That's Entertainment

Movies, Politics & Current Events

I have no plans, and no particular desire, to go see "Atlas Shrugged."

I do have plans, however, to read and enjoy the mean-spirited reviews of the movie, the flood of gratuitous, impertinent, and semi-literate swipes at any ideology to the right of Dennis Kucinich, and the mouth-frothing rage of the defensive Randians and Objectivists. No movie can match that.

The movie appears appalling as an expression of filmmaker's art. As for the underlying work — well, I have many small-l libertarian views, but I find Ayn Rand tiresome. Political allegory can be gripping — consider Animal Farm or 1984. No one would say that George Orwell is subtle, but he doesn't have Snowball give a eighty-page speech, because he's not pathologically self-indulgent and self-satisfied. Rand lacks the elements that I require in an entertaining political writer: tolerance of nuance, capacity for self-criticism, and a sense of humor about it all. The folks who are loudest about how awesome she is also seem humorless, in a very humorous way. (Remember how angry the Objectivists got at John Scalizi for a funny throw-away paragraph?)

Dogmatism is dreary.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Burt Likko  •  Apr 15, 2011 @9:35 am

    You can be Preachy and you can be Entertaining, but it's really difficult to be both at the same time.

    Or, you can be Roger Ebert, in which case you can review the movie as a movie divorced from its politics, and be very entertaining along the way.

  2. devildan  •  Apr 15, 2011 @9:36 am

    I finished the book because I'm a stubborn person: unsubtle as it was verbose, cartoonish in a way that comic books *haven't* been in fifty years.

    I'm glad people will continue to read the novel, but it would have done Rand's philosophy real service to have let an editor take a pen to those speeches.

  3. PeeDub  •  Apr 15, 2011 @9:57 am

    Oh is Ebert still a movie critic? I thought he had moved into curmudgeonly cane-shaking full time.

  4. Brian Dunbar  •  Apr 15, 2011 @11:39 am

    Dogmatism is dreary.

    There you go. I have a mild desire to see it. But only because I have not read the book, can't bring myself to slog through it, but actual non-dogmastics _have_ and say it's the bees knees. So I'd like to see what the fuss is about in easily digested form.

    But the trailer doesn't fill me with desire to see it. Perhaps 'Sucker Punch"s trailer has spoiled me forever in that regard.

  5. Brad Warbiany  •  Apr 15, 2011 @1:08 pm

    I've read Atlas twice, enjoyed it, and have given away several copies over the years.

    That said, I didn't read it for Rand's literary skill. The power of a book like Atlas is its ideas, not it's poorly-written one-dimensional characters, its worship of the pure "heroic man", etc.

    Atlas Shrugged could be made into a very powerful movie if someone who fully understood its philosophy adapted it into an actual good film. Which, of course, would piss off every Randroid in the known universe. So we'll be stuck with a movie that adheres too faithfully to the book, that just doesn't "work".

    If the movie adapted the book in, as Brian asks above, an "easily digested form", it would be worthwhile. But I don't think it'll accomplish that, and Ebert's review essentially suggests that the filmmaker didn't try to adapt it at all.

  6. random_guy  •  Apr 15, 2011 @9:50 pm

    Read Atlas twice; once in high school and loved it, once after college and saw it for the mythic hero warship it is. Thats my problem with Rands whole philosophy, its supposed to be about how to live your life, but she writes like shes never met a real person before. The ubermench she paints in Atlas would have Nietzsche rolling his eyes.

    I still like some of the philosophy, it was definitely instrumental in forming my notions of personal rights and pushing me towards libertarianism. But Rands overall philosophy is so uncompromising, childish, and hypocritical that I can't take it or her supporters seriously.

  7. LJ Taylor  •  Apr 16, 2011 @9:15 pm

    I do have plans, however, to read and enjoy the mean-spirited reviews of the movie, the flood of gratuitous, impertinent, and semi-literate swipes at any ideology to the right of Dennis Kucinich, and the mouth-frothing rage of the defensive Randians and Objectivists. No movie can match that.

    Pure Poetry…

  8. Tam  •  Apr 18, 2011 @7:00 pm

    Most of the joy of Atlas Shrugged is the "Oh, no, she di'n't just say that, did she?" I mean, Shakespeare it ain't.

    The movie would not leave one feeling cheated if it were a made-for-TV movie, but mostly it serves to remind one how far production values have come in Hollywood in the last 30 years. You can't film an epic on a Clerks 2 budget anymore.

    Still, I went anyway to show the flag, because I'd like to think that every time a ticket was sold, god killed a hippie's kitten. ;)

  9. CTrees  •  Apr 21, 2011 @5:02 am

    I find it both hilarious and extremely telling that on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is currently sitting at 7% Freshness, but has an 85% positive user rating. Hrm…