New on DVD: ‘We the Living’

We the LivingAs I reported in May, a film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s 1936 novel We the Living, is available on DVD. It is also on sale through the production company.

The 1942 motion picture was recut from a pirated Italian adaptation and released in fascist Italy and Europe as two separate pictures. I’m planning an interview series about Ayn Rand’s breathtaking literary achievement and the outstanding movie version, which was theatrically released in 1988, for publication on the site.

While the film is also excellent, there is no substitute for the superior experience of reading We the Living, which was recently reprinted with an urgently relevant introduction by Leonard Peikoff, in this new trade paperback edition.

Screen Shot: ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’

Attending a screening with radio’s sharpest movie critic, Kate Tyler, I’m surprised to say I enjoyed Sony’s animated picture, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on a children’s story that Kate tells me she used to read to her kids.

Cloudy‘s not a great movie, yet it offers relatively innocuous family fare. Flint (Bill Hader), a creative child striving to become an inventor for the wrong reasons (pleasing others and being of service to the community) discovers as a young adult that one of his wild creations actually works and all hell breaks loose. It’s a visually fast-paced affair with the usual three dimensional (3D) tricks (no big deal) in an involving father-son story with a villain that echoes today’s authoritarian White House. Add an excellent subplot about a romantic interest (Anna Faris) whom Flint encourages to stop hiding her intelligence and a policeman (Mr. T in a fun vocal performance) that loves his work almost as much as he loves his son, who adopts a Tea Party attitude of personal responsibility and fuels the movie’s most exciting scene, and, despite an absurdist streak, you get a decent candidate for an afternoon matinee. Listen for a swipe at the Bush administration’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other digs at Big Government in a generally entertaining slice of life.

Army Archerd, 1922-2009

Hollywood reporter Army Archerd has died, according to his wife, Selma. He will be missed. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the longtime Variety columnist last year before a film festival screening of Howard Hawks’ Red River starring John Wayne. We talked about the Duke, the Western and the Golden Age (which he mentioned in his column). In person, the Navy veteran was an outspoken, spright, and dapper man who enjoyed remembering movie stars and the way they were. I always liked that Army Archerd was neither salacious nor malicious; his work was generally oriented toward facts. When I decided to write a column for Box Office Mojo in 2005, I knew that he had done it first, longest, and with lasting results. He wrote about Hollywood like its movies mattered. Army Archerd was 87.

Movie Review: Whiteout

The poorly scripted Whiteout goes blank early and often, ruining an otherwise interesting concept—an Antarctica mystery—with some of the worst lines in a movie this year. The whodunit is blatantly obvious, which might not be a problem if the film, starring Kate Beckinsale as a U.S. marshal, made us care about the characters or the puzzle, which involves a Soviet military plane that goes down in the South Pole. An aimless script, uneven performances, and bad directing—with countless unnecessary closeups—make Whiteout a painfully bad movie. For a straightforward Cold War thriller at the earth’s other polar ice cap, see Ice Station Zebra (Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown), based on an Alistair MacLean novel, instead.

 

Marva Collins’ Way

marva

Chicago businesswoman Marva Collins brought logic to learning when she rocked the Windy City years ago with her radically rational approach to education, as Susan Crawford, RN, recently reminded readers on her Rational Parenting List (RPL). Like the basketball coach in one of my favorite sports-themed movies, Coach Carter, Ms. Collins confronted the reality of government-run education in the ghetto with reason, optimism, and determination, not determinism.

Teaching that one should examine ideas before accepting them, she started teaching troubled students in her own home, opened her own school, wrote a book, Marva Collins’ Way, and became the subject of a television movie starring Cicely Tyson (read my review here). Today, she insists that “there is a brilliant child locked inside every student.”

Explaining her program on her Web site, Ms. Collins writes: “The child is taught to refer to what has been learned previously to support an opinion. References come from many different sources, from poetry, newspaper editorials, magazines, great speeches, novels, or any other written material. Everything everywhere provides potentially excellent material for developing reasoning skills…Textbook word-for-word, lock-step methods never make good critical thinkers. There is a difference between word reading and word understanding. And, there is a difference between knowing how to read, and loving to read.”

Learn more about Marva Collins’ philosophy here.

[Postscript Summer 2015: Marva Collins died on June 24, 2015. Read my review of The Marva Collins Story here].