Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Manohla Dargis mistakes cattiness for critique

On October 14, 2012, the nytimes.com published Manohla Dargis’ “review” of “Atlas Shrugged II - The Strike (2012)”. It was titled “Glories of Capitalism, With Gas at $40 a Gallon”. Her “review” was more a critique, or rather cattiness.

She had to immediately condemn the earlier movie “Atlas Shrugged - Part I (2011)” by calling it a “dystopian fantasy”. Moving on, she said that “you” – but perhaps not she – might have difficulty “parsing who’s doing what and why”. I thought that it was all quite clear, clearer than a lot of movies. She continued by smearing it as “addled” (defined online as “confused”). Once again, I think that it was she who was confused. She then complained that it “was not shown in advance to critics”. Was this a translation for “showing it for free or at a reduced price”? She said the movie opened showing “amusingly torpid... protests”. Why did she think the portrayal was “amusing”? As Ayn Rand would say, “Blank Out!”

Not having enough imagination to figure out “how the infrastructure materialized on a large enough scale” is understandable for those who live mostly in the ivory towers of writing. If total believability was the criterion for every movie, very few would be made. She next calls Samantha Mathis – the “Dagny” character” – “wan”, meaning “pale” or “exhausted”... or perhaps “weak”. I would like to see Ms. Dargis try to operate a rail line company, rather than a computer word processing program and an email system. She said that “Dagny” “worryingly keeps tabs”. Hey, it’s her fricken job. “Dagny”’s brother “James” is said to be a “weak sister of a brother”. Does this mean she thinks that he’s gay, or just effeminate? Of course, “Dagny” “frets” over things. Once again, her job with lots of OTHER jobs on the line.

Phrases such as “borderline amateurish”, “looks like digital”, “the kind of flat, undifferentiated network-television lighting”, and “chintzy-looking sets and costumes” are pure cattiness, by which I mean “deliberately hurtful” or spiteful”.

Ms. Dargis says that the movie was made for “true believers”. Well, I’m sure that it’s difficult for her to enjoy anything about this movie, if she has such hatred for the author and the subject. To be completely honest, Ms. Dargis did like the “relief from this chatter” [she may have been busy writing her critique in her head rather than watch the movie] through cameos. So at least something was a plus for her, even though it was an “anti-union movie”. Not, of course: it was anti-forced-union/violence.

It’s quite fashionable to say, “I hate capitalism”, but not “I hate freedom”, especially when one has only the foggiest idea of what capitalism is. If Ms. Dargis wanted a better understanding, she should read Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Murray N. Rothbard, and ... but I doubt that she could “stomach” it, “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal”.

Remember this: it’s in the NY Times, where their new slogan could be “All the Views That’re Fit to Put on the Spit” [to burn].

Roger A. Ritthaler

December 9, 2014

[Previously posted here.]

Carina Chocano’s Digital Drivel

On April 28, 2011, Carina Chocano’s criticism of the movie “Atlas Shrugged - Part I (2011)” was published on nytimes.com. Her title was “A Utopian Society Made Up of Business Moguls in Fedoras”. I watched the movie last night. There was not a single “fedora” in sight that I remember. Of course, I’m sure that she’ll argue that it was figurative or metaphorical or whatever. As to “utopian”, that’s always relative to the dissident: everything that one dislikes is unworkable.

Beware of any movie review that has the word “utopian” in it. It won’t be a rational analysis: it’ll be an attempted “hit piece”. Another clue is including the phrase “laissez-faire capitalism”. I rather doubt that Ms. Chocano knows very much about what that even entails. She could much better spend her time reading books by Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, and Murray N. Rothbard, than writing this drivel.

Her inclusion of many mocking words/phrases makes this a template for lots of movie reviews: just substitute another title. What’s wrong with a book being a “doorstop”? Where is the “high-camp comedy”? What are examples of “stilted prose”? I thought that the words were quite appropriate and not overabundant so that the movie becomes tedious.

Just because one doesn’t like the defense of freedom and independence, doesn’t mean there is “silly plotting”. Other put-downs include “unrelentingly”, “unintentional yet somehow [too vague – please specify] boring hilarity”, “ham-fisted fable” (I assume she meant “awkward”), “nighttime soap”, “bizarre [define, please] aesthetic forays into the past [It WAS published in 1957]”, and “hard sell”.

She writes that “The resulting film, directed by Paul Johansson, feels rushed, amateurish and clumsy.” Where she gets this “feeling”, I don’t know. As to “amateurish” and “clumsy”, I wonder if we even saw the same movie. It was beautiful: it was well directed and well acted.

When Ms. Chocano writes that “the ideologies that feel oddly out of step with the present day”, I wish she could have been more explicit about her “feel”. Using the word “feel”, rather than “think”, allows one to sneak vagueness and ambiguity in, to substitute for rational analysis.

Contrary to Ms. Chocano, I thought that “the clothes, hairstyles and interiors” were quite appropriate and gorgeous, rather than “low-rent and sad” as she wrote.

When she wrote “serious brand identity”, I’m not sure if she was referring to being an entrepreneur/businessperson or to objectivism.

What did Ms. Chocano mean by “charmingly oblivious to its inherent contradictions”? It’d be oh so good to know. But, of course, then one could rationally criticize her. It’s much better for her just to insinuate the “contradictions”... But it’s nice that she thought one could be “charmingly oblivious”.

I would also suggest that she stay away from phrases like “appear to be” and “near-lethal levels of exposition”. They just sound immature.

It appears that the New York Times let this young writer do a “smear piece” for them. That way they could say, “Hey, it’s her opinions, not ours. We’re just the messengers.”

I wish that Ayn Rand had allowed her book to be movie-tized while she was still alive. I realize that writers want complete creative control so that words and ideas don’t become distorted. But, it would have been nice if she had allowed it to be done, and then, after it was done, publicly criticize it for the distortions.

Would Ayn Rand have approved of the current movie? I hope so.

Roger A. Ritthaler
December 6, 2014

[Previously posted at here.]

Monday, December 1, 2014

Don't Assume that Medicare will become your Primary Insurance

URGENT NEWS FLASH: If you fill out Medicare’s IEQ (Initial Enrollment Questionnaire) 3 months prior to your eligibility date (the first day of the month of your birth month) for Medicare AND fill in that you have health care coverage through an employer’s plan, BE SURE to update Medicare on your eligibility date that the other health insurance plan will become Secondary, OR Medicare will assume – even though it charges the same premiums as if it was primary – that Medicare is Secondary. Having both as Secondary won't work: there will probably be a perpetual juggling between the two ("I'm second." "No, I'm second.")

In Memory of Richard 'Dick' Altman (1928 - 2014)