Archive for the ‘Movie Reviews and News’ Category
Documentaries are not really my thing. When I go to a movie, I’m looking for an escape, pure entertainment.
But I loved his first film — 2016: Obama’s America.
D’Souza’s new film far surpasses that one.
I was rivetted by every minute of Dinesh D’Souza’s second film: AMERICA.
I wish this film could have gone on for another two hours.
What’s great about the film is he really allows the Left to make their case against America. The Left’s case is that:
1) We stole the land from the Indians.
2) We stole half of Mexico
3) We stole the labor and lives of Africans
4) We’ve plundered the world for its resources
5) Capitalism is a sophisticated system of theft.
6) The American idea was flawed from the start because the founders of the country owned slaves and our Constitution tolerated slavery.
In summary, the Left’s case is that the world would have been better off if America had never existed.
We now have a President of the United States who subscribes to much, if not all, of these six points. He views his mission in life as to correct the injustices wrought by America.
D’Souza skillfully deals with all these precepts.
He does not gloss over the inhumanity of slavery. He makes the case, as Abraham Lincoln did, that both America’s Declaration of Independence and America’s Constitution sowed the seeds of slavery’s demise.
The southern states never would have signed onto the Constitution had we insisted on the total and immediate abolition of slavery.
If the South had never signed onto the Constitution and had become its own country or many countries, slavery likely would have lasted much longer.
The South’s economy was dependent on slavery.
D’Souza notes that the economy of the South was far behind the economy and industry of the north. He quotes Alexis de Tocqueille, who attributed the differences in the economies to slavery.
In the South, the slaves had no incentive to work hard because they could not keep the fruits of their labor. So they did the bare minimum of work to avoid the lash. The owners were lazy and unproductive because their slaves were doing the work.
Meanwhile, in the North, the non-slave states, industry and enterprise were booming. This ultimately proved the Confederacy’s undoing. The Confederacy did not have the industrial engine to produce a war machine anywhere near the level of the Union army.
Ultimately, slavery could not stand up to the primary founding idea of America: “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Declaration does not say all “white men.” The Declaration says “all men” — meaning, of course, all people.
Abraham Lincoln completed the American Revolution.
He fulfilled the original American Proposition that “all men are created equal” — meaning equal under the law.
Obviously, not everyone is created with equal talents and abilities.
Not everyone is created with equal drive and motivation.
But in America, everyone is supposed to be equal under the law.
America was the first country in the history of the world to fight a civil war to end slavery. At least 300,000 union soldiers died in that war. Upwards of 700,000 Americans lost their lives on the Civil War battlefields.
Furthermore, slavery was the norm throughout the world. Slavery was the norm in Africa. It was Africans who sold their own people into slavery. It was the American idea that ended slavery in the British Empire.
Slavery still exists throughout much of the world today.
By the way, there were many white slaves in colonial America — indentured servants.
The American Idea ultimately ended all that.
Did we mistreat the Indians?
Certainly, we did. They also horrifically mistreated each other.
Did we take land from the Indians? Certainly we did. But they took lands from each other.
Should General Sherman have burned the South to the ground?
Let’s face it. Humans can be brutal. War is brutal. Certainly America has been brutal. Who can admire General Custer?
Don’t most of us think General Custer got what he deserved at the hands of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse?
But it is precisely the American idea — as stated in America’s Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, plus the Bill of Rights — that causes us to recoil in horror at what we did to African Americans and the Native Americans.
We’ve done our best to make it up to them.
How many African-Americans want to return to Africa?
I don’t know of any.
Are millions of Americans desperately trying to get over the border into Mexico and become Mexican citizens?
When Mexicans manage to get in here, how many want to return to Mexico?
Would the Mexican-Americans living in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California want the American Southwest returned to Mexico so they could be Mexicans again?
Would they like to see America become more like Mexico?
The production value in the movie is superb. It’s very well made. I loved the soundtrack.
Don’t believe the leftist film critics who are trashing the film.
Dinesh’s movie is receiving a 90% thumbs up rating from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Every high school and college history course should have the students watch “America” and deal with the arguments?
It won’t matter then if the teacher or professor is a Leftist.
That leftist teacher or professor can then stand there for the entire semester telling the students why D’Souza’s movie is wrong.
Some students will be persuaded by the teacher or the professor.
But many will not be persuaded.
The film makes a powerful (frankly irrefutable) argument for America. It also makes a tremendous emotional impact.
My wife Wanda and I went to the theater on a Sunday afternoon in Chicago. The theater was packed. Every person in the theater stayed through the entire rolling of the credits at the end, with our national anthem as the soundtrack . . . and sang along with it.
The Left wants you to feel bad about America (which they love to spell AMERIKA). They want you to feel bad about being an American.
We have a President of the United States who subscribes, for the most part, to this view of America. He’s trying to take America down a peg, or two, or three.
Let’s not forget that Barack Obama’s political career was hatched out of the livingroom of anti-American terrorist Bill Ayers and that Barack Obama and his family were faithful parishoners of the church of the America-hating Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
And now we see President Obama opening America’s borders to anyone who wants to walk in. Why?
Because that’s the fastest way to end America — to merge America with Mexico and Latin America — which are such successful countries.
Is it any wonder that Barack Obama’s Justice Department has found a way to put Dinesh D’Souza in prison? . . . for a hyper-technical violation of federal campaign finance law that happens all the time and that no one else has ever been jailed for.
Not that I’m condoning. We should all try to avoid breaking laws, even laws that contradict the First Amendment of the Constitution — as campaign finance laws do.
Still, you’re better off not breaking even these unconstitutional laws. Or you risk having a heap of trouble pour down on your head. Fighting the federal government in federal court will cost you a minimum of $300,000 — if you want to go bargain basement.
Few of us can afford this. Most of us will just cry uncle and try to get the best deal we can from the prosecutor.
But don’t worry too much for Dinesh.
He’ll be fine.
He might go to jail for 10 months or so.
Then maybe he will create another documentary on how any and every American commits on average three felonies a day.
That’s actually true by the way. That’s the average.
Here’s the book on that topic — titled Three Felonies a Day.
The Federal Register of regulations is now more than 80,000 pages.
These regulations are not laws duly passed by Congress — as the Constitution requires. Congress is supposed to be the law-making body. These reams of regulations are enacted by bureaucrats, acting on their own, who not accountable to voters.
These regulations carry the force of law.
The U.S. tax code today is 73,954 pages.
Who can possibly follow all these laws and rules without a team of lawyers and accountants?
Most Americans just try to keep their head down and do their best to avoid getting in the cross-hairs of some government bureaucrat who might have an axe to grind.
But if you happen to have the misfortune of having an aggressive federal prosecutor rummaging through every area of your life, he’s going to find violations of federal law — felonies.
Almost every violation of federal law — no matter how technical — is a potential felony these days.
That’s how screwed up our laws have become. You are committing three felonies a day without even knowing it.
But that’s another topic — that I hope might be the subject of Dinesh’s next film.
But here’s the takeaway point of this post.
If you want to feel good about being an American, watch Dinesh D’Souza’s AMERICA.
I loved it. You will too. It was a tour d’force.
Tears were welling up in my eyes by the end of the film.
Because it’s hard to imagine anyone hating the most magnificent, the most generous, and most gentle superpower in world history.
But, for some reason, the Left truly does hate America — which is why I have always thought Leftism is a mental illness.
By the way, I do distinguish liberalism from Leftism.
JFK was a liberal. He loved America.
He hated Communism. JFK was a patriot.
He and I might not have agreed on every issue. His biggest mistake was to allow government employees to unionize — which FDR opposed (also a liberal, but a patriot).
Fine. Everyone’s entitled to screw-ups. JFK was a patriot. So was Martin Luther King.
Thomas Jefferson was also a liberal for his day — the author of America’s Declaration of Independence. He was a classical liberal.
He believed “All” are endowed with unalienable rights. And that these rights are unalienable because they come from God. These rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Obama opposes at least two out of three of these rights.
Barack Obama is not a liberal. He’s a Leftist.
He doesn’t seem to be a fan at all of America — at least not the original American proposition.
He might like the territory of America, the land, the scenery. He would probably agree that America is a beautiful place.
But Obama seems to have a real problem with the original American idea — of the first nation in human history to be “conceived in liberty.”
Obama believes in big government — the more government, the better for Obama.
He loves the Nanny State idea. He wants to micromanage your life. He loves government bureaucracy. His Soviet-style ObamaCare law is 2,700 pages long. Another 20,000 pages of regulations have been added, with new regulations being added every day.
This is the opposite of liberty. All this government bureaucracy is crushing liberty.
Barack Obama has spent his entire political life trashing capitalism, trashing America’s history — constantly pointing out all he thinks is wrong with America.
He calls America’s Constitution “flawed,” attacks it as a “charter of negative liberties,” and promised to “fundamentally transform” America.
How can you love something you say you want to “fundamentally transform”?
If I were to tell my wife that I am out to “fundamentally transform” her, I am quite sure she would not take that as a compliment. We’d likely be headed for divorce court.
Barack Obama is an existential threat to the original American idea.
D’Souza is an existential threat to Obama and the anti-America Left.
No wonder Obama wants Dinesh D’Souza in jail.
I disagree with P.J. O’Rourke’s mostly negative assessment of the ‘Atlas Shrugged‘ movie that hit theaters this weekend.
I’m a huge P.J. O’Rourke fan. I rarely disagree with him. But I disagree with him on this.
I thought ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was an excellent film — as good, I think, as ‘The Social Network’ (which I also really liked). The two films had similar atmospherics.
I went into the theater expecting to dislike ‘Atlas Shrugged.’
Libertarians and Randians tend to be doctrinaire. They love to get into “how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?” type debates — which probably accounts for why libertarianism and Ayn Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy never became successful political movements . . . and never will.
My expectation was that this film (created by Randians) would be preachy, too long on message, without much drama. I was not looking forward to the 50-page speeches that are in the book.
I was pleasantly surprised when the film kept my attention (and my 17-year-old son’s attention) throughout. We were not the least bit bored.
The film was well put together and professionally executed by director Paul Johansson.
It went by quickly. I did not want it to end.
And I’m really not much of an Ayn Rand fan myself, especially her view that Christianity tends to produce wimps who undermine capitalism.
Oliver Cromwell was no wimp. Neither was George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. No wimps, they.
I’m not a libertarian. I’m certainly not an Ayn Rand “objectivist.”
I’m an American Constitutionalist.
The U.S. Constitution was not a libertarian document. The Constitution sets up a system of ordered liberty — and gives quite a bit of power to government. We want government to be strong where it’s supposed to be strong. We also want a limited government — a government that can effectively carry out certain essential duties.
The original federal government proved to be not quite strong enough, so we had a civil war (600,000 dead).
And let’s not forget that America’s Declaration of Independence bases its entire argument that we have “unalienable” rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” on the proposition that these rights come from God — a proposition Ayn Rand vehemently disagreed with.
But the big point of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a great one.
What if all the achievers, all the successful people, all those who are able to build things and run things, all the rich people, just decided one day to take all their marbles out of the game and go home?
What if Atlas just “shrugged” — and said: “To hell with all this. I’m not holding the earth up any longer on my shoulders. I’m quitting.”
What would the world look like if that happened?
At a certain point, the achievers and producers are going to say: “Enough is enough.”
Instead of building businesses, they’ll buy gold, bury it in the ground, and that will be that.
I live in Cook County, Il, in a Chicago suburb where the property tax runs about 5 percent. So if your home is assessed at $400,000 (which doesn’t get you much around here), you’ll owe Cook County about $20,000 a year just in property tax on your home. Then all the other Illinois taxes kick in.
No wonder we’re seeing so many vacant houses now around here.
It won’t be long before Chicago looks like Detroit. Chicago has lost 200,000 people over the last decade and 1,000,000 residents since 1960.
This is exactly what Ayn Rand is talking about. What happens when the rich people just decide it’s no longer worth it to stay in the game — just pack their bags and leave?
You have probably heard of the “80/20 Rule” in business and in life.
The 80/20 rule amounts to this:
80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of customers.
80 percent of commissions are earned by 20 percent of salespeople.
80 percent of the wealth in America is produced by 20 percent of the people.
80 percent of sales are generated by 20 percent of the businesses.
80 percent of your income is produced by 20 percent of your activities.
We even see this in farming and agriculture.
20 percent of the pea pods produce 80 percent of the peas. 20 percent of the chickens lay 80 percent of the eggs. 20 percent of Maple trees produce 80 percent of the sap for syrup.
So this is a universal law of life.
If you observe human behavior, you’ll immediately notice that about 20 percent of the population is pulling the wagon — that is, doing about 80% of the work and generating 80% of the wealth.
Everyone else is riding the wagon, hoping someone else will pull them along.
The great majority of people don’t have the guts or energy to start their own business. Most people would rather ride along on someone else’s wagon, happy enough in their 9-to-5 job and collecting a regular paycheck every month, while doing as little as possible to earn it.
Most people want to be taken care of.
Actually, the “80/20 Rule” is more like the “90/10 Rule” if we were to really analyze the facts carefully.
The top 10 percent (the super-achievers and producers) are the Atlases — upon which all human progress depends.
But what if they were all to just decide to shrug . . . and leave the system?
That’s what happens in ‘Atlas Shrugged.’
What I loved about the movie is it does not come across at all as a political screed — which the book does in many parts. No long speeches in the movie. It does a good job of sticking just to the story.
I like both the Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) and Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler) characters in the film.
I’m now looking forward to Parts Two and Three of this trilogy. I hope this first installment makes enough money to justify the next two.
The funny thing about libertarians is they spend so much time and effort defending capitalism, yet focus so little on their own profits. They attack altruism, but they turn out to be the true altruists. Far from being the hard-nosed businessmen they hold out as models, most libertarians I know are quixotic idealists.
They have some great ideas, but really aren’t suited constitutionally for running a business or a government. They’re intellectuals and theorists, not practical people.
The theater was full. So that’s a good sign that perhaps there will be a Part Two and Three. I hope so.
It was only released in 300 theaters, but brought in $2,227 per theater on the first night — which ranks it third for the weekend on a revenue-per-screen measure.
Not bad, but needs to be in more theaters.
Here’s the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ trailer — which really doesn’t do the film justice.
I almost did not go to the movie because of this trailer. The movie turned out to be much better than this.
P.J. O’ROURKE: Atlas shrugged. And so did I.
The movie version of Ayn Rand’s novel treats its source material with such formal, reverent ceremoniousness that the uninitiated will feel they’ve wandered without a guide into the midst of the elaborate and interminable rituals of some obscure exotic tribe.
Meanwhile, members of that tribe of “Atlas Shrugged” fans will be wondering why director Paul Johansson doesn’t knock it off with the incantations, sacraments and recitations of liturgy and cut to the human sacrifice.
Upright railroad-heiress heroine Dagny Taggart and upright steel-magnate hero Hank Rearden are played with a great deal of uprightness (and one brief interlude of horizontality) by Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler. They indicate that everything they say is important by not using contractions. John Galt, the shadowy genius who’s convincing the people who carry the world on their shoulders to go out on strike, is played, as far as I can tell, by a raincoat.
The more I see of this kid the more I like him
Here’s More Justin Bieber
I took my teen and tween daughters to see the movie last weekend, “Never Say Never”.
They loved it, of course. Madi, my 11-year-old, says she wants to marry him. Correction: She says: “I will marry Justin Bieber.”
And she usually achieves what she sets out to do.
What I like about him is he really did make it on his own. He has no big corporate machine behind him, such as Disney or Nikelodeon. He doesn’t come from a show biz family, as Michael Jackson did. He was raised by a single mom, who had no music background, and his grandparents. He comes from a small town in Canada and grew up in low-income housing.
He just loves music, started making You Tube videos, and kids started to watch. He gained a following. Whether you’re a fan of his music or not, the kid has amazing talent. He sings, dances, plays piano, guitar, drums, trumpet, just about any instrument. He’s also works very hard at it. He’s got a great work ethic.
Justin Bieber also appears to be well-grounded. I love how he always gives God and his mom the credit for his success. He’s even pro-life! Let’s hope this good kid keeps his feet on the ground and doesn’t careen off the road like Lindsay Lohan and so many other young stars who couldn’t handle the quick fame and succcess.
I have the feeling he’ll end up just fine.
What I also love about this story is it shows you don’t need a big corporate machine behind you to make it. In the Internet age if you have something people want to hear, read or see, you will be found by hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. Good material travels like wildfire across the Internet as people email the best stuff to their friends.
The Internet is the great equalizer. It no longer requires money to make it big. The currency of the Internet is creativity. Just create something that people want to read, see or hear, and you can have an instant army of followers.
Justin Bieber on Jay Leno
Fun to see him ridicule everyone in the room. I doubt he’ll be invited back.
BEN SAYS: I especially liked his ridicule of all the acting nominations for “The Tourist” — a truly dreadful film that was universally panned by critics and was a total bomb at the box office.
NEW YORK TIMES: Ricky Gervais, the master of ceremonies, broke the rule of paying homage to the obscure foreign journalists whose one lever of power are those awards. He was merciless from the start, mocking his hosts for nominating the stars of the badly reviewed movie “The Tourist.” “Everything is three-dimensional,” he said with a smirk. “Except the characters in ‘The Tourist.’ ” The comedian dismissed the charge that the members did so merely to lure Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp to the event. “Rubbish,” Mr. Gervais said. “They also accepted bribes.”
Later he mocked Phil Berk, the president of the association, joking that he had to help Mr. Berk off the toilet and “pop in his teeth.” Audience members tittered nervously. There was even less laughter when Mr. Berk didn’t pretend to be amused. “Ricky, next time you want me to help qualify your movies, go to another guy,” he said sourly.
LA TIMES: Ricky Gervais might have indeed “warned” the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. that he’d pull no comedic punches and spare none of Hollywood’s sacred cows in reprising his hosting role on the 68th Golden Globes broadcast.
Nonetheless, a visible contingent in the glitzy crowd Sunday night was palpably discomfited by the British comic’s full-frontal joke assault, which set a corrosive tone for this year’s ceremony that was reflected by both onstage repartee and in backstage opprobrium.
Gervais’ opening remarks — which snark-blog Gawker dubbed “one of the most unrelentingly harsh and uncomfortable monologues in awards show history” — skewered 64-year-old Cher’s status as a senior citizen, needled 84-year-old Hugh Hefner as “the walking dead” and made mincemeat of the critically drubbed ( yet Golden Globe-nominated) Angelina Jolie- Johnny Depp heist-thriller “The Tourist.”