Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The National Review = Movie Geniuses

Film Criticism has reached its pinnacle in the form of The National Review's "Best Conservative Movies of the last 25 Years." Batman isn't Bruce Wayne, but George W. Bush. The White Witch in "The Chronicles of Narnia" is "a cross between Burgermeister Meisterburger and Kim Jong Il." I can't wait to hear what they say about Slimer!

The National Review wants you to buy a digital subscription to see all the write-ups right now, as they gradually unveil the list on this blog.

There are quite a few gems in what they've published so far. "Gattaca" demonstrates the "progressive fantasy" of eugenics, a concept most popularly promoted by Theodore Roosevelt and Hitler, "the road to which is paved by the abortion of Down babies, research into human cloning, and 'transhumanist' dreams of fabricating a 'post-human species.'"

Terry Gilliam's nightmare of bureaucratic fascism, "Brazil," came it at number 22. I'm not making this up. Here's a sample of the description of the last eight years the movie: "Terrorist bombings, national-security scares, universal police surveillance, bureaucratic arrogance, a callous elite, perversion of science, and government use of torture evoke the worst aspects of the modern megastate." As Salon noted, Gilliam has already pointed out the obvious: "Have people forgotten I made Brazil? George W. [Bush], [Dick] Cheney, and company haven't. I'm thinking of suing them for the illegal and unauthorized remake of Brazil." I think the real reason it made the list, however, is for its early recognition of the series of tubes that is the Internet.

Most offensive, however, is the National Review's attempt to claim "United 93" as a conservative movie because—get ready for it—they made the terrorist the bad guys! Fuck you, Andrew Coffin and National Review. Paul Greengrass didn't make a liberal film or a conservative film. He made a film about the shock and horror of an American tragedy.

Here's the full list:

1. The Lives of Others (2007) - I guess it's anti-communist, but is really about the culture of surveillance. I mean, really? The number one conservative movie is about artists trying to liberate themselves from an oppressive regime, all the while the government monitors their actions?

2. The Incredibles (2004) - What?

3. Metropolitan (1990) - Never seen it.

4. Forrest Gump (1994) - I can see this one.

5. 300 (2007) - Definitely conservative—homophobic homoeroticism, with bad writing and shitty filmmaking to cap it off!

6. Groundhog Day (1993) - Really? This is a political film?

7. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) - OK, I guess it's about a guy who works hard, and all libruls are lazy deadbeats. But what about leeching off that homeless shelter?

8. Juno (2007) - Because only conservatives choose not to have an abortion. By all means, take it!

9. Blast from the Past (1999) - One of the greatest films of any kind from the last 25 years.

10. Ghostbusters (1984) Seriously, what the fuck? Is Ramis one of the great conservative filmmakers now?

11. Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003) - You knew they were going to go for this one, gay wizard and all.

12. The Dark Knight (2008) - Batman IS George W. Bush.

13. Braveheart (1995) - A terrorist insurgency in an invaded country!

14. A Simple Plan (1998) - If it's a morality tale, it must be conservative!

15. Red Dawn (1984) - Clearly a masterpiece.

16. Master and Commander (2003) - Definitely portrays a British conservative ideal, but not really a political movie.

17. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005) - I still think this is a mediocre bore, however you paint it.

18. The Edge (1997) - Hrm.

19. We Were Soldiers (2002) - They love Mel Gibson here.

20. Gattaca (1997) - Those crazy liberals won't stop until they create a master race!

21. Heartbreak Ridge (1986) - Never seen it, but sounds like a conservative masterpiece.

22. Brazil (1985) - C'mon! This should be number one! It so elegantly distills conservative ideology.

23. United 93 (2006) - Kindly go fuck yourselves, NR.

24. Team American: World Police (2004) - I can see it—too bad it's not very funny.

25. Gran Torino (2008) - I've said it before and I'll say it again: Huh?


Anonymous said...

Groundhog Day? Excuse me, but in that movie, doesn’t Bill Murray keep doing things differently until he gets it right? They must have seen a version where he does the same damn thing every day for eight years, then throws up his hands and lets another reporter handle the situation.

(comment via Wonkette)

Cedar said...

No Falling Down?

Jeremy Mathews said...

Apparently not—you'd think they'd be into it.

Anonymous said...

They must not have watched the scene that got cut out of We Were Soldiers in which Gibson sits down with some suits from D.C. who draw all the wrong conclusions from his victory. It's pretty much a direct slam on the Iraq war.

Anonymous said...

re: Ghostbusters. Of course; showcases the complete idiocy of government regulators ("I'll destroy the city because I'm a commie treehugger working for that pinko EPA!").

Anonymous said...

The Incredibles is a big Objectivist parable. The Incredible family is held back by a collectivist government, superior people kept from achieving greatness by the evil State. Their son can't run track because he'd win all the time, the dad has to work some lame job because superhero battles demolish the city...

Like most Objectivists, dad Incredible is a total loudmouth. Unlike most Objectivists, he actually has superior powers.

Jeremy Mathews said...

Yeah, I assumed that it was a reference to the pencil dick government regulator, but is that really a call to declare the film one of the great conservative statements?

Anonymous said...

I think you mean "leeching" not "leaching" in number 7.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, there's no wonder why Forrest Gump made number four.

That entire movie, while tugging heartstrings and all that shit, was about an unquestioning boob, a complete tool, regardless of innocence.

So I guess that's NRO's type of conservatism. Sit down, shut up, don't question, and do what we say.

Way to play up to the authoritarian (and idiotic, looking at these other movies) stereotype National Review.

Raphael said...

Honestly, I think we can take some of the items on this list as evidence that conservative and progressive ideology are not necessarily far apart.

Neil W. said...

Team America? That movie skewers the War on Terror as much as it lampoons Hollywood liberalism. "You are now safe from the terrorist threat" I guess the folks at NR couldn't see the obvious satire on both sides at work.

Quinn said...

You could argue that The Incredibles is really more of a satire of Hollywood than American life in general. The Parr family is like a bunch of fresh, exciting projects with real artistry and potential behind them, but they're stuck in a system that wants to dumb them down because it doesn't believe the public can stand to be challenged.

Ratatouille poses some questions about Brad Bird's mentality, though, and the Onion AV Club did a writeup on just that:,14766/

Anonymous said...

Heartbreak Ridge may be one of the worst films ever made. If you haven't seen it, don't. I still don't talk to the "friend" who insisted we see it - that's $5 I could use in the current recession/depression.

Mini-plot, DI Clint Eastwood shapes up a bunch of lazy Marines so they can honor our Great Leader (Ronnie R) and invade an island nation that barely has an army (Grenada). The movie assumes its audience is so dumb that, when a colleague of Eastwood's notes that their generation of the military is "0-1-1" in wars, he actually has to spell out that VietNam was the loss and Korea the tie!

The "war" for Grenada takes up about 10 minutes of the entire movie, and I don't even think any of the Marines get shot - and the movie is STILL more violent than the actual Grenada invasion. The medical students they are supposed to be rescuing are so scared they actually find one naked in her shower - bathing!

Anonymous said...

The Dark Knight- I guess they walked out during the ending montage where Batman explains that people's faith in the goodness of others shouldn't be seen as a weakness, then the part where it turns out he actually set up the surveillance machine to be destroyed and reaffirmed Lucius Fox's belief that no singular man should wield such power.

Also, the whole looking like a bad guy for the greater good bit? It doesn't fit in the context they're arguing either. Batman was only doing that to preserve Gotham's confidence in the moral fiber of their own society and preserve the image of their public figure, who was a source of morality and honesty, but during the battle with the evil he was supposed to fight he was twisted into a reflection of it. Batman was merely taking the blame for someone's wrong doing to save the city face, and not because he actually did those things.

When Gordon was giving that final speech about Batman, they juxtaposition it with Harvey's funeral for a reason; Batman proved throughout the film that he would be the true hero of Gotham because he could 'take it', he may be a vigilante, but he always knew where to draw the line, and would never fall over it. As Joker noted, he 'truly was incorruptible' and would not fail or waver from his morals of justice the way Dent did, which was why he was 'so much fun'.

L33tminion said...

The Incredibles (2004) - What?

Sure. The heroes are forced into hiding by lawsuits, which conservatives hate, at least when the litigants are ordinary people.

Syndrome's proclamation that "when everyone's special, no one's special" is probably viewed by those morons as some sort of argument against liberalism as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow. As a Brit I am again heartily astonished by your GOP loons. Master and Commander? A tale of heroic leadership and defiance of the odds, very British, and in the original story the enemy ship - which gets trashed - is American.

Braveheart? As you observe, a rebellion against the rule of Edward Longshanks was certainly not legitimate by the laws of the time. Illegal insurgency indeed. The real William Wallace (in a moment not shown in the movie) did put helpless captives in a barn and set fire to it.

Anonymous said...

Gran Torino is understandable. Eastwood is Libertarian (although I heard he ran for office as a Repup). I didn't see the film, but from what I got from the previews, it looks like one of the "old white man, still got it, fighting against the evil minorities" bend to it.

Anonymous said...

"Metropolitan" is actually a sweet nothing of a movie about a poor waiter-type who accidentally gets sucked into the social circle of the super-rich brat pack, and befriends an heiress. It doesn't go much anywhere, and he's still a poor bastard at the end. Don't know how this got on the list except I suppose these rich kids are supposed to be the heroes?

"Heartbreak Ridge" isn't Clint's best movie, but don't sell him short; he works in plenty of ambiguity. He does chronicle some bizarre things about Grenada (how soliders had to use pay phones to call in field conditions because the radios didn't work right). The young colonel looks bookish and helpless but he redeems himself with his superior knowledge of the terrain he got from those books, and takes the blame for disobeying an order from his cluster-fuck major. Also a couple Marines do die and he agonizes whether his mistake caused those deaths.

Anonymous said...

Re: Metropolitan

Stillman's celebration of privilege and lament for its decline?

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one here that thought "Heartbreak Ridge" was a good movie?
I viewed it as a comedy. I mean, c'mon... It had some of the best one-liners in cinema history.

"My name's Gunnery Sergeant Highway and I've drunk more beer and banged more quiff and pissed more blood and stomped more ass that all of you numbnuts put together."
"Sergeant, you get that contraband stogie out of my face before I shove it so far up your ass you'll have to set fire to your nose to light it."
"Why don't I bend you over the table there... send you home with the "I just pumped the neighbor's cat" look on your face."

Just to name a few.

I do get the fact they labeled "Groundhog Day" as a conservative movie. Remember when Murray insisted that it was going to be beautiful weather when in fact, a cold front had moved in stranding them in the little town? That suggested that a traditional superstition outweighed the science of meteorology. You know... faith vs. secularism.



Anonymous said...

They forgot 'Just Like Heaven'--starring Reese Witherspoon as Terri Schivo

piker62 said...

Zucker (An American Carol) must be very, very disappointed. And poor Ben Stein! He's got some angry letters to write.

For that matter, how could they pass over Bonnie And Clyde? After all, the banks restore order - it's a happy ending!

Anonymous said...



In what deranged non-Plantagenet world was Longshanks invasion and attempted subjugation of Scotland legitimate?

This same eejit who hang women from cages outside his castles

Who used coercion to obtain oaths, not legitimate in any decent legal jurisdiction.

Who was asked to be a fair arbiter, then twisted the very thing he was supposed to be deciding fairly to try and obtain overlordship of Scotland.

Wallace may have been deludedly fighting for Toom tabard, but it was no rebellion. Lonmghsanks having been no legitimate authority

MET said...

I think they must mean a different Brazil than the one I know. See, the Brazil I saw was directed by Terry Gilliam. And most things directed by Gilliam have a pretty similar theme - something along the lines of greed being bad, collectivism being good, and engorged capitalism just makes hungry people hungrier. So...what's the other Brazil? The one that wasn't a socialist rant?

Anonymous said...

You know, most of these movies were alright purely for their entertainment value. Anyone who sees bias in these is looking too far into it.

Except for United 93... That is going too far. If the conservatism used to rate these movies is based even a little on the cowardly behavior of their leaders, then I'd have to say the "conservatives" in this movie would be the ones in the back of the plane pissing themselves.

Anonymous said...

While I can see why Dwight Moody could place "The Incredibles" into the Objectivist camp, I disagree because the superheroes do not go full-John Galt and withdraw their services from an undeserving public. A true Objectivist superhero would whine he wasn't being paid enough and would sit and sulk while a supervillian/terrorist destroyed the city. But the super family jumps into the fray, willingly donating their talents for the benefit of society. If "The Incredibles" is Objectivism, so is Batman, Superman, Spider-man, and even Ghostbusters II (who return to save New York again after being unjustly blamed for the damage in the first movie).

buddy51 said...

I don't know what conservatives are always whining about. It seems to me that certain genres are already "conservative" in nature:

Action movies which, despite the abundance of violence and profanity, always end with "virtue" triumphant end "evil" overcome.

Romantic comedies where the characters, even though they may sleep around in the early stages of the story, inevitably end up either married or in monogamous relationships clearly on their way to marriage.

Serious dramas tend to be more "liberal" in nature if only because they like to examine the complexity of human nature and human relationships and, thus, don't see the world in the same black-and-white terms that social conservatives do. Yet, when is the last time a character even in a social drama opted to have an abortion rather than completing the pregnancy?

And, really, who's going to make a movie in which the corporate power structure wins out over the common worker? There's a reason why "Norma Rae" was a hit. Conservative values just don't make for good drama.

Anonymous said...

The problem with THE INCREDIBLES on the list is that they are forced to live in the closet, denying who they are, something conservatives have never had a problem with.

And Juno would be purely a pro-life conservative film, except for these elements: 1) it establishes how much crap Juno has to take from people who look down on her because of her pregnancy, and 2) Jennifer Garner becomes a single (adoptive) Mom at the end, which folks like Ann Coulter have attacked.

Braveheart WAS about an insurgency taking down a occupying force, which means that we should have supported the King. But maybe that's the point. Remember, the king threw homosexuals out windows. (Another flaw: torture is proven not to work.)

Michael J. Petro said...

I really thought Independence Day would make the cut.

"It's from the Americans! They want to organize an offensive!"

"About bloody time...!"

Anonymous said...

Actually,Master and Commander portrays both Conservative(The Captain) and Liberal ideas(The Doctor).The two men though at times at odds respect and rely upon each other.

Anonymous said...

Kay in THE GODFATHER PART II opted to have an abortion rather than bring one more of her husband's sons into the world.

Anonymous said...

I don't think they know what they mean when they say 'conservative movie'. More than half do not appear to be conservative at all, unless you miss the point.

Anonymous said...
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