Archives for posts with tag: anti-business

wolverine poster

In this adventure, “the” Wolverine – the film is conveniently titled so as to dispel any confusion as to which Wolverine is meant (sorry, Red Dawn fans) – travels to Japan at the invitation of a moribund Japanese magnate (Hal Yamanouchi) who hopes to persuade the hero to exchange his odd and problematic mutant longevity for the old gentleman’s imminent mortality through a transfusion.

The plot becomes much more convoluted than this synopsis suggests, but furnishes ample opportunity for leading man Hugh Jackman to spring into action, with sexy villainous Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) a more than adequate adversary. Standout action set pieces include a desperate skirmish atop a rocketing bullet train; Wolverine performing emergency heart surgery on himself as a ninja duel rages in the operating room; and a climactic confrontation with a giant adamantium-plated mecha-samurai that hides a surprise plot twist inside.

4 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Wolverine is:

6. Anti-state. A government minister is corrupt in both his private and public doings.

5. Animal rights militant. The Wolverine puts a wounded bear out of its misery, then avenges it when he meets its tormentor in a tavern.

4. Anti-slut. Viper, whose kiss can lay men low, serves as a walking, talking V.D. scare film.

3. Anti-capitalistic. The Japanese corporate world is cutthroat. Viper identifies herself as a capitalist.

2. Antiwar. The viewer witnesses the destruction of Nagasaki.

1. Pro-miscegenation. The Wolverine has the yellow fever.

Advertisements

undergroundbloodred

This 2010 grade-Z kick-fest, just released to Redboxes on a double feature disc with the superior gangster study Blood Red Presidents, stars writer-director Wilbert Berthaud, Jr., as Mike, an urban martial artist who to his regret gets mixed up with an underground fighting ring to help pay the bills and support his little brothers. Berthaud might have done better to concentrate on his duties behind the camera, as, high kicks aside, the young man has little in the way of screen presence and could have spent more time developing his script. More interesting is his unkempt afro, which goes through mutations during the film and in one scene is displayed half-fluffed, the other half of his head subdued in cornrows, a rare (probably unintentional) piece of poetic imagery that captures Mike’s divided self, as he receives occasional visits from his own dark side. This and other elements make for a somewhat offbeat action picture, its oddity failing, however, to compensate for quality. The action scenes and comic relief are tolerably good, but with no compelling characters to cheer to a victory, Underground is an indie picture best left interred.

2 out of 5 possible stars. ICA’s advice: for a good underground fighting drama, check out Lorenzo Lamas in Night of the Warrior; or for decent kung fu mayhem with a black star, see any Jim Kelly movie.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Underground is:

6. Feminist. Jade (Sara Walsh) proves to be a worthy opponent for Mike and even beats him on one occasion.

5. Class-conscious/anti-business. A representative entrepreneur is a condescending slob. Businessmen throw away money “like it’s candy.” “You think because you can afford designer suits that you can tell me what to do?”

4. Anti-police. A goofy loser/small-time crook (Donald Foley in an amusing performance) turns out to be a goofy loser/undercover cop who forgets to load his gun for the final confrontation. Humorously, his ample flab makes him impervious to an assailant’s pressure point attacks. Police play an antagonistic role during the climactic sequence.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Mike has a mulatto girlfriend (Sara Rattigan). Black gangster Monro is intimate with blonde henchwoman Jade, who sits on his lap and calls him “Sir”. “Such a pretty face,” she says on meeting the star/screenwriter.

2. Multiculturalist. With important exceptions, the film takes place in what would appear to be a largely postracial society, with blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians interacting without regard for each other’s racial differences. Underground opens itself up to the charge of stereotyping, however, when Mike, channeling his inner janitor, uses a mop handle as a weapon and then, channeling his inner African cannibal, bites Monro on the ankle during their final confrontation.

1. Anti-Semitic. Mike’s exaggeratedly hook-nosed friend Jason (Mike Harb) turns out to be a Judas.

Macho girl Matt Damon stars as butch lesbian cyborg warrior Max Da Costa in one of this summer’s most notable movies, Neill Blomkamp’s science fiction adventure Elysium, which posits a future world in which only the teeming masses of the underprivileged are left to suffer through their miserable lives in the ruins of what once was the United States of America, while the super-rich, in the ultimate feat of white flight, have escaped to the veritable Heaven that is Elysium, basically a gigantic orbiting space station’s worth of Beverly Hills, where people are beautiful, lawns are green, and seemingly any sickness is instantly curable thanks to advanced technology. Max, a former career criminal dying from radiation poisoning, lends his services as a thief to a crew of Mexican gangsters for a shot at breaching the exclusive colony’s security system and saving not only his own life, but that of everybody on Earth.

Damon, always an unlikely star, is only tolerable in his heroic role as Max, as is Alice Braga as his attractive but uninteresting love interest. Jodie Foster, meanwhile, clearly has fun as the icy-hot Delacour, who heads Homeland Security for Elysium. Ironically, Delacour, who speaks French and was perhaps inspired by French nationalist politician Marine Le Pen, has as her job exactly the opposite of what occupies America’s Department of Homeland Security: namely, the preservation of a people, its ethnic integrity, economic well-being, and traditional way of life. And rounding out the cast is Wagner Moura, who (potentially unrecognizable to those who remember his gruff and brooding performance in the Brazilian fascist film Elite Squad) appears in a supporting role as colorful gangster, computer wizard, and space coyote service impresario Spider.

Easily the most charismatic character in Elysium, however, is the ruthless and erratic Boer mercenary Kruger, played with snarling, nasty manliness by Sharlto Copley (of Blomkamp’s District 9). The viewer can hardly help but cheer Kruger on as, after enthusiastically obliterating a target, he exults, “Thet’s wut om talkin abeut!” (Note to Hollywood: Make more movies about South African mercenaries!) Kruger’s return to the fray after what appears initially to be his demise is surely one of Elysium‘s most audience-friendly moments.

4.5 of 5 possible stars, with half a star deducted for the tasteless inclusion of hackneyed, ethereal new age moaning on the soundtrack. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Elysium is:

11. Green. Pollution is cited as one of the causes of American decline.

10. Anti-drone. Max finds himself hunted by the pesky things.

9. Anti-drug. Max refuses the pills offered by a robotic parole officer (see no. 6). Menacing Mexican thugs smoke what is presumably marijuana.

8. Ostensibly Christian, promoting more Hollywood liberation theology. Max has been raised by nuns and sacrifices himself in Christlike fashion (see also no. 4).

7. Feminist/pro-slut/pro-bastard/anti-marriage/anti-family. Frey (Alice Braga) represents the single mother with pride as a capable professional with no need for a man in her life (cf. no. 4).

6. Anti-corporatist/anti-capitalistic. The government, probably in collusion with pharmaceutical manufacturers, makes free drugs readily available to the public as a means of pacification. Max’s Hispanic neighbors mock him for being dumb enough to work for a living, and they are validated when Max’s callous boss forces him either to endanger his life or be terminated, with the result that Max receives lethal exposure to radiation. The CEO (William Fichtner) of the company is actually such a snob that he obliges his underlings to cover their mouths when speaking to him so as not to expose him to their breath. He conspires with Delacour to arrange a coup d’etat on Elysium.

5. NWO-alarmist/anti-state. The space colony Elysium, with its circled starfish design, approximates a pentagram and so points to possible Illuminati orchestration. (see also no. 6)

4. Pro-miscegenation. “Always wanted a wof,” Kruger reflects as he leers at Mexican cutie Frey, who is also the object of Max’s affections. Note that marriage is only the aspiration of the vile Boer and not of the progressive, Spanish-speaking, self-loathingly tattooed Caucasian, Max, who sacrifices himself and his forebears’ and fellow whites’ culture and safety for the benefit of the dusky masses. Max thus fits the sacrificial honky archetype.

3. Pro-immigration. Steve Sailer, calling it “one of the funnier pranks played on the American culturati’s hive mind in recent decades”, has attempted to out Elysium as a crypto-conservative and race-realist film, but Gregory Hood has convincingly refuted him in an excellently written review at Counter-Currents. What both men (along with Ram Z. Paul) accurately point out, however, is that Elysium, whatever its intentions, does illustrate in depressing vividness the cultural cataclysm awaiting America as it willingly works to dissolve its border with Mexico. The dangerous, ugly, graffiti-smeared, beggar-and-thug-infested slums of futuristic Los Angeles as depicted in Elysium hardly justify the celebratory tone of the climactic moment in which, through a bit of clever computer hackery, every disgusting slob on the planet is instantaneously turned into a “citizen” of Elysium and thereby made eligible for the wonders of its exclusive health care coverage.

2. Egalitarian. Elysium, even as it illustrates the dystopian horror of the future Socialist States of America, advocates socialized medicine as a panacea. The film is able to do this because the advanced medical science of the future, like Obamanomics, is magic, and capable of infinite, Santa-style miracles that transcend cost.

1. Pro-gay. Damon, as Max, does for the dyke what Robert Carradine did for the dweeb in Revenge of the Nerds.

Spring_Breakers_poster

Writer-director Harmony Korine’s dope-drenched epic of college-age pagan debauchery suffers from the same fatal ailment as most other movies that insist on taking as their subjects the absolute dregs of society – namely a lack of characters worthy of the least bit of audience sympathy. The introduction of the principal quartet of spoiled and mostly indistinguishable bimbos is so icily off-putting and nonchalantly bile-provoking that it could almost be a set-up for some exercise in torture porn. College students in name only, these are pretty, pot-addled apes who, during a lecture on the civil rights movement, amuse themselves by scrawling lewd notes or drawing a picture of a penis. Where the Boys Are this is not.

Tired of what they feel to be their intolerably mundane lives, four girls determine to travel to Florida to “find” themselves on spring break. Short of funds, three of them successfully rob a restaurant, and off they and naive Christian friend Faith (Selena Gomez) head for the sun and sand, where their participation in grotesque bacchanalia rightly lands the disgusting group in jail. Coming to their aid as if by providence, revolting rapper and drug dealer Alien (James Franco, in a truly transformational character creation) bails them out and takes the girls under his demonic wing, introducing them to his gangsta friends. Faith, though stupid, retains some vague wisp of the notion of decency and so decides to go home at this point; but her three friends remain and go with Alien, who, like a thuggish Charles Manson, will usher them through an initiation into nihilistic evil.

More shocking and memorable than actually good, Spring Breakers does contain some visual coups that viewers will never forget: a man performing fellatio on two guns; three girls in pink ski masks dancing, guns in hand, in the attitude of the three Graces; and, of course, sand strewn with cheap, jiggling flesh. With the anesthetized and dreamlike shoot-out of the climax, the director walks a particularly dangerous line. Are the events at the end of the film intended to inspire audience approval or did Korine even stop to consider how these moments would be received? Is Spring Breakers really the serious social commentary it seems to pretend to be or just a tacky exploiter that points and laughs at societal disease? Is Korine documenting or actually celebrating the decline of western civilization? Either way, this vile opus has much to say about American life, and much of it is true.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Spring Breakers is:

9. State-skeptical/anti-business. “Everyone can use a little bailin’ out once in a while,” Alien says in a line that hints at a broader significance. With his neck tattoo of a dollar sign, Alien symbolizes misguided rapacity and mirrors the criminal world of big business.

8. Pro-gay. Girls frequently engage in teasing kisses, grinding, and so forth, none of it particularly sexy. The sum effect, however, is normalization. Alien clearly enjoys sucking the guns and tells the girls afterward that he loves them.

7. Media-critical. “Just fuckin’ pretend like it’s a video game. Act like you’re in a movie or somethin’,” one of the girls advises the others before they commit a robbery. “I got Scarface on repeat. Constant, y’all,” Alien boasts, contributing to the sense that these young people’s poor behavior has been programmed by their entertainment (cf. The Bling Ring).

6. Anti-American. Alien describes his materialistic gangsta lifestyle as “the American Dream” (cf. Pain and Gain). “Seeing all this money makes my pussy wet,” one of the girls says.

5. Anti-Christian. Juxtaposed scenes equate Christianity and substance abuse as means of escape from reality. Two dumb Christian friends of Faith advise her (with good reason, as it turns out) to “pray super hardcore” for her well-being in Florida. (Ironically, her religious scruples do preserve her from the danger experienced by the other girls.)

4. Diversity-skeptical and anti-wigger. “I don’t like it here,” Faith says, finding herself in the midst of a bunch of scuzzy blacks and wiggers and feeling intensely uncomfortable. This moment counterbalances the casual flashes of suggested black-white miscegenation in the film. A theme of Spring Breakers is self-destruction, and one moment in which a girl drinks from a black water pistol, a rapper’s smug face on a poster behind her, indicates the self-loathing and suicidal nature of wiggerism.

3. Culturally and morally ambivalent. From drugs to guns and gangsterism to flippant fornication, Korine keeps such a cold, ambiguous distance that his attitude from one scene to the next is occasionally difficult to fathom. The copious casual sex and drug abuse carry surprisingly few consequences, with only a shot of a vomiter passed out by a toilet (and party-crashing by police) disrupting the flow of fun. There is nothing at all admirable in Alien or his groupie disciples, and yet the amount of time devoted to his misbehavior, his air of a tragic artist of wasted potential, and the martyrish pose pretentiously granted him at his demise would appear to give him a neon sheen of antiheroic myth. The ravages of gunplay, likewise, are mitigated by the fetishistic fascination and sexuality accorded to firepower. One of the girls determines that “being a good person” is the “secret to life”, but fails to act according to this piece of wisdom.

2. Relativistic and nurturist (i.e., anti-science). Spring Breakers points to environment as the key determiner of individual development, discrediting the role that genetics and race play in shaping human intelligence and character. “I was the only white boy in my whole neighborhood,” the worthless Alien recounts. Consequently, he grows up to be indistinguishable from the criminal blacks among whom he moves. “We met people who are just like us. Just the same as us,” one of the girls reflects in voice-over. Only the social context of their spoiled upbringing, sheltered by white privilege, has presumably prevented the girls from sinking into savagery before now. Heritability would appear to play no role in shaping these people, so that Spring Breakers works like a stock anthropology lecture to the effect that those spear-brandishing jungle natives in the National Geographic are no less civilized than the European gentleman reading poetry in his smart smoking jacket, their mating and war-making rituals being identical at bottom. The culture war does, however, appear to hold importance for Korine, even if it is not always clear on which side of the battle line he stands.

1. Anti-human. No likable characters = no reason to care.

Eli Roth, in his influential 2005 horror downer Hostel, made what appears to have been a bid for consideration as a serious artist by inserting one or two references to Franz Kafka.  Twenty-five references to Kafka would not, however, have changed the fact that Hostel was simply torture porn – a film trading not in suspense but rather in fetishistic sadism and fascination with the meat potential of human bodies.  Now comes first-time director Taylor Sheridan’s Vile, 897th bastard son of Hostel, which, like its pappy, has a pun for a title and, again like its pappy, makes reference to a serious thinker by featuring a Gandhi quotation as an epigraph: “The root of violence is science without humanity.”  A better motto for Vile would be, “The root of tedium is filmmaking without humanity”, as that, ultimately, is why Vile is so irritating and so disposable.

After a group of dirty, unsavory twenty-or-thirtysomethings is fumigated and kidnapped by an Avon lady in a gas mask, they awaken to find themselves sealed into a house with strangers.  An ugly woman on a monitor (who identifies the house as hers) informs them that they will be unable to leave until the tubes connected to their brains have been filled with chemicals that can be made into drugs.  These chemicals, unfortunately, are produced only under extreme duress.  “Pain will be your only way out of this house,” she says.  It is then up to the group to decide how they will go about dividing the torture amongst themselves before their time has run out.  What follows is more than an hour of people arguing, moaning, screaming, beating, and mutilating each other as shaky cameras record it all in gruesome and uninteresting detail.  Dimly lit and painted with a sickly, bilious palette, Vile is a difficult film to watch and an impossible one to enjoy for anyone not a certifiable sadist.

1.5 of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Vile is:

10. Anti-redneck.  From the moment the group stops at a rural gas station with an out-of-order pump and country music playing, the viewer is aware that the protagonists  have left the comforts of civilization behind and have taken the Highway to the Danger Zone.  A banjo is heard later in the film, having apparently been deemed the appropriate musical accompaniment to the subject matter.

9. Feminist/anti-family.  The setting is an apparently ordinary house, with the appurtenances of conventional domesticity – an iron, a fork, a grater, and a pot of boiling water – becoming in this context the instruments of torture.

8. Egalitarian.  Suffering is to be shared equally.  The man who says, “I am not splitting shit with any of you” is the first to die.

7. Anti-business/anti-capitalist.  Vile‘s representative entrepreneurs are drug dealers willing to maim and murder to manufacture their product.  Promotion of products  with free samples, as of perfume, is a ruse to lure people to certain doom.

6. Un-p.c./diversity-skeptical.  The group seems eager to attack the black guy before anyone else.  Asian bitch Kelly (Stefanie Barboza) is dubbed “Pineapple”.  “Shouldn’t you men take a little extra responsibility?” one woman asks.  The black guy, Greg (Rob Kirkland) objects to such “feminist crap.”  Salt conspicuously labeled “kosher” is rubbed into an open wound during the opening credits.

5. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation.  Vile opens with a group of tattooed, sloppy, probably Obama-backing Occupy-type wastrels filthily lounging in grass like a pack of smelly dogs.  Pregnant bimbo Tayler (April Matson) says, “I’m gonna get tatted up all over.  It’s gonna be sexy.”

4. Multiculturalist.  Tayler wants a tattoo of Japanese waves.  Sam (Greg Cipes) has a tattoo in Hindi.

3. Anti-democratic.  The democratic process takes the form of incessant arguing with accompanying emergence of interest groups.  The character who suggests that the group’s strategy should be determined by equal votes is, as it turns out, a psychopath and in league with the drug farmers.

2. Anti-drug.  Users and dealers in drugs (and other products, presumably) are often unaware of the human suffering resulting from the satisfaction of their demand.  “People will pay anything.  They don’t care where it comes from.”  “I just sold the stuff,” says Greg, who claims not to have known how the drugs were made.  Whites thus turn blacks into criminals and unwitting murderers through the drug trade.  Greg also takes painkillers after his torture, indicating that blacks turn to narcotics only to relieve the distress and abuse they receive at the hands of oppressive whites.  Pills, however, only lengthen the ordeal of one of the victims in the film.

1. Nihilist/anti-human.  Sadism = survival.

django-unchained

Quentin Tarantino is a man with perhaps one great film to his name and who has managed to coast on the strength of that beloved opus for the better part of two decades; he does, however, have more than one very good film to his credit, and the gorgeously realized Django Unchained can, happily, be added to that list.  His love letter to the spaghetti western and blaxploitation genres, it is also his rabble-rousing death threat to civilization and as such is something of a triumph of self-loathing.

Jamie Foxx is affectingly earnest in his portrayal of Django, Rousseau’s chained man, suddenly presented with the opportunity of achieving his liberty and reuniting with his enslaved wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  Christoph Waltz is no less charming as the German dentist (who, in a gratuitous irony, has been named Dr. King Schultz) who offers Django his freedom in exchange for a profitable partnership in tracking bounties.  Leonardo DiCaprio, who shines most brightly as a villain, plays Calvin Candie, the handsome, debonair slavemaster in possession of Django’s woman.

The fabulous cast is, typically for Tarantino, filled to the brim with familiar character actors and pop culture favorites of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, with Michael Parks, Russ Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Don Johnson, James Remar, and Franco Nero, star of the original Django, all putting in appearances.  Samuel L. Jackson, meanwhile, has probably the funniest role of his career in Stephen, Candie’s loyal but sassy domestic slave – the representative Uncle Tom, in other words – who resents freeman Django at first sight and who, in the race-baiting theology of Django Unchained, embodies what may be the worst of evils: the complaisant betrayal of his own long-suffering people.

That Django Unchained is so successful and involving is proof of writer-director Tarantino’s dangerousness as a filmmaker.  Tarantino, who bears major responsibility for foisting the torture porn genre on humanity through his endorsement (“Quentin Tarantino presents . . .”) of Eli Roth’s execrable anti-human hit Hostel, continues his desensitization of the American public with his obsessive fetishization of the splattered blood and played-for-laughs agony of bullet-riddled unprogressive white men.

With humor but also an unintentional irony, Tarantino has cast himself in a cameo as one of the slavers revolutionarily liquidated by Django.  It is ironic because what what the man is peddling is in effect hatred of himself – of successful whites and of the rich – as an unwitting accomplice in what Yuri Bezmenov describes as the systematic demoralization of Americans by useful idiots through cultural Marxist contamination.  Exhibit A: the critically heralded oeuvre of Quentin Tarantino.

This reviewer can sympathize with Django’s violent impulse to liberation and even the pleasure he takes in killing the men who obstruct his enjoyment of natural rights.  Where the film flies off the ethical rails is in celebrating the shooting not only of those directly imperiling Django’s liberty, but all of their associates, including Candie’s unarmed and mild-mannered sister.  Her crime is one of complacency and, one suspects, of blood relation to the oppressor – of having inherited slavers’ genes.

This is particularly reckless in a film that makes a point of alluding constantly to the contemporary – with hip-hop music, “fuck”-sprinkled dialogue, joking reference to the Holocaust, characters named after Martin Luther King and an Italian western hero, and Tarantino’s endless self-referential postmodern hipsterism – and through these conscious anachronisms advertises some imagined relevance to the race relations of today.  Designed with the express purpose of ripping open and poking the synthetic psychological wounds of crimes not experienced by anyone alive in America today, Django Unchained is nothing if not a wholly superfluous incitation to racial hatred, genocide, and redistribution of wealth.  It is all the more egregious for being so good.

4.5 stars with accompanying whip-scarred stripes.  Goodbye Uncle Tom remains the most incendiary and entertaining treatment of slavery on film, but Tarantino’s new contribution is certainly no slouch.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Django Unchained is ominous in its flippancy and:

9. Anti-Christian.  White slavemasters return from a funeral singing a hymn.  Religion that allows for such injustice is a fraud.

8. Anti-tobacco.  Monsieur Candie smokes from a cigarette holder like the bourgeois swine he is.  Rank-and-file southern hick psychos chew and spit.

7. Anti-police.  A racist sheriff turns out to be a wanted criminal.

6. Anti-science.  Study of human biodiversity is represented by pseudoscientific phrenology.  Science = racism.

5. Pro-miscegenation.  A Texas woman eyes Django with interest from her window as he rides through her town.  Black love is described as a tar pool that refuses to let go its hold on the fancy of those who enter (i.e., once you go black, you never go back).  The camera seems to want to lick Foxx’s nude physique.

4. Anti-business.  Thoroughly hostile to private property, the film’s representative forms of commerce are vengeful bounty hunting, the slave trade, and mining – the latter utilizing slave labor, naturally.  Wealth is accumulated through cruelty and murder.  A saloon keeper who objects to Django’s presence is chased out of his own establishment.  Private property = slavery.  “I’m runnin’ a business here,” Candie says during one of the most savage scenes of meanness.

3. Anti-South/anti-white male.  While critics will complain of what was previously the “whitewashing” of American history in films, Django Unchained demonstrates that, if anything, brownwashing and brainwashing are at present the order of the day.  Southerners are without exception vile sadists with bad teeth who live to beat, whip, humiliate, muzzle, brand, and castrate blacks.  The effeminate swagger of Billy Crash (Walton Goggins), the most vicious of Candie’s toadies, suggests that white loathing of and desire to neuter blacks is a function of white sexual inadequacy and salivating, latently homosexual penis envy.  Those not participating directly in these activities remain equally guilty for tolerating the status quo and therefore must receive equal punishment.  The conventional incestuous southerner smear receives a nod with what may be hints of Candie’s overly enthusiastic affection for his sister.  Black-on-black violence results from white manipulation.

2. Anti-slavery/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn on both counts).  Django Unchained perpetuates the myth that slavery existed not as an economic expediency, but principally as the plaything of whites’ sadism.  Where anti-racist films have previously presented viewers with the “sacrificial Negro” archetype, Django Unchained breaks new ground by inventing the sacrificial honky, the man who absolves the sins of his racial inheritance by dying to liberate blacks.

1. Black supremacist/genocidal.  They mo betta.

KILLING-THEM-SOFTLY-poster

A strong exercise in Scorsese imitation, writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly may well be the most depressing experience to which multiplex moviegoers are treated in 2012.  Set in a bleak expanse of rust belt squalor during the meltdown of 2008, the gangland story begins when small-time gangster and dry cleaner the Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) recruits two crooks, naive Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and ne’er-do-well Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), to pull a masked hold-up of the gambling establishment run by Markie Trattman (GoodFellas alumnus Ray Liotta), who is to be framed for staging a robbery of his own game and customers.  Markie, true to his name, is the perfect mark for the crime because he previously staged just such an inside job and admitted to it and so will be the obvious prime suspect if the same thing happens again.  Into this situation enters the mysterious enforcer Jackie (Brad Pitt), assigned the tasks of investigating what actually happened and meting out the appropriate sanctions.  Flying in to assist him is button man Mickey (James Gandolfini), previously a class act but now a sloppy, erratic drunk going through a divorce.  The upshot is that, however it all ends up going down, none of this business is going to be pretty.

On one level, Killing Them Softly is a tough, unsentimental crime film and a set of character studies.  At the same time, however, it operates as an unsubtle and tactless allegory about the decline of American prosperity and the bankruptcy of the ideals traditionally associated with it, with samples of speeches by Bush and Obama running parallel to the action.  The words of the title appear onscreen in succession as part of a fractured, abrasive montage of optimistic Obamaspeak coupled with grating noise and shots of trash blown in the wind that sweeps a desolate lot walked by doomed Frankie on his way to meet the Squirrel – a representative entrepreneur and criminal mediocrity, there being no distinction between the two things as depicted in this story.  Killing Them Softly posits the existence of two types of players in this world: statists and businessmen.  All are gangsters who run their rackets through subterfuge and coercion.  In one of the film’s cheapest and least imaginative moments, Jackie sits in a bar and mocks the Obama speech playing on television and goes on to smugly thumb his nose at the American experiment itself, denouncing Thomas Jefferson for getting drunk, screwing his slaves, and keeping his children in bondage.  This country is a business, Jackie asserts, and every man looks out for himself like a beast in the jungle.  Or, as Mickey succinctly puts it and sums up the story, “It’s all bullshit.”

More than simply a downbeat, despairing sociopolitical tirade or declaration of nihilism, however, Killing Them Softly offers more than enough to make it recommendable.  Multiple character creations compel viewer interest, with Gandolfini and McNairy in particular making the most of their scenes.  Gandolfini immediately establishes sympathy and scorn with his characterization of a tough but dissipated and finally pathetically apathetic thug going through a divorce and wasting his life on liquor and prostitutes, which allows the actor the opportunity to deliver some 200-proof obscenity (causing an elderly woman at the screening I attended to become audibly agitated, surely the mark of fine movie profanity) in high gangster style.  Liotta, though he has only a few brief scenes, also appears to solid effect.  Less reliable than the impeccable acting is the selection of pop songs, which, in faithful Scorsese tradition, are rather overutilized.  “The Man Comes Around”, for instance, is the perfect song to establish Jackie’s seriousness and formidability as an enforcer, while “It’s Only a Paper Moon” assists the screenplay thematically and casts an amusing irony over events; but is it really necessary that the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” accompanies the scene in which Russell shoots up heroin?  On the whole, however, Killing Them Softly is an admirably adult and serious film, heavier on the dialogue than on the flash and action, and will test the patience of those expecting a typical shoot-em-up.  4 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Killing Them Softly is:

9. Diversity-skeptical. Jackie isn’t buying it.

8. Sexist/anti-slut.  Women are whores and trash.  Mickey’s wife has been unfaithful.  Russell recounts for Frankie a sickening episode of random sex with an insane nymphomaniac, imitating the ludicrous sounds she made, and telling how she afterward threatened to commit suicide, to which Frankie casually replies that they all behave that way.

7. Anti-torture.  Markie, under interrogation, receives a beating so unpleasantly savage and bloody that no viewer should be left with the idea that violence is glamorous and fun.

6. Antiwar.  During the credits, “Money (That’s What I Want)” fades into a lugubrious sound collage that includes helicopter noise and what sounds like echoing urination.

5. Anti-drug/drug-ambivalent.  Russell, through heroin, becomes an even more disgusting mess than he is at the beginning.  Cigarettes, however, retain a certain grimy chic, though one corporate type gangster is more than once offended by the odor.

4. Pro-miscegenation.  Mickey enjoys himself with a black hooker (who, however, frustrates him by treating her anus “like a national treasure”) and recommends Jewesses to Jackie.

3. Anti-business.  Criminals are businessmen and vice versa.  The “corporate mentality” has left even organized crime unmanned and degraded.

2. Anti-state.  Bush and Obama are phonies.  Jefferson was a drunkard who owned and abused slaves, thus discrediting all subsequent U.S. history and achievement.  The ridiculousness of gun and drug control is illustrated by the fact that, though no government agency interferes with the mob murders in the film, hitman Mickey was once arrested for gun possession while on a bird hunting trip, while Russell is eventually nabbed by the authorities not for armed robbery, but for mutually voluntary and perfectly ethical drug trafficking.

1. Nihilist/anti-human.  The sky is always dark.  “It’s all bullshit.”  The human condition is vile, obscene, and absurd.

NotPoliticallyCorrect

Human Biodiversity, IQ, Evolutionary Psychology, Epigenetics and Evolution

Christopher Othen

Author of 'Lost Lions of Judah' and other non-fiction

Bre Faucheux

Identitarian | Alt Media | 27Crows Radio

DESERET NATIONALIST ASSOCIATION

NATIONALISM | POPULISM | IDENTITY | HERITAGE

Historical Tribune

The Factual Review

The Roper Report

Billy's Balkanization Blog

Economic & Multicultural Terrorism

Delves into the socioeconomic & political forces destroying our Country: White & Christian Genocide.

Ashraf Ezzat

Author and Filmmaker

ProphetPX on WordPress

Jesus-believing U.S. Libertarian Constitutionalist EXPOSING Satanic globalist SCAMS & TRAITORS in Kansas, America, and the World at-large. Jesus and BIBLE Truth SHALL PREVAIL!

Floating-voter

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Two Hundred Years Together

A History of the Russians and the Jews

maddoggbuttkickingbrown's real truth!

Getting at the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Tyrone Trump

Fourth Reich Molestation. Phallic Entitlement. Simian Supremacy.