Monthly Archive: April 2011

Atlas Shrugged Part 1

I went to see Atlas Shrugged in Bellingham Saturday, that being the handiest option, an easy 38 miles away.

In brief, I iked it. I could pick nits, as some have done, but all in all, a good effort and worth seeing. My brother would like the train p0rn aspect.

I was most critical, right at the time I was watching, of the scene with Hugh Akston at the diner. He seemed poorly cast, maybe poorly acted, and the scene seemed poorly written and presented. The gratuitous dollar sign cigarette shot was just that, very in your face. It was well and good that he represented a dead end in her quest for the maker of the motor, but I liked better that he cooked her the best burger ever, in the book, and there was a message about doing the best you can, no job too lowly for that, even while employed in a less substantive job than you could, as a form of strike against a mad society.

Later I realized that something that might bother purists, yet to some degree was necessary for the medium, is the way scenes or dialogue right out of the book are connected by Reader’s Digest stretches of film that convey situation and story without being verbatim, or perhaps… feeling deep.

Rob Sama also has a review, and he noted something I had completely overlooked: Francisco’s speech about money. If money is the root of all evil, well then… what is the root of money, what are you really saying? Perhaps a nod to that would have been good. I don’t, for comparison, expect the films to contain anywhere close to all of “this is John Galt speaking.” That would be absurd! There’s a reason why in three readings of the book I have read that chapter through just once. But then, if you pay attention while reading the rest, it is redundant. Anyway, I absolutely expect a nod to it, a short version, something.

In the “odd details you notice” depatment, there is an emphasis on characters putting a $5 bill on the counter to pay for a coffee in a diner. All the world is not a Starbucks, and last I knew an ordianary cup of coffee was a lot less than that, even with a tip. So it’s giving us a visual of the relative value of money, and where inflation has gone in that world of the near future? If coffee and a tip is double, for instance, then $36 a gallon gasoline is actually $18 a gallon gasoline. Still insane, but less extreme than at first impression.

I could say a lot more. I agree that James seems too intelligent and competent, if differently so than Dagny. Ditto for Mouch, brilliantly played but less the zero at the intersection of various forces than a force in his own right. The world of the film is scarily similar to the world of today, and Mouch has been aptly compared to Barney Frank, who seems intent on competing with Jamie Gorelick for amount of disaster associated with his name. Intent being a key word, as with her it almost feels accidental, whereas with him it feels as if he means to invoke economic ruin.

That the film is not perfect leaves an opening for someone, sometime, to make another attempt. That the film is good leaves production of parts 2 and 3 of this attempt safe, I hope.