movies

Darkest two hours

Featured image We went to see Darkest Hour last night. The film portrays Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) in May 1940. When Neville Chamberlain stepped down, Churchill became Prime Minister on May 10 and became Great Britain’s war leader. In Five Days in London: May 1940 (1999), John Lukacs focused on these events and took us into the cabinet meetings portrayed in the film. Stick with Lukacs. The film reduces Churchill to a »

Springtime for Marx and Germany

Featured image I suppose it was inevitable, given the left’s re-enchantment with Communism, but I still found news of the 2017 film “The Young Karl Marx” jarring. The American Film Institute will be showing the movie as part of its “European Union Film Showcase” next month in Silver Spring, Maryland. Here is how the AFI describes this German/French/Belgian co-production: Following his documentary I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, Raoul Peck takes on the »

Al Franken: The movie

Featured image I have written a lot about Al Franken on Power Line over the years. I posted this review of the Doob/Hegedus documentary on Al Franken in September 2006. The movie was a complete and utter commercial bomb (domestic gross: $102,990). Just about no one saw it. As Franken rides out the scandal deriving from recent disclosures of his past behavior, I thought back to the film. A.O. Scott reviewed it »

Kevin Spacey: A modest proposal

Featured image Kevin Spacey will be excised from the movie All the Money in the World. The film, in which Spacey was to play J.Paul Getty, has already been shot. But due to multiple allegations of sexual assault against him, Spacey’s scenes, of which there surely are plenty, will be reshot with Christopher Plummer in the Getty role. I understand the decison, but does it go far enough? I think Hollywood should »

Looking back at “Don’t Look Back”

Featured image On Thursday evening Turner Classic Movies played a set of rock documentaries including the TCM premiere of D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back (1967). As cinéma vérité, the film captures Bob Dylan on tour in England in 1965, where he had already become a pop star. It’s an entertaining film populated by intriguing characters, foremost among whom is Dylan himself, of course, but also Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, Dylan’s then girlfriend, »

No More Gone With the Wind In Memphis

Featured image The dismantling of American history continues. The Orpheum theater in Memphis announces that it will no longer show the Hollywood classic Gone With the Wind: For the first time 34-years, the Orpheum Theatre will not show “Gone With The Wind” during its Summer movie series in 2018. “Gone With The Wind” was shown on August 11th, and after the theater received several comments about the showing, management made the decision »

The Oscar flub: a “Harvey Mansfield” theory

Featured image Pricewaterhouse Coopers insists that the initial awarding of Best Picture to “La La Land” was the result of human error. No doubt, this is correct. I’m confident that the Academy intended to give the award to “Moonlight,” a film about African-Americans in Miami that was written by two African-Americans, one of whom directed it. But here, mostly in jest, is an alternative theory based on the grading practice that Harvey »

Donald Trump, American hero?

Featured image The estimable David Goldman argues that Donald Trump fits the mold of American hero, and a traditional one at that. He points out that “the protagonists of American popular culture are outsiders with scant patience for authority.” He goes on to compare Trump to Western heroes like the ones portrayed by John Wayne or like William Munny in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. I see little merit in these comparisons or in »

Golden Globe Coda

Featured image I wrote about the Trump hate-fest at the Golden Globes last night while the show was in progress, based on a news account. (I would rather get a root canal than watch a Hollywood awards program.) Subsequent to my post, Meryl Streep went completely over the top with Trump Derangement Syndrome, for which she has been appropriately bashed non-stop for the last 20-odd hours. Still, crazy as Streep’s screed was, »

The next great boxing movie?

Featured image Boxing has been a staple of Hollywood since before I was born. And why not? The drama of boxing matches and the back story of the game are tailored made for the big screen. The most famous boxing movie is “Rocky” (1976), the first in that long series. The most critically acclaimed is “Raging Bull” (1980), Jake LaMotta’s story as told by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro. The »

Chappaquiddick movie heads towards production

Featured image Last December, John wrote about the plan to make a movie about the Chappaquiddick scandal. It was at Chappaquiddick where Ted Kennedy, who was drunk, drove a young campaign worker off a bridge to her death, failed to take reasonable steps that might have saved her, and tried to cover up his culpability. The notion of Hollywood going through with such a project struck me as implausible. It’s easy enough »

Michael Cimino dead at age 77

Featured image Michael Cimino, director of the acclaimed “The Deer Hunter” (1978) and the panned and financially ruinous “Heaven’s Gate” (1980), died today at age 77. I consider the former film slightly overrated (except for the pre-Vietnam part) and the latter underrated. But in both cases, I left the theater with the strong feeling that I had seen something, a sense I rarely got the time and get even less now. “The »

Weiner!

Featured image Last night my wife and I, along with two of our adult daughters, saw the documentary Weiner. The film was shot during Anthony Weiner’s campaign in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York. It offers an extraordinary look at a candidate and a campaign in the midst of an implosion. The documentary opens with a clip of Weiner giving a speech in the House. It is a reminder of »

Confirmation Bias, Part Two

Featured image In a post called “Confirmation Bias,” I discussed “Confirmation,” an HBO film about the 1991 hearings on Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court, and Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against him. When I wrote the post two months ago, Senators John Danforth and Alan Simpson, two moderate Republicans who supported the Thomas nomination, had complained about the script they saw. Simpson called it a “seriously distorted” version of the »

“Confirmation” bias

Featured image We have observed before that the American left never gives up. That’s admirable when it comes to matters of principle and policy. Here, conservatives also fight hard, though they probably could take a page or two from the left’s playbook. But when it comes to he-said-she-said type factual disputes about personalities or events — was Alger Hiss a Russian agent; did Clarence Thomas harass Anita Hill; did Dan Rather and »

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. »