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Dragged Across Concrete

S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) is back with a solid and satisfyingly rough follow-up to the jaw-dropping Brawl in Cell Block 99, reuniting with Vince Vaughn and teaming him up with Mel Gibson in a literally gut-ripping, downbeat buddy cop brutalizer. Seasoned detective Brett Ridgeman (Gibson) and partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vaughn) are caught on video using excessive force in the apprehension of a Hispanic drug dealer, creating a scandal for their police department, and get suspended without pay by their superior (Don Johnson). Both men need money – Lurasetti because he plans to propose marriage to his girlfriend, and Ridgeman because his daughter is no longer safe in their ghettoized neighborhood and the family needs to get out. At the extent of his tether, Ridgeman hatches a half-baked plan to rip off a heroin dealer that winds up with him and his partner pitted against a gang of formidable paramilitary bank heisters. A career highlight for Gibson equal to his over-the-hill hero roles in Edge of Darkness and Blood Father, and yet another impressive entry in Vaughn’s growing résumé of scary tough guy characters after True Detective and Brawl in Cell Block 99.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dragged Across Concrete is:

8. Anti-drug. Tory Kittles plays ex-con Henry Johns, whose stint in prison illustrates a very possible outcome for a dealer. His mother, a heroin addict, has turned to prostitution. It is also mentioned that the dealer Ridgeman mistreats has been selling drugs to children, undermining any potential audience sympathy for the criminal.

7. Ableist! Lurasetti compares a hearing-impaired woman’s speech to a dolphin’s.

6. Anti-Semitic! Writer-director Zahler, as Soiled Sinema’s Ty E. puts it, is an artist who seems to have “transcended his Jewishness”, which may account for the brief and harmless but stereotype-oozing portrayal of the friendly jeweler Feinbaum, who says his wife has two brothers who are therapists and three sisters who are lawyers.

feinbaum

5. Homophobic! Henry dismisses his “cocksuckin’ father” as “a yesterday who ain’t worth words.” Disapprovingly, Ridgeman fails to see “much of a difference these days” between men and women, and also mocks Lurasetti’s “gay hair shit” disguise.

4. Media-critical. Chief Lieutenant Calvert (Johnson) derides the anti-police bias of “the entertainment industry formally known as ‘the news’”, which “needs villains” and fabricates them if necessary.

3. Natalist, i.e., sexist! Unexpectedly, the movie features a tender (albeit offbeat) portrait of a new mother, Kelly Summer (Jennifer Carpenter), desperately trying to avoid going back to work after using up her maternity leave. The necessity of keeping a job seems cruel and absurd now that she has a baby. Her proper place, she realizes, is at home with her child, and her boss, Mr. Edmington (Fred Melamed) describes her as a “radiant vision of maternity”. The section of Dragged Across Concrete that follows Kelly is even more affecting on a second viewing.

2. Class-conscious. “My job [in a bank] is so stupid,” Kelly laments. “I go there and I sell chunks of my life for a paycheck so that rich people I’ve never even met can put money in places I’ve never even seen.” Henry’s little brother Ethan, meanwhile, sees big game hunting as “rich white people shit”. There is also the suggestion that those with wealth have the means to elude the law, as Ridgeman at some point in the past allowed the son of businessman Friedrich (Udo Kier) to escape punishment for an unnamed crime in exchange for a future favor from the well-connected father. Ridgeman no longer believes in a meritocratic American dream. “I don’t politick and I don’t change with the times and turns that that shit’s more important than good, honest work,” he tells his partner, determining: “We have the skills and the right to acquire proper compensation” for thankless years of public service.

1.Race-realist – with exceptions. “They’re so cute before they get big,” says Ridgeman’s daughter Sara (Jordyn Ashley Olson) – ostensibly with reference to lion cubs, but subtextually referring to the black boys who harass her when she walks home from school. “This fucking neighborhood, it just keeps getting worse and worse,” frets Mrs. Ridgeman (Laurie Holden). “You know I never thought I was a racist before living in this area. I’m about as liberal as any ex-cop could ever be, but now,” she demands, “we really need to move” or else, “someday, you and me,” she tells her husband, “we are in a hospital room with our daughter talking to a rape counselor.”

Ridgeman and his partner are both depicted as casual racists. “I’m not racist,” Lurasetti jokes: “Every Martin Luther King Day I order a cup of dark roast.” In a twenty-first century world in which “digital eyes are everywhere”, however, old-school law-and-order enforcers like Ridgeman and Lurasetti are living on borrowed time. “Like cell phones, and just as annoying, politics are everywhere,” Calvert observes. “Being branded a racist in today’s public forum is like being accused of communism in the fifties. Whether it’s a possibly offensive remark made in a private phone call or the indelicate treatment of a minority who sells drugs to children […] It’s bullshit – but it’s reality.”

Softening Dragged Across Concrete’s racial edge is the presence of Henry, the conspicuous specimen of Africanus cinematicus played by Tory Kittles. This ghetto thug with the soul of a poet is given to saying things like, “Before I consider that kind of vocation, I need to get myself acclimated” and is at all times depicted as being more astute than those around him. His little brother Ethan, too, is portrayed as an underprivileged but bright lad of great potential. The case can be made that Dragged Across Concrete makes examples of its most prominent bigots by punishing them while rewarding Henry in the end. Ridgeman, who has refused to change with the times, is taught the important lesson that he “should have trusted a nigger.”

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!

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inside-out

Pixar puts the spotlight on the squabbling, anthropomorphized emotions inside an eleven-year-old girl’s head in Inside Out, with Amy Poehler voicing Joy, the positive force who has a challenge in reining in the Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a girl whose family moves to San Francisco, leaving her feeling alone without her friends back in Minnesota. The lightning-paced obnoxiousness of the action should please children, but the briefly glimpsed dream image of a bisected dog may be disturbing to younger viewers, while the death of Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind) is likely to leave them feeling bummed.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Inside Out is:

4. Pro-family, perpetuating heteronormative tyranny.

3. Green. Riley’s eco-conscious mother is eager to recycle.

2. Pro-miscegenation. Riley’s mother, briefly irritated with her husband, muses, “For this, we gave up that Brazilian helicopter pilot?”

1. Homophobic tinfoil! “Congratulations, San Francisco! You’ve ruined pizza!” scolds Riley’s Anger in a moment only likely to fuel the heterofascist hate of the #Pizzagate conspiracy theory nerds by connecting homosexuality with pedophilia. “What kind of a pizza place only serves one kind of pizza?” Riley’s mother asks. “Must be a San Francisco thing,” she stereotypes.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

cabin-fever-poster

This pointless reboot of the Cabin Fever franchise serves no purpose whatsoever apart from making a few cruddy shekels, as very little of value has changed since the original. Furthermore, most of the offbeat humor that was present in the first film is disappointingly missing from this comparatively straight-faced and innocuous remake. Most disappointingly, Deputy Winston, the inscrutable party guy played by Giuseppe Andrews in the 2002 version has been replaced by a scar-faced bisexual deputy played by Louise Linton. Curiously, like the first film, Cabin Fever ’16 also fails to exploit the comedic potential latent in the suggested premise of whether or not a character could survive a horror movie while only subsisting on beer. The leg-shaving scene is perhaps more horrific than in Eli Roth’s original; but, throw in a generic cast and some unappealing tattoos on one of the women, and what the viewer has is a passable but decidedly underachieving horror outing.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Cabin Fever is:

4. Luddite! One vacationer mistakes his video game experience for “years of training” for the handling of a firearm. Karen (Gage Golightly), preoccupied by her cell phone, has to be reminded to enjoy the outdoors.

3. Anti-gay, furnishing publicity for an abnormal lifestyle but presenting a comically grotesque example of a lesbian in law enforcement.

2. Anti-redneck (i.e., anti-white), offering the typically creepy depictions of backwoods European-Americans. The film fails to reference any other races’ parasitic roles in the world economy, but does refer to “hillbilly vampires”. One rustic local is dubbed “Deliverance”. A faded American flag visible at the rednecks’ dilapidated gas station would seem to connect white trash with the idea of America’s decline – possibly in connection with supposed wars for oil.

1. Anti-gun. Bert (Dustin Ingram), the least mature of the vacationers, brings an “assault rifle” and accidentally shoots a man.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY EIGHT

A-Walk-Among-the-Tombstones-Poster

As downbeat and depressing as its title suggests, A Walk Among the Tombstones has cop-turned-private-investigator Liam Neeson hired by drug dealer Dan Stevens to track down the sadistic kidnappers who took his money and dismembered his wife. In a development only a Jew could cook up, Neeson commissions a homeless but literate black teen computer whiz, vegetarian, and aspiring detective (Brian “Astro” Bradley) to help him with the case.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is one of those movies that thinks itself edgy for taking its protagonist down the dirty alleyways of the real and into America’s gritty heart of darkness – the netherworld of serial killers, drug dealers, and street-wise African-American youths with hearts of gold and brains bristling with fallow potential. Typical of the film’s pretension are the intercutting of a graveyard shootout with audio from an AA meeting, a pointless reveal of the still-standing World Trade Center at the end, and the closing credits choice of a goofily earnest female vocal rendition of Soundgarden’s grunge hit “Black Hole Sun”.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Walk Among the Tombstones is:

6. Anti-Christian. The drug dealer who hires Neeson is named Kenny Kristo (i.e., Christ) and another dealer (Sebastian Roché) has a cross tattoo on his hand, the subversive meaning of these two associations being that Christianity is like peddled dope.

5. Pro-miscegenation, featuring a relationship between a mestizo and a blonde. “I gather it was a mongrel,” one character says of a canine, adding, “So many of us are.”

4. Anti-gay. The killers, it is insinuated, may be homosexuals.

3. Anti-drug. Traffickers, while portrayed with some sympathy, nonetheless endanger their families with their work, which also brings them under the scrutiny of the DEA. Neeson gives up drinking and joins AA after making a terrible mistake under the influence of alcohol.

2. Anti-gun. Set in 1999, the film shows Neeson reading a newspaper with headline “Gun Sales Rise on News of Y2K”. The implication is that gun owners are doofuses moved by paranoid patriot propaganda and conspiracy theories. When Neeson’s sidekick finds a gun, the hero advises him that he might as well go ahead and blow his head off with it, since that will be the inevitable outcome of a life of amateur pistol-packing. Neeson quit the NYPD after accidentally shooting a girl.

1. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). In a prologue set in 1991, Neeson calls his partner a “spic”. Though the character never makes an explicit disavowal of racist bigotry, it is implied in the older, wiser Neeson’s tutelage and, it is suggested at the end, adoption of his black sidekick.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Have shopping to do and want to support icareviews? The author receives a modest commission on Amazon purchases made through this link: http://amzn.to/20DV0Ax

canyons poster

Paul Schrader (Hardcore; Cat People) delivers a characteristically decadent study with this, his eighteenth film as a director. Scripted by Bret Easton Ellis of Less Than Zero and American Psycho fame, The Canyons is at once tawdry, elegant, and meanspirited, and one of the most notable films of the year.

An extremely frank narrative revolves around repulsively spoiled trust fund wastrel Christian (James Deen), who whiles away his days corrupting the people around him and manipulating them like so many toys. So as to satisfy his father that he has an occupation, he dabbles in movies as a producer, which brings him into indifferent contact with handsome, aspiring actor Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk). Christian professes to like to keep his openly open marriage with slut wife Tara (Lindsay Lohan) comfortably “loose” and “complicated”, but finds more complication than he probably desires when he discovers that seemingly wholesome Ryan has a previous history with Tara.

A constant doom hangs over The Canyons, its title both geographically and thematically descriptive of this sun-baked but gloomy experience. Punctuating the film are images of the empty marquees and ruined interiors of once-glorious, now abandoned movie theaters serving at once as commentary on an industry and on the characters’ inner desolation. Hollywood’s stories about itself, from Sunset Boulevard, In a Lonely Place, and The Bad and the Beautiful through Day of the Locust, The Player, and Hollywoodland, have tended to be downbeat affairs, and The Canyons continues in that tradition – less gothically or spectacularly, perhaps, than the more grotesque entries in the genre, but no less despairing by any measure.

Classy in execution if totally tacky in subject matter, The Canyons is well worth seeking out. James Deen is perfectly detestable as Christian, Nolan Funk’s male beauty is appropriately vapid, and luscious but fading Lindsay Lohan is exquisitely cast as jaded but sympathetic hussy Tara.

4.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Canyons is:

5. Anti-drug. “Why are you drinking tequila at noon?” The danger of date rape drugs receives mention.

4. Anti-gay. Homosexuality appears as a predatory symptom of personal and cultural decadence.

3. Class-conscious. Inherited, unearned wealth like Christian’s gives rise to degeneracy and arrogance.

2. Technology-skeptical. Y appears as a generation rotten in inception and already gone to seed, at once precocious and empty-headed, and incapable of conversing over drinks without texting or sexting simultaneously. One suspects that Schrader holds handheld and streaming technology to be at least partly to blame for the murder of those stately old movie houses. Technology, too, has contributed to these young ones’ flippancy with regard to sexual morality. “Nobody has a private life anymore” and “We’re all actors, aren’t we?” Identity theft also looms as a threat in the world of online everything.

1. Crypto-traditionalist/anti-slut. For all its blatant depravity, male frontal nudity, and other marks of deceptively casual nihilism, The Canyons views its characters through a detached but quietly tragic, judgmental, and conservative lens. “I’m just sick of the old school shit about fuckin’ propriety, etiquette, and all that crap [. . .] It’s like when you’re at your family dinner on Sunday and everyone’s just lying, lying . . .” Christian explains – and he and his peers suffer to the degree that they deviate from the outmoded norms. Christian’s name speaks for itself as a sarcastic commentary on an utterly godless generation given to hedonistic materialism and soulless egoism. The only thing missing from The Canyons is the compounded case of venereal pestilence these little horrors would (hopefully) catch if they lived as depicted for very long.

Java Heat poster

This innocuous fix of action exotica has renegade American counterterrorism agent Jake Wilde (obnoxiously handsome model type Kellan Lutz) sojourning in Indonesia in his hunt for the culprit in a string of international terrorist bombings. In a scenario reminiscent of Red Heat and The Kingdom, the irreverent, charmingly ugly American is teamed as an action odd couple with totally serious Indonesian counterpart Lieutenant Hashim (Ario Bayu). Naturally, this far-fetched pairing allows for corny intercultural bonding and mutual respect to develop as the two must set aside their differences if they are to rescue an abducted sultana (Atiqah Hosiholan) and save Lieutenant Hashim’s family from capitalo-terrorist Malik (Mickey Rourke, who tops himself for sleazy weirdness). Java Heat milks its colorful Indonesian locations to pleasing effect, lending to every scene a degree of novelty, and never slows down long enough to be less than amusing.

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

10. Antiwar. Wilde’s younger brother, who joined the military to follow admiringly in his footsteps, is a casualty of the War on Terror.

9. Feminist. A female university student suggests that the sultana’s accession to the throne has been sabotaged for sexist reasons.

8. Anti-slut. Hookers are untrustworthy creatures. Their lifestyle is one of degradation, torture, and personal ruin.

7. Anti-drug. A nightclub slut slips a mickey into Wilde’s drink.

6. Anti-gay. Malik is a pederast. Wilde rebuffs the offer of ladyboy companionship.

5. State-skeptical/media-critical. A self-aggrandizing general plays to the media and stages a raid for publicity. News reports unjustly vilify Lieutenant Hashim.

4. Anti-capitalistic. Behind the highly publicized bogeymen of the War on Terror lies a cynical profit motive for conflict. Malik is the personification of western exploitation of Third World countries.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Wilde is initially a suspect in what is believed to have been the sultana’s death because he flirted with her at a royal soiree. He also has encounters with Indonesian hooker/masseuse types.

2. Pro-family. Wilde and Hashim, a model father, are both motivated by family-oriented grievances.

1. Multiculturalist. “We’re not all terrorists.” Like The Kingdom, Java Heat is at great pains to persuade western viewers that not all Muslims are evil and violent. Toward this end, the film presents an idyllic portrait of Lieutenant Hashim’s happy domestic existence and and his family’s hospitality. As always, the multicultural experience is a humbling one for the Caucasian and particularly for the American, who discovers that he is not so exceptional. “Americans. You are like children.” To Indonesians, an American is only a “bule dog”, or stupid white person. “From now on, we play by my rules. Java rules,” Hashim informs Wilde after getting the best of him in a physical altercation. Hashim embodies the film’s attempt to show that, along with the legendary corruption, the Third World also boasts truly devoted civil servants, dispelling Wilde’s colleague’s assertion that, “They’re all dirty in that country.” Indonesia, though plagued by terrorism, is depicted as representing a potentially peaceful realization of a multicultural society, with Hashim and a Christian colleague on the police force interacting as cultural equals.

Those attracted by top-billed Danny Trejo, who plays a priest named Father Connely [sic], will be disappointed to learn that the haggard actor dies in the opening scene of this oddball Christian horror film. Likewise, Eric Roberts, the other celebrity name in the cast, has only a smallish role as the sinister Father Tollman. Whether or not The Cloth offers any other inducements will be a matter mainly of the individual viewer’s interest in religion, exorcism, and copious low-grade CGI.

Following the deaths of his parents and his disillusionment at the acquittal of a murderous drunk driver, young Jason (Kyler Willett) would be content to spend his life in hedonistic abandon, clubbing, drinking, and bagging chicks; but Father Diekman (Lassiter Holmes) has other plans for the lad. Diekman belongs to a secret order of special ops clergy, The Cloth, that wages Hellboyish war on the unholy through exorcism and spiritualized gunplay. Jason, though reluctant to join at first, becomes a convert when confronted with demons firsthand. Soon, with the salutary example of sexy but modest Laurel (Perla Rodriguez) and gunsmith Helix (Cameron White) to guide him, Jason is utilizing a silly array of Christian weaponry like holy water grenades, armor forged from materials in the Ark of the Covenant, and corny CGI firepower to dispatch the Devil’s minions.

Kyler Willett is handsome and likable enough as smart aleck hero Jason, but Lassiter Holmes, true to his name, tends rather too much toward lassitude as the boring Father Diekman, an uninspiring mentor to say the least. Rodriguez gets a lot of mileage from coyly brushing the hair from her eyes, and White lends just the right mix of class and kitsch with his English accent and tacky Christian t-shirts that say things like, “Exorcise regularly.” The dialogue does sometimes leave these actors in the lurch, however, and never rises above the mildly amusing level of, “That’s holy water – bitch.”

More damaging than any shortcomings of casting, however, are the filmmakers’ insistence on bringing to the screen effects-reliant phantasmagorias that are simply beyond the means of such a limited budget. The action sequences, too, are sometimes overly abrupt and insufficiently covered. The Cloth, consequently, is about as scary as the cover of the Louvin Brothers’ album Satan Is Real. Those interested in studying or actualizing the cavernous blackness of the Catholic imagination would do better to turn to the philosophical horrors of William Peter Blatty, The Ninth Configuration and Exorcist III, which rely on depth of atmosphere and the weight of ideas rather than special effects to keep audiences alert and entertained.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Cloth is:

11. Anti-state. As an unjust court decision demonstrates, justice is to be had not through secular law, but through the arms of a militant Church.

10. Anti-capitalistic. A priest taking diabolical bribes is unwilling to assist a poor parishioner whose contribution is understandably small. This venal villain is repaid handsomely when coins pour from his mouth in a torrent.

9. Pro-life. Jason’s father, Diekman relates, resisted the counsel to “terminate” Laurel’s life when she was possessed and instead chose to see the potential for good in her.

8. Anti-drug. Drinking and driving means accidents. Jason, a drinker at the beginning of the film, later fills his hip flask with holy water. The Devil’s possessed snort lines of cocaine.

7. Multiculturalist. Anglos and Hispanics work together more than once. “The very basis of our beliefs stems from the arrival of the Apostles from such places as Jerusalem, Africa, and even Asia.” (cf. no. 3)

6. Pro-gun. One gun owner standing in the way of the Cloth’s mission brandishes his weapon threateningly, but firearms are for the most part represented positively as indispensable implements of the Lord’s work.

5. Miscegenation-ambivalent. Jason and white-enough Hispanic cutie Laurel walk away hand-in-hand at the end, but interracial pairings of spicier stuff are strictly the province of the Devil.

4. Anti-slut/anti-gay. Good girl Laurel represents sexual modesty charmingly. Laurel, initially rejecting Jason’s advances, tells him, “My beliefs come before my own personal desires.” Fornicators are more than once destroyed by demonic power or disfigured. Cohabitation is also discouraged, as Jason’s devilish ex-girlfriend leaves an odor of sulfur in his apartment. The Devil’s hos, naturally, are promiscuous lesbos. The Cloth would also appear to frown on tattoos.

3. Racist! Clearly self-loathing black writer-director Justin Price casts himself as the demon Kasdeyah, Satan’s emissary on Earth. Minorities are disproportionately represented among the possessed (cf. no. 7).

2. Traditionalist/pro-family. Jason, though he has long resented and misunderstood his father, comes to follow in his footsteps both professionally and spiritually.

1. Christian and specifically Catholic. Latin mumbo jumbo works! Laurel, explaining away the occasional bad apple in the clergy, claims, “There’s no such thing as corruption in the Church, Jason. The only Church that has ever existed lies within.”

Michael Bay is a filmmaker famous for his slick style-over-substance approach to the medium, and in Pain and Gain, a vibrant, blackly humorous meditation on the American dream by way of an injection of style steroids gouged straight into the audience’s eyeballs, the Bay formula pays entertainment dividends.  Mark Wahlberg plays Danny Lugo, an ambitious bodybuilder with an unhealthy fixation on self-improvement.  He claims to approve of the meritocracy that has made America great, but unfortunately finds exemplars of Americanism in figures like Michael Corleone and Tony Montana.  Consequently, he sees crime and not legitimate business success as the most promising road to riches, and recruits fellow bodybuilders Paul (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian (Anthony Mackie) to kidnap oily Schlotzky’s proprietor Victor Kershaw (Monk‘s Tony Shalhoub) in the hope of getting him to sign over to them his home and all of his possessions.

Mark Wahlberg is intense as musclebound loser Danny Lugo, and Dwayne Johnson, who demonstrated a knack for comedy even as a professional wrestler, here delivers a hilarious performance to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger’s versatility as an action hero equally adept at goofiness.  As with much of Tarantino’s work, Bay’s film constantly runs the dangerous risk of glorifying or trivializing its subject matter by making its criminals such funny and charismatic characters.  The misadventures of Wahlberg and company are so exciting, fun, and involving that someone could almost forget that these likable bunglers, for all their charm, are really just murderers and thieves.  In the end, however, those who do wrong are punished in this grotesque and shockingly true crime story based on events that occurred in Miami in the mid-90s.  The use of period-faithful tunes from C+C Music Factory, Bon Jovi, and Coolio give an added nostalgic kick to this punchy, pleasantly gross, and perfectly edited dark comedy.

4.5 of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Pain and Gain is:

11. Anti-gay.  Paul, seeing a warehouse full of gay sex toys, expresses discomfort with “homo stuff”.  He deals viciously with a gay come-on (see no. 4).  Danny makes a pejorative reference to “pickle-licking”.

10. Arguably anti-Semitic.  The oily, irascible Kershaw’s Star of David pendant hangs conspicuously as he prattles and makes a sleazy annoyance of himself at the gym.

9. Gun-ambivalent.  Men with criminal records have no difficulty buying weapons from an effeminate and masochistic gun dealer (and Stryper fan) who enjoys being stunned with a taser.  A Confederate flag hanging in his store is probably intended for this film’s purposes to associate gun ownership not with liberty, but with racism.  A woman attempts unsuccessfully to defend herself in her home with a gun.

8. Obesity-ambivalent.  As in Pitch Perfect, Rebel Wilson plays the shameless tubby sexpot.  Other tubs of lard are featured in the film strictly for gross-out humor and audience derision, however.

7. Misogynistic.  Apart from one character, women are in the main represented in Pain and Gain as sluts and slobs.

6. State-skeptical.  Miami police are at first uninterested in investigating Kershaw’s story of how he was kidnapped and dispossessed, citing his Colombian origins as cause for skepticism.  They later admit their mistake.

5. Anti-drug.  Steroids render Adrian impotent.  Paul blows his cut of the loot on cocaine and starts to lose what limited wits he has.

4. Anti-Christian.  Paul’s religious beliefs, which vie with his cocaine problem for possession of his soul, make him susceptible to manipulation.  His professions of Christian devotion constantly clash with his criminal projects and outbursts of violent temper.  Furthermore, the judgmental attitude he derives from his faith finds expression in his belief that he might cure Kershaw of his Judaism.  A homosexual Catholic priest compliments Paul’s physique and tries to put the moves on him.

3. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Adrian, a black man, marries Robin (Wilson), a fat white woman, who recounts at their wedding how her racist grandfather had warned her against black men.  (Ironically, the grandfather’s advice proves to have been valid at least in Adrian’s case.)  Nasty interracial dancing disgraces the screen.  Kershaw, half Colombian and half Jewish, likes Cuban women.

2. Immigration-ambivalent.  Victor Kershaw is the old type of coarse but fiercely entrepreneurial immigrant who through his own talent and efforts has become wealthy.  Two Slav women are depicted as oversexed ditzes.  The fact that one of these entered the country illegally through Mexico highlights America’s border insecurity.

1. Capitalist.  The unsung protagonist of Pain and Gain is Kershaw, the self-made man who, while less handsome and likable than his victimizers, is in the right in seeking lawful revenge against Lugo and his collaborators.  Lugo believes in the American dream and understands that meritocracy plays a role in this; but like others who would redistribute wealth, he is motivated by envy and spite.  This derives from his mistaken notion that all people are equal at birth, the implication of which belief for his type of mentality is that unequal distribution of wealth must be some kind of injustice if two people’s apparently equal origins and efforts result in inconveniently unequal outcomes.  Ed Harris represents the private sector positively as a private investigator who comes to Kershaw’s aid when police fail to act on his client’s allegations.

[UPDATE (8/14/13): A Christian YouTuber offers his disapproving observations on Pain and Gain‘s detrimental cultural significance here.]

Mia, a boring heroin addict (Fun Size‘s miscegenating tramp Jane Levy), is accompanied by her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and three other generic and foul-mouthed twentysomething friends to a remote cabin where they plan to support her as she attempts to kick the habit by going cold turkey.  Unfortunately, waiting for them down in the cellar is a creepy satanic textbook bound in human flesh, which one of the the dummies (Lou Taylor Pucci, looking like a live action Mr. Van Driessen) naturally opens and reads aloud, unleashing a gaggle of nasty beings that proceed to possess most of them in turn.

Evil Dead, as one might expect, is a more polished but less interesting film than its 1982 forebear.  Gone are the ratty, organic camera work and the distinctive claymation-style effects.  Gone, too, is most of the dark humor, as only the blackest of black sensibilities is likely to find anything funny about this new version.  No one can fault this Evil Dead for failing to deliver the jolts and gore, however, as buckets of the stuff are sloshed left, right, down, and onto the ceiling before the movie is over.  Superfluous more than actually bad, Evil Dead lacks the rugged individualism of the original, but should satisfy even the most jaded gorehounds in the audience.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Evil Dead is:

6. Multiculturalist.  A token character of color (Jessica Lucas) has been added to the cast of demon fodder for this remake – two if white Hispanic Fernandez counts.

5. Gun-ambivalent.  Mia warns that no one should ever have touched the articles brought up from the cabin’s basement – among which are a shotgun and shells.  One character falls prey to a demon as a result of reaching for the gun, but the weapon also comes in handy toward the end.

4. Anti-family.  In the film’s opening scene, a father burns his possessed daughter alive and shoots her in the head to save her soul.  David spends most of the film coping with his afflicted sister, his affection for her being a hindrance rather than an asset.  His insane mother is waiting for him in Hell.

3. Anti-gay.  Demonic attack more than once takes the form of a slimy lesbian come-on.

2. Christian, sort of.  Like The Collection, Evil Dead is rife with the sadomasochistic Christian iconography of spilled blood, bodies transfixed with nails, and spiritual purification by fire and torture.  Evil Dead is certain to tingle the spines of the superstitious among its viewers, striking the fear of the unholy into them.  (See also no. 4)

1. Anti-drug.  Whereas Ash (Bruce Campbell) of the first film must rise from wimpdom and assert his manhood against what can only be described as a pack of demonically PMS-possessed college bitches, David in the new Evil Dead faces off against an allegorical type of demonic possession that most notably parallels or expresses his sister’s drug addiction.

deer crossing

A scabrous, wilfully unpleasant film, Deer Crossing wallows in the worst that humanity has to offer.  Perhaps best described as Bad Day at Black Rock meets I Spit on Your Grave, Christian Jude Grillo’s paranoid death trip into the redneck post-apocalypse that constitutes the U.S.A. outside New York, L.A., and Chicago (at least in the minds of those who live in New York, L.A., and Chicago) is a marginally recommendable film for one outstanding reason: K.J. Linhein’s Zeus-like portrayal of the granddaddy of all sadistic white trash antagonists, Santa-bearded superhick Lukas Walton.

So over-the-top it has to be seen by any admirer of things ludicrously compelling, the characterization dares to evoke what foul thing might have been spawned the night Dan Haggerty got drunk, hogtied Wilford Brimley, pumped him full of heroin, and had himself a high old time.  Lukas is basically Democrats’ idea of the typical Republican: a hulking, hairy, overalls-clad figure from distant antiquity who licks his chops at the thought of oppressing women and children and runs amuck in benighted cultural wastelands like Texas and Alabama; a gun-toting rapist and hater of all humanity, but especially African-Americans, and who will destroy us all if he/it is not stopped.

Deer Crossing takes up with old Lukas after he captures and reconditions city mother Maggie Chancelor (Laura L. Cottrel) and her young son Cole (Kevin Fennell) as the playthings of his inscrutable, primitive whims after they hit a deer on the highway and fatefully crash their car in Lukas’s neck of Deliveranceland.  Eight years will pass before the father, Dr. Chancelor (Warren Hemenway), receives evidence that his missing wife and child may still be alive.  If they are, does he want to know?  If so, his son will have lived more than half of his life in a milieu altogether removed that of Dr. Chancelor.

Is Deer Crossing a contribution to the environment vs. genetics debate or just a greasy middle finger directed at every cowboy hat in sight?  At times the film seems deadly serious; but then Lukas Walton will lope into view and elicit a laugh with his hillbilly hijinks.  The exaggerated quality of the characters and situations is constantly at odds with what seems to be Deer Crossing‘s desire to be taken in earnest.  Sunless, despairing, and silly, but also entertaining, the film is a kind of One-Eyed Jack whose belches and mumbled obscenities invite interpretation.

Christopher Mann, who stars as Detective Derrick Stanswood, seems comfortable in the role of the black man hated because he thrives.  Pinhead himself, Hellraiser‘s Doug Bradley, appears as Sheriff Lock, who – odd for a rural Pennsylvania lawman – sports a futilely wrestled British accent.  Among the other locals are callous cowboy-hat-and-eyepatch-wearing homosexual racketeer Randy (Tom Detrik) and drug-peddling madam and hairdresser Gail (Jennifer Butler).  Ernie Hudson, meanwhile, collects a paycheck by showing up in a couple of scenes as Captain Bailey.

3.5 probably overly generous stars of a possible 5.  Only the most tenebrous sense of humor is likely to endure, let alone enjoy, Grillo’s study.  Ideological Content Analysis, meanwhile, indicates that Deer Crossing is:

7. Anti-Christian.  A cross is visible on a sweaty redneck’s tacky shirt as he sodomizes a male prostitute.

6. Anti-drug.  Lukas keeps Maggie doped so he can have fun with her.  Sheriff Lock is an addict.

5. Anti-marriage.  If your spouse becomes a vegetable, it’s just a depressing hassle.  Better is when they go missing, particularly if there’s a mistress waiting in the hospital wings to become wife #2.

4. Anti-gay.  Because sodomy in the world of this film is the province of sexually inadequate white males and self-loathing backwoods hicks, it is evil and a symptom of moral rot.

3. Black supremacist.  If not for competent cops like Detective Stanswood and Captain Bailey, police departments across the country would be run by goofy, giggly white imbeciles like Detective Kushman (Phil Eichinger).

2. Animal rights militant.  Maggie should have watched the road and never hit that deer.  Her ordeal is her punishment, nature’s manifest wrath in hillbilly form for the sacrificial albatross.  Rural hunting traditions are transformed into the pointless stabbing of a rabbit trapped in a box.

1. Anti-white male/anti-redneck.  Deer Crossing admonishes city-dwellers that, not far outside their small pockets of civilization are seas of woods infested with “inbred, mullet-wearing motherfuckers”.

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