Archives for posts with tag: cinema

Nomads

John McTiernan, director of Hollywood blockbusters Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), and The Hunt for Red October (1990), began his movie career rather more humbly with the flawed and eccentric but nonetheless entertaining debut Nomads (1986). Notable as McTiernan’s only credit as a screenwriter, Nomads was eviscerated by the critics when first released, and still has only a 13% green splat at Rotten Tomatoes. “Was there any sense in it?” asks leading lady Lesley-Anne Down in an interview included on the Nomads Blu-ray. “I don’t think there was very much sense in it at all for anybody.” Is Down correct in dismissing the film as a shallowly offbeat curio – and were the critics who panned the movie motivated only by an objective assessment of its merits?

Nomads stars Pierce Brosnan as a French anthropologist, Jean Charles Pommier, who in the opening sequence dies in the care of Down’s character, Dr. Eileen Flax, in a Los

Down

Lesley-Anne Down freaks out in John McTiernan’s Nomads.

Angeles hospital. He appears in a beaten, bloodied, and seemingly insane state, and his enigmatic last words initiate what will be a strange paranormal ordeal for Flax, who over the course of the film will both investigate and experience what befell Pommier, with most of the story told in flashback. The anthropologist and his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli) had only recently moved to the U.S. and purchased a house that, as it turns out, has a horrible history attached to it. Soon after moving in, the Pommiers discover Mansonesque graffiti on the garage door and more graffiti inside: “Gutman’s a Hero”. The home, they learn, was the site of a horrific child murder, and a band of elusive antisocial misfits who live out of a van have adopted the house as a holy site.

Pommier, being an anthropologist, follows the titular “nomads” around Los Angeles with the intention of documenting and studying them in order to gain a better idea of the threat he faces and to understand “what kind of people could think of a murder as some sort of shrine.” He determines that none of them have employment and watches them from a distance as they laze at the beach, party, and generally terrorize people. The nomads become aware of Pommier’s surveillance after he witnesses them murder a man and put the body in a dumpster. After first being pursued by them and escaping, Pommier again works his way into proximity with the group – at which point they seem to accept his presence and stage an impromptu photo shoot, with one of them, Mary, played by Mary Woronov, doing an exotic dance. When Pommier develops the film, however, he finds that none of the nomads appear in the exposures, which invites a comparison with vampires – although the nomads, who have no problem frolicking in the daylight, are clearly not vampires at least as conventionally depicted.

These quasi-vampires – vampire lore comprising a traditional understanding of the eternal Jew – are nomads, or what Pommier, drawing on Eskimo legends, describes as an urban variety of Innuat. As related in the film, “It has to do with wandering the desert. […] It’s all the same. Nomads live in deserts, whether it’s a desert of ice or sand or whatever doesn’t make a difference. […] They were supposedly hostile spirits. According to the myth, they were capable of assuming a human form” and traveled from place to place, bringing ruin and madness with them wherever they went. As Pommier tells his wife:

None of this may mean anything. None of it at all. […] But I may have found people who are living outside – outside any structure. They do not participate. No exchange, no constraints. They resort to violence with no provocation and then get away with it. It is as if to the official world they did not exist.

All of this rootlessness, in combination with the confluence of ritual, child murder, the reverence for a killer with the Jewish name Gutman, as well as the general depravity and destructiveness, contributes to an accumulation of clues that the nomads may be the Jews. Curiously, composer Bill Conti mentions during his Blu-ray interview that the soundtrack includes what he describes as a “Middle Eastern sound” – though to this reviewer’s untrained ear such a flavoring is difficult to detect in the synth-and-guitars music cues.

Adam Ant Nomads

Adam Ant portrays the leader of the titular band of roving marauders.

“You must not try to fight them,” a sinister nun (Blue Velvet’s Frances Bay) tells Pommier. This encounter takes place in a dilapidated cathedral where, in a sequence of nightmarish phantasmagoria, a flock of satanic women in habits is seen running through the halls in masks, one of them flashing her bare breasts at Pommier – all of which points to a faith corrupted. Dancing Mary, the nomad portrayed by Mary Woronov, wears a cross that glints in the sun, and later, when she is seen at night, she wears an even larger crucifix so that the viewer can hardly help but notice it as she cavorts like a stripper. Are these Christian elements ironic and indicative of cultural subversion, or have these been added as fig leaves to hide the almost naked Jewishness of the menace? Woronov’s features, it must be noted, are rather evil and arguably Semitic-looking.

In a key moment toward the end of the film, Pommier says to his wife with an air of wistfulness as they survey the Los Angeles skyline from a rooftop, “We are so very far from home, you know. All of us.” He laments his “bourgeois” life in a “civilized” world – in short, bemoans his condition of rootless cosmopolitanism. Both he and his kindred spirit the doctor, another childless middle-aged professional in the process of moving into a new and foreign home, have agricultural surnames, Pommier (“apple tree”) and Flax, that betray their simple origins and relatedness to the earth – Flax also connoting blonde and distinctively northern European looks – that set them apart from the dark, mysterious wanderers who move in their midst. Pommier’s polyglot cosmopolitanism, peripatetic ways, and sophistication nevertheless present a thematic parallel with the lifestyle of the nomads, so that it comes as no surprise when Pommier finally succumbs to them. The horror of Nomads is loss of a sense of belonging to a place and one’s own native culture – the horror of an alienated world in which, for instance, Dr. Flax’s colleague Cassie Miller (Jeannie Elias) complains about the “meshuggenah lunatics” who people the city. Whatever the meaning of the film, it may be worth observing that it is set in the entertainment capital of the world and that the final nomad antagonist Dr. Flax encounters is unable to pursue her beyond the California state line.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

neighbors 2

Seth Rogen vehicle Neighbors, while vile, was at least a passably funny film for fans of the star’s repugnant antics. This sequel, sad to say, retains and amplifies the grossness of its predecessor while disposing of any of the franchise’s previous charms. This time Rogen and wife Rose Byrne are subjected to the obnoxiousness of an upstart sorority headed by new neighbor Chloe Grace Moretz. Moretz, for several years one of Jewish Hollywood’s favorite shiksa voodoo dolls, is as usual degraded under the guise of women’s empowerment as she and her cohorts smoke dope (“College is about new experiences”), throw noisy parties celebrating the loss of virginity, wage war against “super-sexist” fraternities, and demonstrate themselves to be “strong adult women” by flinging their saturated tampons at Seth Rogen’s windows. Zac Efron, Rogen’s original nemesis from Neighbors, switches sides and joins forces with his old foe in Neighbors 2, while some of his old fraternity brothers also appear as part of a subplot that serves no purpose apart from the promotion of homosexual “marriage”. NBC sitcom old-timers Kelsey Grammer of Frasier and Lisa Kudrow of Friends are similarly wasted (no pun intended) in brief supporting roles. One also wishes character actor Billy Eichner’s supporting turn as eccentric real estate agent Oliver Studebaker had been expanded.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Neighbors 2 is:

6. Anti-marriage. The opening scene in the film shows a wife vomiting in her husband’s face during intercourse. This is how the filmmakers choose to establish the horror of conventional domesticity in audiences’ minds.

5. Pro-miscegenation. The obligatory interracial couple expresses interest in buying Rogen’s house.

4. Pedo-friendly. A small child is regularly present during inappropriate discussions and is repeatedly seen playing with a dildo. The last time this reviewer saw such a thing was in an Israeli film, so maybe kids and dildos is a Jewish tradition? There is also a joking reference to child pornography.

3. Pro-drug. Weed humor abounds, with illegal marijuana dealing highlighted as a quick way for college kids to pick up some extra cash. “I think this is my thing now,” one of the girls enthuses.

2. Pro-gay. A gay marriage proposal elicits a rowdy chant of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” The lucky couple also makes known that they intend to adopt. In addition, the film appears to encourage sexual experimentation even among heterosexuals, as “sometimes you gotta suck a dick to realize you don’t like suckin’ dick.”

1. Feminist. “Don’t call ‘em hoes. It’s not cool anymore.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

space

The appropriately odd-looking Asa Butterfield is cast as Gardner Elliot, the first human being born on Mars, in an ultimate emo romance fantasy that might just as well have been titled The Perks of Being a Mars Baby. The loneliest teen in the universe, Gardner, orphaned when his astronaut mother (Janet Montgomery) dies giving birth to him, is restricted to the planet of his birth because his heart and bones, having developed in the gravity of Mars, are unsuited to life on Earth. Consequently, he lives and mopes among the scientists living on Mars but strikes up a touching internet correspondence with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), an alienated high school girl living back in the States. Eventually, after surgical modifications allow Gardner to make to journey to Earth, he of course rejects being grounded by NASA and hatches a plan to escape, meet Tulsa, and track down his father, about whom he knows nothing. Robertson is too attractive to be convincing as a high school outcast, but does create a tear-jerkingly irresistible chemistry with Mr. Butterfield, who is perfect as the quintessential socially awkward Gen-Z outcast hothouse flower. Gary Oldman, too, is commendably present as the complicated elder statesman of the Mars program. A sweet film, and heartily recommended to angst-ridden teens of all ages.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Space Between Us is:

5. Class-conscious. Blue-collar Tulsa steals a BMW, confident that the presumably wealthy owner can afford the loss.

4. Family-ambivalent. The horror of Sarah Elliot’s childbirth scene is arguably antinatalist; but the film is largely concerned with the hole left in young people’s lives by the absence of conventional family structures.

3. Green. The exposition suggests that the likelihood ecological catastrophe on Earth could serve as a motivator for colonization of other planets. Wind turbines, meanwhile, illustrate the availability of alternative energy sources.

2. Capital-ambivalent. Sam’s Club, Tulsa explains, is like shopping a million stores at once with a trillion dollars to spend. In other words, she appreciates the cheap goods that neoliberalism has made available to the consumer. Gardner becomes ill during a visit to Las Vegas, however, when he is confronted with the dark side of globalization. Gaudy imitations of world cities thrown together in one neon hodge-podge disorient him and prompt him to observe that these things are not supposed to exist side-by-side. During this same sequence, Gardner appears to be horrified at the sight of a mulatto child.

1. Sexist! The Space Between Us seems at first glance to be promoting feminism with its depiction of a valiant female astronaut leading a trailblazing Mars expedition. It quickly undermines this deception, however, by having her turn out to be secretly pregnant, demonstrating that men and women bring different liabilities to the workplace.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

batman-the-killing-joke

This animated adaptation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 graphic novel presents a much darker universe than the nineties TV show Batman: The Animated Series that this reviewer remembers watching at the tail end of his childhood. Batman: The Killing Joke is by no means a juvenile outing, and contains some decidedly adult content, themes, and insinuations. The story concerns the origins of the Joker, but Joker enthusiasts may be disappointed that the Clown Prince of Crime does not appear until half an hour or so into the program. Before that, the screenplay is preoccupied with the complex relationship between Batman and his protégée Batgirl. One of the most bizarre of the Batman storylines, The Killing Joke gives viewers a sensitive Caped Crusader who worries about the nature of his “relationship” with the Joker and even offers to “rehabilitate” him and maybe collaborate – even after Joker has shot and possibly even raped Batgirl! The ending, too, is a bit of a head-scratcher, and likely to be a conversation-starter after viewing. The idea of the Joker and Batman having a laugh together might seem too insane to consider until one begins to understand the characters as a pair of Judaic archetypes.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Batman: The Killing Joke is:

6. Anti-bankster, literally depicting a banker as an organized crime figure.

5. Anti-nuke, referencing the danger of nuclear holocaust, which, as one character puts it, could be ignited by a flock of geese appearing as a blip on a computer screen.

4. Family-ambivalent. Viewers are treated to a touching father-daughter relationship with Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon, but the Joker’s origin story, in which the financial and psychological strain caused by his wife’s pregnancy and death precipitates his downfall and transformative madness, is arguably antinatalist in character.

3. Pro-gay, perpetuating the homos-are-a-girl’s-best-friend convention.

2. Pro-miscegenation. “I don’t understand why you’re having fishing troubles when we are in the middle of a lake,” Batgirl’s gay friend tells her as he gestures toward a table full of young men including a bespectacled, intellectual-looking congoid. “What do these guys have to do to get your attention?” A white man and black woman are shown studying together in a library – marking race-mixing as the preference of the sophisticated – and a black floozy is also shown caressing the face of a white bad guy.

1. Sexist! The first act of Batman: The Killing Joke is concerned with young heroine Batgirl’s frustration with the limitations placed upon her by her mentor. She aspires to take more active part in Batman’s crime-fighting, but Batman views her as a rookie whose inexperience represents a dangerous liability. A burgeoning feminist, Batgirl objects to him “getting protective and sitting in judgment”, and confronts him with her previous understanding that they were supposed to be partners. “We are – but not equal,” Batman tells her, laying the bat-smack down on that uppity ho.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Transcript here.

10_cloverfield_lane

Nasty woman Mary Elizabeth Winstead wakes up chained to a cot in survivalist John Goodman’s basement in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a genre-bending experience in the tradition of Cabin in the Woods (2012) and The Signal (2014). Is Winstead, recalling Misery (1990), the prisoner of an obsessive loser who intends to possess her sexually – or is Goodman telling the truth when he claims that he only intends to keep her alive and that the world outside is uninhabitable, that everyone she knows and loves is dead, and that civilization has collapsed after a catastrophic apocalypse? Is it the Russians? The Martians? Or is it just a tall tale to dissuade his uncooperative guest from attempting to escape? Finding out is as frightening and fun as being held captive in John Goodman’s basement!

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 10 Cloverfield Lane is:

4. Alt-media-ambivalent. Goodman is “like a black belt in conspiracy theory”, a mixed bag of a man simultaneously tuned-in and misled as to a number of topics. The fact that, in addition to aliens and Russkies, he is also concerned about “Al Qaeda” seems to suggest that the film is condescendingly and disingenuously conflating neoconservative outlets and various conspiracy-oriented media of varying quality.

3. Anti-redneck. Goodman’s character represents a typical cosmopolitan millennial’s idea of a conservative Republican: a slovenly gun nut, “authoritarian personality”, and “no touching” prude scared of Martians and the prospect of a real-life Red Dawn scenario. He is stuck in a vanished American past, as evidenced by his Frankie Avalon records and VHS collection. The fact that major elements of his assertions turn out to be correct prompts the deliciously implied question at the heart of the film. Which would be more horrifying for a millennial woman – the prospect of an alien invasion that razes everything and everyone she knows, or the possibility that, for all of these years, those hateful, judgmental, beer-bellied, rifle-toting, misogynistic deplorables were right?

2. Disaster-alarmist. Turning viewer expectations upside-down, Goodman’s conspiracy-theory-fueled survivalism comes in handy when the shit really hits the fan. Rather than rejecting extreme preparedness outright, the movie suggests that liberals, rather than pointing and laughing at the conservatives, ought to appropriate such foresight and associated skill sets for themselves. The idea that fashion design could become a survival skill in a post-apocalyptic landscape is no doubt highly appealing to a number of young women and homosexuals with tacky, clashing heaps of student loan debt in the closet.

1. Feminist/anti-family. Goodman presents a negative patriarchal archetype (“I want us to be a happy family.”). Winstead also recounts a traumatic memory of seeing a man cruelly pulling his daughter by the arm and hitting her. Perhaps under the influence of such impressions of family life, she rejects the possibility of reuniting with her boyfriend in order to strike out on her own as a superheroine and save the planet – a choice about which the director, Dan Trachtenberg, expresses a cuckolded you-go-girl enthusiasm in his audio commentary.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

road-to-the-well

Laurence Fuller plays a frustrated beta male desk jockey, Frank, who discovers that his girlfriend has been having an affair with his boss. Serendipitously, an old friend of his, handsome drifter Jack (Micah Parker), breezes into town and convinces his buddy to meet him for a few drinks at a night spot, where he also goads Frank to approach a woman (Rosalie McIntire) who catches his eye at the bar. From here, Frank’s life takes a left turn down a darker avenue than he ever knew existed, with Road to the Well developing into a fantastic, albeit eccentric, little thriller sustained by painful tensions and moments of unexpected strangeness. Only one superfluous scene broadly and condescendingly characterizing conservatives as “bigoted trash” taints what is otherwise a recommendable film, and writer-director Jon Cvack is to be commended. Barak Hardley is also worthy of mention for his portrayal of spoiled millennial man-child Chris, while Marshall Teague, glaring out of the screen from the other end of the masculinity spectrum, is also highly effective. For those interested, Road to the Well was recently released on DVD and VOD.

Four-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Road to the Well is:

8. Anti-capitalistic, with prostitution furnishing the film’s model of free enterprise. Undignified Frank continues to work for his company (in order to “build a cushion,” he says) even after learning his boss has cuckolded him. He despises his erstwhile friend Chris, however, as a “hoity-toity yuppie” – but it is possible also to read the envy hiding behind Frank’s feigned contempt for Chris’s material security. Jack is utterly dismissive of regular employment, and encourages Frank to call in sick. “I don’t work anymore,” he says.

7. Anti-war. An implicit parallelism emerges during a scene between a murderer and a military man. One character understands something about the other’s experience.

6. Judgmentally anti-slut. The wages of sin is death!

5. Pro-gay. A corny anecdote is told about a homosexual adolescent who shot himself after being bullied. A homophobic redneck landlord who makes light of his own son’s participation in the bullying is intended to represent the low standard of sophistication prevailing among opponents of sodomy. Frank’s exaggerated reaction to this insensitivity is, one assumes, meant to establish his character’s moral credentials.

4. Manospherean. Frank, over the course of the film, is taught by his experiences to man up and assert himself. “Everything is fine as long as you got some money and a nice piece of pussy” is Jack’s philosophy.

3. Anti-Christian. A chaplain (Teague) has lost his faith and become suicidal. “My faith? What the hell is that?”

2. Anti-marriage. “It’s like marriage is this weird construct we’ve made up for ourselves and handed down from generation to generation,” moans Chris, who is soon to be married. “It’s meaningless, right?” A committed relationship is “not exciting”.

1. Antinatalist. “It’s like they’re these tiny little animals and I’m responsible for ‘em,” Chris frets, imagining the prospect of fatherhood. “If I don’t change their diaper, then they just, what, sit in their shit all day? Or, like, if you touch their fontanelle, you’re like, touching their brain, and you got a dead baby. […] No thank you.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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.

 

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.

doctor-strange

Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) stars as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme in this decent supernatural action-adventure adaptation. A brilliant but arrogant surgeon whose hands are ruined after a car accident, Strange treks to Nepal in the hope of finding a means of recovering his manual dexterity, only to find instead that a world of occult knowledge and power awaits him. Tilda Swinton appears as “The Ancient One” who mentors him. She, along with Strange’s big brother adept Chiwetel Ejiofor and antagonist Mads Mikkelson, does a good job of keeping a straight face while delivering gobs of earnest mystical gobbledygook; but the team of screenwriters has also wisely peppered the script with irreverent observations from Doctor Strange, who, like the viewer, experiences the occult side of reality as a newcomer and serves as his own comic relief. With action choreography and a concept similar to The Matrix, fans of CGI-heavy special effects extravaganzas ought to be satisfied. One does, however, wish that sexy Rachel McAdams (True Detective season 2) had received more screen time as Strange’s love interest.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Doctor Strange is:

4. Anti-gun, with a physician mentioning “a drunk idiot with a gun” as a recipe for bodily injury.

3. Pro-drug. Stan Lee, in a cameo, is seen reading Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception and exclaiming, “That is hilarious!” There is, too, a psychedelic sensibility to Doctor Strange’s visuals – Strange, on first experiencing the otherworldly, even wonders aloud if he has been dosed with psilocybin – and sitar flavors the music that plays during the end credits.

2. Multiculturalist. Only after sitting at the feet of black masters and enlightened bald women are white men permitted to save the universe.

1. New Age. As in The Matrix and any number of other martial arts movies, eastern wisdom is sold to impressionable western youths as a means of attaining preternatural fighting prowess and impressive occult powers. Strange is instructed that he must forget everything he thinks he knows – abandon the European achievements of reason and scientific knowledge, in other words – in order to find that which he seeks.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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