Movie rental rules of thumb especially for one whose girlfriend has a more humanitarian, international sensibility:

1. Avoid movies about poor people in f**cked up countries.

2. Avoid movies relating to "the troubles" in Northern Ireland. (This is by and large a subcategory of 1 above, since Ireland much of that time was a f**ked up country.)

3. Most movies would be improved by the addition of scenes involving the machine-gunning of Nazis. (This includes movies like Julie and Julia, Sideways, and A River Runs Through It.)

Can specs offer other rules of thumb?

Disclosure as to where I'm coming from: The movies I'd rate highest over the last couple of years (at least the ones I can remember):

The Queen

History of Violence

No Country For Old Men

Lives of Others

Taking Chance

Victor Niederhoffer comments: 

 Explain to girlfriend that if they take from the rich and give to the poor, it's a taking based on singling out one group based on attributes that the majority does not  like, and it is very dangerous when extended. Explain that it has to come at some one else's expense. Explain that when a game is played, it's unfair to take the chips from the winners after the game. Explain that if two people vote to take the third 's chips away, it's like a robber coming and taking it away. Explain that once you take it away from one group, after another, there won't be any one else to take it from, ( the Jews thing from the bishop again). Explain that people stop trying after they keep having to have it taken away. Explain that it's not theirs to give. That it's wrong to steal from others, even if there's a vote. Explain that when people approach each other from each according to their ability to each according to needs, they begin to hate each other always being afraid of what the other guy is wanting from you or you can get from him. Explain that there's no difference between taking from the rich and giving to the poor to buy votes and all this, and that this is the idee fixe of the party in power. Explain that buying votes by taking a small amount per capita from one group and giving to another, earmarks and logrolling is the same thing.

George Parkanyi writes:

Generally I agree with the points you make, but you need to define "rich", and how they got that way. If you are rich because of looting, subjugating/brutalizing, running people off their land, government subsidies, inside information/cheating, exploiting misery (in a way that perpetuates/worsens, not improves it), generally racketeering and so on (in business or politics) - no sympathy whatsoever. And if you are rich by benefiting from the commons - the environment, shared infrastructures such as roads/highways etc. then a fair contribution should be put toward the custodianship of that (fair being the same formula for rich or poor). But where someone acquires wealth by imagination, creativity, and effort within on a fairly accessible, level, playing field, then I agree wholeheartedly that forced re-distribution of wealth is wrong. As for inherited wealth, although that may appear to be a free ride, if someone bestows upon you the fruits of their work, ultimately it is their right to spend their wealth that way, so that also should fall under protection from external plunder.

T.K Marks writes:

At the early onset of a relationship, there's always a little dance that takes place. I call it the pas de deux period, the part of the performance wherein the two principals gingerly feel their respective ways around one another.

In one's youthful exuberance this situation invariably takes place against a backdrop of lots of saloons and even more beer.

However as one gets older and lest their elevated liver enzymes leaving them forever dancing with two left feet, they must summon up their inner-Balanchine and modify the mating choreography a bit.

As such, and with respect to film rentals, there is a cinematic litmus test of sorts that affords one a little window into exactly what they're about to get into.

Think of it as a diagnostic dating tool. Kind of like an MRI of the soul.

Simply explain to the lady that you're in the mood for a classic film and since the ultimate choice of the rental should should only fairly be a bilateral decision, how about if you choose the director, and she, the exact film.

She may very well be taken aback by your quick sense of interest in her input and tastes in art.

Then you tell her that the two directors you had in mind were Frank Capra and Ingmar Bergman, a blithe/bleak dichotomy if there ever were one.

If she bites on Bergman, you might as well just have snuck a peak into her medicine cabinet. That thing is probably going to choking with Paxil, Zoloft, or whatever the latest SSRI big pharma is pushing at the moment.

However, if she's reflexively goes for Capra, there's a better than even chance that the serotonin issue is off the table and you may have just walked into a Norman Rockwell painting.





Speak your mind

7 Comments so far

  1. Gary Rogan on September 4, 2010 9:31 pm

    Trying to explain to thieves that thievery is bad never works. For the thievery to end those who tolerate it because it doesn’t immediately affect them have to suffer, which they always do, eventually. Unfortunately those who tolerate thievery for a long time are often not wise, so when they have to take care of it they don’t always do in the wisest fashion. However being apathetic is a curable condition for those who are that, yet wise. And it seems like the apathy is getting cured.

  2. Gregory Rehmke on September 5, 2010 2:49 am

    Highly recommended online documentary is “Globalization at the Crossroads” with Hernando de Soto (at (no charge but you have to enter code). Of course suggesting a documentary for a date-night movie rental may help explain why I am still single.

    “Outsourced” is a fun movie. It is about a cynical guy from the U.S. traveling to India to train the new order-fulfillment staff. The benefits of trade and commerce are clear. A well done film, though violating rule #1. A key advantage to this film is enough realism to enjoy visiting India without visiting India.

    “Tales from the Golden Age” has six segments, snapshots of life in Romania under communism. Four of them at least are terrific. Funny and entertaining though again violating rule #1. This DVD may not yet be available in U.S. region-coded DVD.

    “California Dreamin” is based on a true story of an episode in Romania during the Kosovo conflict. U.S. troops traveling by train with communications equipment are stopped in the Romanian countryside. A story about American soldiers in poor country who behave well, for the most part.

    “The Singing Revolution” is Estonia’s story of gaining independents from the USSR, after surviving Nazi and Soviet occupation during WWII. Lots about music and singing in this unlikely story of “how culture saved a nation.” Plus, very interesting strategies for organizing and informing the public to undermine arbitrary state power, lessons that could be adapted and applied in the U.S.

    We list many more at our site ( )

    “An American Rhapsody” is a coming of age film set mostly in the U.S., but begins in communist Hungary with a businessman and his family trying to escape. Based on a true story.

    “Beyond Rangoon” is a good action film in an exotic location, again based on true events in a country where the same thugs are still in power.

    So… lots of fun-filled evenings ideal for relationship-building!

  3. Jeff Watson on September 5, 2010 7:30 am

    Unless it is a criminal enterprise, it is never a good thing to transfer wealth from one to another. By opening the door to picking on a group, even with the best intentions, a certain “Definition Creep” will take root and other groups will be targeted for robbery. It is a bad thing the popular meme is that the rich are evil and poor people are righteous. This allows rationalization that what the confiscators are doing is morally good. The same thing happened in the 1930’s when the largely Middle Class Germans allowed a group to take power and single out groups for extermination. It could happen here if our current trends are unchecked.

  4. Kermit Johnson on September 5, 2010 8:21 am

    A person can engage in what I call moralistic thinking all he wants, but analytical thinking suggests that policies of the Left and policies of the Right end in the same place for most of us. For participants of this forum, it is probably obvious why policies of the Left lead to depression. But policies of the Right lead to the same place - a lack of opportunity - because of the inevitable concentration of wealth. I have been convinced for a very long time that the best we can hope for is to bounce back and forth between the two extremes, hoping never to get so far either way that we cannot bounce back. Recently, however, I have been thinking that we are in just another of the countless cycles - that the seeds of our inevitable fall have been sown. We seem to be getting the worst of both worlds.

  5. Charles Pennington on September 5, 2010 9:05 pm

    I was mystified by all the awards and good press received by “The Queen”. It seemed like thrown together made-for-tv movie on a topic that’s ultimately not very compelling.

    A rule of thumb: Movies that cover historical or Biblical events are promising because you know at least that the raw plot is going to be good. Despite his problems with alcohol and his misdirected animosities, one must admire Mel Gibson’s guts in making big, compelling movies. Nobody really saw Apocalypto, but it was a fine, memorable, and ambitious movie. Braveheart was obviously great. “Passion” was very good, but so was Scorsese’s “Last Temptation” on the other end of the orthodoxy spectrum. Common thread: They all took on something big, and so they had the “wind at their back” as the Chairman would say.

    An additional note: The long-running high quality series on premium cable channels (e.g. Sopranos and Rome on HBO, Tudors on Showtime) are better than all but about one or two movies per decade.

  6. Gary Rogan on September 6, 2010 12:15 am

    Kermit, rather than using a vague term “policies of the Right” (which right, George Bush, Adolph Hitler, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Maggie Thatcher?) why not differentiate between the Ayn Rand-type libertarian economic policies and the traditional country club Republican/compassionate conservative policies? Small and limited government, total lack of income redistribution, majorly free economic system have not been tried anywhere in recent memory. From Hong Kong to Scandinavia, from Switzerland to Chile there are still massive government controls. I believe that the policies of freedom will not lead to diminished opportunities, although they will definitely lead to unequal outcomes.

    Corruption has always been a part of the human condition. It destroys efficient and inefficient economic and political systems. And educated populace should fight corruption if it understands all it’s forms. Certainly the presence of corruption in relatively free systems should not be used as an excuse to impose more government controls. Striving for a corruption free, government interference free system should result in a better outcome based on observing relatively free systems in action compared to the relatively more controlled ones.

  7. R Monaco on September 9, 2010 4:18 pm

    Nice advice, all! Please note the pronoun “he” for the new significant other could be used here just as easily, especially for new SO’s who reside in liberal states and/or are part of University populations–


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