Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Conversation

 “Jonas just texted me. His plane is due in at 1 a.m. He asks us to join him for dinner at eight tomorrow evening. He has made reservations at Casanova’s Chinese restaurant,” he said. “How does he sound?” said she. “Not as exuberant as usual.” “Sad?” “No. I expect he’s just tired.” “I suppose so. I’m dying to hear his stories about his trip. He’s such a good storyteller.” “So he is. It might be a little different this time, though. He’s never been to Turkey before.” “I don’t quite see why. Most of his trips have been to countries …continue reading

The Real (but Limited) Appeal of James Garner’s Antiheroes


 Next Monday, Turner Classic Movies presents a special tribute to the late James Garner, who died yesterday at age 86. Garner was best known for his TV roles, but he also made quite a few movies, the most notable of which (in my view) is The Great Escape. Unfortunately, TCM won’t be showing that one or Support Your Local Gunfighter, nor the film of Maverick, in which he played an antagonist to Mel Gibson’s lead character. Nor did Murphy’s Romance and Space Cowboys make the cut. Instead, here’s the lineup for the tribute day: 6:00 AM Toward the Unknown 8:00 AM Shoot-out at Medicine Bend 9:30 AM …continue reading

Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between LA and DC Revolutionized American Politics by Timothy Stanley


    The problem with a book like this is that it can easily overestimate the importance of its subject, and Timothy Stanley does not always avoid succumbing to this misapprehension. The topic is not, of course, without its importance for politics and culture have always been intertwined.  Movies and television have certainly affected the culture as media with a national reach and provide, in some ways, a greater intensity of imagery than was possible before. Yet it seems to me Mr. Stanley probably overstates the effects of Hollywood on the nexus of money and politics and I do not think, as he asserts, that  Hollywood …continue reading

A Summer’s Tale (Conte d’ete) by Eric Rohmer


    This 1996 film has at last been given a theatrical release in the United States.  It is the third in the series Tales of the Four Seasons by the late, great film director Eric Rohmer.  (I have written about Rohmer previously at http://stkarnick.com/?p=4963 .)  The film actually hearkens back to Rohmer’s first of his three film series, The Moral Tales, in which, in each of its six films, a man, committed to one woman meets another and has to choose. In A Summer’s Tale, Gaspard (Melville Poupaud), a recently graduated math student, goes on a vacation before beginning work at an engineering …continue reading

It’s No Mystery Why Culture Talk Has Become So Belligerent

Alyssa Rosenberg

 In an essay that more properly belongs in the newspaper’s “Duh!” section (which doesn’t exist but should) Washington Post pop culture blogger Alyssa Rosenberg states her dismay that the very same sort of perpetual prickliness and accusations of bad faith that infect the nation’s politics have come to infect discussions of popular culture. Really? Ya think? Here’s the crux of her rather lengthy cri de couer: As we have become more comfortable discussing the politics of culture, our discussions of art have become a lot more like our discussions of politics. We treat people whose interpretations differ from our own as …continue reading

What Hath God to Do With Economics? Nothing, Says New York Times

 Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, turned the political world upside down some weeks back when he beat the sitting House majority leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary for the US House of Representatives. I believe that had never happened before, and political pros and journalists were all blindsided, especially because the narrative inside-the-Beltway types are invested in, Democrats or Republicans, is that the Tea Party is dead as a political force. Unfortunately for “the establishment” some people just won’t give up on the idea of our government and laws actually adhering to the Constitution. How radical! …continue reading

Review: ‘The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade by Philip Jenkins’


  Later this year, the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War will arrive and, already, the flood of books about that terrible conflict  has begun.  The author of The Great and Holy War, Philip Jenkins, is a historian of religion, notably of Christianity in the global south, Mr. Jenkins makes a strong case for the pervasive and often sincere religiosity that affected both sides  and for the war’s immense short term and long term consequences for various religions. He spreads his net very widely, discussing not only Europe and Christianity, but Judaism, Islam, and esoteric religions that we …continue reading

Updated: Oldman Denounces Hollywood Political Correctness, Hypocrisy

Gary Oldman

 The acclaimed actor and self-described libertarian Gary Oldman comes out with guns blazing against political correctness and Hollywood hypocrisy in a soon-to-be-published interview with Playboy magazine. In the interview, he notes that Hollywood leftists such as Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can publicly use any words they like and imply people are homosexuals (without adding “not that there’s anything wrong with that”), but a private outburst by an actor such as Mel Gibson or Alec Baldwin results in widespread denunciation and loss of employment. (Gibson has been blatantly blacklisted by the Hollywood studios ever since his antisemitic outburst directed at two …continue reading

Do Something Truly Counter Cultural: Write a Letter!


 Have you ever written a letter? Do you even know what that is? Answers to these questions will reveal your age, for sure. I’m talking about the kind of letter people used to write all the time, putting pen to paper, folding it, putting it in an envelope and mailing it to the one you were writing to. Many people think that’s gone the way of the buggy whip, but I’m old enough to remember when letter writing was an integral part of my and many other people’s existence, for me primarily back in the 80s and into the early …continue reading

Hillary’s Literary Flop: Another Reason for Democrats to Hate Free Markets

Hillary Clinton

 Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices, has failed the one test even the Obama White House cannot rig (or simply chose not to do): book sales numbers. Although the legacy media have commonly characterized sales of her book as lukewarm so far, the numbers are significantly worse than that, considering her name-recognition and public prominence. As the Washington Examiner reports, sales of Clinton’s book have been less than one-quarter of what Sarah Palin achieved with her book, Going Rogue: An American Life, when the latter was released while the former Alaska governor was enduring near-universal scorn from the mainstream media. Palin’s book hit number one on …continue reading

The Il-Liberal Power Elite

Spock's Beart

 As we all know and see consistently in public discourse, the liberals/progressives of our day are liberal in every sense of the word: generous, tolerant, open-minded, kind to those they disagree with, basically live-and-let-live kind of people. NOT!!! Unfortunately, we only see this in a fictitious TV episode I just invented that mirrors a Star Trek episode (called “Mirror, Mirror”) where in an alternate universe we see a bad Spock who happens to have a beard. In this alternate universe where liberals are actually liberal, we see the inversion of the Star Trek episode where in the alternate universe the …continue reading

Universities to Christian Groups: You Are Not Welcome Here


 It’s hard not to think, as an evangelical Christian, that America’s cultural elites would like Christians to put yellow crosses on their sleeves to identify us as outcasts. I hate to make Nazi references, but liberal fascism, as Jonah Goldberg describes it, perfectly describes the mentality and actions of those on the left who cannot tolerate views they disagree with. Ever since the redefinition of marriage became the cause de célèbre of our cultural elites, I’ve been convinced it had nothing to do with equality or fairness or any such just outcome, but rather a desire on the progressive side …continue reading

Cold in July

    It is 1989 in Texas and Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall), a small business owner, shoots and kills a night time  intruder into his home.  The intruder’s father Russel (Sam Shepard), himself an ex-convict, comes to town and threatens Richard’s  young son,Jordan (Brogan Hall).  Things get even darker and weirder as Richard will not leave well enough alone when he perceives falsehood..  Eventually, he and Russel team up with the latter’s Korean war buddy, Jim Bob (Don Johnson), a flamboyant, capable private detective (and pig farmer), to confront evil. Based upon a novel of the same title by Joe R. …continue reading

Ten Best TV Comedies Set in NYC

NYC tv comedies

 The NY Post recently published a list of the 10 greatest TV comedies set in New York City.  These lists are debatable of course, but let’s arrange the shows that  debuted since 1978 in chronological order and ask a simple question: does the list below make you feel better or worse about the general direction of comedy in America?  Discuss among yourselves. Taxi  1978-83 The Bill Cosby Show 1984-92 Seinfeld 1989-98 Friends 1994-2004 Sex in the City 1998-2004 30 Rock 2006-2013 Girls 2012 – present