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Movies I Liked in 2017

2017 was an interesting year for movies, and not just because of the real-life spectacle and drama coming from Hollywood. The old film studios aren’t just imploding due to sex scandals, they’re also imploding at the box office. The new Star Wars was the only thing staving off a dismal year. 2017’s summer movie season was the lowest grossing summer for the movie business in 25 years. There are more interesting films coming out on Netflix than being released in the theater. Several Netflix releases are among my favorite films of the year.

I certainly didn’t see every movie to come out in 2017, but here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

Detroit. Written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit dramatically recounts an incident in which three black men were allegedly murdered by police at the Algiers Motel during the 1967 Detroit Riot. Despite some creative license with characters, events, and dialog, Detroit feels authentic, and its emotional impact is incredible. Although Detroit doesn’t disguise its message, it isn’t entirely one-sided, showing the destructiveness of the mob and the efforts of some white policemen and authority figures try to combat the excesses of racist officers. By far the best historic drama of 2017. [Read more…]

Ingrid Goes West. A social-media obsessed woman with borderline personality disorder moves to Los Angeles to insert herself into another woman’s life, severely disrupting the lives of everyone she encounters in this dark comedy by debut writer-director Matt Spicer. Its humor mainly comes from Aubrey Plaza‘s performance as Ingrid Thorburn, the unfortunate young woman just looking for a best friend. It’s a shame the film didn’t do better at the box office, but its dark lampooning of our superficial obsession with social-media probably hit too close to home for most audiences. [Read more…]

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Stop Watching Propaganda

I recently saw this meme imploring “Trump voters” to turn off Fox News and pick up a “real newspaper.” I won’t argue about the biases of Fox. Despite plenty of Trump criticism on that network, everyone knows they advance a center-right perspective. But the idea there are “real newspapers” telling you what’s REALLY going on is laughable.

What is a real news source? The Washington Post? New York Times? CNN? Since President Trump got into office, they’ve lead a 24/7 assault against his administration. CNN has been caught lying about negative information about the president and even had to force the resignations of three “reporters” after they got caught.

Hollywood has joined the crusade by lionizing the Washington Post in a recent film, The Post (2017), which of course according to critics is one of the best films ever made (88% on Rotten Tomatoes). The narrative about “an unprecedented battle between the press and the government” (hmm, sounds familiar…) stars Meryl Streep, who used her Golden Globes speech to attack Trump.

So even though Fox is a favorite target for the left, let’s not pretend the other news outlets are telling you the unvarnished truth either. They are advancing their own agenda aided by allies in other forms of media and entertainment. There is no “real news” anymore–only propaganda. A great deal of critical thinking is required to sift through this partisan battle for the public’s hearts and minds.

As for the meme’s other claim, allow me to let you in on a little secret: every politician in the history of human civilization has lied to their constituents. That’s a truth you can always count on.

Is Hollywood Imploding?

The idea that Hollywood is a place where dirty old men lure young women (and sometimes boys) with promises of stardom has been around pretty much from its inception. It’s an open secret some call the “casting couch culture.” Harry Cohn, co-founder and president of Columbia Pictures until 1958, was rumored to have a private room next to his office for dalliances, and accusations against Harvey Weinstein go back decades.

Who, then, is surprised by rampant libertinism and degeneracy in the entertainment industry? It’s been on the cover of every tabloid magazine since the beginning of print media. So why have all these accusations of sexual improprieties suddenly bubbled to the surface, and does it have anything to do with declining ticket sales?

Forbes recently ran an article citing 2017’s summer movie season as the lowest grossing summer for the movie business in 25 years. While it mentioned fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it mainly blamed the rising cost of theater attendance and a generational preference for watching movies on mobile devices.

It’s true ticket and concession prices have become grossly over inflated, but these explanations hardly scratch the surface. Young people aren’t going to the theater because they’d rather watch movies on a phone? Ridiculous. I think it has much more to do with the poor quality of films coming out of Hollywood. Netflix has experienced tremendous growth partly because their original movies and series are compelling, funny, clever, and creative.

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