Archive for April, 2009

BOO!! advertising

Posted in other on April 30, 2009 by Jonathan

This has nothing to do with politics or culture, but for several days now I’ve gone on to certain websites only to be greeted with an ear-shattering voice that says:

“CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU’VE JUST WON….”

What I’ve won I don’t know, nor do I care, because I’m too busy trying to get my pulse back.

The voice, it turns out, is part of an ad, seemingly for a company that looked at the numbers and found that its core group of customers are heart-attack victims. Sex sells, but apparently so does popping a paper bag next to your ear.

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Court jester

Posted in arts, politics on April 30, 2009 by Jonathan

A few days ago, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens claimed that Shakespeare’s plays were written by someone else. Now, it comes to light that a similar claim could be said about Justice Stevens:

Despite the professors’ petty objections, Stevens’s arguments would likely carry the day—if not for an alarming fact that has never before been printed. John Paul Stevens, I regret to inform the public, is an impostor. I have irrefutable evidence that Stevens’s judicial opinions were in fact written by someone other than Stevens. His morality and credibility are therefore open to question, and his opinions on Shakespeare (and anything else) must be considered doubtful.

My God.

The American Trinity

Posted in America, College, other on April 29, 2009 by Jonathan

I think I learned more about America in this 5-minute video than in a whole semester in college.

New Alex Garland script being filmed

Posted in movies on April 29, 2009 by Jonathan

I’m a fan of Alex Garland’s work (he wrote the novel The Beach and the screenplay to 28 Days Later — not the jolliest material but fascinating nonetheless) so the news that filming is underway for a new script of his intrigues me. The movie, Never Let Me Go, stars the impossibly beautiful Keira Knightley. If it’s like the rest of Garland’s stuff, it should be haunting.

Klavan speaks

Posted in arts, books on April 29, 2009 by Jonathan

An interview with Andrew Klavan on his new book, The Last Thing I Remember, and the state of the arts today.

Book Review: Banquo’s Ghosts

Posted in books with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2009 by Jonathan

A left-wing journalist is recruited by the U.S. government to assassinate the top nuclear scientist in Iran. So begins Banquo’s Ghosts, an espionage thriller whose aim at both Muslim terrorists and the mainstream media ensures that it will never see the big screen. Which is a shame, because it would make a very fine movie.

The book’s Banquo is the head of a shadowy (is there any other kind?) CIA branch that decides that the best way to stall Iran’s nuclear ambitions is to send into that country the most unlikely and unsuspected agent, one whose credentials are famously and impeccably anti-American. No one better for this, according to Banquo, than Peter Johnson, a journalist whose famous and impeccably anti-American views are privately shaken by the 9/11 attacks.

It’s clear that authors Rich Lowry and Keith Korman have done their homework, instilling the story’s various places and scenarios with believability. They also have the thriller thing down pat, as there are twists galore here, all of them very well executed. Some sections of the book move faster than others, but particularly after the first quarter the pace doesn’t lag.

The characters are a mixed bag. Though Banquo and his righthand man, Robert Wallets, are clearly admirable, they’re also wooden, and less interesting than anyone they interact with. Their blandness, however, is surpassed by the colorfulness of Peter Johnson, whose transformation from left-wing zealot to reluctant patriot is fascinating and who has most of the book’s best lines. I kept picturing Christopher Hitchens as Johnson, which might not be accurate considering that Hitchens’s leftism is far more tempered than Johnson’s, but the similarities in personality were enough for me to make that connection. Also noteworthy are the Iranians, chief among them Yasmine, a beautiful young scientist who may or may not be Johnson’s contact in Iran, and Yossi, a mysterious Iranian Jewish operative working for Banquo’s group.

All of them are players in an exceedingly, refreshingly politically-incorrect book. Its prose would burn the eyeballs of many an East Coast reviewer. There are no shades of gray bandied about here: The good guys are good, the bad guys evil. Or just bad, in the case of the elite left-wing talking heads. From Keith Olbermann to Chris Matthews, hardly anyone in the mainstream media is spared the book’s righteous venom – except Megyn Kelly, who gets glowing praise that comes close to a marriage proposal.

Sadly, there are very few openly conservative books on the fiction shelf. For this reason alone, readers should pick up a copy of Banquo’s Ghosts to support the cause, and for an entertaining read.

[Important: If you buy a copy of the book, don’t read the summary provided on the inside flap of the dust jacket, as whoever wrote it decided it’d be swell to give away the whole plot. Thankfully, I didn’t look at it until after I’d finished the book.]

Cinematic killjoy

Posted in movies on April 27, 2009 by Jonathan

It looks like Hollywood is going to remake 1971’s Straw Dogs, with the new version set in the American South instead of England.

Straw Dogs was made in the Depressing Film Era, that period in the late-sixties and seventies which also gave audiences Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Chinatown, Easy Rider, A Clockwork Orange, Dog Day Afternoon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Dear Hunter, The Conversation, The Last Picture Show, Bonnie and Clyde, and other movies that spoiled date night for a whole generation. 

This isn’t to take away from the quality of these films. Most are pieces of outstanding cinema. (I say “most” because I’ll be damned if I give kudos to the hippie snooze-fest that is Easy Rider.*) But none of these titles do I want to rush out to see again, as their overbearing dreariness makes, in my opinion, for one hell of an unenjoyable evening.

Though Hollywood made depressing fare before Vietnam, it didn’t approach the bombardment of negativity that hit screens later. The argument goes that movies like Straw Dogs and Chinatown reflected the uneasiness and disillusionment that their audiences felt. I can believe this. But I also believe that such films helped to feed that uneasiness and disillusionment. 

Thank God for Star Wars, I say.

 

*That’s right, I said it.