Movies Archives

Shire Network News #145

Shire Network News #145 has been released. The feature interview is with El Marco, whose photoblog, Looking At The Left is doing sterling work in exposing the reality of leftist protests. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News asking you to "Consider This!"

In 1939, Frank Capra directed a classic film entitled "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", which won an Oscar for Best Writing.  In it, Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, leader of the state’s Boy Rangers, and is appointed, mostly as a joke, as an interim to fill out the term of a recently deceased Senator.  While there, Smith doesn’t just sit back and idly do what he’s told.  Instead, when he sees corruption and graft, even in his own political party, he acts against it, culminating in the films filibuster scene on the floor of the Senate.  (That’s when filibusters were filibusters.  None of this "cloture vote" stuff.) 

Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith is the Everyman in Washington, the small town boy who makes good, and what each of us believes we would be like if we only had the chance. 

Moving from the theater screen to the political scene, John McCain chose Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his Vice Presidential running mate.  To rousing shouts of "Sarah who?", the American political scene, and the media trying to cover it, were thrown into a tizzy.  Immediately, they fired up their dirt-digging Ditch Witch because they had less than a week to fill up their buckets of mud. 

What they found was a women’s basketball player who led her small town team in prayer before the game, and nicknamed "Sarah Barracuda".  A beauty queen pageant winner who won both the "Miss Congeniality" award and a college scholarship.  A college graduate with a major in journalism and a minor in political science.  A hockey mom, and a PTA member.  A moose hunter, with better aim than Dick Cheney.  A 2-term city councilwoman.  A 2-term mayor who was voted into office on a platform of fighting wasteful spending and higher taxes (which she did).  An ethics supervisor who actually supervised ethics; she quit her position because of ethics violations in her own party, and she continued to pursue those violations resulting in record fines.  (Did I mention the guys were in her own party?)  A governor of the state who ran on a clean government platform against a governor of her own party and won, and who sold the previous governor’s jet for starters.  And someone who, throughout all this, maintained a huge popularity rating.

>whew<  So then, with their mud buckets still clean as a whistle, the press, the Democrats and the liberal bloggers had to come up with something.  So they did.  One anonymous diarist on the Daily Kos (where else?) started the rumor that Sarah’s 5th child was really her daughter’s, and that Sarah faked the pregnancy to cover it up.  When it ultimately came out that Bristol Palin was pregnant now, the shock value had already worn off.  As hard as the NY Times tried, putting Sarah and/or Bristol on 3 front page stories on the same day, they just couldn’t get past the fact that the family, given a bad situation, was acting on their principles

The same went for Trig, their Down’s Syndrome baby.  Knowing what was ahead they chose life.  For that, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards proclaimed that "Women voting for this ticket is just like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders."  Right.  So allowing children to live is like poultry suicide.  And vacuuming them out when they’re inconvenient is…what, exactly?

Anglosphere rock start and former SNN contributor Andrew Ian Dodge pointed me to more sources of left-wing media smears.  One Washington Post story, later picked up by the NY Times, claimed that Palin slashed funding for teen mothers.  What they failed to note in the story, however, was that she actually tripled the spending on it.  The "cut" came when she wouldn’t quadruple it.  That, of course, is the liberal mindset that comes free with an Obama presidency.

The "Troopergate" allegations of firing a public safety commissioner are probably the worst thing to come out.  I mean, the governor firing someone who the courts agreed served at the sole discretion of the governor must be a scandal, right?  Palin denies that the firing was over the fact that Walter Monegan didn’t fire her ex-brother-in-law Mike Wooten, who himself, it has already been established, tasered his son, drank on the job, and threatend Palin’s family; firing offenses all.  So the firing of Monegan was legal, and if you want to make a connection to Wooten you do so at the peril of your own credibilty.  Yeah, there’s a scandal for you.

The Left is just waiting eagerly for something — anything — to come out that will allow them to brand her a hypocrite, and will manufacture it if necessary.  Don Surber said it best:  "You can be an unrepentant terrorist.  You can be a perjurer.  You can be an ex-klansman (Exalted Cyclops at that).  But Lord help you if you are a conservative and you run a stop sign."

And I would add, "or a Republican woman with hair that is out of fashion".  Yes, they’re even going after that.  Sarah, just prepare yourself for the photographs of you at the scene of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, or in the crowd at the Kennedy assassination.  Y’know, it would be nice if there were a national organization for women to defend her against this treatment.  But I imagine she can handle it herself.

Lisa Schiffren at the National Review Online noted another Veep selection similar to this one.  He’d only been governor of New York for 2 years before getting on the big ticket.  He was an anti-corruption reformer when he was the New York City Police Chief.  He also did a lot of hunting (but no moose, as far as I know).  Maybe Sarah Palin is no Teddy Roosevelt, but he turned out rather well, don’t you think?

Look, Democrats, media, leftist bloggers; please listen to me.  You are watching the movie "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" and you’re booing the Jimmy Stewart character.  Loudly.  Granted, he’s in a brilliant disguise, but it’s still the Everyman (or Everywoman) looking at you from your TV screen.  Politically speaking, Sarah Palin is the anti-corruption, cost-cutting, true-to-her-values type that everybody says they want to see in Washington.  Well, at least they say they want it.  Consider that.

"Serious" Journalism

Would a documentary about Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, or Area 51 ever, ever get time on ABC’s Nightline? You wouldn’t think so. And yet, Bruce Burgess, who’s done all three, got his own segment on the nighttime news show.

Inconceivable? Well, when you find out the topic of his most recent movie, it all makes sense.

Over a three day stretch, ABC devoted almost 15 minutes of air-time to a documentary filmmaker who asserts in his movie “Bloodline” that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a massive hoax perpetrated on humanity. Additionally, on Friday’s “Nightline,” reporter Elizabeth Vargas left out any mention of the bizarre interests of the film’s director, Bruce Burgess. He’s directed and written documentaries on Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and a secretive look at a U.S. government’s supposed cover-up of the alien landings at Roswell.

Are you a conspiracy theorist concerned citizen looking for some face time on the mainstream media? You, too, can grab the coattails of major news organization and soak in some of their reputation for yourself. Simple; just trash Christianity. Trashing Islam may get you killed, but trashing Christianity will get you an audience.

Those coattails are looking pretty tattered.

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"What the Public Wants"

That’s what many folks think that Hollywood produces, and it’s the excuse given when others lament what comes out of the movie industry.  The public wants it, and the movie houses’ job is to make money, so the produce what does it best.

If that’s so, it’s time for a change of direction in Hollywood.

Americans flock to movies with patriotic, moral content, according to a study that looked at thousands of movies released by Hollywood in recent years, but they avoid those with socialist and anti-capitalist themes in droves.

"Movies with very strong Judeo-Christian values, capitalist ideals, patriotism and pro-American attitudes do much better at the box office than movies promoting socialism, Marxism, left-wing political correctness and atheism," said Ted Baehr, publisher of MOVIDEGUIDE©: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment, and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry in Hollywood.

The article goes on to note that the type of movies that Baehr supports make a lot more money, on average, that the others, and this trend goes back at least as far as 2002.  If that’s the case, Hollywood would be making more of them; that’s what the public wants. 

This also goes back to the fact that G and PG rated films make more money than R and NC-17 ones.  Shouldn’t we be seeing more of the ones that bring in the cash?  Well, we’re not likely to see that.

[Baehr] said the results also show that there are two reasons Hollywood releases movies. The first is to entertain and make a profit, while the second is to "show you’re just as Hollywood PC as the next producer."

"If you’re making a movie like ‘Redacted,’ you’re cruising for a box office failure," he said.

He said such projects will only do filmmakers good "in the small inner circle of the elite system that is contrary to the values of faith and tolerance and grace."

The results show the "average movie-goer" has more common sense than the average person who considers himself among those "elite," he said. He also noted that those are only a portion of the Hollywood industry, because "there are a lot of good people, producers, writers and directors" in Hollywood.

I think, too, that the PC ones are as much for indoctrinating and influencing the culture as they are for ideology’s sake.  As such, the excuses for the Hollywood Left don’t hold water.

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What if They Held a War Movie and Nobody Came?

Hollywood is finding out.

The public isn’t going to Hollywood’s antiwar movies – and it’s not just the hicks if you look at the amazingly-consistent comments on beneath the article: “Hollywood is casualty of war as movie-goers shun Iraq films.” It’s everybody and his brother from Tacoma to Tallahassee, not to mention a large number from abroad. As of last Saturday night, the Agence France Presse report had over 500 comments and counting.

The article itself, not surprisingly anonymously written, is filled with the usual shopworn explanations for the audience’s disinterest. For Lew Harris of, it’s the canard that movies are escapism only. Serious films are just too heavy for the great unwashed. For Gitesh Pandya of, it’s that audiences don’t want to pay for what they already see for free on television (Iraq). Veteran television producer Steve Bocho says it’s hard to gain audience interest in a “hugely unpopular war.”

These liberal folks just can’t believe that anyone disagrees with them. You’d almost expect to hear, “But everyone I know thinks like me.” But, as the comments note, there is another explanation.

The audience members themselves – that is the Breitbart commenters – are having none of this nonsense. The third one down, “Extremely Bored,” puts it this way: “Let me correct this point – I am not weary of war news at all. I am shunning these movies – and many others- because I am tired of Hollywood’s anti-American stance on absolutely everything. However we got into the war, and whatever mistakes were made up to this point, we are one country. We need to win and we need to remain tough against terrorism. It doesn’t benefit anyone to do otherwise. I will go see a movie that reflects that point.”

He is echoed almost immediately by commenter “Lee”: “The real answer – the obvious one that liberals can’t bring themselves to accept – is that most Americans are tired of liberal spinmeisters trashing their country, our soldiers, and our way of life. The Redfords of the world sit in their ivory towers and try to tell us how to think and react based on their own prejudices …”

And so it goes down the page… hundreds, soon thousands.

The problem here is that the Left finds whatever fits their narrative and blows it out of proportion, as I have noted before with the movie “Redacted”. Brian De Palma found a horrifying incident, but then he calls it “the reality” of what’s happening in Iraq, and by extension (i.e. by not showing the positive things happening in Iraq) he and all these writers and directors paint a horrendously proportioned and one-sided picture of the war.

Essentially, all this anti-Americanism does not interest the public. Further, it plays into the hands of our enemies. We are producing their propaganda films for them! (But don’t question their patriotism.)

One other thing this exposes is the canard that Hollywood is a strictly money-making machine, and they only produce what the public wants. You hear this excuse trotted out when someone complains about the excessive and gratuitous sex and violence. But these anti-war movies are not making nearly the money others do, yet they keep making them. Flop after flop hits the theaters, even with big stars in them. If this explanation of Hollywood’s subject matter were true, they’d stop hitting their heads on this particular wall, and they’d also make more G and PG movies.

Truth is, they know the influence they have, and will, in many cases, take the loss to get their views out there, dressed up and made up to look respectable. But it’s still just a pig with lipstick, and the American people are not buying the propaganda this time.

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“The Golden Compass”, Lacking a Moral One

The movie, “The Golden Compass”, is essentially a moral compass that points south instead of north. As mentioned here before, author Philip Pullman, from who’s books “His Dark Materials” the movie comes from, is distinctly anti-religious. As such, the movie, while it is marketed to the same crowd as The Chronicles of Narnia, seeks to deconstruct religion in the eyes of the kids.

Not content with the subtleties of allegory, Pullman’s movie involved the church directly, and depicts it as willing to kidnap and experiment on children in trying to determine if a particular substance is actually Original Sin. He blurs the idea of a daemon as simply the human soul that manifests itself, in some of the universes in his story, as an animal that stays with the human. Ultimately, in the trilogy, the God figure is killed. Christians will immediately see the difference and the problem with one character’s goal of establishing a Republic of Heaven to rival God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Even though it sounds like the anti-religious themes are being downplayed in the movie, the movie inevitably spurs book sales, which is where the real issues are. I would ask Christians not to put this movie on their holiday schedule. While the controversy will no doubt increase some ticket sales, I’m hoping that the dollars withheld by others will more than offset that.

(Information on this can be found at Wikipedia here and here. A review of the books from a Christian who really wanted to like it can be found at Journeyman. The original press release by the Catholic League can be found here.)

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Shire Network News #102

Shire Network News #102 has been released. The feature interview is with Reut Cohen, a student at UC Irvine, who documents anti-Semitism on campus. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network New, asking you to “Consider This”.

This is a Blogosphere News Roundup; a BNR on SNN. My own little version of the Blog News segment but missing the wonderfully funky segue music.

First up is a new movie from Brian De Palma, entitled “Redacted”, which attempts to paint all US soldiers in a bad light by highlighting, in gory detail, the rape of girl and the murder of her family by 5 soldiers. De Palma calls this “the reality of what is happening in Iraq”.

This incident is horrifying, no doubt about that. But isn’t calling that “the reality” sort of like looking closely at an ant hill in my 1-acre yard and thus, by extension, condemning my house since it must be overrun by ants? De Palma blames the US for this atrocity, which may be fair enough, but he also blames the US for the beheadings by al Qaeda. Heads, it’s our fault. Tails, the fault is ours. After all, if only we weren’t in Iraq, all these al Qaeda types would instead be sipping lemonade by the pool, and their new motto would be “Live and Let Live”. And if you believe that, I’ve got a couple of towers in downtown Manhatten I’d like to sell you.

De Palma’s next film will declare that the continent of Africa is devoid of people after filming 100 square yards of Saharan real estate. Working title: “The Bonfire of the Insanities”.

Next up, Senator Hillary Clinton was found to have taken campaign money from a man of questionable ethics. Hmm, fugitive raises money for a Clinton. Eh, never mind, no real news there.

But speaking of the US presidential campaign, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama picked up a key endorsement on Wednesday; the late Fidel Castro. Fidel, from beyond the grave, said that a Clinton/Obama ticket would be “invincible”. Castro should know something about invincibility; not even his death can keep him from writing editorials. (Yes, yes, I know Castro’s death has not been confirmed, but really; a Communist leader who took ill and has not been seen in months? These guys need to get an original script. I hear Brian De Palma has just come into some free time.)

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of Christians protested and set on fire the building where the religious art competition, the Blake prize, was showing off their entries. Among them was a statue of the Virgin Mary in a burqa, and a holographic image that morphed between Jesus and Osama bin Laden, which enrage Christians to the point of rioting. Heh, yeah, right, you knew better than that. Oh, the art exhibits do indeed exist. It’s just that the worst things that happened were a few tut-tuts from a number of folks including Prime Minister John Howard, and some angry phone calls. Hey fellas, I’ve got some Danish cartoons I’d like to enter in your contest. You’re open to all religions, right? Right?

It’s been 2 years since hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans. The flood waters rose, the levees were broken, people were driven from their homes, and now President Bush is visiting there. I believe that according to my reading of the book of Exodus, locusts should be next.

And finally, from the news site The Australian comes this headline: “A nuclear-armed Iran would not be good”. Indeed. A sworn enemy of the West with one of the most powerful weapons on the face of the Earth could ruin your whole afternoon. I wonder if, 2 years ago, there might have been an article headlined, “Bad Storm Hit New Orleans”.

All yours, Brian.

A “Subversive” Film

Arnold Kling exposes a new movie.

The Acton Institute has produced the most subversive movie I have ever seen. The Call of the Entrepreneur, which is being released on an agonizingly slow schedule, is a threat to tyranny everywhere, including here at home.

The movie’s message is that entrepreneurs are creators of wealth, Wall Street financiers are enablers of economic progress, and the villains of the world are people like the Communist leaders in China and American religious leaders who rail against capitalism.

Here’s the short description from the movie’s website:

A merchant banker. A failing dairy farmer. A refugee from Communist China. One risked his savings. One risked his farm. One risked his life. Why do their stories matter? Because how we view entrepreneurs – as greedy or altruistic, as virtuous or vicious – shapes the destinies of individuals and nations.

But there are probably too many impediments to it to be shown widely in this country. Kling explains:

But it has very little chance of being shown in public high schools in America. It is far too explicit. “Call of the Entrepreneur” features the Reverend Robert A. Sirico, including a full-frontal shot of his clerical collar. As producer Jay W. Richards points out, the movie uses “the G word.”

As a Jew, I am certain that I missed a number of the religious aspects of the movie. There were subtle references to Christian doctrine that went right past me. Perhaps there are Christians who would be more aware of the context and, based on their knowledge, might even take offense at the film’s stance. I imagine that passionate atheists would tend to be turned off. But I think that a typical high school student could be exposed to the religion in “Call of the Entrepreneur” without being permanently scarred or corrupted.

I would argue that “Call of the Entrepreneur” and “An Inconvenient Truth” are both religious films. However, unlike Al Gore’s movie about global warming, “Call of the Entrepreneur” steers clear of sensationalism, dogma, and misleading half-truths. It is ironic that public teachers and parents are happy to see “An Inconvenient Truth” in the classroom, but “Call of the Entrepreneur” would probably be greeted with protests if it were shown.

Kling’s being sarcastic, of course, but makes his point clear. The more we see government as savior, the less freedom we have. The more the entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged, the better it is for all of us, the poor included. Don’t give a man a fish, teach him to fish, and allow him to open his own fish business without excessive interference. That’s how freedom works.

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Name That Film

What Warner Bros. movie has been translated into 1,000 languages (the most recent being finished this month), the most of any film (beating #2 by about 900)?

Click here for the press release.

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What’s Good for the Goose…

Now that James Cameron is making a new documentary suggesting he’s found the bones of Jesus, will Andy Rooney now castigate him for making money off of Jesus? He certainly took Mel Gibson to task for this. Think he’ll do the same for Cameron?

Yeah, me neither.

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An Amazing Movie: “Amazing Grace”

The movie “Amazing Grace” chronicles the struggle, physically and politically, of William Wilberforce against the slave trade in late 18th century and early 19th century Britian. To this movie review amateur, it is well-written, and very well-acted. And its story is a powerful one, regardless of your religious persuasion.

It is a little hard to follow for some, though. While I was able to follow the timeline of the movie, one of my daughters noted that she had trouble with that. The story starts chronologically, but at one point jumps 15 years ahead to where Wilberforce meets his future wife, Barbara Ann Spooner. At one of their meetings, he spends the night relating to her the events of the skipped 15 years. We are shown what happened, and occasionally jump back to William and Barbara. It allows William to comment to her on what he was thinking at the time without requiring him to recite some soliloquy during the showing of the events themselves. Finally, one he has caught her (and the audience) up to the moment, the movie continues chronologically from there.

Flashbacks aside, the movie holds many ideas for the viewers to contemplate. Some are related to religion, some are related to politics, and some address how the two intermingle. And yes, they can intermingle without becoming tangled. Such are the examples that need to be understood, especially in this present age.

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