Category Archives: Film

Atlas Shrugged 2 on DVD! Yeah!

Atlas Shrugged / Ayn Rand  :

I’m sure you’re all dying to watch the second installment of Ayn Rand’s epic tale of greed and selfishness, Atlas Shrugged, now that the movie has been released on DVD. Unfortunately, I missed Part 1 and for some reason I can’t figure out, I have no intention of watching Part 2. But we don’t have to all be as foolish as me; go out and rent the damn movie.

To help you along, here are a few choice reviews of the film via Rotten Tomatoes.

“A stupid person’s idea of what a smart movie sounds like.” -Roger Moore

“The film’s excruciating unwatchability transcends politics; I can’t imagine even the most ardent Rand devotee genuinely enjoying the almost two hours this film will take away from their life. But for those of us who find her shrill “rational selfishness” to be a monstrous, downright immoral perspective on life – decent people, I like to call us – the film is literally unendurable.” -Tim Brayton

“If the novel Atlas Shrugged is ultimate libertarian porn, then the first two installments of the screen adaptation are soggy softcore.” -Todd McCarthy

It’s interesting to note that the film was released in theaters a few weeks before the November election date with the expressed aim of moving swing voters in the direction of Mitt Romney. The movie had a $10 million budget and by November 21, two weeks after the election, it had grossed the paltry sum (by movie standards) of $3.3 million.

Obama won. Movie flopped.

Epic fail for the right on all counts.


Follow MarioPiperniDotCom on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Lincoln – The Movie, The Man

Abraham Lincoln   :

I’m looking forward to seeing Spielberg’s Lincoln sometime next week. The following fine review of the film, and the man, by Infidel753, is cross-posted from his website of the same name, Infidel753.


Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is the must-see movie in theaters right now, and not only because Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of the great war President is unlikely ever to be surpassed.  The movie is worthy of its daunting subject matter — some of the most pivotal events and people of our country’s history.  And it’s a profound antidote to the simplistic moral certainties often found in movies (and politics), showing us the messiness and compromise of real-world politics and the ambiguity and uncertainty of serious moral questions.

To make sure we never forget the reality of the Civil War, the film opens with a battle scene, an ugly, bloody, grunting, hand-to-hand affair of desperate men struggling in mud while trying to bayonet each other to death.  The role of black soldiers in the Union war effort is repeatedly emphasized.  Black Americans were not mere passive beneficiaries of the abolitionists’ work; these men, strongly motivated for obvious reasons, did much of the fighting that saved the country.

The movie actually covers just the last four months of Lincoln’s life, and focuses on his effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery.  Somewhat jarringly, the party labels attached to progressives and reactionaries at that time were the reverse of today — Lincoln and the abolitionists were Republicans, while the conservatives and fervent opponents of black freedom were Democrats.

As the story opens, the Senate has already passed the Amendment, but reaching the needed two-thirds majority in the House promises to be a struggle.  To win the necessary Democratic votes, Lincoln authorizes any tactic necessary.  Sleazy men are engaged as go-betweens; lucrative patronage jobs are offered to lame-duck Congressmen who will soon need employment; money changes hands under shady circumstances.  Lincoln personally goes to great lengths to suppress news of a Confederate peace overture, a development which could undermine support for the Amendment.  It’s all underhanded and dirty, a perversion of democracy.  Today we’re comfortable asserting that no political cause, no matter how righteous, could justify such tactics — but what if that cause were the abolition of slavery?

Congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones is a joy to watch in the role) faces a moral dilemma familiar to progressives today.  Not only an abolitionist, he believes in full equality of the races — in those days, a radical position few people would entertain.  The Amendment cannot afford to be associated with such an “extremist” stance; it would lose in a landslide if Congress believed it would lead not only to the end of slavery but eventually to full equality for blacks.  Stevens is eventually persuaded to repudiate his true beliefs on the House floor, for the greater good of passing the Amendment.  Today we know he was right, and his sudden “moderation” sticks in our throats as much as in his, especially since we know it took another century for effective civil and voting rights for black Americans to be won.  Yet if Stevens had insisted on speaking out for what we all now know to be truth and justice, the Amendment might well have failed, and an achievable milestone been lost.

The risk of the perfect being the enemy of the good comes up again and again.  During one raucous House debate, a conservative Congressman invokes the slippery slope — if slavery is abolished, what else may follow?  Votes for blacks?  Intermarriage?  One cannot avoid thinking of the slippery-slope arguments raised today by opponents of gay equality.

Lincoln himself is at times genuinely torn over the Confederate offer of a negotiated peace.  End the war and its horrible slaughter now (at that point the Civil War had already cost more than 150 times as many American lives as the whole Iraq war), or press on for total victory and get the Amendment passed, at the cost of even more lives, but winning results that would at least make the sacrifice worthwhile?

Lincoln’s conflict with his wife and elder son over the latter’s desire to enlist in the army is a mere sub-plot here, but brings out enough emotion and moral struggle for a whole movie of its own.

The film’s look draws us effortlessly into the world of 1865.  Everything is brown and sepia and murky; cigars are smoked constantly and almost everyone over 30 looks unhealthy; the fussy over-complicated drab clothing and the variegated and spectacularly ugly beards evoke the dawn of the dreary Victorian age.  You are there, you are in 1865.

The script is a triumph and will make you want to see the movie again just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.  So many movies these days spend millions on special effects, only to be sunk by weak writing; here, the spoken word gets its proper priority.

Performances are flawless across-the-board, and Day-Lewis is already considered a strong Oscar candidate.  Lincoln apparently had a penchant for lengthy metaphors and anecdotes which sometimes baffled his listeners, and he could be quick to anger when provoked.  You get the real Lincoln here, good and bad.

The question of whether Lincoln was gay, as some real evidence suggests, is not raised.  In this film, it would have been a distraction.  Those who are aware of the possibility will see the irony that he fought for the liberation of one brutalized part of the American people, at a time when the liberation of his own was unimaginable and would remain so for a century.

In our own time when politics is so clogged with absolutist and no-compromise attitudes, it’s well worth being so effectively reminded that not all questions have easy answers, and that doing the right thing can sometimes be not only difficult but actually repugnant.



Follow MarioPiperniDotCom on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Atlas Shrugged Producer Goes Galt

It’s official…kind of.  John Aglialoro, producer of the box office disaster Atlas Shrugged Part 1, is throwing in the towel.

“Critics, you won. I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2.”

“Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?  I’ll make my money back and I’ll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two? Maybe I just wanna see my grandkids and go on strike.”

This guy who put in $20 million and eight years to get this turkey up on the big screen is unwilling to admit that the film was an artistic and cinematic failure.  It’s always easier to blame the messenger. Whatever.

There’s news that Aglialoro has a poker movie in development, ‘Poker Room’. Nice. There hasn’t been a decent poker film since Rounders.

My favorite Rounder’s line?

“In the poker game of life, women are the rake man.”

I don’t agree with that sentiment but there have been moments in my life when it seemed all so true. But then again, I imagine that women can say the exact same about men. As for life being a poker game, it is. A whole lot of skill combined with a bit of luck is what separates the losers from the winners.


On Fevers and Bad Films Based On Dumb Ideological Books

Day 3 of my battle with a chest infection and fever rages on. It appears I’m going to have to cave in and take that trip down to the clinic for a dose of antibiotics. Hope to be up and writing soon.

Anyone seen the new film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged?  From the reviews I’ve read, the movie is a bomb.  Rotten Tomatoes has given it a rating of 8% based on 24 reviews.  Typically, the reviews read like this:

It’s a blessing, I suppose, that Ayn Rand, who loved the movies, and actually worked extensively in the industry, isn’t alive to see what’s been made of her most influential novel. The new, long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged is a mess, full of embalmed talk, enervated performances, impoverished effects, and cinematography that would barely pass muster in a TV show. Sitting through this picture is like watching early rehearsals of a stage play that’s clearly doomed.

The word though is that teabaggers are loving the film. No surprise there which has Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers writing.

Who’s the idiot responsible for this fiasco? You can’t blame the Tea Party, an organization of 9 million that the film’s producers are exploiting to get butts into seats. There’s an object lesson in objectivism for you.

Perhaps so but if John Galt is your thing, you’re going to love the film regardless of what critics have to say.