Friday, October 2, 2009

New Coen Film

Those interested in the films of Ethan and Joel Coen (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) will be pleased to note that they have another movie coming out soon. Josh Hurst, movie critic at Christianity Today tells us a little bit about the Coen oeuvre:

The Coen brothers celebrate 25 years of filmmaking this month with the release of their 14th movie, A Serious Man. It's perhaps their most religious work, juggling existential and theological questions in a story that invokes a modern-day Job. As protagonist Larry Gropnik's world begins to fall apart, he consults three rabbis with his Big Questions, only to find that the answers aren't easy - if there are indeed answers.

That's a good way to describe the brothers' opus: a chronic search for truth. Some might argue that the Coens' world is amoral, but a discerning look reveals morality aplenty. Good and evil stand apart from one another as clearly as black and white - or red and white, in the case of their classic crime story, Fargo.

No Country for Old Men would not have been a bad example of the Coen brothers' fascination with good and evil either. Both movies portray evil in all of its stark, stunning ugliness, and unlike, say, the films of Quentin Tarantino, no one watching these two movies would find evil in any way attractive or appealing. The Coens seem to want to say as loudly as they can that this world is broken, shattered, and forlorn. The don't offer any remedies for this brutal fact but they sure do a good job of illustrating the need for one.

Caution: Neither Fargo nor No Country are easy films to watch. Both are gut-wrenching in their portrayal of man's inhumanity to man.



Bill Roggio's Long War Journal has an analysis of the effectiveness of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Pakistan. There's a lot of information at the link, but this graph shows the striking increase in tempo and effectiveness of the strikes in the past year:

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is reported to be drawing the conclusion from the success of these assaults that we can fight the entire war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in this fashion with a minimal commitment of troops on the ground. Few military people agree with him, but Mr. Obama knows that if he fights to win in Afghanistan he risks alienating his progressive base at a time when he needs them on board for health care reform and cap and trade legislation.

It would be a terrible disgrace if the military strategy in Afghanistan were dictated by the political exigencies of getting a dubious domestic agenda passed in Congress.


Quotes for Our Times

A few delectations to kick off your weekend:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." --Edmund Burke

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents..." --James Madison

"...the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is" -- attributed to Davy Crockett

"Our political way of life is by the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God, and of course presupposes the existence of God, the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong, of just and unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and government." --John Quincy Adams

Who follows in the train of such men today?