The Girl with All the Gifts

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

One last movie for 2019, watched while waiting for the ball to drop. It's pretty good, for a zombie movie. It appears not to have been widely released to US theaters for some reason.

I'd read the book on which it was based back in 2015, and… hey, I'll just steal a bit from what I said then, only minor spoilers:

Melanie is a smart kid in an unusual situation: she goes to school with her classmates, but that involves a couple of armed soldiers coming to get her in her cell. One holds a gun on her while the other puts her into a wheelchair with strong restraints on her arms, legs, and head. All indications are that the soldiers view her and her ilk with a mixture of fear and loathing. But she has a sympathetic teacher, Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton, who played Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace!). And there's a very creepy lady scientist, Dr. Caldwell, played by Glenn Close. Pretty clearly she views the kids much like lab rats.

So she's in some sort of prison/lab. And all indications are that the outside world is … not well. The situation can't go on forever, and it doesn't.

This seems to be a big-budget movie, special effects are impressive. (According to Wikipedia (small spoiler) "Aerial views of a deserted London were filmed with drones in the abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which has been uninhabited since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster."

Last Modified 2024-01-23 3:14 PM EDT

Don't Think Twice

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

I have a very short list of comedians of whom I'm a fan, but Mike Birbiglia's on it. Nevertheless, this 2016 movie stuck in my streamable Netflix queue for quite awhile; the holiday TV viewing drought encouraged me to check it out. Mike wrote and directed, and is one of the actors involved.

It was in "select theaters" but I'm not sure if it ever made it to "a theater near you".

It centers on a ragtag improvisational comedy group, "The Commune", Despite being modestly successful, for an improv group that means most of the cast have day jobs that they hate, in order to avoid starvation. The overriding ethos of the group is teamwork, since improv demands it. But there's also a considerable amount of professional jealousy, especially when one of the cast makes it into the big time, "Weekend Live", a thinly-disguised SNL. Things are further strained when one of the cast members' father goes into the hospital.

I'm not a fan of improv, and this movie didn't make me one. For a movie centered around comedy, the laughs from me were few and far between.

Last Modified 2024-01-23 3:14 PM EDT

URLs du Jour


As the inexorable wave of time is about to make another year disappear…

  • At Reason, J.D. Tuccille suggests some Resolutions To See You Through a New (Election) Year. And they're all good, of course, so if you need advice like this:

    Get some perspective.

    Too many of your friends and neighbors are tribal idiots, but they're not the worst tribal idiots in recent memory, by any means. Friedrich Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom at a time when trendy thinkers agreed that free societies were a passing fad, debated whether they'd be superseded by fascism or socialism, and waged their argument in the streets and on battlefields. Anne Frank wrote her diary while hiding, ultimately unsuccessfully, from psychopathic Nazis who ruled an empire, not a website. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago documented the horrors of the forced-labor camps that were an integral part of life under Communism. And in The Girl With Seven Names, North Korean Lee Hyeon-seo described an entire country turned into a forced-labor camp. By comparison, Americans' current fascination with brown shirt/red shirt cosplay should be taken as a warning, but it doesn't yet rise to the heights of historical awfulness.

    … I suggest you read the whole thing.

  • David Harsanyi points out what should be obvious: Texas Church Shooting: Concealed-Carry Law Prevented Mass Murder.

    The same weekend that Orthodox Jews in Monsey, N.Y., were fighting off another knife-wielding anti-Semite thug with chairs and coffee tables — they were fortunate that the perpetrator hadn’t brought a firearm, like the killer who targeted a yeshiva in Jersey City only a few weeks earlier — Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old congregant and security volunteer at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, took mere seconds to stop a potential mass murderer.

    Earlier in the year, to the dismay of the usual suspects, Texas governor Greg Abbott had signed a bill making it explicitly legal for Texans with concealed-carry licenses to bring their weapons into places of worship. These kinds of protections allowed Wilson to achieve something that no gun laws now being pursued nationally by Democrats has ever accomplished: He stopped a mass shooter. My guess is that Wilson, a former deputy sheriff, is the kind of guy who probably wouldn’t have broken the law and carried a firearm into church had it been illegal to do so. The killer, on the other hand, I’m wholly certain, would have been undeterred by any laws.

    We can thank Jack for not being a thoughts-and-prayers kind of guy. More of a draw-aim-fire kind of guy.

  • At AIER, Joakim Book points out Troubles in the Economists’ Case for a Carbon Tax. It's not the worst idea, mind you, just one that doesn't deserve mindless praise.

    Even accepting the externality argument, we are instantly confronted with two obvious problems: First, we don’t know how far apart these impressive-looking textbook curves of social and private benefit are. There is simply no way to adequately measure the cost of an externality (never mind that costs are individual and subjective rather than collective and observable). If we overcorrect, we are harming ourselves for no good reason.

    Second, there are suitable alternatives. The entire process of achieving a well-functioning carbon tax — one that does not suffer from leakage (where polluting industries simply move jurisdictions) and the overshoot that economists worry about or the loopholes and regulatory capture that activists are rightly worried about — is a daunting challenge. In contrast, geoengineers claim to be able to mimic the effects of naturally occurring volcanic eruptions that would block some incoming sunlight with atmospheric particles, a phenomenon that has reduced global temperatures in the past. At a total expense of no more than tens of millions of dollars, a single philanthropist could finance that, bypassing most of the nitty-gritty political horse-trading and the outcomes of opaque negotiation that we worry about. 

    I've been bothered by the promises that a proposed carbon tax will be "revenue neutral": i.e, incoming money to Your Federal Government gets shoveled back out to The People. Somehow.

    Well … the tax is supposed to disincentivize fossil-fuel use. If you just give the money back, where does that disincentive go?

    It all seems to be an unholy scheme to obfuscate the actual incidence of the tax. Am I a winner or loser? Hard to say. Especially when you consider that a carbon tax is essentially a sales tax on every product or service.

  • Bret Stephens wrote an NYT column that mentioned something true. And so (as described at Power Line): Cancel Culture Claims Another Scalp.

    […] Stephens visited the possibility that Jews may be, on the average, smarter than gentiles–not exactly a novel thought. But in raising and mostly rejecting this hypothesis (“The common answer is that Jews are, or tend to be, smart. But the “Jews are smart” explanation obscures more than it illuminates.”), Stephens violated a taboo by referring briefly to IQ scores:

    The column cited a 2005 paper by researchers Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah stating that “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data. During the 20th century, they made up about 3 percent of the U.S. population but won 27 percent of the U.S. Nobel science prizes and 25 percent of the ACM Turing awards. They account for more than half of world chess champions.”

    The simple-minded among us might say, Yup. There are a lot of smart Jews. But liberals promptly swung into action, in many cases weirdly accusing Stephens of perpetuating an anti-Semitic stereotype.

    There are a lot illiberal "liberals" who not only deny the likelihood of genetic influence to IQ; they also don't want to hear about it. And they'll do whatever it takes to make people who do talk about it very, very, sorry.

  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang a lot this morning, but this was probably the most interesting ding-dong, from New Hampshire Sports Betting Launches, But Consumers Lose.

    New Hampshire talks a good motto. But “Live Free or Die” was obviously not taken much into account when state regulators finalized plans that led to the opening of legal sports betting in the state on Monday.

    What New Hampshire began with on Monday was a DraftKings monopoly. And that is not good for the consumers who are supposed to support and benefit from sports betting.

    More choices mean more interest and more money for everyone.

    One gaming industry insider described the single-source system to as "borderline communism. State-run wagering.” Live free or die, indeed.

    Governor Sununu dropped $82 on the Pats to win the Super Bowl. It's tempting to vote the other way. I'm not even sure they can beat the Titans on Saturday.