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“The Outlaw Josey Wales” Movie Review

The Outlaw Josey Wales is arguably one of the best Western films of all times.  The film is a spaghetti Western directed by and starring the face of Westerns, Clint Eastwood.  The Outlaw Josey Wales follows a Josey, played by Clint Eastwood, a Missouri farmer.  The Union Army kills Josey’s family so he joins up with the Confederates to exact revenge.  His unit is a guerilla Confederate group that is coerced into surrendering at the end of the Civil War. 

However, the Union soldiers execute them anyway.  Josey escapes the massacre.  He’s now on the run from the entire Union militia and bounty hunters seeking the $5,000 on his head—no small amount back then. Josey’s travels accumulate his own posse of misfits.  They settle down at a ranch near Santo Rio but the sanctuary doesn’t stay safe long.  The Union finds them.  An all out assault on the ranch ends with Josey and his crew victorious.  More bounty hunters come by the local town but everyone comes to an unspoken agreement that the war is over.  They are done killing.

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“The Incredibles” Movie Review

The Incredibles is a wonderful film full of metaphor and visual splendor. Brought to the world by the brilliant storytellers at Pixar, marking their last in a brilliant string of classic films cut short by the stale Cars two years later. The Incredibles is about a family of superheroes who are no longer “legally” allowed to use their powers.  The government hides and subsidizes them to not use their powers. Bob’s family has issues not terribly different from those without superpower but they are content with this life. Bob, however, is increasingly dissatisfied with his role as a spineless bureaucrat. He spends his nights listening to a police scanner, breaking the law, and saving lives. He is offered a secret job stress testing a weapon on a remote island.

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“Enemy of the State” Movie Review

This film is about a lawyer who gets trapped up in a government conspiracy. The director of the NSA is involved in killing a man and he was caught on camera. The man who filmed it is found out through NSA spying and runs the video over to his friend who is a lawyer before jumping into traffic. The lawyer now is on the run from the NSA hit-man and cleverly gets the mob involved to “kill two birds with one stone.”

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New Kickstarter Campaign for “Arts and Minds” Promotes Liberty Through Art

A new liberty-oriented project in Portland, OR recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a summer project that will use “creative energy to spotlight Oregon’s criminal justice system and activate change.”

Arts and Minds (a project of the non-profit Spark Freedom) plans to host a block party where members of the community come together for a day to paint a collaborative mural that tells the story of the criminal justice system in Oregon. United by a passion for freedom and criminal justice reform, attendees will engage in a city-wide “experiment in grassroots artistic activism.”

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They Live! Movie Review

By Stevie Wang

In “They Live!,” a drifter stumbles upon a conspiracy about aliens who secretly rule over the human race. By wearing a pair of sunglasses, the drifter is able to see that aliens are disguising themselves in positions of great power such as company owners, police officers, and politicians and are essentially governing the human race and working for their own interests. Humans are completely oblivious to their rulers and are kept from seeking the truth due to consumer goods and materialism.

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“Unforgiven”: Guns, Government, and the Non-Aggression Principle

s6zmsThe film “Unforgiven”, by the legendary Clint Eastwood, is a story of an aged outlaw who, with the help of his old partner and a young gunslinger, aim to kill and collect the bounty on two cowboys who attacked a prostitute in the small town of Big Whiskey. Eastwood, who plays the leading role (Will Munny) in the film, reluctantly joins the party aiming to kill the cowboys due to the fact that his departed wife would have been opposed. Once the trio of killers arrive in Big Whiskey, they are abruptly run out by the town’s heavy handed Sheriff, Little Bill. Thereafter they accomplish their mission, but with this comes tragedy. Munny’s partner, and close friend, Ned Logan, is captured by the law of Big Whiskey and killed for his crimes. Munny, upon finding this out, returns to Big Whiskey and exacts revenge on Little Bill and anyone who stands in his way.

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How Zootopia Can Teach You And Your Kids About Liberty

I went to see Zootopia last week expecting a solid children’s movie. What I didn’t expect was arguably the most libertarian children’s movie in recent memory. Seriously, Ayn Rand could have written this thing. Zootopia can teach kids about all sorts of libertarian ideals, such as citizen accountability, skepticism of government officials, civil liberties, and the rejection of majority rule justification. 

We start with a relatively simple premise common in kid’s movies: our lead character has a dream that the world says will never come true. In this case, that lead character is a bunny, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who wants to be a police officer. A bunny has never been a police officer before, but Judy works hard and becomes the first one. What makes Zootopia somewhat unique is that it spends relatively little screen time telling us how that dream comes true. Instead, the movie focuses on all of Judy’s struggles after she becomes a cop and how sometimes dreams aren’t everything we thought they would be.

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Mad Max: Fury Road – The Action and The State

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Furiosa’s War Rig

Mad Max: Fury Road opened last weekend and I finally made it out to see it this weekend. Not only am I thrilled it lived up to my expectations when I first saw the trailer, I am relieved to know that when it comes to making action pictures, there is someone out there willing to work hard, putting in the time and effort to convey their vision to a production team, who all then execute it flawlessly.  In the current golden age of Marvel action films and other CGI driven movies, writer-director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road destroys this kiddy-field of action films (no offense to the hard working computer animators) much the same way Furiosa’s War Rig plows through the desert destroying everything in its path to liberate its cargo. (Furiosa being portrayed by Charlize Theron in a role that should now forever be the model for what an actual Lady Liberty would like in a world that needed her most,)

The heavy use of practical effects, stunt work and careful, deliberate directing and camera work are key in connecting audiences with the emotional state of the story and characters – and with Mad Max: Fury Road, that emotional state is jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, heart-pounding ecstasy.  It’s the first time in a long while, that I actually sat in a theater and marveled at the stunt work and choreography – all of which you could completely follow with ease – and couldn’t wait to find out how they achieved it all.  I eagerly the Blu-ray special features menu.

When it comes to the plot of the film and the world that is depicted, I’d like to defer to author, publisher and all around  liberty geek Jeffrey A. Tucker of FEE.

“… The setting is usually described as “post-apocalyptic.”

Who destroyed the world (a question one character in the new version asks)? We don’t know for sure, but it’s a good bet that it is the same crew that, in the 20th century, blew up whole cities, dropped bombs on millions of innocents, slaughtered whole peoples in famines, gulags, work camps, death marches, and gas chambers.

I’m speaking of the state. That’s the only institution with means and the will to destroy civilization. So if I had to guess the answer to the question, I would guess: politicians and bureaucrats destroyed the world.”

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MPI Founder and Robert A. Heinlein

MoonisharshThor Halvorssen, founder of Moving Picture Institute (MPI), has just been named as a producer for Twentieth Century Fox production of Robert A. Heilein’s novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men) is attached to direct as well.  Halvorssen’s work on human rights by airdropping films and educational materials into heavily censored North Korea, through his Human Rights Foundation have made headlines in world wide news outlets.

Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) was the recipient of the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel in 1967 and is often cited as one the best novels to promote individual liberty and a free society. An early democrat activist who worked for Upton Sinclair’s Democratic bid for California Governor in 1934, Heinlein later considered himself a libertarian with a strong belief in the importance of self-reliance and human freedom.

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8 Episodes of The Twilight Zone That Any Friend of Liberty Would Love – Part II

twilight-zone-movieIn Part I, we began our countdown with four episodes of The Twilight Zone that touched on fear of the unknown and how human’s natural instincts react to each other under a veil of suspicion.

For Part II, the list explores futures which are rooted in history, where oppressive states wield their power because they know what’s best for you and for the collective.  Rod Serling, the series’ creator and writer of most episodes, was a decorated WWII veteran and joined the military hoping to fight the Nazis. Serling instead was sent into the Pacific theater to fight against the Japanese.  Having witnessed death and the horrors of war so often, Serling returned to civilian life a strong opponent of military force, and even more opposed to fascistic governments as evidenced in the top three episodes.  But first, we continue with #4 and it’s study on neighborly responsibilities and self-reliance in the face of a looming crisis.

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8 Episodes of The Twilight Zone That Any Friend of Liberty Would Love – Part I

twilight-zone-movieThe Twilight Zone was an afternoon staple of my childhood summers.  In Los Angeles during the 80s,  two episodes ran in syndication every day from 12pm-1pm.  An older boy who lived around the corner would watch my younger sister and I in the afternoon for a few bucks until my mother came home from work.  He insisted that he be able to watch The Twilight Zone and that if we missed even the first few minutes of an episode, that it would ruin the whole show and we may as well not even watch it. Between that discipline and the Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day  marathons, The Twilight Zone is every bit a part of the fabric of my cultural upbringing as was my Italian grandmother’s cooking, Transformers in my backpack and Tommy Lasorda’s Dodgers.

It wasn’t until much later in life that my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone shifted from the time-traveling commercial jet and dinosaur cameos of “The Odyssey of Flight 33” and the surprise twist of  “To Serve Man” a title which referred to a cookbook, to the more thought provoking social and political commentary that were the basis of other equally enthralling episodes.

I’d like to offer up the top 8 episodes of The Twilight Zone that do a fine job in the world of human freedom by commenting on either individualism, free markets or  liberty – perhaps even all three.

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Three Questions for Stephen Limbaugh

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Limbaugh traveling in comfort

Pianist Stephen Limbaugh is set to release his first full-length studio album, Pants.  It’s already bouncing up and down in the Top 50 Classical Hot New Releases on Amazon and it’s not due for release until Jan. 20th.

About two years ago, Stephen Limbaugh’s indie rock band Kingsley, decided to put the band on hiatus so that the members could devote some time exploring other projects.  Kingsley guitarist and front man Brandon Sweeney, and drummer Nadir Maraschin are now playing in The Eeries, a previously unsigned rock band that became an overnight success, and thus signed, when Los Angeles based radio station KROQ played their first single on the air last summer.  

Stephen Limbaugh has gone back to his roots of classical music. An accomplished pianist who just recently performed at the HBO Golden Globes after-party last Sunday, Stephen has played all over the world and, when yours truly first met him, had just arrived back in the United States from Russia where he had performed in a symphony he had also written.  So in anticipation of his debut release, the one with the stars & stripes pants on the cover, I asked Stephen to answer 3 questions about his new album and it’s relation to liberty.  Never one to shy away from answering a question, I present to you Stephen Limbaugh’s answers… unfiltered. You’re welcome.

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Liberty or Horror?

Why not both?

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Eli Roth

Filmmaker Eli Roth has a new entry into the world of horror and “torture porn” due out in theaters this September. Judging by the newly released trailer, The Green Inferno looks to be an uncomfortable gore-fest that will most likely have legs going into the Halloween season. Horror has been, is, and will continue to be one the most successful film genres. These films can be made on relatively small budgets and rarely need a big name attached. As long as you promise to scare the crap out of audiences, and mount an aggressive marketing campaign, you are almost guaranteed to make back your film’s budget in opening weekend. The first Saw film was made for under $2 million dollars and made $18 million it’s opening weekend and spawned 6 sequels and countless imitators. Eli Roth’s first film Cabin Fever was also produced for under $2 million and raked in $8 million it’s first weekend. If you’ve got some talent and a good story, making a horror film is a no-brainer. So is it also any wonder that some filmmakers routinely use Horror films as a way to influence our culture and reinforce certain narratives? While I haven’t seen Roth’s The Green Inferno yet – and at the risk of painting Eli Roth in a light undeserved – judging by the trailer it looks to be no different.

Audiences go into these films knowing they are gonna be half bored for about 15-20 minutes until

The Green Inferno
The Green Inferno

everything goes to hell and the fun & mayhem begins. Whatever discussions or topics the characters happen to be engaging in has no real consequence on the horrific fate they are headed for. This is where filmmakers get to feel good about their work and sneak in their own opinions to mold the culture.

 As depicted in the trailer, the protagonists of the film are headed to South America to assist in helping the locals – and in turn the world – by fighting back against the evil anti-environmental interests of some western conglomerate hell-bent on tearing up the Amazon jungle because… energy, fascism, greed, ‘merica, whatever. What difference does it make? The point is old white men are destroying the Amazon and it’s up to a young white female (and her male suitors) to stop them or else global warming, climate change, weather reassignment… whatever. Of course, since this is a horror film – when the do-gooders do arrive they are eventually pursued, hunted and cooked for breakfast by a local cannibalistic tribe.

Being a Global Warming Apologist, a Climate Change Denier or just someone who cares deeply about Amazon jungle tribes, doesn’t matter when you sit down to watch this film. You just want the gore. If you are a GWA, the reason for the mission simply reinforces the narrative you and your friends hold. If you are a CCD, then you simply shake your head or roll your eyes and just hold out for the splatter fest to commence. If you have no opinion or aren’t familiar with the debate, then you most likely are to assume that the ideology being presented is the obvious position and, who cares I just want blood.

Hopefully human-freedom loving filmmakers out there reading this will recognize the template. When it comes to smash cutting the culture, you must do so in the language of the masses. Your film can’t be about liberty. It has to be about “A” looking for “B”.  A filmmaker with a personal passion for liberty and free-market ideas could basically have the same premise of The Green Inferno, and swap the environmentalists for free-market fanatics. I’d cast Jessica Biel as a young Friedrich Hayek loving grad student from George Mason University who travels to South America to teach local tribes the fundamentals of free-trade and capitalism. When these do-gooders arrive they are eventually pursued, hunted and cooked for breakfast by a local cannibalistic tribe. Can you imagine the effect on some weekend city teenager’s mind who heads to the local multiplex and hears Jessica Biel on screen quoting Friedman while on the road to terror?

Hollywood pioneer Samuel Goldwyn famously said “Pictures were made to entertain; if you want to send a message, call Western Union.” He’s absolutely right. But that doesn’t mean your characters can’t be champions for liberty and human freedom. As long as your female lead is acting out revenge with a machete, torn tank top and sweaty abs, Jessica Biel can quote Friedman all she wants leading up to it.