Posts Tagged ‘film’
Posted by Richard on February 2, 2017
Posted by Richard on November 15, 2012
NBC Nightly News had an interview tonight with Doris Kearns-Goodwin, author of the Lincoln biography on which the Spielberg film is based. Here’s all you need to know about Kearns-Goodwin: in the interview she drew parallels between a brave Lincoln, shortly after his re-election, fighting to get the 13th Amendment through Congress and Obama, shortly after his re-election, fighting to “save us from the fiscal cliff.”
Actually, Thomas DiLorenzo thinks that’s not all you need to know about Kearns-Goodwin. He has more, starting with a reminder that she’s an admitted plagiarist:
… Goodwin the court historian has devoted her life to writing hagiographies of the worst of the worst political bullies – FDR, Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedys, and Lincoln. (It was her book on the Kennedys that got her in trouble and forced her to admit plagiarizing dozens of paragraphs, and paying a six-figure sum to the victim of her plagiarism. That got her kicked off the Pulitzer prize committee and PBS, but only for a very short while).
DiLorenzo thinks there’s also more you need to know about her book, Team of Rivals, the film Lincoln, and President Lincoln. I’ll give you a hint. He’s not a fan of any of them. Item one: the story that Lincoln fought to get the 13th Amendment passed (a centerpiece of Kearns-Goodwin’s book and the Spielberg film) is utterly false, according to David H. Donald, “a longtime Harvard University historian, Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer, and the preeminent mainstream Lincoln scholar of our time.” RTWT.
Posted by Richard on October 11, 2012
Atlas Shrugged, Part 2, opens in over a thousand theaters across the country tomorrow. To my surprise, there has been a significant promotional effort. I’ve heard a number of radio ads and seen TV ads not just on the cable networks, but during the local evening news here in Denver. Watch the trailer here.
I’ve been too busy in the past week to try to organize a group outing, and besides, I wasn’t about to sign on to another extended negotiation regarding times and location like the one we had for 2016. So here’s the deal: I’m going to the 3:30 showing on Saturday at Denver Pavilions. I’ve got at least one firm commitment to join me. Afterward (~5:45), we’re going to have dinner at Sam’s No. 3 Downtown. If you’re in the Denver area and would like to join us, leave a comment.
If I’m feeling energetic enough, I may even go back after dinner and see it again at the 7:10 show. Leave a comment if you plan to go to that show, and mention whether you’re going to join us for dinner at Sam’s beforehand.
Posted by Richard on August 26, 2012
Let me begin by saying I really liked Obama’s America: 2016. I urge you to go see it and to get family and friends who are “soft” Obama supporters or mainstream, moderately liberal Democrats to go with you. (There’s no point in taking your cousin in the Occupy Movement or other other hard-core leftists; the film will only make them more sympathetic to Obama.) I do have quibbles, but I’ll save them for later, since they’re mostly about the last part of the film.
The film has high production values, with especially fine music and excellent cinematography. It’s a pleasure to watch. Much of it is filmed in third-world locations. It begins with D’Souza describing his third-world roots and how he became an American, thus establishing his credibility regarding much that follows. D’Souza draws parallels between his own story and Obama’s (to be clear, though, he’s not a birther and explicitly says Obama was born in Hawaii).
D’Souza spends a lot of time in Kenya, trying to learn about Barack Obama, Sr. He has no luck with the Obama family/clan after someone apparently discovers where his sympathies lie. The Luo are a polygamous tribe, and I don’t remember all the relationships or who did what, but at some point the film crew is warned that it’s no longer safe for them to remain in the village.
D’Souza has more luck with Obama’s half-brother George, who doesn’t share the anti-colonialist mindset of his father, other members of his family, and half-brother. For instance, George points out that at one time Kenya was more economically advanced than Korea. But today, South Korea is a wealthy, advanced, industrialized nation while Kenya is still primitive and poor. At this point, I think the film could have done a better job of connecting the anti-colonialist values that kept Kenya poor to socialism, and could have pointed out the irony that the socialism embraced by third-world anti-colonialists is the product of white Europeans.
We learn of the absent father’s influence on his son via Obama’s own words in Dreams from My Father (it’s significant, as D’Souza notes, that the title says “from,” not “of”). And there’s an interesting interview with a psych professor specializing in the effect of absent fathers on their offspring. But more importantly in my mind, we learn about the other intellectual influences on Obama, some of which were new to me.
I knew, of course, about the Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers (and how bogus Obama’s attempts to distance himself from them in 2008 were). I even knew that Frank Marshall Davis was his mentor and was a hard-core communist. But I didn’t know that Obama’s white (maternal) grandfather was a hard-core leftist, a very good friend of Davis, and asked Davis to mentor young Barack.
I knew that Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a leftist, but I didn’t know that she fought with and eventually left her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, because he went to work for an American oil company and became more westernized. I didn’t know that she instilled in young Barack an idealized view of his father and an abiding admiration for his father’s anti-colonialist/socialist values, and that it was probably to remove Soetoro as an influence in his life that she sent him from Indonesia back to Hawaii to attend school.
I also didn’t know about some of the other radical leftists/communists mentioned in the film who were significant influences in the development of Obama’s values and world-view.
At this point, the film has done a fine job of showing that prior to the presidency (to borrow a metaphor from Hugh Hewitt), Obama spent his entire life swimming in radical leftist/socialist/communist waters. Then it argues convincingly that in his first term, Obama tempered his leftism to a significant degree so that he could win a second term (including the infamous “hot mic” clip where Obama tells Russian President Dimitry Medvedev that after being re-elected he’ll “have more flexibility”).
So then we arrive at the portion of the film addressing what would happen in a second Obama term and how the United States would look in 2016 if he’s re-elected. Unfortunately, I think this is the weakest part of the film.
My first complaint with this portion of the film is that it focuses too much on Obama’s efforts to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal in particular and on America’s role in the world in general. Mind you, I’m a neo-libertarian, not a paleo-libertarian, so I’m fine with the idea of the United States being the world’s sole super-power as long as it’s serving the ideals on which this nation was founded. I just think that if you want to influence the outcome of the November election, graphics of various nations’ nuclear arsenals are not the way to go.
My second complaint is with the way the domestic policy issue is addressed. The film focuses entirely on Obama’s explosion of the federal debt, which would be fine if the purpose and consequences were clearly articulated. But I don’t think they are. If the film were even five or ten minutes longer, it could explain that Obama’s unprecedented level of deficit spending (42 cents of every federal dollar spent) results in a huge transfer of wealth from “the rich” (mostly, those who’ve earned what they have) to “the poor” and how monetizing the debt (i.e., expanding the money supply) eventually makes us all poorer.
As it is, the film just says “look how big the federal debt is going to get, isn’t that terrible?” I think it could have done better. And it could have addressed other domestic issues, like crippling regulations. Tying those to the film’s anti-colonialism theme might have taken a bit more effort — but more clearly connecting anti-colonialism to socialism earlier in the film would have made that easier.
Bottom line: Gerald R. Molen has produced and Dinesh D’Souza has co-directed a fine film. But it could have been truly outstanding with just a few tweaks. Still, go see it ASAP and get your friends to do likewise.
The tag-line for the film is “Love him, hate him, you don’t know him.” I think that’s entirely valid — at least 99.5% of the people who see this film will learn things they didn’t know about Obama. And that’s a good thing.
Posted by Richard on August 23, 2012
The movie 2016: Obama’s America, based on Dinesh D’Souza’s best-seller, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, and produced by Gerald R. Molen, whose production credits include Jurassic Park, Rain Man, Minority Report, and Schindler’s List, is doing surprisingly well. According to Box Office Mojo, its 8/17-19 weekend numbers were the third-best per-screen average revenue of films showing in more than 1-3 theaters, and its revenue was up 292.3% from the previous week. In fact, on a per-screen basis it was right behind The Expendables 2.
Several Denver area bloggers and friends have expressed an interest in getting together to see it when it opens here on Friday, Aug. 24 (see this post and its comments). The most likely locations are SouthGlenn (University and Arapahoe) and Denver Pavilions (16th Street Mall, downtown Denver). The SouthGlenn Stadium 14 theater has showings at 1:45, 4:30, 7:15, and 9:50. Denver Pavilions has showings at 12:20, 2:40, 5:05, 7:35, and 10:00. I’m leaning toward Denver Pavilions, either at 5:05 with dinner and/or drinks somewhere nearby afterwards (Lucky Strike? Corner Bakery Cafe? Maggiano’s? Hard Rock? Or…?) or at 7:35 with dinner and/or drinks before. Leave a comment about your preference if you’d like to join us. I’ll post some kind of final plan by Thursday.
UPDATE (Wednesday, 8/22): Denver Pavilions seems like everyone’s choice. Some of us have trouble making a 5:05 show on a workday, so I’m proposing Saturday instead — showtimes are the same as Friday. Join the discussion in the comments if you’re at all interested.
UPDATE 2: The success of the movie continues to amaze. For instance, see this Hollywood Reporter story. Also, check out Thomas Sowell’s review of the film, which he drove 30 miles to see in a packed theater.
UPDATE 3 (Thursday, 8/23, 11:15 PM): The plan I proposed in comment 15 is now the official plan:
- Dinner at 5 PM at Sam’s No. 3, 1500 Curtis Street. Meet outside, enjoying a gorgeous Colorado day.
- Movie at 7:35 PM at Denver Pavilions, about 6 blocks away (16th Street Mall shuttle available for anyone walking-impaired or wimpy).
- If you want/need to be home before dark, you’re welcome to attend the 2:40 showing of the movie and then join us for dinner at Sam’s afterward and share your thoughts about the film.
I don’t think Sam’s accepts reservations, but if you’re planning to join us for dinner, RSVP in the comments. If the number of participants grows beyond 5-6, I’ll call them and check; they might in any case appreciate a heads-up about a larger party. Mention also whether you’re going to the 2:40 or 7:35 showing of the film.
Also, if you’re planning to attend the 7:35 show, you might want to buy tickets in advance either online or at the box office before heading over to Sam’s. You wouldn’t want to be turned away or end up sitting in the aisle like Tom Sowell (see UPDATE 2). 🙂
Posted by Richard on March 9, 2012
The new Disney film, John Carter, is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series, begun in 1911. The eleven books in the series are among the great classics of science fiction, and inspired many of those who followed in Burroughs’ footsteps. But did Disney do right by this legend of the genre?
Bryan Young of Big Shiny Robot emphatically says yes. He wrote not only a glowing review, but an intelligent one — the kind of review that persuades me to go see this film. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s one thing you have to do for this movie, and that is this: forget that you’ve seen every other cliched, formulaic blockbuster of the last thirty years. The source material is the thing that inspired all of the tropes we’ve seen in cinema since the old Flash Gordon serials and somehow John Carter’s adventures have remained sacred and off the big screen.
Watch this and understand that it’s true to the source material. You’ll have fun.
But on a subconscious level, you’ll be entertained by a level of filmmaking much more even handed, capable, and mature than you’re used to. The story is told elegantly, the wraparound sequences serve a purpose, the characterizations are deep and complex. …
But it’s still a Saturday afternoon serial, perfect for a matinee.
Read the whole thing, and see if you aren’t persuaded too. I’ll update with whether I think he’s right or not after I see it. If you see it first, let me know what you think.
UPDATE (3/25): Finally saw it today, and enjoyed the hell out of it. Excellent film! Go see! (If I have time tomorrow, I’ll post about it in more detail.)
Posted by Richard on April 21, 2011
All I can say is "Woohoo!" This is one of the best headlines I've seen in a long time:
Box-office power of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ baffles insiders
The power of Ayn Rand devotees has impressed some Hollywood distribution executives, who took note of the hefty $5,640 per-theater average scored by “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” during its opening weekend.
“Shocking,” one executive said about the healthy business the low-budget film has been doing, considering its “awful” marketing plan.
Awful or not, business has been brisk enough for producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro to expand from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month. They don’t have enough film prints to fill all the orders.
“Things have turned for us,” Kaslow said. “When we started, exhibitors were not embracing the film like we thought they would. Now, we can pretty much go into as many theaters as we want. It’s just a matter of logistics.”
The producers stand by their marketing campaign, which relied heavily on the Internet to drum up support among members of the Tea Party, libertarians and other Rand enthusiasts.
And here's another one of the best headlines I've seen in a long time:
Atlas Shrugged Movie Boosts Book to #4 on Amazon Bestseller List
Here’s a marketing question I thought I’d never ask: Would you think that a critically panned, low-budget movie, with a virtually unknown director and cast, could catapult a more than 50 year-old book near the top of the Amazon bestseller list? Well, exactly that appears to be happening with the movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
… Atlas fans will likely flock to cinemas if only to see whether the long-awaited movie adaptation lives up to their expectations. After this initial surge, the movie will have to stand on its own merits.
But more importantly: all signs point to the fact that the mere existence of the movie is causing interest in the book to spike to new heights. According to Google Trends, search volume for “Atlas Shrugged” has never been greater. Even more impressively, the book has surged to #4 on the Amazon bestseller list as of this writing. Likely it won’t stay quite that high for weeks on end, but expect book sales to remain elevated for some time to come. Atlas Shrugged has been in the top 100 of the Amazon bestseller list for 268 days. The movie makes it all the more likely it will still be in the top 100 268 from now.
Atlas Shrugged completely dominates Amazon's "Classic Literature and Fiction" section:
Three different forms of the Atlas Shrugged novel — kindle edition, paperback, and audiobook — currently top the “Classic Literature & Fiction” section in Amazon’s bestseller list.
Screen shot shown below. Click for full-size.
Here's more info on how Atlas Shrugged has been hot on Google:
According to Google, on Friday 15 April 2011, the day of the movie’s release:
- ‘atlas shrugged’ was the #4 most searched keyword
- ‘ayn rand’ was the #12 most searched keyword
- ‘atlas shrugged movie’ was the #14 most searched keyword
Screen shot attached below. Click the thumbnail for full-size image.
UPDATE: I just noticed that Google Trends shows Denver as the top city for "atlas shrugged" searches. Cool!
Via the Atlas Shrugged Movie blog, here are a couple of articles/reviews to check out:
- Vin Suprynowicz: The enormous disconnect between 'mainstream' professional reviews and viewer response to 'Atlas Shrugged The Movie, Part I'
- Michael Shermer: Atlas Shrugged, But You Shouldn't
I'm going to see the film again this weekend. Which will still leave me behind Nathaniel Branden.
Have you seen it yet? If not, will you go this weekend? If you have, will you go again? Please?
Posted by Richard on April 17, 2011
I saw Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite its shortcomings. I'll be frank, the limited budget and rushed schedule definitely show. But they don't detract from a great story for the most part well told. If you read and liked the novel, you'll love the film and it's a must-see. If you never read it (shame on you!), but you're inclined toward libertarian, free-market conservative, or Tea Party thinking, likewise.
If you hated the book and/or are basically an Obama-loving Socialist Democrat — well, you wouldn't like the film no matter how lavish or excellent a production it was.
Because of the budget constraints, the film keeps outdoor scenes to a minimum and relies on a lot of stock footage. It's mostly stock footage of Colorado (plus some rail yards and steel mills), so that's not so bad.
Taylor Schilling is excellent as Dagny Taggart, and Grant Bowler is quite good as Hank Rearden. I was disappointed with Jsu Garcia's Francisco D'Anconia. OTOH, Rebecca Wisocky does a fine job as Lillian Rearden.
Graham Beckel is a terrific Ellis Wyatt. He's one of those fine character actors you've probably seen many times, but never remember his name. I didn't know, until hearing him interviewed by Hugh Hewitt recently, that he's the brother of Democratic operative Bob Beckel. He doesn't share his brother's political views.
The villains are all suitably smarmy and villainous, although I thought Matthew Marsden's James Taggart wasn't sufficiently whiny and dependent. It was clear that Dagny's brother was incompetent and useless, but not why. That's one of the problems with bringing this novel to the screen: there's little time to explore the psychology of the characters (and the psychology of the villains is an important aspect of Atlas Shrugged). So the burden falls on the actor to understand his character's psyche and convey it with every look, gesture, and word. Marsden didn't do that.
When a 1000-page novel is brought to the screen, somebody's favorite vignette or subplot is going to be left out or glossed over. I was disappointed that the story of the 20th Century Motor Company was given such short shrift. That section also contained a bit of dialogue that made me wince: a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about the motor that Dagny and Hank found. They should have axed the nonsense about "vacuum pressure," simply said, "it looks like it's designed to extract static electricity from the air," and left it at that.
I also didn't like the way the meeting with Hugh Akston was handled or the way Michael O'Keefe portrayed him.
Enough quibbling. I was quite pleased overall. The film did a good job — a remarkably good job, given the constraints — of telling the first third of the story. And the ending was outstanding. An intense, moving scene that Taylor Schilling handled superbly.
It left me absolutely looking forward to Part 2, which will benefit from a somewhat bigger budget and much less rushed schedule. It's due to be released on April 15, 2012. Just in time to fire up all the fans for the election season.
See my previous post for links to find a theater, watch the trailer and clips, etc.
Posted by Richard on April 13, 2011
Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 opens this Friday in 300 theaters nationwide. Go here to find a theater near you. The Atlasphere has created a site dedicated to the movie. In addition to reading the latest news and reviews, you can watch the trailer and clips from the film.
This is an independent film being released and marketed in an unorthodox way. The Atlasphere's Joshua Zader emphasized (via email) how important it is for fans of Ayn Rand to show their support this opening weekend and beyond:
All of us who love Ayn Rand's novels should bring our friends to see the
movie on the opening weekend. This is hugely important; it shows theater
owners how much demand there is for this independently produced and
distributed movie based on Ayn Rand's revolutionary novel.
Equally important, though, is to go back the following weekend — with even
more friends. This helps demonstrate the movie's momentum in no uncertain
terms, and will draw even more theaters on board.
I'll go see it either Friday after work or Saturday afternoon (haven't decided yet). I hope you'll do the same. From everything I've read and seen, this film very much deserves your support and will reward you for it.
Posted by Richard on March 7, 2011
The movie’s most serious flaw is that it feels too rushed. An additional ten or fifteen minutes would have helped make clear the nature of the villainy, and driven home the way in which Dagny’s heroic achievement — bringing the John Galt Line to life — only enabled the looters to complete their destruction of Ellis Wyatt and his Colorado industrial renaissance.
This flaw could be remedied in the second part of the trilogy, however, and meantime we can hope for an extended “director’s cut” version on the DVD.
Despite the film’s rushed feel, the dialogue and acting were remarkably solid, even brilliant, at times. …
A viewer determined to nitpick the film will find no shortage of material. In fact, I was so concerned with picking out the minor flaws that it seriously detracted from my appreciation the first time around. When I relaxed and watched the movie the second time, I found it much more enjoyable.
The film’s flaws are due much more to the rushed production than the modest budget. I can’t wait to see what the producers will be able to do in part two, with a more relaxed schedule and, hopefully, more generous financing.
Despite the occasional rough edge, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is a great movie, true to Ayn Rand’s classic novel. This exciting, fast paced, and breathtaking romp provides an easy introduction to Ayn Rand’s ideas. Inspired viewers will then be motivated to read the novel, to satisfy their burning desire to learn more.
The film is scheduled to open on April 15. I'm sure the date is not coincidental, and the desire to hit it may have led to the rushed production that Schantz commented on.
Watch the trailer.
Then help make sure the film plays in a theater near you. Click the button below.
View all Atlas Shrugged Part 1 tour dates
Posted by Richard on August 11, 2010
From the Moving Picture Institute:
The Cartel has been selected to screen at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival ("DocuFest Atlanta") this month! The screening will be Friday, August 20 at 7:30pm, at the Young Blood Gallery. Admission is $8. Get tickets and learn more about the festival on their website.
In September, The Cartel will screen at the Burbank International Film Festival. This will be the film's tenth festival appearance since its release in fall 2009.
While being selected is an honor in itself, The Cartel has also won numerous awards. These include the Visionary Award and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2010 Washington DC Independent Film Festival, the Silver Screen Award at the 2009 Nevada Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the 2009 Hoboken International Film Festival, among others. See TheCartelmovie.com for a complete list. Congratulations to The Cartel for its success!
If you avoid documentaries because you think they're boring, give this one a chance. Granted, there are no explosions or fancy special effects, but The Cartel is a powerful, compelling, and highly entertaining film. I strongly recommend it.
Posted by Richard on January 29, 2010
In Michael Moore's 2009 film, Capitalism: A Love Story, he railed against (among others) corporate greedheads lining up to get government handouts of the taxpayers' money. Talk about a great big pot calling the kettle black.
According to Watchdog.org, Michigan's Mackinac Center discovered that the movie was partly filmed in Michigan, qualifying it for a generous windfall courtesy of the state's taxpayers. And it's already been approved, despite what strikes me as a serious conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety (emphasis added):
That windfall would come from Michigan’s refundable tax credit program for the film industry, a program that allows movie producers to apply for a tax refund of up to 42 percent of their spending in Michigan. This lavish provision means a studio can easily receive more from Michigan taxpayers than it pays in Michigan taxes.
This initially seemed to trouble Moore, and he openly questioned the program at a forum in July 2008.
“These are large multinational corporations — Viacom, GE, Rupert Murdoch — that own these studios. Why do they need our money, from Michigan, from our taxpayers, when we’re already broke here?” Moore asked.
Moore posed this question to the Michigan Film Office director who determines which movies will qualify for the program. Moore went on: “I mean, they play one state against another, and so they get all this free cash when they’re making billions already in profits. What’s the thinking behind that?”
But in November 2008, Gov. Granholm appointed Michael Moore to the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council. Which advises the Michigan Film Office. Which runs the tax refund program.
Moore filmed part of “Capitalism: A Love Story” in Michigan. And the Mackinac Center has confirmed with the film office that a “production person” associated with Moore “applied, was approved for an incentive and … will receive credits” once the state treasury department reviews and approves the audited filing.
The film office did not disclose how much the resulting payment from the state would be; however, the film office director insisted that the incentive approval posed no conflict of interest with Moore’s seat on the film office advisory council.
Oh, OK. I guess I was wrong. Nothing to see here, folks. No crony capitalism. No unseemly behavior. No hypocritical greedhead pigs feeding at the public trough. The director of the office that Moore advises, who determines which movies qualify, has assured us of that.
Posted by Richard on November 25, 2009
The free stream of Obsession is part of a grassroots initiative to educate the public about the threats that radical Islam pose to national security and the American way of life. Concerned citizens will have the opportunity to watch the film throughout the week, and educate themselves on a growing radical movement targeting western liberties and ideals.
Over 30 million have seen the groundbreaking film, a powerful and controversial educational tool that media pundits have coined a "must-see" Obsession was the winner of the best feature film award at the Liberty Film Festival.
"Thanksgiving is a time when we pause to consider the values that make America great," stated Raphael Shore, Producer of Obsession and the groundbreaking follow-up documentary The Third Jihad. "This weekend also provides a critical opportunity to recognize the motivations of extremists that actively seek to destroy our freedoms."
"One in six Americans have already seen this important film," added Shore, "but many more Americans need to understand just how deep the dangers run. Today as the number of incidents in the U.S. and across the world increase, it is imperative to educate our family and friends to stand up and mobilize against the threat to our values posed by radical Islam."
UPDATE: Weekend's over. But you can still take advantage of the Two DVDs for the Price of One deal: both Obsession and The Third Jihad for only $19.95.
Posted by Richard on November 5, 2009
- Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
On this day in 1605, Guy Fawkes attempted (and failed) to blow up the British Houses of Parliament. He's been toasted ever since (in some circles, at least) as "The last man to enter Parliament with honourable intentions."
Courtesy of the Moving Picture Institute, here's a short clip from V for Vendetta honoring the day.
Posted by Richard on June 26, 2009
With Iran and human rights so much in the news, it's appropriate that director Cyrus Nowrasteh's The Stoning of Soraya M. is opening this weekend in select theaters across the country. The film is based on the acclaimed international best-seller of the same name by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam, and the story is true. It was runner-up to Slumdog Millionaire at the Toronto 2008 Film Festival, and critics are heaping praise on it. Jeffrey Lyons thinks female lead Shohreh Aghdashloo's performance is "a serious Oscar contender" (she was previously nominated for The House of Sand and Fog).
The movie is beautiful and deeply moving, and the film's opening would have been an enormous story even had Iran not erupted in a long-suppressed general demand for freedom from tyranny. Stoning is an abhorrent practice, but one that still goes on in Iran, as recently as March of this year, according to Radio Free Europe, when a 30-year old man was stoned to death for adultery.Some apologists for the Mullahs point to the official moratorium on stoning that Iran adopted early in the decade, but ignore that the practice still goes on and that the law permitting the penalty has not been repealed.Much more to the point, though, is the fundamental evil of a law code that consigns all women to a second-class status and through which the worst sorts of cruelty are not merely not punished but even endorsed.“The Stoning of Soraya M” does not portray the Iran of Tehran or the other industrialized cities. It is a poignant picture of rural and remote Iran, the Iran we have been told again and again supports Ahmadinejad against the urban elites that have been pouring into the streets of the major cities for the past 10 days.…Every American who sees “The Stoning of Soraya M” will emerge from the theater far wiser about what is driving the revolt of the people in Iran. These demonstrators want their freedom from theocracy.That theocracy reaches down into every aspect of every life, and its totalitarian demands for control over every aspect of life make it the cousin of every repressive police state that stained the 20th century.Americans cannot deliver aid to the demonstrators, but they can attend a movie that outrages the Mullahs. A large box office for “The Stoning of Soraya M” sends a message to the Mullahs that won't be mistaken: Americans support the end of their medieval rule.