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Walter Hudson

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.
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DC Film Suicide Squad ‘a Dirty Dozen with Supervillains’

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

The Warner Bros. announced slate of films based on the DC Comics universe will differ significantly from the Marvel Cinematic Universe by quickly introducing a multitude of characters to be explored in latter films. For instance, the forthcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will see cameo appearances by Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg, each of whom have solo films slated for later in the decade.

The same holds true for the DC Comics supervillains. The next film scheduled for release after Batman v Superman is Suicide Squad, directed by Fury auteur David Ayer. Speaking to Empire, Ayer expressed enthusiasm regarding the prospect of “world creation” with ample time and money:

Money and time he’ll have plenty of – Suicide Squad is scheduled as the second DC behemoth to hit the big screen, following Batman V Superman in two years’ time – and, although he couldn’t say much, his vision for the movie should reassure fans. “I can say that it’s a Dirty Dozen with supervillains,” he said. “Then I can ask the question, ‘Does a movie really need good guys?’”

The studio is reportedly in talks with several “A list” actors to star in the film. Rumors include the likes of Will Smith, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, and The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie. The latter performer seems a good candidate to play Harley Quinn, a popular consort of the Joker originally conceived for Batman: The Animated Series who has yet to be portrayed on film.

The choice to introduce several characters right away, rather than meter them out in a phase of origin stories, indicates that Warner Bros. wants to quickly live up to the scope achieved by Marvel Studios. Whether that proves wise in the long-run is yet to be seen.

Should a character like Harley Quinn be introduced to audiences without the Joker? Will we care about a bunch of lesser known villains in a Dirty Dozen type scenario? Is Warner Bros. right to skip the origin stories and get right to the action in their cinematic DC Universe? Let us know in the comments section below.

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10+ Superhero Films Announced in Cinematic DC Universe

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Last week delivered the motherlode of comic book movie news. First, on Tuesday, Variety reported that Marvel Studios is negotiating with Robert Downey Jr. to reprise the role of Iron Man in the third Captain America film. The new story will reportedly launch the “Civil War” arc from the comics, in which Cap and Iron Man find themselves leading opposing superhero factions after the government mandates all super-beings register their powers and enlist as agents.

Then, on Wednesday, Warner Bros. held a stockholders meeting during which they announced a 10 film slate in their planned cinematic DC Universe, to be produced through the balance of the decade. From Wired:

The already announced Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice serves as the starting point in 2016, with the nine subsequent movies setting up a cinematic DC Universe to rival Marvel’s onscreen efforts. Fans can expect to see Suicide Squad first, due the same year, then Wonder Woman in 2017, The Flash and Aquaman in 2018, Shazam in 2019, and Cyborg and Green Lantern in 2020. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the Justice League movie, which contrary to earlier reports of an Avengers-style team marquee film will instead be released in two parts, in 2017 and 2019.

By Thursday, a studio source clarified that additional solo Superman and Batman films will be peppered throughout that schedule. If the production slate holds true, we could have several years in which three DC films hit theaters. That’s in addition to the two which Marvel Studios has averaged, adding up to five potential superhero films a year until 2020.

“It’s an age of miracles,” film director Jon Schnepp swooned to his AMC Movie Talk cohort while contemplating this moment in cinematic history. Ten years ago, who would have thought that the superhero genre would be as prolific as it has become. From Marvel Studios adaptation of their rich comic book story arcs to Christopher Nolan’s transcendent Dark Knight trilogy, the genre has undergone a thorough makeover in recent years. Now, it’s set to dominate for a generation.

Will the market get saturated? Will interest wane? Can Marvel maintain the quality that they’ve put out so far? Will DC ever catch up? Post your thoughts below.

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The 10 Coolest Sci-Fi Technologies and How Close They Are to Reality

Friday, October 17th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

The cell phone. The tablet. The touchscreen interface. All were once figments of imagination portrayed in science fiction. But for every imagined sci-fi technology that becomes realized, many more remain outside our grasp. Some are peaking over the horizon, while their most promising applications remain untold years away. Here are the 10 coolest sci-fi technologies, and how close they are to reality.

10. Terraforming

What It Is: While scientists have located planets with characteristics essential to supporting life, to date, the search for a habitable planet has confirmed nothing. If human beings hope to survive on a planet other than Earth without remaining confined to artificial structures, we will have to engineer methods to transform alien planets into Earth-like ones. That process is called terraforming.

Why It’s Cool: We live in a time when no real frontier remains. With the exception of the ocean’s most obscure depths, human beings have been everywhere on Earth. The ability to successfully terraform, combined with interstellar travel, would open up the galaxy to human colonization. That would provide those with the necessary means and pioneer spirit to seek new worlds where human freedom could be explored anew.

How Close to Reality: Pretty far. Terraforming Mars, the only planet in our solar system which stands as a reasonable candidate for the process, would take “several millennia” utilizing currently hypothesized methods. Giant orbital mirrors would reflect sunlight to the surface, and greenhouse gas-producing factories would work to heat and sustain the atmosphere. Basically, it’s Al Gore’s worst nightmare.

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The 10 Most Remarkable Bond Girls of All Time

Friday, October 10th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series by Walter Hudson exploring the James Bond series. Also check out the previous installments: “The 10 Most Memorable James Bond Henchmen” and “The Top 10 Most Worthy Bond Villains.” 

We recently learned that French actress Léa Seydoux will join Daniel Craig and much of the cast from Skyfall as a femme fatale in the 24th James Bond film. Seydoux played a similar role in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. She joins a sisterhood of glamorous and seductive women who have led Bond astray or succumbed to his charms over five decades of film.

When tasked with ranking Bond’s female companions, the criteria I chose were more than just beauty or sex appeal. Every Bond girl has those. These are the women who most impacted the course of the franchise, who marked key moments, set strong precedents, or played a profound role in shaping Bond’s character. Here are the 10 most remarkable Bond girls of all time.

10. Jinx

Die Another Day marked a significant moment in the franchise’s history. The film was released on the 40th anniversary of Dr. No, the first Bond adventure. It was the 20th film in the series. It also served as the swan song for actor Pierce Brosnan, who had successfully reinvigorated the character after the longest lull in the series’ history.

Such a moment calls for a Bond girl of remarkable stature, a known quantity whose beauty and talent separate her from the pack of interchangeable consorts. Halle Berry fit the bill, lending the perfect balance of snark and sexy to end the Brosnan era.

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September’s 10 Most Popular Movie Trailers

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Fall is decisively under way. September saw the release of many new movie trailers. It’s an interesting time of the year, not quite late enough to start seeing much from next year’s highly anticipated lineup of blockbusters. That clears the way for some lesser known projects to take a greater share of the public’s attention. Here are the top 10 most popular movie trailers released in September.

10. God Help the Girl

Emily Browning has a stealthy little career going for her, working steadily in films which no one sees. Her most mainstream appearance came in Zack Snyder’s directorial misstep Sucker Punch. The other places you may have seen her were this year’s Pompeii and the Jim Carrey showpiece from a few years back, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

She has a trademark beauty which oscillates between strange and captivating. It’s a look which suits this eccentric musical drama well.

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Top 10 Reasons to Get Excited About Star Wars Rebels

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Before Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the only fresh on-screen Star Wars content fans had to cling to was The Clone Wars animated series on the Cartoon Network. The show was hit or miss over its five aired seasons, occasionally hitting the right tone, but too often floundering with lame characters and boring stories.

Season Five particularly lagged with back-to-back four-episode story arcs centered around the misadventures of child padawans and astromech droids. Four. Episodes. It was ridiculous and indicative of the show’s tendency to skew too far from the recipe which makes Star Wars work.

The announcement of Disney’s acquisition came as Season Five concluded. Not long after, The Clone Wars was abruptly cancelled. Fans feared that might be the end of Star Wars on television.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the new Lucasfilm to announce Star Wars Rebels, a new animated series set to air in October on Disney XD. Here are 10 reasons to get excited about this new Star Wars television show.

#10. The Return of Kenobi

Occurring in the timeline between Episodes III and IV of the film saga, Star Wars Rebels benefits from an era fertile for storytelling. The series deals with the initial sparks of rebellion which eventually foment into the Rebel Alliance seen in A New Hope.

During this time period, we know that Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has exiled himself to the desert world of Tatooine to keep a close watch over the growth of Luke Skywalker. Fans have long wondered whether those years between defeating Vader on the slopes of Mustafar and seeking passage to Alderaan were spent meditating peacefully in his Jundland hovel or engaged in a more active role in galactic affairs.

This trailer for Rebels seems to indicate the latter. There’s something about this version of Kenobi, the hermit Ben draped in Jedi robe while graying in the beard, which excites more than his Clone Wars iteration.

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The 10 Most Memorable James Bond Henchmen

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

A good rogues gallery features villains which present corrupted aspects of the hero’s persona. The Riddler challenges Batman’s intellect, while the Joker tests the limits of his morality.

James Bond has accumulated quite a rogues gallery over several decades and 23 feature films. In Bond’s world, we have both masterminds and henchmen. In many cases, the lackeys prove more colorful. Here are the 10 most memorable James Bond henchmen.

#10. Bambi and Thumper

After leaving the series over differences with the producers, Sean Connery returned for one more installment in Diamonds Are Forever. This immediate precursor to the Roger Moore era telescoped the trend of themed henchmen, referencing pop culture or building upon puns.

Bambi and Thumper were twin acrobatic femme fatales, featured briefly in a memorable melee with 007. Hardly the first or last female killers in Bond’s orbit, these two were the first to fight as a pair.

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The Top 10 Things Lucas Got Right in the Star Wars Prequels

Monday, September 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Having composed a list of reasons the Star Wars prequels sucked, it only makes sense to bring balance to the Force by considering the noteworthy ways in which these millennial films added to the saga’s greatness. I have to admit, it was a lot tougher coming up with things to like about Episodes I through III than it was to throw stones at them. Even so, whether you love the prequels or hate them, they’ve undeniably expanded that galaxy far, far away. Here’s the top 10 things George Lucas got right.

10. Kashyyyk

Lucas defied the Expanded Universe of books, comics, and games in a number of ways when the time came to bring Star Wars back to the big screen. The Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk had been the setting for many adventures authored since Return of the Jedi. It was described as a dense forest world with massive redwood-like trunks supporting cities suspended hundreds of meters above the ground. The forest floor, known as the Shadowlands, was home to Kashyyyk’s most vicious wildlife.

It was therefore deviant for Lucas to set Revenge of the Sith’s Battle of Kashyyyk on a beach. Even so, the world’s time on screen does justice to its mighty inhabitants, making Endor look like a city park by comparison.

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The 10 Most Popular End-of-Summer Movie Trailers

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

We’re entering a time of the year when big hit movies taper off and a drought descends until the holidays commence. That’s reflected in the late summer trailer releases ranked here. Unlike recent months, no big franchises make appearances (if you exclude reboots and spin-offs).

Instead, we have a lot of original properties, many of which seem to be positioning for Oscar consideration. Here are the top 10 most popular late summer movie trailers.

10. Men, Women & Children

If this trailer proves indicative of the final film, it looks like an experiment in visual storytelling. Focused on the digitalization of personal relationships, Men, Women & Children appears to be essentially silent and subtitled. It will be interesting to see if it contains any spoken dialog at all.

Adam Sandler returns to a dramatic role, something he has demonstrated proficiency in before. He earned critical acclaim for 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love and played a character not unlike himself in 2009’s Funny People.

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The Top 10 Most Worthy Bond Villains

Monday, September 1st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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A hero proves only as remarkable as the obstacle he overcomes. The challenge with a character like James Bond is developing adversaries who can conceivably defeat him. If we don’t believe that Bond might fail, or accept a given foe as Bond’s potential match, then his eventual victory falls flat.

Over the course of 23 films spanning nearly five decades, Bond has encountered a wide variety of adversaries. Today we focus on the masterminds, the ultimate villains who hatched fiendish plans and expected Mr. Bond to die. A future list will rank the best and worst henchmen of the franchise, many of whom upstage their bosses. For now, here are the top 10 most worthy James Bond villains.

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The Top 10 Reasons Why the Star Wars Prequels Sucked

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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It’s with no small amount of irony that I, of all people, compose this list of hate against George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy. During their production, as each released, and in the years since, I have been quite the prequel apologist. There are several aspects of the films which deliver, and perhaps that will make for a follow-up to this list in the near feature. However, with the knowledge that six new Star Wars films are coming in as many years, and seeing how Disney has thus far chosen to treat the property, the flaws of the prequel trilogy seem more relevant than ever.

On the one hand, these criticisms serve as warnings for J.J. Abrams and the rest of the creative team working on Episode VII, the film which will set the tone for those to follow. On the other hand, it’s a testament to the enduring legacy of the Star Wars brand that the franchise may yet flourish despite these missteps.

Here are the top 10 reasons the Star Wars prequels sucked:

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The Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies Coming in 2015

Sunday, August 17th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Next year stands poised to break box office records. So many successful franchises have highly anticipated releases in 2015 that you may need to make a category in your budget just for tickets and concessions. It’s going to be huge, due not just to the franchises themselves, but the circumstances under which many of them have returned.

Expectations are high and, with this much competition, damn well better be met. Here’s our top 10 most anticipated movie releases coming in 2015.

10. Pan

Hugh Jackman has done a bang up job of building a career beyond his bread and butter role as X-Men’s Wolverine. Next year, he goes full bad guy in Joe Wright’s take on Neverland, Pan. A prequel to the classic we know, Pan will tell how the titular boy adventurer came to be. Tron: Legacy’s Garrett Hedlund will play an up-and-coming James Hook. It sounds like he may have a rival/mentor in Jackman’s Blackbeard.

In the above interview, actor Nonso Anozie tells about his experience working with Jackson, Hedlund, and Wright. He also offers some insight into his new character, Bishop.

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Top 10 Most Popular Midsummer Movie Trailers

Friday, August 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

The month of July produced a bevy of movie trailers for releases we can look forward to in the fall. The holiday season tends to be where studios place releases they stand most proud of, a showcase for the Academy Awards. That said, there are also some good old-fashioned popcorn flicks on this list, the top 10 most popular trailers released throughout July.

10. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth saga comes to its presumptive close with this final chapter of The Hobbit film adaptation. Perhaps you’ve been putting off upgrading from your old DVDs to The Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-ray in anticipation of the inevitable super-mega-funtime edition of the complete Middle Earth anthology.

News that 2012’s The Unexpected Journey would be the first of a new trilogy adapted from the relatively short J.R.R. Tolkien novel evoked suspicion that Jackson and the studio were stretching to wring every last bit of cash out of the franchise. But The Desolation of Smaug redeemed that impression, demonstrating that there was indeed enough story to warrant three films. This final entry looks poised to begin with a bang and sustain the novel’s climax throughout its running time.

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10 Ways Jesse Ventura Ruined His Reputation (Without Chris Kyle’s Help)

Friday, August 8th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

The whole point of a defamation suit is to seek reparation for damage done to your reputation. Indeed, in the wake of his shockingly successful defamation suit against the estate (read: widow and children) of American Sniper author Chris Kyle, former Minnesota governor turned conspiracy peddler Jesse Ventura declared that his reputation was restored. But restored to what? This guy wasn’t exactly a pillar of the community before Kyle claimed to have punched him in a bar. Here’s ten ways Jesse Ventura ruined his reputation without Kyle’s help.

10. Wrote a Conspiracy Book on the JFK Assassination

Jesse’s status as a conspiracy peddler will make repeat appearances on this list. It’s quite a downshift from governor of a state, and yet the path Ventura chose upon returning to private life.

Confirmation bias marks the conspiratorial mindset. It’s easy to latch faithfully onto information which appears to verify your presumptions, and just as easy to flatly dismiss information which contradicts your biases. Jesse exhibits that well in this exchange with former CNN host Piers Morgan.

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The 10 Most Hilarious Epic Rap Battles of History

Monday, July 28th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Note: Some of the videos on this list are not safe for work.

Fresh off the conclusion of its third “season,” the ongoing YouTube production of Epic Rap Battles of History has established itself as an online phenomenon. What began as a clever collaboration between two musically inclined friends has ballooned into a prime example of how to produce viral videos. YouTubers Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd have created an interactive platform which has attracted the participation of fellow YouTube celebrities and even some mainstream stars. It’s been so successful that they were tapped to market the latest Assassin’s Creed video game and promote hit AMC television shows. They even got to meet with the president.

If you haven’t come across Epic Rap Battles of History before, here’s your chance to check them out. Personalities from pop culture, politics, and history collide in rhythmic battles to boast and belittle. The results are often hilarious. Here’s the Top 10 Epic Rap Battles of History.

#10. Moses vs Santa Claus

This had to be a big moment for Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd. Having Snoop Dogg (or Lion, or whatever he’s calling himself these days) featured in an epic rap battle lends a legitimacy which could not be acquired in any other way. He steps naturally into familiar territory. It would have been easy to let his presence overwhelm the project, but this back and forth between Moses and Santa Claus delivers enough laughs from each to succeed on its own merit.

Verdict: Moses

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10 Reasons to Give Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a Chance

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken a lot of flak, even before it premiered. PJM’s own Scott Ott declared “no interest” in the series despite loving its source material. I confess to holding my own doubts regarding a superhero show without superheroes. However, unlike Ott, I was willing to give the series a chance. After watching the first season in its entirety, I’m glad I did. Here are 10 reasons to take a look at Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

10. Cinematic Action

Certain shows have come along in recent years to demonstrate that the small screen can nonetheless explode with cinematic action. Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica comes to mind, a genre show which looked better than many films from past years.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a similar case for the possibilities of televised entertainment. In essence, it’s an international spy thriller, much of which takes place in the enormous aircraft our heroes call home. The special effects, while lackluster here and there, largely do justice to their Marvel cinematic pedigree.

Now if we can just get a live-action Star Wars series, life will be good.

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10 Barriers to Healthy Relationships Explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial style in his debut Don Jon proves a bit jarring. But that fits the blunt, vulgar character he plays in the lead. You have to endure Don Jon to see it for what it is. It tramps deliberately through cliché expectations before finally defying them. Along the way, it explores 10 barriers to healthy relationships encountered in real life.

10. Overvaluing Appearance

As Don Jon begins, Gordon-Levitt’s title character establishes himself as a porn-addicted philandering bachelor whose tastes prove highly superficial. He spends a lot of time at the gym maintaining his physique, and takes great pride in the appearance of his “pad.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with nutrition, exercise, and cleanliness. It’s Jon’s motivation which deserves scrutiny.

On the prowl with his pack of like-minded friends, Jon rates women at the club on a scale of 1 to 10, basing his assessment solely on physical attributes. Upon meeting his match in the stunning Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), Jon rates her a perfect 10. It’s her sultry appearance that drives Jon to pursue her, and blinds him to the uglier aspects of her personality.

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The 10 Most Popular Movie Trailers Released So Far This Summer

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

This month sees a new feature here at PJ Lifestyle, our review of movie trailers promoting upcoming theatrical releases. This will be a work in progress, guided heavily by your feedback and insight. So don’t hold back.

To kick things off, we present a list of the top 10 movie trailers released in June, based on their online popularity. There’s a surprising mix of several-hundred-million-dollar would-be blockbusters and smaller independent films, everything from chick flicks to the epic actioners you might expect. We begin with:

10. Very Good Girls

Two actresses work to advance their careers in this sexually charged coming-of-age drama. Dakota Fanning continues to shed her child star image, while Elizabeth Olsen continues to distinguish her individual brand from that of her more widely known elder sisters. The two play girls who “make a pact to lose their virginity during their first summer out of high school,” a plan complicated when they both pursue the same man.

Both Fanning and Olsen have portrayed older roles, and this may seem like a step backwards but for the mature subject matter. Peter Sarsgaard looks to turn in another performance as a pervy creeper, something he’s quite good at. The film also stars Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield lead Clark Gregg.

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10 Fiction Stories I Love, Which School Forced on Me

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Despite my largely public education, I still learned a few things by accident. My favorite subjects were Social Studies and English, which figures for a kid who grew up to be a political writer.

Over the years, I was exposed to a number of fiction stories which I resisted at first but grew to love. It’s something I recall whenever trying to convince my finicky five year old to try new things.

Here are ten books, films, and plays which grew on me after being forced down my throat. They’re presented in ascending order of my personal enjoyment, not necessarily their critical or literary gravitas.

10. My Fair Lady

Yeah, yeah, go ahead with the jokes. I like The Sound of Music too. It’s a brave new post-modern, genderless world, or something. Get over it.

Despite its feminine trappings, the story at the heart of My Fair Lady emerges from unbridled masculinity. What else would you call a gentlemen’s bet that an unrefined flower girl could be transformed into a convincing lady of high society through an act of male will? It’s a theme so reliable that it’s become a cliché used in romantic comedies to this day.

This was also my introduction to Audrey Hepburn, who ain’t too bad to look at.

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10 Stand-Alone Star Wars Films Which Can Take Our Money Now

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Here’s what we know about the future of Star Wars on the big screen. Director JJ Abrams and his cast and crew are currently weaving dreams at Pinewood Studios in London, heading into production of Star Wars Episode VII. We’re going to get Episodes VIII and IX to complete a third trilogy. There will be a couple years between each new episode of the saga.

But Lucasfilm has also confirmed at least three “stand-alone” films which will release between the main episodes. The stated goal is to have a new Star Wars film every year starting in 2015. Gareth Edwards, the man behind the lens of the new Godzilla, has been tapped to direct the first of these stand-alone films. Josh Trank, director of the found footage superhero pic Chronicle and the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, will helm the second.

Rumors have been circulating regarding the subject matter of these stand-alone films. The conventional wisdom, or perhaps just the communal wish, is that we’ll get films focused on popular characters from the franchise.

Assuming the purpose of these stand-alone films will be to flesh out the broader mythology of the fictional universe while remaining anchored to the core saga, here are ten stand-alone Star Wars films fans would love to see.

#10. Jedi Master Dooku

As the Star Wars prequels progressed, the Sith menace took phantom forms. One such manifestation was Darth Tyranus. Known by that name to few, Tyranus was known to the galaxy as Count Dooku.

Dooku’s choice to abandon the Jedi Order, reclaim the wealth and title of his birth, and rally opposition to the Republic led directly to the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. A prototype of Vader, Dooku once commanded the highest respect and confidence from his Jedi peers, before turning against them and everything they represent.

In the prequels, we learn far more about Dooku from what others say about him than from what we witness firsthand. A stand-alone film exploring the arc of this Jedi swordmaster turned Sith lord would add layers of depth to one of the saga’s most under-utilized characters.

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Do Celebrities Owe Their Fans Free Meet and Greets?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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If you love movies and everything about them, you owe it to yourself to follow AMC Movie Talk, a daily web show headlined by AMC Movie News editor John Campea and a rotating cadre of entertainment experts. As marketing moves go, you would be hard pressed to come up with a better way to develop brand loyalty for a theater chain than feeding fans a steady stream of incisive commentary about every movie news tidbit that comes across the wire.

More than that, what I really appreciate about AMC Movie Talk is the insight consistently offered into the business side of the industry. Campea and company are fans like you and me, and that comes across in how they regard the films they discuss. But they are also industry professionals, and therefore bring a perspective to the process that most people lack.

The above clip highlights one such moment. A viewer writes in to ask the AMC Movie Talk crew why celebrities charge fans for personal appearances, autographs, pictures, and the like. The emailer writes:

Most of them have millions of dollars already from their work. I don’t see why they charge their fans to meet them, because it seems like it’s done out of pure greed. [Punctuation added.]

The response from around the AMC table lands right on point. Campea cuts to the chase, noting that actors and other celebrities take time and attention away from other activities which they value in order to meet fans at public appearances. “Everybody who’s not a millionaire thinks that people who have money should do everything for free… But if we’re really rational about it, I don’t think that’s the case.”

Film director Jon Schnepp points out the folly of assuming that every celebrity must be a millionaire. Even considering the few that are, does their wealth grant fans some claim upon their time and attention?

Commentator Miri Jedeikin adds that these public appearances where celebrities interact with fans factor into their job. It’s an aspect of their profession for which they ought to be compensated, provided the demand exists to pay for their time. In fact, charging for meet and greets helps control the demand. “Imagine if it were free,” Jedeikin says. “The line would be five days long.”

It’s one of those interchanges which demonstrates that Hollywood proves far more conservative and rights-affirming in their daily practices than in the fashion of their expressed politics. The emailer’s angst at celebrities getting paid for meet and greets jives well with the rhetoric of the radical left who believe people with ability ought to work for free in the service of perceived need.

If you watch AMC Movie Talk long enough, you’ll encounter this kind of stealthy, countercultural conservatism on a regular basis. It may not be intended as such by Campea and company. But it proves immensely satisfying nonetheless.

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We Evangelize That Which We Love

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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In this brief but powerful message about Christian evangelism, pastor Jeff Vanderstelt looks past the logistics of church organization and any crafty rhetorical tricks to the heart of what properly motivates the Great Commission.

I’ve never had to tell somebody to talk about somebody they love. They know how.

If you have to train people how to talk about someone they love, they don’t love them.

That insight proves useful for highlighting the idols in our lives. What people or things are we eager to evangelize? What topics dominate our conversations with others? Who dominates our thoughts? The answer reveals who and what we love.

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Kevin Smith’s Read on the Future of Star Wars

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Tabling for the moment how lackluster the prequel films were, recall both the anticipation leading up to The Phantom Menace and the sense of finality which accompanied Revenge of the Sith. For me, those two moments — waiting for the Episode I reel to roll and, six years later, contemplating that I was about to see a new Star Wars film for the last time — define the bittersweet agony of Star Wars fandom in the Lucas age.

For decades, Star Wars was three movies released years apart with contradictory spin-off stories scattered throughout an “Expanded Universe” of books, comics, and video games. When the prequels were announced, it gave fans a reason to live. I remember actually thinking, “Please God, let me make it to 2005 to see this thing through. Then I can die.”

Perhaps that heightened sense of anticipation, fostered by a long drought of new adventures, magnified the disappointment of the prequels. Maybe fans would have endured Episodes I through III with more grace if they knew they might someday get more.

That’s the point writer, director, and big-time Star Wars fan Kevin Smith makes in the above interview with IGN alongside friend and frequent co-star Jason Mewes. He points out the stark contrast in development between when Lucas owned Lucasfilm and the property now under Disney.

They got the right idea now. Instead of treating it like champagne – like, “We’re gonna bring it out once every hundred years, a new cask of Star Wars” – these [guys] are like, “We’re gonna milk it to death.”

Let’s say they make twenty, and ten of them are great, and five of them are okay, and five of them are dog shit. F— it dude, that’s twenty more Star Wars movies than we were ever going to have in this lifetime.

Some of the best Star Wars storytelling and cinematics have come out of video games like The Old Republic or The Force Unleashed which were not personally directed by Lucas. It stands to reason that similar success will eventually grace the screen among Disney’s many planned films in the franchise. With something new consistently on the horizon, the stakes for each installment will be lowered. That may enable us to enjoy them more.

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This Christian Ministry Just Went Galt

Sunday, May 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Recently, my wife approached me with the unwelcome news that our health insurance plan — which we like — will likely be cancelled next year. Her employer, a healthcare provider, generously provides benefits even for those working part-time. Due to the devastation wrecked upon the industry by Obamacare, they anticipate the need to drop coverage for all employees working less than 60 hours per pay period. My wife works 56. Since my employer’s offering proves virtually worthless, far too expensive for far too little coverage, we will be left effectively uninsured.

We may consider Samaritan Ministries as an alternative to insurance. Resembling the mutual aid societies which were common throughout America before the rise of the welfare state, Samaritan Ministries operates as a “health care sharing” service. Here’s how it works:

Each member commits to sending a set “Share” amount each month. These “Shares” are sent directly through the mail from one household to another, to the members with “Needs”. Samaritan Ministries uses a database that randomly matches Shares to Needs, so that the Sharing is coordinated and Shares go to the appropriate members with Needs.

Born to a world dominated by employee-provided health insurance, we may find the notion of health care sharing bizarre or even suspect. But is it really any more odd than our rapidly corrupting government?

It’s with some irony that a Christian ministry has essentially gone Galt. While Ayn Rand may have balked at the religious context in which Samaritan Ministries operates, she also may have tipped her hat at their defiance of convention.

The service “even satisfies the Federal health care law’s (Affordable Care Act) requirement that you have insurance or pay a penalty-tax (see 26 United States Code Section 5000A, (d), (2), (B)).”

Would you consider a health care sharing service like Samaritan Ministries? How might the business model be applied to other needs?

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