December 11th, 2012

Movies have become torture

I pretty much stopped going to the movies in theaters quite some time ago, and I don’t even watch many at home any more. I don’t remember when the turning point was, but I do know that at some point the violence and the empty soulless sex got to me. I never knew when I would be assaulted by some dreadful scene that, once viewed, could not be unviewed. And all in the service of stories that had no emotional resonance for me.

There were exceptions, great exceptions. One of my absolute favorite movies is “Groundhog Day,” for example—which may not count, because it already is an archaic film I guess, since it was made in 1993. I also thought this one from 2006 was very fine, although I’m mainly talking about Hollywood and that was a German production.

Those are the only really really good movies of the last twenty years that come to mind at the moment, although there are probably others. There must be others.

But I’ll not be going to the new movie “Zero Dark Thirty” which is presently the talk of the blogosphere, a film about the CIA and finding Bin Laden that features harrowing scenes of the CIA torturing its poor interrogees. It’s not just the violence, either, it’s the metaphoric violence done to history, in which real events are distorted and the film narrative comes to replace reality in so many people’s minds.

As an antidote, perhaps I’ll take a look at this recent documentary, suggested by commenter “M of Hollywood,” who writes:

At the risk of sounding racist, note how these children have picked up and ennobled music of old white guys and made it their own. We must not let those who enthrone the cultural coarseners in DC and Hollowood to make us think poorly of ourselves. We desire to allow a world that allows the human soul: this is the fervent aspiration of human kind, the aspiration that we (mistakenly) thought was boldly held by the “GOP.” Ha. Something new will emerge – maybe not in my lifetime, but for life on the planet to go on, it will. There is too much God in us to be extinguished.

Here’s the trailer:

I’ve heard instruments with better tone, and of course the strings and bows seem to be standard ones—and instead of making the movie they could probably have just gotten the kids some regular instruments with the money.

But still—very fine, isn’t it?

[NOTE: For anyone who wants to know what I’ve already written about my views on actual (non-movie) torture, see this and this.]

89 Responses to “Movies have become torture”

  1. holmes Says:

    The Illusionist
    Finding Neverland
    Eastern Promises (some violence)
    The new “True Grit” (trust me)

  2. George Pal Says:

    Just saw a Norwegian film last night King of Devil’s Island (based on a true story) that was so much better than the propaganda or comic book heroes movies of Hollywood. Hell, there are more good movies coming out of repressed Iran than the US.

  3. Lizzy Says:

    I suffer from occasional insomnia and I’ve caught some interesting foreign films on IFC & Sundance at around 3:00 am. Sure, some of the French movies are just so darn French, (i.e. weird) but it’s nice to watch films where the plot isn’t obvious and the characters are not uniformly “good” or “bad”. A few good ones:
    *Vitus (really lovely film)
    *After the Wedding (drama, but interesting dilemma)
    *Summer Hours (not much action but very affecting)
    *It’s Tough Being Loved by Jerks (FABULOUS Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoon lawsuit documentary that I can’t find online or on dvd anywhere).

    As for American films, it’s only the rare sci-fi film that’s worth seeing in a theater. Also, these stories are so removed from reality that conservative themes manage to sneak in unnoticed. Loved Serenity & The Dark Knight.

  4. Lizzy Says:

    Forgot one: The Secret in Their Eyes (great investigation story)

  5. Judith Says:

    True, there are fewer & fewer good movies.

    I agree on Holmes’ Sideways recommendation…the other three, not so much.

    My nominees:
    Shakespeare in Love
    You Can Count on Me
    House of Sand and Fog
    L.A. Confidential – some violence, but not too bad, imo and has good plot/great acting.

    Diagnosing/Reflecting the Culture:
    To Die For
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (difficulty/impossibility of relationships for those with modern sensibility – acutely observed)

    Exposing (a bit) the Relentless Left Media:
    Shattered Glass

    Just Fun and Relaxing
    Dan in Real Life (shows an extended, happy family where no one is gay and parents set some limits)
    State & Main (well, it’s Mamet, so lots of swearing)
    Crazy, Stupid Love (assumes today’s libertine sexual mores, but is PG-13, so not much explicit sex and truly is funny much of the time)
    The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for those of us of a certain age)
    Serenity – some violence, but Joss Whedon is funny and has a libertarian imagination that, alas, does not manifest in his real life conventional lefty politics.
    Win-Win – deliberately low key, Paul Giamatti’s character, a good guy, makes a bad ethical choice and makes it, eventually, right

  6. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    “Hitchcock” is very good. It’s about the making of “Psycho” and just like the movie you see little that is shocking but much that is fun (especially for those old enough to have seen the TV show). All the lead actors are very good, and it is a genuine fun time.

  7. holmes Says:


    Waiting for Superman (done by a liberal! But it’s very good)
    The Devil’s Playground (about Amish kids)

  8. Baltimoron Says:

    Pixar has made some fantastic movies over the last ten years. Brave wasn’t one of their best, but it was still entertaining.

    The Coen brothers have had a few good ones. I thought the True Grit remake was better than the original.

    Lastly I need to mention Tropic Thunder; Tom Cruise’s best movie since… ever, and possibly the most realistic war movie ever made.

  9. cornflour Says:


    The era of great films has definitely come and gone, but there are still lots of good or interesting or fun movies being made. I happen to like Korean movies, but individual taste is happily unpredictable.

    You and your readers might like “Libertas Film Magazine” ( The magazine leans more libertarian than conservative, but shares your loathing for the standard Hollywood progressive propaganda, and I can’t help but think you’d find find some sympathetic recommendations for DVDs to watch.

  10. Matthew M Says:

    The lack of decent popular culture is demoralizing. Thankfully, Netflix (and an amazing film collection at a nearby public library) provide plenty that is worth watching at home.

    Rio Grande – Electricity between John Wayne and Maureen O’hara. And a cavalry charge.
    The Miracle Worker – Tears every time Helen Keller learns the concept of words.
    The Hasty Heart – Characters you care about, including one portrayed by Ronald Reagan (who deserves credit for his acting as well as saving the republic)
    Swing Time – Possibly Fred and Ginger’s best. The gaiety in this film is like a girder that props up optimism. (No wonder the people who made it a hit could rise to the challenge of WWII a few years later.)
    Passport to Pimlico – The playful side of British humor. (Shows the sort of people who could come through WWII with their humor intact.)
    13 Rue Madeleine – Cagney in WWII spy adventure that sucks you in and keeps you there.
    Love Me or Leave Me – Doris Day holding her own with scene chewer James Cagney. Her singing puts her in the ranks of Ella or Judy. And she can dance.

  11. Former Marine's Mom Says:

    I know you’ve been inundated with movie suggestions, but might I add “Something the Lord Made”, a movie about the first heart surgery done on a “blue baby”. Well, it’s more about the people behind it, notably the black man who was the driving force but couldn’t do the surgery because he wasn’t a doctor. One of the most inspiring movies.
    Also, Bella is a sweet movie with a good moral twist, unusual in today’s world.
    Don’t watch True Grit. I regretted it. Some nasty gruesome stuff.
    I mostly watch movies based on true inspiring stories any more. You are right, most of them are a waste of time and money.

  12. kali Says:

    Cornflour, you’re not alone. I just discovered Korean drama on Hulu and I’ve been entranced–even with the clumsy subtitles.

    And one recommendation for Ink, a stunning indie thriller:

  13. vanderleun Says:

    500 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.

  14. kaba Says:

    It is a good chicken or egg argument about whether the quality of movies or the cultural decline came first. I’ve not been in a movie theater in 18 years and have no desire to go to one now.

  15. Ann Says:

    Thanks for that openculture link, vanderleun. Some great films available there.

  16. Ed Bonderenka Says:


  17. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    The Whatsits hardly ever go to movie theaters, but Mr Whatsit is good at finding wonderful little-known films in the depths of the TV indie channels. The best one he’s found so far is “Together,” a sweet and gently satirical tale of a collision between political ideals and the need for love in a Swedish commune in the 1970s. Worth tracking down, I promise.

  18. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    On the chicken and egg theme– in the old WWII/post WWII Hollywood Ronald Reagan, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, was fighting to keep communists and their propaganda out of the movies–“Hollywood 12” anyone? Obviously, he ultimately failed and movies are the quintessential propaganda vehicle for changing people’s world views, expectations, values and behavior.

    Today’s movies are crap, as are most of today’s barely sentient, couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag, so called “stars.”

    I have found a number of interesting foreign films on Netflix, among them:

    “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs,” about the life of a Japanese bar hostess in post WWII occupied Japan.

    “Brassed Off,” about the key role the town’s brass band plays in a Welsh coal mining town as the eeevill Thatcher government is trying to close the mines down

    “House of Cards,” a compulsively watchable BBC series about a slimy, ruthless Prime Minister.

    “Kinamand,” a Danish film about an young Chinese woman who marries a much older divorced Swedish plumber to stay in Denmark, and their developing relationship.

    I also really like Mifune’s samurai movies, especially “Yojimbo.”

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    There must be others.

    lord of the rings… its as true to the books as one could be. nothing re-imagined a la disney and progressives…

    people who love those books watched things like hawks, and rather than do a deconstructed polymorphous perversion version as they do now, the director/producer tried to do the definitive work as people loved it.

    how detailed? well, if you get to see it, there is a scene where Boromir kind of has a falling out and then they are attacked. in the book, the great horn he carries is cleaved in two during the fight. they dont show you it being cut, but between scenes at some point, the horn goes from whole, to two halves.

    to the kind of people who rewrite battlestar galactica replacing the male rascal rogue with a female cigar smoking micro male, would not bother with such small details they could leave out and only the most faithful would know.

    The Narnia series is also good… (and relevant)

    most of the stuff today is not about a good story, and an interesting thoughtful plot, its about cracking a nut or doing something that hasn’t been done (as a way to define creative which is actually not creative but formulaic and lets people with little creativity playing “what hasn’t been done and they can tolerate” as a form of creative). which is why so many remakes and almost nothing new, and why so much is just rehashed recombined stuff…

    after adorno said you wont find new, they stopped actually looking. so rather than search to find the new or fresh, they just rehash the old knowing that the old who saw the first version wont go to the bastardized one, and the egg fresh youngins will go and will like it.

    and Kaba It is a good chicken or egg argument about whether the quality of movies or the cultural decline

    no. it isnt.. as you can clock to the week when the men of the frankfurt school split up and went into arts, media, academia, etc… and then implemented what they talked about and so from then on, the movies changed more and more.

    today you can look back and you can see that the mcarthy era and the black list era were not wrong in the things being slipped in… from false equality examples in “adams rib” to the move of shows from love and solid relationships with kids. to divorced women… to now single mothers… to now single mothers living with freaks and every mishmosh still a family as any group is a family.

    but it goes deeper… in order to claim equality, the idea of measure and merit had to die. feminism can not exist in a world of even measurement and values. women have selected men to be competent in the world, and surviving and providing with the better ones favored. women made sure men were faster, bigger, stronger, can take more damage, can outwit each other for them, willing to sacrifice for them, etc…

    they convinced you that merit was constructed as your thinking was constructed (not genetic), and so they could change that construction, without any harm to you as your constructed too.

    so rational arguments as to who was better to do X had to go, or else there was no way that women would take up similar positions as men in many jobs.

    the police force was not improved by lowering standards to allow parity, nor did it test for women willing to sacrifice themselves for the public. this is why shootings of the public are higher, why chemicals and shock weapons are used in minor events, and why police are not willing to take risks (and you dont come first any more).

    those changes had to happen or the conditions would not be conducive to the new employees they wanted there.

    the alternative reality was that men were just mean and discriminatory and that they made up such high standards to confound women. and so merit had to go, and a new standard of merit and such was needed.

    and now we have it… women, minorities and gay people have merit. its not measured, and when it is measured its not accepted, because everyone knows that this group of volk is superior and that merit was constructed (As everything is constructed), to favor the oppressors, just as the new measure of merit favors the oppressed.

    see? makes perfect sense… its what they been teaching and most all been ignoring for decades.
    a complete system of thought in which one can argue and state facts from, just the same as any other one.

    the US has been declining ever since this liberated consciousness raised way of thinking became the norm, and other thinkers learned to be quiet.

    so what has that to do with movies?

    well, movies have to reflect this new merit, not the old merit which was based on what?

    this is why the stories are surface things not things of more substance
    this is why they cant dip into great literature of the past as your not supposed to celebrate the work of the oppressors. (so i bet ya cant wait till the Broadway version of the monologues gets to the big hd screen!)

    this is why you watch holmes on holmes, and after a season or so, they have some women thrown in… (i saw one in a scene nearly cripple herself for life. her response? to giggle… the camera men and others were not laughing at all, because they knew what i knew that she probably didnt till they told her). same thing with myth busters… same now with gold rush… Terminator… Battle star galactica… red dwarf, morphin power rangers, and on and on and on…

    you only have to open your eyes to realize that the guys at the head of things are selecting for reasons other than market share. and so writers and others through feedback and seeing what sells, write more of what the studios buy. and they are buying stuff that adheres to strict social rules, that are to cause confirmation bias in the favored by showing how this new kind of merit works.

    how interesting funny that the conservative Jon Voight is the father of the model of feminine destruction through learning by mimicry.

    old movies are more believable and feel they have more substance because they reflect the old merit which was based on rational measures and stuff that made sense to our natural selves. not to mention that the behaviors and such made sense so that one could suspend disbelief easier.

    special effects has surpassed content because special effects are safe and content is not. though the new movies are not believable except to the most domesticated people who have not been alive in the world to learn how it works, and so feel the stuff in front of them is not workable.

    so realism had to go with merit and all that, and what replaced it was unrealism striving to be more real than real, and merit that reflected the new order.

    its funny, but if your using the star ratings, for old movies it works… you see a 5 star movie from the 40s and its good.. but it don’t work with the later stuff, and my wife asked me. i explained that later, the people in the academy were voting based on ideological things not actual story or content or so forth. but on whether the story and such reflected the new truth and merit and followed the rules of the new form.

    its why there are so many remakes, and why the remakes replace previous leading roles with a volkish person today – or something toxic (like willy wonka remake).

    It’s a Wonderful Life – Jimmy Stewart
    It Happened One Christmas – Marlo Thomas

    Wicker Man – Christopher Lee (Lord Summerisle)
    Wicker Man – Ellen Burstyn (Sister Summersisle)

    The Thing from Another World became
    The Thing – Kurt Russell
    The Thing – Mary Elizabeth Winstead

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Kevin McCarthy
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Donald Sutherland
    Invasion – Nicole Kidman

    Sherlock Holmes had Watson…
    now, Sherlock Holmes has Joan Watson played by lucy liu

    thats just some…
    its terribly shocking to put two movies of the different eras side by side
    and thats when you really see what ideology created in terms of public

    Annette funnicello vs lindsay lohan
    Judy Garland vs Amy Winehouse
    Bessie Smith vs Kim Khardashian

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    I appreciate all the movie suggestions.

    But I want to clarify: I have no trouble finding older movies I love. It’s recent (within the last 20 years, if I can call that recent) I have trouble with.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    artfldgr: I’m in complete agreement about the merit of older vs. newer movies, and why.

    The older ones were values-based, the newer ones (for the most part, anyway, with a few exceptions) have underpinnings that are either nihilistic, cynical, empty, disgusting, shocking for shock’s sake, iconoclastic, anti-American, or some combination of those. The “good” characters in them tend to be minorities or women (again, not always, but very often). Remakes are almost always not just worse than the originals, but profoundly worse, as though the soul had been scooped out, and only the surface flash remains, raised to the nth power.

  22. Richard Aubrey Says:

    My wife and I don’t go to many movies, and rent maybe three a year.
    We’ve seen all the Harry Potter films, all the LOTR.
    My wife didn’t like 300 and I didn’t like “Eat Pray Love”
    “Taking Chance” was terrific. From time to time, when I’m batching it, I rent “Hamburger Hill”.
    It’s amazing how much you don’t miss movies when you don’t bother.

  23. SteveH Says:

    Movies nowadays are made for 19 year old dumbasses who couldn’t do long division or go without a cell phone for 15 minutes if their life depended on it. It’s really a sort of prohibition period in cinema.

  24. conrad Says:

    There are so many great OLD movies to discover, it doesn’t bother me much that the newer ones tend to suckThat said, here are some good ones from the last 20 years (off the top of my head):

    The Royal Tannenbaums
    Barton Fink
    The Bourne Identity
    The Talented Mr. Ripley
    Shawshank Redemption

  25. holmes Says:

    Defiance was good

  26. holmes Says:

    I actually find a lot of older movies unwatchable. I’m probably in a slightly younger generation than most here, and I know those older movies were value-laden and pro-American which is substantively more important, but…yeesh. The overacting, the stage-play quality, the hoakiness. I can’t get past it.

  27. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    “Defiance was good”
    I liked it, but it was about communist partisans!

  28. conrad Says:


    The Artist
    A Simple Plan
    Midnight in Paris
    The Age of Innocence
    The Big Lebowski
    The Incredibles
    Star Trek (reboot)
    The Departed
    Ocean’s 11
    Casino Royale
    The Sixth Sense
    About A Boy

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    You all just reminded me of a few I liked!

    The Sixth Sense
    The Artist
    The Talented Mr. Ripley

    But I’m in the minority, I think, in disliking “Fargo” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

  30. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Though war movies are probably not your preference, neo, let me suggest “The Hurt Locker.”
    Won the Academy Award in 2009. I happened to watch it while on an airplane heading home from China. Otherwise I would not have seen it because I don’t watch movies much. I particularly don’t like the newer ones because of the all the unbelieveable (and distracting) special effects.

    This was produced by Kathryn Bigelow and certainly destroys any stereoptype that women can’t do good war films.

    This one grabbed me because it transports the viewer into the action and the tension/danger is so simillar to what I knew all those many years ago when flying into North Vietnam.

    This Explosive Ordnance Demolition Team in Iraq lived on a secure base with hot showers, clean beds, hot food, and a few hours to relax between missions out into the streets of Iraq where they disarmed bombs. Each day it was a different situation and each day held danger that grew until they could complete their mission of disarming a bomb/IED/booby trap followed by the relief of getting back to their secure base. Reminded me very much of the way it is for carrier pilots.

    The film was panned by veterans of Iraq because there were many technnical details (uniforms, insignias, SOPs, etc.) that were not perfect. The movie makers also used dramatic license (plot twists, some heavy drinking, going solo outside the wire, etc.) to make the movie more exciting.

    However, the story is basically well done and realistic. It’s also a character study of the three EOD members. One is a steely-eyed adrenaline junky who takes all kinds of risks without batting an eyelash. One is a book man who is a professional and does his job well, but does not stick his neck out. The third is a soldier struggling with his fear. He does his job but he’s constantly wrestling with his fear. Yeah, they’re stereotypes. I’ve seen all three in their many variations. It’s the way we humans are.

    It also depicts the mean streets of Iraq and shows the stealthy, cold-bloodedness of the jihadis without being over the top, IMO.

    I almost never watch a movie more than once. I bought the video and have watched it three times and will watch it again.

    There’s more info about it here:

  31. Don Carlos Says:

    I began to be repelled by the movies’ move to what I saw as gratuitous violence when I was in my late thirties despite being still awash in testosterone. Movie violence has its place, but as best i can tell it has progressively morphed for the worse. It has become mindless violence for the sake of violence alone, titillating and unreal despite its gross realistic portrayals.

    Thus, it has become fantastical. Part of the larger movie fantasy problem as best I can tell: accepted by the (young) audiences because they “know” it is fantasy, and thus are not repelled, despite the actual violence reported daily in the media, often in their own backyards.

    I am a big fan of the Coen brothers; fandom began with “Raising Arizona”, which is as funny as “Groundhog Day”. Both are entirely wonderful, both contain violence, but without it would be pointless, pale shadows of themselves.

  32. Steve D Says:

    The lead character in ‘Groundhog Day’ played by Bill Murray was a really bad human being, throughout the entire movie. He was a villain and a hedonist (essentially evil) and he treated the heroine (Andie MacDowell) with the utmost of disrespect.
    A human being can’t get any lower than if he tries to commit suicide which was repeatedly depicted in the movie.
    The movie teaches the horrible Christian ethic – no matter how bad you are, or how badly you treat others, no matter how you make them suffer, even if you try to make yourself suffer, it doesn’t matter, you will be forgiven in the end and for no good reason. According to Hollywood and Disney, the villain always gets the girl.
    Hollywood does NOT understand evil. They think it is merely a game. Movies like this prove it.
    We are in a whole heap of trouble, folks.

  33. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve D: I think you’re misreading what happens in “Groundhog Day.”

    See this and this.

  34. Steve D Says:

    If you don’t believe me, please watch a movie called; “The Empire Strikes Back.”
    How many lives did Darth Vader destroy? How many people gasped their last breath in agony because of him? Yet he ended up the hero but only because of his nepotism?
    See what I mean?

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve D: read the links I gave in my response to you above.

  36. Steve D Says:

    ‘I think you’re misreading what happens in “Groundhog Day.”’
    Are you sure? I’m talking about the man’s essential character NOT the unrealistic ending. After what he tried to do to her (again and again), if you were her and if you knew what he did, (and he would of course never actually tell her what he did; he would keep it secret from her for the rest of her life because he is not an honest man) would you ever trust him again? Ever? In real life, I mean, not in the temporary ‘good’ feeling you have when leaving the movie theater after seeing a feel good movie. I definitely wouldn’t. (And no I don’t believe a man like that is very likely to fall in love; he wouldn’t be capable of it). – Or if he was, it would take a lot more than the silly events in the movie to make him change.
    I’ve seen real life people like him. I’ve never yet seen them change in any significant fashion. (And I would add, I am not even convinced by the ending of the movie that he really had changed.) How long would it be in real life before a man like that cheats on her?
    I’m questioning the entire modern ethic of a nasty person like that, ever becoming nice person simply because he found himself and then for no good reason being forgiven by everyone else. (Yes it is a modern theme; no more, I think, than 2000 years old)
    (So for example of this, how often do you think that real criminals actually reform?)
    The prodigal son is a nice story but it doesn’t change the fact that the other son, who was loyal throughout, is still a better person.
    The other issue is that the whole theme of Groundhog Day is tired and old, very old
    It is the subject of countless books and movies, a story told over and over and over again. Even if it was true or realistic it would have long since lost its luster.

  37. Steve D Says:

    ‘The overacting, the stage-play quality, the hoakiness.’

    It seems to me that this is at least as much of a feature of modern movies than old ones. I mean, what could be more hoky than Forest Gump?

    On the other hand, I loved ‘The Odyssey’ staring Armand Assante and you could argue it was a little bit hoaky – but at least the story was fun!

  38. Steve D Says:

    ‘Steve D: read the links I gave in my response to you above.’
    I read the links but I’m still not really convinced. I mean, if you want to argue about the characters (especially the heroine) being metaphors rather than taken at face value, ok I can accept that as a reasonable interpretation. Still, I’m sure that’s not how most people would view the movie (or whether the writers intended it that way) and so it would require a great deal of later refection which unfortunately opens the dam for rationalization based on an initial emotional response and makes an honest appraisal difficult.
    And being treated only as a metaphor by a writer, I would think would be somewhat demeaning, since it removes one’s humanity, makes one merely an abstraction and places all the initiative or action on the person pursuing you. I mean, who wants to be nothing but a figure of speech?

  39. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve D: I repeat that I don’t think you understand the movie. And I don’t think you understand what I was saying about it. I’m not saying that to be argumentative or to put you down, I just think we’re talking different languages here.

    And no, she’s not a metaphor.

    I’ll try one more time, and then I’ll give it up. The idea of the movie is that Murray was in that town for a very long time. The days you see in the movie are just a tiny fraction of the days he spent there, learning to be a decent human being. There are various estimates of how long it might have taken, but my own guess is hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, much longer than any human lifetime. So he has much longer than most people do to learn and grow.

    The only reason the Andie McDowell character (and other people in the film) forgives him is that she doesn’t actually forgive him—she literally doesn’t remember his transgressions. Each day begins anew for her (and for all the others in the town except the Bill Murray character)—it’s only he who can remember and change and grow within the confines of the film. And change and grow he does, because he has all the time in the world—in fact, he has much more time than the world usually gives.

    The movie is not meant to be realistic. It is meant to be both funny and profound—and I believe it succeeds at both.

  40. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    I just watched the trailer. These people are poor in material things, but they are richer in many ways than many of us who enjoy such abundance. Muy bueno!

  41. cornflour Says:


    I’m a lonnnnnggg-time moviegoer, and still enjoy watching them – even though Hollywood’s left-wing biases drive me crazy.

    The golden age of movies is over, but with just a little digging there are lots of good, lesser shows being made. It actually saddens me to hear that so many people have given up.

    It’d take me a book to explain what movies I’ve enjoyed over the last twenty years, so I’ll just name two, from 2011, that flew a bit below the radar: “The Way Back” and “The Devil’s Double.” I really liked both of these, and the reviews in “Libertas” should be enough to to tell whether they’re something you might like.

    “The Way Back”

    “The Devil’s Double”

  42. Kurt Says:

    I’m late to this discussion (as usual), and mostly seem to watch older films these days. In response to your call for movies from the last 20 years with values you might find appealing, I quickly reviewed a few of the films from the past 15 years which I rated highly (four or five stars) at Netflix. A few have been mentioned already, but many haven’t been mentioned yet. Some of those you might like (assuming you haven’t already seen them) include:
    The Blind Side (2009)
    Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
    Breach (2007)
    Children of Heaven (1997)
    Chocolat (2000)
    Conviction (2010)
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
    Death at a Funeral (2007)
    The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
    Doubt (2008)
    Downfall (2004)
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    Extraordinary Measures (2010)
    A Good Woman (2004)
    Gran Torino (2008)
    The Great Debaters (2007)
    John Adams (series) (2008)
    The King’s Speech (2010)
    High Fidelity (2000)
    The Incredibles (2004)
    Ladies in Lavender (2004)
    Lost In Translation (2003)
    Mamma Mia! (2008)
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
    Miss Potter (2006)
    My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
    October Sky (1999)
    The Painted Veil (2006)
    Pecker (1998)
    The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)
    The Queen (2006)
    Saving Private Ryan (1998)
    Seabiscuit (2003)
    Shattered Glass (2003)
    Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
    The Straight Story (1999)
    Temple Grandin (2010)
    Transamerica (2005)
    The Valet (2006)
    What’s Cooking? (2000)
    The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2005)
    Wit (2001)

  43. kolnai Says:

    Wolla Dalbo –

    Just wanted to chime in on two of your recommendations. Aside from being one of the resident pessimists here, I’m also a resident Japanese film history buff, and your suggestion of Naruse and Kurosawa should be heeded by everyone.

    I’ve long thought that Naruse’s films in general – and “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs” in particular – are what REAL feminist film/art should be like. First, he brings a tragic sense of life as a whole to his work, which is essential if you don’t want to use your art a propaganda and just blame Teh Menz for everything. Second, he takes that tragic sense and simply filters it through the 50% of the population who happen to be women, watching with gentle compassion how their struggles play out, the dignity that can result, the sadness of their plight, and so on. No one holds a candle to Naruse in terms of “feminist cinema.”

    Kurosawa is, in my biased opinion, the greatest filmmaker who ever lived – just edging out Ozu – and that great, untamed lion, Toshiro Mifune, was his conduit.

    Of course, neo was talking about the last twenty years, so Naruse and Kurosawa (and Ozu and…) don’t count. Still, pretty much the only movies I watch seriously anymore are foreign.

    I would highly recommend a film by the erstwhile Korean novelist and cultural minister Lee Chang-dong, called “Secret Sunshine” (it’s on Netflix). Not only does it feature – in my opinion – one of the best female performances in any movie, ever, by the great actress Jeon Do-yeon, but it successfully translates Lee’s novelistic sensibilities to the screen, giving the films a grandeur and scope rarely seen.

    It deals intelligently with life, death, grief, God, forgiveness, love, hate, and, for lack of a better phrase, “finding peace.” It’s a heart-shredding, gut-wrenching experience, but absolutely captivating and unfailingly smart.

    It’s the best movie I’ve seen in the past twenty years, one I keep returning to, like a good novel.

    P.S. – the film version of Kazuo Ishiguro’s incredible novel “Never Let Me Go” is also excellent.

  44. LB100 Says:

    It’s bad, but not entirely hopeless.

    How about:
    A&E’s Pride and Prejudice, with beautiful Jennifer Ehle (1996); Bridget Jones’Diary, the very funny P&P remake with Rene Z and Colin Firth (2001?).; Cinderella Man, (Rene Z., 2005); Miracle, with Kurt Russell, about the 1980 ice hockey team (great sports movie; 2004).

    I’m also with those who listed True Grit and Sideway.

  45. NeoConScum Says:

    N-Neocon…My wife and I happened on to a lovely little winner from 2000 that I think you’d like alot:
    “Where the Heart Is”. I’ve got it coming from ebay as I really was taken by it. Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd and a superior supporting cast. Give it a look.

  46. Sally Says:

    Another one to enjoy: Second Hand Lions with Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, and Haley Joe Osmet. Great acting, sweet story.

  47. Amy Says:

    To add to the list of suggested movies, one of my all time favorites (because it is sweet, touching, doesn’t have people hopping into bed the minute they meet, etc.):

    Return to Me

    starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny
    written by Don Lake and Bonnie Hunt

    Excellent stuff and not the typical Hollywood fare. Wish they would make more like it!

    You would think since “family friendly” movies tend to make more $$ at the box office, that they would make more like that, but they don’t seem to get it.

  48. Dennis Says:

    I haven’t watched a theater movie in over 30 years and I totally agree with you on the quality of most current movies. I don’t watch them to be brutalized or preached to.

    There are good movies being made however. They’re the low-budget independent films like those shown on IFC. One that comes to mind is “Diminished Capacity” with Alan Alda and Matthew Broderick. Many of these are just a pleasure to watch and lose yourself in.

  49. holmes Says:

    Oh, the King’s Speech! That is excellent.

  50. holmes Says:

    Actually, I liked “Hugo” as well, directed by Scorcese. Visually stunning (which is not a word that would describe 99% of the older films) and just a nice story.

  51. Steve Says:

    Groundhog Day is one of my favorites too. Sophie’s Key is worth watching. It can be streamed via netflix.

  52. Steve Says:

    Sorry I mean Sarah’s Key.

  53. Conrad Says:

    It’s late in the discussion (I think), but I have to jump in on the “overacting . . . hokey” comment above.

    For the most part, the style of film acting in the ’30 and ’40s was completely appropriate to that form of cinema. It’s the form itself that I presume the commenter above (Holmes) and a lot of other people have a problem with. In many respects, those old movies aren’t as realistic as today’s movies tend to be. Some of this is due to technical limitations (black and white v. color, for example); some of it is due to regulatory constraints (the Hays Office); and some of it is due to commercial/artistic decisions (e.g., the tendency to cast beautiful and glamorous stars to play “average” characters).

    I think the reason none of that tends to bother me about old movies is that I’m neither looking for nor expecting to find a close approximatation of reality in an old movie. Nor would I expect to find it in an opera, a ballet, or a comic book. These are all different forms of art, and if we UNDERSTAND the form — its “vocabulary,” if you will — we can enjoy it for what it is.

    To take just one small example, let’s say you’re watching a noir thriller with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. Nothing about the world that’s portrayed in that movie is going to closely resemble the modern, everyday world you perceive with our own eyes and ears. So to judge it by how closely it matches “real life” is itself unrealistic and quite beside the point of the movie. The idea behind the movie is to create a fantastical world of cigarettes, dark shadows, sinister looks, and femme fetales. We’re not supposed to notice that people don’t bleed when they get shot or that the leading man is really only 5’5′. We’re being transported to that other time and place.

    If you’re unable or unwilling to accept the movie on those terms — if you insist on looking at it objectively, through your own modern lens — then of course you won’t be able to enjoy what the movie has to offer. At best you’ll appreciate some of the craftsmanship that went into the film, but that won’t be satisfying enough to justify watching the whole film.

    I don’t think today’s movies satisfy me as much because they tend to rely too much on improbable scenarios to create audience interest. The director shows me a world that tends to look outwardly realistic (in terms of the cinematography, sound effects, makeup, etc.), but then the story will be about a man who ages backward or somethiing. Or, the filmmaker’s fetish for “realism” will result in a movie that “transports” me to someplace I really don’t want to be (like a crime-ridden barrio where kids are being shot). In either case, the film can claim to be more realistic than a Busby Berkley musical, but the realism is not being employed in service of a story I want to hear.

  54. holmes Says:

    Conrad, a very persuasive response.

    Even so, your main objection seems to be to the subject matter. That’s why I suggested something like the new True Grit (old movie redone in amazing fashion with tremendous acting). Someone above didn’t like the violence, but there are like two scenes and are cartoonish in the violence. (Escapism one thing, avoidance of anything real is another re: violence.) I’m not defending all modern movies, or really even the majority of them, but there are some very good ones here and there. There are just so many more produced now as well. And I can’t help but think some of the defense of older movies is actually nostalgia for being young, like listening to music from our respective eras.

    The same could be said about music today as well. We’re missing something- very talented people without anything worthwhile to say. It’s all superficial. But there are good artists and some of them have something to say besides indulging in postmodern despair or shallowness.

  55. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Gravitationally Distortive Object Says:

    of the CIA torturing its poor interrogees.

    Of course it does. It’s postmodern leftist Hollywood’s version of things. It can’t NOT put in a major piece of leftist anti-American propaganda. I really do hope it tanks at the box office like so many other Hollywood propaganda pieces. There’s a chance, too, since it’s likely to not get an Oscar being up against Les Mis.

    SteveD: Neo is correct, you are incredibly mistaken. IIRC one link I’ve seen includes comments from the writer/director and they said Murray’s character experienced the same day for something like 13,000 years of life, with only the memory, but none of the results other than that.

    conrad, you’re the only one who mentioned a name I’d thought immediately to add to this list
    The Incredibles. Probably the best animated movie ever made by far. Perfect on all levels — appeal to children, in-jokes for adults, an homage to just about every worthwhile type of film…

    JJ, gotta disagree with you, my own response to The Hurt Locker was… WTF? This won awards? WHY? It was senseless, and typical Bigelow.

    Bigelow managed to make two of the worst films ever to be made by a major studio — Blue Steel and Point Break — combining not just the Idiot Plot (the only reason the plot advances is because EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY PERSON in the story — “including the bit-part no-lines guy selling magazines in the background” — is a TOTAL IDIOT), but also the Coincidence Plot as well (the only reason the plot advances is because of a ridiculous stream of improbabilities that no rational person should buy into… e.g., the protagonist solo wins a Powerball lottery, survives getting struck by lightning, then a meteor, then walks across a California interstate blindfolded at 8pm at night without getting a scratch… and THEN gets *lucky*…).

    (NOTE: The Coincidence Plot and the Idiot Plot only apply to serious dramas, not comedies)

    Bigelow is an overrated two bit HACK. The only film on her rather small list, which I’ve seen that was worth a crap that she had anything to do with was Strange Days… and if you look at who authored the story, and produced it, you’d know why it didn’t totally suck. Bigelow is a prime example of women who CAN’T make good movies AT ALL. And no, neo, not recommending it for you, it does have violence and a lot of unpleasant people.

  56. Kurt Says:

    Kolnai and I have discussed Ozu and Kurosawa in the comments before. I didn’t know much about Ozu until about a year and a half ago, and since then I’ve watched at least half a dozen of his films. I like Ozu’s films a lot, and I think he’s particularly important if you want to appreciate more recent Japanese cinema. I’d say that Kurosawa has a much wider range of what he’s able to do, though, and that also translates into a much broader appeal. Ikiru (1952) and Ran (1985) are my two favorites of the ones I’ve seen, but I’d also highlight High and Low (1963) for special attention because its style and pace seemed so different from so many of his other films and more western in orientation.

  57. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions people.

    As some may have noticed, I collect quotes I like.

    This one applies.

    “You’d better have something worth saying, if you’re going to preach to your fellow man for two hours in the dark.” Director Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life

  58. waltj Says:

    Pop culture and I had an amicable divorce over 30 years ago. We still visit sometimes, but don’t hang out together. So, I haven’t seen a lot of movies recently. LOTR, especially in its longer director’s cut, was a big exception. Loved it. Here are a few others that I’ve liked over the years, in no particular order:
    Ivanhoe (any version)
    The Horse Soldiers
    Father Goose
    The Enemy Below
    Any of the Indiana Jones series
    Star Wars series (not the prequels)
    The Sea Wolves
    In Harm’s Way
    Dirty Harry (the first one; the others were ok, but became formulaic)
    Blade Runner
    Three Musketeers (again, any version)
    A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott starring)
    Blazing Saddles
    Christmas Vacation
    Grumpy Old Men
    Flesh and Blood

    So there’s my list. Nothing really recent on it, I suppose, but nothing before the mid-1950s, either. Some certainly have violence in them, but nothing especially gory, nor gratuitous. Even the bodies of the Zulu warriors piled almost against the British line at Rorke’s Drift in Zulu are intact, if you look closely. Not how they’d have really looked if they’d been hit by the massive bullet from a Martini-Henry rifle. None of these movies is especially political. Most don’t have much sex in them, either. But I find all of them entertaining.

  59. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Gravitationally Distortive Object Says:

    Also, regarding movies worth seeing since, oh, 1990, I’d point out pretty much any of Pixar’s or Dreamwork’s animated efforts, along with any of the Wallace And Gromit stuff.

    Obviously the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and the Harry Potter series.

    Stuff with some violence, but not really “serious” violence (it’s more comic-booky violence) would include
    The Transporter
    The Fifth Element (in fact, pretty much anything written, directed, or produced by Luc Besson, excluding Joan of Arc)

    Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
    Gran Torino
    Cloud Atlas
    X-Men: First Class

    Others worth looking into:
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Dead Poet’s Society
    Alice In Wonderland (2010)
    The Karate Kid (2010)
    Bruce Almighty
    The Pursuit of Happyness
    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    The Corpse Bride

    That’s of the major films stretching back to 2005… more later.

  60. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Gravitationally Distortive Object Says:

    BTW —

    The 1990s were the best decade for movies, period, so far. With 1999 the best year of that decade.

    I’m someone who watches both old movies (some of my favorites are from the 30s, such as “You Can’t Take It With You”) as well as new ones, so I do appreciate pretty much everything after they added sound.

    The biggest problem with people who haven’t developed their movie-watching abilities is either the slow pacing of older films (for the MTV-plus generations) or the fast pacing of newer films (for the pre-MTV generations).

    Some are lucky enough to have their feet in both camps, and were film fans before MTV, and have learned to like both of them.

    The rest of you guys have to work at appreciating the “other half” of films.

  61. Paul A'Barge Says:

    I’m with you 100% except: see the new James Bond film. In a theater.


  62. Mac Says:

    Turner Classic Movies. A cornucopia that’s one of the two reasons I have cable with DVR. I have 100+ movies on the DVR, the bulk of them from TCM. (the other reason is college football)

    And Steve D, you’re definitely misunderstanding Groundhog Day. The key thing is not that he’s forgiven but that he actually becomes a better person, after exhausting the other options.

  63. neo-neocon Says:

    I’ve got my movie-watching work cut out for me!

  64. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Gravitationally Distortive Object said, “JJ, gotta disagree with you, my own response to The Hurt Locker was… WTF? This won awards? WHY? It was senseless, and typical Bigelow.”

    Wow, you are a real film buff. I had no idea that Bigelow had made all those films.I haven’t seen a one of them.

    Are you a vet? Have you ever been in combat? Many Iraq vets didn’t like this film for the reasons I posted. I understand that. What grabbed me about the film was that, unlike most war fims where the characters slog endlessly through battlefields, this showed what’s it’s like to be in a situation where you dip in and out of the violence. It’s a disparate universe where you can live almost a normal life at times, but you always know that the next day, whether you like it or not, your job is to go back into the violence.

    I mentioned that the characters were stereotypes of what I have observed among people at war. You may think people like that don’t exist. They do. With many variations and shadings of course.

    That said, it’s obvious that you are much more of a film buff than I with definite ideas of what makes a good film. Good for you, filmmakers need people like you to pay to see their films and critique them as well. If they depended on me as an audience, they would starve.

  65. T Says:

    Very late to the discussion, but a macro-oberevation here. Regarding Neo’s original theme that there is little really worth watching, as any media proliferates (film, TV, music, painting, sculpture, etc.) one tends to get a whole lot of junk which overwhelms the really good stuff. It’s not that there is nothing worth seeing, it’s that it gets harder and harder to find.

    Former generations also produced garbage. This past weekend I happened to watch a film titled “The Smiling Lieutenant” (1931) with Caludette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier; absolutely laughably awful. Likewise Mozart and Beethoven (et. al.) composed simultaneously with inferior composers. It’s difficult to ever hear that secondary level work because musicians don’t want to perform, much less record, second-rate music. It’s sad, really, because listening to Beethoven’s contemporaries once or twice makes one understand why Beethoven receives the acclaim he does. Past ages only seem to have an abundance of great masters because time has done the difficult work of separating the wheat from the chaff.

    On a further note perhaps more interesting to Neoneocon: Who were the really great dancers of ages past? Just as music, dance performances are ephemeral and without the ability to record them even the greatest dancers of the past have passed into obscurity (n.B., it’s understood that even good recordings are secondary at best). Yes, we may have some written records testifying to dancers’ and musicians’ abilities and interpretations, but what does that really tell us? Remember, Beethoven, Mozart and the reputations of their ilk have survived because they were composers who left written manuscripts behind. Even J.S. Bach’s performances, whose original reputation was as a great organist, are unknown to us. He is remembered as a great composer.

  66. kcom Says:

    There is a Christmas-themed TV movie (perhaps on ABC Family or maybe Lifetime) that I’ve seen playing a couple times on the schedule in the last few weeks and have watched once. It’s called The 12 Dates of Christmas and it’s basically a Groundhog Day-type movie. I missed the beginning so I don’t know exactly how it started, but the main character, played by Amy Smart, basically passes out when she gets spritzed with perfume at a department store while out on Christmas Eve day. She comes to and goes through the rest of her day but then after going to sleep that night she comes to again lying on the floor of the store having just woken up from being spritzed. There’s something magical about the spritzing. She relives Christmas Eve day again and then the same thing happens the next night and so on. During the course of her repeated excursions through the day before Christmas she learns valuable life lessons, of course. I won’t spoil the ending. LOL

    I’m sure it’s no Groundhog Day (which is one of my favorite movies) but I enjoyed watching it because I’ve always been a big Amy Smart fan. I just find her sunny and bright and refreshing. And I think, within the constraints of the movie, she pulls it off and is amusing to watch (especially some of her reactions to waking up, yet again, on the floor of the store, having just been spritzed).

  67. kcom Says:

    As to going to movies in theaters I pretty much gave that up. I think the last movie I went to in a theater was either Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or the first Chroniicles of Narnia, whichever came later. But what has changed for me recently is that I finally got a Blu-Ray player with the built-in NetFlix app. I’ve had NetFlix for a long time but I’ve mostly watched DVDs and only the occasional movie on my computer. Now that I can watch them directly on my semi-new flatscreen TV it’s been a new experience. The app works really well (I gather maybe the older versions weren’t so great) and it’s been very enjoyable – smooth and problem free. And the fact that it recommends additional movies as soon as you finish the one you’re watching (without any need to go back to your computer) means an endless supply of stuff you might like.

  68. neo-neocon Says:

    T: the names of great dancers of the past are quite well known in the dance world, and some are even quite well known in the larger world. But it is hard to evaluate how they actually danced, of course. I’ve got a draft of a post about one of them, Isadora Duncan, that I probably will publish soon, but I’ve written about that subject before. Take a look at this and also at this.

  69. kcom Says:

    I checked out the link for the 500 free movies online but it did not list one of my favorite old movies that is available in full online – Portrait of Jennie (1948 or so) starring Jennifer O’Neill and Joseph Cotton.

    Here’s the YouTube link to the entire movie.

    Without giving away too much, it’s about a down-and-out artist during the Great Depression who is struggling to make a living. He meets a little girl in Central Park and the movie is about his relationship with her over a period of time (the period of time being somewhat hard to define since there’s a supernatural overtone running throughout the movie that seems very modernistic to me, even if holmes might complain a bit about the acting style). I really enjoy the movie and have seen it several times, although I admit my friend who I forced/coerced into watching it (during work hours, a few minutes at a time when it used to be divided up into 10 minutes segments) didn’t seem to feel quite the same way. We still joke about it, though.

  70. Papa Dan Says:

    Some Indies from the last 15 years or so:

    Worlds Fastest Indian – with Anthony Hopkins playing motorcyle racing legend Burt Munro setting the land speed record for under 1000cc bikes. 205 mph. On a (modified) 1920 Indian Scout. At 68 years old.

    The Lost City – with Andy Garcia about the fall of Havana to the Castro revolution, and how it destroys his family. The scene as he leaves Cuba, being stripped of his personal valuables will bring tears to your eyes.

    Smoke Signals – A powerful story of a son abandoned by his father that takes place on the Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation. Years later the son must travel to Arizona to settle his fathers affairs when he dies. Except he has no money, and has to accept the help of his irritating childhood friend, with the stipulation that he accompanies him on the journey. Understanding, forgiveness, and redemption.

    I think all of these can be seen on Netflix.

  71. neo-neocon Says:

    kcom: you have just mentioned one of my favorite movies of all time.

    I thought I wrote about it on the blog already, but if I did I can’t find the post right now. I saw that movie as a child, on TV (“Million Dollar Movie,” I believe, so it was on every day for a week). Must have seen it ten times as a child, and I’ve seen it in recent years, too. I think it holds up very very well—for the romantic among us (count me in). It’s a bit preposterous, and I can understand how some people wouldn’t like it at all (although the ones I’ve corralled into seeing it have mostly liked it). But Joseph Cotton and Ethel Barrymore are so fabulous in it, and Jennifer Jones is pretty good in setting the mood, too, and the art direction and photography (which looks like painting) and music is so unusual and evocative. All the love-and-time-travel movies since have been pallid imitations, in my book.

    The biggest flaw, and one I’m willing to overlook, is that the actual painting—the “portrait” of the title—is so inferior to my imagination.

    Also, interesting factoid that I just realized: the dress Jennie wears in that painting is almost exactly the dress I wore at my wedding.

    Here’s a bit [SPOILER ALERT!]:

    And this is about making the special effects for the storm:

    Maybe I’ll put this into a post.

  72. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    Are you a vet? Have you ever been in combat?

    No, and no. I’ve always liked good military SF, but, thankfully, I was in the generation that just barely avoided Vietnam, but too early to feel really obligated to join the volunteer military. I think I’d suck, I have a very low tolerance for BS, and I’d probably wind up in Leavenworth for telling my superior he was a an ephing halfwit imbecile. 😀

    As far as why I didn’t like it, I honestly can’t tell you. I saw it when it came out, in the theaters, and it’s been long enough that I can only recall that I was not in the least bit impressed with it AT ALL. It was, granted, better than Blue Steel or Point Break (which is not difficult, and hopefully she did learn SOMETHING from being married to Cameron), but came off as a typical view of Hollywood’s notion of soldiers, not real soldiers. I dunno, you have more experience with them than I but I’ve known people who were soldiers, and these didn’t feel like any of them. As you note, “stereotypes”, though it causes you no issues. The words that come to my mind are “trite” and “cliche’d”. What happened to Guy Pierce just seemed like it was there because it fit into what the director wanted, not because it belonged there. That stuff happens, no dispute. But the context and so forth just seemed contrived for dramatic effect more than anything else.

    I’d note that my opinion is that Full Metal Jacket is THE worst film Kubrick, an unarguable genius, ever made, for much the same reasons. The final scene with Vincent D’Onofrio is where I just really said, “Oh, this is just going to keep royally sucking, isn’t it?” It never showed the Platoon Sergeant actually CARING about his charges, that the things he did had a REASON for being as they were. It just showed him as a senselessly brutal sadist with no purpose or reason to exist except to abuse recruits.

    There’s a pivotal scene in Starship Troopers, which “kind of” made it into the movie, where Rico screws up, gets a squad mate killed, and then is up for court martial review. The Platoon Sergeant, and the officer in charge, both show they really DO care about them, but have a job to do and a process for doing it that has a history in terms of how and why it developed.

    Check out The Boys In Company ‘C’, and tell me what you think of that, being an actual ‘Nam Vet. Of the Vietnam movies I’ve seen, that seemed the best one that actually approached Vietnam as both stupid but with respect for the soldiers as something other than mere cliched stereotypes.

  73. Holly Says:

    The Blind Side

  74. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    }}} But what has changed for me recently is that I finally got a Blu-Ray player with the built-in NetFlix app. I’ve had NetFlix for a long time but I’ve mostly watched DVDs and only the occasional movie on my computer. Now that I can watch them directly on my semi-new flatscreen TV it’s been a new experience.

    If you have cable internet in particular, or at least a moderately fast (ca. 5mbps) DSL connection, you and others may find a Roku of interest. You can get one from Newegg as well as other places.

    The nice thing is that the Roku can hook up to a number of different services, notably both Netflix and Amazon’s movie-on-demand services (they are almost identical in function but content is somewhat different with about 30-50% overlap, so it’s good to have both if you can afford it and really like movies). It will also hook into Hulu. Not sure what other services are available off the top of my head, but it does have a number of them.

    The main advantage of this over the BR player method is that, when the tech changes, or the BR player goes tits up, you’re not quite so stuck. I’d presume you can get a lot cheaper BR player if it doesn’t have that, either.

    BTW —

    LOL, yes, I am also Smock Puppet. 😀
    I usually try and use the SP for snark and short banter, while I use IGB for more serious stuff. I sometimes fail to switch. I NEVER, EVER write something with one and then “respond” to it with the other as different person, to make it appear like there’s a dialogue, FWIW. And I’ve been using the same e-mail address for both so Neo can attest to that if she wanted.
    You’ll also find me posting elsewhere as “OBloodyhell”. I used to use that consistently until the e-mail address got on some spam blacklists despite my never spamming anything with it (liberal assholes mis-reporting it, is my presumption) that caused it to be autoblocked on some web forums.

    Just so you all know. ;-D

  75. NeoConScum Says:

    Okay…A few others for N-Neocon: “Comes a Horseman”(1978)Classic melodrama and I mean that in a Goooood Way! “Sword of Gideon”(1986) on the Mossad’s hunt down of the Munich ’72 terrorists.

  76. T Says:


    “the names of great dancers of the past are quite well known . . . . But it is hard to evaluate how they actually danced, of course. I’ve got a draft of a post about one of them, Isadora Duncan . . . .”

    My point exactly. We may know some names but we can only rely on the written accounts of those who actually did see them dance. But in a broader sense I’m thinking even further back than 19th or 18th or 17th century. We know the names of Greek and Roman visual artists because they left us with tangible works. There must have been musicians and dancers who were just as expressive and talented who, due to the ephemeral nature of performance and lack of ability to preserve it, are lost to our history.

  77. kcom Says:

    Re: Portrait of Jennie, I unfortunately screwed up both actors names.

    Of course, it was Jennifer Jones, not Jennifer O’Neill. Jennifer Jones only died about three years ago and I remember shedding a (metaphorical) tear for her when I heard the news because I liked this movie so much. And Joseph Cotten has an ‘o’ and ‘e’, not two ‘o’s in his name. And as Neo says, Ethel Barrymore was good, too. One thing I particularly like is good voices, and to me, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore and Jennifer Jones all have good, interesting voices in this movie. Joseph Cotten is smooth and easy to listen to, Ethel Barrymore has a playfulness and amusing tone to her voice even though she’s playing an “old” woman and Jennifer Jones has a sweet delivery.

    I have to agree with you, though, Neo, that the portrait at the end left something to be desired. Too bad it couldn’t have been better. The YouTube video you linked had a brief shot of the cover of the book the movie was based on and the portrait there looked much more appealing.

    Also, regarding the YouTube link, a spoiler alert would be appropriate. It shows things that happen very near the end of the movie. If anyone out there is reading this and wants to watch the movie, I’d suggest skipping the YouTube video until you’re done watching.

  78. kcom Says:

    “The nice thing is that the Roku can hook up to a number of different services,”

    Actually, my Blu-ray player does all that. It’s like a built-in Roku, and does wireless and everything. It lists about 30 services it will hook up to, including Amazon Video (which I’ve tried out a bit but seems to have a much weaker selection than NetFlix), Hulu, etc. It even includes some foreign things, like German TV or something. It’s quite impressive and very compact. I had a friend who promised to buy me a Roku for my birthday if I would go ahead and buy the flat screen. I did, but he never did (but it’s okay since I never took him on the trip to Chattanooga I promised him as a birthday present). Anyway, now I’m covered for the forseeable future.

  79. neo-neocon Says:

    kcom: good point about the spoiler alert. I’ll add it. But truly, you could watch those videos and still not know how it actually turns out.

    And good point about how to spell “Cotten,” his name. He was such an excellent and understated actor. I think I fell in love with him in that movie when I was a child.

  80. kcom Says:

    The other movie I remember Joseph Cotten in, which is also an excellent movie, is the Alfred Hitchcock one where…

    Well, I don’t want to spoil that either. Let’s just say he was an uncle with a shady past visiting his sister’s family. Looking it up I remember now that it was called “Shadow of a Doubt”. And checking further, I see that it is also available in full version on YouTube.

    Shadow of a Doubt

  81. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    }}} “The nice thing is that the Roku can hook up to a number of different services,” Actually, my Blu-ray player does all that.

    I’m not surprised, I’m just not a big fan of multifunction devices… particularly for techs still in a lot of flux — they made, for example, TVs with built-in DVDs — So what do you do when the DVD goes bad… or the TV goes bad… or you want to get a bigger, better screen? The Roku’s qualities are great, at this time — what happens when there is some new format it can’t handle?

    Moreover, a cuisinart-breadmaker-toaster-oven combo might be nice and compact, but what happens when one of them fails?

    There are advantages to all-in-one units but there are certain arenas I think it pays to avoid ’em.

  82. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says, “Check out The Boys In Company ‘C’, and tell me what you think of that, being an actual ‘Nam Vet. Of the Vietnam movies I’ve seen, that seemed the best one that actually approached Vietnam as both stupid but with respect for the soldiers as something other than mere cliched stereotypes.”

    I’m guessing from reading the plot and character devlopment that I would find it much like all the other Vietnam films I’ve seen. The producers and writers all try to show the war as evil with no value of any kind. They show the GIs as mostly canon fodder who get fed into a meat grinder because of screwed up government policies of intervening willy nilly all over the world. The South Vietnamese are always corrupt and not worth our efforts to help them remain non-Communists. In the course of the war the grunts are always somewhat noble,(though often corrupted by the end) the non-coms and officers a sorry bunch. The films are about as anti-war as films are able to get because in the writers/producers minds it was an evil, immoral, useless war. That point of view has its place, but it has been the only point of view I’ve seen.

    “Flight of the Intruder” had its moments as a representation of the Navy air war in Vietnam. But it also had stereotypical characters,(which I have seen in their many variations during my service) unbelievable plot twists to juice the story, and some imperfect technical details. So, my reaction to it was about what the Iraq vets had to “The Hurt Locker.” Even though air combat is high adrenaline, there are many more hours of being between missions, getting aircraft fixed, planning, briefing, weather delays, etc. The real thing would not be that interesting in a movie. Thus the dramatic license. In spite of said dramatic license “Flight….” just did not have the intensity of feelings for me that “The Hurt Locker” provided. Maybe I’m just getting old and soft. ;> )

  83. parker Says:

    Bit late to the discussion, but try:

    Whale Rider
    LA Confidential
    American Gangster
    Man on Fire
    Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    Proof of Life
    Under the Tuscan Sun
    The Missing

    and many more.

  84. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    JJ — “LOL” given my previous comments, do you think that’s likely to be the case?

    I’m not sure my opinion is “generalizable” since I first saw it in the theaters, so it can be argued as colored by early formation — I usually am able to override that, but I recently re-watched it about 5-odd years ago and it seemed to still be halfway decent.

    I believe it showed *VIETNAM* the way you describe but wasn’t so blind as to suggest what you did, and it showed the soldiers as more than mindless idiots. It showed them as humans in an ephed up situation… and no matter how you slice it, that’s what Vietnam wound up being… through no fault of the soldiers.

    So give it a chance, if you get the chance to see it.

  85. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    I nice little musical interlude between movie discussions:

    Ode To Joy Flashmob…

  86. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    OK, on the subject of old movies, I’ll trot out my little set-piece on two movies, separated by two years and an agenda. Some of you may have seen it before. This ain’t for you, if so.

    Consider two movies:
    That Way With Women (1947)

    Mother Is A Freshman (1949)

    Hard to find these two, but if you do, it’s an interesting contrast between the female leads, and I believe they show, along with certain other things, that women in the 40s had equality — and Hollywood conspired to take it away from them.

    TWWW — a young ex-soldier (Dane Clark, a John Garfield clone at the time) comes back to his hometown looking for work. He encounters, and hits it off with, Sydney Greenstreet, a wealthy ex-businessman who has retired due to ill-health, but who is feeling antsy. He agrees to be a silent partner as the soldier buys a service station to run, as long as he can put in some work in it. Enter his daughter (Martha Vickers) who is against him working. Sparks fly. Romance ensues.

    Notable, I think, for the female lead.

    She is sassy, strong willed, completely competent and self-assured… able to handle herself and to talk on an even keel on any subject with any man she meets. She wears a Rosalind Russell type hair style (practical, not requiring a great deal of upkeep), a loose skirt and practical heels (You can see her breaking into a run if she had to).

    Now… MIAF:
    A young widow, whose late husband arranged a trust fund for her, has managed to irresponsibly plow through the entire year’s allowance… and it’s ONLY AUGUST! Her daughter is in college. She has only one option open to her. Her grandmother left an endowment to pay the college expenses for any woman with the same name as the grandmother. Her mother had that name, and she was given that name (though she never went to college). She decided, though, that her daughter was NOT going to have that name… Rendering her ineligible for the endowment. Cue the Loony Tunes theme, here.

    Solution? The mother has to go to college to collect the money to make it through the next five months. The family lawyer, a nice enough nebbish (played by Rudy Vallee, a perfectly nebbishy kind of guy) entreats her to marry him, he could and would happily take care of her as she expects. But she’s not interested. I mean… he’s a nebbish.

    While in college, she meets hunky professor Michaels (Van Johnson). Light romantic comedy ensues.

    Now, consider the female lead, here.

    Useless, brain dead, helpless — she can’t even control her basic spending to match a reasonable income-payment schedule. She NEEDS a man!

    Hairstyle — early Kim Novak, requiring the regular spending of substantial time at the hair dresser’s about 3 times a week. Clothes — pearls (of course!), tight hoop skirts, and very impractical heels. If she was being chased by Jack the Ripper, she’s dogmeat — she could not possibly run.

    Two depictions of women in films — only two years apart. By 1949, gone, for the most part, is the Rosalind Russell/Lauren Bacall type of self-assured, capable women. In her place is the Kim Novak archetype. VERY dependent on the men in her life to care for her.

  87. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

    P.S., to those interested in females in movies, I suggest you also check out Cimmaron, one of the few Westerns to win the Oscar. Not a great movie by any modern standard, it was one of the first batch of movies made as a talkie, and it shows — they haven’t quite got acting down out of the stratosphere as they needed to be when they didn’t have actual voices to convey emotion.

    The female lead in this one, as well as the treatment of “colored” and indians, is really quite modern — again, suggesting that a lot of the elements of equality were already on their way through the pipeline, and there was just a limit as to how fast and how far major social changes could take place.

  88. beverly Says:

    I loved Terrance Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” a heartfelt tone poem of a movie. Brought me to tears.

    Afterwards, I looked him up, and found out he is a Southern Episcopalian, still a Christian believer. Amazing that the Hollyweird gang revere him so.

  89. davisbr Says:

    Ever had a pet? Ever wished your parents would have let you have a puppy when you were growing up?

    Got younger (maybe) grandkids? Lost at trying to find a good, clean, decent movie for the evening?

    …and if you don’t have grandkids, invite one of your baby-sitting friends who does over for the evening.

    You would think from the title alone this is going to be some corny, cliched, sentimental, and silly.

    And oh, it is …but in all the good ways.

    My Dog Skip.

    Bring tissue. There will be tears. Guaranteed.

    …but you won’t mind.

    You’ll probably sit quietly through the credits, afterward, even. Remembering stuff. With a smile.

    A nice Shiraz or Merlot afterwards …or a decent Cab’ (maybe after you’ve trundled those grandkids off to bed: timing is all) will add a soft glow to the reflection and quiet conversation later.

    …bet you add it to your annual Christmas season movie list, too.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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