Movie Review: Blood Diamond (2006)

Exciting old-style action-adventure movie with a lingering message (9/10)

As I was growing up in middle class America in the 1950s and 1960s, I got to see plenty of movies.  We lived in Overland Park, Kansas, a post-WW2 suburb of the Kansas City metro area.  The little town was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting or a Jean Shepherd—author behind the movie, A Christmas Story—reminiscence.

Written by Charles Leavitt
Directed by Edward Zwick

Leonardo DiCaprio … Danny Archer
Djimon Hounsou … Solomon Vandy
Jennifer Connelly … Maddy Bowen

The small downtown included TG&Y (dime store), two drug stores (a Rexall outlet and locally owned “McDaniels”), A&P Groceries, a Sears catalog-order store, an A&W Root Beer franchise, a couple of restaurants, etc… and the Overland Park Theater.  When we were just kids, Mom and Pop would shuttle my brother and me to the matinees on Saturday.

I suppose then they went shopping or something—wink, wink—but we never thought to ask.  When you’re a child of nine or even nineteen: the universe revolves around you and your parents do not have lives apart from seeing to your every need or whim.  Anyway, sorry to get off track. Continue reading

Movie Review: True Grit (1969)

John Wayne classic still majorly entertains (9/10)

True_GritTrue Grit is a special movie at the end of the 1960s (1969) when Vietnam had become a major issue and crime was a concern for many Americans.  I was 20.  Initially receiving a II-S (student) deferment then subsequently drawing a high number in the draft lottery, I managed to avoid that expedition to the southeast Asian tropical paradise.  Grit was two Duke movies after The Green Berets, a cartoon piece of corporate-government propaganda likening US military aggression on the Vietnamese people to nourishing the roots of the Liberty Tree.  In that time I was a sucker for movies like Beret, and seriously considered volunteering when I walked out of the theater after watching Patton in 1970!

I grew up believing John Wayne was a god, and even had a letter to the editor published in Time Magazine—actually, I recall the letter was in response to a critic’s praising of True Grit—where in my young prose I exclaimed how the “John Wayne kind of hero” is essential for our great country.  The movie was controversial, mainly because John Wayne was not a “John Wayne” kind of character, and back in the day I wasn’t sure what to make of that.  What I now realize is how magnificently textured Rooster Cogburn was drawn in this suis generis film and how exactly the real John Wayne fit the character. Continue reading

Movie Review: McLintock (1963)

More solid ideological substance than given credit for… 8/10

… or what the majority of fans would have watched it for back in the day. McLintock was a big, successful action-packed movie in the the early 60s around the time of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and just before the buildup and war in Vietnam that tore the country apart. But I don’t remember having seen it at the local theater. A reader, Neil, recommended McLintock to me for various pro-liberty sentiments and principles expressed in much of the movie’s dialog and action. And he’s right: the writers have the protagonist GW McLintock (John Wayne) making strong statements in favor of property rights, personal responsibility, productive ambition, fair treatment of Indians as individuals, and the detrimental, illogical effects of most government activity. Continue reading