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Peter T Chattaway

Atlas Shrugged

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The filmmakers are reaching out to conservative websites. Libertas has run part one and part two of their set-visit report, and John Nolte (who used to write for Libertas) @ Big Hollywood has run his report, with the promise of more to come.

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You know that feeling some get when faced with the prospect of another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I get exactly the same feeling when this thread surfaces. Blech.

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You know that feeling some get when faced with the prospect of another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I get exactly the same feeling when this thread surfaces. Blech.

You know that feeling you get when there's a movie based on a great book, and you think, "Well, the movie probably won't be all that, but maybe it will get more people to read the book"? I have exactly the opposite feeling about this movie. Please, somebody make it stop.

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There's something very telling about the fact that the movie's apparently set in the present day, but also feels weirdly anachronistic: for instance, people in this version of the U.S. apparently use trains as a regular mode of transportation. Huh.

EDIT: A second viewing tells me that these must be freight trains. It still seems weird, though.

Edited by NBooth

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Embedding it:

For some reason, I find myself thinking, "Hey, there's a couple of Coen brothers veterans here."

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The tone of the trailer seems out of step with the level of drama onscreen; it's pitched like a thriller, but most of the scenes are people talking in boardrooms and cocktail parties.

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How's this for a pseudo connection: In the second episode of One Tree Hill, a character quotes from Atlas Shrugged. The character who speaks the quote is the son of the character played by Paul Johansson, director/star of Atlas Shrugged.

Also, I will be very disappointed if there isn't a One Tree Hill/Atlas Shrugged mashup trailer by the end of the weekend.

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They're certainly trying really really hard to make it look interesting. Scary music. Lots of camera tracking shots of apparently scenes from Unstoppable, mixed in between all the dialogue.

Principal Snyder: "We can't afford to allow the expansion of a company which produces too much." Dun! Dun! Dun!

Angry white guy: "Maybe you should let me finish speaking!" Dum! Dum! Dum!

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I think I saw this move some years ago. The tagline was "Greed is good."

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it's pitched like a thriller

Well, it has a train wreck...or it is a train wreck.

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Here's a little bit of fun to help balance the thread out a bit -

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That's fantastic.

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Interview with the producer, John Aglialoro:

http://dailycaller.c...glialoro/print/

6. Have you decided how you’ll tackle John Galt’s epic speech in part three?

Well, I’m looking at a number of different things. Having John Galt give that speech, it might be in a casino environment. It might be that he is at a mountain retreat, rather than being where he is captured, not…that violent scene at the end. But we’re going to take a look. It doesn’t have to copy just that.

No, it absolutely will be a concentrate of entertaining words with a total, philosophic…But, you know, part three could be a musical…

Edited by bowen

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Just got around to watching that clip. That is awful. That is ... Days of Our Lives awful.

edit:

And now that I've gone back and read the interview that Bowen linked to, I understand why that clip was so awful. Can anyone decipher this?

9. Can you describe one or two of the toughest decisions you had to make during the production of this film?

I’m not going to say it’s simple, because it wasn’t. First of all, the first decision was part one is only 27 percent of the entire novel, so I only had to worry about 27 percent. That takes a lot of the stress away. And then in rereading each chapter of part one, you sort of make little notes about what will be a scene and what will not be a scene. What you see in the movie was but let me give an example of a scene that didn’t get in there, but could’ve been in there. I broke it down into, and Brian O’Toole wrote the fundamental script. I gave him the direction with it. But he wrote the basic script and I wrote a lot of the beginning and a lot of the end and stuff in the middle and we both crystallized in phrases along the way. But basically you read through it and there’s maybe 33 perspective scenes and only 24 make it.

The entire interview is like this.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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I admit, having heard the idea, I am now desperate to hear John Galt's 90 page speech sung. Hopefully they will do it as a full musical number with dancers. Perhaps SDG or someone else with a talent for verse could try to give us a sample. Here is the opening if anyone wants to give it a try:

For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing-you who dread knowledge-I am the man who will now tell you.

You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.

I'm not sure which musical genre would work best. Perhaps not country and western...

Edited by bowen

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And now that I've gone back and read the interview that Bowen linked to, I understand why that clip was so awful. Can anyone decipher this?

Yikes. It reminds me of the "Ask the..." section on the Onion, where questions and responses don't mesh up at all. I don't think the interview with Aglialoro was meant to be humorous, though.

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2. Now that it’s about to be released next month, how do you feel about the movie you produced?

Well, it’s not so much what I think. Like I said, it’s more important what people think who I respect and know the project well. After the showing on Thursday, I walked over to Nathaniel Branden and also Barbara Branden was there and she saw it, and I was going to ask them what they thought, which meant a lot to me. Before I could ask for their question, I saw tears in their eyes, so I knew that I didn’t have to ask the question.

He should have asked. Judging by the clip we saw, those tears might not have meant what he thought they meant.

Edited by bowen

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Ugh. re: the clip, what is that stock quote about evil being banal? Q.E.D.

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I'm generally opposed to kitsch and the "so bad it's good" aesthetic, but, based on that interview, I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy watching Atlas Shrugged: The Musical.

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2. Now that it’s about to be released next month, how do you feel about the movie you produced?

Well, it’s not so much what I think. Like I said, it’s more important what people think who I respect and know the project well. After the showing on Thursday, I walked over to Nathaniel Branden and also Barbara Branden was there and she saw it, and I was going to ask them what they thought, which meant a lot to me. Before I could ask for their question, I saw tears in their eyes, so I knew that I didn’t have to ask the question.

He should have asked. Judging by the clip we saw, those tears might not have meant what he thought they meant.

You may have hit the nail on the head... Here come the reviews...

Variety says -

A monument of American literature is shaved down to a spindly toothpick of a movie in "Atlas Shrugged," a project that reportedly once caught the eye of Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunaway and Clint Eastwood. Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave, considering how it violates the author's philosophy by allowing opportunists to exploit another's creative achievement -- in this case, hers. Targeting roughly 200 screens, pic goes out hitched to a grassroots marketing campaign, hoping to break-even via by-popular-demand bookings and potential Tea Party support.

Rather than lose the rights to Rand's novel, producer John Aglialoro enlisted co-writer Brian Patrick O'Toole, dashed off a screenplay and rushed the project into production. Made with the permission but not the participation of the Rand estate, the result cuts corners in every respect. Rather than try to condense everything into a tight, two-hour feature, Aglialoro and fellow producer Harmon Kaslow tackle the book's first third only, hiring relatively inexperienced helmer Paul Johansson (originally tapped to play John Galt, the shadowy, trenchcoat-wearing figure seen cornering billionaires in back alleys) to deliver their vision after Stephen Polk was fired....

....With neither the time nor the budget to find appropriate matches to play the political and big-business titans who populate the plot, Aglialoro settled for an ensemble of unfamiliar thesps, the most recognizable of whom are character actors Michael Lerner and Jon Polito (both of "Barton Fink" fame). Rand fans have spent decades fantasy-casting the role of Dagny Taggart, the tough-as-nails railroad tycoon who serves as "Atlas Shrugged's" primary earth mover, only to see her remade as a generic business-suit Barbie, unassertively played by pretty blonde TV actress Taylor Schilling (NBC's "Mercy")....

....Since boardroom chats and business dinners are more affordable to shoot than flashbacks and setpieces, "Atlas Shrugged" becomes a series of polite policy conversations interrupted by Fox News-style updates whenever exposition is called for, as in a long prologue that unnecessarily explains why a story re-set in 2016 still relies so heavily on railroad travel. But even this stuffy, shut-in approach would be reasonable if only the dialogue crackled and the tempers flared from time to time, as they do on nearly every one of Rand's 1,200 pages....

The impecunious producers do manage a few key railroad-rebuilding exteriors and wisely commission visual effects for the new line's virgin run, as well as the film's climactic oil-well fires. But what the film really needs is suspense, not spectacle -- some indication of where the story is headed, so auds have reason to engage. Even Rand's iconic question, "Who is John Galt?" can't supply much mystery to a plot in which the mysterious character's presence is barely felt....

From The Hollywood Reporter -

"There were a few rare men of talent around her, but they were becoming rarer every year,” it is lamented about the circle surrounding Ayn Rand's ultra-capable heroine Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, and the complaint certainly applies in the case of this botched partial screen adaptation of the mammoth novel that has materialized 54 years after the book's publication. Although the recent surge in annual sales of the revered and despised author's fictional manifesto arguably testifies to its continuing relevance, the central battle between fearsomely independent corporate mavericks and hostile big government has been updated in a half-baked, unconvincing way that's exacerbated by button-pushing TV-style direction, threadbare production values and blah performances except for that of Taylor Schilling in the central role. Set to bow in roughly 200 theaters on April 15, this independently financed-and-distributed rendition of the book's first third is unlikely to generate sufficient box office to inspire production of the final two installments (the 1,000-plus-page novel is divided into three sections of 10 chapters apiece), although the producers could conceivably forge ahead anyway if their pockets are deep enough. A TV miniseries with a high-powered cast--several were planned at various points over the past four decades--would have been a preferable way to go with this didactic, sometimes risible but still powerful material.

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Variety says -

A monument of American literature is shaved down to a spindly toothpick of a movie ... But even this stuffy, shut-in approach would be reasonable if only the dialogue crackled and the tempers flared from time to time, as they do on nearly every one of Rand's 1,200 pages...

From The Hollywood Reporter -

... several were planned at various points over the past four decades--would have been a preferable way to go with this didactic, sometimes risible but still powerful material.

It'll be too easy for all the reviews to just blame the filmmakers for this. They're all just automatically assuming that Rand's book was actually good to begin with.

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