Culture

When Wyler came back

Featured image When I walked into Spaulding Auditorium to see The Best Years of Our Lives as an undergrad, I had never even heard of the film. When I walked out three hours later, I couldn’t believe I had never heard of it. It is a great film with a lot of truth and a big heart in it. Tonight TCM is carrying the film as part of its Memorial Day lineup. »

What’s Behind the Patriotic Ad Explosion?

Featured image I had heard that Budweiser plans to re-name its beer America for the summer–a bit incongruous, given that Anheuser-Busch is now owned by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate. But Advertising Age says it is part of a trend: Coke is the latest brand dressing itself in Old Glory. The soda brand has begun selling limited edition red, white and blue cans that will be available in select convenience and grocery stores through »

A Rare Foray Into Culture Criticism

Featured image I can put up with just about any Game of Thrones sub-plot, as long as the show eventually gets back to Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. But the current Arya Stark misery, with no name or no face or whatever it is–no eyesight, for sure–needlessly and stupidly sidelines one of the program’s best characters. The story is boring, repetitious and as far as I can tell, going nowhere. We don’t »

Make Bathrooms Great Again

Featured image New York governor Andrew Cuomo got lots of news coverage yesterday for his directive restricting state travel to North Carolina on account of the law passed last week that overrides local “non-discrimination” pro-choice bathroom ordinances. If I lived in North Carolina I’d be tempted to send Cuomo a big thank you note for cutting down the number of New York government employees coming to NC, since their visits cannot be »

Damn, it feels good to be a Clinton

Featured image Ted Cruz’s campaign has produced this ad called “Damn, it feels good to be Clinton.” The ad is based on a famous scene from the movie “Office Space.” It combines the scene with lyrics based on the song “Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.” I was unfamiliar with both the movie and the song. Even so, I found the ad hilarious. Tevi Troy has written that Republican candidates »

I’m Not an African, I Just Play One In the Movies

Featured image The controversy over race and the Oscars has made its way to Berlin, where a film festival is in progress. It happens that the festival judges are all white, so one of the judges, Meryl Streep, fielded some questions about diversity. Streep, who heads a festival film panel for the first time, had been asked by an Egyptian reporter whether she understood films from the Arab world and North Africa. »

Pop culture and the GOP field

Featured image Tevi Troy has two excellent posts about the Republican presidential field’s pop culture interests. This one focuses on music. It finds that Donald Trump has “broken the GOP’s music curse.” This one focuses on pop culture in general. It finds that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have displayed a “facility to invoke images and references that go beyond politics.” Unlike Barack Obama, Cruz eschews upper-middle-brow references (e.g. to shows like »

Audiences Rejecting 13 Hours? Not Exactly [with comment by Paul]

Featured image Paul and Scott have both seen the movie 13 Hours and wrote about it here and here. Scott noted that at the theater he attended, the large room was reserved for Carol. 13 Hours got the smaller venue and was sparsely attended. Scott linked to a Hill story headlined “Benghazi film flops at the box office.” This was a pretty common theme on the left; to cite just one instance, »

“13 Hours” — The Washington Post’s jaundiced take

Featured image Scott reports that “13 Hours,” Michael Bay’s film about the Benghazi attacks, attracted only a small crowd at the Grandview Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota. Nationally, though, the movie seems to be doing well. It earned around $20 million during the holiday weekend. That’s not quite as good as “Lone Survivor” ($25 million) and nowhere close to “American Sniper” ($107 million), both of which opened during the corresponding weekend. But »

“13 Hours” revisited

Featured image We went to see the film 13 Hours at the Grandview Theater in St. Paul this past Saturday evening. Paul Mirengoff gave a good account of the film here. Paul’s post states what I have to say in greater detail and more articulately than I will. I only want to urge readers to see the film in a theater while you still can and to add these comments. The movie »

Celebrity: The Currency of the 21st Century

Featured image Manny Pacquiao was a great fighter. In his heyday, he was a one-man hurricane, tirelessly throwing punches from every possible angle. I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like the fury of Pacquiao in his prime. Those days are gone, due to age and, perhaps, to an enhanced drug testing regime, but Manny, a shadow of his former self, can still sign lucrative boxing deals. And he is »

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, »