Tag Archives: The Avengers

Movies for Conservatives: The Avengers

Agent Phil Coulson: Oh, you are. Absolutely. Uh…we’ve made some modifications to the uniform. I had a little design input.
Steve Rogers (Captain America): The uniform? Aren’t the stars and stripes a little…old fashioned?
Agent Phil Coulson: Everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old fashioned.

Okay I waited two weeks before writing a review—if the film is ruined for you because of the spoilers in this, that’s your fault….No really I’m not holding back…if you haven’t seen it, leave this post now and go watch it. This is not a movie recommendation; this is an analysis of what makes this movie great.

Okay. You’ve been warned. Don’t come crying to me when Phil Coulson’s death doesn’t come as a shock.

First, I listed this blog under the “Movies for Conservatives” category but that is not conservative in the strictly Republicans vs. Democrats, Romney vs. Obama sense. This is partly because writer/director Joss Whedon is a good writer. And good writers don’t usually tie themselves to transitory, temporary issues—they deal with the timeless stuff, the issues and ideals that resonate not just for a modern audience but that will hold true generations from now. This is also partly because it’s really hard to tie Joss Whedon down politically. I’ve seen some references that he campaigned for Kerry and Obama, but at the same time he said that he viewed season 5 of Angel as a metaphor for the Bush White House at war, which doesn’t exactly come off as an insult to conservatives. While he certainly is not puritanical in his view of sexuality, he also is not foolish enough to conceive of sex as something that comes without serious long-term consequences as many liberals seem to. If anything, if I had to peg him to a political philosophy, and I admit there may be some extreme bias here, he’s more a traditional libertarian, some distrust of government organization, but not foolish enough to think that we can live without them, and a great belief in the individual. Also, for all of his cynicism, there is certainly a love of America that seems to pop up in all his works.

Now, I have seen some try to portray this as a liberal film. Right-wing hacks over at Breitbart.com (since Breitbart’s death it’s stopped being a valid source of information and morphed into the right’s MSNBC) wanted to point out that Whedon cutting a liberal spiel from Captain America complaining about the lack of welfare shows what a liberal hack Whedon is…because a guy like Captain America, who would have spent his formative years growing up under the FDR’s New Deal, would clearly not talk about how he doesn’t see that in society…it must be Whedon being a liberal hack and not, oh I don’t know, being true to the actual character.  Meanwhile liberals have been pointing out that the character often used mentioned the idea of clean, renewable energy in a positive sense, thus the film must be liberal. Uh-huh. As if conservatives don’t want clean, renewable energy. I think they forget that it’s conservatives that want nuclear power…we just don’t want to shell out billions for Solyndra style “green” companies that won’t actually give us clean, renewable energy…and, stop me if I’m wrong, but don’t they also make it clear that the only name in cheap, clean, renewable energy in the world of The Avengers is the narcissistic billionaire who plans to make a killing off said clean energy? Oh, yeah, really liberal.

Now there are the small things in the film that make it conservative. The anti-government sentiment as seen by the fact that the S.H.I.E.L.D. council is stupid. The fact that the idiotic Senator complaining about the actions of the Avengers is shown with a “D” after his name (because only a liberal would be dumb enough to complain about having their ass saved—“ These so called heroes have to be held responsible for the destruction done to the city. This was their fight.”). The fact that at no time in this film are the armed services insulted or degraded.

Nothing more American than this guy…

And there are some of the not so little things. Like Captain America’s uniform. Liberals might like to say they’re patriotic, but flag waving is and wearing your patriotism on your sleeve is definitely a conservative trait.

“What?” you say. “How is that conservative?” It’s the stars and stripes. You can’t get much more patriotic and more conservative than that. But you say, “That’s Captain America’s uniform, what else could they put him in?” Well, they could have muted the colors, toned down the theme or just made it solid black like every other S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. After they watered down all the patriotism from the first Captain America film and had no backlash there it wasn’t like they should have been afraid to change anything. “Whedon couldn’t just kill one of the character’s costumes!” you say. Oh yeah? Have you seen the early posters for the movie?

I hesitate to imagine what this movie would have been like with Hawkeye in that silly purple suit…you’ll notice that Thor’s winged helmet is also nowhere to be seen in this film.

Look in the bottom left hand corner. That’s Jeremy Renner in the purple jumpsuit that Hawkeye is in in every comic book. Whedon put the kibosh on that preposterous outfit (in a film that is not short on preposterous outfits), if he really, really wanted to, I’m sure we would have seen the Captain in a more toned down outfit. And more importantly, of all the characters, only Captain America has a discussion of the nature of his suit.

Steven Rogers: The uniform? Aren’t the stars and stripes a little…old fashioned?
Agent Phil Coulson: Everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old fashioned.

Not only does Whedon admit that these ideas are old fashioned (one might say too conservative for the cynical modern populace) but he allows Coulson, arguably one of the moral bedrocks of the film, revel in that old fashioned patriotism (vintage trading cards and all). And we do need that kind of old fashioned patriotism, and it’s a good thing that it is pointed out that we need this kind of old fashioned patriotism.

And speaking of old fashioned there is this little line:

“There was an idea, Stark knows this, called The Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could. Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea, in heroes. Well, it’s an old fashioned notion.”

And this is a very conservative idea. Modern liberalism doesn’t believe in heroes, by their nature heroes are individuals, they’re leaders not followers, they disregard the state, not follow it, they show the greatness that a person is capable of—not the limitations that require constant government assistance that liberals believe is all that makes up people. A hero is the very embodiment of everything that liberalism opposes, a hero doesn’t need government help, a hero doesn’t take mindless orders, a hero does what is right according to their mind and their morals not merely the will of the herd. And in this respect, Whedon has always been very conservative (sometimes his heroes are more flawed than others, but that just helps to show how any individual can reach the highest levels of virtue through nothing but choice and action).

Granted this isn’t conservative in any explicit way…but that’s okay, because the subtle conservative belief in the virtue of humanity lasts far longer than momentary political statement.

Further as I’ve stated before there is a disturbing subtle relationship between the words of Loki and Obama…I don’t think this was intentional on Whedon’s part, it’s just all petty tyrants tend to sound the same.

Now of course aside from the philosophical points, it’s just a cool movie.
There is Whedon’s usual level of razor sharp wit, his deep understanding of character and their motivations, and, what is probably the least complemented part of Whedon’s skill, the man is a genius who knows how to use a camera; unlike so many directors who just let the camera sit there, Whedon knows how to use the camera to help tell the story and move the action and drama. And of course there is that last beautiful scene which says more with no words than any amount of dialogue could.

I have seen it twice in the theaters already and probably will see it again. And I certainly will buy it the day it comes out on DVD. I only hope Disney and Marvel are smart enough to let Whedon have complete control of the sequel.

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Did Obama or Loki say that?

So I went to a midnight showing of The Avengers last night (I will get a glowing review out, but I need to see it at least once more before I do so).   Great movie!  Witty, fun, moving…Joss Whedon at his best.  Not that this stopped the snobs at the New York Times from not too subtely suggesting that Loki’s evil is preposterous and ridiculous overblown character (despite the very valid comparison Whedon makes between Loki and every tyranny in history.  “There are always men like you.” Although even I will admit it’s hard nailing down Whedon’s politics from his shows–you have the liberal conception of the evil corporation in Angel and Dollhouse but a hyper libertarianism in Firefly with that individualism only slightly toned down in Buffy). It also seem to suggest that the only real sheeple out there are the people who could enjoy a movie like The Avengers (I’m sure it’s the not to0 thin layer of patriotism throughout the movie that most offened the hacks over at the Times). But I realized that the New York Times movie review find this character overblown…because to admit that such rhetoric was the rhetoric of tyrants and petty dictators throughout history would mean that they might have to actually look to see if there were any modern politicians who might be saying similar things. Loki says he comes to free people from that burdonsom chore of freedom, which sadly there are people who would actually applaud that being forced on society.

So, to show you that Loki’s quotes aren’t that overblown (although much better written as Whedon was behind them) let’s compare Loki to a modern day politician…oh, let’s say…Obama.

Guess who said each line.

On Goals:

 I come with glad tidings, of a world made free [from] Freedom.

 “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

On being an individual:

Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity.

“Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation.”

On your friends:

I have an army!

“I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.”

On respect for individualism:

You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.

“History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember.”

On understanding the nature of liberty:

Freedom is life’s great lie. Once you accept that, in your heart…You will know peace.

And so we must realize that the freedoms FDR once spoke of – especially freedom from want and freedom from fear – do not just come from deposing a tyrant and handing out ballots; they are only realized once the personal and material security of a people is ensured as well.

On understanding you’re being superior to those around you and that the sheeple need to be ruled:

There are no men like me.

“I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper — that’s a value.”

On humility:

I am burdened with glorious purpose.

“When I struggle, I just think of Jesus’ agony in the garden.”

On underestimating their opponents:

“If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail — they must have been founding members of the Flat-Earth Society. They would not have believed that the world was round.”

How desperate are you? You call on these lost creatures to defend you.

On understanding your value as person:

“[He] has brought us out of the dark and into the light”

“ENOUGH! You are, all of you, beneath me. I am a god you dull creature, and I will not be bullied”

The good news to all of this is we’re not stuck with Barry forever.  What does Obama have to fear?  Let’s do a headcount.  You have the impassioned crusader, Darrell Issa.  You the economic and budget genius, Paul Ryan.  You have the rising star, Marco Rubio.  You have the next President of the United States, Mitt Romney.  And you have the entire thinking portion of the American public.  And Obama has managed to piss off all of them.

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The Best (and worst) Movies of 2011

It is the year-end review of movies.  It was a crappy year for movies.  A really crappy year!  No.  I can’t even get a top 10 list.  You get 5.  And those five aren’t great.

Why you ask?

I’m looking over the other picks for top movies by other critics and can’t believe it.  For instance 50/50 made it on a lot of lists, yeah, it had some good acting, but it read more like a poorly conceived documentary than film…art is supposed to have a point, a theme, a message, a meaning, or hell even catharsis…this movie had none of that…just an accurate documenting of what happens to a person when they’re dealing with cancer.  Or there is Hugo, which admittedly I haven’t seen, but given that Scorsese is the most overrated director in history who has NEVER made a single even decent, let alone a quality film, I have no desire to watch it.  I would however love to know what the f!@# people see in his terrible body of work?   Midnight in Paris, a cast like New Year’s Eve but with a worse director…again, what the hell is entertaining in ANY Woody Allen film?  War Horse…wow, Seabiscuit meets Saving Private Ryan…or is it Secretariat meets Private Ryan…maybe it was supposed to be Black Beauty meets…you get my point.  (Spielberg has done some good work…but he has also done some of the worst films ever made…1941, Lost World, or Munich anyone?).  Oh, The Help…the idea that help in a household knows more about what is going on than anyone–I got the feeling that the writers and the critics found this a very original concept…which tells me none of them did well in English class or have ever run across a 19th century British novel of manners (it might actually be good, but the banality and unoriginality of theme projected by the advertising when trying to be presented as something new, offends the English teacher in me).  Harry Potter and Muppets (yes, I’ve seen this on lists of critics Top 10’s)…you know if you add Twilight and Justin Bieber’s flick you might actually have the 4 horsemen of an artistic apocalypse.  Drive, or as the most accurate review of it I saw, Grand Theft Auto, is pointless.  A Separation… I haven’t seen it yet but I have read a full plot summary…I don’t need a movie to tell me how shitty life in Iran is, and as I’ve stated before art should show me the best in humanity (and the reviews I’ve seen haven’t exactly convinced me that this is there).

And some movies I was hoping for to be great, weren’t.  Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, which shouldn’t even really be considered because it wasn’t actually released to the public until 2012 was well acted, but the director was overly taken with himself (I think he always wanted to direct a silent film), the actors were wasted (except Oldman and Cumberbatch), but while the movie was a great thriller, it was thematically pointless (at best it was a statement about how people who live only their jobs don’t have healthy personal lives, somewhat undermined by Smiley being quite content at the end). J. Edgar was a well-done character examination of a flawed man…but it left me bored if anything.  And Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left me preferring the book, not to mention I found having to watch the rape scene (where a good director could have shown a lot less and still given you an idea of what happened) needlessly graphic.   Also the problem with Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is that both are the first books in their respective trilogies and neither is a complete work so it’s unfair to judge them for good or ill until the whole thing is put to film. (I’d actually recommend seeing these three, but J. Edgar was too flawed and Dragon Tattoo and Tinker, Tailor left me wanting more and I refuse to judge them until, at least, I know if their other parts will actually be made).

Admittedly The Descendants might make it on this list…but I just don’t feel like paying the money for a ticket of a movie that cannot possibly be improved by the big screen.

Okay that’s why a lot of stuff didn’t make it…let’s take a look at what did make my list of great films.

Remember I have 4 basic criteria for great art.

1. It must be enjoyable (I have some kind of positive emotional reaction)…so that throws most of critic’s picks out.

2. It must understand human nature…that throws out just about anything made or written by a liberal.

3. It must use the tools of the medium well…that throws out Spielberg and Scorsese

4. It must have a meaningful and correct theme.

5. Thor–Is this a stretch on all 4 counts?  Hell yeah.  But this is more to say what a crappy year this has been (hell #4 and #3 were a stretch, but I should at least give 5 films.)  So let me tell you why.  Clearly the plot was better than any of the other superhero movies this year (it actually had three acts…and a prologue and epilogue to boot).  And clearly it was fun and moving (don’t tell me your heart didn’t drop when he couldn’t Excalibur the hammer out of the stone, and that your heart didn’t jump when it finally came flying to him).  The characters actually act far more human than most of the non-superhero movies this year.  The theme of sibling rivalry, the need for the approval of a parent, the difficulty of growing up and living in a parent’s shadow (all very Shakespearian…especially challenging King Lear and Henry V, with a touch of Much Ado in the humorous scenes) show that director Kenneth Branagh has not strayed far from his usual cup of tea with this film.  Now a friend of mine complained that while the plot and characters were good in this film, there were simply no great lines of dialogue…which is incorrect…there are no great speeches, there are lots of great witty and pithy lines.  “Yes, but I supported you.”  “I am the monster parents tell their children about at night?””Do you want me to take him down or would you rather send in more guys for him to beat up? “”Live, and tell those stories yourself!”   Every line from Darcy.  It’s not The Dark Knight but it could not have been better and it (very) loosely meets all of my 4 points. Should Thor have cracked the top 10, let alone the top 5…no, but that’s how crappy a year it’s been.

4.  The Ides of March.  This a dark film about how power and politics can corrupt just about anyone who is in it.  I justify this as a positive theme because it shows all of us what we shouldn’t be…Democrats…no just kidding (kind of, okay maybe not)…it shows that often the people who claim integrity have none and that those who want power will take it no matter the cost.  It shows us everything we’re not supposed to be, and even though the characters fall short in every way, the writer, director, and message of the film understand that all their actions are deplorable and need to be condemned and shunned.


3. The Company Men.  (Technically it came out in 2010…but that was only a release for Oscars, it wasn’t until 2011 that real people could see it).  The Company Men?  Yes I’m sure odds are you didn’t see this.  Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper all in excellent parts.  It’s a little liberal for my tastes, but, it does not deal in cheap hackneyed stereotypes so I will forgive that (except maybe in Costner’s blue-collar character…but it is very opposed to the usual type Costner plays so I could still appreciate it) .  The story of how various upper and middle management employees of a company deal with being laid off in the current recession.  While it’s critical of business, it makes a justifiable critique that most company boards right now care more about stock prices than they do about making things, about getting a big pay off than the long-term profits, about short-term gain more than long-term thinking…which I will heartedly embrace.

2.  The Debt

I’ve already talked about this movie, so I will simply reiterate that this movie is a masterpiece.

1.  Moneyball

And I’ve covered this genius film already as well…but it without a doubt the best film of the year.

And then we have the honorable mentions

Atlas Shrugged.  (You may object that I include this third of a trilogy when not putting in Dragon Tattoo and Tinker, Tailor…but I have seen confirmation that I will get all 3 parts of Atlas where I have not seen proof with the other two).  Thematically the movie as the book is perfect.  As a representation of the main characters from the book it does an excellent job.  Like the others there are some stylistic flaws.  But still you need to see this movie.

Green Lantern.  I know it has a missing second act.  I don’t care.  I found it enjoyable.

Same with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sherlock Holmes, and Mission Impossible.  They were just fun.  (Crazy, Stupid Love, DreamHouse and Real Steel might also make it, but I just felt like waiting for the rental with these).

No Strings Attached and Just Go With It.  Cute, stupid romantic comedies, nothing more.

As I said J. Edgar was well done, but dull.  And I can’t justifiably comment on Dragon Tattoo or Tinker, Tailor until I know they’re stand alone films or part of a trilogy (they’re well done, but somehow lacking if they’re stand alones).

Which of course brings us up to what was the worst film of the yearTwilight…the vapid lack of a point makes it a tempting target, but no.  Justin Bieber?  No, although I yearn for the day I never hear that name again.  Fast-Five?  Drive Angry?  Captain America(which was probably the 2nd worst film of the year)?  Hangover II?  Fright Night for having the audacity of redoing one of my favorite horror films?  No I would have to say, without a moment’s hesitation, the worst film of the year, the film which the world might be a better place if every copy were rounded up and incinerated would have to Anonymous.  Haven’t heard of it?  You’re lucky.  Long and short of it is that the movie is about how the man we know as William Shakespeare didn’t write the plays.  This is based on a long held academic theory that the Will we know was just a simple middle class boy with a basic education and couldn’t possibly have done it…no the author needed to be a noble.  The rank snobbery and petty elitism of this is astounding.  And for over 100 years academics have been trying to rewrite history to present the idea that there couldn’t be a self-made man (liberals and academics really hate that concept because it ruins their elite status…and being one of the most famous men of non-noble background Shakespeare has to be destroyed in their mind).  And nothing is worse than Anonymous which give you a string of historical inaccuracies and inventions and claims them as truth.  Some may compare this to a Renaissance birther or truther movement (although even those movements have better ground to stand on…not that I buy into those two in any way shape or form, I just want to point out if you run into an anti-Stradfordian, run because they are morons) but that is to compliment the theory because it is always so far fetched and so without evidence that it defies even the momentary act of common sense it takes to dismiss the argument of a birther or truther.  As history goes Anonymous ranks more with the idea that we didn’t land on the moon or that the Holocaust never happened (though obviously it doesn’t reach the evil of that denial, they just both require you to deny all known facts.).  This film should never have been made.  Oh, and from a writing, directing and acting standpoint it’s also a piece of shit….or as one critic described it “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

***

Movies I’m looking forward to in 2012; Haywire, Underworld Awakenings (I’m allowed to have my pure brain candy guilty pleasures…no I don’t for a second think it will even be making the honorable mentions list, and you know what low standards I have for that), Safe House, The Vow, This Means War, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, Knights of Badassdom, Veronica Decides to Die, Skyfall, Les Miserables (Notice the lack of quality movies there…I’m guessing it will be a top 5 list next year too).

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