» 2013 » June

Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: June 2013

DVD Review: Stoker

June 28th, 2013 - 12:13 pm

Gorey Storey.

There are some films in which style triumphs over content, Stoker is a film in which style overpowers content, hurls it to the ground then chokes the life out of it. Directed by Park Chan-wook, the South Korean who did the entertaining Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), Stoker is so full of mysterious symbols, portentous glances, and cinematic and literary references that when you find out what it’s all about, you think, “That’s it??? That’s what all the fuss is for?”

A girl’s father dies. A mysterious uncle shows up (named Uncle Charlie, so everyone who’s seen Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt knows what we’re dealing with). The girl, her mother and Uncle Charlie begin to form a romantic triangle. So far, so good. But then we find out the underlying secret. We’ve seen it before. And the theme, involving nature and nurture and freedom and inheritance and so on, has been done much better and deeper on Dexter.

Well, it’s not boring, just thin. And all the acting’s good — Mia WasikowskaNicole Kidman and Matthew Goode. And if the style is too much, at least it really is stylish. The whole picture looks like an Edward Gorey sketch. All in all, I’d say you might enjoy the pretty pictures, but don’t expect too much from the story itself.

Gay Squirrel!

June 26th, 2013 - 3:33 pm

If I could reach into the heart of humankind and pluck one flaw from its unknowable depths, it would be our seemingly irresistible desire to tell one another what to do. Think of the results! The Democratic Party would vanish in an instant. The federal budget would shrink to the size of a compact car payment. And all religions would be Christianity at its best. We could still continue to enjoy our pride, lust, greed and gluttony while feeling morally superior to our neighbors’ pride, lust, greed and gluttony. We just wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. It would be like — oh, I don’t know — like living in America again. Free country. To each his own. That’s what makes for horse races. And all that.

I’m not a lawyer and so will read what lawyers say for a few days before forming any opinion of the Supreme Court’s latest decisions on gay marriage. But as for the likely practical results of those decisions, I can tell you already: I don’t care. I believe the advent of no-fault divorce gutted marriage of any beneficent legal meaning, and so the government should simply get out of the business altogether and leave the whole thing to contract law and church ceremony.

As for the morality of it, God gives each of us one set of sexual apparatus and that, as far as I’m concerned, is His way of telling us to mind our own f—ing business. If it turns out these court decisions somehow abridge the right of Muslims to topple walls onto the heads of homosexuals, well, by golly, I will speak out stridently for freedom of religion. But if the only thing that happens is that gay people get to pledge to love and honor one another until a Muslim wall do them part, somehow I’m going to press on more or less unscathed. Hell, I’m an Episcopalian. In my church, if you sleep with a goat while taking communion during Lent, you get, like, a time out. We’re just not very strict about these things.

Pages: 1 2 | 38 Comments bullet bullet

Let Em Speak

June 24th, 2013 - 12:35 pm

It tells you something about the state of debate in our country that Bill Maher has become a voice of reason. Maher says a lot of ridiculous things and some awful things, but you have to say this for him: he has always been tolerant of true diversity — that is, the diversity of opinion, the diversity of minds. This is as opposed to the usual leftist idea of tolerating diversity: being wonderfully tolerant of people who look different as long as they all think the same thing. The usually leftist Maher always welcomed Andrew Breitbart and Ann Coulter on his show, and though his idiot audience would beleaguer them — on the principle that booing the truth magically makes it false — Maher would go out of his way to let them have their say.

Maher recently stood up for Paula Deen, a TV chef unkindly and unfairly fired from her show on the Food Channel for…  well, I’m not sure for what exactly, to be honest. A southerner in her sixties, she gave a couple of interviews in which she spoke awkwardly, though not hatefully, about race, and during a trial deposition she admitted that she had privately used what we are now constrained to call “the N-word,” though not for a long time and not necessarily in a negative sense. She apologized profusely but this did not keep her head off the chopping block.

Maher incited the ire of the self-righteous left-wing panel on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher by asking, quite reasonably, “If you’re 66 years old, and you were raised in Georgia, and you were a child before the civil rights movement, do you get a bit of a pass?” He further commented: “I… think people shouldn’t have to lose their shows and go away when they do something bad. It’s just a word, it’s a wrong word, she’s wrong to use it, but do we always have to make people go away?”

Well, right. In fact, do we even have to make such a fuss about it? Can’t people express outlying opinions without being lynch-twittered to death? Maher himself recently caught some flack for calling Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome child “retarded” while making a joke about him. I don’t think he should have done that. I think picking on a handicapped kid is about as low as you can go. Do I think Maher should be fired? Of course not. Let him speak. Let him show us who he is.

Pages: 1 2 | 36 Comments bullet bullet

Death Wish!

June 21st, 2013 - 7:00 am


Out of the too-hilarious-for-a-joke file — and from the pro-life LifeNews.com — comes this delightful report on Chelsea Clinton’s thoughts on the difficult lives of our ancestors:

From the stage at the recent Women Deliver conference, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea revealed that her much-admired maternal grandmother was the child of unwed teenage parents who “did not have access to services that are so crucial that Planned Parenthood helps provide.”

Chelsea’s grandmother was born of an unintended pregnancy.

Anyone would be tempted to go for the cheap gag here — “I wish your grandmother had been aborted too, Chelsea!” — but the real point is that that’s not the point at all. I don’t wish my political opponents were dead or had never been born. I simply wish they would either 1) come to their senses or 2) lose elections so we don’t 3) end up with crappy, corrupt, America-destroying administrations like the current one.

No, it’s Chelsea here who, following thoughtlessly in the footsteps of her parents, is wishing herself right smack dab off the face of the earth! And that is very much the point.

Pages: 1 2 | 71 Comments bullet bullet

RIP Vince Flynn

June 19th, 2013 - 8:27 am

Oh, this is really sad. Vince Flynn, the talented bestselling author of international thriller novels, has died of prostate cancer at only 47. Flynn wrote the wildly popular novels about the CIA assassin Mitch Rapp. His books were not only cool, exciting and patriotic, they were also really well written. Rapp was a terrific tough guy character who brought rough justice to the world’s bad guys…  and if you’ve ever wondered why it’s taking so long for him to appear  in a Hollywood movie, it may be because Flynn knew who the world’s bad guys are, and a lot of people in the movie business don’t. Anyway, I never got to meet the man but the too-soon loss of an expert practitioner is something everyone in the business feels. God’s strength to his family. Rest in peace, Vince Flynn – you were one of the really good ones.


Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It is now officially published and available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and all the rest. This is a collection of writings on California’s troubles from my friends at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal and includes excellent essays by the great Victor Davis Hanson, Steven Malanga, Joel Kotkin, Heather Mac Donald and others. Among those others is me, (or I), with my essay on the movies, “The Lost Art of War.”

But while I’m delighted to be included in the book, the thing I really love about City Journal is that the writers and thinkers there are not concerned with party politics, but only with what works. They’ll support Democrats or Republicans, as long as they come up with real solutions to problems — and solutions that don’t compromise American principles of freedom. Also, they’re really good writers and thinkers.

Take a look at the book — and take a look at the journal itself too. Both provide unique takes on issues that are too often obscured by emotion and rhetoric.

Good Deals on Kindle YA’s

June 13th, 2013 - 7:27 am
YouTube Preview Image

For those of you who enjoy — or think you might enjoy — or think you know someone who thinks he or she might enjoy — my young adult adventure novels:  most of them are on sale at the Kindle store for the next few days for $2.99. All the books in the Homelanders series — The Last Thing I Remember, The Long Way Home, The Truth of the Matter and The Final Hour — plus If We Survive, one of this years International Thriller Writer nominees for best YA thriller — can be scored at that price through June 23rd.

They are very cool action-packed books and will make a man of you, unless you’re a girl, in which case you will remain a girl. The Homelanders books follow patriotic tough guy Charlie West who goes to sleep in his own bed one night only to wake up strapped to a chair being tortured by terrorists. If We Survive is about four young people who go down to Central America on a charitable mission — and then get trapped behind enemy lines during a Communist revolution.

Each for $2.99 apiece! Pretty good. Even I may buy a couple.

Can Conservatives be Atheists?

June 12th, 2013 - 7:18 am

This PJTV discussion between me and Bill Whittle seems to have inspired a bit of online debate — plus some hate mail for me! What’s interesting is how many people heard me say that no, a conservative couldn’t be an atheist. As opposed to what I did say, which was yes, he could. Easy to get those two confused. And to those who asked whether I’ve ever read Ayn Rand, the answer is also yes, virtually all her major works and many of her minor ones as well. I find her economic ideas — most of which can be found in Frederic Bastiat — very sound. Her moral and aesthetic ideas are absurd. Even the people who believe in them don’t really believe in them.

Anyway, here’s the vid. Decide for yourself. All hate mail should be addressed to Bill. I mean, just look at him!

YouTube Preview Image

Beautiful Music!

June 9th, 2013 - 11:41 am

Watch this!

YouTube Preview Image

Eyes Wide Shut: Christians Against Art

June 7th, 2013 - 10:37 am

An excellent article by John Stonestreet at Breakpoint led me to an excellent article by Philip G. Ryken at The Gospel Coalition. Ryken asked Christian artists how the church discouraged them and they gave him some very precise and, I thought, accurate answers. Here’s Stonestreet’s summary:

First, they said, treat the arts as window dressing for the truth rather than the window into reality it’s intended to be. Second, embrace bad art just because it’s “Christian.” Third, value artists only for their artistic gifts, but not for the other contributions they can make as thinkers and servants with a unique perspective. Fourth, demand that artists only give answers in their work, but never raise questions. Fifth, never pay artists for their work—take advantage of them in ways we would never do with plumbers or accountants. And finally, only validate art that has a direct salvation application.

These complaints seemed to be highlighted and exemplified by a well-intentioned but, to my mind, utterly wrong-headed essay by David Gibson of the Religion News Service entitled, “Can A Christian Watch Game of Thrones?” (which happens to be my favorite show at the moment):

Is there anything morally redeeming about “Game of Thrones”? Does the hit HBO series even have a moral vision…?  The appeal of the series seems bound up in the senseless violence and amoral machinations – not to mention the free-wheeling sex – that the writers use to dramatize this brutish world of shifting alliances and dalliances.

I call this wrong-headed not for its description of the show, but for its inherent concept of Christians as delicate flowers who have to be protected from a vision of life as it is. Gibson says GOT may be “depicting how the world would look if Christ had never been born – or what it could look like if Christianity disappeared tomorrow.” But that’s just silly. Does he mean now that Christ has shown up, people live long and prosper in honesty and evil never thrives? Is he demanding to be lied to about the nature of this world?

The very power of Game of Thrones derives from the fact that the author of the source novels, George R. R. Martin (an atheist, I believe) treats his characters as harshly and heartlessly as the real world treats the rest of us. If Christians can’t look at that without losing their faith, they better not watch the news either, or look out their windows, or leave their rooms. 

Pages: 1 2 | 14 Comments bullet bullet