Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

“Act of Valor” war movie takes first place at the box office this weekend!

The Los Angeles Times explains what happened.

Excerpt:

As Hollywood’s A-listers prepare for the Academy Awards on Sunday, it was the Navy SEAL stars of the movie “Act of Valor” who dominated the box office.

The intense action movie opened to a solid $24.7 million, according to an estimate from distributor Relativity Media, proving by far the most popular choice for audiences.

“Good Deeds,” the latest movie from writer/director Tyler Perry, opened to $16 million. It’s the second-smallest opening ever for the prolific filmmaker and actor, ahead of only 2007′s “Daddy’s Little Girls.”

“Wanderlust,” a new Judd Apatow-produced comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, and the thriller “Gone” starring Amanda Seyfried were both flops, opening to just $6.6 million and $5 million, respectively.

[...]“Act of Valor,” which has won plaudits for its ultra-realistic action sequences that feature the SEAL stars in training exercises, was a big bet for Relativity. The financially struggling independent studio topped other bidders by paying $13.5 million for rights to the movie produced by production company Bandito Brothers. It also committed tens of millions of dollars to an extensive marketing campaign that included four ads in and around the Super Bowl and online material targeting video game players.

But the investment appears to be paying off, as box-office receipts came in at the high end of pre-release expectations. Just as important, audiences loved the film, giving it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That was not only true for men, who made up 71% of the audiences, but women.

Here’s the “making of” clip showing how they made it:

Not only were the SEALs in this movie, they helped direct the action sequences!

Here’s a review from the liberal Boston Globe.

Excerpt:

The casting in “Act of Valor,’’ of course, leads to the movie’s innovations. Dialogue that chiefly entails laying out tactics for missions executed in the next scene pretty much obviates any need for Kenneth Branagh. Having the military play itself is propaganda on one hand, and simple efficiency on the other. It also concentrates the movie-going public’s attraction to combat as spectacle. So why bother with a star if what we’ve come to see, ultimately, are the talents of the stunt crew?

As it happens, “Act of Valor’’ was directed by Mike “Mouse’’ McCoy and Scott Waugh, a couple of veteran stuntmen, who don’t simply admire the SEALs’ defiance of death. They appear to relate to it. Written by Kurt Johnstad, who’s a credited writer of “300,’’ the film involves a typical doomsday plot that manages to combine separate international affronts. A SEAL platoon heads into the tropics to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent (Roselyn Sanchez) who’s been tracking the connection between a Ukrainian drug smuggler (Alex Veadov) and a mass-murdering Chechen jihadist (Jason Cottle), whose bond is tighter than initially suspected.

[...]Accordingly, there is beauty in this movie that you’d never experience in any film starring Chuck Norris or Michael Dudikoff. The sound mix keeps suspenseful quiet, while you marvel at what perfect amphibians the SEALs are and how, with them, killing people places a crucial premium on gentleness (the SEALs tiptoeing down a hallway, stirring the air with hand signals, tapping a shoulder, or falling through the night sky). If only the frantic editing had managed to linger longer on the dreaminess of those shots.

[...]Really, the film’s presiding spirit of American might and international intimidation is that of Tom Clancy. He’s credited as an advisor on this film, and his influence shows up from time to time. A scene between a SEAL and the smuggler is among the best in the movie. The two men trade insinuations, and the tension is strong. Veadov is a better actor than the SEAL. But this SEAL, with his graying beard and wry sense of humor, has better lines. A sharply done encounter like that implies just what Clancy may have advised.

The SEALs’ profile is higher since a team killed Osama Bin Laden last year. There hasn’t been this much popular interest since Demi Moore fought to join a similar outfit in “G.I. Jane.’’ “Act of Valor’’ creates an illusion of authenticity while doing strategically little to dispel the group’s mystique. Often with an action film, you know that what you’re watching has been staged. You applaud the rigorous theater. Here, when the film’s climactic sequence has ended, there’s no impulse to clap. The verisimilitude holds you in moral check.

Please go see this movie in the theater! We have to send Hollywood a message.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The verdict is in for the movie “Act of Valor”: it’s a hit!

The new movie gets a review in the Houston Chronicle.

Full review:

I don’t watch R rated movies. I’ve just found that I don’t like the filth in so many of them. I have never allowed my kids to see R rated movies as long as they were living in my house. But I made an exception last night. I took my 15 year son to see “Act Of Valor.” My 19 year son went with us as well, but for my youngest, it was a big deal. Mom was letting him see R rated movie! *Gasp* The R rating was for violence and some language.

In case you haven’t heard about it, the movie was inspired by true events, but the unique thing about it is that  it stars active-duty Navy SEALS. The plot and story line are nothing to talk about. The acting of the Navy SEALS is also nothing to write home about, but I promise you, you will be glued to the screen the entire movie. There is something about knowing these are real Navy SEALS, doing exactly what they have been trained to do, that just brings you into it. It is emotional, spell binding, and heart wrenching.

This movie gives you such an appreciation of not only the valor and ability of our Navy SEALS, but an appreciation of what our boys go through on the battle field, and the caliber of men and women it takes to serve our country.

In the movie the enemy are terrorists from Russia determined to get suicide bombers into the U.S. There is one scene where a Navy Seal Commander is interrogating (really just having a conversation) with the lead terrorist. The terrorist asked the Navy SEAL to just please not harm his family. The Commander says, “We would never harm your family.” And I thought to myself, “That is the difference between us and them.” After you see the movie, you will see exactly what I mean. Many of the action sequences used live ammunition, and the realism comes through, even when the acting does not.

You walk away from this film, not thinking of the story, or the plot, but of the men who fight for our freedom, who give up everything for us. In the end, my heart was full of gratitude and love for our military. I thought my heart was pretty full of that already, but this film just makes it overflow. I saw how amazing our ships, planes, and equipment are. Some things they do, I wasn’t aware of. I was in awe.

I’ve never been to a movie where when it ended, no one moved. The packed theatre was completelysilent. No one got up to leave. The words on the screen said that this film was dedicated to the SEALS who had lost their lives since 9-11. Then came the list of names. No one moved. Well, that’s when I lost it. And I wasn’t alone.

Run, don’t walk, to see this movie. You will thank me later. Pay no attention to the wussie pansy waist know nothing Hollywood critics who diss this film. We all know they don’t have a clue.

God bless our military, and God bless this great country of ours.

I almost never see movies in the theater, but this is one we all need to support so that we get more like it!

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Red Tails movie aims to revive old-fashioned, patriotic war movie genre

The trailer:

And here’s a review:

“Red Tails” is almost certain to be derided as an ‘old-fashioned’ film, as if using cinematic forms and languages of the past were in and of itself a bad thing.

It isn’t.

One of the traps of thinking about popular art is the idea that if artists aren’t constantly pursuing the latest or the next ways of doing things that they’re somehow failing.  As a result, truly rich forms of expression are abandoned simply on the basis of arbitrary sell-by dates, even when they still have much to offer.  Consider the films of Guy Maddin, which use the form of silent cinema to thrillingly modern effect; somewhat similarly, “The Artist” no doubt makes some audiences aware of how plastic and lively the silent film medium was.

In the case of “Red Tails,” the old-school inspiration derives from any number of patriotic and sentimental World War II movies of the sort that producer George Lucas grew up on.  Following his lead, screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder and director Anthony Hemingway have told the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-Americans commissioned to fly and maintain planes by the U. S. military, almost as if they were doing so in the 1940s.

[...]In many ways, this film could’ve starred James Cagney, William Bendix or Audie Murphyand been made 60-odd years ago — with, of course, the crucial difference of race, which, in and of itself, is a worthwhile thing to achieve.

I might go see this on Saturday, because I love war movies. My collection of DVDs is about two-thirds black and white World War 2 movies! By far my favorite genre. More than that, the P-51 Mustang and the B-17 Flying Fortress hold special places in my heart (not so much the old Curtis P-40 Warhawks they are flying initially – blech!). The plot from the reviews I read reminds me of what it is like to be a Christian scholar and apologist. The Air Force is like the church, the generals are the pastors, and the Tuskegee airmen are the apologists and scholars.

B-17 Queen of the Skies

B-17 Queen of the Skies

As a child, my mother bought me Avalon Hill’s B-17 Queen of the Skies from the hobby shop downtown. I remember her telling me that I couldn’t get anything over $10, so I scoured the store trying to find a game that was less than $10. I found B-17 – it was the only one! But when we got to the register, we found out that it was actually $16.99 not $6.99. But she bought it for me anyway, and I played it a lot – it was a 1-player game. Understanding the fight between the Allied Air Force and the Luftwaffe taught me a lot about the importance of having military superiority in war. I hope the movie is as realistic as the game was.

If you want to see another good war movie about the air war in Europe, try “12 O’Clock High” and “Memphis Belle”. A good one in the Pacific theater is “Midway”.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama says that adding 4 trillion to the debt is unpatriotic… then does it

Here’s the speech from July 3, 2008:

Ha! That looks like Obama giving that speech. Oh, it is Obama. Ha ha.

In that clip, Obama says:

The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents – #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.

Obama liked to talk about the credit card from the bank of China during the campaign. And many people who watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow believed him. They believed him because the comedians told them to believe him. They did not want to stop laughing long enough to look at Obama’s voting record to see that he was consistently getting F ratings on spending and government waste and pork in all of his years as a legislator.

So Obama said that spending 4 trillion is “unpatriotic”. But then Obama did a funny thing. CBS News reports.

The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama’s watch.

The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It’s the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama’s four-year term.

Mr. Obama blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt. He singles out:

“two wars we didn’t pay for”
“a prescription drug program for seniors…we didn’t pay for.”
“tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that were not paid for.”

He goes on to blame the recession, and its resulting decrease in tax revenue on businesses, for making fewer sales, and more employees being laid off. He says the recession also resulted in more government spending due to increased unemployment insurance payments, subsidies to farms and funding of infrastructure programs that were part of his stimulus program.

Obama’s explanation for the deficits doesn’t wash, since the deficit was only $162 billion in 2007, the last year the Republicans had control of the House and Senate.

The Washington Times explains.

Excerpt:

A favorite liberal narrative is that President George W. Bush squan- dered the Clinton-era budget surpluses and piled up deficits with expensive wars and tax cuts for the rich. Candidate Barack Obama used this tale to great effect, and President Obama tells it still. Take his State of the Union address last week, when Mr. Obama attributed the Bush-era deficits to “paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.”

The truth is that Mr. Bush’s deficits were the product of spending, not tax cuts. In fact, Mr. Obama could learn an important lesson for his own economic plan by studying Mr. Bush’s two very different attempts at tax-cutting.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore illuminates in his 2008 book “The End of Prosperity” (Threshold Editions), Mr. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts failed to revive an economy still staggering from the bursting of the dot-com bubble. Mr. Bush’s strategy had been to adopt a demand-side, Keynesian stimulus, hoping that putting a few extra dollars in Americans’ pockets would jump-start the economy through increased consumption. This approach faltered, not just because Americans opted to save their rebates, but because it neglected the importance of business investment to overall growth. Predictably, the economy lagged and government revenues stagnated. What the United States needed then (and needs now) was to stimulate investment, not consumption.

By 2003, Mr. Bush grasped this lesson. In that year, he cut the dividend and capital gains rates to 15 percent each, and the economy responded. In two years, stocks rose 20 percent. In three years, $15 trillion of new wealth was created. The U.S. economy added 8 million new jobs from mid-2003 to early 2007, and the median household increased its wealth by $20,000 in real terms.

But the real jolt for tax-cutting opponents was that the 03 Bush tax cuts also generated a massive increase in federal tax receipts. From 2004 to 2007, federal tax revenues increased by $785 billion, the largest four-year increase in American history. According to the Treasury Department, individual and corporate income tax receipts were up 40 percent in the three years following the Bush tax cuts. And (bonus) the rich paid an even higher percentage of the total tax burden than they had at any time in at least the previous 40 years. This was news to theNew York Times, whose astonished editorial board could only describe the gains as a “surprise windfall.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush allowed Congress to spend away those additional tax revenues. The fact is that the increase in tax revenues that flowed from the ‘03 tax cuts could have paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and then some but for rampant discretionary domestic spending.

So, Bush passed his tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, but revenue went up:

Federal receipts after Bush tax cuts

Federal receipts after Bush tax cuts

And the deficits went down from 2004 to 2007:

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

Bush was on track to balance the budget, then Nancy Pelosi came along and added 5.34 trillion to the debt in her 4 years as Speaker.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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