Archives for posts with tag: cocaine

Foxcatcher

From Capote (2005) collaborators director Bennett Miller and co-writer Dan Futterman, here is another somber character study revolving around the circumstances of a true crime. Magic Mike himself, Channing Tatum, stars as Olympic grappler Mark Schultz, who in 1987 was taken under the wing of eccentric pharmaceuticals heir John E. “Golden Eagle” du Pont (Steve Carell), who sponsored America’s team at Seoul in 1988. Du Pont would hardly warrant the movie treatment if not for the fact that he murdered Schultz’s brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), another one of the wrestlers sponsored by the eccentric multimillionaire, in 1996.

Tatum gets another role that allows him to display not only his competence as an actor, but his impressive athleticism as well. Comedian Steve Carell, nominated for Best Actor, has with justification been praised for bringing to life an unexpectedly deep and enigmatic character, and his exaggeration of Du Pont’s halting quirks of speech and his solemn air succeeds in creating an onscreen presence more magnetic and fascinating than the real man who inspired it. Foxcatcher invites comparison with the same year’s similarly intense Whiplash, another story of a disturbing Svengaliesque relationship, and should engross audiences prepared to be entertained by something again as unstintingly grim.

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

5. Pro-gay. More than one scene of grappling carries an undeniably homoerotic charge. As Kristian Lin observes in Fort Worth Weekly, the film “is about a rich guy who can’t explain his deep-seated need to spend hours each day with his arms around young, muscular men wearing singlets. In real life, du Pont had a wife (who is completely left out of this movie), and his problems likely stemmed from paranoid schizophrenia rather than latent homosexuality.”

4. Anti-drug. Magic Mike’s use of cocaine with Du Pont’s encouragement marks his nadir as a person and athlete. His sponsor also throws him off-course with copious alcohol.

3. Anti-gun. Private gun ownership gets a black eye with Du Pont’s murder of David Schultz. The place name Newtown Square (in Pennsylvania) may also serve as a subliminal reminder of the Sandy Hook Elementary incident in Newtown, Connecticut.

2. Liberal. Du Pont represents the typical NPR listener’s idea of the dread Republican power structure looming over America – an affluent WASP, crazed, gun-obsessed, hypocritical, and probably secretly homosexual. Du Pont appears as an emblematic figure of the Reagan era beloved of today’s conservatives: a coke-snorting military buff and fraud whose money substitutes for character and whose moralizing masks a hollow, selfish depravity.

1. Anti-American. “I want to talk about America. I want to tell you why I wrestle.” With these words, Jewish co-screenwriter Dan Futterman and Shabbos goy collaborator E. Max Frye establish thematically that their movie is concerned with the essence of what it means to be an American. Not long after uttering these lines, Mark is shown nervously wolfing fast food alone in his car. It is, as Lin puts it, “a takedown of the myths we Americans like to tell ourselves.” The viewer is only invited to feel contempt for the monologue in which Du Pont expresses the pro-America feeling that informs his fears: “When we fail to honor that which should be honored, it’s a problem. It’s a canary in a coal mine […] I’m an ornithologist, but more importantly, I am a patriot, and I want to see this country soar again.” If only people were less patriotic and also more open about their obvious gayness, perhaps, the world would be plagued with less madness and murder.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Neighbors

Audiences accustomed to expect the ultimate in raunchy excess from Seth Rogen comedies ought not to be disappointed by Neighbors (2014), a highlight or lowlight of the actor’s career depending on individual taste. Rogen (The Guilt Trip) and Rose Byrne (The Internship) play recent parents whose idylls are disrupted when the rowdy Delta Psi Beta fraternity moves into the house next door. When the noise from the nearby parties becomes too much for the couple to take, a no-holds-barred feud breaks out between equally immature factions. What ensues is an hour and a half of some of the most unflinchingly filthy cultural venom this critic has tasted, and some of it is actually pretty funny. Can any doubt remain that Rogen, notwithstanding his irresistible charm and impeccable comic delivery, is for precisely these reasons one of the most dangerous men in the world today, able as he is to cajole audiences into swallowing the most murderous poison? This is the dread testament to his greatness.

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

10. Statist, glorifying police brutality.

9. Anti-gun. Byrne shoots down Rogen’s idea of buying a gun to protect his home.

8. Green. “You better put that in a recycling bin. All of it,” Byrne insists with reference to the beer cans strewn across her lawn.

7. Multiculturalist. Delta Psi Beta includes not one, but two token blacks and even an Asian.

6. Racist! Demonstrating that Jewishness is a get-out-of-jail-free card for anything, Rogen gets to say “nigga” and even wears a hipster-racist T-shirt depicting a negroid feline eating watermelon.

5. Pro-gay. “That’s awesome,” Rogen comments when a faggot couple with a baby moves into the neighborhood. Much of the fraternity’s party culture suggests latent or even overt homosexuality. Two frat lads, instead of having a proper fist fight, grab each other’s groin. “Is that how people fight now?” Rogen asks. “What are they doing?” Rogen is shocked but not too upset at seeing his wife kiss another woman. His climactic confrontation with nemesis Zac Efron involves dueling dildos, with Rogen compelled to suck his enemy’s weapon at one point.

4. Degenerate. “I’m takin’ you to bone town, bitch,” Rogen tells his wife as he fucks her in view of their smiling mischling baby. In one graphic scene of full-frontal obscenity, a girl has an unusually long dick wrapped around her throat. “Hey, guys,” she boasts, “what do you think of my new necklace? It’s a choker.” Sundry other moments, too many to mention . . .

3. Pro-drug. Weed blazes throughout the film, with Rogen lighting up on his break at work and also smoking in the presence of his infant daughter. For the final blowout, the frat house is transformed into an epic “hotbox”, with barrels of burning marijuana getting everyone on the premises high. Neighbors also contains casual cocaine use and scenes with Rogen gobbling psychedelic mushrooms. Waxing wigger, the hero repeatedly uses the word “dope” to describe anything that meets with his approval. Drinking interferes with Rogen’s sexual performance, but he manages to parlay even this into a comedy shtick to amuse his wife. “I feel like shit, but I love it,” she says when her hangover hits. Referencing Breaking Bad, the couple dresses their daughter up in a yellow suit like Walter White and poses her for photographs with Gatorade ice cubes designed to look like the show’s “blue stuff”. “She’s a little meth head,” Rogen dotes.

2. Family-ambivalent. “We are the family you get to choose and we don’t get divorced,” explains one brother of his fraternity. A tension persists throughout Neighbors between Rogen and Byrne’s commitment to being responsible thirty-something parents and their desire to have fun and feel like freewheeling twenty-somethings. Probably only to give itself some tenuous veneer of socially redeeming value, Neighbors ends with the couple reaffirming their identity as a family. Permeating the story, however, is the sense that they seek escapism from their “boring-ass lives as parents”. “Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I’m going to change who I am,” insists Byrne, to which Rogen counters, “Just because I’m a father doesn’t mean I can stop doing mushrooms with teenagers.”

1. Zionist-triumphalist. Notwithstanding the disinformation it generally spews with regard to global Zionist machinations, Hollywood knows and has always known the reality of Judaic high crimes and atrocities. A long and honored Israeli tradition is comically flaunted when Rogen and company stage a false flag party of sorts, shooting fireworks from the frat house to prompt a reaction from the police. Rogen’s compatriot Isaac “Ike” Barinholtz even inserts the Hebrew expression for “Game Over” into a phony letter he crafts to trick the fraternity into misbehaving. Acknowledging Jewish supremacist attitudes toward goy cattle and “shikse” women, Neighbors includes one disgusting sequence in which Rogen milks wife Rose Byrne like a cow. “We should go mom-tipping later,” he jokes, adding, “I was just trying to lighten the mooooood.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Street Music

Street Music (1981) ****1/2

A bittersweet variation on a staple 80s genre – the underdog story in which a motley assortment of misfits band together to save the [insert cause of choice: summer camp, dance club, etc.] – Street Music serves as the perfect vehicle for sprightly, diminutive cutie Elizabeth Guttman (alias Elizabeth Daily), whose exotic looks viewers may recognize from such classics of the decade as Valley Girl (1983) and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985).

Guttman plays Sadie Delaware, a busker who makes her living giving spirited renditions of old-timey jazz songs. Yet to get her big break in show business, Sadie lives with her boyfriend Eddie (Larry Breeding) in the ramshackle Victory Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, a colorful slum full of alcoholics, eccentric old codgers, and prostitutes. Unfortunately for the hotel’s residents, it is scheduled to be demolished, and all of its occupants are expected to vacate within a matter of days. Monroe (D’Alan Moss), a black Marxist who works at the Victory, hopes to mobilize the elderly tenants to picket and fight the eviction, but Sadie just wants to get out of the ghetto and make a better life for herself.

Street Music taps into common liberal fears of the 1980s: loss of individuality, ideals, and character; the sacrifice of the little guy on the altar of rising consolidation, commercialism, corporate power, and conformity. The tenants of the Victory – old Jews, blacks, Hispanics, crazies, food stamp recipients, and bohemian artists – represent the liberal dream of harmonious racial diversity in a setting of noble squalor and hearty communitarian grime. A modest movie about little heroisms, full of graffiti, garbage, and heart, Street Music will appeal to admirers of truly independent cinema. Sticklers for craft, however, are warned that, true to its subject matter, Street Music‘s boom operator seems to have been a drunkard, with the microphone dipping into view in more than one of the scenes.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Recommended.

Rooftops

Rooftops (1989) ***1/2

West Side Story director Robert Wise returns to the dance-oriented inner-city fantasy in Rooftops, the story of homeless heartthrob T (Jason Gedrick), who lives in a Lower East Side water tower “like a bat or a rat or something”. T falls for nappy-headed Puerto Rican treat Elana (Troy Beyer), unaware that she works for her cousin Lobo (Eddie Velez), the neighborhood crack cocaine kingpin. Lobo is making life difficult for everyone; and when one of his henchmen burns T out of his tower, Lobo’s days as the local thug-in-chief are numbered.

A prime document of the War on Drugs and its naive “Just Say No” ethos, Rooftops packs a vibrant blast of nostalgia for 80s freaks. Set in a fairy tale barrio where bright, resilient youths settle their differences with beat-driven martial dance showdowns, the movie is splashed with graffiti and peppered with quaint slum dialogue like “You dissin’ me, homeboy” and “don’t bust on my crib”.

Other sights and sounds of sentimental interest include the expected 80s fashions (Batman tank top, anyone?); funky music by the Eurythmics, Etta James, and others; and several shots of the World Trade Center looming large and doomed in the distance. Rooftops is elegantly photographed and entertainingly choreographed, but will be most likely to please admirers of period kitsch along the colorful lines of Body Rock (1984), Delivery Boys (1985), Band of the Hand (1986), and Lambada (1990). One only wishes Rooftops had more dancing and less sanctimonious anti-drug messaging.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rooftops preview

AHauntedHouse

To make a comedy that will satisfy its target black audience, experience shows that it helps immensely for certain crucial elements to be firmly in place. Does A Haunted House fulfill these requirements? Serious students of cinema art are encouraged to consult the following checklist of quality standards, not only in judging the movie under consideration, but in all future encounters with the African-American comedy form.

1. Stupid honkies? Check.

2. Honkies with insatiable lust for blacks? Check.

3. Industrial-strength-funk toilet humor? Triple check.

4. Jewish names credited as producers? Check and double check.

Clearly, in renting or (preferably) purchasing the remarkable Michael Tiddes joint/cinematic celebration A Haunted House, the viewer has in hand what promises to be remembered as a timeless classic to rank alongside The Ladies Man and (yes, even) Who’s Your Caddy?.

The flimsy pretense of a plot concerns the haunting of live-in lovers Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Atkins) and serves to set in motion an unremitting cavalcade of hit-and-miss sight gags and surplus dirty jokes. In its defense, A Haunted House does contain a few genuinely amusing cheap laughs at flatulence, bad breath, body hair, the sight of Marlon Wayans sweatily humping multiple stuffed animals, shitting on his own carpet, and so forth, but the film is only recommended to non-whites or the most contemptible and unsalvageable of white ethnomasochists.

3 stars for the full, screeching, monkey-like intensity of Marlon Wayans’s physiological investment in his part, and Cedric the Entertainer’s earthy turn in a disappointingly small supporting role as a ghetto priest. ICA’s advice: for a funnier, less disgusting movie about spooked blacks bugging their eyes out and acting like utter buffoons, see Mantan Moreland in Lucky Ghost instead.

Lucky Ghost

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Haunted House is:

10. Pro-life. “But good thing that clinic was closed,” Kisha’s mother (Robin Thede) says, remembering how she almost aborted her daughter. “Hoo, God is good.”

9. Sexist! Kisha once made a deal with the Devil for a pair of designer shoes.

8. Pro-gay. The ghost has anal sex with Malcolm, and psychic Chip (Nick Swardson) slobbers over the chocolate comic stud and gropes him in every scene in which the two appear together. Kisha experimented with lesbianism in college.

7. Pro-drug. Malcolm and Kisha get high with the ghost (see also no. 4).

6. Anti-gun. Malcolm promises Kisha that no harm will come to her “unless a nigger got a gun – and then you on your own.”

5. Anti-marriage/anti-family. Each couple in the film illustrates the new, childless norm of the West. Dan (David Koechner) becomes hysterical as he remembers how he caught his wife having sex with a mail carrier.

4. Anti-Christian. Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer) keeps weed in his Bible and cocaine in his crucifix. While possessed, Kisha masturbates with a cross.

3. Racist!/anti-immigration. Mexican housekeeper Rosa (Marlene Forte) is irascible and duplicitous, pretending not to know English when in actuality she speaks it fluently. Kisha, displaying the typical touchiness and quickness to anger of the entitled American negro, suspects Rosa of seducing Malcolm and boils over with rage when Rosa uses the word “negra” (black), with Kisha mistaking it for “nigger”. Further tarnishing the reputation of Hispanics are the revelations that Rosa is running a cocaine ring out of Malcolm’s house and that she is also a murderess and nymphomaniac who has sex on the kitchen table while her employers are away. (Contrarily, if the intention is to portray Mexican women as sexy, sexually available, and proficient in English, then A Haunted House could be interpreted as favoring immigration – at least from the male standpoint – which, considering that one of the screenwriters is named Alvarez, is arguably more probable.)

2. Anti-white. The Caucasians in A Haunted House are awkward, neurotic apes obsessed with stereotypes of blacks. Chip, for instance, assumes that Malcolm plays basketball, while Dan the Security Man (David Koechner) has hardly set foot on the property before he starts blabbing about fried chicken, ribs, hot wings, cornbread, and watermelon. For some reason, he also begs Malcolm for permission to use the word “nigger”. “You can call me a cracker .  . . Let me say it.” Dan’s partner Bob (Dov Zakheim lookalike Dave Sheridan) is brain-damaged, illiterate, and, like Dan, a racist. When the pair first meets Malcolm, Dan asks if the owner is home. “You’re talkin’ to him,” Malcolm answers. “Yeah, right,” Bob objects, clearly disinclined to believe that a black man could be the legitimate owner of such a nice suburban home.

1. Pro-miscegenation (i.e., pro-AIDS). Not only are whites in A Haunted House as dumb as dung; they are also racially suicidal and bent on miscegenation at the cost of every dignity. Sickening prostitutes Alanna Ubach and Andrew Daly play the protagonists’ white friends Jenny and Steve, swingers who constantly try to get Malcolm and Kisha to swap partners. Hoping to entice them, Jenny flashes her breasts and snaps her teeth like an alligator, while enthusiastic cuckold Steve proposes to “double-stuff the Oreo a little bit, huh? Dirty up the white snow . . . black poles, white holes . . .” Finally, the couple settles instead for a “Mandingo party” or black-on-white gangbang with Malcolm’s primitive cousin Ray-Ray (Affion Crockett) and other subhumans assembled to do the job. This scene, which graphically visualizes a bare-bottomed ogre in the process of turd-rodding ecstatically grinning Jenny, is easily the most depressing thing this battle-hardened reviewer has witnessed in some time.

To see that Universal Studios, a brand once known for genre classics like Frankenstein and Jaws, has sunk to distributing biohazardous sludge like this is to realize how close to death this civilization really is. Ubach’s IMDb profile claims that this indeterminate slimewad is “Half Mexican and half Puerto Rican”, but she is no doubt supposed to be portraying a representative Caucasian human female. In any case, this person deserves the scorn of white moviegoers everywhere, who would be entirely justified in boycotting any future productions in which she, Daly, or other perpetrators of this hideous scene participate. Of all of the values, ideals, or lifestyles that Hollywood might spend its time, vast resources, and influence promoting – bravery, devotion, tradition, forbearance, intellect, or self-reliance – screenwriters Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez and their backers instead expect audiences to be entertained by the sight of a white woman rapturous in self-immolation and racial death as congoids line up to use her twat for a toilet. Aesthetic considerations aside, one might think that a basic human concern for the public’s health would prevent these lowlifes from promoting promiscuous sex with blacks, one of the most frequent sources of AIDS. But sex hygiene is so boring and unprogressive, right?

bullet_to_the_head

Action specialist Walter Hill has always had a fondness for hero odd couples, a formula the director exploited with memorably entertaining results in 48 Hrs., Red Heat, and Another 48 Hrs.; and now Hill returns to the genre in triumph with Bullet to the Head, the director’s first feature film in many years, but a worthy addition to his impressive filmography and well worth the protracted wait.

Bullet to the Head is a near-perfect showcase for the haggard and frightening gravitas of over-the-hill Sylvester Stallone, who as cynical but likable hit man Jimmy “Bobo” Bonomo looks as chiseled, sleepy-eyed, and casually homicidal as ever, his voice so inhumanly deep and guttural that it sounds as if he has a football-sized phlegm wad and a few shell fragments lodged behind his chest. Veins protrude from his arms like earthworms writhing under the flesh of this man so old he seems just as likely to keel over dead from petrifaction as lash out and take off an enemy head.

But fortunately for action fans, Bobo makes it through the flick and takes out the trash in classic style, gunning for the gangsters and dirty cops who double-crossed him and killed his partner and teaming up for the purpose with D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), whose own investigation of a fellow officer’s murder has led him to Bobo’s own New Orleans. Sung Kang packs about as much charisma as stale tofu, but his presence allows for politically incorrect fun-poking from Stallone along the sarcastic lines of, “Nice goin’, Oddjob” and “Why don’t you go read some fuckin’ tea leaves?” The generational-technological gap between the two is also effective, recalling the dynamic between Bruce Willis and Justin Long in Live Free or Die Hard.

The culprits turn out to be high-rollers Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a cane-pimping African emigre with a knowledge of classical literature (of course!), and his sleazy associate Marcus Baptiste, played by Christian Slater, who seems to have transitioned gracefully enough from weaselly 80s alt-heartthrob roles to weaselly middle-aged bad guys. Bobo himself, meanwhile, is also being hunted by mercenary Keegan (Jason Momoa), a mean-eyed menace whose constant scowling is reminiscent of Ed O’Ross’s turn in Red Heat.

Bullet to the Head makes a decent (if perhaps too-obvious) effort to give its story a bit of the spice and flavor of its New Orleans setting, and a sassy blues score by Steve Mazzaro sets the unpretty tone of the film, with Sarah Shahi furnishing skank appeal as Bobo’s bastard tattoo artist daughter. But the main attraction here is always Sylvester Stallone. In addition to getting into a brutal Turkish bath fight, Stallone has a climactic, adrenaline-pumping axe duel with Momoa that earned the movie an extra half-star from this reviewer. Truly an experience to elicit affirmative Tim Allen chimp grunts from seasoned remote control warriors everywhere, Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head is aggressively recommended to proud dick owners only.

4.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Bullet to the Head is:

11. Sexist! One of Bobo’s rules as a hit man is “no women, no children”. A modern, sexually enlightened, and gender-blind gentleman would be just as eager to kill marked women as men. The climactic confrontation involves a damsel in distress.

10. Anti-Christian. A foul-mouthed, coke-and-booze-binging jerk (Holt McCallany) wears a crucifix. One of the villains is named Baptiste.

9. Anti-redneck. “I don’t trust that redneck prick.”

8. Pro-gay. Lesbians tango at a costume ball.

7. Anti-Slav. As in Pain and Gain, The Heat, and A Good Day to Die Hard, the Slavic woman is defined by sleaze.

6. Pro-torture. Sadism is an asset in interrogating a captive.

5. Drug-ambivalent. Bobo is a heavy drinker, but is no less effective for it. His daughter’s mother is a dead junkie hooker. (see also no. 10)

4. Un-p.c. Bobo calls Kwon “Confucius”, etc.

3. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation. Kwon hooks up with Bobo’s daughter. New Orleans appears as a happy (albeit catastrophically corrupt) multiracial city, with blacks and whites mingling to hear some jazz.

2. Anti-police. Wooed by graft, cops become killers.

1. Anti-state/anti-cronyism. Motivating much of the killing is Morel’s plan to knock down poor (presumably black) people’s housing and throw up condominiums. “This goes way up, man. We’re talkin’ ’bout Washington.”

Do Not Disturb, previously released in 2010 as New Terminal Hotel (the latter version, according to IMDb, is thirteen minutes longer), marks a welcome return to the horror genre for character actor Stephen Geoffreys, who, after appearing in a handful of 80s classics like Fright Night and 976-Evil, took the (to say the least) unexpected career plunge of becoming a gay porn star and spent most of the 90s plumbing the depths of that smelly cinematic demimonde.

In Do Not Disturb, he plays Don Malek, an eccentric screenwriter living in a skid row apartment and driving his agent, Ava (Tiffany Shepis), to distraction by his refusal to do any work. She is apparently less concerned by the fact that Don is also murdering people. Malek, however, is, as it turns out, no run-of-the-mill serial killer, but an unorthodox and unusually refined variety of vigilante, taking matters into his own hands where karma would seem to have failed his sense of justice.

Geoffreys retains his familiar knack for muted, quirky intensity, his youthful impishness dampened here, however, by an air of defeat and experience that suits the characterization. The most mysterious person in Do Not Disturb, though, is not Don, the killer, but rather his agent, Ava, whose feelings and motives are questionable throughout the film. Tiffany Shepis is tough and consistently interesting as Ava, managing to make the character likable in spite of her harshness and unfeminine crudity. Ezra Buzzington, meanwhile, contributes a memorably disgusting performance as Spitz, Don’s perverted, handicapped neighbor.

BC Furtney’s direction is solidly simple, allowing the film to feel like a respectful adaptation of a stage play, with scenes consisting largely of two characters talking in a room. The strong cast, fortunately, ensures that this format is successful, maintaining tension and viewer interest. Add some nudity, gore, and squirmy, unnerving synthesizer music, and what results is a pleasant-enough black comedy suitable for late-night viewing.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Do Not Disturb is:

11. Xenophobic. An annoying Brit in a bar provides murder fodder.

10. Anti-state/anti-police. The world is an “Orwellian Babylon”. “Little cameras are watching us wherever we go now, aren’t they?” Police investigation annoys Don’s plans. The criminal justice system is unreliable. One of Don’s victims, a Hollywood bigwig, is said to have “killed that girl and we all know it.” “They don’t prosecute [rich, powerful] guys like Stanley.”

9. Anti-racist. Spitz makes a reference to a prostitute’s “nigger pimp”. His racism is presumably intended to add further justification to Don’s decision to murder him.

8. Anti-Christian. The Lord’s name is taken in vain. When Ava asks him, “Are you alone?”, Don asks, “In the universe?” It is apparently his disbelief in an afterlife or in divine retribution that drives him to vengeance (see also no. 5).

7. Media-critical. “Isn’t any press good press?” The detachment Ava displays when confronted with Don’s handiwork suggests a severe desensitization to violence. Is this the result of the industry in which she works?

6. Antiwar/anti-military. “Military service ain’t worth shit,” says wheelchair-bound Spitz, who complains about his medical expenses.

5. Subversive. “Join the workforce,” Don says sarcastically, to which Ava replies, “Be an upstanding citizen.” “God fearing,” Don adds (see also no. 8). A crummy end credits song, “Tables Turn”, threatens, presumably on behalf of degenerates everywhere, “We’re all gonna take you down.” Tattoos abound.

4. Drug-ambivalent. One writer is said to have a $400 daily drug habit. Another man’s predilection for cocaine leads to his death. Despite what is clearly the alcoholism of at least one character, Do Not Disturb buys wholly into the romance of the bottle and the picturesque hipness of drinking, with Geoffreys and Buzzington milking every drop of cool that they possibly can from the stage business of imbibing.

3. Feminist. “Don’t pull my dick,” says Ava, an exemplar of the mannish career woman. Men are more than once shown to behave as predators toward women and are, consequently, dispatched by Don.

2. Pro-vigilante. Don is a “strangely noble” murderer. The film evokes no sympathy for his victims.

1. Nihilist. Do Not Disturb, with its grim relativism, verges on the anti-human.

Spring_Breakers_poster

Writer-director Harmony Korine’s dope-drenched epic of college-age pagan debauchery suffers from the same fatal ailment as most other movies that insist on taking as their subjects the absolute dregs of society – namely a lack of characters worthy of the least bit of audience sympathy. The introduction of the principal quartet of spoiled and mostly indistinguishable bimbos is so icily off-putting and nonchalantly bile-provoking that it could almost be a set-up for some exercise in torture porn. College students in name only, these are pretty, pot-addled apes who, during a lecture on the civil rights movement, amuse themselves by scrawling lewd notes or drawing a picture of a penis. Where the Boys Are this is not.

Tired of what they feel to be their intolerably mundane lives, four girls determine to travel to Florida to “find” themselves on spring break. Short of funds, three of them successfully rob a restaurant, and off they and naive Christian friend Faith (Selena Gomez) head for the sun and sand, where their participation in grotesque bacchanalia rightly lands the disgusting group in jail. Coming to their aid as if by providence, revolting rapper and drug dealer Alien (James Franco, in a truly transformational character creation) bails them out and takes the girls under his demonic wing, introducing them to his gangsta friends. Faith, though stupid, retains some vague wisp of the notion of decency and so decides to go home at this point; but her three friends remain and go with Alien, who, like a thuggish Charles Manson, will usher them through an initiation into nihilistic evil.

More shocking and memorable than actually good, Spring Breakers does contain some visual coups that viewers will never forget: a man performing fellatio on two guns; three girls in pink ski masks dancing, guns in hand, in the attitude of the three Graces; and, of course, sand strewn with cheap, jiggling flesh. With the anesthetized and dreamlike shoot-out of the climax, the director walks a particularly dangerous line. Are the events at the end of the film intended to inspire audience approval or did Korine even stop to consider how these moments would be received? Is Spring Breakers really the serious social commentary it seems to pretend to be or just a tacky exploiter that points and laughs at societal disease? Is Korine documenting or actually celebrating the decline of western civilization? Either way, this vile opus has much to say about American life, and much of it is true.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Spring Breakers is:

9. State-skeptical/anti-business. “Everyone can use a little bailin’ out once in a while,” Alien says in a line that hints at a broader significance. With his neck tattoo of a dollar sign, Alien symbolizes misguided rapacity and mirrors the criminal world of big business.

8. Pro-gay. Girls frequently engage in teasing kisses, grinding, and so forth, none of it particularly sexy. The sum effect, however, is normalization. Alien clearly enjoys sucking the guns and tells the girls afterward that he loves them.

7. Media-critical. “Just fuckin’ pretend like it’s a video game. Act like you’re in a movie or somethin’,” one of the girls advises the others before they commit a robbery. “I got Scarface on repeat. Constant, y’all,” Alien boasts, contributing to the sense that these young people’s poor behavior has been programmed by their entertainment (cf. The Bling Ring).

6. Anti-American. Alien describes his materialistic gangsta lifestyle as “the American Dream” (cf. Pain and Gain). “Seeing all this money makes my pussy wet,” one of the girls says.

5. Anti-Christian. Juxtaposed scenes equate Christianity and substance abuse as means of escape from reality. Two dumb Christian friends of Faith advise her (with good reason, as it turns out) to “pray super hardcore” for her well-being in Florida. (Ironically, her religious scruples do preserve her from the danger experienced by the other girls.)

4. Diversity-skeptical and anti-wigger. “I don’t like it here,” Faith says, finding herself in the midst of a bunch of scuzzy blacks and wiggers and feeling intensely uncomfortable. This moment counterbalances the casual flashes of suggested black-white miscegenation in the film. A theme of Spring Breakers is self-destruction, and one moment in which a girl drinks from a black water pistol, a rapper’s smug face on a poster behind her, indicates the self-loathing and suicidal nature of wiggerism.

3. Culturally and morally ambivalent. From drugs to guns and gangsterism to flippant fornication, Korine keeps such a cold, ambiguous distance that his attitude from one scene to the next is occasionally difficult to fathom. The copious casual sex and drug abuse carry surprisingly few consequences, with only a shot of a vomiter passed out by a toilet (and party-crashing by police) disrupting the flow of fun. There is nothing at all admirable in Alien or his groupie disciples, and yet the amount of time devoted to his misbehavior, his air of a tragic artist of wasted potential, and the martyrish pose pretentiously granted him at his demise would appear to give him a neon sheen of antiheroic myth. The ravages of gunplay, likewise, are mitigated by the fetishistic fascination and sexuality accorded to firepower. One of the girls determines that “being a good person” is the “secret to life”, but fails to act according to this piece of wisdom.

2. Relativistic and nurturist (i.e., anti-science). Spring Breakers points to environment as the key determiner of individual development, discrediting the role that genetics and race play in shaping human intelligence and character. “I was the only white boy in my whole neighborhood,” the worthless Alien recounts. Consequently, he grows up to be indistinguishable from the criminal blacks among whom he moves. “We met people who are just like us. Just the same as us,” one of the girls reflects in voice-over. Only the social context of their spoiled upbringing, sheltered by white privilege, has presumably prevented the girls from sinking into savagery before now. Heritability would appear to play no role in shaping these people, so that Spring Breakers works like a stock anthropology lecture to the effect that those spear-brandishing jungle natives in the National Geographic are no less civilized than the European gentleman reading poetry in his smart smoking jacket, their mating and war-making rituals being identical at bottom. The culture war does, however, appear to hold importance for Korine, even if it is not always clear on which side of the battle line he stands.

1. Anti-human. No likable characters = no reason to care.

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