Mission: Impossible

Not rated yet!
Director
Brian De Palma
Runtime
1 h 50 min
Release Date
22 May 1996
Genres
Adventure, Action, Thriller
Overview
When Ethan Hunt, the leader of a crack espionage team whose perilous operation has gone awry with no explanation, discovers that a mole has penetrated the CIA, he's surprised to learn that he's the No. 1 suspect. To clear his name, Hunt now must ferret out the real double agent and, in the process, even the score.
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John Nolte3
Daily Wire / Breitbart



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ Review: Cruise Turns It Up to 11
    The best thing about “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is that we now have final confirmation that Academy Award-winner Mel Gibson has been blackballed by Hollywood, not for the vile statements he made about Jews, but for producing “The Passion of the Christ.” Confirmation comes from Alec Baldwin’s addition to the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, this despite the equally vile (and more frequent) statements the Oscar-less actor has made about gays. The second best thing about “M:I5” is star and producer Tom Cruise, who at 53 still has the physique of a welterweight champ, the drive of an actor desperate to prove himself, and movie star chops like few others. This latest chapter in the ongoing adventures of Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Mission Force (IMF)  isn’t as deliriously action-packed as the last two, but the melodramatic emotional missteps of chapter two are recycled, only this time to great effect. After two decades of standing helplessly and jealously by as IMF successfully saved the world, CIA director Alan Hunley (homophobe Alec Baldwin) has had enough. Before a closed Senate Committee, Hunley (homophobe Alec Baldwin) exploits IMF’s extra-legal methods (burgling the CIA) and missteps (blowing up the Kremlin) to get the division
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Review: Cruise Turns It Up to 11
    The best thing about “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is that we now have final confirmation that Academy Award-winner Mel Gibson has been blackballed by Hollywood, not for the vile statements he made about Jews, but for producing “The Passion of the Christ.” Confirmation comes from Alec Baldwin’s addition to the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, this despite the equally vile (and more frequent) statements the Oscar-less actor has made about gays. The second best thing about “M:I5” is star and producer Tom Cruise, who at 53 still has the physique of a welterweight champ, the drive of an actor desperate to prove himself, and movie star chops like few others. This latest chapter in the ongoing adventures of Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Mission Force (IMF)  isn’t as deliriously action-packed as the last two, but the melodramatic emotional missteps of chapter two are recycled, only this time to great effect. After two decades of standing helplessly and jealously by as IMF successfully saved the world, CIA director Alan Hunley (homophobe Alec Baldwin) has had enough. Before a closed Senate Committee, Hunley (homophobe Alec Baldwin) exploits IMF’s extra-legal methods (burgling the CIA) and missteps (blowing up the Kremlin) to get the division
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 'Skyscraper' Review: Pretty Good, but Dwayne Johnson Deserves Better
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The perfectly fine Skyscraper is another reminder Dwayne Johnson has exactly zero classics to his name.
    ...
    (Review Source)

Conservative Film Buff1
Letterboxd



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • Mission: Impossible

    ★★★★ Added

    De Palma directs this like a mad man. Crazy angles, close-ups from below the face, perspective shots—they all lead to the sensation that this film exists only subjectively, as seen through the point of view of one or more people, rather than an objective laying out of the facts.

    And then there are the sets and locations—warm ballrooms, dark alleyways covered in fog, blue-lit restaurants, white-lit security vaults, wide-open train stations, claustrophobic train interiors and tunnels. I felt more than… more

    6 likes

    ...
    (Review Source)

Mark Steyn7
Fox News



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Mission: Impossible
    If you heard my appearance on CJAD's Tommy Schnurmacher Show last week, you'll know that I did a little live-action comparison between what you have to do to retrieve the data from a highly protected server in a Mission: Impossible movie, and what you
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Keeping His Hand In
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Martin Landau died a week ago at the age of 89. He was a versatile actor who connected less often than he should have with the perfect part, but, when he did, there was none better. In the late Sixties, he was a TV fixture on "Mission: Impossible",
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Alfred Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine Steps
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Later this evening, we'll be airing Episode Two of our latest nightly audio adventure, The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. Usually when we present our radio serializations - The Time Machine, for example, or The Prisoner of Zenda - we don't usually
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Jackal
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    One of the sadder aspects of recent revelations has been having to confront the glum reality that real-life national security capers are nowhere near as cool as their movie equivalents. For example, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton kept her
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Murder on the Orient Express
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    I don't think I can ever forgive Kenneth Branagh for what he's done to Hercule Poirot. It starts, obviously, with the moustaches (given their prominence in the oeuvre, I shall use Agatha Christie's spelling, although unlike her I prefer, in M Poirot's
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Jerry Maguire
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    I suppose if I had to pick one desert-island decade of films to confine myself to it would be from the Golden Age: the Forties, or maybe the Thirties. But Sling Blade last week reminded me that even the Nineties were a Golden Age compared to today: My
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Spectre
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    In the summer of 2012 my daughter and I spent a few days at a bleak and isolated Highland hunting lodge, which, as I said to her at the time, felt like John Buchan's Scotland - the place where a thriller chase winds up. I had the wrong author, but right
    ...
    (Review Source)

Sonny Bunch2
Free Beacon



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’ Review
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    BY:

    Mission: Impossible — Fallout is, like every other entry in the M:I series, a well-paced action-thriller providing ample fodder for its ageless star, Tom Cruise, to wow us with virtuosic stunt work wrapped up in a modestly complicated plot.

    ...
    (Review Source)

Counter Currents Staff3
Counter Currents Publishing



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • “The Flash in the Pan”:Fascism & Fascist Insignia in the Spy Spoofs of the 1960s
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    Dean Martin as Matt Helm

    3,728 words

    One of my guiltier pleasures is the “Matt Helm” films of the 1960s. There were four of these, all produced by Irving Allen and starring Dean Martin as secret agent Matt Helm. The first (The Silencers) appeared in 1966. The story behind these films is an interesting one. In the 1950s Irving Allen was partnered with Albert R. (“Cubby”) Broccoli. Things came to an end, however, when Broccoli announced that he was interested in purchasing the film rights to the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. Allen thought this a terrible idea, and according to legend told Fleming over lunch that he didn’t think his novels were good enough even for television (!). Broccoli and Allen went their separate ways, the former partnering with Harry Saltzman. Their first film together was 1962’s Dr. No, starring Sean Connery.

    The result left Mr. Allen with a considerable amount of egg on his face. Not to be deterred – and apparently burdened by neither a sense of irony nor of shame – he purchased the rights to Donald Hamilton’s series of Matt Helm spy novels. These books were actually the antithesis of Fleming’s: Helm was a cold-blooded, no-nonsense American assassin, a character as devoid of charm as Hamilton’s realistic plots were devoid of Bondian fantasy. Irving launched a phoney, “world-wide” search for an actor with the balls enough to play Helm – but in reality Dean Martin apparently had the part all along.

    With a vocal style uncomfortably close to that of Bing Crosby, Martin had carefully cultivated the image of a boozy, lovable playboy. (In reality, he was by all accounts a serious, introverted man whose on-stage glasses of “whisky” were actually iced tea.) He was an odd choice for an American James Bond. But the Matt Helm films were consciously aimed at an unsophisticated, lower-middle-class American audience. The people who thought Bond was just a wee bit too toffee-nosed and foreign. The cinematic Matt Helm was Bond if Bond had been from Long Island. Helm was a boozing, womanizing wastrel. Incorrigibly lazy, he is depicted in three of the four films as unable to get out of bed to answer a call from the head of I.C.E. (Intelligence Counter-Espionage). But somehow he is always the only man who can save the world.

    [2]

    Dean Martin as Matt Helm

    The Helm films borrow shamelessly from Bond but exaggerate all the Bondian elements. Instead of Maurice Binder’s tasteful nude silhouettes, the credits sequence of the first Helm film features a strip show (the title “The Silencers” appears over the boobs of one of the girls, when she flings off her top). Unlike the spiritually virile Bond, who attracts women by actually seeming to be rather indifferent to them, Helm is a leering, eye-popping adolescent sex maniac. Instead of an Aston Martin complete with lethal accessories, Helm drives a 1965 Mercury Parklane station wagon complete with a bar and a bed (convenient for roadside quickies).The Helm films also frequently push the limit in sexual innuendo and double entendres. (The poster for the first film features Martin astride the barrel of a huge gun, under the words “Matt Helm Shoots the Works!”) Perhaps the most amusing of these is the name of the evil organization Helm confronts in three of the four films: B.I.G.O.

    Pronounced “Big Oh,” the letters stand for Bureau of International Government and Order. Evil organizations with acronyms for names were a staple of the Bond-inspired films and television shows of the 1960s. The granddaddy of all of these was Fleming’s S.P.E.C.T.R.E.: The Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.  S.P.E.C.T.R.E. had been introduced in Fleming’s 1961 novel Thunderball, which he had actually based (without attribution) on a screenplay written with Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was conceived by Messrs. Fleming, McClory, and Whittingham as a relatively small organization made up of the greatest criminal brains of the world. Headed by the sinister, asexual German-Greek Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Fleming’s villains were often foreign mongrels) the organization was apolitical, and aimed simply at making a profit – it is never depicted as motivated by any sort of political ideology. (For example, in Thunderball S.P.E.C.T.R.E. steals two nuclear bombs with the intention of extorting £100 million from the United States and Great Britain.)

    [3]

    Blofeld’s bathosub with S.P.E.C.T.R.E. insignia (from “Diamonds Are Forever,” 1971)

    In the Bond films, which eventually came to completely eclipse the novels in the popular imagination, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. became a vast organization equipped with its own secret island (From Russia with Love), steel-lined Paris headquarters (Thunderball), and steel-framed rocket base concealed inside an inactive volcano (You Only Live Twice). Blofeld really loved steel. In For Your Eyes Only (1981), Bond disposes of a Blofeld-like character who begs for his life, promising to build Bond “a delicatessen in stainless steel” (I am not kidding – watch it and see for yourself). And in the films S.P.E.C.T.R.E. has its own insignia: a stylized amalgam of a ghost and an octopus.

    [4]

    B.I.G.O. uniform patch from “The Silencers”

    When S.P.E.C.T.R.E. became B.I.G.O. in the Matt Helm films, however, a curious thing happened. B.I.G.O. was not merely a vast criminal organization – it was a vast right-wing conspiracy. The aim of the Bureau of International Government and Order was world domination: the creation of one world, fascist-style government. And, of course, it had to have its own insignia, just like S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and this is where things get really interesting: B.I.G.O.’s emblem was a lightning bolt through a circle (an “O”), uncannily similar to the official symbol of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (even the color scheme is the same).

    [5]

    The “Flash and Circle” of the British Union of Fascists

    Derisively referred to by critics of the B.U.F. as “the flash in the pan” (I have to admit that this is witty), the “Flash and Circle” was adopted by the organization in the summer of 1935, replacing the fasces. It was supposed to represent “the flash of action within a circle of unity” and was designed by Eric Hamilton Percy, Commander of the Fascist Defence Force.[1] A similar insignia was adopted by the Canadian Union of Fascists (a lightning bolt over a maple leaf), and in 1948 Mosley revived the flash and circle as the emblem of his new party, the Union Movement.

    The B.I.G.O. “flash and circle” was introduced in The Silencers, but features even more prominently near the beginning of the second Helm film Murderers’ Row (also 1966). In this film, the head of the organization is played to hammy perfection by Karl Malden, who is seen wearing a flash and circle ring (like the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. octopus rings prominently featured in Thunderball), and seated in a kind of throne festooned with flashes and circles.

    As a fascist super power, B.I.G.O. was by no means unique among the 60s spy spoofs. Indeed, one of the interesting features of that cinematic phenomenon – the vast scope of which (from about 1965 to 1969) is largely forgotten today – is that the villains in the American films and television shows were almost always in the B.I.G.O. mold: quasi fascist secret organizations out to “take over the world.” On the other hand, the British and Continental spy films of the period usually feature villains moved by pure profit, not ideology – or by some strangely personal motivation. (For example, the 1966 Dino de Laurentiis-produced Se Tutte le Donne del Mondo – released in the U.S. as Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die – features a villain who plans to kill off the human race and repopulate the planet by inseminating a bevy of beautiful women kept in a state of suspended animation.)

    The reason for this difference between the American and European spy extravaganzas is not hard to discern. Americans had been sold on entering the Second World War with the promise that the fascists were out to “take over the world.” This ridiculous fabrication is still believed almost universally by Americans. Villains assimilated to this “fascist” model were therefore very easy for Americans to understand, and so Blofeld was transmuted into a plethora of little Hitlers and Mussolinis and Mosleys, armed this time with all the “secret weapons” we were frightened that the fascists might be developing in hollowed-out mountain lairs: death rays and flying saucers and doomsday devices of all kinds.

    I started watching the 60s spy spoofs as a child, when local TV stations would run them in the afternoons. Bond was always a big TV event back then. He was only shown around my bedtime, and always with parental warnings (which seem absurd today). As a consequence, I was exposed to the Bond spoofs prior to ever being exposed to Bond. I thrilled to the adventures of Matt Helm, Derek Flint, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, and The Avengers. The odd thing was that I usually found the villains more attractive than the heroes. The villains, for one thing, had those terrific, steel-lined underground lairs. They had snazzy uniforms (with thrilling lightning-bolt insignia). They were ruthless and efficient. They were serious and disciplined. They seemed bent on doing something important. The heroes, on the other hand, were usually wise-cracking hedonists – the most extreme example, of course, being Matt Helm.

    Was this childhood attraction to B.I.G.O. and Thrush and Galaxy (we’ll come to the latter two organizations in a moment) a sign of my incipient fascism? Probably. But much more interesting is what these American spy spoofs reveal about the modern American soul. Let’s focus just on Matt Helm for the moment, as paradigmatic of the genre. It’s discipline, order, duty, and iron will (the villains) . . . against hedonism, debauchery, and selfish abandon (the hero). (I didn’t mention this earlier but Matt Helm always has to be talked into taking a break from chasing tail so that he can save the world.) The conflict between America and fascism in World War II was presented as the conflict between freedom and slavery. In Matt Helm, however, the truth is laid bare and the conflict revealed for what it really was. The freedom of Matt Helm is mere license. He’s out to make the world safe not for democracy and individual rights, but for boozing and boinking and sleeping till noon. That’s the American Dream, and he is living it. And so when those handsome, uniformed, lock-step, lightning-bolted troops in their spotless lairs are blown to kingdom come we can all cheer. Who did they think they were, anyway?

    Flint is another interesting case, almost forgotten today. He was played by James Coburn in two films: Our Man Flint (1966) and In Like Flint (1967). These are actually among the most significant 60s spy films, simply because they had some of the highest budgets (still not as high as the Bond films – but getting there). Derek Flint is a kind of absurdly exaggerated amalgamation of James Bond and Doc Savage. He is a scientist, a surgeon, an expert in several martial arts, an accomplished ballet dancer (and teacher!), a war hero, a marine biologist, and a linguist. He is able to stop his heart to feign death. Most memorable of all is his specially-designed cigarette lighter with its 82 functions (“83 if you wish to light a cigar”).

    Flint is what my mother would call “higher class” than Matt Helm (whom my mother would dismiss as “ethnic”). Nevertheless there are significant parallels – and very interesting ones, given the above analysis of the Americanization of the Bond genre. Just like Helm, Flint is a hedonist. He lives in a swanky, high tech apartment (like Helm’s, only in better taste), located on Central Park West (unlike Helm, who parks his station wagon in the burbs – I kid you not). Flint is part Hugh Hefner, living with four beautiful girls (“there were five at one time, but that got to be a little much,” he explains). Just like Helm, Flint has to be convinced to set aside his personal projects to save the world. (Although Helm technically works for I.C.E., Flint is a completely free agent.) In both films, in fact, Flint ultimately agrees to go on his mission only after something happens which affects him personally. In the first film, he only really gets serious when the villains kidnap his girlfriends. Apparently saving the world from their infernal weather machine was not enough of a motivating factor for him.

    [6]

    Galaxy uniform patch from “Our Man Flint” (1966)

    In Our Man Flint, the villains – the ones with the weather machine – work for “Galaxy” (apparently not an acronym). Of course, they have their own insignia. Not a lightning bolt this time (that would be too perfect) but a G on a circle with Saturn-like rings encircling it (the exact same insignia, it is interesting to note, was used on the TV series Land of the Giants, also produced by Twentieth-Century Fox). Again, however, they are ideologically-motivated and vaguely fascist. Galaxy is a bit different from B.I.G.O., however. They are headed by three white-coated, idealistic scientists who aim to pacify the world and create a conflict-free utopia. Ideologically, this actually puts them further to the left, but there are strongly authoritarian overtones to Galaxy (nifty uniforms, a “Führer Prinzip” of absolute loyalty to the three leaders, etc.). At the climax of the film, as Flint is poised to destroy the weather machine, one of the mad scientists pleads with him to desist: “Ours would be a perfect world!” he cries. “Not my kind of world,” Flint responds, as he proceeds to demolish their handiwork. Again, everything here is on personal terms. Our hero goes on his mission because his life is adversely affected; he foils the villains’ scheme because their vision is not his. No conception of duty is at work in Flint, and no high-minded ideals. He is just looking out for number one. (It is noteworthy that on its release, Our Man Flint received a positive review in Ayn Rand’s journal The Objectivist.)

    Flint is consciously and deliberately presented in the films as an American hero – and an American answer to Bond (in the first film, he beats up a Connery lookalike dubbed “Triple-O-Eight”). Flint infiltrates Galaxy’s secret island but is captured when an eagle swoops down and attacks him. One of the guards explains that the eagle is trained to spot and attack Americans. Flint smiles ruefully and says “The anti-American eagle. Diabolical!” Here we Americans are supposed to recognize that although the villains of this film are not the Soviets, it’s still about Us vs. Them. Us vs. them foreign interllectuals with their books and their high-minded ideals. (The villains in the Helm films are always foreign and often – interestingly – aristocratic. What a delight it is to see the noble and the dignified toppled by the hometown boy!)

    At least Bond still works for Queen and Country. For all his high living, it is clear that he still has a strong sense of duty. The American versions of Bond jettison all that is noble about the character and turn him into a grinning lothario, a self-involved hedonist, a perpetual adolescent, a vulgar operator always on the make. And please keep squarely in mind that this was done so that American audiences would have a character they could more easily identify with and root for. The American soul is rotten to the core.

    Perhaps the most interesting of all the quasi-fascist spy villains is the one that figures in virtually all 105 episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Thrush. U.N.C.L.E. creator Sam Rolfe invented Thrush actually as a fall-back villain. Recognizing that it would be difficult to invent new villains every week, with new motivations, Rolfe thought Thrush would be a convenient, regular foil for the do-gooding U.N.C.L.E. organization (that’s the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). Thrush was initially supposed to be mysterious. We were not even supposed to know what the name “Thrush” meant: it could be the name of the organization, or the code-name of the organization’s leader (in one 1964 episode, “The Double Affair,” Thrush is actually referred to as “him”).

    As the series progressed, however, the writers came up with more definite ideas about Thrush. First, the name became fixed as the name of the organization (though why it was called that was never explained in the series). Rolfe decided that Thrush was a “supra-nation” spread all over the earth. (In the pilot episode, one of the villains says “Thrush is my country.”) Its center was “The City of Thrush,” though this was always referred to in the series as “Thrush Central”: a mobile headquarters always shifting from place to place. Thrush’s agents had cover roles within their communities. Borrowing a term from the ancient Persians, Rolfe referred to the individual, local outposts of Thrush as “satraps,” each of which would be disguised in some ordinary way: as a shop, an office block, a school, a mortuary, a garage, a winery, etc. This concept, of course, was equivalent to that of the “communist cell.” And Thrush, in fact, is a unique amalgam of elements of the Left and Right – but, as always with these spy baddies – the accent is on the Right.

    Thrush’s stated purpose is taking over the world and imposing a fascist-style state. “Thrush believes in the two-party system: the masters and the slaves,” our hero Napoleon Solo intones in an early episode. “Very nicely put,” concurs his Thrush captor. Like B.I.G.O. and Galaxy and all the other fascistic spy villains, Thrush is depicted as highly disciplined and regimented (the “Thrush Uniform Code of Procedure” is mentioned in two episodes written by Peter Allan Fields, the man principally responsible for much of the detail about Thrush introduced in the series; many of Rolfe’s original ideas were never used). Thrush agents, again, wear snazzy uniforms (complete with black berets). They carry specially-designed guns equipped with bizarre-looking night scopes. And Thrush is always coming up with some doomsday device: an earthquake machine, a “volcanic activator,” a deadly hiccup-inducing gas, a death ray, another death ray, and still another death ray.

    David McDaniel, author of several of the U.N.C.L.E. paperback novels (published by Ace Books), eventually decided that Thrush was an acronym standing for Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. Though this is often mentioned in retrospectives on U.N.C.LE., in fact it was never used in the series and is not considered “canonical.” Still, McDaniel did a nice job here in highlighting the “fascistic” nature of Thrush (at least insofar as fascism is popularly conceived).

    The heroes of U.N.C.L.E. – Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin – are a cut above Helm and Flint. Rolfe conceived U.N.C.L.E. as an FBI-like organization, utilizing only educated men of high moral character. And though Solo is a bit of a womanizer, both he and Kuryakin are depicted chiefly as stalwart, straight arrow types. Still, the motives and raison d’être of U.N.C.L.E. are more than a bit vague. In the narration that opens the first several episodes of the series we are told that U.N.C.L.E. is involved in “maintaining political and legal order anywhere in the world.” But what does this mean?

    In a 1965 essay partly dealing with U.N.C.L.E., Ayn Rand rightly asked:

    If ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ is dedicated to international law enforcement, does this mean that it protects indiscriminately any sort of government? . . . If so, then would ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ have protected the Nazi government against the Jewish refugees? Would it protect Castro’s government against the Cuban refugees? Would it protect the Soviet government against the refugees from one-third of the globe? The presence of Illya Kuryakin [a Russian agent] among the knights of ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ would seem to indicate the affirmative, which is pretty sickening.[2]

    The truth seems to be that U.N.C.L.E. is out to maintain the status quo in our post-historical world of Last Men. U.N.C.L.E.’s only ideological commitment is opposition to Thrush, who are the quasi-fascistic Nietzschean Overmen bent on re-starting history. In other words, the good guys.

    [7]

    Thrush insignia from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

    Thrush’s symbol was an angry, stylized bird inside a kind of shield. However, when U.N.C.L.E. was revived in the shockingly lame 1983 TV movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair, the producers (who were not involved with the original series) forgot about this insignia. And when their designer was asked to come up with a symbol for Thrush, guess what he produced. That’s right: a lightning bolt!

    The American producers of the Bond-inspired spy spoofs made their villains fascists for the simple reason that Americans have been so well trained to see fascists as the bad guys. There was no need to provide any elaborate explanation for why these villains were bad – we all know these sorts of guys are bad, don’t we? And yet they possess an enduring fascination and allure, with their sleek black uniforms, their arresting insignia, their discipline, their ruthlessness, their unity, and, yes, their great underground steel lairs.

    Another part of the appeal is that they have rejected all of the equality and democracy bullshit – the bullshit all Americans pay lip service to (terrified of each other, as Tocqueville pointed out), but only the most craven actually believe in. The dirty little secret is that B.I.G.O. and Galaxy and Thrush are a kind of fantasy wish fulfillment for us. Fear not: at the end of the film, our oversexed playboy hero (with whom we guiltily identify) will vanquish the morally superior bad guys and we can all give three cheers for the American way. But we all know whose way is really superior – and that that lightning bolt in fact strikes at the worst within us, the worst which, in our modern world, reigns ascendant.

    Give me the lightning bolt and pass me the black coveralls, I want to join Thrush!

    Notes

    1. See John Millican, Mosley’s Men in Black: Uniforms, Flags and Insignia of the British Union of Fascists 19321940 and Union Movement (London: Brockingday Publications, 2004), 16.

    2. Ayn Rand, “Bootleg Romanticism,” The Objectivist Newsletter, January 1965, p. 3. The version of “Bootleg Romanticism” published in The Romantic Manifesto is a shortened one, with all the material on U.N.C.L.E. excised.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Angel of Atonement
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]1,775 words

    Arabic version here [2]

    The Angel [3] (2018)
    Directed by Ariel Vromen for Netflix
    Starring Marwan Kenzari, Toby Kebbell, Hanna, Sapir Azulay, & Sasson Gabai

    One of the biggest American blunders of the Iraq War – aside from starting the war in the first place – was the de-Baathification policy that was organized by the Jewish-led Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon. By using the term “blunder,” I’m referring to the white American view of the policy. From a Jewish perspective, de-Baathification and its associated disorders was, as they say, a feature, not a bug of the Iraq War.

    A good way to understand the organized Jewish community is to watch what they do and ignore what they say. The key thing that politically active Jews do, whether it is in Israel or the diaspora, is to saddle the societies of their hosts or enemies with as many intractable internal problems as possible. In America, they sponsored “civil rights,” destroying the policy of segregation that had kept race relations on an even keel. Likewise, the Hart-Celler Act was deliberately designed by Jews and their allies in the government to end America’s white majority and inject immigration problems into American life. But in the Arab countries, the Jewish community has worked to destroy the secular Arab nationalist governments and replace them with Islamist fanatics.

    Divide and rule is always a good strategy for an occupying foreign power.

    Netflix and Chilling with Secular Arab Nationalists

    Since coming to understand this situation, I’ve become interested in the secular Arab nationalist view of things. So when I saw the trailer for Netflix’s new film, The Angel, early on a Saturday morning, I immediately watched it.

    The movie is about an Egyptian diplomatic official, Ashraf Marwan (Marwan Kenzari), who was also a spy. The exact nature of his espionage is still debated, and he died in 2007 after either jumping from or getting pushed out of a building, depending on who you ask. It is probable that Marwan was a double agent, pursuing Egyptian interests while working as a spy for Israel.

    The move isn’t a swashbuckling thriller like Mission: Impossible. The tense scenes of Marwan being pursued by agents in London, as well as a blonde in a convertible, seem like cheap thrills that were tacked on to the real story. Despite this, the movie’s pacing is good and the story is interesting enough.

    Marwan becomes a spy for Israel after he has an embarrassing run-in with his father-in-law, Gamal Nasser (1918-1970), during a dinner party. Marwan’s father-in-law is the remarkable President of Egypt who nationalized the Suez Canal and made Egypt a truly independent nation.[1] [4] Marwan also gambles, and has run up a lot of debts. Marwan thus has the M.I.C.E. components found in most turncoat spies: money, ideology, coercion, and ego. Marwan gives the Israeli Embassy in London a call, and Israeli Intelligence connects with him.

    After Nasser’s death, Marwan becomes a trusted advisor to the new Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat (1918-1981). The story follows Marwan’s cloak-and-dagger escapades and his high diplomacy. Marwan gives a sort-of warning to the Israelis about an Egyptian attack on the Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). We are told that because of this warning, Marwan is regarded as a hero in both Egypt and Israel, apparently because Marwan’s actions “saved lives” during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

    Many Israeli Jews were involved in the making of this film, although the reviews of it that have appeared in Egyptian and Israeli publications online are pretty harsh. It seems that the raw wounds of 1973 still sting. One reason for this is that Marwan and Sadat are portrayed as solid men. They aren’t the usual flat characters – the stereotypical Arab as fanatical terrorist, such as is common in Hollywood productions.

    The War of Atonement . . .

    What makes this movie noteworthy is the Yom Kippur War’s relevance today. To understand why Hillary Clinton, the neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and the Israeli government all push to destabilize secular Arab governments, as in Syria, and empower groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, one needs to understand this conflict.

    When Ashraf Marwan was passing secrets to the Israelis, Egypt’s situation was as follows:

    • The Sinai peninsula was occupied by the Israelis after the 1967 Six-Day War.
    • The Suez Canal was blockaded by the Egyptians and closed to shipping.
    • Egypt was supported by the Soviet Union and had access to the latest Soviet weaponry.
    • There was an ongoing tit-for-tat war of attrition between Israel and Egypt. This included raids across the Suez, artillery duels, and occasional dogfights in the air.
    • The Egyptians had been humiliated by their loss in 1967 and offered to make peace with Israel for the return of Sinai, but were rebuffed.

    [5]

    Israel in 1967: It looked big, but as Wilmot Robertson wrote, “. . . [T]hose who are caught up in desert politics – not only American Jews but Zionist and Zionist supporters everywhere – should beware of mirages.”[2] [6]

    Anwar Sadat reflected on the actions of his predecessor in relation to Israel and decided that to get the Sinai back, he needed to show Israel that Egypt could threaten it militarily, and therefore that it was better to make peace. As Wilmot Robertson wrote:

    . . . [T]he populations of the neighboring Arab countries . . . may be far behind the Westernized Zionist technically and economically. But they are not spear-carrying natives. They may not be able to make their own advanced weapons, but they know where to buy them, and they have the money to buy them.[3] [7]

    Sadat rebuilt his military. Additionally, the Egyptians were able to capitalize on a revolution in military affairs that took place in the 1970s: rocket and missile technology had advanced to the point where a single soldier could easily destroy a tank at long range using shoulder-fired weapons. Additionally, new air defense systems could now be operated by soldiers with minimal training, and thus they could deny air superiority to the better-trained Israeli pilots.

    Sadat’s military developed a brilliant plan to cross the Suez, overwhelm the defenders at the Bar Lev Line, and then defend against the inevitable Israeli counterattacks. Prior to the war, the Egyptian army conducted a great many wargames and maneuvers. During this time, Ashraf Marwan fed accurate information to the Israelis, albeit with one exception – he knew that the war scares were a feint. During these exercises, Sadat would always call off the actual invasion at the last minute, so the Israelis got used to constant war scares. When the Egyptians were about to actually invade, Marwan deliberately gave the Israelis the wrong time for the offensive, giving the Egyptians a critical four hours to mount a surprise attack.

    [8]

    Crossing the Suez. In 1973, the Egyptian army pulled off one of the greatest feats of arms in twentieth-century military history.

    The Israelis rallied. They turned back the Syrian attack in the north and won what appeared to be a tactical victory by encircling part of the Third Egyptian Field Army. The losses suffered by Israel were very high, however, with nearly three thousand combat deaths in a little more than two weeks of fighting. Sadat won back the Sinai through a strategic military victory and a negotiated peace.

    So, “Who Lost Syria?”

    The most critical lesson learned by the Israelis following the Yom Kippur War was not, in retrospect, how to do a Sagger missile drill [9]. Nor was it the fact that secular Arab nationalist governments could rally and inflict considerable damage upon them.

    Instead, it was what transpired on October 6, 1981. On that day, a group of Islamist fanatics assassinated Anwar Sadat at a military parade commemorating the crossing of the Suez Canal in 1973. The fanatics were led by First Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli. As a result, the Israelis realized that the greatest enemy to secular nationalist Arab governments isn’t Israel or the United States, but Islamists following the ideas of Islamist thinkers such as Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), who laid the foundations for and provided inspiration to all of the subsequent jihadi movements.

    By his own words, Islambouli was merely angry with Sadat for reaching a compromise with Israel – but it is what people do rather than what they say that matters in the end. In fact, it is the results of what people do, including the unintended results, that really matter. Regardless of his aims, First Lieutenant Islambouli did a great deal of damage to secular Arab governments and societies by emboldening the Islamists.

    A nation governed by an Islamist ideology is at a big disadvantage. Islam closes the mind and ultimately deploys its considerable capacity for violence against its own. In the Islamist worldview, the “apostate” or “traitor” is a bigger threat than a nation such as Israel – so the Islamist circular firing squad is sure to follow. Egypt, with its long history and rich cultural heritage, managed to suppress its Islamist currents without too much bloodshed, but Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria could not. Wherever the Baathists and other Arab nationalists are driven out, the Islamist chopping off heads is sure to rise. And today, Islamist fanatics are the spear-carriers of the Zionist project by weakening progressive, secular Arab nationalist governments. Needless to say, these same groups also terrorize whites from California to Paris.

    On a final note, the Yom Kippur War was a considerable burden for America as well. Israel required a big airlift of ammunition to keep fighting during the conflict, which strained America’s ability to defend Europe from the Soviets. Additionally, the crisis raised Cold War tensions between the US and the Soviets to the brink of nuclear war.

    It is likely that the events involving Egypt and Israel during that time were as much a cause for the economic and social malaise of the 1970s as America’s loss in Vietnam. The Arab oil embargo which was enacted in the aftermath of the war hurt the economies of the United States and Europe. Additionally, that famous nineteenth-century example of technical progress, the Suez Canal, was shut down from 1967 until 1975. The increased shipping costs associated with the Suez’s closure also had a negative financial impact. And Robert F. Kennedy was killed by a Palestinian immigrant in 1969 due to his support for Israel – another example of blowback from America’s reckless Middle Eastern policies.

    And it hasn’t ended yet. Hillary Clinton and the late John McCain’s support for Islamist “rebels” is a subsidy to Israel, and today the barbarous Saracen is on the march everywhere. Even slavery has returned. Ironically, those progressives who help the jihadis are helping to undo the very real progress made by Arab nationalist regimes over the past century.

    Notes

    [1] [10] Troy Southgate has written a decent biography of Nasser, Eagle of Saladin (Black Front, 2017).

    [2] [11] Wilmot Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority, 3rd ed. (Cape Canaveral, Fl.: Howard Allen Enterprises, 1981), p. 512.

    [3] [12] Ibid.

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  • ملاك الغفران
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    1,219 words English original here بقلم موريس في. دي كامب الملاك (2018) إخراج آريال فرومان لِنتفلكس بطولة: مروان كنزاري، توبي كِبل، هانا وير، سابير أوزولي، و ساسون جاباي من أكبر الأخطاء الأمريكية في الحرب على العراق – بجانب شن الحرب ذات نفسها- هو اجتثاث البعث الممنهج وحظره، والذي تم تخطيطه من جانب القيادة اليهودية في […]
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Christian Toto2
Hollywood In Toto



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • HiT Reviews: ‘Widows,’ ‘Instant Family’
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    widows-review

    “Widows” offers a few sit-up-straight moments long before the film’s plot kicks in.

    You look at the cast (Viola Davis! Robert Duvall! Daniel Kaluuya!) and you wonder how they got

    The post HiT Reviews: ‘Widows,’ ‘Instant Family’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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  • De Palma’s ‘Domino’ Could Be His Worst … Ever
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    DOMINO de palma review

    Brian De Palma’s “Domino” begins in Copenhagen, and for no apparent reason, in the barely-distant future of “June 10, 2020.”

    An investigation between two cops, Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Lars

    The post De Palma’s ‘Domino’ Could Be His Worst … Ever appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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PJ Media Staff6
PJ Media



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Hollywood's 'New Abnormal' and The Death of the Movie Star
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Ed Driscoll As veteran Hollywood producer Lynda Obst makes abundantly clear in her enjoyable new book Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business, Hollywood’s got a fevaaaah, and the only prescription is cranking out more and more superhero and sci-fi franchises. Warner Brothers has Batman and Superman, Paramount has the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises, and Disney has Marvel Comics and now Star Wars as well.Beginning with the subhead of her book’s title, Obst calls this “The New Abnormal” -- the Old Abnormal she defines as the revolution that Spielberg and Lucas ushered into Hollywood via Jaws and Star Wars, and basically exhausted itself sometime after 9/11. (Obst explored some of the reasons why in the excerpt of her book in Salon, which we blogged about a couple of weeks ago.) Of course, the Old Abnormal itself replaced an earlier abnormal cinematic era -- “New Hollywood." That was the post-studio system period, when Hollywood stopped ingratiating itself with the audience, and started producing all those dark cynical (and occasionally brilliant) films that dominated the pre-Lucas 1970s, an era whose alpha and omega works were summed up in the title of Peter Biskind’s definitive history of New Hollywood, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.Obst explains the formula for ‘The New Abnormal” thusly:1. You must have heard of the Title before; it must have preawareness.2. It must sell overseas.3. It should generate a Franchise and/ or Sequel (also a factor of 1 and 2).And when you’ve got franchises and sequels, you have much less need for expensive, temperamental superstars. Which explains this recent headline in the London Independent: “The last action heroes: Have Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Brad Pitt lost their mojo?”Studios now have more control over their product when stars are not involved. This is especially true of superhero movies. The exception that proves the rule came recently when Robert Downey Jr caused a ripple by threatening to stop playing Iron Man. The studio dithered, no doubt knowing they could save a fortune by letting him go. Fans balked and the studio relented. A hefty payday will see him star in Avengers 2 and 3, a comic-book ensemble that doesn't need Downey Jr in it to guarantee bums on seats.A caveat is that the appeal of the stars seems to have not been so diminished in foreign markets, especially nascent territories such as China and Russia. There has been a big shift in Hollywood studios' attitudes in the last 10 years as the takings from foreign markets have started to dwarf those of domestic audiences. So while After Earth was deemed to have bombed in America, foreign takings a week later softened the crash landing.The reaction of Cruise and Smith to their box-office numbers suggest they are in consolidation mode. Cruise has abandoned plans to star in an adaptation of 60s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and announced that he's making a 5th instalment of Mission: Impossible. There's also talk that he's considering turning Jerry Maguire into a TV show. Will Smith has been on American talk shows downplaying the weak opening of After Earth and, while talking about looking for more risks in his choices and moving away from blockbusters, he has also been rumoured to be preparing for sequels of Bad Boys, I, Robot and Hancock. Although his Men in Black franchise has seen each sequel make less money than predecessors. The stars are following the studios in relying on their best-known characters to sell their movies.What's intriguing is that there seem to be no successors to Cruise, Pitt and Smith. The recent huge blockbuster franchises have been superhero movies, Batman and Spider-Man, or ensembles based on books, Harry Potter, Twilight and Lord of the Rings. It's hard to imagine Christian Bale breaking box-office records outside of the bat-suit. The summer blockbusters have evolved away from being star vehicles as studios have hit on a formula where they can call the shots. That's bad news for the non-tights-wearing action star.It’s actually not all that “intriguing” as to why there are few successors to Cruise, Pitt, Smith, and their older partners-in-greasepaint such Bruce, Sly, Harrison and Schwarzenegger (and Mel Gibson before he nuked his career). They're the last remaining action-oriented superstars before the rise of World Wide Web completely demassified pop culture beginning in the mid-1990s. Since none of these actors are getting any younger, Hollywood has increasingly relied upon the sci-fi and superhero franchises that existed before the demassification of media to provide a reason for audiences to go out to the movies.Unfortunately, the result is  a dismal chart such as this, reproduced in Sleepless in Hollywood as a damning portrait of Hollywood’s lack of creativity: Click to enlarge.On the other hand, there is a new hope, to coin a cinematic phrase, which we'll discuss right after the page break. (Pick up some popcorn in the lobby while clicking over.) class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2013/7/1/death-of-the-movie-star/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
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  • Two Great POW Movies You Might Have Missed
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle I have a very nasty head cold.  My laptop refuses to work (it's time to dump it); and I'm blogging on an Android tablet with considerable difficulty.  But it's Veterans Day (duly noted at my own blog, with deepest respect); and I wanted to comment for PJ Lifestyle on some favorite movies of mine that focus on servicemen.For the life of me, only two POW movies come to mind.  I know the breadth of the veteran experience cannot possibly be reflected through POW stories alone, but such stories are rife with emotions in conflict; and that can make for some very good movies.  And assuming that you've already seen The Great Escape and The Bridge on the River Kwai, I thought I'd suggest a couple of titles with which you may not be as familiar - including a 1953 classic.  Strangely enough, neither movie was directed by an American, but the lead characters in both movies are American.  Both directors are legends in their own right, too.The older movie is - well - a dramedy of sorts set in a WWII POW camp: Stalag 17, starring the inimitable William Holden with a very young Peter Graves (the original Jim Phelps from Mission: Impossible) - and even a young Donald Pleasance, (better known as Dr. Loomis on the original Halloween).  William Holden went on to win an Oscar for his work on Stalag 17.  And it was well-deserved.Stalag's plot is very much about an escape plan and keeping that plan secret; but it does have several light moments and silly characters, plus incidental comedy resulting from the Allied prisoners plotting to fool their German captors (you'll find more than one parallel with the 60's TV series Hogan's Heroes).  Director Billy Wilder, who was behind some of the most iconic American movies to come out of Hollywood despite hailing from an Austro-Hungarian town that now lies within Polish borders, co-wrote and produced.  You might have already seen several titles by Wilder.  Some Like It Hot, Sabrina, and even darker fare like Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard (also starring Holden) were all directed and written by Wilder.  The film is in black and white, but don't let that deter you.  There's not a thing about the movie that feels old.  And you'll love the dialogue.  They don't write them like they used to - and few people had an ear for American dialect like the immigrant Mr. Wilder.The other POW movie I'd like to recommend is a more recent title by a director with a long career: Rescue Dawn, directed by German filmmaker Werner Herzog.  I must confess this is the only movie by Herzog I've ever seen, even though I've been reading about his production exploits for years.  But with films such as Fitzcarraldo (a true story about perhaps the most determined Irish entrepreneur in history) and the documentary Grizzly Man under his belt, I can only conclude that Herzog likes to make movies about people of great passion and commitment who are not easily deterred.  Rescue Dawn is precisely that kind of movie.  And it's also based on a true story: the true adventures of German-American Vietnam vet and POW Dieter Dengler, who was shot down over Vietnam while flying a mission for the U.S. Navy in 1966.Dengler is portrayed by Christian Bale with a humanity that blends the character's vulnerability and love of freedom in a brilliant fashion.  You know that Dengler refuses to be a mere captive from the moment he gets shot down.  And you know he will do something about his capitivity, even if everyone around him dismisses his plans as impossible.  Will he succeed?  Even if he escapes, can he survive the jungle and be located by his U.S. Navy buddies?  Steve Zahn co-stars.  No Chuck Norris-led team of commandos shows up to help on this one.  These guys are on their own.You might be wondering if you can trust a German director to tell an American POW tale, but Herzog knows the material.  He directed a documentary about Dieter Dengler about a decade before this movie was finally released in the states.UPDATE: A couple of corrections: Donald Pleasance did not co-star in Stalag 17.  He was - however - part of the ensemble cast of The Great Escape.  Also, in my prior post on Blade Runner, I stated that the movie was based on the short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick.  The source material is actually a novel.  Thanks to the commenters who brought these inaccuracies to my attention. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2011/11/12/two-great-pow-movies-you-might-have-missed/ ]]>
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  • Perhaps If He Added the Word 'Alfred' to the Beginning of His Title…
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Ed Driscoll Yet another Blue on Blue incident, as Lee Daniels, The Butler’s director attacks Hollywood racism, claiming, “Hollywood would not allow me to make a black drama:”The director claims he met resistance to the film's financing, in part, based on the notion that "black" films don't sell in the modern marketplace.It’s bull ... that our movies don’t make money,” he said, then added pointedly that he thought industry types didn’t protest the point for reasons of cowardice and self-protection. “It’s politically incorrect to scream racism at the studios in Hollywood. People fear for their jobs,” he said.Daniels felt insulted that Hollywood suits could dictate how much money he would need for his film given his track record. Left unsaid is that some of the biggest, most respected names in Hollywood struggle to get their films produced. Even Steven Spielberg said his Oscar-winning Lincoln almost didn't make the big screen due to the new challenges facing dramatic film productions.Perhaps if Daniels had decided to make a film about Alfred the Butler, he might have had a chance attracting the interest of Hollywood’s studios. As producer Lynda Obst wrote in recent book Sleepless in Hollywood, historically-themed movies (perhaps with the exception of explosion-heavy World War II movies) are exceedingly difficult to launch in what she calls "The New Abnormal" of postmodern Hollywood. In fact, as Obst noted, anything that doesn’t have the following in its title or cast will be an uphill struggle to get made in 21st century Hollywood:BatmanSupermanSpider-ManStar TrekStar WarsJames BondMission: ImpossibleThe Avengers (and/or their individual superheroes)HobbitsPixarIn other words, Hollywood wants big budget comic book or sci-fi franchises to help increase the odds that the $200 mil or more that they’re going to sink into a movie -- plus advertising and distribution -- will result in a hit, or at the least, avoid becoming a spectacular, Heaven’s Gate-level studio-destroying bomb. This is a very different -- and as Spielberg pointed out, an increasingly high risk model for the studios. (Witness all of the implosions this summer, perhaps a billion dollars' worth.)In the old days, each year Hollywood studios would make one or two zillion dollar spectacles (think David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago, Darryl Zanuck’s The Longest Day, or Kubrick’s Spartacus), lots of midrange medium budget quality productions, and plenty of cheapies. Today, as Obst writes, Hollywood films come in two, exceedingly schizophrenic, flavors. On the high-end, Hollywood produces superhero, science fiction and action films, typically part of a franchise such as the Batman, Superman, Star Trek and Avengers movies. And lots of low budget independent movies. Many of the latter are films that were independently funded as The Butler was, develop buzz, catch on as crowd favorites at a film festival like Sundance, and then Hollywood picks up the distribution to urban art theaters, cable TV, and DVD.But if The Butler’s director wants to insist to the world that the town that went all-in to elect Barack Obama, and made superstars of Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Sidney Poitier, Halle Berry and other black actors and actresses is a hot bed of racism, as veteran screenwriter William Goldman once wrote, have fun storming the castle.Or as Roger L. Simon writes today in his PJM column, “The race card is a perfect example of this division and why this movement should be extinguished. Anybody who plays the race card in our country today is less than pond scum. It has become the 21st century equivalent of accusing someone of witchcraft in seventeenth century Salem. Anyone who uses the race card should be considered a pariah automatically. It’s almost always projection.”Though upon further consideration, perhaps Daniels has a point. Until Hollywood solves not just its inherent racism, but stops giving a pass to Communism, totalitarianism, anti-Republicanism, domestic violence, and its hatred of its domestic audience (aka, oikophobia), then I’m prepared to boycott its product as it rolls off the assembly line. I think I’ll start with The Butler…Related: "Reagan Biographer Blasts 'The Butler' for Maligning President's Race Record;" its coverage of the JFK era also sounds rather shaky as well. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2013/8/15/butler-director-sees-hollywood-racism/ ]]>
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  • 5 Reasons Tom Clancy Might Be Smiling at the New Jack Ryan Reboot
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Tom Clancy died last fall at 66, just as marketing was getting started for the new relaunch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  It’s a pity he didn’t get to see the new film, because it’s a strong followup to The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Clancy was gruff bordering on insulting when it came to previous cinematic adaptations of his work, but the new film isn’t based on a Clancy novel -- it’s an original story using Clancy’s agile hero. Here’s why the thriller author might have given the thumbs-up to how it turned out.1. It honors patriotism and the military.The new Jack Ryan, Star Trek star Chris Pine, plays a marine who joins the service in honor of the 9/11 attacks, which he watches on a TV set while studying at the London School of Economics. Hollywood can barely treat 9/11 with a straight face, but the scene in which the world changes for Jack, who remains respectfully silent as his resolution builds, is powerful in an understated way.When Jack joins the Marines in response and gets badly wounded in Afghanistan, the director (Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the Russian villain) captures some of the feeling of dedication and courage that it takes to volunteer for combat, and also respects the agonizing rehabilitation process Ryan must undergo when he returns stateside. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/1/17/5-reasons-tom-clancy-might-be-smiling-at-the-new-jack-ryan-reboot/ previous Page 1 of 5 next   ]]>
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  • The Dark Knight Comes to Life
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Without The Dark Knight Returns there would be no Dark Knight film trilogy.The Dark Knight Returns is Frank Miller's great comic book series from 1986, featuring a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who breaks his vow to never again put on the cape and cowl after a ten-year absence. Here's what Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan and co-screenwriter of the Dark Knight films, had to say about it:For my 13th birthday, Chris buys me a copy of The Dark Knight Returns. This isn’t a comic book — it’s a tear in the space-time continuum, a grime-caked lens through which you can glimpse an entire alternate universe. I don’t know if I should put it on my bookshelf or bury it in the back yard, like a radioactive ember.I know exactly how he feels. If there was one comic book that led to my becoming a cartoonist -- my latest comic book was just reviewed here at PJ Media -- it was The Dark Knight Returns. And Miller's portrayal of The Joker in the book defined the character for me, showing him to be the mass-murdering psychopath that was only hinted at in previous stories.When we meet The Joker in the story, he's basically catatonic in Arkham Asylum, that is, until news hits that Batman's returned. Then in The Dark Knight the late Heath Ledger brought that character to life in a performance so strong that his version of The Joker still has the Internet currently asking and answering the question, "What's The Joker doing during The Dark Knight Rises?" I've read and heard a number of theories, and if The Joker were to have a cameo in the film, here's what I think would be a good one.Next: I take a look at the ending of The Dark Knight and why nothing good can be built on a lie. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/8/9/the-dark-knight-comes-to-life/ previous Page 1 of 7 next   ]]>
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The Federalist Staff3
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 'Fate Of The Furious' Is A Good Action Flick, But Doesn't Match Up To Its Predecessors
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Spoilers below. It’s not every movie series that can still command multimillion-dollar returns after seven films. As this eighth installment proves, the “Fast and Furious” series has fully metamorphosed from an exploration of outlaw car culture into a string of globetrotting spy epics. This saga’s willingness to double down on its own craziness makes “The Fate of the Furious” a pretty enjoyable throwaway action flick—even if it’s a little creakier than its immediate predecessors. Swapping “Furious 7” director James Wan for F. Gary Gray (last seen helming rap drama “Straight Outta Compton”), “Fate” starts off with a bang: Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), while honeymooning in Havana with wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is accosted by international criminal Cipher (Charlize Theron). Turns out Cipher needs Dom’s criminal skills to steal some dangerous weapons—and she’s quite willing to blackmail him to bring him on board. From that point on, most of “Fate” hinges on the novelty of pitting Dom against his former allies—an ensemble cast featuring Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, and so forth. The story, for the most part, relies on familiar plot beats: “Citizen Kane” this ain’t, but you knew that already. ‘Fate’ Lacks Is Predecessors’ Momentum There’s a lot to like in “Fate,” particularly its crackling dialogue (Johnson looks like he’s enjoying himself more here than he ever has) and chemistry between its core protagonists. Gray also throws in plenty of eye-popping action flourishes (an early prison riot, pitting Johnson against Statham, is particularly memorable), and smartly weighs in on current technological debates. Midway through the movie, Theron’s cyberterrorist hacks into driverless cars all across New York City and simultaneously seizes control of them all, sending a swarm of unmanned vehicles against our heroes. In an inspired moment vaguely reminiscent of “The Walking Dead,” the Furious crew desperately sprays machine-gun bullets into a mass of oncoming “zombified” cars, filling the screen with explosions. It’s the kind of plausible techno-horror—and utterly over-the-top vehicular carnage—that this saga does so well. By and large, Gray taps into two core elements of the “Fast and Furious” series—rapid-fire banter and insane automotive action—and tries to construct the rest of the film around those moments. Unfortunately, this means larger-scale plot elements fade into the background (yes, I realize this is a “Fast and Furious” movie, but I still have standards). High-stakes premise notwithstanding, “Fate” largely lacks the propulsive momentum of its immediate predecessors. Despite characters’ constant talk of impending doom, there’s not much narrative urgency here: even amid life-or-death confrontations, these characters find time to throw off quips. As a result, the film’s attempts at “darker” moments (including a particularly cold-blooded murder) feel tonally inconsistent. The Film’s Lost Opportunity For Character Development Moreover, the film’s much-hyped “good guy goes bad” premise—a la “Captain America: Civil War” and “Batman v Superman” simply isn’t executed as smoothly as it needs to be, and one can’t help thinking that Dom’s onscreen incentive to go rogue (and seriously endanger his “family”) is a little undercooked. That’s a real shame, because this thematic problem was entirely avoidable. Early on, Cipher taunts Dom by exposing a key tension in his character: if his commitment to family clashes with his love of reckless, death-defying racing, which impulse will ultimately win out? That’s a potent insight, particularly given how the series has evolved over time: the Dom Toretto of 2001 was a very different character than the Dom of 2017, and today’s Dom has far more to lose from engaging in self-destructive behavior. Frustratingly, this lurking question never materializes into an actual plot point, even though it’s a lot more inventive than “the bad guy kidnapped someone Dom cares about.” This Film Loses Sight Of the Franchise’s Core Emphasis And while the saga’s clearly willing to blow its massive budget on impressive action set pieces, the most heart-pounding moments in “Fate” actually arrive in the throwback opening sequence, as Dom faces off with a Cuban gangster in a classic street race. Frankly, I wish there’d been more scenes like that. The film’s final showdown—set in a Russian military base and featuring a gigantic attacking submarine—feels more like a “Call of Duty” mission than a “Fast and Furious” climax, and I couldn’t help thinking it would’ve fit just as well in a modern James Bond or “Mission: Impossible” movie. The sine qua non of this franchise is its focus on muscle cars and the drivers who master them, and “Fate” sometimes loses track of that core emphasis. (Also, this is a minor quibble, but the soundtrack for “Fate” isn’t quite up to snuff. 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa’s “We Own It”—the theme for the sixth installment—is still one of my favorite rap songs, and Juicy J’s “Payback” was almost as good last time around. There’s nothing quite so rousing here.) All that said, none of these criticisms are particularly damning. As a fan of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, I don’t expect high art, and it’s perfectly natural that this beloved series is showing its age the eighth time around. Where it counts, “Fate” largely checks the right boxes: crazy action, exotic scenery, camaraderie, explosions, and just the right amount of snark. Even if “Fate” doesn’t quite match up to its recent forerunners (“Fast Five,” “Fast & Furious 6,” “Furious 7”), it’s still a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Hollywood can keep cranking out these movies, and I’ll keep watching them. I only hope they don’t forget the saga’s roots in the process. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • How To Talk About Oscars Nominees Without Watching Them
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Once again, with the possible exception of “The Martian,” those wacky Academy members have nominated films nearly no one has seen. Sure, if you live in Los Angeles, you may have schlepped out to see “Room,” but even there it’s not likely. Silly you, you’ve been too busy doing things like “working” and “watching the kids” and “seeing ‘Deadpool’” to take in “The Big Short.” That’s a problem, because it will come up this weekend. What with everyone desperate to not talk about Donald Trump, the Oscars will be the only safe topic of conversation at cocktail parties for the foreseeable future. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you find some talking points. Talk about Feminism This is a tad tricky because you must simultaneously celebrate the strong female performances this year while lamenting the lack of strong female roles. Women headlined “Room,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “Brooklyn,” and played huge roles in “Spotlight” and “The Martian.” Out of eight nominated Best Picture movies, women had great roles in five. But that’s not a win. Nope. No way. You must tsk tsk about the lack of female roles in Hollywood. Correct talking point: “Jessica Chastain was breathtaking as the commander of the mission in ‘The Martian.’ Too bad there are no roles in Hollywood that show women can be leaders!” Luckily, this year’s movies are just chock-full of feminism. A lot of people saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” for the awesome effects, the pounding score, the pulse-racing action. But joke’s on you, goobers, because the only acceptable reason to see this movie is for the feminism. It’s a movie so feminist a man asks a woman for directions. That would be enough, of course, but that’s not all. The happy ending is that nobody gets to have sex, ever. No nookie. No whoopee. As nature intended, wise women live by themselves repeating wise things about seeds and stuff they heard from their mothers. Dirty, nasty men bounce around on poles and hit each other with things. Everyone is happy, and there will be no babies. Correct talking point: “So glad this year’s movies taught us there are more important things in life than getting it on. It’s about time we moved away from that outdated way of thinking!” Joke’s on you, goobers, because the only acceptable reason to see this movie is for the feminism. Finally, one last note on feminism. You may be interested in seeing the dresses the stars wear, but please be aware. We must watch the red carpets to catch the brilliant nuggets of wisdom the stunning starlets shout out to the significantly less-stunning press as they glide by in the crowd, glancing past to see if anyone important is nearby. These nuggets of wisdom are priceless and the point of the entire night. Even though the stars pick out dresses months ahead of the awards, have several fittings, starve themselves for weeks, and have a small army to perfect their hair, makeup, nails, and eyebrows, it is rude for the significantly less-stunning press to ask about their dresses. They must be asked about world peace or ISIS or something. They are more than just perfect bodies in dresses and ungodly amounts of jewelry, you know. Correct talking point: “Wow. Jennifer Laurence’s mind really looked amazing on the red carpet tonight. She must have been practicing calculus!” Embrace Populism This year, we are angry. No one is sure at what, exactly, but we know we are angry and we are about ready to grab pitchforks and storm the Bastille (if we knew what the Bastille was, which we don’t because education is elitist). Translate that anger into the Oscars. When someone asks who you think will win, respond that a cabal of old establishment Hollywood should not get to dictate what is the best movie. Then pick your favorite movie of the year and fight for it past all reason. Something like this: Correct Talking Point: “‘Jurassic World’ was far, far better than ‘The Revenant!’ The performance Indominous Rex gave was amazing! It changed my life! Down with the establishment!” Another Correct Talking Point: “‘Furious 7’ is the only movie that is even close to good enough to win. Amazing movie. Flawless. I laughed, I cried. You have to see the deeper meaning. Jumping a supercar between high rises in Dubai not once, but twice, is a metaphor for our Middle East foreign policy. Can’t you see it? Down with the establishment!” Plus, if you’re a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” geek—and really, who isn’t these days?—it’s a chance to awe your listener with your encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Wars universe. Star Wars Talking Point: “…..and that is why the Best Supporting Actor Oscar should go to the guy who played the junkyard dealer who traded scraps for rations. It’s so obvious. It’s the only choice. Down with the establishment!” Heck, even pick movies that you loved from last year or a few years back. When someone counters that it is ineligible for the 2016 Oscars, counter with “How do you know ‘Spotlight’ is eligible? I heard it was made in Canada. It’s probably a Canadian movie. I could bring a lawsuit right now, challenging its eligibility! Ha!” Highlight Victims There’s been a lot of chatter this year about how, despite many fine performances by actors with pigmented skin, neither a single actor with pigmented skin nor a movie featuring actors with pigmented skin was picked for major categories. For instance, Leonardo DiCaprio is about to get an Oscar for staggering around in the snow and breathing heavy for two hours, but Idris Elba is not nominated for “Beasts of No Nation.” Seems wrong. Pigmented Americans, however, are not the only group tragically underrepresented by Hollywood. There is a large, oppressed, overlooked crowd of Americans who are never, ever given any respect. I’m talking, of course, about Unattractive Americans. This year, the SPWCJ (Society of People Without Chiseled Jawlines) is joining forces with AAWTRT (Association of Americans Whose Thighs Rub Together) to highlight the plight of Unattractive Americans. They fight for the chance to be featured on the big screen in all their hairy-backed, overbite-ridden, honky-nosed, horrifying glory. They even have their own hashtag: #OscarsSoUnrealisticallyAttractive Correct Talking Point: “I mean, why does the system favor beautiful people? I just want to have my daughter see people onscreen who represent her.” Have Your Excuse Ready Maybe you were smart and realized that while “Room” may be a transcendent story of the triumph of the human spirit, a story about holding a woman as a captive sex slave for years wasn’t likely to get you some lovin’ on date night and, because despite “Mad Max” this is still important to you, you took your wife to a nice meal and then to “Mission Impossible.” This is not something you want to admit at the cocktail party. Correct Talking Point: “We stopped to help an Unattractive American—we believe strongly in equality for them—and we were just too late to the ‘Room’ showing. It was sold out, sadly.” Whip Out Tom Hanks If, despite all these talking points, you still find yourself cornered by someone insisting on knowing what you thought of “Carol,” there’s always Tom Hanks. Everybody loves Tom Hanks. His movie “Bridge of Spies,” which you did not see, is nominated for Best Picture. But it does not matter if you did not see it, because Tom Hanks is a national treasure and we don’t have to actually see the movie to know that. He is so tremendously decent, so relentlessly kind, so representative of all that we imagine is best about ourselves, that he can head off any awkward conversation. No-Fail Talking Point: “Hey, how about that Tom Hanks? He’s really great, right? Life is like a bowl of chocolates, right? Wilson!” ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Best Caper Movies Of All Time
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The Federalist readers will have heard that Sandra Bullock will be headlining an all-female reboot of “Ocean’s Eleven.” Sounds like fun. I love Ben Domenech’s casting suggestions. (I very much disagree with his assertion that the Brat Pack remake is better than the Rat Pack original. Sorry, Ben, not even close.) Caper movies are fun. Bullock may be blazing a trail with the all-female cast, but heist movies have long been a staple of Hollywood. In fact, the very first Hollywood movie, the silent “Great Train Robbery” of 1903, was a caper. Over the next 100-plus years, three more feature films were made with this title, including one of the best caper films ever, and a “Great Train Robbery” television mini-series was produced in 2013. Why do we love heist films? First there’s the “tick-tock”—the intricate procedural of planning and execution required to get loot out of a place (bank, museum, store, warehouse, etc.) where the owners would prefer it stay. Although only 12 minutes long, the cowboy bandits in the 1903 version of “The Great Train Robbery” execute a nine-step plan to pull off their caper. Also, the delayed reveal. Many of the best caper movies don’t reveal why the crooks’ plans include certain steps, until you see the robbery unfold and you see how clever the crooks were. How could you have missed it! Why in “Topkapi” (1964) do Maximillian Schell and Melina Mercuori plant guns in poor Peter Ustinov’s car that will obviously be discovered at the border crossing? Aha, it’s all part of the plan! We also love to watch a team. How satisfying in an age of self-indulgence and narcissism to enjoy watching individuals function as team, each relying on a special set of skills to achieve the perfect heist. The safe cracker. The tech wizard who disables the alarms. The tout. The temptress. The muscle. The getaway car driver. All working in harmony to commit a crime beyond the capacity of a single crook. How satisfying in an age of narcissism to enjoy watching individuals function as team, each relying on a special set of skills to achieve the perfect heist. We all love a rogue. But we don’t necessarily approve of violence in the pursuit of someone else’s property. That’s a mugging, not a caper. The best capers feature protagonists (think Danny Ocean or Sir Charles Litton) who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but have no problem taking things from generally unpleasant people. Of course, people do get killed in caper movies. Often, however, it’s the plan gone wrong (“The Getaway” (1972) and “Heat” (1995) are prime examples). Then there’s the hitch. Something almost always goes wrong with the perfect plan. And we enjoy watching the crooks get the caper back on track. Or not. The red-headed woman in “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” (1974) almost brought down the whole caper. If only pervy Doc Riedenschneider could have resisted watching the teeny boppers dancing one more dance in “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950). The popular television series “Mission Impossible” (1966-73) was a weekly caper story. Each week, some unforeseen event would cause the team’s nearly perfect plan to unravel. Almost. (The MI TV series, unlike the more recent Tom Cruise movies, perfectly embodied all the essential elements of caperdom.) The crooks’ team leader is imperturbable and tres cool. Cary Grant sets the standard in “To Catch a Thief” (1955). The chef de crime in all caper movies is the embodiment of sangfroid. We don’t necessarily approve of violence in the pursuit of someone else’s property. That’s a mugging, not a caper. Caper movies fall into several categories. From pure comedy, such as in “The Lady Killers” (1955), Blake Edward’s “The Pink Panther” (1963), “Who’s Minding the Mint” (1967), and Woody Allen’s “Take the Money and Run” (1969), to lighter hearted, rom-com offerings such as “To Catch a Thief,” “How to Steal a Million,” and “Gambit” (both from 1966), to very dark offerings such as Stanley Kubrick directorial debut “The Killing” (1956). Also notable on the dark side of capers are “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950) (the best film noir ever, in this reviewer’s opinion) and “The Killers.” This Hemingway-based plot was good enough to be made twice—1946 and 1964. The ‘64 version features Ronald Reagan (as a bad guy) in his last movie role. All of the great movie makers have been attracted to the genre: Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Mamet, Sam Peckinpah, Michael Mann, and even Woody Allen, to name a few. But what are the essential heist films? The must-sees to even be considered for admittance into in the Caper Film Connoisseur Club? For a start, I recommend all the movies mentioned above. The following are caper films you should probably binge-watch this weekend if you haven’t seen them. ‘The Great Train Robbery’ (1979) Written and directed by the late, and greatly missed Michael Crichton, this is probably Sean Connery’s best film outside the Bond franchise. It is also the perfect caper movie. On top of a superb cast, symphonic plotting, and marvelous script, this film shares an almost unique-within-the-genre attribute of being a (mostly) true story. Even seemingly pure Hollywood moments like the miraculous escape at the end actually happened. Perhaps the best all-round caper movie. ‘The Ladykillers’ (the 1955 Version, Please!) Directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker, and Herbert Lom, this is perhaps the best of the great “Ealing comedies” and one of most charming and hilarious movies you will ever see. My nominee for the funniest caper movie. (The Tom Hanks remake is embarrassing.) ‘The Getaway’ (1972) The caper itself (hick town bank job) doesn’t play a large role in Sam Peckinpah’s offering, but the aftermath is terrific. Interestingly, Steve McQueen’s character, Doc McCoy, was stealing the loot in the movie while the real McQueen was stealing co-star Ali McGraw from legendary mega-producer (“the kid stays in the picture”) Robert Evans. Easily the most violent and best edge-of-your-seat caper film. (Don’t bother with the 1994 Alec Baldwin remake.) ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ (1968 and 1999) This one is another instance where all the elements of the perfect caper flick come together. I think the Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway version (directed by Norman Jewison) is the better film. The smoldering sexual tension between McQueen and Dunaway in the chess scene is one of the best things ever in a movie. But I have to admit the Pierce Brosnan-Rene Russo film (directed by John McTiernan) isn’t too shabby, either. My nominee for sexiest caper movie. ‘Heist’ (2001) This is David Mamet’s superb offering in the caper genre. It features Gene Hackman, Sam Rockwell, Danny DeVito, and Delroy Lindo, as well as Mamet favorites Rebecca Pidgeon and the incomparable Ricky Jay. With Mamet-driven dialog like “Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money” and “You know, I’m reluctant to tell you” and “Don’t you want to hear my last words?” followed by a shotgun blast, and “I just did,” “Heist” is easily the best-scripted caper movie ever. ‘Thief’ (1981) The Michael Mann movie magic is fully on display in this neo-noir classic starring James Caan and Tuesday Weld. With an intricate plot beautifully filmed, this movie has all the elements of the perfect heist, plus the superb performance of the late character actor Robert Prosky. And then there’s that wonderful score we associate with the best Mann films, this time performed by Tangerine Dream. “Thief” is the best-scored caper film. (Yes, I know Mann also directed “Heat,” which definitely belongs on this list and any list of seriously badass movies. But you’ve seen it, right? And you may not have seen “Thief.”) ‘Sexy Beast’ (2000) Run, don’t walk, to see this remarkable caper film directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley. Like the rest of us, crooks eventually reach retirement age. But can they really retire? Ray Winstone says yes. Ben Kingsley says no, no, no. I am pretty sure Kingsley melted several cameras while making this movie. Easily the most intense caper movie. Don’t Forget the Caper Canon This list isn’t comprehensive by any means. At best, these are merely the best caper movies you may have missed. Here, for your reference, is a partial list of the essential caper canon. “The Lavender Hill Mob” (1951) another superb Ealing comedy caper movie; “Goldfinger” (1964); “The Italian Job” (1969) (Michael Caine at his most magnificent); “Kelly’s Heroes” (1970)—I could devote a whole piece to just the wartime capers, such as “Guns of Navronne” (1961) or “The Great Escape” (1963); “The Brink’s Job” (1978), another true story; “Sneakers” (1992); “Heat” (1995); “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998); “Three Kings” (1999); “The Score” (2001); and “The Bank Job” (2008), yet another true story, this one with Jason Statham. I know, I probably overlooked some gems. But start here, and enjoy. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

The American Conservative Staff1
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Size of the Entire Universe Man
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Avoiding my own screenplay, I pause to goggle at Ross Douthat’s suggestion that Ben Affleck should have been hired to direct the new “Star Wars” movies. His case: Affleck has now made not one but three movies that are better works of pulpy entertainment than anything J.J. Abrams has ever directed. And where the challenge of rescuing “Star Wars” is concerned, actual filmmaking talent might matter more than previous experience with spaceships and monsters. Abrams’ filmography is nothing if not consistent: His “Mission Impossible,” his recent “Star Trek” and “Super 8″ are all zippy simulacra of more original pop blockbusters (the best of the three, “Super 8″ is just a pure Spielberg homage) with weightless action scenes, average scripts, and plots that only make sense if you don’t actually stop to think about them. They are not bad movies, by any stretch, and if what you’re concerned with is delivering a respectable piece of genre entertainment, he’s proven himself a safe choice. So I’m not surprised that Disney — which no doubt wants the safest possible return on its investment — went with him rather than making a more eccentric pick. But fans of the original “Star Wars” trilogy should realize that the director of the next installment faces a bigger challenge than just serving as a capable custodian of a popular franchise, or enlivening a stale formula with some lens flares and sex appeal. That’s because the next movie will be released in the shadow of the epic, franchise-altering disaster of George Lucas’s prequels — a case, rare in the annals of pop culture, where a beloved story was ruthlessly and comprehensively torched, not by hackish studios chasing easy money, but by the very man who created it in the first place. Thanks to Lucas, half of the official Star Wars story is unsalvageable dreck — but it’s canonical dreck, which means it can’t simply be shunted into an alternative timeline in the style of Abrams’ “Star Trek,” or dropped down the memory hole the way say, Joel Schumacher’s “Batman” movies were when Christopher Nolan set about making “Batman Begins.” Instead, the prequels have to be somehow formally accepted as part of the “Star Wars” story and artistically repudiated at the same time. That’s a much harder task than making a “Star Wars” sequel would have been back in 1995, before Lucas took a flamethrower to his legacy. And I can’t help thinking it might have been easier for a director who came to the project free of fanboy baggage, and who could cast a more dispassionate eye on a pop cultural mythology that too many people (myself included, before I was introduced to Jar Jar Binks) invested with far more significance than its creator’s talents could ultimately bear. I’m influenced here by the fact that the best “Star Wars” movie, “Empire Strikes Back,” was directed by Irvin Kershner, a filmmaker who combined a distinct absence of sci-fi experience with an appropriate skepticism toward the man whose vision he was charged with translating into mass-market entertainment. When he set to work on “Empire,” Kershner’s previous two films were “The Eyes of Laura Mars” and “Raid on Entebbe,” both contemporary thrillers with nary a blaster to be seen. Yet the movie he made is the only “Star Wars” installment that transcends genre, and approaches art. I obviously have no idea what the new “Star Wars” movies are supposed to be about, but I think Douthat goes wrong with his final reference to “The Empire Strikes Back.” Because that movie’s mission bears little resemblance to the mission of the director of the next batch of movies. “Empire” followed the massive success of the original “Star Wars,” and the principal achievement of the original movie was creating a distinctive and original universe. Kershner and Kasdan could take that universe for granted, and ask the question: where do these characters go from here? How can we deepen the story? And they did a masterful job of executing on that mission. But that’s not the mission of the director of the next set of movies. Rather, his mission is to re-create a universe that has lost much of its distinctiveness. And that kind of universe-creation has not been a hallmark of Affleck’s direction to date. Affleck is very much the heir of Clint Eastwood as a director, both of them making solid middle-brow pictures for grownups, both good at rooting their films in universes that are familiar – that are “movie real.” But they are not makers of worlds. Abrams will undoubtedly do to the franchise exactly what Douthat expects: streamline it and make it “work” while making it less-distinctive. That’s probably what Disney wanted, because they wanted to avoid handing it to the sort of director who might recall Lucas’s failures by overstuffing their own version of Lucas’s universe. But I understand why that would be disappointing to someone with lingering affection for the franchise like Douthat. But he shouldn’t be pining after Affleck. He should be pining after someone with demonstrated talent for universe-making who could make audiences forget the prequels and remember not “Empire” but the original “Star Wars.” The hallmark of that original was the “dirty universe” – the contrast between the clean and sleek Empire and the rust-bucket rebels, and visually this was what was most obviously sacrificed not only in the prequels but in the changes Lucas kept imposing on his earlier, more successful films. If I were looking for a director to reboot the franchise, I’d look for somebody who I knew got that, and the obvious choice would be the director of the dirtiest universe to hit the screen in recent memory (one with Star-Wars-level odd family dynamics to boot). Final note: as one of the few Joss Whedon skeptics, I have to disagree with Chris Orr that he’d have been a good choice to revive “Star Wars.” Wheedon’s stock in trade is a kind of witty self-awareness, where “Star Wars” depends crucially on taking the created universe completely seriously, and painting in clear, unironic emotional colors. A Whedon “Star Wars” would be radically untrue to the franchise’s roots. He’d be a better choice to re-boot “Star Trek.” And now, back to creating my own universe. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

The Weekly Standard Staff1
The Weekly Standard



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Tuesday Morning Quarterback: It's Tax Breaks for College Football Trump Should Care About
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    “Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country?” Donald Trump tweeted last week, using German-style capitalization. Trump may have been thinking of the NFL’s headquarters tax exemption which, applying to the league’s New York City operation, is a sweetheart deal that long has been a subject of tittering among wealthy New Yorkers. Pro football voluntarily surrendered that exemption in 2015, though not for any noble reason. Tax law sa
    ...
    (Review Source)

John Podhoretz1
Commentary Magazine



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Awaken and Sing
    (”Mission: Impossible” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    There s no upside for me in reviewing Star Wars: The Force Awakens . If I say anything interesting about its plot, I'll be criticized for publishing spoilers. If I say anything critical, I'll be accused of raining on everybody's parade. If I praise it, I'll be attacked for excessive kindness and sentimentality. So let me just say that I thought it was pretty good, that I enjoyed watching it, and that it has all the strengths and weaknesses of every project with which its cowriter and director,
    ...
    (Review Source)

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