Archives for posts with tag: anti-corporate

Monster Trucks

Somewhat surprisingly, given that this is a Cuckelodeon production, Monster Trucks is a mostly child-friendly and fun adventure film. Distractingly cute young costars Lucas Till and Jane Levy star as high school students who find themselves caught in the middle of a corporate conspiracy when they discover a tentacled, subterranean creature that lives on oil (a literal gas-guzzler!) and enjoys embedding itself under the body of a truck like a hermit crab. Rob Lowe appears as the head of the nihilistic oil company that, through unscrupulous drilling practices, has inadvertently brought these creatures to the surface and now seeks to apprehend them, with Thomas Lennon toadying in a comic supporting role. The film is endearing, the digital animation is brilliant, and even adults should be entertained by this one.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Monster Trucks is:

5. Inclusive, allowing diverse token gimp Danny Glover to take part in the heroics.

4. Class-conscious. The male protagonist’s chief rival at school is a “rich boy” with fancy wheels.

3. Family-ambivalent. The hero’s absentee father is an untrustworthy drunkard, but the troubled young man’s reconciliation with his mother’s rugged beau does at least leave him with a responsible male authority figure at home. The teen male and female leads join hands as they witness the touching reunion of a monster family, the implication being that they will be inspired to marry and start a family of their own.

2. Anti-corporate. Townsfolk, while recognizing that their small community’s economy is dependent upon Terravex’s presence (“All the money in this town comes from Terravex Oil”), also resent the inordinate and quasi-governmental clout that the company wields. “The company I work for employs everyone in this town – and that includes you,” a corporate representative arrogantly informs the sheriff. Company scientist Thomas Lennon also admits to falsifying environmental reports. (Subverting the anti-corporate messaging, however, is the film’s product placement for brands like Beanitos and Chrysler).

1.Green. The problems begin with a sin against nature – “like the earth got mad and let something bad out”. Had Terravex – which, as its name indicates, molests the earth – taken more care not to disturb an unfamiliar and misunderstood ecosystem, it could have avoided its hour and a half of difficulties. Somewhat disappointingly, it seems not to have occurred to the writers what a godsend the existence of oil-gobbling monsters would be in the case of an oil spill. More likely, an oil concern would want to keep such potentially useful creatures on retainer rather than try to destroy them. There is, too, something not quite kosher from an environmentalist perspective about the idea of turning America’s gas habit, visualized by the creatures’ appetite for oil, into something cute, cuddly, and endearing, albeit cartoonishly monstrous.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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Office Christmas Party

Jason Bateman plays straight man to a cast of corporate crazies in Office Hanukkah Party, Hollywood’s latest assault on every decent thing left in this maggoty world. The movie does manage to lampoon the self-negating neuroses bred by workplace compliance with inclusivity policies and political correctness, but ultimately embraces the same sort of idiocy, only spicing it up with vice and obscenity in order to make the New World Order seem somehow appealing. Viewed in isolation from any moral considerations or greater societal impact, Office Hanukkah Party is an admittedly fun film buoyed by a talented cast of comedic actors including Jennifer Aniston and T.J. Miller as feuding tech executive siblings Carol and Clay. Kate McKinnon insults Christians everywhere in the role of the rigid but flatulent “Mary”, while Vanessa Bayer and Randall Park reprise their interracial flirtation from the similarly depraved Trainwreck.

4.5 out of 5 stars – and, to be absolutely clear, this rating reflects not the film’s sociological value but its likely appeal to its intended audience of unredeemed degenerates. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Office Hanukkah Party is:

9. Disingenuously anti-corporate, disapproving of impersonal business cultures, profit-prioritizing layoffs, and the like, but fully endorsing the atomized hedonism favored by the neoliberal establishment. (I find a pleasing irony in the fact that the film’s initials, O.C.P., are also those of Omni Consumer Products, the evil military-industrial megacorporation from RoboCop.)

8. Russophobic, with Russians depicted as gangsters. One of them, a thug named Alexei (Michael Tourek), gets nightsticked for calling a liberated American woman “bitch”.

7. Jewish supremacist. Indicating priorities in the opening moments of the movie, a menorah occupies the center of the frame in a shot of a holiday snack table. Aniston also demonstrates the superior merits of Krav Maga. In a possible insult to Arabs, a foreign-looking fellow is seen literally fucking a camel statue in the back of a truck.

6. Feminist. Carol, in addition to being able to hold her own in a fight against her brother, refers to God as “Her”. “Suck my dick,” a woman tells her male supervisor.

5. Anti-Christian. The entire movie constitutes a denigration of Christians’ celebration of the birth of Christ, as symbolized when Clay sleds down a staircase and demolishes a Nativity scene.

4. Anti-family. Learning that Allison (Bayer) is a single mother, Fred (Park) replies, “That’s great. I was raised by a single mom.” Children are bothers and fit primarily for corruption, as in the end credits image of two women who appear to be snorting cocaine in the presence of a minor. Asked what is most annoying about the internet, Jeremy (Rob Corddry) replies, “Pictures of people’s kids.” A youthful caroler thrusts his middle finger at the protagonist, while the inappropriately named Carol tells another child, “Fuck you” – continuing Hollywood’s use of foul language referencing sex acts with children (cf. Cooties).

3. Pro-gay. “I’m talkin’ ‘bout take your pee-pees out and put ‘em in some booties,” proclaims DJ Calvis (Sam Richardson). Clay, meanwhile, is “straight – except for that one time.” Viewers are also treated to a guy-guy dancefloor kiss and the sight of Jason Bateman simulating fellatio with an ice sculpture. Then, too, there is mention of a “Human Centipede situation in the men’s room.”

2. Pro-miscegenation. Josh (Bateman) finds himself attracted to icy Eurasian cutie Tracey (Munn). Allison, meanwhile, after being grossed out by Fred’s mommy fetish, winds up smooching with Indian nerd Nate (Karan Soni). There is also a briefly glimpsed interracial toilet stall orgy.

1. Pro-drug. Drug humor in Office Christmas Party runs the gamut of cocaine, booze, and the abuse of prescription medications. One employee remarks that it is “boring as shit” that no one gets inebriated before noon. It is only after a bag of cocaine is accidentally dropped into a snow machine that the party really comes alive. Straight-laced black executive Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance, the indispensable negro sonar genius from The Hunt for Red October) gets particularly loose after taking a blast of powder in the face and later declares that this has been “the best night of my life” even after being hospitalized following a brutal fall. Clay, too, snorts a quantity of cocaine and gets into a wreck which serendipitously corrects a previous fracture.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Black Sea

Directed by documentarian Kevin MacDonald – no, not that Kevin MacDonald – Black Sea is a taut, gritty undersea suspense feature, a fine addition to the venerable submarine subgenre that manages to be original while also echoing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) in its story of treachery motivated by lust for gold. Jude Law, never one of this writer’s favorite actors, turns in a surprisingly masculine turn as an unemployed submariner who signs on with a ragtag, half-British, half-Russian team of dead-enders to swipe a sunken cache of Nazi gold and spite his previous employers by beating them to the punch. Black Sea also packs a major plot twist that ratchets the tension nicely. Definitely recommended.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Black Sea is:

4. Anti-tobacco. Peters (David Threlfall) has emphysema, reminding audiences of the dangers of smoking.

3. Anti-fascist. The backstory on the treasure is that Hitler, with Nazi Germany’s economy on the verge of collapse in 1941, extorted an exorbitant “loan” from Stalin’s “neutral” U.S.S.R. with a threat of invasion if the demanded sum was not received. The implication would seem to be that, while the communists enjoyed an ebullient economy, Hitler’s Third Reich was an inefficient basket case that could generate prosperity only through intimidation and violence. Nazis in a sunken sub are also revealed to have engaged in cannibalism.

2. Anti-corporate, anti-bankster. Financial elites inspire loathing and corporate players cannot be trusted.

1. Egalitarian. Robinson (Jude Law) dictates that every man in the crew is to receive an equal share of the booty regardless of his specific responsibilities or national origin. The submarine therefore functions as a microcosm of an experimental socialist society – one that sinks or floats on the strength of collective cooperation. Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn, reunited with Killing Them Softly costar Scoot McNairy, who plays corporate weasel Daniels) is the unredeemable teabagger type in the group, who thinks his ethnic cohort deserves a bigger share of the loot and refuses to share with the Russians. It is Fraser, with his combination of individualistic greed and jingoism, who will more than once put the crew in serious peril. Robinson, through his climactic demonstration of heroism, proves to be motivated more by a sense of justice and vengeance against a hostile elite than by greed or personal pettiness.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Baytown Outlaws poster

Prospective viewers may be disappointed to discover that ostentatiously billed Billy Bob Thornton has only a potty-mouthed supporting role as villain Don Carlos in this violent ersatz-Tarantino concoction disingenuously passing itself off as genuine good ol’ boy entertainment. The film concerns the reckless redneck exploits of the Oodie brothers, Brick (Clayne Crawford), Lincoln (Daniel Cudmore), and McQueen (Travis Fimmel), as they rip through an array of ridiculous comic book adversaries to rescue a handicapped teenager (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from Don Carlos’s clutches.

The Baytown Outlaws is lightning-paced and at times diverting, but too condescending and mean-spirited to squarely hit its target. Worse, its perpetrators (writer-director Barry Battles, is that your real name?) betray a disturbing moral confusion and an obvious disregard for human dignity and life, as typified by the scene in which one of the brothers accidentally shoots and kills a maid and says, “Oh shit. My bad, lady”, and then goes casually about his business. Flippant to excess, this one may appeal to ADHD-afflicted consumers of films of the Snatch or Cat Run type.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Baytown Outlaws is:

11. Drug-ambivalent. Don Carlos abuses pills. Liquor’s antiseptic quality comes in handy during a medical emergency. “You want one of these?” Brick asks, offering a minor a cigarette after a battle and telling the boy, “You earned it.”

10. Ostensibly Christian. Brick wears a cross on a necklace, but this fashion statement would appear to be the extent of how his faith expresses itself. The Oodies claim with sarcasm to have been in church while they were actually out raiding a residence and exterminating its occupants. “This Is Our Song”, a southern-fried hip-hop tune that plays over the end credits, says, “Folks round here still believe in God” and “Tell the government to leave my check and church alone”. A cross tattoo on a hitwoman suggests that the Christian content of the film is something less than sincere, however.

9. Anti-police. Celeste (Eva Longoria) wants peace of mind, “something the cops can’t give me,” she says. Officers catching sight of the Oodies locked in rowdy highway warfare turn a blind eye and give no pursuit.

8. Anti-corporate. “I kind of look at my future empire as the Wal-Mart of bottom dollar retail crime,” Don Carlos explains to impertinent underlings who have approached him about a raise. “I need stockers and cashiers and mercenaries and mules.”

7. Localist/pro-vigilante. The sheriff resists federal meddling and even eschews the law itself, maintaining the Oodies as his personal vigilante squad to keep criminals off the streets and spare the court system the trouble.

6. Gun-ambivalent. A t-shirt reads, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” The Oodies are poor poster boys for responsible handling of firearms, however, and kill several people by mistake.

5. Pro-immigration. Illegals are bright, talented, underappreciated professionals like nurses who, if given a chance, would be a boon to the U.S. What is more, they are whites’ intellectual betters. “Your ignorance is unbelievable,” a valiant wetback bimbo tells Brick when he says, “You’re a nurse. You oughtta be helpin’ people,” and suggests she become naturalized. “Your country doesn’t make it that easy for us,” she complains.

4. Black supremacist. The black sheriff (Andre Braugher) enjoys sassing and establishing his mental superiority and official authority over whites. “Just do what you’re told,” he scolds a deputy. In a scene that is seemingly intended to draw an ironic humor from racial role reversal in view of the hoses that were once turned on civil rights agitators, the sheriff unsmilingly sprays a white child with a garden hose for no apparent reason and tells him, “I don’t even know you.”

3. Family-ambivalent/anti-marriage. “This Is Our Song” includes the line, “God and my family is all I need”; but, with the exception of the Oodies’ mutual loyalty, the representations of family relationships in the film are derogatory. The Oodies have “no known mother” and the irresponsibility of their father, an abusive Ku Klux Klansman, necessitated their being transferred to foster care. Don Carlos is another negative father figure whose relationship with Celeste has ended in violence. “There goes the longest relationship I ever had,” McQueen reflects after he and his brothers dispatch a bevy of biker hitwomen.

2. South-ambivalent. “Welcome to the South, motherfuckers!” The Baytown Outlaws is something of a Trojan horse where the South is concerned, any regional pride it evinces being superficial and devious. Brick Oodie, who, along with his brothers, seems never to bother changing his clothes, always wears a sleeveless shirt bearing the Confederate stars and bars – but, as with his cross, more as a fashion object than as a proclamation of political philosophy. The hell-raising, empty-headed redneck, forever the film industry’s favorite image for the perpetually stereotyped southern white male, appears in The Baytown Outlaws as a kind of cute, quaint, grotesque curiosity, something like a dog to be petted and encouraged in its animal eccentricities, but also restrained by a master’s leash. The redneck can be an endearing type and useful as long as his wild ways are harnessed by a black representative of the state made wise by his sufferings during the struggle for civil “rights”. That one of the brothers, a brutish mute, is named Lincoln may be interpreted either as a sarcastic joke or as an indicator that progress is being made in the South and that northern dictators now vie with General Lee in the christening of white trash children. Alabama, it is observed, has its own pace but is “behind the times”.

1. Un-p.c. and repeatedly racist! The Baytown Outlaws is an exercise in what is termed hipster racism, which occurs when progressives knowingly appropriate stereotypes for their own putatively innocuous purposes and so expect a free pass for their playful, winking insensitivity. The Baytown Outlaws strains the confines of this classification, however, with its depiction of a group of Indian assassins who scalp their victims and shoot arrows. There is also a pack of vicious, foul-mouthed blacks, one of whom feels compelled to warn another, “This time, try not to hit the motherfuckin’ baby.” Other instances of political incorrectness include the use of “faggoty”.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Contagion

Steven Soderbergh directs an ensemble cast including Laurence Fishburne (cool, calm, and collected), Matt Damon (heartbroken and desperate!), Gwyneth Paltrow (autopsied!), Kate Winslett (who, sorry to say, does not appear nude), Jennifer Ehle (scientific!), Bryan Cranston (insignificant!), Jude Law (slimy and limey), and Elliott Gould (Elliott Gould!) in this frightening film in the tradition of 1995’s Outbreak. A planet goes literally batshit crazy when a virulent new virus ravages its way from China to the U.S.A., causing a panic and the potential for societal collapse. If nothing else, the flawlessly paced Contagion demonstrates that the inevitable breakdown of civil order, whatever its cause, will not be fun. (Naturally, the disorder also provides an irresistible opportunity to depict ravenous white men rioting and robbing blacks.) A neat and polished product with an effective electronic score to match, this respectable but gruesome (and ideologically servile) entry on Soderbergh’s resume may suffer only from slight dearth of soul.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

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

9. Pro-gay. The virus at one point mutates into some funky kind of variation on AIDS, reminding viewers of how urgently the world needs a cure for gay cancer.

8. Anti-miscegenation. Unusual interspecies contact has brought the new disease into existence. “Somewhere in the world the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat.”

7. Black supremacist. The juxtaposition of a black doctor (Fishburne) and a white janitor (John Hawkes) says it all.

6. Egalitarian. Pesky “socio-economic factors” affect people’s susceptibility to the plague. When a vaccine finally becomes available, it is rationed by lottery so as to democratize the suffering.

5. Anti-slut. An adulteress (Gwyneth Paltrow) is Patient Zero.

4. Pro-family. Contagion features two touching father-daughter relationships.

3. Green and anti-capitalistic. An American corporation’s blundering program of deforestation displaces a population of oriental bats and so sets off a chain reaction that ironically takes the life of one of the company’s own executives. Black Friday crowds and confusion exacerbate the epidemic. Consumer culture must be regulated or Nature will have its vengeance! Undercutting Contagion’s environmentalist credibility, however, is its illustration of how convenient expendable laboratory monkeys can be during a catastrophic pickle.

2. Conformist. Alternative media receive a condescending send-up and a thrashing from Contagion. Decidedly de-glammed Jude Law portrays Alan Krumwiede (the name speaks for itself), a fringe blogger and crackpot conspiracy theory peddler who accuses the CDC of colluding with pharmaceuticals manufacturers, only to be exposed himself for profiteering on the crisis by stoking fears of the end of the world and defrauding the public by hyping an ineffective wonder drug called Forsythia. The lesson, one assumes, is that dissenters and those who promote distrust of government officials are not to be tolerated. Contagion is thus cronyism-tolerant in seeking to discredit those who would point out the distasteful symbioses between privileged corporations and grasping government.

1. Statist and pro-military. Self-sacrificing agents of the CDC, DHS, CIA, and other agencies contribute to the effort of saving humanity. Great pains seem to have been taken to show that the federal government has learned from the mistakes of Katrina. Laurence Fishburne’s wise technocrat even implies that the central government might do well to subsume all regional autonomies when he frets, “There are fifty different states in this country, which means there are fifty different health departments, followed by fifty different protocols.” In other words, why not just have one gigantic bureaucratized managerial leviathan to handle everything? End credits offer “special thanks” to the U.S. Department of Defense. Kate Winslet leaves the audience with the memorable image of woman-government-agent-as-Christ.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

The Grey

Reminiscent of The Edge (1997) in its tale of wilderness survival, The Grey has a plane full of oil rig workers crashing in the snowy Alaskan waste, where the few survivors must struggle both against the cold and a pack of vicious wolves who hunt them while also coping with their own intragroup tensions. Neeson is perfectly cast in the lead as the only man in the group with the skills that may be able to keep them alive. Existential flavoring, unexpected bits of humor, and spooky utilization of locations and sound design make The Grey a thrilling adventure and a solid career highlight for the star.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Grey is:

4. Anti-corporate. The oil company employs criminal misfits, mercenaries unsuited for any other kind of life. The greedy corporation, one survivor speculates, will expend as little effort as possible to find them, since rescuing the men would only mean having to pay them what they are owed.

3. Pro-family. The men miss their loved ones and have occasional recourse to consoling memories.

2. Anti-Christian. In a moment of despair, Neeson calls out God, demanding that He show him a sign of His existence. Finally, receiving no reply, he resolves, “I’ll do it myself.” A tacky neon cross adorns the exterior of an inn where brutish louts are drunkenly brawling in an early scene.

1. Sadistically green and animal rights militant. The Grey takes place in a universe in which the primordial is sacred and man’s transgressions against the natural world constitute the worst of sins. Neeson, who kills wolves professionally for the oil company, has his Ancient Mariner moment early in the film when he shoots a wolf that presents no immediate danger to him. The other men, too, though fundamentally decent sorts, are accomplices in the corporate rape of the environment and so must be punished by the wolves, the vengeful Furies of the Alaskan wilderness.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Vice poster

Sometimes nothing quite hits the spot like a bleak futuristic movie. Combining elements of Westworld (1973) and Blade Runner (1982) and updating these themes with apprehensions of twenty-first century cultural rot and a rising police state, Vice is a worthy entry in the dystopian thriller genre. Appropriately, generic actress Ambyr Childers stars as a synthetic human plaything at Vice, an indoor resort complex for perverts and sadists. Thomas Jane is cool as the dedicated but tired cop who attempts to find Childers after she escapes into the outside world, and Bruce Willis oozes the sleaze of authority as Vice’s untouchable proprietor. Fast-paced and relevant, Vice is solid. Those hoping for outrageous depictions of high-tech debauchery, however, will be disappointed, as most of the sex is merely teased.

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

5. Arguably Christian. A church provides at least momentary refuge. One line of dialogue suggests that those wrapped up in illusions avoid such places. Christians are falsely blamed as likely terrorist suspects.

4. Misandrist. Vice, unfortunately, is full of today’s hysteria about a ridiculous “rape culture”. The film depicts a nightmare America not unlike that from the Purge franchise, in which white males would delight in nothing more than to pay for the privilege of beating up, raping, and murdering women.

3. Anti-state and anti-corporate. Vice reflects the darkening reality of a world governed by a sexually permissive but totalitarian state guided by materialistic corporate interests. Elements of the police are in Willis’s pocket and work to cover up his crimes. The Vice resort fronts for defense sector research, the “artificials” being tested for military applications. The film can also be read as a skewering of the official 9/11 story.

2. Luddite. Technology threatens human liberty. Characters hope to escape to the “tech-free zone” of St. Helena.

1. Pro-censorship. Surprisingly for a Hollywood movie, Vice contains a thinly veiled argument for censorship. Describing the pleasure palace in words that might just as easily refer to the multiplex and its desensitizing effect on viewers, Thomas Jane’s cop holds forth as follows:

You know, people go in there and they get their freak on and they do whatever they do, and then they keep goin’ in there, and then they keep goin’ in there, and then they bring that shit out in the real world, it feels normal to them. [. . .] I used to be a cop. I’m not a cop anymore. I’m a fuckin’ garbage collector since that fuckin’ place opened up. It needs to be shut down.

Later, in a confrontation with villain Willis, he adds:

This is the only place I know that any scumbag in the world can get into paradise [. . .] You would think that if you created a place where people could come and they could commit any crime they could think of, just any fucked-up thing that comes into their head, they could get it out of their system and they’d become better citizens, you know. But you know it turns out, the exact opposite is true. These people get a taste and they just can’t get enough.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

antisocial poster

A future film historian compiling a list of the most representative and sociologically reflective horror films of the present decade could do worse than to include Cody Calahan’s feature debut, Antisocial. Redolent of the contemporary fears of intrusive surveillance, vile conspiratorial plots, drones, martial law, cyber-bullying, terrorism, flash mobs, viral epidemics, internet addiction, and civilizational collapse, Antisocial is more than a mere splatter film.

A gaggle of vapid college coeds gather to throw a New Year’s Eve party, unaware that the sudden outbreak of a 28 Days Later-reminiscent rage plague will soon have them barricading themselves inside and suspecting themselves and each other of infection. And what role does ubiquitous website the Social Redroom play in the chaos? “If you’re not on Facebook,” some have suggested, “you’re probably a sociopath.” Antisocial, thankfully, begs to differ with this assessment.

The story wastes little time in getting to the action and suspense, which is fresh while also respectful of genre conventions and traditions, with the themes, scenario, and spare, electronic moments suggesting influences from George Romero, David Cronenberg, and John Carpenter. A guaranteed good time; recommended to horror fans.

4 out of 5 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Antisocial is:

6. Anti-Christian. Some respond to the epidemic by holding exorcisms, but the explanation for the plague turns out to be decidedly more sublunary. A newscaster’s wish of “Happy New Year, and may God be with you,” rings hollow given the situation on the ground.

5. Gun-ambivalent. The partiers are frightened by shots from outside, but it is unclear whether these are from the police or private citizens.

4. Pro-slut, pro-miscegenation, and anti-racist. Heroine Sam (Michelle Mylett) is pregnant with some guy’s bastard. Cheap tramp Kaitlin (Ana Alic) is an item with black dude Steve (Romaine Waite). As the two are making a sex video, one of the afflicted bursts in on their fun through a window. The fact that the attacker appears to have a skinhead haircut may be intended subtextually to suggest lingering racism and resentment among whites toward those who choose to mate outside the species.

3. Feminist. “Final girl” Sam, once forced to fend for herself at the end, has little difficulty adjusting to the role of the badass. A bandage she ties around her head gives her the martial appearance of an Apache warrior.

2. Media-critical and anti-corporate. Social Redroom executives have secretly implemented a subliminal pattern designed to induce addictive behavior in visitors. Characters are unsure whether to trust material coming out of the mainstream media and look, rather, to grassroots sources of information available online.

1. Luddite. The title, Antisocial, serves a dual purpose, referring both to the nasty behavior of the afflicted and to the film’s critical stance toward social media. The script is full of apprehensions about a world in which “private life is public knowledge”, cruelty is as easy as clicking a key, and lovers break up remotely, by way of handheld devices.

Appropriately, social media darling Kaitlin and her boyfriend are among the first to develop symptoms. Sam and Jed (Adam Christie), who have deleted their Social Redroom accounts, retain their sanity longer than others. “How do you keep in touch with people?” Kaitlin asks. “I see them in person,” Sam deadpans. Significantly, Sam later repurposes a laptop as a murder weapon.

The internet itself is not necessarily to blame, and an online video actually provides the means of overcoming the crisis. What worries Antisocial, however, is the addictive potential and hive mind pull of ubiquitous sites like Facebook. Fear of mass loss of privacy also looms large, and in one of Antisocial‘s more outrageous moments, Social Redroom users’ bodies function as organic surveillance devices.

 

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Redlands Poster

Vienna (Nicole Fox) is a Midwestern transplant to Southern California who dreams of immortalizing herself through art as a model. Allan (Clifford Morts) is the “fat pervert” and amateur Irving Klaw who entertains her vanity. The pair’s initial collaboration sets Redlands into deliberate motion.

An uneasy study of the creative process and of the artist-model relationship as an “energy transfer”, or a form of vampirism, John Brian King’s debut directorial effort is shot almost entirely in static master shots, a choice that screams “art house” (and low budget) and will automatically alienate the easily distracted. Potential viewers are warned that this is not a film for the faint of heart and that it contains one appalling scene of physical violence in addition to multiple instances of emotional cruelty.

Redlands, owing to a shared subject matter and sensibility, would make for a complementary double feature with Gut (2012) or 24 Exposures (2013) – not that most people would want to sit through two such films in a single sitting. Those sufficiently bold to be interested, however, can screen this gross and engrossing movie via Vimeo.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Redlands is:

9. Anti-miscegenation. A freakish, infatuated Asian sidler (Connie Shin) haunts a camera shop to be near its clerk (Leland Montgomery), but he wants nothing to do with her.

8. Anti-Christian. Vienna sports a kitschy “Have Faith” t-shirt as she rambles inanely about Falco.

7. Anti-vegan. Vegans are depicted as somewhat shallow. Hitler is more than once referenced as having been a vegetarian, presumably so as to discredit the lifestyle.

6. Populist, Luddite, anti-corporate, and protectionist. Allan becomes frustrated with a credit card company’s user-unfriendly robot phone system and finally snaps when he gets through to a human customer service representative, who turns out to be an African named Chiwamba. He calls her a “black bitch” after she informs him that her predatory bankster organization has lowered his credit limit without informing him and is charging him penalty fees for exceeding his newly decapitated limit. Allan’s anger is that of the disenfranchised white male and the American who has seen his countrymen’s jobs either shipped overseas or given to cheap wetbacks and other undesirables. In a fit of impotence, he smashes his phone.

5. Un-p.c. Characters use words like “bitch” and “retard”.

4. Anti-drug. Vienna’s father was an addict.

3. Anti-Semitic! Zack (Sam Brittan) is a parasitic Jew and quasi-pimp, an abusive easy rider who leeches off of his gentile girlfriend’s earnings. “Somebody’s gotta mind the store,” he says. “Might as well be me.”

2. Anti-porn. Parallel scenes of photography sessions evoke a powerful metaphor: pornography as a body of autopsy photos of western woman.

1. Anti-feminist/anti-slut. The misogynistic behavior of the men in Redlands is unpleasant to witness and not at all condoned in the tone of the film. What is impossible to deny, however, is that the unenviable treatment of the women in Redlands results from feminism and its destabilizing effect on the family and the moral fabric of society. The importance of the father as the central figure in a woman’s life comes across very clearly.

Assault-On-Wall-Street-Dominic-Purcell

Prolific writer-producer-director Uwe Boll, best known for notoriously reviled horror films like House of the Dead (2003) and Alone in the Dark (2005), now taps into understandable populist rage at the crony capitalist establishment with the depressing Assault on Wall Street. Powerfully built Dominic Purcell, something of a poor man’s Clive Owen, stars as down-on-his-luck security guard Jim Baxford, who, after losing his job and his wife (Erin Karpluk) following her protracted illness and financial anxiety suicide, decides to diversify his portfolio with a little vigilante vengeance directed at the seemingly untouchable high-rollers and bankster exploiters he holds collectively responsible for his personal tragedy.

Purcell is adequately tough and earnest, if not particularly interesting, in the lead; but it is in two key supporting roles that Assault on Wall Street shows true inspiration in casting. An aging John Heard is the perfect choice to play number one on Baxford’s hit list: selfish, nihilistic toxic investment CEO Jeremy Stancroft. Even greasier, however, in a role one wishes had been expanded, is uber-oily Eric Roberts as money-grubbing attorney Patterson. Roberts has aged, if not quite gracefully, then fascinatingly, with a uniquely silverfish-like screen presence that ideally lends itself to high villainy. Other familiar faces in the cast include Keith David, Edward Furlong, and Michael Pare as Baxford’s buddies Freddy, Sean, and Frank.

Assault on Wall Street is a decent rental, but may disappoint vigilante fans by spending too much time (nearly an hour) on the humiliating build-up and not enough on the retribution so temptingly advertised in the title. Consequently, it earns a modest 3.5 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Assault on Wall Street is:

11. Pro-police. Cops are depicted as human types who share in the general plight and sympathize with Baxford’s mission.

10. Anti-slut. “I’m gonna get an STD from this sandwich,” Frank teases a waitress. Corporate bigwigs consort with whores.

9. Christ-ambivalent. While a preacher attempts consolation, mouthing, “God visits us with many mysteries in life,” Baxford rather takes to heart more militant Biblical passages such as, “He trains my hands for war” (cf. nos. 1 and 7)

8. Marriage-ambivalent. Baxford’s marriage is a devoted one and would, if not for her illness and his financial worries, be happy. Friend Frank’s wife, however, is a cheater.

7. Antiwar. Baxford is a veteran forgotten in his time of need by the country that used him. In reply to the idea that violence is not a solution, a caller to a radio program asks, “Isn’t violence the official solution in Iraq and Afghanistan?” (cf. nos. 1 and 9)

6. Postracial, with blacks and whites interacting as friends irrespective of racial differences. And to demonstrate that his is an equal opportunity beef, Baxford even liquidates a few blacks along with the many white guys in suits and ties.

5. Drug-ambivalent. Baxford smokes philosophically and his friends are enthusiastic drinkers. “Let’s go get some alcohol, make the pain go away.” Baxford, in the wake of his personal ruin, is invited to “watch the game and do some serious drinkin'” for therapeutic purposes. But a man is claimed in a news report to have died in a “drunken accident”.

4. Anti-state. The cronyist statist quo, or the “plutocratic capturing of American politics”, transcends Republican vs. Democrat squabbles, with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Chris Dodd, and Alan Greenspan getting name-dropped as culpable players. At a lower level of weaselliness, Assistant D.A. Marwood (Barclay Hope) insensitively brushes off Baxford’s concerns. That Baxford is able to purchase military wares from a black market gun dealer (Clint Howard) militates against the notion that government-mandated gun control is effective or enforceable. Betraying the movie’s mixed messages about the place of government, however, is the fact that deregulation is also blamed for the ’08 collapse.

3. Anti-corporate. “The real fuckin’ criminals –  they’re downtown [i.e., on Wall Street].” Goldman Sachs, MF Global, Cerberus Capital, JP Morgan, and Lehman Brothers are among the outfits that receive negative product placement.

2. Anti-capitalistic. “System’s rigged, motherfucker.” Told “Fuck you,” a banker calmly replies, “That’s a fair response, I suppose.” Free market talk conceals an “anything goes mentality”. “The rich still get richer and the poor get poorer.” Stancroft justifies his misdeeds with a social Darwinist outlook. “That’s the free trade system, my friend,” he says. “That’s capitalism.” “There’s not a person on this earth who’s worth over a hundred million dollars that came by that money honestly.” The film also evinces a naive sympathy for the homeless, juxtaposing their plight with the ease of the leisure class.

1. Pro-vigilante. Baxford is his own law, but also a people’s fury, and wears an Anonymous-reminiscent white mask for the final killing spree.

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