taking a chance and wasting $5 and two hours on.
With the Netflix, you have plenty of time to browse, read reviews, discuss with the wife and throw a bunch of stuff in your queue.
First off, let be be upfront. My name is Gary and I'm a "24" addict. I'm most of the way through season one at this point and I'm kicking myself for not watching this first run. The biggest problem at this point are spoilers and I've come to accept the fact that no character is safe on this show. Any one of them can get killed off if future seasons and many are. So I'm just resigned to that fact. But this doesn't take away from the intensity of the show. I look forward to season two and beyond.
Next up, "Bend It Like Beckham". This was one my wife saw with friends at the theater a while back and she's been bugging me to see it. It's a bit more than your standard sports coming of age story. Yes, you have the teenage girl dealing with parental expectations thing. There's also the Indian v. British cultural clash aspect. But the main thrust of the story is about women who love to play football/soccer trying to make it in a "man's sport". One of things that struck me is that while Europe is often seen in this country as being so "progressive" and culturally "open-minded" the best these girls can aspire to is playing professionally in the U.S. Where are all the European women's sporting leagues? No where to be found, eh?
The United States has the WUSA, the WNBA, the LPGA...even a professional women's American Football league. Now, granted these leagues don't have anywhere near the popularity of the men's pro sports organizations but at least there's the opportunity for women athletes to compete in the sports they excel in, and get paid for it. I guess Europe has a long way to go in this respect.
Anyway, the film is funny and well-done. The lead character is Jess Bhamra, played by Parminder Nagra (who is currently starring in the series "ER"), whose talents with a soccer ball are noticed by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightly). Jules invites Jess to play on a amateur women's team she belongs to. Jess joins the team against the wishes of her parents, who would rather she follow her sister's example and find a nice Indian man to marry. The results are both comical and touching as Jess does her best to manage her family's desires and aspire to her own.
Lastly, I finally got around to seeing "Sideways" and was pleasantly surprised. Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is a middle-aged English teacher and aspiring (but failing) writer who is really in his element when evaluating wines but is a guy who otherwise is not comfortable in his own skin. He heads up to Northern California on a week-long roadtrip with his buddy, Jack, who is getting married the following Saturday. Miles introduces his friend to the joys of wine and wine-tasting (though often a little too much tasting) but Jack is more interested in getting laid before he takes the big plunge.
The story is well-written and we gradually get to understand what makes these guys tick, especially Miles. Both men begin to reevaluate their lives at middle-age and ask the same questions that we all do - who are we and what do we really want out of life. Their exploration of wine-country leads to an exploration of themselves. There is a particularly well-written scene where Miles is discussing wine with Maya, the lead female character (Virginia Madsen), and the wine becomes a metaphor for life itself. I can see where some people might find the ending too ambiguous or open-ended but the key to the conclusion is Miles' personal growth. Where it goes from there, the viewer can fill in the blanks.
This is one of those films I think I'll probably watch again sometime - with a bottle or two of some good wine. Being a novice on the subject, I'm open to suggestions.
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I loved Bend It Like Beckham! It is now one of my favorite films.
Posted by: Pam at March 27, 2006 02:32 PM (SAPb2)
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March 17, 2006
"P" For Paranoid
There's been a lot of buzz generated by today's release of "V For Vendetta"
, the latest offering from the Wachowski Brothers (who managed to take a very cool "The Matrix" and turn it into a bucket of crap with its subsequent tedious sequels).
For those who don't know much about it, the preview makes it look pretty interesting. But before you plop down your $9 to make sure you're not the only one you know who hasn't seen it, you should be mindful that this film is more than just a heroic take on terrorism and anarchy. It's essentially a Left-wing paranoid fantasy that goes after the subject of fear-mongering by doing exactly that.
In an earlier post I highlighted this early review from the Conservative film blog, Libertas. It's worth linking again. Read the whole thing.
It's you're time and money, but just be aware of what you're paying to see.
Debbie Schlussel weighes in to point out all of the Left's favorite screeds that are present in the film.
UPDATE: 3/21/06 9:30AM
Some people have called making this film an act of courage. Bah! Mark My Words takes a look at this claim.
According to Box Office Mojo, although it was the number one movie this past weekend, it only pulled in $25 million. And as far as opening weekends go, that's a little below average for a "comic book" film. It's just a bit more than the opening weekends for such stinkers as "Hellboy" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" but less than "Sin City" and "Blade II". On the all-time rankings for opening weekends it ranked 201 just behind "Big Momma's House".
It will be interesting to see what the effect of word-of-mouth will have in next couple of weeks.
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Showtime/HBO ... 18 months. I'll wait.
Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 17, 2006 09:56 AM (axVEU)
So does Debbie threaten to sue anybody?
Posted by: rightwingprof at March 17, 2006 04:26 PM (/IE5Q)
How come, when the left says stupid things like "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" and "blowing up buildings can have meaning" they always seem to forget Timothy McVeigh.
Posted by: Grayson at March 18, 2006 03:59 PM (3Vh45)
I heard Michael Medved tear into it this past week. He also slammed Natalie Portman for some comments she had made, which he felt were ignorant.
Posted by: Wordsmith at March 18, 2006 08:54 PM (nrGCx)
I have read "The Road Warrior's" review and I found it illogical and hypocritical.
The author describes the movie as "a paranoid, left-wing fever dream of what America is here and now". Sadly, he gets it all wrong. I see nothing paranoid about a movie which has as one of its themes the question of how totalitarianism takes hold in a country, how it is maintained and how it can be overcome. Furthermore, as a Libertarian I fail to see how there is anything overtly "left-wing" in the movie. Labeling it a "left-wing fever dream" is just a typical conservative smear tactic used to avoid having to respond to the ideas presented in the movie. Finally, this is not a movie about "what America is here and now" (which is only that reviewer's own paranoia talking), but it is a cautionary tale about what America could become if things proceed on their current course.
Some people, "The Road Warrior" included, seem to be in such a habit of defending the State that they nearly go as far as to defend the totalitarian government V fights against in Â“V for VendettaÂ”. Take a few quotes from "The Road Warrior's" review as examples:
"Needless to say, this is one misguided, naive film that is everything it accuses the government within the film of being: fear mongering, deceitful, hateful, and propagandistic".
So by choosing to use the word "accuses" does he mean to imply that maybe the government in the film isn't those things. Given the tone, one could be forgiven for believing the reviewer is subtly defending the government in the film. Why not say "everything the government in the film was" instead of "everything it accuses the government within the film of being", huh?
Here is another example,
"The irony, also seemingly lost on the filmmakers, is that the end of the film reveals that the governmentÂ’s fear was, um, right." Again, sounds almost like he is defending the totalitarian government in the film.
Never mind the fact that it wasn't the government's "fear" that the parliament building might be blown up. If he had paid any attention to the movie he might have noticed that the government "knew" that V would blow up the parliament building since they knew (and covered up) the fact that V had blown up the first building. V had promised to blow up the Parliament building--a fact the government attempted to conceal. The government merely manipulated the facts in such a way as to maintain control of the people. So where exactly is this so called "irony" that was supposedly "lost on the filmmakers"?
"The Road Warrior" later goes on to say "You want to know what someone is really like? Look at what they hate." This is a bunch of pop psychology nonsense that people only seem to reference when it conveniently supports their contentions. It might be true in a few cases but as a general rule it is a highly dubious assertion. One can bet that "The Road Warrior" would not be satisfied with a claim that since Conservatives oppose pornography that they must really be pornography addicts. Or that they are against homosexuality because they are all secretly homosexuals.
Of course he tries to support his claim that the Left endorses "policies that are more closely linked with Socialism, Fascism, and Hitler" by listing the many freedom-trampling policies for which the Liberals have been responsible. I don't disagree that Liberals have been guilty of supporting some very bad legislation which resulted in the loss of freedoms in this country. However, "The Road Warrior" is guilty of the worse kind of hypocrisy to bring attention to these facts since the Conservatives' track record is filled with similar attacks on freedom.
After all, which party is most guilty of moral censorship (of pornography, movies, video games, internet etc.), heavy taxation made necessary by wars of aggression, support for the particular brand of slavery euphemistically referred to as "the draft", and the witch hunts of McCarthyism? Which party has been most supportive of our aggressive interventionist policy which has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions and has made Americans less secure, as well as hated by people around the world? And which political group has been most likely to make excuses for such things as the Patriot Act, illegal domestic spying, torture and indefinite detentions?
And arenÂ’t people on the Right guilty of another kind of thought policing when they try to shout down dissenters with vitriolic language and vicious personal attacks against individuals using Conservative stock phrases such as "you're either with us or against us" and Â“love it or leave itÂ”? And let us not forget discussion-fostering terms like "anti-American" and "traitor". If I had a dime for every time I have been called one of the above terms by a Conservative for simply voicing my opposition to the war in Iraq I would be a rich man. Conservatives do not allow debate on such issues and such a fact must be seen as no less a case of thought policing as the Liberal thought policing that they rightly attack.
The first reason one sees so many Conservatives attacking Â“V for VendettaÂ” is that, in their guilt, they see the movie as a criticism of their beloved current Conservative regime, for which they must apologize and defend at every turn. More importantly however, is the sad fact that many Conservatives, despite the rhetoric they spout really do not understand the principles of freedom. That fact is most obvious when one considers the Conservative infatuation with war and militarism. They seem not to understand the relationship that exists between war and interventionism abroad and the inevitable aggrandizement of the State domestically.
Â“The Road WarriorÂ” writes near the end of his review that he Â“canÂ’t take hypocrisy and this film reeks of itÂ” but I believe that deep down it is his own hypocrisy that he canÂ’t take. The movie, acting as a kind of mirror that makes one confront oneself and what one believes, is uncomfortable for those who know deep down that though they claim to be in favor of freedom they are really part of a cultural movement which is in the process of destroying freedom.
Posted by: c.walton at March 21, 2006 03:44 AM (OvU5j)
There's no need to "double-post" this. Wasting my bandwidth with one long-winded comment is bad enough. I deleted the one on the 1/4/06 post.
Posted by: Gary at March 21, 2006 07:12 AM (eecse)
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March 14, 2006
America is dividing into Red States and Blue States. Will Hollywood follow suit? Jason Apuzzo of Libertas looks at the new formula for movie-making
that's veering away from the standard blockbuster strategy.
Liberal Hollywood makes Liberal movies on the cheap. They hype them up, get lots of free publicity and have a narrow, yet loyal, market: Blue State America and the International community. Put it another way:
One company thatÂ’s adopted Â“Fahrenheit Â”Â’s model is Participant Productions, founded by eBayÂ’s Jeff Skoll. Participant co-produced Â“Syriana,Â” Â“Good Night, and Good Luck,Â” Â“North Country,Â” and soon will release the Al Gore documentary Â“An Inconvenient TruthÂ” and Richard LinklaterÂ’s adaptation of Â“Fast Food Nation.Â” None of these films cost very much (Â”Good NightÂ” cost only $6 million), and are easy films to sell to the sort of people who read The Huffington Post or The Daily Kos. Crazy as this may sound, this business model is increasingly making sense in HollywoodÂ’s competitive marketplace.
So hereÂ’s the bad news: Hollywood doesnÂ’t need the Heartland anymore. ThereÂ’s basically no pressure for Hollywood to change what itÂ’s doing, because there are plenty of Blue State audiences and DVD sales out there to make even something like the gender-bending Â“TransamericaÂ” a hit, so long as the film doesnÂ’t cost too much.
IÂ’ve heard conservatives tell me for years that Â‘market forcesÂ’ will eventually force Hollywood to change, become more mainstream. The argument goes something like this: HollywoodÂ’s product will eventually become so toxic, so nakedly political, that there will eventually be a Â‘backlashÂ’ from the public - at which point things in Tinseltown will magically change for the better.
Guess what? It ainÂ’t happening. Hollywood simply doesnÂ’t need the Red States any more. HollywoodÂ’s more interested in how a film plays in Mexico or France these days than in Kansas. After all, Charles Krauthammer may hate Â“SyrianaÂ” - but the Germans and the Brits love it! So do the Spanish and the Italians. ThatÂ’s the global economy for you - HollywoodÂ’s now out-sourcing its audience.
But there's an upside to this trend, writes Apuzzo - one in which Conservative filmmakers can capitalize.
Phillip AnschutzÂ’s Walden Media turned a lot of heads in conservative circles last year by pumping about $180 million into Â“The Chronicles of Narnia.Â” It was a great, successful experiment - but you wonÂ’t see another Â“NarniaÂ” until 2007 - and in the meantime Hollywood will go about its usual business, merrily bashing Bush.
AnschutzÂ’s $180 million could just as easily support twenty films - maybe about the War on Terror? Maybe about loopy Marxist academics? Maybe about snotty West Hollywood liberals who drive gas-guzzling SUVs? AnythingÂ’s possible.
WouldnÂ’t it be fun if a conservative company followed the model of Participant Productions, and pumped out a few low-budget conservative films each year? Such a company could kick-start a conservative film revolution. It would be a refreshing change from what weÂ’ve become accustomed to - and wouldnÂ’t it be great for our side to make George Clooney angry for once, rather than the other way around?
Interesting concept. We shall see.
Jason's article is also posted at Townhall.com.
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March 10, 2006
"Private Joker, Why Did You Join My Beloved Corp?!?"
Friday entertainment: One of the funniest scenes of any movie
For your enjoyment. NSFW (best use headphones)
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I don't get it. But then, I'm female.
What the heck movie is that from, anyway?
Posted by: Georgia Girl at March 10, 2006 10:56 PM (EvFfn)
Posted by: Gary at March 10, 2006 11:00 PM (KLdKP)
But, that's a depressing movie, right? How can it have a "funny" scene? I don't even think it's that funny. But, like I said - I'm female.
Posted by: Georgia Girl at March 11, 2006 11:03 PM (EvFfn)
Full Metal Jacket is one of the greatest movies of all time. What does being a female have to do with anything? Just interested on why repeating that would be of any purpose.
Posted by: Melissa at April 30, 2006 10:36 AM (zVvfq)
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