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Sunday, February 3, 2013

And Now For Something Lighter

Every now and then I like to post a top 10 movies just to lighten up the mood, and a Super Bowl Sunday is good enough reason. So as you prepare your chip and dip, wings and nachos for the big game, maybe you might want catch one of the top 10 movies which a conservative should watch – and no, not Red Dawn. These are movies which celebrate individuality over collectivism, liberty over statism, and the value of individual contributions rather than collective effort of the state.

They are in no order, so any are as good as another.

10. “Pride of Yankees”—it’s a sports movie, so this is a two-fer for Super Bowl Sunday. The story is of Lou Gehrig and it’s told from the point of view of his wife, who clearly was devoted to him. The picture constantly emphasizes individual achievement, culminating in his show stopper speech at the end of the movie. In the speech he does not blame the disease for his retirement or seek sympathy from other like so many celebrities do today. He does not apologize, or beg for tears—he says that he is the ‘luckiest man on earth’. Now THAT’s a man.

9. “Spartacus”—written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (wrongly labeled as a communist, he was simply anti-government) who gives us the story of one man’s triumph over the power of Rome. The protagonist Spartacus played by Kirk Douglas is the perfect foil for intellectual elitist Crassus ( played to harelip perfection by Laurence Olivier) who pursues Spartacus for the reason of control of Rome, and for the very personal reason that Spartacus represents everything he is not. Ultimately, he is crucified not for daring to rebel against Rome, but for what he believes in

8.”Lonely Are the Brave”—another Trumbo/Douglas team effort, and oft forgotten movie. It’s the story of the death of the American cowboy and more importantly, the death of two fisted, hard drinking men, whose way of life is ultimately destroyed by an emasculating society. Tragic, unforgettable, and it is a study of a man unable to face the modern world and the changes that soon would affect us all.

7. “Papillion” – Trumbo again, but this time with Steve McQueen, and by a novel of the same name by Henri Charrière.  This is a story about one man’s struggle with injustice and the triumph of human perseverance.  Truly a remarkable man, Papillion spent his life escaping from the horrors of the French penal system which was rigorously harsh and abominable in its human rights abuses.  Amazingly, Papillion outlives the French penal system despite having a life sentence for murder.

6. “V for Vendetta” – a remarkable movie, originally billed and sold as a superhero movie its nothing of the sort. The original book was a graphic novel by the same name, although Alex Moore (the author) felt that its message was watered down from a more graphic version on the role of anarchy in society. Not intended to be conservative in its original thesis, it has been adopted by many libertarians. A heavily masked retelling of the “Count of Monte Cristo”, but brilliant in execution.  Cinematographically flawless.

5. “THX 1138”- another story of a dystopia future, the story revolves around the main character (THX 1138) who comes to growing realization that people are being manipulated to think and feel what the state wants. Written and Directed by George Lucas it a bizarre look at our own future where a police state has taken over not through violence but through pacification and control. Unusual end, as the police state bureaucracy always has that the one fatal flaw—they run out of money.

4. “An Enemy of The People”- a 1977 movie from Henrik Ibsen’s novella of the same name. It goes into a town which is being sold as a healing spot (like Lourdes) until one doctor discovers that it’s not true. He runs into trouble when everyone else says it does for their own reasons. A shocking commentary on the negative aspects of a pure democracy, and it is an indictment of the tyranny of the majority.

3. “The People vs. Larry Flynt”- a funny acerbic look at the struggles of free speech by publisher Larry Flynt. A pornographer and hedonist by trade, but fiercely independent, Flynt runs into the Religious Right and numerous others in his tirade against prudes, government and the Church.  Most of the things we do on the internet today are direct result of the freedoms he fought for and his case against the government protected the right to slander public figures mercilessly without being sued. A First Amendment hero.

2. “A Clockwork Orange”- most people have seen some of this movie or referred to it without even knowing its really scathing attack on the whole movement of political correctness. Told from the point of view of main character Alex (Malcolm McDowell) it’s brutally violent and brutally honest about the theory of good intentions gone horribly awry by a sanitized government, and those who desire a perfectly safe society. Ultimately, they get neither.

1. “The Fountainhead” – Ayn Rand herself penned the script and the novel and supposedly chose Gary Cooper for the title role. It tells about architect Howard Roark who would rather go hungry than compromise on the design of his buildings, and his arch nemesis Ellsworth Toohey, an architectural critic who works for the largest paper. Powerful and moving, Rand was ultimately not happy with the end result, and felt the movie lost something from the book. However the film is probably more accurate now than it was then, and is a deep argument against the any kind of institutional thought. It is also a disturbing argument for terrorism as a method for protecting individual rights, but not murder. Is Roark ultimately justified in his actions? See the movie and you be the judge.

That’s it, lots of movies deserve honorable mention, but I chose movies that most people have not seen, or are too esoteric they have fallen out of favor.

Enjoy the Super Bowl today; most of these movies are on Netflix.