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.]