Screen Shot: ‘Leap Year’

The romantic comedy Leap Year starring lanky Matthew Goode (Watchmen) as an Irishman who meets a real estate decorator played by chirpy Amy Adams (Doubt) on her superstitiously pre-marital jaunt across Ireland has a few soft spots but is largely humorless. This effort from the director of the stylishly vacant Shopgirl is less than inspired but it beats watching the dreadful megahit Avatar, which I finally saw after Christmas at the suggestion of a pal in Seattle and a nephew who promised me it was the greatest movie ever made. James Cameron’s animated diatribe against civilization is apparently causing people to practice what the movie preaches: CNN reports that audiences are having suicidal thoughts.

Here Comes (More) Socialized Medicine …

Amid contentious debate, a divided nation, and widespread opposition, the House of Representatives narrowly approved legislation enacting total government control of the medical profession. The close vote, in which 39 Democrats joined near-unanimous opposition among Republicans (a New Orleans congressman was the only Republican to vote in favor of socialized medicine), was called in the darkness of Saturday night. The historic bill, which I compared to slavery and forecast earlier this year, represents the culmination of the President’s long, never-ending seige against what remains of free market medicine. If this bill is approved by Congress, Americans will be forced to buy what the government defines as “health insurance” at gunpoint, and private medical care as we know it will be forbidden and/or cease to exist. The bill now goes to the United States Senate.

I’ve been writing about health care policy and warning my fellow Americans that we already have government-controlled “health care” and that the idea must be actively opposed and stopped for decades but it is nearly impossible to get people interested in the topic, especially conservatives who accept the moral premise that health care is a right and some Objectivists, who refuse to engage in any form of activism and think politics is utterly beneath them and therefore not worth the expense of effort. If this bill becomes law, which is entirely up to the American public, it will take us irrevocably toward totalitarianism.

In the meantime, every American should speak out immediately, repeatedly, and often, and seek to stop this monstrous legislation. If it passes, it will become necessary to coordinate intellectual, economic, and political counterstrikes, such as organized boycotts (of any business or group that supports it), strikes, legal challenges, efforts to repeal, state-by-state opt-out legislation, marches, protests, and other measures, including a demand that any local, state, or federal political candidate take an oath to work to repeal the law as the highest priority. Silence implies consent and now is the time to speak up. The fact that the nation’s Speaker of the House, who happens to be America’s first female Speaker, and the nation’s supposedly pro-choice president, who favors anti-gay conservative Christians, adopted an anti-abortion provision in their socialized medicine is a sneak preview of what’s to come under government-run “health care”: medical care delivered, financed, and controlled by the state, which means dictatorship…which, in today’s context, means religious dictatorship.

Election 2009

Tuesday’s election offered a bit of good news for advocates of individual rights.

Independents voted overwhelmingly for Republican gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey in yesterday’s election, according to the Associated Press. The decisive Republican victories, Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey, are likely to be perceived as a rejection of the unprecedented expansion of government intervention in the economy sponsored by President Barack Obama, who campaigned hard for both losing Democratic Party candidates. Obama, who carried both states in last year’s presidential election, has spent most of the year pushing for socialized medicine and, with serious losses in states where the supposedly charismatic leader campaigned, his supposedly inevitable plan for government control of the medical profession is reportedly off track, with the Senate’s chief Democrat suggesting that it may not pass this year.

While both new Republican governors-elect are apparently anti-abortion, and, therefore, anti-individual rights and consequently not credible advocates of capitalism, neither McDonnell nor Christie apparently campaigned as conservatives that would mix religion and state, as previous Republicans and, recently, Democrats have done. In fact, the only major, high-profile candidate to run on a conservative platform, anti-gay, anti-abortion Doug Hoffman in upstate New York, who was widely expected to win, lost in a stunning upset by the Democrat after a pro-welfare state Republican had been driven out of the race. Hoffman had been endorsed by nearly every conservative advocate of mixing religion and government, including Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.

To the extent one can take any reading from the election, it is possibly a rejection of both today’s economic fascism by President Obama and the Democrats and the religious government proposed by conservatives and the Republicans … which could be a warning to all politicians that anyone who supports increased government intervention in business (such as Obama’s “health care reform”) and personal affairs, such as banning abortion, risks being fired by the people.

New on DVD: ‘The Barbara Stanwyck Show’

The Barbara Stanwyck Show

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From her early screen performances in Night Nurse (1931) and Baby Face (1933) to her career-topping turn as Australian business tycoon Mary Carson in ABC’s 1983 adaptation of Colleen McCullough’s epic, The Thorn Birds, Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) sizzled. I have continued to discover and enjoy her work over the years and I’m amazed at her remarkable range, powerfully vulnerable presence, and the depth of her talent. In fact, at the end of my run at Box Ofice Mojo, I had planned to run a series of reviews and interviews to mark her centenary. For now, I’m delighted to have made a new discovery which I hope you will enjoy, too: The Barbara Stanwyck Show. The 1960-1961 television anthology series, which aired before her colorful Western series, The Big Valley,  features Miss Stanwyck in silhouetted gowns and white gloves introducing each weekly 30-minute dramatic episode. The plots depict her in various roles and different stories.

This DVD edition of the recently recovered black and white program does not present the full season (the top-rated series was inexplicably cancelled, though she won a Best Actress Emmy), nevertheless, she is magnificent. The episodes are the equivalent of short stories, with the star of Double Indemnity at her peak as escaped murderer Vic Morrow’s hostage, a philanthropist wife and mother, and, in two excellent pieces, as Jo Little, a Chinese-born trader who tries to rescue a child refugee from Communism while trying to survive the U.S. government’s restrictions on business in Hong Kong. The best episode so far is “Size 10”, a dramatic cousin to her brilliantly pro-capitalist Executive Suite with the petite actress as a high-maintenance fashion designer in a tightly plotted business mystery with the independent woman as its central theme. The 3-disc DVD is handsomely packaged with a reference booklet which includes an episode guide and thoughtful comments from Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), who recounts seeing Miss Stanwyck in costume as a nun on the Desilu lot. Though the show’s glamorous introductions may or may not work, there’s much to appreciate here on this rare television classic, including unaired bonus material in a durable, well-designed box. And, of course, the best part is seeing Barbara Stanwyck in 16 episodes on a product the manufacturer tantalizingly labels Volume I. When it comes to Stanwyck, who personally helped launch the careers of William Holden and Ayn Rand, more is more.

Michael Buble’s Crazy Love

The 13 songs on Michael Buble’s latest album, Crazy Love, do not match let alone exceed the quality of his previous efforts. The majority of tunes, including the title track’s cover of Van Morrison’s original, are produced by David Foster. That doesn’t appear to be the problem. No single song is a disaster among this collection of ballads and uptempo numbers, yet the overall approach is unfocused and slightly manic. Buble doesn’t play to his strengths and his bombastic version of “Cry Me a River” is a mistake. On an album in which one of the most memorable tunes is a remake of a mid-range rocker by the Eagles, “Heartache Tonight,” you know it’s not Buble’s finest moment.