February 14, 2014, - 4:05 pm

Wknd Box Office: Robocop, Endless Love, Winter’s Tale, Run & Jump

By Debbie Schlussel

There are literally THREE remakes of bad ’80s movies at the box office this weekend. Three–“Robocop,” “Endless Love,” and “About Last Night.” Why? Because lame Hollywood can’t come up with anything new or anything decent. So, they remake crap. I did not see “About Last Night,” which was a cheesy, crappy movie then, and is silly to remake now. It was about a guy and girl who sleep together after meeting at a bar and then have the awkwardness of whether they can have a relationship after that. Today, everyone is sleeping with each other at the drop of a hat, so the very light morality (and I use that word very loosely) of the 1986 original would be laughed at today.



* “Robocop“: I never liked the vastly overrated original 1987 anti-“Big Business” original version of this movie, starring Peter Weller. This remake is slightly (but only slightly) better insofar as the CEO is just a dishonest lout, whereas the one in the original was a coke-snorting, extremely sleazy, murderous, criminal lout. And the graphics and technology are better (and more unnecessarily graphic) than the original. I did not like the anti-drones (and pro-Muslim and Edward-Snowden-esque anti-NSA) theme and so on that was present in this version, but I did like the exploration of the disturbing “brave new world” territory we’ve entered in which robot and human are merged and where bad and unethical things can come of that. I could have done without the scenes in which “innocent” Iranian Muslims are harassed and “wrongly” killed by robots and so on. But the Black Bill O’Reilly played by Samuel L. Jackson is spot on. Jackson’s “Pat Novak” and “Novak Elements” show is actually too kind to bloviating Bill Falafel/Loofah O’Reilly.

If you’ve seen the original, you know the story: it’s the future (2028), Detroit is still crime-ridden, and a Detroit cop (Joel Kinnaman) is nearly murdered and left for dead by crooks. But what is left of him–primarily his brain–is brought back to life as a robot and a cop a/k/a “Robocop” by a company that builds robots and wants a contract to police Detroit and bring down crime. When Robocop starts patrolling the streets and taking justice into his own hands, crime goes down, and the people of the city are ecstatic. But soon Robocop is too effective, and the crooks and their partners in the corrupt police department want him stopped and put out of commission. The CEO of the robot company (a somewhat zaftig and aged Michael Keaton) is sleazy and lies about Robocop to his family, plus he interferes with Robocop’s brain and software. Gary Oldman plays a doctor who works with and develops Robocop. He’s always an excellent actor (one of my absolute faves) and definitely too good for this movie.

Like I said, it’s the same movie with better graphics and a few updates, but still a mostly liberal tone.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Endless Love“: More like, “Endless Movie,” as it went on and on and on. Or seemed to. I never saw the original 1981 version of this (starring Brooke Shields) from beginning to end, so I can’t compare, but what I did see was just stupid. And the same can be said for this. The movie is silly. And it has the typical stock evil White rich people characters in it. They are snobs in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere but in the movies anymore. The two lead actors in this movie are Brits playing Americans, but only one of them (Gabriella Wilde, a descendant of the British Royals, whose real name is Gabriella Zanna Vanessa Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe) doesn’t let the English accent peek out.

The story: Alex Pettyfer plays a working class kid who’s had a longtime crush on his high school classmate, Jade Butterfield (Wilde), a waifish girl from a rich family. He finagles his way into her life and they fall in love. But he’s “from the wrong side of the tracks” and Jade’s father doesn’t like him because he’s poor and doesn’t plan to go to college. The father (Bruce Greenwood) has ambitions for her to take a medical internship, attend Brown University, and become a doctor. So the father meddles and attempts to push them apart. Aside from being cheesy and predictable, the movie is dated in a number of ways because, today, fewer and fewer men are attending college and grad school, and the majority of students are women. It’s become fashionable for men to be slackers with no ambition and for women to marry down to them. That’s feminism.

As I noted, Alex Pettyfer’s British accent repeatedly sneaks out. He’s not a bad actor, but the movie isn’t great. The only good thing about it (other than that it ends) is that it does not feature the annoying Lionel Richie/Diana Ross song of the same name that went with the 1981 original. Thank Heaven for small favors.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Winter’s Tale“: A horribly pretentious, boring, New Age attempt at a love story thriller. It fails miserably, despite using time travel, a magic, flying time-traveling horse, amnesia, the devil and angels, and other assorted devices thrown in to make a messy muddle. The confusing, disjointed story features a thief (Colin Farrell) who is an abandoned baby that came ashore in a toy boat in New York in the 1920s or 30s or something. His parents were deported and lowered him into the water in the toy boat. He was adopted and raised by a gangster boss (Russell Crowe), who also happens to be a demon (who answers to the devil Will Smith). Farrell crosses Crowe and escapes on a flying horse. Then, when robbing a house, he meets a very sick redheaded woman who has a strange illness that makes her very hot and makes the snow melt under her feet. They fall in love, but she dies. Then, suddenly he is in the future and has amnesia and discovers his role in life is to save a redheaded little girl who has cancer. Huh? Yup, that’s this movie.

And, believe me, I’m making it sound far better than it is. Also, throughout the movie, loud orchestral music constantly plays and some woman in an English accent says silly, pretentious things, like, “What if we were all 100 stars in the sky but we were meant to be 100 jellybeans?” Okay, she didn’t say exactly that, but pretty close. Huh? times a thousand.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Run & Jump: A long, boring, pointless, pretentious waste of time about a medical researcher (Will Forte) who moves to the home of an Irish stroke victim, his wife, and family. The researcher is studying the behavior of the stroke victim, who goes a little nuts and becomes childlike. He cannot fulfill his duties as a father and husband and instead obsesses with talking to animals and carving wooden balls (he used to make furniture out of wood). The wife and kids fall for the researcher and try to make him part of their lives, but he resists at first. This movie was weird in addition to being a snoozer. Yuck.


Watch the trailer . . .

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133 Responses

Wow that’s a whopper! You probably worked on that post longer than old Edmund worked on ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’.

I’ve heard the ‘Having his cake and eating it too’ argument…sometimes the tones don’t have to mesh the contradictions between them is what gives the film its peculiar tone. And the violence is part of the theme…waste and degradation (moral and physical) and whether or not its possible to recover.

As for Kubrick, your definition auteur isn’t really what the term means. The whole point of an auteur in the French sense was a director who imbues his vision on the material without having written it. (Hawks, Ford, Hitchcock, Ray and many others). Spartacus was a case where he had no control over the material so its not really worth talking about. Besides a third of the film was directed by Anthony Mann. BTW I think you meant Howard Fast and not Arthur Koestler?

Kubrick completely altered ‘The Shining’. He improved on the novel quite a bit. There’s a reason Stephen King didn’t like the film. 2001 also bore very little relation to the Arthur C Clarke short story it was based on (the novel 2001 was written at the same time as the filming so it had no bearing on the film). Barry Lyndon is also a complete refraction of the novel. The key is sympathizing with the narrator and not the characters. It’s also a historical meditation…Kubrick uses slow reverse zooms to move from the human dramas at the forefront, long discarded by history, to recreations of the landscape paintings that endured. The intelligence in 2001 could well be God. It was praised by the Catholic Church at the time. It’s also a criticism of Evolutionary thinking. The notion that humans will necessarily get better along with their machines. The elements of Lolita you mentioned originated in the novel. The film couldn’t have worked but it still very charming (although the decision to shoot Nabokov’s homage to/ribbing of American pop culture in England was disastrous). A Clockwork Orange is a defense of free will no matter what the consequences. It’s not one of my favorites at all but that theme is pretty clear. Paths of Glory may be ‘anti-war’ but it’s far from pacifistic in spirit. Only the two corrupt generals are tweaked…everyone else is doing their best with as much honor as they could muster. If there is a unifying theme to his films it’s that a tightly wound and organized system collapses. The racetrack robbery in The Killing, the attack on the Ant Hill in Paths, The Defense Safeguards in Strangelove, HAL in 2001, the Ludovico treatment in Clockwork. So forth.

In short he was no more a liberal than J.D.Salinger (someone else who Debbie mischaractreized in her ‘obit’).

Vivian on February 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Wow, you’re fast, Vivian!

I’m glad you didn’t give up on me.

No, pshaw, it didn’t take long to write my post out. I mean, yes, it was long, but it’s all so logical, at least in my mind, that there wasn’t a whole lot of thinking involved. Ask me to download and learn how to work a new app or do something fancy with the remote, though, and you may have to wait awhile.

Yes, I see what you’re saying about clashing intellectual and artistic goals in a film giving the film a uniquely desired feel (as, in “Robocop,” you would argue). And it’s defensible as an argument. Not everything has to be neat and tidy. How tidy is David Lynch’s “Inland Empire,” for example?

There’s a huge amount I agree with in your comments, just a huge amount. To give one example (I could give many), I loved your observation that “Paths of Glory,” is not pacifist in spirit but is really a tweaking of the two generals. I’ve always felt the same about that film (and have said so to friends, who never got what I was trying to say). You’re so smart to see and understand that!

No, I meant Arthur Koestler, not Howard Fast. Koestler’s book “The Gladiators” (1939) which I mentioned in my comments to you was the book that brought the notion of Spartacus-as-communist- parable into the intellectual community. I think we can both agree that Howard Fast was no more than a hack who stole ideas from others and popularized them. Whatever the direct literary source of the film, the ultimate intellectual source that meant it would be approved in Hollywood was derived from Koestler’s earlier novel.

And speaking of “hack” and the peculiar way I use that term, well, yes, I admit that I tweak and bend some words occasionally, and that’s one of them. Another one I’ve adapted to my own ends is “auteur.” Your own historical note about the use of the word by the French is all very fine and correct, I know, but I have my own definition of the word which is narrower, relating primarily to the originality of ideas in a film. Is that so wrong of me?

I didn’t mention “The Killing,” but I see you didn’t forget it. Frankly, I ran out of space! I’m glad you mentioned it, though. It’s one of my favorite Kubrick films, and one of my favorite heist films of all time (heist and con films aren’t the love of my life, but this was an exception).

Vivian, all I can say is that I hope you comment frequently at this site. You have a beautiful mind and elegant thoughts. I’ve kept an eye on you from way back and have always appreciated your clever and knowledgeable perceptions. I’m going to mull the many stimulating ideas you’ve laid out, and perhaps I’ll have more to say about them later.

I’m not going to leave, though, without telling you how much I love the people on this site, you being a perfect example. Debbie has slaved away for years writing beautifully wise and perceptive columns. I say this even though, as you humorously note, she occasionally gives a dismissive “obit” where none is absolutely required, at least in my mind. In any case, it figures that the people who would spend time here would have a good dose of wisdom and perceptiveness themselves, and with those qualities lacking greatly in the public at large, it’s not something I take for granted.

Burke on February 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Microsoft is an interesting example because its Monopoly to the extent it has one is being undermined daily not by antitrust laws but by many alternatives.
In long term we’re all dead – except Keynes didn’t mention our kids might not be. Anyway you won’t have to wait that long to Microsoft market share decline in all probability.

“You seem to think, however, that government is *necessary* to sustain monopoly or near monopoly”
– Never said that. Said they were more likely to endure in countries with concentrated centralized authority.

“Such capture can even advantage whole industries” – it doesn’t advantage whole industries it advantages specific players in those industries.
Key difference there. It also creates a relationship of mutual dependence between the corporation and the state which is specifically what I was driving at.

In fact at this point you burst upon the scene having had basically nothing to say about Robocop which you hadn’t even viewed as far as I could tell and started arguing for your area of core competency of which nobody but yourself was aware.

“Technically, a state is not a polyarchy, but states that we think of as democratic republics contain polyarchal subsystems.”
– OK here even though you’re making a clarification that I didn’t need you’re at least getting closer to the point.

Lindblom’s assertion as far as I can tell is that states we think of as democratic republics are not essentially democratic because of the influence exercised by so called “Polyarchies”.

Now why exactly is that such a compelling argument for him? After all many groups exercise considerable influence outside of the commercial sphere.
Educational institutions, Academics like Lindblom and media institutions both with ties to government and without often exert considerable influence and have extremely important relationships of interdependance.

If “”Polyarchies were established to win and protect certain liberties: private property, free enterprise, free contract and occupational choice” then why does Lindblom feel it necessary to engage in experiments that would by necessity jeopardise those freedoms?

Frankz on February 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm


I’ve been keeping up with the debate you have ongoing with Skzion concerning monopolies, free enterprise, government intervention and polyarchies. You both write clearly and make your points well. I sincerely hope that when Skzion ended his last post with “Enough!” that he was only joshing. He has to realize that there are most likely crowds of internet onlookers at this point all glued to their computer screens with bated breath in anticipation of what logical point might next be made and then rebutted. Cutting this exchange off abruptly without any reasonable resolution would be like shutting off the theater projector in the middle of “Robocop.” It might not end well. There could be general gnashing of teeth. Even riots.

Burke on February 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    (Well, Burke, I’m afraid I find Frankz so exasperating by now–both him and his sock puppet on the latest Kerry thread–that I have no intention of engaging him either now or in the future. Oh, ok, I’ll do it for you, even though I do not think we have many readers. The fact is, I have 6 years of data unzipping, and the data sets are so enormous that it’s taking ages. So, I’m kind of stuck until these data are ready.)

    (1) “Microsoft is an interesting example because its Monopoly to the extent it has one is being undermined daily not by antitrust laws but by many alternatives.”

    According to a Microsoft website, the GUI interface “Windows” began in 1982. The destruction of Apple’s user base, first attracted by the Apple IIe, followed rapidly after Windows 1.0’s debut. As business was already using MS-DOS, it remained with Microsoft. Shortly after Windows 1.0, Apple filed suit, and lost the case in 1985.

    We are therefore talking about decades of near-monopoly at the desktop level. The idea, then, that this near-monopoly “is being undermined daily” is preposterous. (Daily undermining lasting decades?) But even if the undermining began to take place only in the past few years, that does not explain a situation of market distortion lasting decades. I don’t know how many years one needs to wait before one concludes that purely market forces did not work according to theory, but surely we can conclude in this case that such forces did not work. You are right that “antitrust laws” have not undermined Microsoft, because Microsoft has appeased the authorities by propping up Apple and therefore circumventing antitrust laws. In other words, after Microsoft subverted the market, it subverted the regulators. The latter is not surprising, of course.

    (2) I said, “You seem to think, however, that government is *necessary* to sustain monopoly or near monopoly.”

    You replied, “Never said that. Said they were more likely to endure in countries with concentrated centralized authority.”

    If we look back, we will find the following from PitandPen:

    Business cannot be greedy, corrupt, and evil and stay in business for long without one very important element: government power.”

    I objected to this claim that I thought was endorsed by both of you. If you did not endorse this claim–and now you say you did not–my criticism did not apply to you. However, your present “reading” of the Microsoft case as some kind of victory for the free market does suggest that you were and are sympathetic to PitandPen’s claim.

    (3) You say “it [regulatory capture – my term] doesn’t advantage whole industries it advantages specific players in those industries.”

    Why do you make such a sweeping and easily falsifiable claim? It’s just like PitandPen’s claim about monopoly requiring government. I listed the life insurance industry as an example. While this industry is mainly state regulated, I am aware of no state in which the marketing of this product complies with any of the usual regulatory restrictions. On the national level, companies have managed to turn an investment vehicle (annuities) into an “insurance product” and have gotten special tax status for it. These special rules are indeed industry wide.

    I could expand the number of examples. The mortuary industry is another, but I have less direct information about it, so I didn’t use it. Corporate farmers have already destroyed the family farm–with regulatory help–and “farm policy” is now all about the former. (In other words, in this case, regulatory capture has moved from helping corporate “farmers” over family farmers to creating an industry that is almost completely corporate farmer based. Now, this homogenous industry benefits as a whole.)

    (4) You say, “Key difference there. It [regulator capture?] also creates a relationship of mutual dependence between the corporation and the state which is specifically what I was driving at.”

    Frankz, you are preaching to the choir. You continue to claim that I misstate what you say here, but then you say things to me that suggest that you have no idea where I stand on most anything related to politics or economics. Then you criticize me for my ignorance, and then complain that I am ill mannered.

    (5) You say:

    “In fact at this point you burst upon the scene having had basically nothing to say about Robocop which you hadn’t even viewed as far as I could tell and started arguing for your area of core competency of which nobody but yourself was aware.

    I “burst upon the scene” because there was a really nasty exchange going on that had “basically nothing to say about Robocop.” I hoped to quiet that down a bit. I care about civilized discourse among the anti-Islam regulars, which your and Ralph’s hostile language here has made more difficult. “Great.”

    (6a) You say

    “Lindblom’s assertion as far as I can tell is that states we think of as democratic republics are not essentially democratic because of the influence exercised by so called “Polyarchies”.”

    “As far as [you] can tell”? I am not going to engage every suspicion or rumination you have regarding a source that you have not read, nor should you expect me to. I gave you a site. Read it or not, as you see fit. But for God’s sake, read something. You said to Burke:

    “The book [Politics and Markets] is almost certainly not the random class conspiracy mumbo jumbo polemics one would expect from “Das Kapital”.

    Obviously, you have not read Das Kapital (2 volumes) and are confusing it with The Communist Manifesto, which I expect you also have not read, but which is indeed a polemic. Can you see now why I might lose patience with you? If you were unfailingly polite, I would be so back to you, but you are not.

    Nor can I even make strict sense out of the gobbledygook that you have written. Democratic republics are not democracies because they are democratic republics. A “democracy” is a very particular political form, where legitimate power (“authority” – Weber) rests in the direct votes of “citizens.” Where such political systems have existed, many have always been excluded from the citizenry though part of the mass (“demos” [dee-mohs], from the Greek). A democratic republic is a more complicated political system.

    Individuals are not equal in terms of power in any political system, nor can they be. Nor should they be, perhaps. Lindlom’s use of “polyarchy” is simply an effort to avoid the baggage that inheres in the term “democracy.” Academics sometimes do that sort of thing to avoid confusion. Bad academics do this to make themselves look more intellectual. The term acknowledges that every person does not rule equally in any political system, but it rejects the idea that only a few have influence. It leaves the distribution of political power unspecified. That is why polyarchy is not a type of government per se, but an indication of certain governmental structures and political processes typical of a list of states mostly in the West. Lindblom describes the different central tendencies of different broad categories of system.

    (6b) You quote me saying

    “Technically, a state is not a polyarchy, but states that we think of as democratic republics contain polyarchal subsystems.”

    Then you write

    “- OK here even though you’re making a clarification that I didn’t need you’re at least getting closer to the point.

    You didn’t “need” the clarification because you have no interest in learning anything. Your whole purpose is to collapse vast literatures into the dichotomy “Marxist/Not Marxist” (not that you’ve read Marx), and to do so at little cost in terms of time and effort to yourself. Why should I encourage this?

    (7) You write:

    “If “”Polyarchies were established to win and protect certain liberties: private property, free enterprise, free contract and occupational choice” then why does Lindblom feel it necessary to engage in experiments that would by necessity jeopardise those freedoms?

    What “experiments” are you talking about? Lindblom is not engaging in any experiments whatsoever. His work is “positive” not “normative.” Your challenge is another instance of throwing out some ill-founded assertion or query and expecting me to address it. As I said before, you could come up with an arbitrarily large number of them. My time is not so great and my willingness to continue a discussion with someone who does not want to learn anything has been exhausted hours ago.

    THERE BURKE, I foolishly went on and on. My data are still not fully unzipped, but I am GONE from this thread.

    Note that I do plan to curtail my participation on this blog. I will be out for much of March on vacation, and I do not want to spend that time here. I also have come to believe that my time is better spent elsewhere. There is plenty I could read, for example, in the time I spend here. However, I’ll be looking over Debbie’s work regularly, and I’ll pop in occasionally if she seems to need some defense.

    skzion on February 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Thank you, skzion! You’re a good sport.

There are legions of viewers who will not now be disappointed.

Burke on February 20, 2014 at 10:55 pm

OK well I’m over this too.
I didn’t need the clarification because it had nothing to do with the question I raised which guess what? You ignored.

“Once Lindblom captures the idea that the purpose of polyarchy is to protect the liberties of the people, he poses the question as to why the people never attempt a system of central planning in order to address collective problems. Lindblom suggests that such an experiment has never been undertaken because the process “is subversive of the existing system, specifically of the prerogatives, privileges, and rights of the business and property-owning groups”

Is that an accurate statement of Lindblom’s analysis or not Skzion?
Just tell me because if it’s inaccurate I’ll concede I’ve been asking a pointless question.
What I’m not interesting in learning about is what you wants me to know about it.

Since Burke has purchased the book maybe he’ll be able to inform me one day because Skzion seems to want to play disgruntled lecturer. Well sell it somewhere else. Your technical expertise doesn’t give any particularly special social insight. Don’t hit your ass on the way out.

Apple isn’t Microsoft’s primary competition in many areas anyway.
I couldn’t care less about Apple.
In many ways Microsoft had a near monopoly because their product wasn’t bad so while I’m not a huge fan.
Guess what? We survived. Being extremely successful through some merit is not always a complete catastrophe.

Whether we’ll survive the tinkerings of data crunchers like you Skzion I’m not so sure.
Go play with your data sets.

Frankz on February 21, 2014 at 12:06 am

“you want me to know”
You definitely have a lot to teach when it comes to pitfalls to avoid in teaching.
The question was never whether governments themselves were polyarchies you humongous jerk.

Frankz on February 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

Not to mention that you’re the last person to talk about unfriendly discourse towards people you have disagreements with Skzion.

Frankz on February 21, 2014 at 12:33 am

Sure, Frankz! I’m always up for a discussion on polyarchies and polyarchy subsystems. It’s one of my favorite topics. I’ll do my best, once I’ve read Lindblom’s book, to take Skzion’s place. And you can feel free to call me an arrogant boob or ignorant autodidact or whatever you like, since that seems to be the form of the argument you two have developed and I don’t want to change the rules too much.

Burke on February 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Burke, as long as you don’t start calling everybody else a autodidact once you’ve read the damn thing we’ll be fine. Skzion is off chasing sock puppets again he may not return.

    Frankz on February 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm


To summarize, my position is that Kubrick is a hack and stupid liberal. Your position seems to be that he’s an original thinker and more conservative than not.

Here are a couple of thoughts of mine.

1) The film “Barry Lyndon” I argued took the point of view of an English Victorian anti-Irish racist (this is the “hack” side of Kubrick). A turning point in the film (and Thackeray’s original novel) was when the Ryan O’Neal character Barry becomes frustrated with his step-son and beats him. After this, the English community and his new wife scorn him for his supposed primitive brutality and he becomes ostracized. That’s the turning point in this tragedy-morality play. The subtextual cultural thesis here is the stereotype that the Irish can’t control their violence. That, in my opinion, is the whole point of the book and the film: The English are superior to other cultures because they control themselves and are civilized; interlopers who attempt to outwardly mimic the aristocracy and in that way weasel their way into power will necessarily fail because they possess only the basic instincts of animals.

Your own position on the movie is that Kubrick “refracted” the original novel so that the narrator could become a new and pivotal figure outweighing all the others, but I don’t see how this could be true, since none of the novel’s original plot, story or message was changed in any way. It’s a simple morality tale of the rise and fall of a pretender. Furthermore, it’s a common trope, almost a platitude, that the narrator of Victorian novels (particularly Thackeray novels) was a character in himself, so it didn’t seem to me any sort of daring experiment to develop the narrator’s importance in the film.

I think we’ll have to just agree to disagree on this one.

2) The film “2001: A Space Odyssey” I argued was an excuse for Kubrick to promote his bias towards liberal-fascism. Liberal-fascists believe in the myth that the world needs enlightened beings to wisely rule us; without their help, we’re lost. These beings might be portrayed as space aliens, but in the real world, of course, we’re all supposed to realize that these “aliens” are mythically (not allegorically!) the enlightened elites in government.

You pointed out that the film’s basic plot was derived from an earlier short story (“The Sentinel”) which was greatly expanded, and therefore that Kubrick didn’t merely steal material and reprocess it but that he was an original thinker. My own feeling is that all the “originality” of the film had to do with this one concept I mentioned: We need enlightened beings to run our lives. This notion and others in the film were already prominent and popular from Clarke’s earlier award-winning novel “Childhood’s End” and there really wasn’t anything new added.

But then you go on and argue that the Catholic Church had high praise for the movie because the film took aim at evolutionary theory. Therefore, you argue, Kubrick is really a conservative. That’s not a persuasive argument to me, though, because I’m a conservative, and yet I believe in evolution. Where’s the contradiction? Besides, Clarke was, in any case, an unapologetic atheist right in line with the British rational-scientific tradition, and the argument of the film (and later novel of the same title which followed) wasn’t a theocratic one; he was imagining that there really might be living, breathing, more highly advanced space aliens that might want to contact us. For science fiction fans, that’s enough of a thrilling possibility; no need to shove God into the mix. As it turns out, there were so many people confused by the film (because generally they’re confused about science fiction in general) that Clarke was forced to give an interview where he insisted that he definitely did not believe in God or any kind of afterlife whatsoever. He may have thought that would settle the matter, but of course it didn’t.

These are just some thoughts to mull over. I could go on, but luckily for you and any others reading this post, I’m not a sadist so I won’t.

Burke on February 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Burke, BTW, since you committed to reading Lindblom, I decided to move Gramsci to the active queue on Amazon and buy it. I had forgotten that it was around 500 pages (Selections from the prison notebooks). Several here strongly recommend the book for its insight into modern-day communists.

    Apropos Kubrick, I found one of John Simon’s reviews where he basically said, yes, Kubrick was a hack. His comments about Clockwork Orange were utterly devastating. Most important, however, was his comment about Kubrick being an autodidact.

    skzion on February 22, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I’ve also long believed that Kubrick was not only a hack but an autodidact as well. What a striking coincidence! I admit, though, that I happen to love Clockwork Orange, not least because it perfectly represents liberal hypocrisy in an very powerful, paradigmatic way.

Good to hear from you again, skzion. I’m definitely committed to reading Lindblom when the book arrives, and am glad you’re catching up on Gramsci. Recently I read Marcuse’s “One- Dimensional Man” and loved it; I wish I had time to read all the important communists.

Burke on February 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    “not least because it perfectly represents liberal hypocrisy in an very powerful, paradigmatic way.”

    Yes it does–but that was not Burgess’s point at all. Rather, according to Simon, a key idea was the inevitability of the bestial in humanity, and the failure of either science or high culture to civilize. Simon’s view on this matter agrees with mine (if I recall the book correctly).

    skzion on February 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Skzion if I had known you were returning to this thread I would have spent more time responding to your nonsense.
      To simplify though…

      I’m not purchasing the book.
      What I have read is an Amazon review.
      Until I get a direct answer from somebody who seems to base his entire argument on Lindblom’s work but won’t answer a simple question about an Amazon review that is sufficient.

      “Once Lindblom captures the idea that the purpose of polyarchy is to protect the liberties of the people, he poses the question as to why the people never attempt a system of central planning in order to address collective problems. Lindblom suggests that such an experiment has never been undertaken because the process “is subversive of the existing system, specifically of the prerogatives, privileges, and rights of the business and property-owning groups”

      Now since you’re the expert is that an accurate representation or not?

      You’ve already written volumes so if I can’t get a few lines from you confirming or refuting that account I don’t think I can trust your recommendation.
      You may say you don’t care.

      I have to say that I don’t care what you think about Amazon reviews only what you think of the statement. I don’t care if you think reducing Lindblom’s book to a few lines will make it easier to dismiss without understanding it.
      I’ve always been perfectly aware that’s why I can’t get a straight answer out of you.

      Once you are able to be at least this honest I think we move forward onto a discussion on the book’s merits and deal with the plethora of clarifications you feel are needed to clear up perceived misunderstandings.
      Then we’ll discuss whether Lindblom’s book is entirely “positive” instead of “normative”.

      How about it Skzion?

      Frankz on February 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Burke, I’m getting the sense that Frankz has returned to this thread.

    skzion on February 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    In truth, I never read Marcuse. When I was being forced to read commies in political science classes years back, I only read those I was forced to read. While I was forced to read Marx as well, I can’t blame anyone because he was indeed part of the canon in western civilization, and I was indeed taking “History of Western Civilization.”

    I never finished Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals because I became physically nauseated about 1/3 of the way through. I don’t recall any other author having that effect on me.

    skzion on February 23, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I also don’t care if you think confirming it would prove nothing and lead to no result that you are interested in pursuing.

Since anybody is familiar with the book would probably be able to answer the question I find you refusal to engage perplexing.

All I bothered to look at was an Amazon review and even with that I can’t get a straightforward response out of you over a few sentences.

Frankz on February 23, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I’ll be waiting a long time won’t I Skzion?

Frankz on February 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm

You can even do multiple choice

1) Accurate
2) Inaccurate
3) Distorted
4) Oversimplification
5) I don’t really know but I do have an impressive book collection so leave me alone.
7) All of the above

How about it?

Frankz on February 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm

6) I Refuse to Answer on the Grounds That It May Incriminate Me

Frankz on February 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Frankz, what I can’t understand is why you think I would ever engage you again. Heck, the most I do is skim your stuff now. Even when I dissected your nonsense, the “worst” I said about you personally was that you were uninterested in learning anything new about political and economic topics and evidently hadn’t learned much in your formal education about them either. I also said you were obnoxious but expected me to be pleasant. Even my original comment about the word “autodidact” was in reference to Ralph, not you. I do not think you reach the level of an autodidact because you are too incurious.

    Your behavior has been so unpleasant that I thought the worst of you regarding sock puppets and am still not convinced that you told the truth. In any event, though, you have attempted to murder my reputation here with your cRazY-ass “psychoanalysis,” and that is the sort of thing I did not do to you. I save that for Muslims.

    It’s best that we ignore each other. This will the last time I respond directly to you.

    skzion on February 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Skzion, how come it only gets personal when you want to avoid an issue?
      Before your dismissive attitude was about as personal it got with the same result.

      Frankz on February 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm


Thanks for the helpful insights you offered Feb 23 on the “Three Days to Kill” thread. As I mentioned in response to your post at that time, I evolved my own position on “3 Days to Kill” and eventually came to see the film more a redemption tale of a man with shortcomings rather than idealized father-knows-best portrait. (And I worked this view out in detail in my Feb. 23 12:30 post to Little Al.)

You’re right, by the way, that there’s often a tension between the real world and the world of the film, and all this has to be taken into account when analyzing a movie’s meaning.

I was also interested in what you said about Simon’s view being that the meaning of “Clockwork Orange” is the cynical one that humans are inevitably depraved and bestial and these failings can’t be reversed by science of high culture.

If that’s the argument of the novel, it’s a weak one. Alex is depicted as a vicious sociopath. The reader and viewer of this story should realize that Alex’s shortcomings are the result of poor parenting and the breakdown of culture. We don’t see any of these causes, though, and that’s partly why the story is so weak: it’s incomplete. Is Burgess suggesting that evil is completely random? He doesn’t make his argument well. Then, supposedly (in the story), science and culture come to the rescue in the form of a new technology of mind-control. Why not try a simple prison sentence instead? Because it is just assumed not to work? The story doesn’t even deal with this possibility, and this is another weakness and incompleteness in the story. Finally, most hideously indefensible is the way that the mind-control actually is effective in the story, but because Alex no longer loves Beethoven as he did in the past, we’re supposed to weep for him. This is one of the weird hypocrisies of liberalism: liberals weep for the criminal but have very little sympathy for victims of crime. Supposedly they’re all heart (but, psst, not really).

You appear to have some wisdom, though, since you don’t subscribe to the Rousseauist doctrine that we are all born simple, childlike and angelic but that then civilization corrupts us and makes us evil. That’s the French response to the British Hobbesian view that people are born depraved and selfish but civilization can help elevate us towards a higher state, or at least keep us decently in check. What you (and Burgess) appear to have in common is to blend the supposedly opposed cultural views of the French and British together and say we are born depraved but then in addition nothing can make this situation better–least of all civilization. (Is this still one more example of the “mushy middle”?) My own view is the British one, as you might have guessed. I believe if we had more civilization, including more family structure and more belief in the rule of law, this would certainly help remediate the madness.

The reason I mentioned how much I liked Marcuse is that you yourself said you would soon be reading Gramsci. I thought Gramsci (along with some others like Adorno, Horkheimer, Lowenstein and Lucacs, for example) was considered one of the primary exponents of communist theorists from the last century, so that’s why I brought up Marcuse in the first place.

I was quite interested in what you shared about avoiding almost all films because of their irritating feminism and anti-white cultural bias. I have a feeling you’re not alone, since many visiting Debbie’s site seem to hate and avoid current movies (Little Al told me he hasn’t seen a single film released in the last forty years!) It makes for a fascinating paradox: everyone spends a lot of time discussing current films, but nobody’s seen any of them. You might have guessed my own feelings about all this: I watch films that are contrary to my own value system for the same reason that I read communist literature, because I like to read, watch, think about and analyze opposite points of view so that I can understand them all better. Besides that reason, though, I also believe there is no example of 100% evil or 100% good. Shakespeare was a bisexual feminist involved in a lot of raunchy pandering; Chaucer’s humor was deliberately coarse; Aristophanes’s indecent jokes would be considered pushing the margins of decent taste even if they were included in a South Park episode. Yet these three writers are perhaps the most admired “conservative” literary giants of all Western history. So that goes to my argument that there isn’t any pure good, and the same could be said about the converse, that there’s no pure evil. It’s all very interesting to me.

Burke on February 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm

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