Anybody seen a good film recently?

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That's right, Angie. I'll pick you up around 8:00 pm on the debute of the film. I won't have a car, but you can ride on the back of my bike. It's a ten-speed. Before the movie, lets go to McDonalds. The 'Happy meal' is on me [well, chip in two bucks]. And, by the way, I told my mom I would be back before 11:00PM. I made an early appointment for a blood test. When I propose, I'll have the results for you to see.

Don't expect any "night-caps"; I'm not that kinda guy. And during the movie, try to keep your hands off me, huh? I'm there for the movie, after all.

Man, I'm a real catch! [Hey, can I borrow 20 bucks until the date?]

Edited by Victor Pross
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It's going to take more than 2 bucks as I eat A LOT. I hope that ten speed has a double wide seat in the back, although the ten speed just might not cut it. I hope you're a big strong guy. Oh, and wear a pocket protector as that really gets me going !!!!

Oh, man, I'm totally broke. That 20 bucks is going for my food. That's how much it is going to cost just to keep me Happy at McDonalds. And tell your mom you'll be home earlier than 11 as I can't stay out past 8. I have Achluophobia, fear of darkness.

Hey, it looks like we're made for each other !!!

ps: That photo of me, it's been reduced by about 100 times.

Edited by CNA
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  • 2 weeks later...

I have seen very few movies in theaters lately that I would recommend. However, the "long dry spell" has ended. I just saw THE ILLUSIONIST. This is a very well crafted mystery-thriller-romance about a very gifted stage illisionist in turn of the century (19th to 20th) Vienna and his duel of wits with the Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire over their rivalry for a woman. Being completely "out-classed" (literally!) by the Crown Prince, the illusionist must use his only weapons - his mind and his craftiness to achieve his goals (with no resort to the mystical or supernatural powers).

The Illusionist appears to have been filmed in Vienna, but this is also an illusion! Most filming was done at look-alike- sets and palaces in nearby Bohemia (the Czech Republic). The cinematography is gorgeous and gives an "atmospheric" sense to the story, location, and plot twists. The original soundtrack score was composed by Philip Glass leading the Prague Philharmonic, and properly accentuates the plot twists and , of course, the "atmospheric."

TWO IMPORTANT NOTES: 1) This is one of those movies that you really must see from the beginning to fully appreciate its plot developmnet and its cleverness. 2) If at all possible, see it in a theater! When it came out about two weeks ago, it was shown on very few screens. It will soon be relegated to DVD which is not bad, but the movie's cinematography deserves to be viewed on the large screen. SO SEE IT SOON!

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First of all: I absolutely *love* the National Spelling Bee.

"Akeelah and the Bee" is out of theaters now, but available in DVD.

Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) is an underachieving middle-school girl from a Los Angeles ghetto. Despite her D grades, her teachers realize she's much smarter - she never misspells a word. Her spelling ability comes from the Scrabble games she played with her recently-dead father (and continues to play on her computer).

One day she's forced into a school spelling bee as an alternative to detention, and wins. Her school's principal then introduces her to Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), an on-sabbatical college professor who grew up in the same neighborhood and participated (with little success) in the National Spelling Bee at Akeelah's age. He's going to coach her through the regional bee, and (he fully intends) into the National Spelling Bee.

Akeelah is torn between her "cool" friends who want her to give up on the bee, the stern Dr. Larabee who demands she stop her "ghetto-talk" while studying words, her stressed-out widowed mother who would rather Akeelah devote her time to regular schoolwork ...

... and her own ambition: to win the National Spelling Bee.

OK, it's got every sports-movie cliché in the book, and then some (yes, I know, spelling bee isn't a sport). Or you can think of it as tried-and-true plot elements. :D

The ending ... well, I don't want to give it away, but it's a very Objectivist ending. A sacrificial offer is made, and firmly declined - to the benefit of all concerned.

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I just got around to watching "The Matador," starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear.

What a wickedly funny movie-- sort of a collision of totally different life-paths. Brosnan is great as a burned-out hitman having a personal and moral crisis.

I rarely watch films more than once, but I saw this one 3 times in two days!

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~ Akeelah and the Bee is definitely a 'no miss' story; and you MUST pay attention to the early scenes. Very uplifting ("don't be afraid of being different/laughed-at nor [interestingly] increasing your powers"), though it makes me think of a cross amongst Rocky and Searching for Bobby Fischer (and maybe Fresh...that one about the inner-city kid learning from the violence-prone 'adults' around him how to survive the adults themselves.)

~ However, Inside Man (by Spike Lee, no less!) is a fascinating story about...'the Perfect bank robbery' ( WAS!) AFTER watching it, all I could think of was AR's story-idea about blackmailing blackmailers. This story is definitely not 'predictable'; and the title itself was intelligently picked. I'll say no more detail-wise other than: pay attention to everything said by the protagonist at the beginning. Also, any questions about 'who', 'why', 'how' re details are answerable upon a 2nd watching...and thinking. --- Also, Jodie Foster was superb as the undergroundish, 'power-contacts', and therefore highly-paid in-the-know facilitator for those situations.



Edited by John Dailey
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I recently saw the DVD of The Island. I had mixed feelings about it. I found the overall premise quite interesting and it stimulated some thinking about issues not explicitly addressed in the movie. On the down side, after the first forty-five minutes or so, it became largely a thriller/action/chase movie, replete with destroyed cars, building, and helicopters. How utterly boring I find such sequences.

As to the premise I found interesting -- (beware, this might be somewhat of a spoiler, if that bothers you don't read the rest of this message) -- without going into too much detail, the plot centers around a medical facility which provides cloning services to customers who can afford it. A clone of the customer is created by some kind of accelerated biotechnical process which allows it to become a conscious copy of the original (at the same physical age) within a short period of time. The purpose of the clones are to be an "insurance policy" for the customers, in case a medical need arises for an organ transplant, etc. The clones themselves know nothing of their purpose, or even of the fact that they are clones living in a medical facility. They are housed in an artificial, hermetically sealed environment and are fed a make-believe story about the nature of the outside world and of the environment they live in, in order to satisfy their need for a sense of purpose and to forestall curiosity or inquisitiveness. However, thru some "bug" in the system, one of the male clones discovers their true purpose (by inadvertantly witnessing one of the other clones being killed in order to harvest his organs), and escapes the facility (along with one of the female clones, played by Scarlet Johansen). Thus begins the chase sequences that I found so boring. As part of the activity on the outside of the facility, the escaped clones encounter their "real-life" originals. In the end, the facility housing the clones is destroyed, and the clones are led to escape to freedom in a scene which I think is intended to evoke some biblical, Jews-escaping-from-Egypt type of scenario.

Now to try to articulate some of the thoughts this stimulated. Over the millenia, people have spent countless hours trying to figure out the "purpose" of their lives. To a large extent, many are looking for some sort of external purpose, larger than and outside of themselves, to explain their existence and to guide their lives. One aspect of Objectivist philosopy as I understand it is that there IS NO such external purpose (either of God, or the state, or whatever), that the (moral) purpose of a man's life is his own happiness.

But WHAT IF there indeed were some such external purpose? What if it somehow turned out that some conscious entity (not necessarily God -- which I don't believe in, don't worry, I'm not trying to smuggle anything theological in here) had created mankind to serve some purpose of its own -- and that mankind therefore owed its existence to this entity. Would that fact in any way morally obligate man (should he become aware of the "creator's" purpose) to act so as to fulfill and further that purpose. Or, given that man's nature is what it is, would it remain true that the moral purpose of man's life is his own happiness (regardless of the process by which he came into existence).

The movie The Island deals with one imaginable scenario in which "rational animals" are created to serve a purpose of their creators. Another might be, suppose some animal-breeding experiments led to smarter versions of some animals, so much smarter that they became consious at a similar level to humans? Or suppose computers/robots advance, via human ingenuity, to the point where they are similarly sentient. Or suppose some advanced alien spacefaring civilization with a multi-billion-year timescale had "seeded" the Earth with ingredients in order to evolve intelligent life in order to process the raw materials of the Earth into greenhouse gases to be harvested by the aliens at a later date? :) (I'm making this up as I go along).

Assuming there is an intention behind their creation, once entities that have consciousness on a par with human consciousness come into existence, does the intention of their creator exert any legitimate moral claim on them? Or does their "moral purpose" become their own happiness, regardless of any antecedent factors? And if so, then by the same principle that it is immoral for any human to enslave another, would it be immoral for the creator to try to mantain control over the newly smart animals, computers, or robots, in order to keep them serving the creator's purposes? What if mankind himself was the creator (as in the case of robots)?

I think the answer, of course, is unequivocally NO -- just as in The Island, once the clones were created and endowed with human consciousness, it was clearly morally wrong to keep them in conditions where they were kept ignorant and unable to pursue their own happiness.

What I'm wondering is, are there any plausible arguments to the contrary?


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Oh, and speaking of movies in which people are kept in artificial, hermetically sealed environments in order to serve some purpose unknown to the people (in this case, a single person) in the environment, one of my favorite movies (that I haven't yet seen mentioned on this thread) was The Truman Show.


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I highly recommend the movie Tucker by Francis Ford Coppola. This is my all-time favorite film. However, it was Copola's least successful, netting only $3-million if I recall correctly, so it is possible that only a few of you saw it.

"Tucker" is the story of an heroic individual (creator) with a unique vision and the drive to see that vision realized, fighting against forces bent upon destroying him. It includes sub-themes such as man-against-the-state and iindividual initiative vs. force. Like The Fountainhead, it winds up with a dramatic courtroom scene with an exposition on individualism (albeit in less philosophical terms) and ends on a positive, inspirational note. The movie is filmed in a clever style with many touches of visual and verbal humor and there is a not-to-be-missed scene with Howard Hughes and a very nice scene between Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) and Senator Fergeson (his father, Lloyd Bridges.) There is also an excellent "period" score composed and performed by Joe Jackson. Also, check out the beautiful colors for the reproduction cars. What's not to love!

I've read some books on Preston Tucker and his car company and it appears that the facts presented in the movie are reasonably accurate (allowing for a bit of artistic license where there is a little unimportant fiddling with the time-line and various secondary characters are merged into one person in the movie. Although Martin Landau received an Oscar nomination for his work in this movie, I thinks Jeff Bridges gives a career-defining performance here.

If you haven't seen this movie, check it out. I watch it every time I get totally disgusted with the world and need a lift. :-)



P.S.: Here are some of my other favorite movies:


Shawshank Redemption

Dead Poet's Society

The Joy Luck Club

The Red Violin

Fried Greem Tomatoes


Groundhog Day

Love Actually


Zero Effect


The Color Purple

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~ Akeelah and the Bee is definitely a 'no miss' story; and you MUST pay attention to the early scenes. Very uplifting ("don't be afraid of being different/laughed-at nor [interestingly] increasing your powers"), though it makes me think of a cross amongst Rocky and Searching for Bobby Fischer (and maybe Fresh...that one about the inner-city kid learning from the violence-prone 'adults' around him how to survive the adults themselves.)

For a non-fiction look at the National Spelling Bee, also see Jeffrey Blitz's Spellbound , a documentary about the 1999 NSB. It's an inside look at eight spellers and their road to the bee: Angela Arenivar, the daughter of illegal immigrants from Mexico (legalized by the Reagan-era amnesty) who never learned English themselves; Ted Brigham, the only smart kid (apparently) in Rolla, Missouri; Nupur Lala, the driven, über-serious daughter of Indian parents; Neil Kadakia, the son of driven, über-serious Indian parents; Ashley White, a black girl from the DC projects with a single mother and two uncles who watch the bee from prison; April DiGideo, the introverted spelling-obsessed daughter of blue-collar Pennsylvania parents who can't quite understand what it's all about; Harry Altman, a hyperactive poster child for the necessity of Ritalin; Emily Stagg, the horse-riding daughter of two Yale college professors who debate whether to take their au pair to the bee.

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Thumbs Up Bonanza

Recent Films


Trouble in Paradise

1932, by Ernst Lubitsch, the father of modern Hollywood. This is a perfectly stylized, erotically charged (pre-code) romantic comedy with a two equally worthy leading women who challenge and love the totally capable man. This is why I watch movies. A complete work of art. Permanent Top Ten movie for me.

Most compelling


Saw it 7 times in the theater.

Best action movie of the year

Mission Impossible 3

Somehow the dolt Cruise gets out of the way and the action pours through him and his movie in a continuous, bracing, visceral stream.

Surprise catharsis

Miami Vice

By Michael Mann (director of Heat, btw, Bruce) Super stylized, fist full of dollars, to-the-wall romance and action. Somehow, completely shattering.

Required heartbreak/inspiration

An Inconvenient Truth

As interesting for the sight it gives of a totally renewed man who survived an inferno of loss to reclaim his destiny as it is for its undeniable and crucial message.

All Time


Rob Roy

1995, with Liam Neeson, Jessica Lang and as bad guy, Tim Roth. About the demands and rewards of honor in the life of an ordinary man.

Runner up

Don Juan de Marco

1995, with Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway. Signalled, to me, the rebirth of romanticism in cinema.

Edited by Andrew Durham
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I will add a second vote for Don Juan de Marco. This was an excellent film.

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Well, as I've just realised that TV is included I'm going to put the sci-fi TV programme, Dr Who, as my all-time favourite. This season's was the best yet, although alas it has now finished. What I particularly liked about this series, was that the Doctor (an alien species) really championed the human race, subtly exposed religion for using scare tactics, and via the Cybermen showed the importance of consciousness and individuality.

I used to watch it from behind the sofa when I was kid - progressing to watching it from behind a cushion when I became braver. I'm glad that the new series is still immensely enjoyable for me as an adult - I can no longer watch the old series as the special effects are way too outdated.

I have a confession to make: at age 32, I still watch 'the scary bits' from behind a cushion ;)

As you can probably guess, I don't go to see horror movies - I end up never seeing any of it!

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Two movies I saw recently are Conrack and The Descent. The Descent, although still a corny horror movie, was the most disturbing and horrifying movie I have ever seen. I actually shrieked in the theater and spilled my popcorn. Also, Conrack I saw in my english class. That was a really touching movie.

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I just saw "V is for Vendetta." This is a very interesting film, on a number of levels. Kind of close to the bone, actually. It took me a bit to get used to the mask worn by the lead character, but other than that, an amazing "negative Utopia" kind of film. A film about the true power of ideas. A very good film defending personal freedoms.

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I just saw *Miami Vice* (2006) on DVD and really liked it. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx were great, as was Li Gong.

Michael Mann wrote the screenplay and directed it, which is usually a good sign. Mann did the same dual role in *The Last of the Mohicans* (1992), one of my all-time favorites.

*The Last of the Mohicans* was one that I showed to every US History class I ever taught, with an intensive analysis of the pre-revolutionary libertarian dialogue, the historical context, the romanticism (loyalty to values) and the aesthetics of scenery and music. My students told me year after year that they had never actually *watched* a movie with this degree of focus in their lives.


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~ I do think The Whale Rider was absolutely worth seeing; but...I have a bit of a prob with it's stress on

"getting back to one's historical/'heritage' roots" (especially since I'm not Maori; hard to 'identify' there.) --- I mean, personally, I couldn't care less about my own Irish-Anglish 'roots.' Still, the courage, determination and her insight of-a-'need'-of-the-local-community-that-was-yet-to-be and her grandfather's part in that, of the girl, was beautifully done. Her near-Promethean (Herculean?) 'gender-bending' of the tribe's tradition re new leaders was mesmerizing also. Good screenwriter there. --- Shades of Roots!

~ I could say more on V, but, I think I've said enough on RoR, SOLO-P (oops) as well as here. But, if ya wanna read more, lemme know.

~ Since we're adding 'TV' here, gotta say: I (and my wife...and my 2 kids) have become an addict of 24 as well as House after seeing the DVD collections. Waiting on tenterhooks for the former's 'Season-5' and the latter's 'Season-2.' Am personally waiting for Battlestar Galactica (new version, ahem) to be rentable locally (sorry; not a Netflix fan, yet); seems like a fascinating 'story-arc' from what few early episodes I saw.

Ross Barlow:

~ What you said about Last of the Mohicans ('92? 15yrs-old?) is quite interesting. I noticed the 'pre'-libertarian dialogue, and found it a bit "Wow!" just existing in a film, but didn't pick up on it (since it didn't seem stressed throughout) as that important a part of the film. I'll have to watch it again...for the 9th time.

~ As a film (apart from comparisons to the original book, or 'history' per se) I found it to be one of the most 'Romantically'-oriented movies I've seen in a long time (and I never listed it in my 'favorites'! Huh?), apart from any relationships therein (well, maybe not TOTALLY apart from such); the music made it! --- Near the end, there was a scene-section starting with 'Heyward', a British officer, being burned alive and 'Hawkeye', a romantic rival, helping him via euthanasia; 'Magua', separating from the tribe taking 'Cora' (the center of the aforesaid rivalry) to a new place and dragging along 'Alice' (Cora's sister, for his bride-to-be) who out-of-her-depth in this wilderness earlier fell for Hawkeyes' Indian blood-brother, AND the latter, with his and Hawkeyes' father 'Chingachgook' thence chasing after Magua and his followers. THEN the one-after-the-other battles ensue. This whole section took over 8 min (seemed like 2x longer), and there was scarcely a script-word said (oh, an appropriate scream here and there). But, the music carried/MADE it all coherent, regardless the several separate-and-wordless-choices made by the main protagonists (fighting and elsewise)! I found that to be an unusual segment for ANY movie. Check it again, from the moment Heyward's getting raised over his funeral pyre to when Magua and Chingachgook solve their conflict. Not a word, but mucho 'destiny' music. 'Romantically' (and tragically) fascinating. --- Lewis, as all were, was G-O-O-D; Studi, however, was magnificent. Actor-wise, unfortunate that he'd thereby become type-cast.

~ For anyone who liked Lonesome Dove and/or(?) Open Range, you'll LOVE Broken Trail. --- Hey, we're talking Robert Duvall here. How 'crusty' a western hero can you have, since John Wayne? (We're not talkin' Clint or Charles, here, ok?)



Edited by John Dailey
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I just saw "The Fountainhead" on TCM. It was much, much better than I remembered. I saw so much seemingly for the first time that I wonder how much had been cut out previously. I even thought it was a 90 minute flick for some historical reason. In fact, it is about 115 minutes. Everybody but the Toohey character was miscast for one reason or another, but I only regretted the Wynand character. My favorite scene from the novel wasn't there--the boy on a bicycle--and my favorite dialogue line too, not my favorite in the novel but it would have been if in the movie: "Take off your clothes." Just before Howard is to say that line he says other stuff and no sex there. Ayn Rand did a tremendous job compressing the novel into the movie.

This movie can't be remade except in black and white and set in the same time as the novel. The collectivists are no longer worthy opponents, at least then they had more stature in the public mind. Now they are ants. But no one will remake this except in color. No art in color. Then how are they going to blow up Cortlandt after 9-11? The only movie maker who can possibly handle this, because he is a nervy genius stylist, is Oliver Stone. Not to say we wouldn't all regret it anyway if he did it .


Edited by Brant Gaede
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~ I saw The Chase (one of Marlon Brando's last worthwhile movies) when it came out. One of Rob Reford's beginnings. Jane F was there too, with Angie Dickenson.

~ Good story, but, that's beside my point here. When I saw it, it had a 'big' scene where Brando, as the local sheriff got 'really' beat up by a couple locals who wanted the earlier escaped-from-elsewhere fugitive (R-R) he had locked up. The 'beating' of him must've taken a film time of 2 minutes. (Well, it seemed that long; think of 3 'bruisers' beating on you for even 1 minute.) Brando was one really beat up dude, left for practically dead. And, later, he really looked it. His white shirt red, and his face...really, barely recognizable, as it should have been, having been pistol-whupped a few times (to get him unconscious so the locals could do 'real' justice to the captured lockee); nothin' like H'wood makeup, man.

~ Then I saw it's 'premiere' on TV. Ok, maybe it really was only barely 1 minute in the movie, but on TV it was barely 10 secs. What's the prob? Nobody looks like Brando did afterwards from a 10-sec beating. Talk about 'distraction'! Couldn't watch the rest of the movie (this 2nd time) wondering what else was 'edited' out.

~ Never saw the worth of watching any made-for-theatre movie on tv again. Never. Thank you HBO, Showtime, etc, then VCRs, then Video-Store rentals.

~ I hate tv-'editing' of a 'theatre'-movie for (pick your fave excuse) puritanical-censoring and/or merely 'time-constraints' on a 2hr-37min movie squeezed into...2 hrs (which means, actually, commercials-limiting, only 85 mins of it, if that.)

~ I saw that Kill Bill was on some channel the other night. the DVD or wait for it on the 'pay' channels. For any 'theatre' movie ya wanna watch, don't waste your time with TNT, TMC (unless they're really THE 'classics'), TBS, or even SPIKE. Might's well watch MTV.



P.S: Rent The Fountainhead...and see it in its entirety.

Edited by John Dailey
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