Jim A.

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Everything posted by Jim A.

  1. Les Misérables (2012)

    Well, I finally got to see the movie I've most anticipated seeing: Les Miserables. I was gravely disappointed. Not because it was a bad film, or bad film musical. I gave it a rating of "5" for artistic quality, and "7" for sense-of-life. It was a fairly good film. But I was so gravely disappointed because it was only fairly good. Being an adaptation of Victor Hugo, it should have been great. There were three or four songs I enjoyed, but I only think about the things I did not like about this movie. For one thing, too much singing. There are scenes that contain action, or a lot of story, and for those scenes I think there should not have been singing--only dialogue when characters are talking to each other. Remember The Sound of Music? or even Oliver!? In the first film, there is no singing when the Von Trapp family is escaping from Salzburg and then from Austria itself. In the second, there is no singing when people and the police are following Bullseye the dog to find Bill Sykes. But in this film, there is singing almost all the time. Half the time I couldn't understand the words, and my hearing is very good. I found it extremely distracting (from the story) and annoying. Let alone the fact that a number of performers in the film don't sing that well. Russell Crowe is the worst one; he sings almost as bad as I do. And I can't stand it when people cry and sing at the same time, like Anne Hathaway as Fantine getting all choked-up while singing "I Dreamed a Dream". Les Miserables could have been a great film, and a great film musical (with better melodies and at the appropriate times). Sorry, everybody, but even though I have enjoyed a few musicals in the past and expected more from this one, I am feeling a little more of an affinity for Bill Bucko's aversion to seeing this picture than I expected.
  2. The Grey with Liam Neeson

    I have not seen The Grey, but would like to. The idea intrigues me: A man with knowledge and skill of the Arctic wild and whose wife has passed away is stranded in the frozen wilderness with co-workers who must rely on him to help them fend off ravenous wolves. The only problem is that this man does not seem to have anything to live for anymore and is suicidal. Why should he help these men survive? Do I have the story right? It looks like a good film. Do you think it would have some things to say to psychotherapists treating patients for depression?
  3. On FoxNews this morning, a physician (only in the legal sense) named Dr. Eban Alexander was being interviewed. He has written a book called Heaven is Real. In that book, I've heard, he "proves" the existence of Heaven because, he says, he's been there. Already an Objectivist's quack-alert system beeps red. He says he was in a coma for a week (I can't recall the circumstances), and while in that state his mind left his body and went to Heaven. So now he can prove its existence. Obviously, despite his medical credentials, he is not a scientist ("But medicine is an art, not a science." Baloney!!). Anyway, he was asked by one of the FoxNews morning show hosts what the dead children slaughtered at the Newtown, Connecticut, school might be experiencing, feeling or thinking right now--taking it as a given that their consciousnesses are still operating. The "doctor", of course, responded with something like they are in a state of pure bliss and happiness and so forth. This is why I think that the very idea of an after-life, especially a Paradise, is deadly. It's not deadly right away, but certainly long-range. "Heaven" by its very definition, is a "better place" than this earth. Okay. So if when a child dies, he or she goes to a "better place", where's the urgency to save them? It's okay to let them die if they are going to a better place. I think if first responders really believe--and I suspect there are some who do--that something after death would be better than this life for children, then they would have that much less a sense of urgency to respond to an emergency like the Sandy Hook School massacre in Newtown. Dammit, I would just want to tell people who, understandably, want to feel "comfort" that the children are in a better place: "No, they are not! There is no better place than this world, this earth, this universe! This is a wonderful place, and Adam Lanza took it away from these children. These children are gone, forever. That is why Lanza's actions were so monstrous and evil." And if we forget that the children of Sandy Hook School are truly dead, than society, even with its first responders, will forget the gravity and evil of Lanza's actions.
  4. The Newtown tragedy vs. Heaven

    To ewv: Regarding post #4: I absolutely agree. Regarding post #5: The film Minority Report came to mind (despite it's absurdities).
  5. GORT and the government...

    The original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, from 1951 with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, is the movie that turned me on to movies. I first saw it when I was seven years old. I still enjoy it. I have it on DVD. But, in its politics, the film was just a big plug for the U.N. It was an implicit call for a world government.
  6. Les Misérables (2012)

    Me, too! What's the release date?
  7. My next read

    To elliot.ohara: In answer to your question (post #7), I'll second ewv's motion; I think he was referring to The Early Ayn Rand, which includes a few short stories, two plays and a film scenario ("Red Pawn", which is very good). But outside of Rand, and not having, of course, read all the world's fiction, I would recommend Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle, an excellent WWII spy thriller with an erotic element. Also, two plays: Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand and Inherit the Wind, by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
  8. My next read

    I'll second the motion on what Betsy said. Even though my favorite book by Ayn Rand (or anyone!) is The Fountainhead, the book that really got me started on studying Objectivism was The Romantic Manifesto. But that's because of my personal interest in art and literature; your own personal interests may be different. The nice thing about Ayn Rand's thought (and her fiction) is that all of the ideas in her philosophical system exist on a continuum, so that if you start with a work dealing with a subject that interests you it almost naturally leads to another work by her, and that one to another, and that one to another, and so on. But in regard to Philosophy: Who Needs It, I think that would naturally be a great choice. By the way, that is one of my favorite books. And it contains my favorite essay in Objectivist literature, "The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made". I'll be happy to know if you read the book and enjoy it. I don't know how many times I've recommended that essay to people who seem to be interested in and struggling with the idea of free will (an idea, which, I think, is one of the most crucial premises a person can hold) but who never read it! So I've stopped giving out copies of that book to people (I stopped loaning copies a long time ago; they never come back, and those same people never seriously pursue Objectivism afterwards). (Talking about "The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made" reminds me that I've been wanting to try to start a discussion about free will in the philosophy department of this forum; I'll do it now.) Also: going to any lectures by Objectivist scholars or any conferences where a large number of Objectivists are going to speak is a great experience; I've enjoyed the ones I've gone to--especially a conference on the Arts given on a cruise ship by the Quent Cordair Fine Art gallery (www.cordair.com) --and gotten a lot out of them, especially during the Q and A's. Anyway, let us know what you decide to read and what you thought of it!
  9. ARGO

    I think that's true, Joss, but as Mark Lijek said at a presentation he and his wife Cora gave here in town they had to persuade the filmmakers, after the film was almost completed, to put in a few things at the end of the film to underscore the Canadians' efforts and courageousness. (The Lijeks are two of the escapees.) And Paul: I didn't think about that until I read your post (#10). What will be the 9/11 that will pay for Obama's inaction? And will it be bigger?
  10. ARGO

    I just saw the new film Argo, directed and starring Ben Affleck. My main reason for the seeing the film is because two of the six Americans Affleck's character helps to escape from Iran live in the same town I do, and they're great people. But I also enjoy "international intrigue" stories. The film was not a masterpiece in my view, but it's worth seeing. It is naturalistic--there's a ton of foul language, for instance--but I thought the elaborate plan for whisking the six American embassy personnel out of the "host" country was very ingenious. The movie also makes me appreciate the fact that I live in this country, not someplace like Iran, where irrationality has been rampant in some percentage of the population (thanks to an extremely irrational belief system, Islam).
  11. Where did Freud's Id come from?

    To JohnRgt: Did you ever see the movie Forbidden Planet? An entertaining piece of sci-fi, but unfortunately it shows how pervasively the idea of an "Id" has been accepted in our culture. Do you remember these lines? "Monsters, John...monsters from the Id!" and "We're all part monsters in our subconscious. That's why we have laws and religion." (That movie, by the way, was not only influenced by Freud, but also by Plato. Which makes me wonder: Philosophically, would we have had Freud if it wasn't for Plato?)
  12. Where did Freud's Id come from?

    Yes, that's true; it is a matter of the choices a man or woman makes. But isn't it a little like being presumed innocent before being proven guilty, especially in regard to oneself? So the question of which "prevails"--good or evil (and by what standard!)--makes no sense. Why not assume that people--including oneself--are basically good to start with. I think that's a huge part of possessing a benevolent sense-of-life.
  13. "Judgment Call"

    Here is another "practice story" I'm writing: http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dgjr99hw_17fq9v6h. It is a short story about what happens when a naval officer assigned as executive officer on his first submarine meets his Captain. I've never ridden on a submarine. I was once stationed at a submarine base--the sub base at Groton/New London, Connecticut--but was attached to the hospital. In other words, I don't know a damned thing about submarines. Since "Judgment Call" is not in its final form, I would love to get comments and criticism from people on how to improve it. My main concern is first to have a solid plot structure, then good, three-dimensional (not in the sense of being Naturalistic) characterizations, a clear style and good dialogue. I am aware that I still have some study to do about submarines and submarine warfare, so if anyone can give me some tips about that subject, that would be nice, too. Also: before I go about rewriting this story, I need to identify--clearly--for myself the theme and the plot-theme of it. If anybody can name what they think are the theme and plot-theme, I would be appreciative. The theme especially, since that will integrate and govern all of my choices in plot details, style, and characterization.
  14. Where did Freud's Id come from?

    I like what I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that Ayn Rand said in response to someone asserting that Man was basically evil: "Speak for yourself, brother!" Your assessment of Man and whether he has Original Sin or an Id is your assessment of yourself.
  15. ARGO

    To Ruveyn: Is On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett a good chronicle of H. Ross Perot's rescue of his two employees? To Erik: If you don't see Argo, you're not missing a great masterpiece. But the film does not go out of its way to glorify Jimmy Carter. I will say this, however, since we're talking about him: If there is one American who I would say is responsible for 9/11, it's Jimmy Carter. Back in 1979, when I was a Navy Corpsman stationed at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, all of us there were ready to go to war if asked to after we got news of the embassy being over-run. But Carter took forever to do anything militarily, and when he did it was a failure and people were killed (a helicopter crash in a sandstorm, as I recall, correct me if I'm wrong). My thinking back then was: If we don't give Iran an ultimatum and strike back militarily if that country doesn't comply, someday the United States will pay for it. I thought that because by Jimmy Carter's inaction he was essentially telling every terrorist, every terrorism-sponsoring state and every dictatorship around the world that America can be f----- with (after all, only about a month after the seige of the embassy the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Hell, we weren't going to stop them, were we?). On September 11th, 2001, when I saw the second tower being hit by a plane on live television, my immediate thought was: Now we're paying for it. We were paying for the fact that Carter did nothing to punish Iran. Actually, we won't stop paying for it until we do strike back at every terrorist state or state that sponsors terrorism for everything they've ever done to us.
  16. Happy Birthday to Betsy Speicher

    Happy Birthday, Betsy!! Enjoy it, you deserve it. You may not know how great of a "public" service ( ) you perform by keeping this forum site running. Each of us here is free to say what he or she really thinks.
  17. There's a new movie out, which I'm sure you've all heard of, called Last Ounce of Courage. It's tag-line is something about "family, faith and freedom". What are these, the "three F's"? (Which of these things has nothing to do with the others? They should ask that on Sesame Street.) I've heard that the main crux of this movie is something like a Vietnam veteran, who lost his son in Iraq or Afghanistan, fighting his "greatest battle" trying to get Christ "back into Christmas". Not only is that a lousy plot premise, but it surely does not present the essence of what a fight for freedom would mean in today's era. Anyone else out there not inspired to see this movie? Most importantly, is there any great recent film out there in theaters or on DVD that shows what freedom is really about--and what is required to keep it? P.S. Some might say the first third of the Atlas Shrugged movie that hasn't been finished yet (Atlas Shrugged: Part I). I bought the DVD. I watched it. I threw it away.
  18. I only just started reading The DIM Hypothesis, so I really can't comment on the work. I can only say, right now, that I think Dr. Peikoff is a great man. He elucidates so many of Ayn Rand's ideas--and those of philosophers she would be opposed to, so we can see what they really mean--in smooth, yet stimulating and powerful prose. Laymen in philosophy can read him and understand him. I also admire his dedication to making Ayn Rand's voice heard, ideally for generations to come.
  19. Ayn Rand silver medallion

    I agree, JohnRgt. After all, the whole purpose of putting someone's image on a coin or medallion is to have them be recognized immediately, whether that person's name is on it or not.
  20. I disagree that a film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged should run between 10 and 20 hours. I think it should be about three or four hours (four at the most). Gone with the Wind, after all, was four hours long. Now would a three-to-four hour film of Atlas contain everything that is in the book? Of course not. But a good screenwriter, like Sidney Howard (Gone with the Wind) or Stirling Siliphant (In the Heat of the Night, and co-screenwriter of the 1960 version of Village of the Damned) could take the essentials of a novel's plot and ideas and make them "filmable". And you need a good director (see my post, #31, in the "Movie Ratings and Reviews" thread on Atlas Shrugged: Part 1). I also disagree that The Lord of the Rings films were an abomination. I enjoyed them--once I fully recognized the fact that they were fantasy, and in saga form--although I should say that I've never read the novels. But those novels were published as separate, though maybe interdependent, works, so it doesn't bother me that The Lord of the Rings is three separate films. And incidentally, since this thread is about the theme of freedom in recent movies, The Two Towers contains the most recent (to my knowledge, and in my opinion) great statement of freedom I've encountered on the screen (with the possible exception of 300). It is when Aragorn finds Eowyn, the "daughter of kings", engaging in a moment of practice with her sword. I don't remember the exact words exchanged, but they went something like: Aragorn: You seem to have some skill with a blade. Eowyn: The women of our land learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain. Aragorn: What do you fear, my lady? Eowyn: A cage. To live behind bars until use and old age accept them, and valor has gone beyond all recall or desire.
  21. I've had difficulty understanding the difference between reason and logic. Can someone enlighten me? Perhaps if someone could present scenarios or illustrative examples.
  22. O'Reilly and Faith

    Anyone watch Bill O'Reilly the other night asking his two guests--Jeanine Pirro (sp?) and Janine Turner--whether either woman would vote for a presidential candidate who is an atheist? The responses were as I expected: neither individual would. But that question was asked without qualification. Mr. O'Reilly--evidently a non-conceptual thinker, in my view--did not even include the political views of such a candidate in the question. And, not too surprisingly, neither of his two guests asked him to elaborate on other factors in his question. It seemed to me that, to the two women, one atheist is like any other. (Ms. Turner said something like: I wouldn't vote for an atheist candidate because atheists tend to lean toward big government. I would say: "All of them, Ms. Turner? Doesn't it depend on the particular atheist in question?") And Mr. O'Reilly first introduced the discussion by acknowledging the good intentions or good works of certain atheist individuals in history, such as Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway (I can't vouch for either one, but that's what he said). I couldn't believe it, however: despite all the attention Glenn Beck and others may have paid toward Ayn Rand, Bill O'Reilly did not include her in his list. Why not? I don't understand. Anyway, Mr. O'Reilly's questions--and the resultant discussion--just shows that the conceptual level of his inquiry into issues, and that of probably most Americans, is on a very surfacey level. For me it can become despairing. Can anyone give me a little uplift? A reminder that things are not really that bad?
  23. Favorite movie lines

    I am a lover of dialogue in films (or the few plays I've seen). Sometimes it's because of the philosophical message of the line, sometimes simply the phrasing and sometimes the fact that one or two words were uttered at a certain time in a certain scene. My favorites are: After Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey) in The Fountainhead says: "You know, one day Mister Toohey you'll bore me," Toohey (Robert Douglas) says: "I shall endeavour not to do so until the right time." When Dekkard (Harrison Ford) in Blade Runner (an otherwise pretty lousy movie, in my view) asks Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) why he doesn't send a man named Holden to go to the Tyrell Corporation and test an employee to see if he's an android--and a dangerous one--he responds: "We did. He can breathe okay as long as no one unplugs him." From the same film: When Chu (James Hong) says to Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who is an android, that he manufactured Batty's eyes, Batty says to him: "Chu, if only you could see what I've seen with your eyes." From Lawrenece of Arabia: When Lawrence's friend, played by Omar Sharif, says that "it is written" (in the Koran, evidently) that Lawrence cannot go back into the desert they just crossed to rescue another friend and fellow warrior, Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) replies: "Nothing is written!" A magnificent statement of free will. In the "OBIT" episode of the Outer Limits television series of the sixties, a Senator (Peter Breck) investigating the existence and use of a computer, called OBIT, that can focus on anyone, anywhere and invade that person's privacy, is told by a man named Lomax (Jeff Corey) who has helped to install and run the machines on a military base that no one who hasn't done or said anything wrong has anything to fear from OBIT, he responds: "Are you that perfect, Mr. Lomax?" In The Magnificent Seven, Chris (Yul Brynner), a hired gun, is approached by three men from a small Mexican village who want help defending their village from forty marauders led by Calvera (Eli Wallach). Chris tells them: "You know what this means when you start something like this, don't you? You must be prepared for killing, and more killing. And still more killing until the reason for it is gone." (Which should have been this country's motto right after 9/11). From the same film: An eloquent, if philosophically false, line spoken by the villain, Calvera, in reference to the seeming timidity of the villagers: "If God didn't want them sheared, he wouldn't have made them sheep." In Gorky Park, Renko (William Hurt), a Soviet police officer, comes to his superior's office to report on some dead bodies, whose faces were removed, that were found in Gorky Park. He appears before his boss without having shaved. The police general notes that Renko is not clean-shaven. He then asks Renko for a description of the corpses. Renko concludes with: "They were clean-shaven, Comrade General, quite literally."
  24. Happy Birthday to alann

    Have a great birthday today, Alann!
  25. Sally Ride's final journey

    I, too, was very sad to hear about Sally Ride leaving the earth forever. I remember that every time I'd seen her being interviewed, the sense-of-life she conveyed to me seemed to be: "The universe is a wonderful place." And she seemed to take her own efficacy as a given; her very personality could be summed-up in the words: I can do it.