Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Few Films from 2013

I'm not one who sees every movie that comes out, nor am I a very good film critic, and I've yet to see some of the year's most popular films, but, even so, here, in no particular order, are nine of the movies I enjoyed in 2013:
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Marvelous special effects from Peter Jackson make this tale of the conflict between innocence and good on the one hand and abject evil on the other a lot of fun to watch. The popularity of the Tolkien oeuvre in a time when the idea that objective evil actually exists is often treated with derision by our intellectual elites is a hopeful sign that we're finally shedding some of the relativistic, materialistic foolishness that has afflicted us for the last fifty years.
  • The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - The importance of these films, in my opinion, is the picture they paint of the moral nihilism that descends upon a completely secularized society. There's no mention in Panem of God, right and wrong, good and bad. The people there are interested only in titillation and spectacle and human life has value only insofar as it allows the effete citizens of Panem to indulge their appetites for drama, violence, and death. Whether Suzanne Collins intended it or not, whether young viewers get that lesson or not, it's an important message for them.
  • Iron Man III - More of Robert Downey, Jr. saving the world from the bad guys. Good stuff.
  • The Iron Lady - The life and work of Margaret Thatcher as played by Meryl Streep. The film spends too much time on Thatcher's late in life dementia but still manages to convey the strength and courage of the former British Prime Minister. Despite being loathed by the left, Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Pope John Paul II will, in my opinion, be viewed by historians as the three most consequential leaders of the last half of the 20th century.
  • All the King's Men - Based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren, it's an account of the turbulent life of depression-era pol Huey Long, a populist governor and senator of Louisiana who's life ended in an assassination. The book and movie are obviously about Long although they insert a fictional character, played by Sean Penn, in his stead.
  • Moneyball - Brad Pitt plays the brash, unorthodox general manager of the Oakland A's MLB team, Billy Beane, who rescues the feckless A's in 2002 and leads them to the playoffs, despite their roster of low-salaried, unsung players.
  • Argo - A dramatic account of the CIA operation in 1979 to rescue American diplomats who were hiding in the Canadian embassy in Tehran from Iranian revolutionaries who had already sacked the American embassy and taken over fifty of its staff hostage. loosely based on actual events, the film is a bit more dramatic than the real history, but that's okay.
  • Zero Dark Thirty - The riveting account of the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. Even though you know how it ends it's still a fascinating story.
Let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a safe, healthy, prosperous, and existentially meaningful 2014.