Culture

Lies of “Trumbo”

Featured image The film Trumbo was released on November 6. Starring Bryan Cranston as the celebrated screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the film purports to revisit Hollywood’s blacklist. The film follows the party line, so to speak, and was generally well received. It was in any event mostly taken at face value as history even by those who found it wanting. The film came in third on my short list of worst films of »

Lies of “Truth”

Featured image This past October 16 the Rathergate film Truth opened in more than a thousand theaters around the country. John and I warned viewers not to take the film at face value in the Weekly Standard article “Rather shameful.” On the film’s opening weekend the Star Tribune also carried my column reminding readers of the film’s factual background. The column was published as “Lies upon lies: The sad state of the »

The Times stumbles onto…

Featured image The New York Times made itself a fool for the Rathergate film Truth. The Times not only published Stephen Holden’s breathless review of the film, the Times celebrated the film in a TimesTalks event featuring Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Dan Rather, and Mary Mapes, hosted by Times Magazine staff writer Susan Dominus. Holden also included Truth in his year-end best-of-2015 list (it’s number 7!). The Times went all in for »

Worst movies of 2015

Featured image I didn’t see enough movies in 2015 to make a ten-worst list, but I saw enough to make a five-worst list. My moviegoing is limited mostly to serious films aimed at an adult audience. Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse was therefore not in the running. Neither was Zombeavers nor a host of others you either never heard of or don’t need to be warned away from. I avoided several films »

First Truth, Now Chappaquiddick

Featured image Some time ago–several decades, actually–a group of us at my law firm formed a Chappaquiddick Book Club. We read three or four books on the fatal car accident that should have ended Ted Kennedy’s public career. The facts are much worse than most people realize: Kennedy presumably was drunk, but that is the least of it. After his car plunged into Poucha Pond, Kennedy saved himself but left Mary Jo »

From “Truth” to “Trumbo”

Featured image Hollywood provides a steady left-wing pressure on our politics, our culture, and our collective memory. This year the Rathergate film Truth gave an almost unbelievable example, turning the perpetrators of the greatest journalistic scandal of our times into heroes. John and I tried to set the record straight in the Weekly Standard article “Rather shameful” and the Star Tribune column “Lies upon lies.” As the institutional voice of the left, »

Cultural Appropriation, Hamilton Edition

Featured image As you know, the latest campus left outrage is “cultural appropriation,” i.e., such as when gringos (can white people use that word, or do we need permission from La Raza?) dress in sombreros and ponchos to mark Cinco de Mayo or some other recognition of Mexican culture. As you may also know, the hottest play on Broadway right now is “Hamilton,” in which a largely African-American and Hispanic cast dresses »

Why lie?

Featured image In his interview with Norah O’Donnell for 60 Minutes last week, Vice President Biden said this when asked to comment on Donald Trump: The one thing I do — I’m disappointed in Donald Trump. I know what a showman and all that he is. But I really don’t think it’s healthy and I hope he reconsiders this sort of attack on all immigrants. I think that is beneath the country. »

Understanding the zombie apocalypse

Featured image Paul Cantor is Clifton Waller Barrett Professor at the University of Virginia. He is a scholar who loves and venerates Shakespeare along with American popular culture, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. In his most recent Conversation (video below, about 90 minutes), Bill Kristol sits down with Professor Cantor for an extended discussion of American popular culture. The video is broken into six chapters hereIf you want »

Power Line’s Compleat Guide to Aquatic-Assisted Childbrith

Featured image For a coastal Californian, it borders on cultural negligence that I have not noticed before now the fad of dolphin-assisted childbirth. Yes—it’s a real thing among the sufi-yogan new age crystal-gazing gluten-conscious set. Apparently some devotees of this method believe that newborns will be acquire an innate ability to understand and communicate with dolphins. And of course it is a stupid idea. If you want to take in how truly »

Donald Trump and the decline of America’s moral ecology

Featured image Peter Wehner writes about the “cultural and moral context that allows someone like [Donald] Trump – narcissistic, crude, obsessed with wealth and fame, and who has never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness – to emerge.” Pete believes that “it is hardly a coincidence that Donald Trump shot to the top of the polls in a nation that celebrates the Kardashians.” I agree. Pete ties his discussion of »

“Truth” and other lies

Featured image The film Truth premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12. Starring Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes, the film retells the Rathergate scandal based on Mary Mapes’s memoir Truth and Duty. I must be one of the few people in the United States actually to have read the book. Mapes is the hero of her memoir and the hero of the film. »

When Wyler came back

Featured image This past Tuesday evening Turner Classic Movies put the World War II work of William Wyler in its September Spotlight. Wyler is one of the directors starring in Mark Harris’s Five Came Back on the great Hollywood directors who contributed their services to the war effort. Harris’s book is a deeply researched work of popular narrative history. If there is a bloody crossroads at which art and politics meet, Harris »

CRB: The politics of Star Trek

Featured image We are winding down our preview of the new (Summer) issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Subscribe here for the heavily subsidized price of $19.95 and get online access thrown in for free. Tomorrow we will conclude the preview with a book review bonus taking up the new book by my friend Michael Paulsen. Today it is time for something completely different. I have led a sheltered life. I »

Enter Sensenbrenner

Featured image The endless saga of the proposed Eisenhower Memorial is a horror story. In his latest report on it, Andrew Ferguson introduces the theme of monstrosity: “Like Lazarus, or maybe Frankenstein’s monster, the appalling plan for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., appears to be sputtering to life once more. Only two months ago it seemed safely kaput.” The saga also works a variation on a vampire tale. Someone is going »

The World Has Gone Crazy (Again)

Featured image So I read a few days ago that there have been long-running protests aimed at the Pokemon World Championships, culminating in this report from USA Today: Threats of violence over the Pokemon World Championships in Boston led to two Iowa men being arrested for stockpiling a trove of weapons in their car. Boston police said Sunday that convention security reported the threats on Thursday and the suspects were stopped as »

The Times at work [with a note by Paul]

Featured image When I wrote about Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new book Between the World and Me, I noted that Coates was this year’s officially certified angry black. He is officially certified by the New York Times through Jennifer Schuessler, the Times culture reporter and gatekeeper. Schuessler’s July 17 profile of Coates attests that Coates’s book “has had an almost frictionless glide straight to the heart of the national conversation.” (The official publication date »