Archives for posts with tag: anti-corporatism

Rough Stuff

This enjoyable Australian outback adventure stars Gareth Rickards as Buzz, a rugged “rover” hired by a group of eco-activist weenies to get them across a difficult, mountainous terrain and to the site of a new American mining venture where they plan to film a documentary on the project’s environmental impact – and the sense of urgency to their mission gets ratcheted up a notch when Buzz realizes the group is being pursued by the relentless and enigmatic “Ranger” (Jono Cheal). The characters, though never developed too deeply, are likable enough, and the movie’s rapid pacing and wilderness setting prevent it from ever getting boring. Frizzy-haired slob Sam Glissan deserves a special mention, as well, for his supporting role as the salty and indomitable Scraps.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Rough Stuff is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

5. Abo-empowering. While whites are allowed to play the heroic roles, a bit of ethnomasochism does creep into the film at the end when Buzz, having discovered the site of a cache of gold, abstains from seizing the booty so as to let an elderly abo have it, the implication being that he is somehow more entitled to it for having a more organic and intimate connection to the earth. It is interesting to note, however, that Buzz nearly drives himself off of a cliff after virtue-signaling.

4. Green-ambivalent. Rough Stuff stops short of discrediting environmentalism altogether, but does suggest that those activist types drawn to such causes are frequently naïve, poorly informed, fanatical, or possessed of ulterior motives.

3. Anti-feminist. The comic supporting character Skye (Katie Garfield) represents feminists as obnoxious and unnecessarily combative. Not content to keep her viewpoints to herself, she more than once attempts to infect her more feminine comrade Tori (Hayley Sullivan) with her corrosive ideology, encouraging her to be more sexually assertive and insisting that the patriarchy has conditioned Tori to deny her true wants and needs. Skye’s militancy is revealed to be hollow, however, when – after stubbornly refusing to allow a man to carry her across a stream – she finds herself stuck and petulantly cries out for help. Her pampered stupidity, too, comes out when it suddenly dawns on her that there will be no ladies’ rooms available in the outback. Women can talk tough or even shoot guns, but ultimately require rescue.

2. Anti-corporate. The eco-activist group’s leader, Eric (Jamie Kristian), turns out to be plotting a terror attack on the mining concern – which plot in turn is revealed to be a scheme of the mining multinational to discredit conservationists. The corporation, in addition to staging a series of eco-terror false flags around the world and lobbying the Australian government for special privileges, is also skirting government regulations by initiating the exploitation of a new region before securing public permission.

1.Populist. Rough Stuff gives audiences a masculine, self-reliant, working-class hero in Buzz, and the movie evinces a healthy distrust of both left-utopian activism and nihilistic, big-business concerns. Traditional sex roles are reinforced, as is the dignity of the rustic Australian as opposed to globalizing and cosmopolitan forces.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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.

Dallas Buyers Club

Matthew McConaughey, who over the past few years has become one of this writer’s favorite actors working today, is the only reason to watch Dallas Buyers Club, the most recent attempt to subvert and metamorphose the American cowboy into a gay activism icon after the manner of Brokeback Mountain (2005). McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a narrow-minded ne’er-do-well whose life changes forever – or, anyway, for what remains of it – after he is diagnosed with what Andy Warhol called “gay cancer”.

Jennifer Garner portrays a concerned physician, while Jared Leto munches the scenery as junkie transvestite Rayon, who becomes Woodroof’s business partner in the “Dallas Buyers Club”, a grassroots enterprise designed to provide AIDS sufferers with a healthier treatment alternative than the big pharmaceutical competition. Woodroof’s drive to prolong his life and combat the establishment’s market stranglehold is fairly compelling, but squeamish viewers are forewarned that the movie contains such tacky attempts at heart-tuggery as the sight of a sick, self-pitying transvestite drooling blood and whining “I don’t wanna die . . .”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dallas Buyers Club is:

9. Anti-Christian. Woodroof dresses as a priest while attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico. The image of an AIDS patient wearing a clerical collar is of course no sartorial accident and works as a barb directed at Catholic moral hypocrisy, so many priests being closeted homosexuals, many of whom are known to have succumbed to AIDS.

8. Anti-drug. Woodruff’s intravenous drug use, along with his inveterate whore-chasing, has put him at greater risk for contracting AIDS. Also, Rayon’s dope addiction only exacerbates his decline.

7. Anti-racist. One of the personal failings Woodroof must overcome is his racism, evidenced by his references to Asians as “chinks” and Saudis as “sand niggers”. As his drug procurement operation goes global, he learns to appreciate the profitability of doing business with foreigners. “I like your style,” he tells a Japanese doctor.

6. Feminist. In addition to overcoming his racism, Woodroof must also come to accept women’s contributions to the modern workforce. “I don’t want a nurse, I want a doctor!” he protests in one early scene.

5. Anti-redneck. The spectacle of a gun-toting “homophobic asshole” and piece of “Texas hick white trash” suffering from AIDS and lashing out in his agony as dignified professional women and minorities look on with contempt is pure political porn for liberals, the quintessence of their wishful thinking.

4. Capitalist. Dallas Buyers Club betrays a left-libertarian streak in its combination of social liberalism and celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit, attempting to illustrate how unfettered markets will serve both the small businessman and consumer. “I say what goes in my body, not you.”

3. Anti-corporatism. The IRS, DEA, and particularly the FDA appear as antagonists in the film, the cronyist footmen of big pharma monopolists looking to squeeze the competition. “Now that’s the shit that’ll rot your insides,” Woodroof avers, examining a package of meat in a grocery store. “What a surprise,” he then adds, “FDA-approved.” The FDA, Dallas Buyers Club alleges, merely functions as big pharma’s glorified street pushers.

2. Pro-gay. Through a business partnership that blossoms into a friendship, Woodroof learns to appreciate Rayon as an individual, and comes to appreciate the general plight of homosexuals as he succumbs to the disease they share. AIDS, as the great sexual-sociopolitical equalizer, almost seems to be the movie’s unsung hero. Demonstrating his transformation from homophobe to humanitarian, Woodroof in one scene grabs his bigoted friend T.J. (Kevin Rankin) and holds him in a headlock until he agrees to shake Rayon’s hand. Homosexuals appear as sensitive and nurturing throughout Dallas Buyers Club.

1. Pro-NWO. “Look at this place,” Woodroof muses, surveying the scene in a bohemian clinic south of the border. “Fuckin’ chinks, homos, herbs, hot nurses. You got a regular New World Order goin’ on here . . .”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past

After an overly busy and action-saturated exposition, alleged pedophiliac ringmaster Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past develops into a passable superhero entertainment, with Logan (Hugh Jackman) venturing back to the seventies to try to stop scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) from developing the adaptive Sentinel robots who pose an existential threat to mutant survival in the future. Highlights include a comedic slow-motion bullet-halting set piece and the climactic confrontation in which Logan and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) gang up on renegade Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Jennifer Lawrence, meanwhile, playing the pivotal role of Mystique, will, depending upon the viewer’s tolerance for fetish garb, either be sexy or repulsive in her scaly blue body stocking and slather of greasy red porn hair.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that X-Men: Days of Future Past is:

4. Anti-family. Asked if he has children, Logan (Hugh Jackman) answers, “Sure as hell hope not.”

3. Anti-corporatist. At the unveiling of the Sentinels, decorations feature Trask insignia melded with elements of the American flag, suggesting a fusion of government and the defense industry.

2. Feminist. The formidable Mystique kicks or otherwise incapacitates dozens of men throughout the film.

1. Crypto-Zionist. Ostensibly antiwar, Days of Future Past shows its neoconservative streak by having the Sentinel raids on the X-Men occur under the threateningly gloomy skies of Russia and China, two countries currently standing in the way of the Jew World Order. Bodies dumped in a pile evoke the famous images of the Holohoax, while Bolivar Trask’s obsession with experimentation on the mutants so as to find a way to eradicate them recalls the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele’s alleged experiments and Hitler’s supposed “Final Solution” of fumigating the world of Jewry.

The Trask Industries logo, with its angular insignia in a circle against a plain field, vaguely suggests a Nazi banner, and the fact that Trask himself is a midget casts race-conscious gentiles and nationalists as small, abnormal men who overcompensate for their inadequacies by pointing their fingers at those who happen to be a little different. Mutants, like the Ashkenazim, are extraordinarily talented infiltrators who pass as members of a majority they despise and to which they consider themselves superior, a step higher on the evolutionary staircase. Mystique, significantly, is a shapeshifter who, in her mission to save her “people”, insinuates herself into the highest levels of politics so as to subvert and neuter human government from within.

X-Men: Days of Future Past also reveals that, while Magneto has been accused of murdering John F. Kennedy (thus accounting for that legendary “magic bullet”), the helmeted hero was actually trying to save Kennedy’s life because – get this – Kennedy himself was a crypto-mutant! Thus, continuing with the Jewish-mutant parallels, the film seeks to exonerate Israel of any connection with the JFK assassination and paint the president as a tragically fallen friend of the Jews. This would all seem to be designed to distract from the intriguing case made by journalist Michael Collins Piper, author of Final Judgment, to the effect that the Mossad had Kennedy killed because he opposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

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.

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.

Maximum Overdrive (1986) ****  Maximum Overdrive is a unique movie in that it was not only written but actually directed by author Stephen King; and, while it may have met with a less than glowing reception from critics and is not the best of the many films of the 1980s to have been inspired by the author’s work, subsequent viewings of Maximum Overdrive can reveal much more to appreciate and consider than might at first be obvious in its tale of a hostile planetary takeover by cars, trucks, radios, and other previously harmless electronic wares.

Even on the first viewing, Maximum Overdrive is a fun, somewhat silly and random speculative adventure, and perhaps a broad satire of man’s fear of technology as a potential Frankenstein’s monster that might turn against him; but further reflection concedes that King is up to more than one might at first imagine. To wit, the whole film can be seen as a commentary on the military-industrial complex and how it and war are driven and validated by America’s consumerism and debilitating reliance on labor-saving devices.

In one scene, a shady-looking young black man (Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito) appears to be seduced and hypnotized by an arcade game that flashes a series of abstract symbols at him: a star, zig-zags (like the stripes on an officer’s sleeve), and a plus sign (cross), indicating how religion and the media dupe young men into mindless stupors to make them subservient to the state and recruit them for the respectable but deceptive video game violence of military service. Christianity receives abuse throughout Maximum Overdrive, particularly through the person of a tawdry, cartoonishly hypocritical Bible salesman (Christopher Murney).

A little military wagon with a mounted machine gun appears as the director of the trucks at one point and leads them in the siege of the filling station, Gas World, a sequence that may seem somewhat dull or inconsequential on the first viewing, but which takes on greater significance as it becomes apparent that this, the need for fuel to power the trucks that deliver our consumer goods, is too often what drives the lust for conquest on this planet.  A blurb at the end credits aliens for the events of the film; but substitute the Bilderberg Group for the aliens and the story of their plot to exterminate the population of Earth with their commandeered “broom” of man’s own technological creation is straight out of Alex Jones’s worst nightmare.

Maximum Overdrive does have its failings.  After a wildly entertaining first forty or forty-five minutes, full of distinctive action set pieces, disgusting humor, and sight gags, the film slumps into a decrescendo and slows as the ensemble cast, headed by young Emilio Estevez (between That Was Then . . . This Is Now and Wisdom) and his tough romantic interest Laura Harrington, take refuge in Gas World’s diner, the Dixie Boy, where they will stay for the remainder of the story.  Enlivening the proceedings throughout, however, are a soundtrack of appropriately electric AC/DC tunes and a colorful set of character actors in the supporting roles.  Apart from the aforementioned Murney, Pat Hingle is nicely slimy as crooked, self-satisfied Dixie Boy proprietor Bubba Hendershot; and Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) and John Short provide even greater comic relief as hick newlyweds Connie and Curtis.

The climactic action sequences, when these finally come, fall short of fulfilling the stunt-packed promise of the zany exposition, a few huge explosions notwithstanding, so that Maximum Overdrive is ultimately a flawed near-classic but still recommendable for watching and occasional rewatching.  Stephen King is commended by Ideological Content Analysis with a respectable 4 out of 5 stars.

Tyler Perry, wearing men’s clothes for a change, plays the titular Detroit police detective in this adequate serial killer thriller.  Cross, along with partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns), comes up against a worthy adversary in a sadistic assassin (Matthew Fox) dubbed “Picasso” for his eccentricity of leaving charcoal drawings as signature clues.  The leads are serviceable, with Fox turning in an intense performance, but the script is uninteresting.  Neither woefully dull nor particularly memorable, Alex Cross is a passable evening’s diversion, but hardly essential action viewing.  It earns 3 out of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Alex Cross is:

12. Anti-corporate/philanthropy-skeptical.  European magnate Monsieur Mercier (Jean Reno), who poses as the industrial savior of Detroit, is actually just a criminal and murderer.

11. Anti-drug.  Mercier’s assistant is a drug addict.

10. State-skeptical/ambivalent.  The police chief (John McGinley) is running for mayor and so speaks in platitudes and thinks only of what will benefit him politically rather than what will protect the citizens.  The federal government, however, receives an endorsement when Cross and Tommy decide to apply for gigs with the FBI.

9. Anti-military/anti-torture.  Cross, going by the killer’s refinement of torture techniques, guesses that Picasso is ex-military.  “Inflicting pain is a crucial part of my true calling,” the killer says later, seeming to validate Cross’s hypothesis.

8. Feminist.  When Tommy surmises from a victim’s lavish lifestyle that the woman must have had a rich man in her life, his tough girlfriend/colleague Monica (Rachel Nichols) objects, “Is that your only idea for how a woman could get money?”  “It was very sexy to be saved by a beautiful woman,” one of the Germans (Werner Daehn) flirts.

7. Pro-police.  With the exception of top brass, policemen are honest and hardworking.

6. Pro-vigilante.  Notwithstanding the above, Cross and Tommy find it necessary to throw out the rulebook and do things their own way, breaking into a station at night and stealing evidence.  Cross understandably has personally motivated vengeance in mind after his wife is killed.

5. Christian.  Cross’s name suggests the special relationship of blacks with God and Christian suffering, and the character is an appropriately spiritual man, retreating to a chapel for meditation after the death of his wife.  Blacks enjoy singing a hymn at a funeral (“I sing because I’m free” – from slavery, presumably, in black-run Detroit).

4. Multiculturalist.  Alex Cross celebrates the contributions to law enforcement of blacks, other minorities, women, and even whites.  The friendship the protagonist shares with partner Tommy Kane handily demonstrates the multiculturalist ideal of color-blind brotherhood.  (Together they eat at McDonald’s, probably worthy of their patronage and of mention in the film because of its progressive 365Black promotion.)  Detroit appears as a mostly orderly and suprisingly Caucasian multicultural city.  Mrs. Cross (Carmen Ejogo) even puts in an endorsement for the city’s post-apocalyptic public schools when she voices reluctance to move because it would mean taking her children out of Detroit’s public institutions of learning.  “I have no idea what the public school system is like in D.C.,” she worries.  (Could it be worse?)  Glimpses of the actual Detroit occur, however, in a few ruined buildings and abandoned theaters like the Michigan Palace, once home to rock bands like Iggy and the Stooges, but now just a picturesque parking garage.  Also, an indication of the city’s real crime problem is given when Tommy says, “Witnesses?  This is Detroit.  Nobody’s sayin’ anything.”

3. Anti-white male.  Apart from Tommy, white men are either dishonest, incompetent, cowardly, rude, or psychotic.  The white male as usual furnishes the profile of America’s typical terrorist threat.  Picasso’s close haircut also reminds viewers to be aware of the undying skinhead menace.  A group of German security guards illustrates the tight-assed, “Ja wohl”-spitting constipation of personality to which whites are prone when left to themselves on whole continents for centuries (and also the inferiority of private security contractors to public authorities like Cross).

2. Pro-family/pro-marriage.  Cross is a model husband and father.

1. Black supremacist.  Alex Cross is the sort of character one only encounters in the movies: the hyper-intelligent, cultured, spiritual, upstanding black citizen, family man, badass, invaluable public servant, and super-sleuth who could probably catch Sherlock Holmes napping on the job.  Alex Cross is the paragon Shaft only dreams of emulating, a character who exists not in any recognizable reality, but solely for the purpose of salving blacks’ insecurities as to what they like to imagine is their superiority in every category of human or animal endeavor.  He inhabits a fantasy world in which black people practice at the piano, play chess, eat in fancy restaurants, and respectfully say, “Yes, Ma’am” to their elders.  Also possessed of Lecter-like superhuman senses that enable him, through faint odors or minute stains, to divine everything his wife has eaten or what errands she has run during her day, Cross is uniquely suited to perfectly, almost psychically, reconstruct crime scenes.  “It’s like working with sixth-graders with you two,” he tells colleagues.  One assumes that his penis is also quite large when he makes a condescending reference to Tommy’s “little chip”.  An establishing shot of a sculpture of the Madonna creates a parallel between Cross’s murdered pregnant wife and the mother of Jesus, hinting that the hero, if not for the evil meddling of his white antagonist, might have fathered a new messiah, which in turn would suggest that Cross, the son-sacrificing black man, is, as Jeremiah Wright would aver, the manifestation of God on Earth.

An opening shot of a drooping American flag signals Compliance‘s relevance to the lugubrious American condition.  This symbolically loaded true crime story begins when Sandra (Ann Dowd), the manager of a fast food restaurant, receives a call from a man (Pat Healy) claiming to be “Officer Daniels” of the local police department.  He informs her that one of her employees, Becky (Dreama Walker), has been accused of stealing money from a patron’s purse and that she is also a person of interest in a broader investigation.  Sandra, under an unusual amount of stress, is eager to comply with the caller’s instructions, no matter how unorthodox these would appear to be.  She complies, for instance, with his wish that Becky should be detained a back room of the restaurant, her belongings searched, and even her clothes removed.  Over the course of the evening “Officer Daniels” instructs Sandra and others to guard and physically and psychologically torture Becky, sometimes meeting with principled resistance on the other end of the line, but, to his immense delight, usually not.

The situations presented in Compliance are absurd and occasionally funny, but more usually disconcerting in reflecting the gullibility of a nation willing to take any figure of putative government or corporate authority at face value as an arbiter of right and wrong and true and false.  “I’m going to need you to address me as ‘sir’ or ‘officer’,” “Officer Daniels” says, and his unwitting dupes comply.  Merely claiming that “this is procedure” or “a standard thing” is sufficient in most cases; but “Officer Daniels” also understands the cowering child (or usefully childish idiot) in people and knows the value of a paternalistic tone when he says, “I don’t really have time to debate it with you, son” or “You need to watch your mouth, son.”  These last items also point to the inconvenience of free speech and dissent to overly ambitious rulers, and just as duplicitous regimes have always sought the hearts and minds of their people, “Officer Daniels” couples his verbal intimidation with flattery, telling a pleased Sandra, for instance, that she is being “very professional” by following orders and that she is “almost like a real cop.”  All the while “Officer Daniels” is nothing but a perverted prank caller.

The cello-and-xylophone score perfectly captures the tragicomically depressing absurdity of a country of docile pawns who consume fast food not just with their mouths, but with their minds as well.  Compliance is about more than a self-contained human resources debacle; it exposes the idiocy of a nation of sheep who believe that the welfare-warfare state and puppet authoritarians like Obama and Romney have their best interests at heart.  A shocking statistic given at the end of the film should offer viewers a salutary serving of food for thought.

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

4. Diversity-skeptical.  A black fast food employee is thoughtlessly foul-mouthed.

3. Anti-corporate.  “Corporate always wants two people for a strip search.”

2. Anti-slut.  Society’s normalization of female depravity makes Becky an easier mark for the more extreme demands made by “Officer Daniels”.

1. State-skeptical.  Like always, they persuade you.

In the future, fast food companies, faced with flagging sales, seek to reestablish their market hegemony through parasitic mind control.  Their ploy works so well in the experimental market of Russia that the nation’s ideal of beauty itself has been manipulated, so that obese replaces svelte as the desired body type.  Only one man, Misha (Ed Stoppard), has the visualized insight to unravel the aggressive marketing’s workings.  He can actually see the balloonlike monkeys riding everybody’s backs, including those of his wife and son.  The phantom swells like a cartoonish erection until the host has satisfied its demand by visiting the fast food restaurant associated with it, resulting in a population of zombie-like junk food addicts.  Misha, a visionary marked from childhood for a special destiny, devotes his life to destroying the fast food market by fighting branding with branding of his own.

Branded clearly sees itself as being somehow highly original in its exposure of how the public’s tastes and perceptions are largely dictated from sinister corporate boardrooms.  Had the films The Stuff, They Live, Happy Hour, and Wag the Dog never been made, Branded might claim some slim excuse to exist.  Coming when it does, however, Branded only pats itself on the back for restating with the addition of computer-generated monsters and even less convincing profundity what every intelligent person in the audience already knows.  What might have worked as a twenty-minute satirical short film ends up overstaying its welcome by about eighty minutes, with the vague emotional flatness of Misha’s character and his relationship with wife Leelee Sobieski hardly helping to humanize what amounts to a wearying feature-length joke.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Branded is:

6. Anti-police.  Officers beat Misha unnecessarily as they arrest him.

5. Anti-Christian.  Misha, in a scene played for humor, turns to God only after being tortured by a debt collector.

4. Anti-family, with no positive examples.

3. Statist.  Misha ludicrously expects his government to outlaw all advertising – and it does!  That Branded sees government as an antidote to brainwashing or as somehow removed from the world of marketing is indicative of its simplistic naievety.  Freedom of expression in this film is transformed into something predatory that must be stamped out to preserve human dignity.

2. Anti-obesity.  Branded purports to reveal a nightmarish future world in which most people are fat, neglecting to notice that this is the society in which viewers already live.

1. Anti-corporatism (i.e., pro-yawn).  Rather than providing you with products you actually want, McDonald’s et al, Branded would have you believe, have been brainwashing you all these years.

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