Archives for posts with tag: British

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Wild Card

Revenge for a raped prostitute might sound like less-than-thrilling motivation for an action hero, but it works nevertheless to propel this uncharacteristically character-driven Jason Statham vehicle. The Expendables star here plays Nick Wild, a skid row Las Vegas “security consultant” in Simon West’s quality realization of a thirty-year-old William Goldman screenplay. A British special forces veteran who can take care of himself, Nick is also a self-destructive compulsive gambler and drinker who has to grapple with his own shortcomings as well as the gangsters who want him dead. Something of an odd couple dynamic comes into play when Nick is befriended by a nerdy software millionaire (Michael Angarano) looking to be initiated into the world of danger and excitement. Some of the exchanges between these two have a rather phony and forced cleverness; but the script, on the whole, is highly engaging and full of fun and surprises. The cast of familiar faces includes Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Anne Heche, and Jason Alexander in minor roles.

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

6. Misandrist. An abused woman (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) threatens to sever the penis of a cocky misogynist (Milo Ventimiglia).

5. Corporate. A big-titted Latina (Sofia Vergara) squeezes in a quality plug for the junk food complex when she orders a Diet Pepsi. Putting in a good word for the usury industry, Statham’s credit card comes in handy when he uses it put a gash on a bad guy’s head. He also mentions eating Wheaties as a source of energy.

4. Anti-Christian. Set against the tacky blinking backdrop of one of America’s sleaziest, most Judaically resonant metropolises, Christmas is a hollow observance with no meaning. Simon West, in his commentary, relates that “the Christmas theme in the movie meant that I wanted to get some actual Vegas at Christmas footage, but […] unfortunately Vegas doesn’t seem to celebrate Christmas that much.”

3. Anti-Semitic! “You’re not supposed to like Vegas,” Nick explains of the city that Bugsy Siegel built. “It’s just this creeping virus people catch sometimes.”

2. Anti-gun. Nick rejects firearms, demonstrating instead how simple objects like silverware and ashtrays can be used to debilitate armed assailants.

1. Pro-miscegenation and anti-white. Most appallingly, Wild Card contains a scene of flirtation between Nick and an unappealing black hotel maid (Davenia McFadden). “Too bad you got all that British blood in you,” she teases him. “If you was black, I’d bed you good and fast.” “You can make believe,” Nick encourages her. “Nah,” she replies. “Don’t think this is racial or anything, but I never feel like you people are clean. This is a housekeeper you’re talking to, remember? I can tell if a Brit’s been in a room [snaps] just like that.” This dialogue suggesting that Brits are unclean makes little sense until one listens to Simon West’s commentary. “In the original script, the [Nick] character was actually Hispanic,” he reveals, “so we had to change the racial stereotyping.” Mexicans can no longer conscionably be depicted as dirtbags, but Englishmen are apparently still fair game. Three decades ago, when the screenplay was written, the occasional spot of political incorrectness was still permissible at the multiplex; but, fortunately for public morals, Wild Card was filmed in the current year, so to speak.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Magic in the Moonlight

With Magic in the Moonlight, degenerate Jewry’s auteur laureate Allan Konigsberg (alias Woody Allen) returns to his beloved Jazz Age and to the theme of the enchantment in life and love that began to preoccupy him sometime around A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) – as well as to the contested existence of God, a subject that has obsessed him throughout his career. Colin Firth plays a celebrity illusionist invited to debunk spiritualist Emma Stone. The results, pleasantly enough, are quintessential Woody – witty, romantic, and generally wonderful. Blu-ray was invented to showcase Emma Stone’s immaculate, strange, and exquisite face. Highly recommended.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Magic in the Moonlight is:

6. Anti-family. Stone’s father abandoned her.

5. Class-conscious. “Unlike you, we’re members of the working class.” Emma Stone’s character comes from a much humbler background than those who patronize her services as a spiritualist.

4. Racist! Firth refers to Stone’s “confused black little criminal’s heart”. Konigsberg is hereby sentenced to make amends by appearing in Tyler Perry’s next Madea vehicle.

3. Anti-Semitic! “Hoodwinking is what we do,” confesses the hero’s trusted Jewish magician colleague Burkan (Simon McBurney), who presents himself as an exposer of hoaxes but turns out to have been a conman himself and a traitor to his friend. He is motivated, he concedes, by “envy and resentment”.

2. Redpilled. Stone rejects fawning, ukulele-strumming beta male suitor Hamish Linklater in favor of masculine, dignified Colin Firth.

1. Agnostic. “I think Mr. Nietzsche has disposed of the God matter rather convincingly.” Or has he? Maintained throughout is a tension between protagonist Firth’s rational understanding that spirituality is a fraud “from the séance table to the Vatican and beyond” and his simultaneous longing for some transcendence. Is it true that “happiness is not the natural human condition”? Is willful ignorance really bliss? “You were much happier when you let some lies into your life, Stanley,” Konigsberg seems to want to suggest with Magic in the Moonlight.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Black Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Board to Death B

Board to Death is Dammie Akinmola’s miniature (15-minute) film inspired by a short story, “Death by Scrabble” by Charlie Fish. The movie’s title, framing ennui and death wish as a game, signals a playful attitude toward its dark subject matter. Joshua Exposito, an odd choice of leading man whose voice, accent, and moody stare recall Highlander‘s Christopher Lambert, plays the jealous husband of quintessential femme fatale Victoria Ashford in this neo-noir black comedy.

Wasting no time getting to the grit, the film opens with the insane protagonist staring across a Scrabble board at his smug, smoking wife and giving voice-over narration in the conventional hardboiled fashion. “I’ll break the bones of anyone who touches her, anyone who lays eyes on her,” her swears. “I’ll crack their skulls and smash their teeth on concrete. They’ll suffer till their lights go out.” He then proceeds to live up to this bloody vow.

The black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous, and director Akinmola, also a composer, has wisely opted to use music sparingly, so that Exposito’s crazed whisper commands every inch of the viewer’s attention. One only wishes to see Board to Death expanded into a full-length feature, as too many characters are crammed into its too-brief running time for the audience to have any satisfactory sense of the meaning of each character’s deserts. If nothing else, the short format and compressed storyline prevent the viewer from ever becoming bored – let alone to death.

Board to Death

4 out of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Board to Death is:

8. Anti-feminist. The wife is a monster who cruelly enjoys her husband’s suffering and the murders he commits. Women’s empowerment has complicated and corrupted male-female relations, maddening men and discombobulating their moral compass. She “can’t be trusted” because she is “far too strong”.

7. Arguably anti-Christian. The murderous maniac protagonist is a churchgoer.

6. Pro-tobacco. In classic 1940s fashion, cigarette smoking is code for sex.

5. Multiculturalist. Peaceful non-white Britons sit with attentive gazes during a Christian service, suggesting that they are positively assimilated participants in Western Civilization.

4. Pro-miscegenation. A mixed-race couple (Carl Muircroft and Latifah Parara) appear to have a healthier and more normal relationship than the leads.

3. Media-critical. In one blatantly postmodern and self-referential scene, Exposito picks a fight against the backdrop of the poster for Board to Death, the very film in which he appears at that moment. Is this to suggest that the character’s diet of violent entertainment has shaped his insanity, desensitized him, and incentivized his antisocial behavior? Judging from Akinmola’s admission on the movie’s website to admiring Quentin Tarantino and his (flippantly ultraviolent) attitude toward life, one can only assume that this critique is unintentional.

2. Anti-gun. A bartender (Cristinel Hogas) keeps a shotgun under the counter, but finds it worthless as protection when the jealous husband seizes it from him and pummels him.

1. Anti-marriage. The husband alleges that his wife is “a demon, a succubus sent to tempt men.” Among his final utterances are the words, “Wife. Liar. Killer. Husband. Possessive. Paranoid. Dead.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Closed Circuit

Forget neoconservative junk like Zero Dark Thirty. Closed Circuit is the real deal – or, anyway, as close to it as a major motion picture is likely to get in the present climate. After a 7/7-reminiscent terrorist bombing in London, attorneys Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall are assigned the task of defending Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), the alleged “mastermind” of the attack. It soon becomes clear, however, that nothing is as it seems in this self-described “conspiracy thriller”, as Bana discovers that the case is “being managed” from above and that the “suicide” of the previous barrister handling Erdogan’s defense might actually foreshadow his own demise. Unremittingly grim and realistically paranoid, Closed Circuit moves at a healthy clip, sustained by the lead actors’ earnest performances, and suffers principally from its anemic chromatic palette and visual drabness.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Closed Circuit is:

7. Anti-marriage. Bana is going through a divorce.

6. Feminist. Hall portrays an assertive, tough, and detail-oriented professional woman.

5. Anti-drug. Government patsy Erdogan is a heroin addict who, in the great Islamic fundamentalist tradition, has a drunk driving arrest on his record. The poor quality of the horse made available to him in prison causes him to be nauseous.

4. Anti-racist/multiculturalist. An East Indian complains that he is regularly stopped by police. The War on Terror, Closed Circuit suggests, has exacerbated racial prejudices. The multicultural wealth of London’s Turkish population proves to be an asset to the investigation.

3. Media-skeptical. The British press is characterized as unscrupulous. Closed Circuit strains credibility, however, in suggesting that The New York Times, of all publications – the “newspaper of record” that, for instance, covered up the Holodomor – would be the beacon of honesty in such a scenario, and that one of its reporters (Julia Stiles) would risk assassination to bring the truth about synthetic terrorism to the public.

2. Anti-state. Closed Circuit performs a modest service in mainstreaming the concept of government-instigated terror, with “national security” considerations only masking the cover-up; but the movie stops short of accusing western intelligence agencies of actually commissioning false flag terror attacks. Instead, Closed Circuit presents a story in which MI-5, through “incompetence”, has lost control of its counterterrorism operation.

1. Defeatist. “We’re not strong enough to fight them, are we?”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Viking Saga

Roving bands of foreigners ravage a seemingly helpless Britain, pillaging, raping its women, and humiliating or liquidating its men. No, this is not Woolwich in May of 2013, but the eighth century, when Norsemen subjected the island to terror even more frightening, at least in its immediate consequences, than that presented by the swarms of uncivilized welfare rats presently infesting jolly old England. Today the invaders are Third World rubbish of the British government’s own invitation, but during the Middle Ages an enemy threatened civilizational cataclysm by military means. Fortunately, back in those distant days, there were Englishmen sufficiently concerned with national survival to resist and struggle for the preservation of their culture.

The awkwardly titled A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day follows monk Hereward (Marc Pickering) as he makes his perilous way, attempting to elude the Vikings and get the Holy Book of Lindisfarne, a relic of great national and spiritual significance, to safekeeping at a northern monastery. During his journey Hereward is joined by the warrior Aethelwulf (Mark Lewis Jones) and Pictish woman Eara (Elen Rhys), who both have things to teach him about his responsibilities to his faith and his people.

The lead performances in this historical allegory, particularly Pickering’s, are passionate; and the mist-shrouded Welsh landscape, in combination with a constant sense of urgency and doom, contribute to A Viking Saga‘s air of earnestness of purpose. The artificial dialogue, always a challenge in bringing to life such a distant period, may strike some viewers as unnatural, and the film does show its budgetary limitations in the paltry smattering of actors purporting to represent a devastating Norse invasion force; but A Viking Saga is, on the whole, a better and more engrossing film than might be expected from its unfortunate title.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day is:

10. Mildly feminist. Eara gets revenge for a rape and helps win the day.

9. Traditionalist/pro-family. “My people have used the land’s gifts for a thousand years,” Eara says. “My mother taught me as her mother taught her.”

8. Drug-ambivalent. A psychoactive plant causes Hereward to have frightening hallucinations, but this also results in his having a spiritually instructive vision.

7. Anti-capitalistic/anti-NWO. The invasion started with coastal trading, an allusion to capitalism and possibly also to the EU as sources of Britain’s degradation and loss of sovereignty.

6. Populist. “The church has seen to grow rich and fat while the country starves. Monks hold little respect in the wilds.”

5. Antiwar. The Vikings’ invasion, like so many wars, is motivated by gold and dreams of empire.

4. Conservative. Pathetic, pale-faced, defeatist victims of plunder, plague, and famine actually suffer from a mental disorder: self-loathing liberalism. “We must embrace the death He brings so we may sit at His side in paradise,” one of these medieval progressives explains.

3. Xenophobic and anti-immigration. A quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles at the film’s outset reads, “The heathens trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.”  Black clouds are said to have brought this human pestilence. Alcuin of York “was victorious over the darkness of his time. We shall be victorious over the darkness that threatens to engulf our time.” (Italics added)  Unfortunately, trends today in the UK and Europe, with Islam the continent’s fastest-growing religion and soon to be the dominant faith in Britain, indicate that these storm clouds of the present will not be so handily dissipated.

2. Militantly Christian. A Viking Saga opens with naked monks, beaten and humiliated by Vikings, cringing, crying, and imploring God on a beach after being kicked out of their monastery. These are flabby, undignified men, unsuited to the task of protecting the faith. (“We have seen the bravery of the Saxons here. Men who would stain their church with the stench of their own piss rather than fight.”) “There are many ways to serve Christ, boy,” Aethelwulf tells Hereward. Lifting his sword, he asks, “Does it not resemble the cross?” “Become my wrath,” Christ (Gerald Tyler) says in a vision.

1. Nationalistic. “The book isn’t everything.” The violent defense of the island and nation comes even before Christ’s teachings. “Without their book, this nation would fall,” a Viking leader observes. The perpetuation of Christianity, then, is but a means to the survival of a tribal and racial identity. “The people of England are as precious as the Word.” Jesus is more than once called the “white Christ”.

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