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April 16, 2011


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court brown

Nice title :)


"... what To Kill a Mockingbird is to liberals."

Equal protection under the rule of law and not a lynch mob, that's considered a "liberal" concept now?

Also, 'The Incredibles' as well as Steve Ditko's non-Marvel or DC work both manage to be far more entertaining and thought-provokingly Randian than any of Rand's actual words.

Ryan Kelly

It looks like the sort of God awful movie that can be enjoyable and fun. Will check it out on home video, for sure.

Tom Carson

Sorry, Glenn. I'm not even sure I could face sitting through To Kill a Mockingbird again, so. . .


ATLAS SHRUGGED is one of the greatest science fiction novels of the 20th century.




I stopped reading when he said THE FOUNTAINHEAD was just a silly and operatic but perfectly entertaining film. It's more like a masterpiece that happens to be based on an awful novel. And yes, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a liberal film, and a lousy one. What a commentary on American film culture that that film's a beloved "classic," while STARS IN MY CROWN just got a Warner Archive release and THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT is only available on DVD in Spain.


I have a feeling this film is going to bring out the worst in everybody.

Welp, I guess it's time to cut myself off from society for a few weeks.

Kent Jones

I've seen plenty of movies worse than TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

The phenomenon of becoming a "classic" has little if anything to do with "film culture," American or otherwise.



Glenn Kenny

@Asher: I believe that in the sentence I cited Mr. Smith was refering the actual texts and not their respective film versions. Also, Jesus H. Christ.

@ Bill: Oh, come on. Lighten up. And while you're lightening up, maybe you can explain to me when it became obligatory for intelligent conservatives to take Ayn Rand seriously. Don't you guys remember Whittaker Chambers, for God's sake?


I was already lightened up. It was a joke, you see. Plus also, it's hardly obligatory. The last article I read about her was in the National Review and it was less than lauditory, and as for myself, I've never read her, and never will.


"Laudatory", that is to say.

Glenn Kenny

What can I tell you, Bill, I'll take any excuse to say "Lighten up." Makes me feel like Warren Oates.


You should do what I do when I want to feel like Warren Oates, and look for opportunities to ask "Do I still get paid?"

Glenn Kenny

I don't need to seek out those opportunities, alas. And when I say it, I hardly ever feel like Warren Oates.


When you say it, is it ever preceded by a massacre? I find that helps. Otherwise, well, I know what you mean.

warren oates

I always feel like (lowercase) warren oates.

Bruce Reid

Years ago I was driving a first date home and she came out with one of those over-the-top personal inquiries you use to suss out someone, that you only ask when the lights drift by and you're drifting on a little buzz yourself. Sum up your life kind of questions.

Which would have been the perfect opportunity, I realized even at the time, to tell her that all I know, if I don't get grounded soon I'm going into orbit. But I didn't.

Thanks for the nice night, I'll see you soon, oh sorry I didn't return your call, hey, how have you been I haven't seen you in ages.

Never pass by a chance to feel like Warren Oates.

The Siren

@Kent: "I've seen plenty of movies worse than TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD."

Yes. And The Fountainhead is one of them.

Roy Edroso's blog is high on my list of Things That Make the Whole Damn Internet Worthwhile. As is this one, of course.

Sinister protesters carrying around MLK Jr signs. Jesus H. Christ, indeed.

Victor Morton

Can we make the following, slightly more modest claim, based on the fact that before Kyle Smith's review, the film had a 0 percent Rotten Tomatoes score (it's at 8 as I type, which at least puts it in the general neighborhood of CATWOMAN and LEONARD PART 6).

If Rand's novel and/or the film (I tried to read the former ... emphasis on "tried"; no interest in the latter) had been similarly bad in every way but in service of a message liberals liked, it would have measurable (or possibly even significant) critical support, if not necessarily from Glenn or his more-esteemed commenters.

As evidence, I cite (1) all those respectfully-screened and often-award-garlanded Gibney-Ferguson-Spurlock et al issue documentaries; and (2) the 55 RT rating for THE CONSPIRATOR, which I did see it and is as preachily bad and ideologically overdetermined as all the bad ATLAS SHRUGGED reviews suggest.

Pedro Alcala

uhmm..the conspirator could be a good example (from what ive heard, i havent seen it..lions for lambs is definetly a good example)...but alex gibney, charles ferguson and morgan spurlock documentaries? Where did that even come from? And what's morgan spurlock doing there? You might want to change that example before your not unreasonable claim is perhaps unfairly derided

Victor Morton


I'm confused about your confusion. Love em or hate em, all three men make films that support liberal ideas, yet are (in my view) intellectually vapid and (in many people's views) aesthetically pedestrian. Thats a fairly precise analogy to ATLAS SHRUGGED and the Redford films. Yet those docs do well critically, by the (admittedly imperfect) measure of Rotten Tomatoes scores.

And why is Spurlock the odd man out among the three docmakers I cited (or more precisely, came up with on the fly). One might sanely think him the least of the three, and certainly he's got a different tone and style from Gibney and Ferguson. But he fits the criteria for my analogy I spelled out above.


Whatever ideology they're advocating, directors should remember the advice given in Gilbert Adair's 'Flickers' (an excellent little read which Glenn has quoted from in another recent posting) -- It's not enough to have your heart in the right place, your camera has to be as well.

Glenn Kenny

I haven't seen "The Conspirator" yet but everyone I know who has—Trotskyites all, by the way—have informed me that I "dodged a bullet" on that one. The director being a known and in some vicinities beloved quantity, it's entirely probable that he's getting a pass from some critics...and that others are just liberal saps. By the same token, 55% is pretty shitty as Rotten Tomatoes ratings go. As for Gibney, Spurlock, and Ferguson...well, whatever. Film critics aren't always as well-informed as they might be on certain issues, and the presentations of certain facts or perhaps quasi-facts contained within these fellows' films might be of some appeal. (If I had more time I'd ask Mr. Morton to spell out precisely how "No End In Sight" is "intellectually vapid," but that would also just be asking for trouble. As would be, for instance, asking both Andrew McCarthy and John Nolte to explain precisely what we are/are supposed to be doing in Iraq.) But none of those guys are Frederick Wiseman, that's for damn sure. And for all that, I don't get the point. "You liberals are nice to bad movies that espouse your world view, why can't you be nicer to bad movies that don't?" Really? That's your complaint?

What a world. Sometimes I wonder why I don't just fucking shoot myself.


"No, I don't think that's his complaint," he said, wondering if wading into this was really something he should do.

I don't believe Victor wants anyone to be nicer to ATLAS SHRUGGED. I believe he wants consistency regarding when and for whom the knives are drawn. *COUGH COUGH HALF NELSON COUGH COUGH*

Glenn Kenny

Hey, don't look at me. I HATED "Half Nelson" with every fiber of my being and I don't care who knows it. What was it Frank Zappa said on "Trouble Every Day?" "You know, I'm not black, but sometimes I'm ashamed to be white?" Yeah, "Half Nelson" made me feel like that. BUT NOT IN EXACTLY THE WAY ITS MAKERS INTENDED, if you get what I'm saying. On the other hand, "Half Nelson," for all its faults, apparently has some qualities "Atlas Shrugged Part 1" is said to lack, particularly in the acting department.

Kent Jones

"It would be easier to...laugh off the stilted dialogue and stern, unironic hectoring, so that's what most viewers will do." - Kyle Smith, New York Post. Quite a recommendation. And I have yet to hear or read anything positive about THE CONSPIRATOR.

Meanwhile, the left-wing conspiracy marches on. I ask you, where are the documentaries that place the financial crisis where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of the borrowers and the Obama administration? Who will make the film that celebrates, rather than denigrates, the achievements and innovations of Enron? Or that portrays the invasion of Iraq in a positive light? I can certainly imagine those films, although I can't imagine that they'd be very good: the motivation for making them would be on the paltry side, meant to counterbalance a "bias" that is itself a right-wing idea, and an extremely effective one at that. God knows that anyone who really is moved to make such a film wouldn't lack for funding.

Personally, as someone whose viewpoint would be defined as left-wing, Morgan Spurlock means nothing to me. I never understood the point of SUPER SIZE ME and his "branding" project seems just as silly. Charles Ferguson movies seem like they're meant for people who don't read newspapers or listen to the radio, although the stuff about the business schools in the last one was interesting. I worked with Alex Gibney on the decidedly non-political Blues series (or so we thought), so I can't really comment on his films. And then there's Michael Moore, who did not place on Mr. Morton's hit parade. For the most part, I find his films ridiculous and very poorly constructed, rigging the arguments to the point where they become completely ineffective. When I was on the New York Film Festival committee and we chose to not show BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, he behaved shamefully. As someone who lived in a town that suffered a fate similar to that of his beloved Flint, I thought ROGER AND ME was a travesty. I liked FAHRENHEIT 9/11 at the time but I doubt that I'd have much use for it if I saw it again. He's been enormously influential on the documentary form, which is a shame. Goosing the audience along with music cues and ironic juxtapositions; seizing on the awkward moments and off-handed pomposities of the people he doesn't like; bending chronology to suit the argument; assuming the position of the lone voice of reason and civility; relegating filmmaking itself to a secondary position - they've all spread like wildfire.


'Quiz Show' is surely Redford's best film and surely the one most in need of a DVD remaster. 'Downhill Racer' (for all its atmospheric accomplishments) gets the Redford-approved Criterion treatment, and not this?


Oliver: Quiz Show is not only Redford's best film, but it's so good that I choose to believe it's ghost-directed by someone more suited to the material. Maybe it's Barry Levinson's best film, or something. But I loved that movie so dearly that it puts me in a very lonely cult. It's easy to quote Star Wars and have everyone pick up the reference; when you go around quoting Quiz Show, as I tried to do last week when ordering a Reuben sandwich, there are more blank stares.

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