Thursday, July 10, 2008


I would have thought that the ink would have exploded like a beaker of alien blood in John Carpenter's The Thing before the Telegraph printed something like this:

Holy Cows: George W Bush - buffoon or great leader?

Here is just one of many surprising quotes about the differences between European Leaders and Mr. Bush:

Usually we wait and wait until the enemy starts attacking, then we let them win a bit, then we fight until we are tired, then we just call the US to come over to clean our mess.
That is what happened in WWI, WWII, and the Balkans.

Bush is just showing us what a bunch of dangerous ditherers we are and we hate him for it. Naturally.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wall-E: A Minority View

(this was originally written as an email to Stephen Greydanus and his wonderful movie site

I'm not privy to advance screenings, so I only got a chance to see Pixar's latest film Wall-E today.

I have been a huge fan of Pixar over the years. To my mind, The Incredibles is perhaps one of the most perfect films made for any audience and on a par with Mary Poppins or It's a Wonderful Life (or even Apocalypse Now if you want to go there). Pixar's sheer output of good to excellent movies is staggering. But I have observed a kind of "Circle of Life" rule that operates in the movie business where any successful artistic enterprise eventually begins to believe its own hype, become more complacent or self-indulgent, and thus sow the seeds of its own demise. To my mind (and I was almost alone in my assessment), I saw sad confirmation of this in Finding Nemo, a film, admittedly gorgeous to look at - I mean we're still talking about Pixar - where comedy and high concepts were sacrificed for Berkeley-esque platitudes about "special needs" and inclusiveness. Ironically to me, Nemo was almost universally hailed as the studio's masterpiece and, I believe, is still its most profitable film. Even though Brad Bird has been a real shot in the arm, Pixar's track record has been spotty but above average ever since, and has I think reached a new low with WALL-E.

As a mere consumer of films I enjoy and judge a film for what it is saying up on the screen. Like Nemo, WALL-E is a beautiful film with nothing to say. Perhaps there were too many hands involved: it seems they were trying to make an environmental film but economic concerns forced them to hedge their bets (or perhaps "code their message" so that only the faithful would be in on it) until they were left with nothing but a Chaplinesque love story. Again, this film has been praised to the skies, though perhaps more praised than watched, and I can only wonder where the studio is headed. Redemption from the aforementioned rule and trend reversals are always possible (think of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" or even the Coen brother's "Fargo"), but I have seen no one even acknowledge this problem at Pixar.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How Will Postmodernism Die?

Progressive postmodernist thought mortally wounded the culture of the "Silent Majority" forty years ago and, like some colossal John Stewart, shrugged its shoulders, muttered "it's not my responsibility" and walked away, failing to repair the damage or replace what it had destroyed with something better. The question now seems to be: can something so narcissistic be destroyed? The progressive movement is based on several truths (such as materialism and the primacy of feelings and desires) that can be repudiated only at great personal cost. The generation that brought all this on is dying but they cannily staked their claim to our universities and social institutions in the hopes of perpetuating their beliefs. The Boomers' influence will fade over time, but it will be hard to put the genie of narcissism back into the bottle.