Category Archives: Books

Atlas Shrugged – Part 1 (2011)

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Atlas Shrugged – Part 1

Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and steel mogul Henry Rearden form an alliance to fight the increasingly authoritarian government of the United States.

I went to see this with a group; we had all levels of interest from “never read the book, no familiarity with Rand or Objectivism” to “read the book several times and have passages memorized” I am in the middle of that spectrum, having read the book 20-some years ago and being “Rand curious”. I am far right enough to embrace many, though not all, of her philosophies.

I’ve been looking forward to this movie almost since I read the book. Through the decades several casting choices were floated, some that seemed promising, some not so much. In the end, the lead roles went to “lesser known” actors (though you will recognize most of their faces).

Overall, I think they did well. I am gratified that Hank Rearden looks the part; truly a rugged individual, a man’s man. Some of the lesser characters were spot on; the sneering Lillian, the sniveling Phil, the snarling Ellis, the snakey Paul.

I was a slightly disappointed by Dagny. Regardless of her obvious hotness, her acting left something to be desired. A bit weak in her portrayal of such a strong woman, a bit wooden in her reactions to triumph & tragedy. The role would be a tough one to cast in the best of circumstances, but for a production with limited funds and even less acceptance by “Hollywood”, the actors willing to take part may have been scarce. Still, she did well and, should they decide to make the future installments, she may grow into the part.

Some worried the production would suffer from a low budget; in fact, many of the pre-opening ‘reviews’ made a great deal of snarky hay about that problem. The issues suffered by the final product seem to have little to do with funding and more to do with a novice director. The scenes involving dialogue are a bit cramped, even awkward on occasion. The scenes involving the great outdoors are beautiful, but those involving the disintegrating cities are not quite gritty enough. And the limos. *drink* Limos driving down the street. Conversations in limos. Limos pulling up to the curb. Limos pulling away from the curb. *drink*

As far as conveying the message, I thought perhaps it was a bit heavy-handed (not a lot, but a bit – and the book was, too). However, I already know big government is bad, I already know how prophetically Rand’s story parallels the path America is on. For someone unfamiliar with the grand ideas of personal responsibility and individual greatness, maybe they will need to be hit with a 2 X 4.

I definitely recommend it, and I recommend you see it in a theater. There is something to be said for seeing an experience film with an enthusiastic crowd. Saturday at the Valley Art brought audiences who waited in long lines before the movie and applauded after. A rare thing, indeed.

*…it’s the Atlas Shrugged drinking game

UPDATE: Danno points out that in all those limo scenes, it is only the business types – not the government fat cats who would clearly be indulging in the luxury, as well.

More of our AZ bloggers thoughts on the film after today’s viewing:
Great Satan, Inc
Exurban League
SandCastle Scrolls


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 10%; Audience 85%
 

Cross-posted at Vox

The Outsiders (1983)

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Outsiders

The Outsiders

SG Jr wanted to watch The Outsiders after his game yesterday. I wasn’t really in the mood for the teen angst genre, but he is too sweet to turn down.

He said a friend of his had said that it was one of Tom Cruise‘s best movies. Since he is on screen for less than 10 minutes, I have to agree – I’ve never seen him better

Fun to see all the stars sooooo young. It is a good story, or should I say a good adaptation of a good story, and it is well acted. But, since I can’t think of many people in my circle I would recommend it to (and those have probably already seen it) it doesn’t score too high on the Word of Mouth scale.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 64%; Audience 81%

The Lovely Bones (2004)

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Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

How do you make a beautiful story out of the rape and murder of a 14 year old girl? You let Alice Sebold write it. I bought this book a while back but hadn’t had the guts to dig in – just couldn’t wrap my mind around the premise. I needn’t have worried. Though there are a couple of missteps, or rather “unnecessary detours” which I will discuss in more since they are spoilers, all in all it is a wonderful ride.

I have not yet decided whether to recommend this to my sister, as the Heaven presented here is not the one she believes in. But the way it follows the characters and their different grieving processes is remarkable. Those type of questions cost it on the word of mouth scale, which you may remember is based not on how good the product is but on how likely I am to recommend it to my family & friends.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

It’s Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards’ Prison and is coming after Harry.

I liked this one, for all the reasons I enjoy the Harry Potter stories. Unfortunately, having read the book, this movie fell short – not just for what they left out but for the whole feeling of the flick. Though still quite an amusing film it suffers in comparison to the first two – just not up to par.

Still; it’s a Harry Potter movie, the young stars are great, the story is intriguing. If I was not familiar with the original story, or the first two films, it would be getting a higher rating.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 91%; Audience 85%