Archives for posts with tag: baseball

Monsters and Men

If someone knew nothing about life on earth, and gleaned all they knew about the New York Police Department from watching Reinaldo Marcus Green’s bitch-burn-downer Monsters and Men – or, as I am dubbing it, Dindus and Dems – that viewer could hardly be blamed for believing that the NYPD exists primarily for the purpose of persecuting innocent people of color. The film is a bit reminiscent of Paul Haggis’s Crash (2004), but updated for the angrier decade of hands-up-don’t-shoot hoaxery. In a story inspired by the death of Eric Garner, a racist white police officer shoots a po innocent brotha jus tryna sell some loosies on the corner – and witness Manny (Anthony Ramos) must now decide whether to keep his head down to protect his family or release his camera phone footage to the internet and risk the repercussions. In another of its threads, Dindus and Dems traces the turmoil experienced by aspiring baseball star Zyrick (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) who, after experiencing police harassment, finds himself attracted to a troublemaking BLM-style organization despite the expectations of his more conservative father. Thirdly, Dindus and Dems follows black police officer Dennis (John David Washington, who has inherited father Denzel’s voice), who finds himself torn between his loyalty toward the force, his firsthand knowledge of discriminatory policing, and his fellow blacks’ perception of him as a race traitor. It’s worthwhile to watch trash like this once in a while, if only to see just how far removed from reality liberals’ understandings of race relations are to the extent that they take their cues from corporate media messaging – and, as Dindus and Dems makes abundantly clear, we appear to be inhabiting entirely different planets.

2 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dindus and Dems is:

5. Anti-drug. After being stopped and searched by police officers, Zyrick goes home and flushes a packet of weed down the toilet, presumably because he realizes the trouble he would have been in had the police found the pretext to arrest him. Drug use is also mentioned as a potential barrier to professional athletic success.

4. Pro-AIDS. The community organizing horde that Zyrick joins focuses on black grievances but also advocates for “trans women”.

3. Pro-family. Dindus and Dems presents more than one example of caring fathers. As Zyrick’s trajectory illustrates, however, fathers do not possess ultimate moral authority and are subject to rebellion.

2. Anti-capitalistic – but only disingenuously so. “Look around. Just turn on the TV,” insists a black street corner poetess. “KKK walkin’ ‘round here free. No white sheets. White shirts and ties, all lies. Wall Street lookin’ far too familiar like the cotton fields of Virginia,” she conjures, equating the world of finance with southern plantation culture – rather than, say, kibbutzim. Wall Street would look “far too familiar” to writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green, who, according to Filmmaker Magazine, slaved “for five years as a director of talent acquisitions in diversity on Wall Street.”

1.Woke. Dindus and Dems is set in the “tight-knit” Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which also served as the setting for Spike Lee’s similarly provocative but rather more honest Do the Right Thing (1989). Ironically, this is also the neighborhood where police officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos were murdered “execution-style” in their patrol car by angry black psycho Ismaayil Brinsley in 2014. As Dindus and Dems would have it, though, it is innocent black men just trying to get home from baseball practice or cruise around listening to Al Green who are hunted by Nazi cops with impunity. “You got a hoodie on, for chrissake,” Zyrick’s father objects before his son heads downtown to participate in a protest – the implication being that this increases the chances that some white person will shoot him a la Trayvon Martin. Inspiringly, the end of the film presents sportsball as a safe and productive means through which blacks can voice their gripes.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

trainwreck

Sow-faced Jewess Amy Schumer impersonates a white woman as a slovenly, arrogant slut in Judd Apatow’s romantic comedy Trainwreck, written for the screen by the slob herself – and she shows a surprising range as an actress, managing fairly touching moments as a woman whose floozy ways conceal more substantial emotional needs. Absurdly, the star writes a bevy of men into the script – even muscle-smothered wrestler John Cena – who of course find her implausibly irresistible. Schumer plays a journalist doing a magazine story on sports doctor Bill Hader, whose nice guy ways and patience are tested when Schumer begins to resist the pull of love and romantic commitment to him. Colin Quinn is a breath of freshly polluted air as Schumer’s cantankerous, ailing father, and even LeBron James is shockingly competent as an actor in his supporting role as one of Hader’s celebrity patients. Unnecessarily gross as one would expect from an Apatow joint, Trainwreck nonetheless has its vomit-flecked charms for those willing to take the proper sanitary precautions.

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

9. Pro-immigration. An African nursing home orderly (Method Man) mentions that he was a doctor in his home country, reinforcing the idea that immigrants are underappreciated, underutilized, and highly skilled workers.

8. Pro-slut. Hader remains devoted to Schumer even after learning what a biohazardous tramp she is. “Don’t judge me fuckers. I’m just a sexual girl,” she explains. “I am fine. I am in control.”

7. Pro-drug. Schumer gives a box of drugs to vagrant Dave Attell. During the prelude to a sexual encounter, a minor (Ezra Miller) snorts what appears to be cocaine. “We think it’s Ritalin,” Apatow says during his audio commentary, but the director also acknowledges that “it could be anything.” “We should celebrate! We should go out!” Schumer declares in a deleted scene. “We should get drunk! […] I feel like you don’t really know someone until you see them drunk.” Binge drinking leads to a romantic dancefloor kiss.

6. Pro-gay. Homos, Schumer explains, are “people”, and she objects to what she diagnoses as her father’s homophobia. In a wisely deleted scene, sports talk among seemingly heterosexual men leads to an orgy of homoerotic beer-spraying and sucked hot dogs.

5. Trainwreck receives a (dishonorable) honorary mention as an anti-gun film in view of the shooting incident that occurred in a theater during the film’s release – prompting its star to enter into collaboration with her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, to lobby for stronger anti-gun laws.

4. Anti-Christian. “I let Tim and his [black] brothers tag-team me on Christmas morning,” confesses repulsive Bridget Everett. “And you know what? It was wonderful.”

3. Pro-miscegenation. In addition to the above anecdote, Schumer’s buddy Vanessa Bayer lusts after dysgenic unions.

2. Anti-white. “Babe Ruth was awful,” scoffs the protagonist’s father. “How could you be a superman when you never played against a black guy your whole life? Every twelve-year-old kid in the Dominican Republic right now could probably beat Babe Ruth.” Somewhat tantalizingly, the film, like Schumer’s stand-up comedy routine, flirts at times with race realism in its implicit acknowledgment that friendships tend to form along racial lines. The writer-star milks humor from her character’s goofy attempt to use a photograph of a black waiter serving her in a restaurant to prove that she has black friends. While Trainwreck at times appears to be skewering the hyper-sensitive absurdities of political correctness, it actually takes sadistic pleasure in the discomfort PC totalitarianism creates for whites who struggle for footing amid the constantly shifting requirements for white debasement and verbal self-policing. “We’re really making fun of white people here,” Apatow clarifies for those in doubt during his audio commentary. Most ridiculously, the film features a scene in which blacks are bothered by whites talking during a movie.

1. Pro-marriage. Opening with a woman’s memory of her philandering father’s breakup with her mother, Trainwreck concerns itself with a very real challenge confronting millennial singles: the problem of creating healthy and lasting adult relationships in the absence of successful parental models. After avoiding commitment all of her life, Schumer concedes that all along she has actually envied the comfortable but unerotic stability of her sister’s married life.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Baseball’s black deity, Jackie Robinson, gets the big screen treatment again in 42; and, with the exception of some suspensefully staged ball-playing sequences, it is a thoroughly pedestrian, by-the-numbers portrait of an uninteresting but inspirational figure who is less a living, breathing human being than the inspirational embodiment of an inspirational ideal.  For the most part, this inspirational film is a repetitive series of inspirational scenes in which whites express schock, hostility, and ultimately admiration as the inspirational Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) encounters and inspirationally overcomes racist adversity; provides inspiration to fellow blacks; or inspirationally embraces his wife (Nicole Beharie) and tells her he loves her – all as the mandatory inspirational strings and brass inspirationally swell and soar at appropriately inspirational moments.

Chadwick Boseman, who resembles a young Wesley Snipes, is adequate but less than revelatory in the role of Jackie Robinson; although, to be fair, such lackluster material would probably challenge and stump any actor to make something interesting of it.  The same goes for Nicole Beharie as his wife and Andre Holland as sportswriter Wendell Smith.  Geriatric, bespectacled Harrison Ford affects (?) a raspy grumble as color-blind Branch Rickey, the lovable old voice of morality at the heart of the film, and is probably 42‘s most notable asset.

Unfortunately, writer-director Brian Helgeland has some things to learn about crafting crowd-pleasing narratives of racial emancipation in these post-Django times.  For instance, in a locker room scene, Robinson confides to fellow Dodger Ralph Branca (Hamish Linklater) that he waits and showers after his teammates rather than joining them because he wants to avoid making any of them uncomfortable.  Inexplicably and inexcusably omitted is what ought, again in this post-Django age, to be the obligatory reference to why Robinson defers in the matter of showers.  The truth, of course, as every intelligent viewer of 42 must know, is that the wise and humble Robinson fears frightening the scurrying whites by unparking his jurassic prick – and yet, when Branca eventually persuades Robinson to shower with them, nothing so much as a bug-eyed reaction shot or a double-take is inserted to indicate the inspirational monstrousness of our hero’s penis.

In simpler, happier, less degraded times, Helgeland penned one of this reviewer’s favorite horror films, 1988’s 976-Evil.  One can only assume that his fee for that script was an infinitesimal fraction of the price he commands as a screenwriter today in the Hollywood major leagues; and yet, to have fallen from those satanic teen horror heights of the 1980s to churning out boring p.c. fluff to indoctrinate the masses demands serious consideration of one implacably flame-engulfed question: is the money really worth it? – for what shall it profit a screenwriter if he gain Hollywood and lose his individuality in the process?

2.5 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 42 is:

9. Anti-Catholic.  A Catholic youth group’s sanctimonious meddling loses adulterous Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) his job.

8. Pro-marriage/pro-family.  Them was differnt times, y’understand.

7. Anti-science.  Study of human biodiversity is made the stuff of mockery when one pressman laughs at another for suggesting that blacks’ longer heel bones give them an unfair physical advantage in baseball.

6. Capitalist – albeit probably inadvertently.  42 presents a sympathetic portrait of businessman Branch Rickey, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  While Rickey’s motive for integrating baseball is, as he explains, motivated by his desire to right a moral wrong, he is also taking the risk to satisfy the niche market of black baseball fans.  More importantly, 42 demonstrates the ability of the market to regulate civility and race relations without the interference of government agencies.  When Robinson’s old team the Kansas City Monarchs stops at a filling station and the attendant forbids him to use the whites-only restroom facilities, Robinson threatens on behalf of the club to take their business elsewhere – so that the attendant, fearful of losing the money these black customers represent, relents and allows Robinson to relieve himself.  Viewers are thus reminded that before affirmative action and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there were healthy competition, choice, and consequently stronger private property rights.

5. Multiculturalist/pro-wigger.  In an inspirational turn, more and more whites respond positively to Robinson’s inspirational trailblazing.  Rickey relates to Robinson an anecdote about how he saw a young white boy at play and pretending he was Robinson – a white boy wanting to be like a black man!  How . . . inspirational.

4. Anti-South/anti-white.  Florida hicks threaten to attack a house where Robinson is staying.  Throughout 42, the southerner’s drawl might as well be the mark of the Beast, and there is actually a character listed in the credits as “Cracker”.

3. Black supremacist.  A previously skeptical racist, after seeing him play, concedes that Robinson might after all be a “superman”.  A reporter speculates that blacks will run whites right out of the game.  A little black boy (Dusan Brown) who shows up occasionally for cutesie points, always starry-eyed over Jackie Robinson, demonstrates blacks’ superior vocabulary by saying “discombobulated”.

2. Christian.  Rickey invokes the Bible more than once and compares the necessities of Robinson’s task to the prescriptions of Jesus Christ.  “Life Is a Ball Game”, the gospel song that plays as the credits roll, informs viewers that Jesus is waiting for Robinson at the home plate.

1. Anti-racist/anti-fascist/progressive (i.e., pro-yawn).  A trite narration opens the film, perpetuating the myth of the “greatest generation”, celebrating America’s “victory” over fascism in WW2, and explaining to the audience how blacks, despite being especially responsible for this “victory”, returned home only to face the atrocities of Jim Crow era segregation.  Rickey later equates the war against the Nazis with the civil rights struggle at home, the implication being that racist southerners and other internal opponents of integration are just like the Nazis – an enemy to be destroyed.  A group of racist teammates creates a petition objecting to Robinson’s presence in their game, dubbing this document the “Brooklyn Dodger Declaration of Independence” and in this way associating the country’s slave-owning founders with a heritage of racism shared by the KKK and the Nazis.  “A Jew probably wrote that,” racist Phillies manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) scoffs when confronted with an editorial scolding him for his shameful baiting of Robinson – a reminder that blacks and Jews are in it together when it comes to combating and exorcising the pale racist specter that haunts America.

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