“John Scalzi Answers the Burning Question – Can SciFI Movies Be Cool?”, via Instapundit, is a good short literary essay.
For example, there’s “cool,” as in “the studied indifference to cultural judgment regarding what you like,” which means that you like what you like and you don’t care if other people like it. Science fiction fails this definition utterly, because science fiction fans are monumentally uncool — not because they are geeks and nerds, or at least, not directly because of that, but because generally speaking they really really really want you to love what they love, too, and that sort of insensible urge to share is the opposite of cool. Mind you, scifi fans understand other people don’t love what they love, but rather than not caring, they feel a little sorry for those people. Which is a different dynamic altogether.
He then notes that 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix were cool movies.
From a very very good essay on John Ford movies:
For an atheist, even those functional atheists who make a hobby out of churchgoing but who do not actually believe that any of the Creed is true, cannot sing, not in Ford’s sense. People may sing for diversion, or may listen to singing for entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you have no sense for the mysterious and transcendent — if you do not bow in humility before the mysteries of Man and Woman and Child, let alone God — then you have nothing that will unite you and your fellows in gratitude to sing about, and certainly no one beyond yourselves to sing to. The clodhopping farmers of Drums Along the Mohawk are happy to be together at the barn dance to celebrate a wedding, not just because a wedding is an excuse for drinking, but because any wedding is to them like a moment’s reentry into Eden, or a moment’s foreshadowing of heaven. The secular world is optimistic, sure, and can provide a lot of fun, sometimes of the harmless kind. But it knows neither hope nor joy.
This has some important relation to the 2007 Korean movie Le Grand Chef which we saw last night with the Wildenbeests, Buddhist/traditionalist though that movie is. Come to think of it, the protagonist of that movie may have to be Buddhist because it is about tradition and loyalty, but his attitude is highly Christian– that simple work is ennobling, that bodily pleasures and existence in this world are good, and that what is gained by sin is not worth having.
Rob Long has never, as far as I recall, written anything less than first-class:
To those of us who live and work in Hollywood, movies are always the perfect gift. So we’re puzzled to read about the controversy that erupted when President Barack Obama gave British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a collection of classic movie DVDs.
It seemed like a chintzy gift to some sniffing British journalists. Impersonal, slapdash, borderline insulting — the sign, some suggested, of a president in over his head.
But, look, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been faced with finding a last-minute gift. We’ve all sprinted through the aisles of Walgreens, scanning the shelves for something — anything — that might possibly, if wrapped stylishly, qualify as a present. President Obama has the added burden of being almost completely broke, so it’s only natural that his eye drifts to the discount bin at the video store.
Twenty-five classic movies? Some that he included, like “The Wizard of Oz” and “City Lights,” are so old and so well-known that they’re practically free. Perfect! Wrap them up in last year’s Hanukkah paper — he’s British; he won’t notice — and presto: diplomatic crisis averted.
I found favorable and interesting-in-themselves reviews of Doubt and W. by Steve Sailer.
My 2007 Christmas list. My 2007 list of good things I’ve discovered over the year is up at :
Merry Christmas, all!