John Frankenheimer

In “JFK, RFK, John Frankenheimer, and the Mystery of Sirhan Sirhan”, I briefly discuss the Manchurian Candidate director’s strangely intimate connection to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, questioning Frankenheimer’s claim about having been the presidential aspirant’s “best friend” [1]. I do not, however, doubt his assertion that, “His death was the defining moment of my life,” nor do I discount the psychological strain and decline Frankenheimer describes as having resulted from this event. In his 1998 essay “My Not So Brilliant Career”, he writes that “the incident affected my perspective on life” and that as a result his “career was defused”, adding, “It took a long time to reinvest my life with some kind of meaning. I finished the sixties with a bad case of burn-out, which exacerbated my drinking.” After making 1977’s Black Sunday, “things went downhill again for a while.” “But perhaps the most desperate time in my life was 1981: that was the point when I realised I’d been wrecking my life, and things had to change,” he reveals:

Someone once said that if you took the Irish, Catholics and Southerners out of AA, you could hold the national convention in a phone booth. Well I’m half-Irish and brought up a Catholic. I come from a generation that drank without thinking it was a real problem. You don’t think it’s a problem until you start drinking at work. In the late seventies, I started drinking at work. You assume that nobody knows, and then it turns out everybody knows. That’s when you realise you’re totally dependent on this stuff.

I made some harsh decisions and was able to stop, but you can’t stop all the feelings that made you drink in the first place, you can’t rebuild the bad impressions some people have got of you. I also thought the world was waiting for me to get sober. But I was a director who many people felt was past his prime, and the world was going along very well without me. I took some unwanted time off. [2]

Frankenheimer, as he indicates, was half-Irish and raised Catholic, notwithstanding the marked Jewish identity that emerges through his body of work. Had Frankenheimer’s Irish Catholic half genuinely succeeded in plaguing him with guilt over the deaths of the Irish Catholic Kennedy brothers – in driving him to, in a sense, confess? I intend to argue that the crucial film to examine in consideration of this question is one he made in the eighties, a decade he describes as “pretty fallow, a period of recovery.” [3] Frankenheimer’s 1986 thriller 52 Pick-Up is based on Elmore Leonard’s 1974 novel and was scripted by Los Angeles playwright John Steppling. Because of the collaborative and cumulative authorship of the film, the assignment of responsibility for specific content and meaning is somewhat complicated, but Frankenheimer and, secondarily, Steppling are the key figures in crafting what I will suggest is Frankenheimer’s cinematic confession. “Sometimes you create material,” the director explains, taking the major credit: “I kind of created 52 Pick-Up, chasing the book down.” [4]  

52 Pick-Up, funnily enough, is the second film inspired by Leonard’s novel to have been produced by Israel’s Cannon Group in the mid-eighties. The first was 1984’s The Ambassador, which the official Leonard website lists as a “disowned” movie due to its radical departure from the story in his book [5]. Bearing almost no resemblance to 52 Pick-Up, retaining only the element of blackmail over a compromising film, The Ambassador involves multiple attempts on the life of an idealistic US ambassador to Israel (Robert Mitchum) as he attempts to broker peace in the Middle East. Owing to its intertexual relationship to a film sharing its title with the name of the hotel where RFK was assassinated, the Israeli-produced 52 Pick-Up from its inception subliminally evokes the event in a Zionist context. Moreover, the decision to transplant the action of Leonard’s novel from Detroit to the City of Angels further enhances the resonance by situating the ordeal where Frankenheimer experienced the “defining moment” of his life. Frankenheimer’s version stars Roy Scheider as Harry Mitchell, an industrialist whose sexual indiscretions result in blackmail, endangering the political aspirations of his wife Barbara, played by Ann-Margret. The casting decision recalls the previous pairing of these two stars in Jacques Deray’s The Outside Man, which was released by Kennedy-Johnson Middle East advisor Arthur Krim’s United Artists in 1973. The film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Scheider as hitmen playing a game of cat-and-mouse in L.A. after the foreign protagonist’s assassination of an American gangster whose wife just happens to be named Jackie – touted in the trailer as “the murder of the century”. The corpse of the “VIP” target, irreverently described as “one of those flag-wavers”, is unusually exhibited in a chair on a dais – rather like a king on a throne. Ann-Margret, who first appears in a platinum blonde wig and low-cut white dress that give her something of a Marilyn Monroe look, plays a woman compromised by the dead gangster and working as a server in a topless bar.

Early in her career the Swedish-born actress had enjoyed some hype as “the next Marilyn Monroe” [6], and Ann-Margret even sang for President Kennedy at his 1963 birthday celebration as Monroe had done so famously the previous year, with JFK even becoming one of the young star’s “much-rumored affairs” [7]. “In 1960, the broken goddess and the spunky star-to-be eyed each other across the set of The Misfits,” recounts Alanna Nash: “Monroe, inquiring about the visitor, looked into the past and the future and saw it all: the gothic elements of their childhoods […] the search for Daddy in every man they met, the struggle to rise from sex toy-tramp to respected actress, the disappointment of failing to conceive a child, the alcohol haze, the overdose of pills, the periods of psychosis, the years of psychotherapy.” [8] These are the extrafilmic associations she brings to Frankenheimer’s 52 Pick-Up, which slyly points to the Kennedy years in other ways, as well. The movie’s tarnished hero, philanderer Harry Mitchell (Scheider), has been married to wife Barbara (Ann-Margret) for 23 years, the invitation to mental math taking viewers in 1986 back to 1963, the year of Ann-Margret’s birthday performance and of JFK’s assassination. Mitchell, the crypto-Kennedy figure, is shown shortly after first being introduced to viewers as he removes the top from his 1965 Jaguar XK-E. The moment serves little purpose except to emphasize that the vehicle is a convertible – not an X-100 like the 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine in which Kennedy lived the last conscious minutes of his life, but nevertheless a convertible evocative of the sixties.

Events in Frankenheimer’s 1986 film never map onto the Kennedy assassinations as a coherent allegory, but an array of details and circumstances coalesce to echo the sixties conspiratorial heyday. Specifically, 52 Pick-Up picks up on an esoteric level with the significance of Frankenheimer’s bizarrely prescient 1962 opus The Manchurian Candidate – also released by Krim’s United Artists – which opens with a prologue set in Korea in 1952, when American soldier Raymond Shaw, portrayed by Laurence Harvey, is abducted from the battlefield by Chinese mind-manglers, subjected to brainwashing, and transformed into a programmable assassin (the letters of “Shaw”, incidentally, can be rearranged as “wash”). Barbara’s announcement of her candidacy for councilwoman of L.A. County’s thirteenth district in 52 Pick-Up – a plot element not present in Leonard’s novel – recalls the title of the earlier film, and the “Crazy Ray” graffiti outside a bar again invokes the tortured Shaw, who executes a fellow soldier named Bobby during his training and later assassinates a politician named John. Shaw is activated by the game of solitaire, with the sight of the Queen of Diamonds enthralling him to his handlers’ commands. 52 pickup is another card game, “typically played as a practical joke, where the ‘dealer’ creates the false impression that a legitimate game will be played, then simply throws the entire deck into the air so the cards land strewn on the floor, and instructs other players to pick them up,” Wikipedia summarizes: “The game requires at least one player who is familiar with the game (the prankster) and one player who wants to be initiated into the game.” “By introducing additional rules,” moreover, “the task of picking up the cards can be made into a solitaire game.” [9] Likewise, Frankenheimer’s confessional 52 Pick-Up presents a pranksterish scattering of arcane significances that can be amusing to the initiated. Like Shaw, Mitchell was “decorated in Korea”, and like Oswald, he becomes a patsy in a murder conspiracy.

The Manchurian Candidate, like 52 Pick-Up, is a work greatly enhanced by its extrafilmic or metafilmic dimensions. “[Production designer] Dick Sylbert and I had just studied photograph after photograph of the Kennedy – of the [1960] Democratic Convention,” Frankenheimer remarks in his audio commentary, describing the process of conceiving the film’s climactic assassination sequence. Whereas Claire Griswold and Robert Wagner were attached to the roles of Eugenie and Raymond, respectively, in pre-production [10], these parts would eventually go to Janet Leigh and Laurence Harvey – a pair whose juxtaposed names in the advertising materials are unsettlingly predictive of JFK’s alleged assassin. Top-billed Frank Sinatra, meanwhile – who, according to his daughter Tina, was employed by the CIA as a courier [11] – is supposed to have hoped to include Jackie Gleason in the film, which would have thrown into the mix an actor sharing his first name with the First Lady [12]. Arguably deepening the JFK connection, too, is that “royal pain” Shaw’s handler (Raymond’s mother, Eleanor Shaw Iselin, whose first married name is the same as that of conspirator Clay Shaw) intends for him to terminate presidential candidate Benjamin K. Arthur, the “K. Arthur” part of the name evoking King Arthur and the Camelot mythos that attached itself to the Kennedy White House following the president’s demise, JFK having been a fan of the musical Camelot, which was written by his old Harvard classmate Alan Jay Lerner [13]. In casting an actor named Roy as the crypto-Kennedy figure in 52 Pick-Up, Frankenheimer, whether consciously or not, has hinted at the character’s subtextual royalty. Insinuating the relevance to the Middle East of the conspiracy in The Manchurian Candidate is a set of seemingly meaningless references to the Arab world. Frank Sinatra’s character owns a book on Arabs, and for some reason he makes a cryptic point of asking love interest Leigh, “You Arabic?”, after which she in turn asks him, “Are you Arabic?” In addition, a photographer wearing Arab garb can be seen in the background of a costume party sequence.

Masterminding the “low-budget” blackmail operation against Harry Mitchell in 52 Pick-Up is Alan Raimy, a pornographer and film exhibitor whose profession lends him an affinity with filmmaker Frankenheimer, a kindredness almost made explicit when one of Raimy’s party guests facetiously dubs him “Cecil B. [DeMille]”. John Glover’s performance as Raimy is arguably the most charismatic in the movie, making the character repulsive but also oddly fascinating. Tempting audience consciousness of the link between Raimy and Frankenheimer, too, is the narcissistic presence in Raimy’s home of multiple monitors displaying the seedy footage he takes at his orgies. The use of multiple displays of live performances in a frame is a technique the director had innovated with his deliberate construction of mise-en-scène in The Manchurian Candidate, which found him “orchestrating one unforgettable set piece after another,” writes AV Club’s Mike D’Angelo: “The most visually complex is a press conference at which [Johnny] Iselin performs his ‘card-carrying Communists’ routine, which Frankenheimer fragments across multiple TV monitors in the room while focusing ‘live’ on puppetmaster Eleanor [Shaw Iselin] watching from the back of the room.” [14] Film critic Glenn Kenny, in his audio commentary on 52 Pick-Up, takes note of “the sort of weird […] meta aspect” involving “a lot of pictures within pictures, whether they’re provided by mirrors”, television, or videotapes. When Mitchell refuses to meet Raimy’s first demand, the pornographer has Mitchell’s mistress killed, creating a snuff video in the process, giving the character an additional link to Abraham Zapruder, the cinematographer of history’s most infamous snuff film. After Mitchell is forced to watch the slow-motion footage of his girlfriend’s murder, moreover, it occurs to him that he has been sitting in the very spot where she was shot, breaking the fourth wall or dissolving the barriers between art and lived reality, much as the metafilmic and extrafilmic imbue Frankenheimer’s important work with a luridly winking quality. “You mark my words: that’s not ketchup,” Raimy admonishes Mitchell in showing him the gory video, recalling a less sinister moment involving ketchup in The Manchurian Candidate. “So, gentlemen, we got a little problem,” Raimy later apprises his partners: “We killed somebody, he saw it in the movies, and now he knows about us.”

When Mitchell seeks out stripper Vanity in trying to find out Raimy’s identity, she cryptically poses the question, “You own an umbrella?” – hinting at the resemblance of the criminal mastermind’s name to the word “rainy”, but possibly also in allusion to the mysterious “umbrella man” present in Dealey Plaza. Later in the movie, the spectral reflection of the JFK assassination is sharpened when Raimy (whose name nicely echoes “Raymond”) shoots Vanity in her car. The villain’s habit of calling people “sport”, meanwhile, calls to mind the similar trait of the title character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, concerned partly with Jewish ascendancy in America through criminality as illustrated by the character Meyer Wolfsheim, a stand-in for gangster Arnold Rothstein, the mentor of “Mob’s Accountant” and National Crime Syndicate kingpin Meyer Lansky. Raimy, interestingly, is trained as an accountant, his skill with numbers giving him an intimidating Judaic brilliance on top of his perversion.

One of his partners in the venture targeting Mitchell is the snickeringly monikered Leo Franks, played by Robert Trebor, a grotesque actor whose previous credits include the roles of David Berkowitz in the 1985 TV movie Out of the Darkness and Rabbi Blowitz in the 1980 comedy Gorp. Franks, whose name differs by only one letter from that of Jewish rapist and murderer Leo Frank, with the plural form emphasizing the meaty and thereby the phallic meaning of the name, is – just like Jack Ruby before him – a homosexual strip club proprietor, or, more accurately, the manager of a model shop, of the same basic physical type as Ruby, inescapably redolent of criminal Jewry. Completing the trio of crooks targeting Mitchell is Raimy’s druggy black henchman Bobby Shy (Clarence Williams III). This character’s name, like others in 52 Pick-Up, is inherited from the Leonard novel, but Frankenheimer seems to have some fun with it nevertheless. One of the features of Raimy’s house is a kitchen egress with an off-kilter “EXIT” sign over the door – reminiscent of RFK’s fatal exit through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel – and Bobby Shy sullenly loiters in this kitchen during Raimy’s porno party. At another point, Raimy is framed against the kitchen exit as he instructs, “Get Bobby” – not, in context, to order Bobby Shy’s death, but just to give the cognoscenti in the audience a smirk. Though Bobby does eventually die at Raimy’s hands, the crypto-Kennedy hero of the story is finally triumphant, with Frankenheimer offering viewers what might be characterized as JFK’s esoteric revenge – appropriately enough, set to “Stars and Stripes Forever”.

John Steppling

Lest the posited JFK connections in 52 Pick-Up should strike some readers as too far-fetched, a few observations about the interests of screenwriter John Steppling might be added. A visit to the author’s ostentatiously intellectual blog reveals him to be a Marxist of Frankfurt School affinities and a kosher dabbler in the conspiratorial. He, for instance, evinces revulsion for the “parasitic vampiric ghoulish class of white WASP banking families whose tentacles extended into all facets of corporate America” – families like the Mellons, who “palled around with the Kennedy’s [sic]” [15]. Though he thinks nothing of applying an adjective like “parasitic” to WASPs, Steppling is scrupulously sensitive on the subject of anti-Jewish prejudice. “Antisemitism is becoming increasingly prevalent on the left,” he frets in a post about “a dramatic spike in Western antisemitism.” [16] Steppling’s professed apprehensions, therefore, are of masked and mutated forms of fascism: “Today there is in the US (as there was in National Socialism) a volkish elevation of physical strength,” he frowns in “A Screen Reich”, a post in which he also expresses admiration for Oliver Stone and acknowledges the “strange circumstances” of RFK’s execution [17]. Elsewhere, he despairs that “people now want to believe Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy. As soon as anyone resorts to a non TV trope or fact, they are called ‘conspiracy theorists’.” [18] “This is the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assasination [sic],” Steppling points out in his 2013 post “Nightmares”. “The CIA, or some faction of it, is almost certainly to blame,” he goes on, elaborating with unintentional humor:

I mention this only because the images are so part of US culture now. The Zapruder film, the grassy knoll etc. The mythology is now refied [sic] and fetishized and forever inscripted [sic] in the consciousness of Americans. The evil of men like Allen Dulles, or John Mitchell help form the constitutive spine of the police state. But other names crop up, it is the stuff of nightmares. James McCord, and Nixon, and actress Joan Crawford (Pepsi heiress) together in Dallas, the Pepsi corporation had a sugar plantation in Cuba that Castro nationalized a decade earlier. Or James Angelton [sic], or E. Howard Hunt. The list is endless. The tentacles spread everywhere. Rioss Mont [sic], James Files, School of the Ameericas [sic], and Cord Meyer, and Lucien Sarti, and then we’ve expanded to the French Connection. This is the fascist deep state. People complain that if it were a conspiracy someone would have talked. Well, people have, but predictably are ignored (E. Howard Hunt). These are the deeper layers of our nightmares. [19]

Perhaps more relevant to 52 Pick-Up, Steppling’s post “Where Dreams Die” introduces the framework of encrypted clues as an “index of meaning” to be gleaned from “today’s ruin-photography”. “The guilt of the detective in his or her search for clues can be found […] in the talismanic properties of amateur videos,” he argues: “These images are fetishes of evidence, watched repeatedly, analysed and interpreted. The Zapruder film was perhaps the precursor to this.” [20] Did the perfectionist Frankenheimer intend for The Manchurian Candidate and 52 Pick-Up to serve as “fetishes of evidence, watched repeatedly, analysed and interpreted”, casting himself in the process as Hollywood’s Zapruder? Is 52 Pick-Up the director’s anguished confession of some form of complicity in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy or the gloating grandiosity of some cinematic sadist? Is it possible that it is both?

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Endnotes

[1] K., Rainer Chlodwig von. “JFK, RFK, John Frankenheimer, and the Mystery of Sirhan Sirhan”. Esoteric Brezhnevism (April 14, 2018): https://rainercvk.blogspot.com/2020/08/jfk-rfk-john-frankenheimer-and-mystery.html

[2] Frankenheimer, John. “My Not So Brilliant Career”. The Guardian (November 20, 1998): https://archive.ph/KwhVP

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ryhs, Tim; and Ian Bage. “Hollywood Survivor John Frankenheimer”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 127.

[5] https://archive.ph/RnmAQ

[6] Dorwart, Laura. “Ann-Margret Once Said She and Elvis Presley Shared the Same Career Frustration – ‘People Don’t Want Us to Change’”. Showbiz CheatSheet (January 7, 2021): https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/ann-margret-once-said-she-and-elvis-presley-shared-the-same-career-frustration-people-dont-want-us-to-change.html/

[7] Nash, Alanna. “Ann-Margret: My Story”. Entertainment Weekly (February 11, 1994): https://ew.com/article/1994/02/11/ann-margret-my-story/

[8] Ibid.

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/52_pickup

[10] https://archive.ph/ahPOq

[11] Ellison, Michael. “Sinatra Was ‘Go-Between for Mafia and JFK’”. The Guardian (October 6, 2000): https://archive.ph/VwSzd

[12] https://archive.ph/ahPOq

[13] Stamper, Peta. “Inside the Myth: What Was Kennedy’s Camelot?” History Hit (November 18, 2021): https://archive.ph/qjqUC

[14] D’Angelo, Mike. “The Manchurian Candidate Remains a Thrilling Classic of Hollywood Paranoia”. AV Club (March 12, 2016): https://archive.ph/gftPJ

[15] Steppling, John. “Corrected Reality”. John Steppling (May 20, 2015): https://archive.ph/XzCBT

[16] Steppling, John. “I Can’t See the Back of My Head”. John Steppling (April 23, 2016): https://archive.ph/7FKbn

[17] Steppling, John. “A Screen Reich”. John Steppling (July 21, 2013): https://archive.ph/e3j7F

[18] Steppling, John. “More Odds & Ends”. John Steppling (March 8, 2014): https://archive.ph/BUzXD

[19] Steppling, John. “Nightmares”. John Steppling (November 25, 2013): https://archive.ph/p1Rq7

[20] Steppling, John. “Where Dreams Die”. John Steppling (January 14, 2015): https://archive.ph/PJ8HU

Writer-director David Avidan as he appears in Message from the Future

Weird as it is, the 1980 Golan-Globus musical oddity The Apple is not the strangest or most noteworthy Israeli sci-fi movie of the disco/synth-pop era. That distinction instead belongs to the 1981 obscurity Message from the Future. Written and directed by the poet David Avidan, this comedy concerns the appearance in 1985 of Future Man (Joseph Bee), or FM for short, who proclaims he has come from the year 3005 to persuade various heads of state to launch World War III. Commandeering an NBC broadcast, FM explains: “the sooner World War III starts, the better for your future. On the other hand, continuing to postpone the inevitable will result in greater destruction than ever forecasted.” Eager to prevent the catastrophe recommended by FM is Dr. Ziv (Avi Yakir), “a futurologist with a future” and a specialist in the field of “metafuturism”.  

Message from the Future is remarkable for its style and humor as well as its political content and ambiguity. Especially brazen for a movie with dialogue mostly delivered in English is the acknowledgment of Israel’s nuclear weapons program – several years before whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu would make his revelations about the program to Britain’s Sunday Times [1]. “Radioactivity is a hell of an activity / Subatomic reaction is the right kind of action,” goes one of the catchy pop songs on the soundtrack: “We live in Tel Aviv and we believe in the mushroom […] that made us what we are.” Indeed, FM prompts the Israeli government to conduct its first official test of a nuclear bomb. “Those Israelis are always jumping too high,” grumbles Dr. Ziv. “They might really cause a World War III one day,” he cautions: “Somebody ought to do something.”

Joseph Bee as FM

“Israeli A-Bomb Contributed to World Peace,” reads a New York Times headline shown rolling off the presses along with other publications from around the world. FM repeatedly demonstrates his ability to manipulate global media, simultaneously delivering his message via print and televised telepathy in various languages, and it is difficult not to interpret this capability as a commentary on the planet-spanning reach and power of Zionism. There is, too, a satirical bite to the premise that some previously unknown Jew looking like Mr. Spock and claiming to come from the year 3005 would be invited to speak before the United Nations Security Council and that its diplomats would devote serious consideration to his proposal that their countries ought to initiate mutual nuclear aggression. Avidan is particularly dismissive of US governance, including in the screenplay the tidbit that America’s actor president has “been in quite a few westerns lately.”

In the end, FM is revealed to be an actor, too: “a brilliant salesman”, his stunt “the most brilliant publicity gimmick ever successfully tried.” All along he was working for Hiroshi Nabashima (Kiichi Sasayama), CEO of the Japanese electronics corporation Mitsuishi, which has been developing robotics and telepathy technology. “The message I would like to communicate to you, gentlemen,” Nabashima explains to American partners, “is that, A: anything and anybody is in both principle and reality perfectly controllable; B: anything controllable is equally remote-controllable.” To illustrate his point, Nabashima introduces a pair of remote-controlled androids that perform a karate demonstration. “It may perhaps be the right opportunity to suggest that, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan still owes something to the western world,” Nabashima says ambiguously. It is unclear in the moment whether he indicates a desire for revenge or means instead that Japan’s suffering under the nuclear attacks at the end of the Second World War is still insufficient atonement for his nation’s history of imperialism.  

Ethnic motivations and the legacy of World War II hang like a troubling cloud over Message from the Future. “Don’t get too nostalgic on your archaic racial memories,” instructs FM’s ostensibly futuristic handler, played by writer-director Avidan. Curiously, this line is followed by an establishing shot of Manhattan, with a barely visible plane seeming to move in the direction of the World Trade Center. A closer shot moments later, serving no obvious purpose, shows the plane flying behind the Twin Towers, which appear in semi-silhouette, giving the retrospectively startling impression that the plane is penetrating and passing through both buildings. This image is intercut with another shot of Nabashima’s robot fighters, prompting the question of whether the plane, too, is, as the Japanese mastermind has suggested, “equally remote-controllable.” “I am a black belt in my mind. I’m a born winner,” boasts the song that plays during this intriguing sequence.

An interesting detail of the scene during which Nabashima makes his speech on the possibilities of remote control is that his geishas serve cans of Coke to the American visitors and glasses of orange juice to the Japanese men in the room. Is the poet Avidan indulging in a visual pun? Could the association of the Japanese remote-controllers with juice alternatively indicate a connection with Jews? Various sequences in the film are intercut with close-ups of a hand-held remote control device representing the puppeteer, with one montage provocatively juxtaposing the image of the remote control with a view of Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center. In 1980, the year before Message from the Future was released, former Mossad chief Isser Harel expressed a “fear” that Arab terrorism “will come to you in America,” according to journalist Mike Evans. “It’s likely they will strike […] your tallest building,” Harel purports to have said, “and a symbol of your power.” [2] Striking, too, is that 1982 would see the release of the rotten Sean Connery comedy Wrong Is Right, which presents a bomb scare at the World Trade Center as the fraudulent catalyst for World War III. Is Avidan’s Message from the Future itself a message about the future to viewers in 1981? Whatever the case, as one of his characters enthusiastically remarks, “It’s a real mind-fucking project.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Endnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu#Disclosure,_abduction_and_publication

[2] Evans, Mike. “America the Target”. The Jerusalem Post (September 18, 2019): https://archive.ph/N2Z5y

Ordinarily I avoid reading about movies I intend to review, so as to get as fresh and uncontaminated a cinematic experience as possible. In the case of skid row auteur Alexander Bok’s Dragon: The Weapon of God, however, I decided to make an exception. “This movie was so bad I could not watch more than 30 minutes before turning it off,” wrote one IMDb commenter. “I could get thru a half hour of this,” another scoffer similarly remarked. A hardier sort suffered through a whopping 53 minutes of this “pure garbage” – at which point I almost felt a duty to test my mettle and challenge myself to sit through the entirety of it.

Dragon: The Weapon of God follows skinny, nappy-headed blasian janitor Jake (writer-director-star Bok) on his spiritual journey from mild-mannered custodial subservience to racial-political awakening and superheroic ascendancy as “Dragon”, a vigilante determined to stop the black genocide agenda of New York City’s exterminationist weeaboo Mayor Foster (Sean Ian), who views African-Americans as “an inferior species” and “a virus” to be eradicated through authoritarian police powers. “YouTube prankster” Bok, who seems to have been encouraged in his anti-police vitriol by a 2015 incident in which he was “forcefully pushed” and “thrown to the ground” by NYPD officers for dancing too close to them, unfortunately brings little of the prankster’s sense of humor to his mostly solemn-faced story of black victimhood – nor, sadly, much in the way of talent as a writer, director, or actor.

Dragon: The Weapon of God is the sort of nonsensical mess where wardrobe, setting, and time of day can change midway through a scene without explanation – a “movie” in the sense in which licking stomped Cheetos crumbs from a sidewalk could technically be described as a “meal”. Insultingly, Bok even permitted one of his actors to perform a scene with a big, distracting flake of something-or-other in his hair without bothering to cut it out or do a second take. Is it possible to get through more than half an hour of Bok’s social justice vanity project? Sure – and there are, admittedly, a few unintended chuckles to be pilfered here and there – but I by no means advise it.

One star. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dragon: The Weapon of God is:

Pro-miscegenation. Women, white and black alike, cannot help throwing themselves at the frankly bizarre-looking Bok.

Minority-solidarist and multiculturalist. “You deal with one minority, you deal with all of us,” an Indian-looking man sasses the mayor. “We are all equal! We are all one!” shouts a fiery Latinx woman. Whites, too, are offered a redemption arc on the condition that they join the coalition of the fringes and work against their own group interests.

Anti-police and pro-vigilante. Cops are “the only illegal gang out there killing innocent people.” The NYPD is depicted as willing to shoot innocent blacks without provocation and is even accused of murdering a six-year-old child. “How are the blacks doin’, by the way, mister?” the mayor asks the hero, who claps back: “Being killed by psychopaths dressed as cops.” Consequently, a dindu vigilante group, the “Black Order”, has sprung into action to serve as the “people police” and fight the NYPD.

Anti-white, with legacy Americans’ concerns about spiking crime rates dismissed as rhetorical cover for government oppression of blacks and even racial extermination. Those familiar with recent violent trends in New York City, with “a 41% increase in overall major crime through the first months of 2022 compared to the same period last year”, may find themselves sympathizing with Mayor Foster when he thunders that the metropolis’s streets are “overrun with scumbags” – “You mean blacks?” a detractor attempts to pwn him – but Foster’s law-and-order discourse tumbles the Big Apple down the slippery slope of Hollywood Hitlerism, with the mayor’s proposals evolving from a racially targeted stop-and-frisk program to an outright order to “strike at birth and eliminate every new African-American born today.” Echoing the most exaggerated caricatures of Trump, the mayor rants: “From this day forward, our city’s borders are closed, and no African-Americans – none – will be entering or leaving its walls.” He also describes “what we’re gonna do with the ones that are inside already, we are gonna hunt them down like the animals they are. We’re going to eliminate them one-by-one.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

In a scenario reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, married couple Mac (Jason Alan Smith) and Jane (Carlee Avers) start to notice that people they know are behaving differently. Some are aggressively amorous, while others, like friend and neighbor Bill (Candyman’s Tony Todd), are eerily placid. Gradually finding themselves in the minority, they lock themselves in their home as widespread chaos erupts and a state of emergency is declared, with authorities ordering all citizens to report to “shelters”. Joined by teenage neighbor Kim (Clare Foley) and her uncle Kurt (Doug Tompos), the small remnant of normal people squabbles over what to do as their time runs out. “Join us or die,” insist the “changed”, who promise inner tranquility and peace in return for surrender. “One kiss awakens belonging,” offers a TV anchor. “We ask that you open your hearts and homes to those who will initiate your transition. […] The alternative: those who continue to resist will be taken by force […]” Budgetary limitations constrict the scope of The Changed, which would have benefited greatly from a punchier script and the inclusion of more action, but what the filmmakers managed to bring to the screen is still diverting, with Todd bringing an icky reptilian glint to his performance as Bill.  

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Changed is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Pro-gun. The unchanged defend their home with shotguns.

Media-skeptical. Mainstream news, as personified by anchor Katie Walters (Kathy Searle), serves the interests of a malevolent, parasitic enemy.

Conspiracist. “You know, when people suspect a conspiracy, but don’t have any proof, that’s paranoia,” Bill tells Mac. Mac and Jane’s apprehensions turn out to be justified, however, when they hear a Navy captain’s emergency broadcast: “They’re running the show. […] They’re organizing, taking over. Avoid contact with anyone you don’t know and, even then, only engage with extreme caution. Trust no one – not completely. They’ve infiltrated the military, government, all civil services. The scales have tipped.” Jane even warns, “Just don’t drink the tap water. I don’t trust it.”

Racist, homophobic, and anti-woke. Bill, dubbed “Mr. PC” by Mac, quotes Churchill on the necessity of change and is optimistic that people are “waking up” – i.e., turning woke. Whereas in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the conformity-averse protagonists have to avoid falling asleep, in The Changed, the challenge is to avoid the absorption of going woke. “Anger is a poison,” Mac’s woman boss scolds him, to which Mac counters, “I’m not an angry person. I just don’t feel the need to agree with everyone all the time.” Among the ominous “changed” figures roaming the street outside Mac’s house, meanwhile, are a cross-section of people including thugs in hoodies and a man in a business suit – possibly hinting at the essential oneness of Antifa and corporate interests. Significantly, all of those who remain unchanged are white, and Mac is reluctant to allow his black “best friend” Bill into his home after trouble starts. “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Bill reassures Mac – just before justifying Mac’s subtextually racial suspicions by barging in and attacking him – and later forcibly kissing his wife. The “changed” proselytize through sometimes interracial or homosexual kisses, the smooches being “a means to an end” directed toward “Perfect order. Perfect satisfaction […] perfect productivity. We’re gonna penetrate each and every one of you.” Those cured of their ”sleeper’s blindness” will be rewarded with “a peaceful coexistence with every living creature on this incredible, organic machine.” As with woke victimhood-and-dysfunction-ennobling ideologies, capitulation to a degrading conformism is characterized by the “changed” as “brave” rather than weak. Defiant Mac, however, fascistically determines that, “It is the struggle and the fight that makes us who we are.”

Exterminationist and eugenicist. “What are we gonna do?” asks Kim of Mac. His response: “Kill ‘em all.” Mac mentions that punk rock is one of the things that make life worth living. One can only assume he longs like Johnny Rotten to “go to the new Belsen.” “It’s us or them,” he explains. Startling in this connection is the choice of the Thermals’ song “Here’s Your Future”, with its evocation of impending cataclysm and depopulation, to play over the end credits: “God said, here’s your future. It’s gonna rain. So we’re packing our things, we’re building a boat. We’re gonna create the new master race, ‘cause we’re so pure.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

This is a clever Los Angeles neo-noir in the tradition of Chinatown, The Last Boy Scout, and Hollywoodland. Charlie Hunnam stars as Charlie Waldo, a disillusioned ex-cop-turned-private-eye-turned-hermit hiding behind a “rat’s nest of a beard” who lives in a trailer with a chicken. Waldo has “ghosted everybody” and only wants to be left alone, but old flame Lorena (Morena Baccarin) intrudes on the eco-conscious dick’s Idyllwild idylls and drags him back to “the real world” to investigate the mystery of a Hollywood actor’s murdered wife. Mel Gibson, affecting a posh British accent, appears as Alistair Pinch, the “blackout drunk” TV star who fears he might have committed the murder. TV network head Wilson Sikorsky (Rupert Friend), meanwhile, merely intends to employ Waldo as a prop in the stage-managed publicity surrounding the scandal. Last Looks is fast-paced, detailed, occasionally violent, and benefits from the novelty of Gibson in a campy role that has him delivering Cary Grant type lines like, “I deplore drinking alone, so I’ll have a double” – in short, worth a look.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Last Looks is:

New Age. The hero literally meditates in a fedora.

Anti-Christian. Christian hip-hop artist Swag Doggg (Method Man), who adds an extra “G” to his name in God’s honor, turns out to have been having a “thing” with his kid’s kindergarten teacher.

Class-conscious. The film presents a stark contrast between the lifestyles of rough commoner Waldo and Pinch, who lives in a mansion, renders the word “vase” as “vahz”, and recalls with disgust how he was given a “People’s Choice Award”. Last Looks also suggests that criminal justice works differently for people inhabiting various social strata. “It’s L.A., the star always gets off,” one character remarks – whereas Waldo is haunted by the role he played in imprisoning an innocent and powerless man. A fundraiser in a wealthy home, with bizarrely exotic decorations and servants in animal masks, also hints at the bizarre proclivities of elites.

Neoconservative. Ridiculously, the two names associated with power and manipulation in the entertainment industry are Russian and Iranian, with Darius Jamshidi (David Pasquesi) making a play to take over Sikorsky’s network.

Anti-police. Waldo, like most movie private eyes, has an adversarial relationship with the LAPD as represented by Big Jim Cuppy (Clancy Brown). Waldo, in pursuing the exoneration of a wrongfully convicted black man, “made 10,000 good cops look like the fuckin’ Klan.” In addition, Cuppy allegedly takes bribes.

Anti-white. Waldo receives multiple racially enhanced beatings played for laughs. The “Palisade Posse”, a gang of thuggish black metrosexuals, savages the detective’s “white ass” in his trailer and insists that he keep his “hillbilly ass out of L.A., bitch.” Later, a musclebound Inuit (Deacon Randle) assaults Waldo for calling him an “Eskimo”. In neither case is the protagonist permitted to get even, racial attacks merely being a matter of course for a white man and maybe even deserved from a historical perspective.

Green. Last Looks opens with a series of eco-factoids that seem to endorse the true-believing protagonist’s decision to “divest” from materialism and reduce his carbon footprint by riding a bicycle. Before taking the Pinch case, Waldo even demands as a condition that the TV network make a donation to the Sierra Club. Cuppy, by contrast, establishes himself as an unlikable character by maliciously littering in Waldo’s pristine forest home.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

In this carcinogenically unfunny British comedy, three strangers – each one potentially a murder suspect – wake up in the “worst pub in Berkshire” with no memory of what happened before they passed out and no knowledge of why a nude woman’s body is missing chunks of flesh. Lisa (Amanda Abbington), a middle-aged wreck in a blue wig, is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and a divorce; mentally ill pub proprietor Ian Bartholomew IV (Michael Maloney) is haunted by humiliating memories of his domineering father; and Frankie (Jordan Stephens), a mulatto model with Sideshow Bob hair, is professionally imperiled after developing a case of eczema – what a barrel of monkeys! Radio news reports, meanwhile, indicate a series of wild animal attacks in the area. Is some savage Shylock on the loose? Alas, no: the misleading title derives from a throwaway piece of dialogue. “Just remember,” cannibal Eve (Hannaj Bang Bendz) counsels: “there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit weird,” to which Frankie adds, “Like a rabbi in a pub.” There is, however, something unforgivably wrong with a movie super-sucking with such cyclone force.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

1 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Three Pints and a Rabbi is:

Media-critical. Reports of the wild dog turn out to be false.

Anti-gun, with multiple accidents. Frankie shoots himself in the foot and Ian shoots Eve.

Pro-miscegenation. Finding herself alone with him, Lisa pounces on Frankie, declaring, “I just want to live!”

Millennial-critical. “These millennials are so sensitive,” Ian remarks. Frankie, the pampered representative of the age group in question, worries that, if sent to prison, he might not have access to the proper skin moisturizer.

Anti-family and antinatalist. “Thank you for reducing my worth to a uterus,” Lisa snarks at Ian. The latter, however, eventually decides against procreation. “It was my father who wanted me to carry on the line of Bartholomews,” he confesses: “I’ve never really been a kid person.” Ian and Eve, the film reveals, were “raised by evil men.” Ian’s father controlled every aspect of his life, while Eve’s father, she says, “made a game of seeing how many bones he could break before I couldn’t walk anymore.” Unlike this movie, which made a game of seeing how many boos it could get before I couldn’t watch anymore.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

From the opening moment in which a black cleaning woman enters a motel room and remarks, “Ooh, it smells in here!”, and proceeds to spray an air freshener, the viewer knows exactly what sort of prurient, gutter-dwelling hood drama awaits. Stinky, monotonous, and real, Lot Lizards follows a sassy sisterhood of streetwalkers – specialists in “shakin’ ass and makin’ that cash” – as they peddle their bubble butts and strut their survival skills in the faces of the abusive husbands and manipulative pimps in their lives. Mirthless hip-hop drones over seemingly every scene as the women slap, fuck, shoot, and steal their way through two hours of screen time while raising such thought-provoking questions as, “What makes yo pussy so muthafuckin’ special?” About as nourishing as the snack selection at your local ghetto convenience store, Lot Lizards at least offers a few crunchy bites of tangy and too-salty junk food. My favorite part is when a maid (Ruby Jackson) discovers a corpse and grumbles, “Damn, I got to clean this nasty-ass room.”

1.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lot Lizards is:

Anti-Christian. Religion only appears in the form of a pimp’s tacky gold crucifixes and “Praise Gang” bling.

Misandrist, anti-marriage, and anti-family. Every male character in Lot Lizards is a creep: either an abuser of some sort or a cheating husband, with enlightened sisters opting to do it for themselves. “Show no love, ‘cause love’ll get you kilt,” is this movie’s coldblooded philosophy. “This nigga fuckin’ crazy […] talkin’ ‘bout he wanna marry me and shit.”

Capitalist. Small businesswoman Angie (Chastity Nicole) embodies the self-reliant bootstrap spirit in her determination to assert herself as “queen lot lizard” among her fellow hookers.

Bidenist! Black male super-predators bring nothing but sorrow and physical harm to the women in their lives, who sometimes wish they would stay locked up. Starr (Joanna Latrice), for example, who “ain’t even ‘bout that life no more”, is annoyed when “dog-ass nigga” Tez (Cortez Maxwell) is released from prison. “I’m so sicka him, mang,” she complains. “Thought he was in jail. Who let him out?”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

A low-budget black take on 1991’s King Ralph, this comedy oddity stars Senegalese-American rapper Akon as Sebastian, an ex-con who, having a hard time finding work, stumbles upon the hustle of dressing himself and his buddies up in African costumes and begging white people for alms. Imagine their surprise when the Priestess (Nse Ikpe-Etim) and her entourage arrive from Africa to inform them that, verily, We Wuz Kangz. In fulfillment of a 400-year-old prophecy, Sebastian is whisked to “The Kingdom of United States of Africa” to become its ruler. (“Nigga, who are you? Marcus-ass Garvey?”) As with King Ralph, much of the humor revolves around royal prudery as contrasted with invigorating American irreverence and egalitarianism: African courtiers outraged at the sight of white bimbos in bikinis, etc. What ultimately matters to the filmmakers, however, is how much solemnly prophesied wealth black people have coming to them.

2 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The American King is:

Pro-drug. Sebastian’s friends and grandmother are all weed heads.

Pro-gun. A store proprietor and her customers foil a robbery attempt by pulling guns.

Racist! One of Sebastian’s friends “can’t tell the difference” between Asian Indians and Mexicans. The movie also makes light of American blacks’ misconceptions about the Dark Continent: “I thought y’all lived in trees and shit.” Sebastian and his friends are also afraid to get off the plane when they arrive, worried they might be attacked by cannibals.

Islamophobic! An Indian fears that Americans will deport him to Pakistan, where he expects to be beheaded.

Russophobic. The hero owes $10,000 to Russian gangsters.

Populist. “Let’s say we take every drone and every bomb and convert it into fish and bread for the people.”

Anti-white. Africa, The American King reveals, enjoyed 1,000 years of peace and prosperity before the Portuguese arrived. It turns out it was Africans fleeing the horrors of colonialism who established the original American colonies, again enjoying a period of peace and prosperity – even helping the newly arrived Pilgrims survive – until European usurpers falsified they Constitution and enslaved them. Somewhat at odds with the premise of African wisdom and generosity as juxtaposed with European violence and evil, however, is the depiction of black deviousness in playing white women for suckers. Sebastian and his buddies, in posing as Africans and begging for money during the first part of the movie, find that gullible white women are willing to open their wallets for seemingly any cause that bears the holy stamp of blackness. Alternatively, the hero suggests that whites’ generosity can be motivated by hostility: “I just started my GoFundMe account, a’ight. All these white folks gonna put mad money in there to ship my black ass back to Africa.”

Conspiracist. “Everything we think we know about history has been an elaborate cover-up.” The song that opens the movie references a “secret society” and also claims, “The government are killing us.”

Trumpist. Probably unique among cinematic representations of the 45th US president, The American King features a Trump-like commander-in-chief (Brad Potts) who is dopey but well-meaning and even committed to anti-racism. Perhaps in a nod to Trump’s 2020 “Platinum Plan”, the fictional president proclaims the “African Renaissance and Reparations Act” in a bid to be remembered as “the greatest president of all time.” The edict aims to “Make Africa Great Again” by transferring one trillion dollars to King Sebastian. In addition, the president promises to withdraw all aid to Europe to make amends for that continent’s suppression of African achievement. Sheeeeit.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Zionist billionaire Haim Saban’s Saban Films brings us this horrific imagining of a near-future dystopia in which feminists, Muslims, non-whites, and homosexuals are “branded” with barcodes and rounded up, tortured, and lynched by the Volunteers, redneck followers of Richard Spencer stand-in Richmond Spence Williams V (Toby Leonard Moore). Hiding out in a remote house is a cell of freedom fighter undesirables consisting of shaved-head feminist Sarah (Sarah Wharton), liberal Muslim empath Zabi (Nadine Malouf), and various anguished homosexuals. The home they occupy previously belonged to the group’s “dog”, a racist Volunteer named Gabe (Michael Raymond-James) who is being held as a prisoner, chained up in a barn. As the Volunteer movement grows and encroaches on their hideout, the group debates what is to be done with Gabe. Can he be deradicalized with new tricks or will the dog have to be put down? The best line in the movie is when one of the gays, without seeming to be facetious, remarks, “My ass is killing me.”

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that American Insurrection is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Usury-ambivalent. Interestingly, one of the ways Richmond Spence Williams grows in popularity is by promising to wipe out followers’ student loan debt, which can be interpreted in two ways. Either American Insurrection intends to tarnish the cause of debt cancellation by associating it with racism and violence, or the writers seek to caution leftists not to abandon the popular issue to nationalists.

Feminist. Checkpoints manned by misogynistic Volunteers serve as pretexts for groping and rape, with Sarah bravely fighting back against the indignity.

Media-critical. Mainstream media bear some responsibility for the ascendancy of the Volunteers because they gave airtime to Richmond Spence Williams to express his views and publicize his movement.

Homophobic! Erratic and drama-prone gays are depicted as the weakest link in the guerrilla brigade of the fringes.

Neoconservative. In the movie’s hokiest moment, Muslim Zabi tells Afghanistan veteran Gabe, “Thank you for your service.”

Multiculturalist. “America means to me a place of diversity, actually, and community, and strength from that,” comments actress Nadine Malouf in a featurette on the DVD. The only blemish on the beautiful mosaic of multiracial America seems to be the white men who bomb mosques and spit on women. Elements of exaggeration are introduced into Gabe’s otherwise reasonable statement of nationalist concern: “I wanna preserve my culture, my way of life, my country,” he explains to “shitskin” Zabi. “Your existence, people like you, they’re actively replacing my entire race, that’s just a fact. It’s the largest genocide this world has ever seen. You ever stop to think that that’s wrong?” The notion that nationalists are opposed to the mere existence of non-whites – rather than their problematic presence and maliciously sponsored ascendancy in white communities and countries, specifically – is, of course, misleading. The more level-headed Zabi is “trying to understand all this rage”, but Gabe shuts down the discussion, becoming irate and shouting, “Shut the fuck up!” In reality, it is the integrationist side, as manifested in academia, Silicon Valley, corporate media, and radical “antiracist” activism, that puts a stop to racial debates or dialogues on the merits of multiculturalism through firing, online deplatforming, lawfare, and antifa violence.

Anti-white, but not quite exterminationist. While others in the group have little patience with Gabe and want to shoot him, Zabi makes it her mission to probe their prisoner’s psyche and, if possible, cure him of his hateful and irrational beliefs. “What kind of pain were you going through,” she asks him, “when you started believing everything that you believe?” Zabi being a liberated, non-fundamentalist Muslim, the pair eventually bonds over beers, with Gabe finally softening toward her and offering to guide the freedom fighters past the Volunteers’ checkpoints and to sanctuary. One of the gays, unaware of Gabe’s change of heart, decides to execute him before also killing himself – depicting in literal form what the filmmakers apparently perceive as the tragic potential of leftist overreach and political suicide through extremism and lack of compassion. Heterosexual white men, American Insurrection seems to suggest, just need to be chained up in barns for a while and treated with therapy sessions from wise and sensitive Muslim women, instead of being physically liquidated.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Did we really need a BLM-boosting Candyman reboot featuring cellphones, gay lovers, and some girl with green hair and tattoos? Jordan Peele’s co-producer and co-writer Win Rosenfeld apparently thought so. The atmospheric, disorienting opening credits had me hooked, but it was pretty much a gutter ball from that point. Whereas 1992’s classic Candyman draws a genuine sense of menace from the frightening reputation of infamous housing project Cabrini Green and features characters who are believably black, the new version relocates the story to the sterile corridors of the Chicago art world – whoa, spooky! – which facilitates a focus on instantly detestable bourgeois blacks who speak French, quibble over wines, and say things like, “The idea is to almost calibrate tragedy into a focused lineage that culminates in the now.” Director Nia DaCosta, who shares a writing credit with Peele and Rosenfeld, grew up in New York, attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and purports to find inspiration in the work of Sidney Lumet, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola. In other words, this is a movie with a pedigree about as funky and tuned into the typical black experience as the Davos Forums. Ironically, some of Candyman’s narratives of black woe are conveyed through the medium of shadow puppets – a perhaps unconscious acknowledgment of the inauthenticity of it all.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Candyman is:

[WARNING: SPOILIERS!]

Pro-miscegenation. Supporting characters include a black-white homosexual couple. More interestingly, Peele and his collaborators have chosen to exonerate Helen Lyle, Virginia Madsen’s psychotic mudshark protagonist from the surprisingly race-realist original film. Peele, as the product of mudsharkery himself, may have felt an obligation to counter the unfavorable characterization of the pathology of slumming, racially self-loathing white women. In the new Candyman, Helen is revealed to have been innocent of the crimes attributed to her.

Anti-white. Originally scheduled to have been released in June of 2020 – conveniently, just in time for the George Floyd riots – but postponed due to COVID’s disruption of theatrical exhibitions, Candyman amplifies today’s urban legends about how “white people built the ghetto and then erased it when they realized they built the ghetto” and how those pesky racist police just can’t seem to stop harassing dindunuffin black people. Black Lives Matter is explicitly referenced when a nerdy, alienated black high school girl – cruelly shunned by her white classmates, of course – is shown to have a BLM patch on her backpack, reinforcing the notion that BLM is a movement of the oppressed (instead of a plaything for the billionaires who finance it). Inspiringly, the girls are then attacked by “Candyman” – “Candyman” being explained as a series of vengeful incarnations of black victimhood and “how we deal with the fact that these things [lynchings, etc.] happened – that they’re still happening.” Thus, “Candyman” – an avenger from the ghetto’s “collective unconscious” – shows up in the nick of time at the end to massacre a bunch of white policemen in a terrible act of restorative justice … or something like that. The whole film can be read as an identity crisis and a futile quest for authenticity of one sort or another – and, unfortunately, the only form of black political identity the movie seems to locate is anti-whiteness. For all its phony intellectualism and pretensions to art, Candyman is just another tiresome Jewish encouragement to black people to hate and murder whites.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

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