Tag Archives: movies

‘Star Wars’ Not Diverse Enough?

Not “diverse” enough? really?

Right–you hear the word “diverse” and you know what’s  coming.

Now, too many people already take Star Wars a lot more seriously than they ought to. That happens a lot with science fiction. People keep forgetting that it’s fiction.

Well, now we’ve got homosexual activists saying the next Star Wars movie–that would be Star Wars VIII (good grief), already in production–had better have some “gay” characters ( http://variety.com/2016/film/news/star-wars-gay-character-glaad-lgbt-report-1201764348/ ). The Star Wars franchise is owned by Disney, the evil empire famous for its kow-towing to organized sodomy. Surprising they should even have to ask.

Anyhow, say the activists–great gloms, am I sick of activists–science fiction is about “advanced societies” which are bound to embrace every kind of aberrant sexuality you can think of. And that there are not enough “gay” characters in the movies–just try to guess what’s coming–“creates an unsafe environment”! What–no “climate of fear”? You left out “climate of fear”?

It doesn’t occur to these activists that maybe one of the reasons studios don’t like to pack their films with deviants is because then a lot of people wouldn’t go to see them. And never mind bringing the kiddies! I’m afraid the real world isn’t quite as enamored of homosexuality as the activists like to think. (If it were, they wouldn’t have to constantly resort to the courts to impose their agenda on the rest of us.)

Besides which, you twollops, this is Star Wars! So what if the Amoeba-thing from Zontar is “gay”? Like, how could you tell? Since when is the famous “Star Wars bar scene” not “diverse” enough?

But a day without making yet another new demand is, for the activists, a day not lived.


When You’ve Had Enough of the News…

When I suddenly find myself screaming as I scan the news, I know it’s time to back off.

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), a fantasy about a middle-aged Bostonian who falls in love with a mermaid, is an effective dose of sanity, funny, whimsical, and witty: they really don’t make movies like this anymore. For Patty and me it’s long been a favorite. It stars William Powell as Mr. Peabody, Irene Hervey as his baffled wife, and Ann Blyth as the mermaid–and if this movie doesn’t relax, delight, and captivate you, I don’t know what will.

Poor Peabody blunders into one mortifyingly embarrassing situation into another until the whole island (they’re on vacation in the Caribbean) thinks he’s totally popped his cork. These scenes, relying on acutely clever dialogue and marvelous performances, are screamingly funny. I mean, you will just plotz when Peabody goes into the Wee Shop of Intimate Things to buy “half a bathing suit.”

This comedy is gentle, sweet, and in its own quiet and inimitable way, off the wall.

If you’re over 50, like Peabody, and have never thought you’ve heard a mermaid singing in the distance…. you ought to listen harder.


When Disney Was Disney (Movie Review)

Image result for images of the great locomotive chase movie

When Walt Disney himself was still running the show, Disney Productions made a lot of really cool movies instead of proselytizing for sodomy. We watched one of them yesterday.

The Great Locomotive Chase, starring Fess Parker (aka Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone) and Jeffrey Hunter, came out in 1956. I saw previews for it then: didn’t get a chance to see it, but always remembered those previews and always wanted to see it.

This is an exciting, suspenseful Civil War drama that also sheds some light on how very difficult and tricky it must be to run a railroad. Parker is a Union spy, who, with the aid of a few soldiers out of uniform, steals a train and tries to cut one of the Confederacy’s vital rail links, in hopes of shortening the war. He might have succeeded, but for a Confederate conductor (Hunter) who chases the stolen train–on foot, at first!–and overcomes every obstacle the resourceful Yankees throw at him. Time and again, we think they’ve stopped him, but time and again he comes up with some way to continue the chase.

It can hardly be a spoiler to say that, in the end, the conductor catches the stolen train and prolongs the war. Those Yankees who survive, and finally escape, win the first-ever Congressional Medal of Honor. But not all of them. Not all.

The movie industry constantly bellyaches, these days, about an under-performing box office. Well, maybe if they stopped producing a lot of piffle and went back to making movies like this, their ticket sales would vastly improve.

The Great Locomotive Chase is a movie that the whole family can enjoy, and you can rent it from youtube. Don’t miss it.


A Rave Review for ‘Paper Tiger’

We’ve just watched Paper Tiger (1975), which Patty gave me for my birthday. We rented it once, years ago, and never forgot it. But as much as we liked it then, it blows our socks off now. At last! A movie I can turn cartwheels over.

Toshiro Mifune–not playing a samurai, for once–is the Japanese ambassador to an unnamed Asian dictatorship, who hires David Niven as a tutor for his little boy. Niven has, shall we say, padded his resume, giving himself out as a decorated war hero and international adventurer. In reality, he’s been a quiet country schoolmaster all his life. But his employers don’t know that, and he soon fills little Koichi’s head with all sorts of tall tales about his death-defying wartime heroics. In fact, he was never in the army.

Rebels kidnap Koichi and his tutor, threatening to murder them unless the dictator releases political prisoners. Things look bad, and poor Niven, now that he actually has an adventure, can’t cope. He must now confront the truth about himself, and admit that he’s a total fraud.

But it can’t stop there, because the little boy won’t let it. His faith in his tutor, and his love, force Niven to engineer their escape from the rebels. He conks out the guard, steals the car, and they barrel down a mountain with no brakes and no control. Surviving the crash, they have to push through the jungle and then climb up the mountain with the rebels chasing them and shooting at them. And I’ll stop there, to avoid spoilers.

You know what’s so cool about this story? At no time do the writers ever resort to the impossible, or even the wildly improbable. Nor does it hurt to have two of the 20the century’s greatest actors in the starring roles. On top of all that, the story is also quite moving.

Paper Tiger isn’t easy to get, but Patty finally found it on amazon.com, and are we glad we have it in our library!


Do We Need Affirmative Action Oscars?

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Every year the Motion Picture Academy gives out Oscars for the least awful movies. This year all the libs and the racial grievance industry are complaining because no major nominations went to Our Cherished Minorities–no Least Bad Picture, no Least Bad Actor, no Least Bad Screenplay, etc.

But the Academy also snubbed a perfectly lovely movie now showing at the Sundance Film Festival. Swiss Army Man ( http://variety.com/2016/film/news/daniel-radcliffe-farting-corpse-swiss-army-man-1201686756/ ) is all about a farting corpse. Plus discussions of topics that I really must not mention here.

Surely it would be a better film if some African-American actors were shoehorned into the cast to create Diversity.

Y’know what we need? Affirmative action Oscars, that’s what. Simply determine a formula for what proportion of nominees and award winners must belong to this particular Cherished Minority and dole out nominations and awards accordingly. And then other Cherished Minorities  can get in on it, too–and we will know in advance, every year, which actors and which films, etc., will be nominated and win awards.

Awards like, for instance, Least Lousy Supporting Transgendered African-American Undocumented Immigrant and Visually Challenged Actor in a Wimmins Climate Change Social Justice Drama. It has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

P.S.–Oh, wait, I know! What could be more simple. Just do what libs do in the public schools and recreation programs: everybody gets an Oscar! The same way everybody gets a trophy just for showing up. What could be better for their self-esteem?

End of problem!


Another Rotten Remake: ‘Sleuth,’ 2007

Stay away from this one, boys and girls.

Sleuth in 1972 was one of the hit movies of the year, featuring an incredible cat-and-mouse game between an aging, fabulously wealthy and successful mystery novelist (Lawrence Olivier) and his wife’s young lover (Michael Caine).

But the 2007 remake, starring Michael Caine as the writer and Jude Law as the lover, directed by Kenneth Branagh with a screenplay perpetrated by Harold Pinter, stinks on toast.

It’s mostly Pinter’s fault. His dreary, existentialist worldview has inspired him to write a lot of plays about dreary, existentialist people, and this one is about the dreariest of the lot. All the fun provided by the original has been removed, to be replaced by f-bombs and not-so-sly homosexual hints. Watching this movie is only slightly more fun than eating newspapers soaked in dishwater.

The slow pace of this movie makes it seem much longer than it is, which is more than long enough. They should’ve called it Sloth instead of Sleuth.

Well, it does go to show you how much has changed from 1972 to 2007–everything, in fact, except Harold Pinter, who is still a pill. If you’re ever stuck with a party you want to poop, send for Harold.

The original was witty, full of surprises, full of really interesting observations on the whole genre of detective stories, and, above all, fun. All of this has been dropped from the remake. The two characters–the only two in the story, in fact–are obnoxious, potty-mouthed bores. Certainly not what we expect from Branagh and Caine.

The only thing that could’ve saved this movie was an attack by a giant chameleon, which of course was not on the cards.

But I’ll say this for it. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with the age we’re living in, the remake of Sleuth will probably clear that up for you.


Much Ado About Movies

As part of an assignment for my employer, The Chalcedon Foundation ( http://www.chalcedon.edu/ ), I have to read and review a bunch of books about movies. I’ve just finished the first of the lot, Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Godawa, a professional screenwriter who used to write movie reviews for our website. It’s a book about “how to watch movies with your eyes open”–that is, with understanding and discernment.

Every movie tells a story, and every one of those stories is shaped and informed by a particular worldview. Among the most common worldviews shaping modern movies are existentialism, postmodernism, fate, neopaganism, and a few others–including a very few in which the worldview is explicitly Christian.

Funny, isn’t it? The human race plodded along for thousands of years without a single movie until the 20th century came along. Now we have thousands and thousands of movies, and I can’t even make a guess as to how many I’ve watched.

They say it’s only entertainment, but watching movies is also a form of self-education, and God only knows how many hundreds and hundreds of hours we spend doing it. Movies get poured into our minds, and what’s in our minds comes out as our culture.

Well, that explains a lot about the current state of our culture, doesn’t it?

Most modern, mainstream movies subtly teach lessons that, when expressed in bald and simple terms, are ridiculous. There is no reality, there’s only what each of us thinks is reality. Whatever you sincerely believe is right, is right. “Love” is the only thing that counts. And so on. Maybe that’s why I don’t watch many modern, mainstream movies. I can’t stand the banality.

It really is interesting, to watch a movie alertly enough to see what it’s actually saying to us. Most of what most movies have to say is twaddle.

But, boy, if you’re not aware of that, you wind up teaching yourself a lot of stuff that simply isn’t true.


A Movie for People Who Are Not Idiots

Are you tired of movies with dialogue like “Yeeeowp!” and “Aaaaagh!”? Are you tired of movies focused on bodies flying through the air, improbable people having sex, and protagonists who act like they’re about 12 years old and need a way-overdue trip to the woodshed?

Murder on the Orient Express, vintage 2010, starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot (made for British TV as part of the mostly excellent Agatha Christie’s Poirot series) raises sharp moral questions and leaves it up to you to answer them. You won’t be able to play if you watch The Kardashians and spend a lot of time with video games.

To set it up for you: a cruel and notoriously heinous crime is committed; and because the undoubted perpetrator knows how to rig a corrupt court system, he is acquitted in a sham of a trial and he walks free–leaving a trail of death and sorrow in his wake. He has wiped out a whole family of innocent people, and the law can’t touch him anymore.

Under the circumstances, is anyone justified in taking the law into his own hands and rubbing out this unpunished villain? The problem is not as easy as it sounds.

As Agatha Christie wrote it, Murder on the Orient Express was one of her best and most popular books. But egged on by David Suchet–he’d only been playing Poirot for 20 years, and was the Christie family’s original choice for the part–screenwriter Stewart Harcourt takes the story to a higher level still.

The 1974 film version, with Albert Finney as Poirot, focused on the glamorous passengers on the Orient Express. This version locks into the spiritual conflict in Poirot himself.

For those who complain about “that religion stuff” being injected into the story–well, every dedicated reader of Agatha Christie knows that Hercule Poirot is a devout Catholic. Christie seldom showed this side of him, but she let you know it was there. Suchet’s idea was to make it visible. By doing so, the story rises above the “interesting puzzle” category to challenge the viewer morally.

The whole cast is excellent, the background music is brooding and sinister, and the snowbound train makes an excellent venue for claustrophobic camera angles. Even if you already know the story, you’ve never known it quite like this.

I think Christie would have approved of the changes made to her plot. If there ever was an author who believed in the spiritual dimension of human life, it was Dame Agatha.

You can order this gem from amazon.com, or subscribe to Acorn TV and watch the whole series (and then some) on line.


Glenn Ford, Homicidal Maniac: ‘The Man from Colorado’

Don’t ask me what the movie poster actually says. All I can tell you is, it goes with a very cool and off-beat movie: The Man from Colorado (1948), starring Glenn Ford and William Holden.

We’re used to seeing Ford play a sympathetic, kind of Everyman character. But in this outing he’s a Civil War cavalry officer who’s been at it long enough to develop some very bad habits not at all suited to peacetime. He wishes he could stop, but he can’t: can’t stop killing people. He confides in his diary a fear that he might be “going crazy.” Gee, you think?

Unaware of their hero’s darker side, and with the war suddenly over, the grateful community has the governor of Colorado appoint Ford a federal judge. The former colonel takes full advantage of his new-found power to have persons hanged.

His one-time second-in-command, William Holden, has his suspicions; meanwhile, he allows the judge to make him a federal marshal. Wise advice from a family friend, good old Edgar Buchanan (Petticoat Junction), that as marshal, Holden can keep an eye on the judge and help him get past his inner demons, turns out not to be so wise after all.

You won’t believe what this judge gets up to. He was every bit as mischievous in 1865 as federal judges are today, and did almost as much harm. With the limited tools at his command–the noose, arson, a gang of goons, and a total commitment to do whatever it takes to get his way–Ford manages to stage his own little apocalypse.

Ford and Holden act the daylights out of their respective roles, especially Ford, going against type. The Man from Colorado is older than I am, but you’ll wait a long time for any current movie to be anywhere near as good.

And, yes, it’s in English. Don’t let the imported poster bother you: I just thought it had the most appropriate art work.


A Most Unusual Movie

Let me say up front that I’m no fan of ballet. For entertainment and edification, it ranks somewhere below getting a parking ticket and above Obama’s speeches.

But I do like a psychological thriller packed with snappy dialogue and vivid characters played by brilliant actors at the top of their form, and this off-beat little gem from 1946 has all of that.

What happens when a struggling ballet studio and a failed ballet impresario try to strike it rich by engineering the comeback of a genius dancer who may have, and probably did, murder his wife? And who has been holed up with galloping hallucinations ever since? The police can’t prove he did it, the gifted young ballerina is in love with him–so why not? This time everything will turn out hunky-dory.

Uh-huh–but what if Mr. Superstar is not really better, after all?

This movie by Republic Pictures bombed in the box office when it was released in 1946, and you can now see it for free on youtube. I guess it was just too far ahead of its time: probably too dark for 1946.

But it has great things going for it: sharp screenplay by Ben Hecht, Dame Judith Anderson as a washed-up star running a studio packed with mediocre talent, Lionel Stander as a jealous journalist with a bent for bitter poetry. Then there’s Ivan Kirov as the psychotic ballet star. Outside of The Specter of the Rose, his acting career didn’t amount to much; but in this outing he brought a powerful and at times menacing presence to the screen.

Yes, I admit it–I like good old stuff. This movie is even older than I am. I’m not sure modern movie-makers could tell a story this grim without recourse to a lot of nudity, f-bombs, gore, and the usual screaming bodies flying all around, etc.

Watching this film will probably not make a better Christian of you, except in the sense that all things may be considered in the light of faith, and possibly teach a useful lesson. But it will hold your interest–even though there’s a fair amount of dancing in it.


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