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Kyle Smith

Kyle Smith is a film critic for the the New York Post. His website is at www.kylesmithonline.com.
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The 5 Most Overrated Sports Movies

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

5. Draft Day (2014)

It’s currently at 57 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s not highly rated. But it is highly amazing that anyone at all liked this football-illiterate soap about a Cleveland Browns general manager (a sullen-looking Kevin Costner) simultaneously having girlfriend problems (with Jennifer Garner, who plays his team’s salary-cap guru), dead-dad problems and personnel problems on the biggest day of year for general managers.

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) trades three first-round draft picks at the annual NFL draft of top college prospects in order to move up six spots and select the hottest college quarterback in years. But then he worries he’s made the wrong decision because of a rumor that none of the jock’s teammates attended his twenty-first birthday party. Also he gets jittery because of a game in which the QB got sacked four times, though even a non-expert looking at the tape can see how the sacks were entirely the fault of poor blocking by the offensive line, not the quarterback.

In short, no one who knows anything about football can take this film seriously, and the romance between Costner’s character and Garner, is flat and tepid. Their arc? They’re having difficulties because he’s not very nice to her. But then he decides to be nice. The end.

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5 Ways Democrats Mythologize JFK

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2013 as “5 Liberal Myths About JFK.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

jfk

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.

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10 Amazing Criterion Collection Films On Hulu Every Sane Person Should See

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013 as “The 10 Best Criterion Collection Movies on Hulu.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to voice your favorites in the comments.

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.

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The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in October of 2013, shortly before Halloween. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

Maniac2012

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 six 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.”

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All 8 of Wes Anderson’s Films Ranked From Worst to Best

Friday, March 7th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Wes Anderson’s eighth film, a screwball comedy based in 1930s central Europe called The Grand Budapest Hotel, has hit theaters. How does it stack up against the Texas-born auteur’s other works? Here’s a ranking of all of his movies.

8. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

A character study of three feuding brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) meeting up on a train in India to reconnect after their father’s death, this lackluster, aimless film made little narrative use of its exotic and colorful setting. Though less obviously art-directed than most of Anderson’s other films — location shooting in teeming cities made it impossible for him to control every millimeter of the frame the way he normally does — it’s Anderson’s least funny film and it also suffered from a lack of much of a message. When the brothers finally and climactically meet their mother (Anjelica Houston), who is living as a nun in the mountains, not much happens.

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Oscar’s 20 Most Unbelievable Acting Snubs

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

The Oscars can’t be expected to get it right every time, but when it comes to the acting categories it’s particularly obtuse. (Joel Grey in Cabaret over Al Pacino in The Godfather? Art Carney in Harry & Tonto over Pacino in The Godfather, Part II? Pacino in Scent of a Woman over Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven? ) Often, great performances don’t even land a nomination. Here’s a list of 20 of the most unbelievable acting Oscar snubs.

1. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa in Casablanca (1942)

It’s hard to believe, but the future winner of three Academy Awards had just started working in Hollywood and wasn’t nominated for her most immortal performance, the one that defined screen glamor.

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14 Films That Should Have Won the Oscar for Best Picture But Weren’t Even Nominated

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Anytime you’re tempted to care too much about what’s going on with the Oscars, consider the list of great movies that should have won Best Picture yet weren’t even nominated in that category.

1. King Kong (1933)

The landmark in special effects and fantasy captivated the imagination and heralded a new era in which anything anyone could dream up became a cinematic possibility. The closing line was so perfect that Peter Jackson couldn’t resist using it again in his remake seven decades later. But Oscar was obsessed with historical sweep at the time, and gave its top award to the generational family saga Cavalcade

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5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

Saturday, February 8th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in August of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

shutterstock_105692996

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.

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The 10 Best Conservative Books of 2013

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

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In no particular order, here’s a look at some of the best conservative books of 2013.

1. The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters by Gregory Zuckerman

Zuckerman’s gripping tale is a story of men who risked everything they had, and in many cases won (or lost) fortunes betting against the conventional wisdom: That perfecting fracking would be a revolutionary improvement in the means of harvesting more fossil fuel (not the wind/solar/geothermal sources the best and brightest tell us are the future) that would do more for the American energy business than anyone could have foreseen even 15 years ago.

“Creative destruction can render public policies irrelevant, as seems to be the case with several decades of conventional-wisdom energy policy,” noted Michael Barone in National Review. “It reminds us that people with ingenuity and daring can reshape the world in ways few can imagine.”

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5 Liberal Myths About JFK

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

jfk

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.

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6 of the Most Unbelievably Extreme Horror Films You Must Never Watch on Netflix Streaming

Friday, October 25th, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

Maniac2012

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 six 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.”

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4 Reasons to Fall in Love with The Wizard of Oz Again — And 1 Reason Not To

Saturday, September 21st, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

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.

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The 10 Best Criterion Collection Movies on Hulu

Friday, September 13th, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

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.

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5 Reasons Why Duck Dynasty Is a Great All-American Show

Friday, August 23rd, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

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.

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5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 - by Kyle Smith

 shutterstock_105692996

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.

Read bullet | 31 Comments »