As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy approaches, JFK remains a mythical figure for left-liberals. But they’re wrong to call him the standard bearer of their principles, because though Kennedy had some liberal characteristics he would hardly recognize the Democratic Party as it is currently constructed. Here are five liberal myths about the 35th president.
1) JFK was a Ted Kennedy clone.
Liberals today are understood to stand for the opposite of everything Republicans stand for, but the labels were more fluid in the JFK era, when some Republicans were liberal and some Democrats were conservative. In 1953, shortly after being elected to the Senate, Kennedy said, “I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal….I’m not comfortable with those people.” In the 1960 “I’m a liberal speech” Democrats often cite, Kennedy sounded more like a compassionate conservative:
If, by “liberal,” [our opponents] mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrates that we are not that kind of “liberal.” But if, by a “liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people….if that is what they mean by a “liberal,” then I’m proud to say that I’m a “liberal.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the L-word.
Looking for a Halloween horror movie that goes beyond screaming-babysitter and haunted-house cliches? Some of the most disturbing, vile, disgusting and off-the-hook films ever made are available on Netflix’s instant streaming service.
Here are five incredibly twisted experiences that will have you whimpering with disbelief. Tasteless? Wicked? Exploitative? These films are all of these things and then some. Don’t watch them, if you have any sense whatsoever.
6. Maniac (2012)
Even more violent and depraved than the trend-setting 1980 original (which isn’t available to stream on Netflix), this slasher flick involves the mommy-fixated owner (Elijah Wood) of a mannequin store who prowls the night in search of women to stab. Even sicker: He keeps the scalps to top off his mannequins in a fly-ridden room. You’ll almost smell the rotting flesh.
“If it’s possible to be both impressed and appalled by a movie’s pull-no-punches savagery,” wrote The A/V Club, “Maniac earns that dubious distinction.”
This week marks the re-release of The Wizard of Oz in 318 theaters nationwide to promote a Blu-ray re-release next month. The new version, a painstaking 3-D IMAX restoration of the 1939 classic (which was originally released one week before World War II broke out in Europe and was not a huge success at the time), is a visual marvel and a great way to catch up with the film if you haven’t seen it in a few years. Here are a few things that are wonderful about Wizard (and one that’s pretty lame).
1. It’s fast-moving without being jumpy.
Oz gallops right along from adventure to adventure — the Kansas scenes, the introduction of the witches and the Munchkins, the friendship with Scarecrow and the others, the Emerald City and the Wicked Witch’s castle. There’s barely a chance to catch your breath before the next episode of peril (or the next sparkling musical interlude). Yet the movie is composed of relatively long takes. There are only 650 edits in the entire movie — less than one-third as many as you would expect to see in a contemporary equivalent. It’s a film that consistently rewards the uninitiated with surprises (and the repeat viewer with dazzling set pieces that rank among the most justly famed images in the history of film) without any wasted moments.
If you’re a subscriber to Hulu Plus, one of the side benefits is free access to the many dazzling jewels of the Criterion Collection, which restores classic films, mainly from other countries, many of which are not available on Netflix. The vast majority are seldom shown on cable or pay TV. Of the 869 Criterion titles currently available on Hulu Plus — the full list is available here – these are ten of the best.
10. Burden of Dreams (1982)
A crazy ode to the love of filmmaking stars the gifted and driven German director Werner Herzog as he struggles to make his baggy masterpiece Fitzcarraldo, which originally starred Jack Nicholson and Mick Jagger until both dropped out. The film is about a demented genius who attempts to drag a full-sized ship over a mountain in the Amazonian rainforest, and being the perfectionist he was Herzog decided, using rudimentary native tools and muscle, to do the same. The film has a rating of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. The Great Dictator (1940).
The first satiric attack Hollywood ever launched on Adolf Hitler is still the best. In his first-ever talkie, Charlie Chaplin (who also wrote and directed, at a time when there was an informal rule against provoking Germany with anti-Nazi films) spoofs “Adenoid Hynkel” as the madman he was. Chaplin also plays a Jewish barber with amnesia unaware that anti-semitic forces have taken over his country.
Now that the fourth season premiere of A&E’s Duck Dynasty has shattered the record for the highest-rated show of its kind in history, even bicoastal liberals are starting to check it out. Good for them, because the story of the Louisiana boys made good is a rousing parable about what it means to be sons and daughters of this country. As Phil Robertson, the inventor of the family duck call that made a fortune, once put it, “It’s America, let it rip.” Here are five reasons Duck Dynasty is the great All-American show of the moment.
1. The Robertsons are good ol’ boys.
Nothing turns up the nose of the elites and the Eurosnobs as much as the notion of a good ol’ boy, a redneck, a country bumpkin. Sensitive San Franciscans and multicultural Brooklynites alike revel in jokes about white trash, the only ethnic group it’s acceptable to look down on.
Television shows and movies generally avoid mention of places like Louisiana unless it’s to make fun of the inhabitants or to portray the Deep South as a hotbed of racism, extremism and hatred in general. But the family behind the Duck Commander fortune is an easygoing clan of honest, simple, unpretentious folk who love one another, play practical jokes, and stick to country values. The good ol’ boy is an almost uniquely American personality type. You’d be hard pressed to find a good ol’ boy in China or Germany.
Feel like kicking back with a laffer tonight? Thanks to Netflix streaming, there is a bewildering array of mediocrity available at your fingertips, and you’ve already seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Back to School and 48 Hrs. But in the rubbish pile there are lots of hidden gems. Here are a few of my favorite on-demand Netflix comedies. Just don’t let your thumb slip and exactly dial up Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker.
1) Bernie (2012)
Tamping down his usual crazy-man instincts, Jack Black is brilliant as the title figure, a strangely polite, perfectionist funeral-home director who becomes a civic treasure in his small Texas town. Black gets across the sense of another personality hidden below the surface as Bernie becomes an almost slavish associate of a wealthy but exasperatingly demanding widow (Shirley MacLaine, who is perfectly obnoxious). Eventually he can’t stand her demands any more, and murders her. What happens next, as retold by an incredulous D.A. (Matthew McConaughey, also very funny) on Bernie’s trail, is even more bizarre. Full of fond Texas touches, this true story has to be seen to be believed.