Archives for posts with tag: drugs

Ready or Not

Everything would seem to have fallen into place for gorgeous bride Grace (Samara Weaving), who as the movie opens is tying the knot with rich and handsome board game heir Alex (Mark O’Brien) and, in addition to marrying into opulence, faces a major change as she stands to join “a real, permanent family”. The Le Domas dynasty, however, is “big on tradition”, and one of those traditions is a “weird family ritual” according to which the bride is obligated to play a randomly selected game on her wedding night. Unfortunately for Grace, the game she picks is “hide and seek”, which for viewers means yet another iteration of The Most Dangerous Game, with Alex’s insane relatives and servants chasing his new wife around their estate with an assortment of vintage weapons. Visually alluring and adequately thrill-packed, Ready or Not is more or less the dose of feminist poison I was expecting, but not too shabby as the escape-from-patriarchy thriller subgenre goes. This is probably the ultimate in-laws-from-hell story.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Ready or Not is:

Drug-ambivalent. Cocaine offers an instant boost of confidence and energy, but fails to improve marksmanship. One character, more likable than most of the others in the film, is an alcoholic. Grace, however, prefers a cathartic cigarette at the end of her ordeal.

Class-conscious, having fun with the popular notion of a satanic elite. The Le Domas family owes its fortune to an occult benefactor called Le Bail, whose name may be intended to suggest Beelzebub. The Le Domas family believes that if they fail to uphold their game play tradition, they will suffer the supernatural wrath of Le Bail – all implying that people can only become successful in life through foul deeds. “It’s true what they say. The rich really are different,” Ready or Not confirms for viewers. Ethical living, in this movie’s moral universe, requires resistance to the avatars of caste, tradition, and family, which are equated with evil. The Le Domas clan represents a fairly WASP-ish version of the predatory ultra-wealthy, with the notable exception of Alex’s brother Daniel, played by Adam Brody. Significantly, this character is one of the few in the family to have moral reservations about Le Bail’s game. “We all deserve to die,” he laments.

Anti-marriage and anti-family. Marriage could literally kill you! In one emblematic moment, Grace angrily rips at her cumbersome wedding gown as she transforms it into active wear for the fight ahead. In another scene, a young boy shoots her through the palm before she manages to strike him – a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of motherhood, a symbolic value stressed again when a nail goes through the wound in Grace’s hand shortly thereafter. To be a good person in Ready or Not is to question the validity of family bonds and tradition. “I realized you’ll do pretty much anything if your family says it’s okay,” Alex reflects disapprovingly. Better be a good bad girl and do what Hollywood says instead.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

running

Slightly reminiscent of Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000), but less self-important and with more of a sense of humor, Running with the Devil stars Laurence Fishburne as sleazy street-level coke dealer “The Man”, who decides to widen his margin of profit by experimentally cutting his product with what turns out to be a lethal cocktail of other drugs, and Nicolas Cage as “The Cook”, the restauranteur-trafficker tasked by “The Boss” (Barry Pepper) with ferreting out the fuckup in the supply chain. At times the movie feels like a bit of a joke, with a big-name actor like Fishburne, for instance, reduced to jerking off in a peep show booth and later indicating a prostitute’s strap-on and telling her, “I’m not payin’ extra for that.” With vignettes spanning all social strata and various geographical theaters of the drug trade, Running with the Devil does appear to want to bestow viewers with a somewhat nuanced picture of global implications, however – and it isn’t all that bad for an afternoon’s throwaway entertainment, either.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Running with the Devil is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS!]

Philanthropy-skeptical. Seemingly big-hearted, community-invested entrepreneur “The Cook” only uses a show of magnanimity as cover for his illegal activity.

Anti-capitalistic, with “The Cook” and “The Boss” standing for the dog-eat-dog nihilism of the big business mentality. Cage’s character, for example, speaks in bland terms of “administrative issues” while discussing his racket and is depicted reading a book about corporate leadership. In another scene, a credit card is used to chop lines of cocaine, equating usury and consumerism with coke addiction as America’s drugs of choice.

Anti-drug. Though the film features a somewhat sympathetic portrait of a Colombian coca farmer (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who only wants to provide for his family, Running with the Devil also emphasizes the street-level human toll of drug addiction, with Leslie Bibb’s DEA investigator character losing family members. “The Man” also suffers the loss of his family’s respect when his drugging and irresponsibility cause him to neglect them. The trade is ultimately destructive of the dealers and middle managers who perpetuate it.

Anti-Semitic! There is an undeniable racial charge to the scene in which the blonde “Agent in Charge” (Bibb) interrogates shifty Jew “The Snitch” (Adam Goldberg) who nervously asks to talk to his lawyer. For being uncooperative, he is taken to a black site for more thorough questioning.

Pro-vigilante, endorsing extrajudicial measures as the only way to conclude the drug war. Frustrated with the ineffectual and Sisyphean routine of law enforcement by the book, the “Agent in Charge” finally confronts the seemingly prosecution-proof “Cook” in his kitchen, telling him, “You know what’s funny? […] As long as we’ve been fighting it, nothing has changed. God knows I’ve tried. I lost my sister. I never had time for a relationship. And all for what? You can still get any drug you want, 24/7. There are still guys like you running around. You’re never gonna get caught, you know? Never. It’s like one giant, never-ending, self-licking ice cream cone,” she says before finally shooting him.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

vfw

Joe Begos’s VFW is a satisfying action-horror exploitation homage to the work of John Carpenter and bears an undisguised resemblance to that director’s excellent Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). In a similar siege scenario, the trouble starts when a girl named Lizard (Sierra McCormick) steals a backpack’s worth of dope from spikes-and-leather-clad local kingpin Boz (Travis Hammer) and takes refuge in a VFW post. Zombie-like addicts known as “hypers” soon descend on the unsuspecting veterans in the bar, throwing them back into action and forcing them to draw on their military experience in order to stave off the psychotic horde. (“An army of braindead animals is still an army,” one of the characters remarks – almost as if commenting on current events.) The cool “old but still runnin’” cast includes Stephen Lang as barman Fred; William Sadler as titty enthusiast Walter; Martin Kove as used car salesman Lou; David Patrick Kelly as Doug; and the always likable Fred Williamson as Abe. Cheers fans will also appreciate getting to see George Wendt perched at a bar again in his brief role as Zabriski. VFW’s pacing is brisk; the atmospheric look of the film is on point; and Steve Moore’s electronic score capably captures the Carpenterian evocation of the impending. The earthy screenplay, with its lines like “‘Sorry’ don’t feed the bulldog” and “What in the cocksucking fuck just went on in here?”, is nothing special; but admirers of the 80s action and horror genres and VHS culture will appreciate moments like the weapons preparation montage and the nocturnal excitement of it all.

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

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

War-ambivalent or disingenuously antiwar. Fred has a serious moment in which he laments all the comrades he saw die in Indochinese mud, but some of the messaging as well as the mostly flippant ultraviolence of the proceedings – with guns, axes, bats, and a circular saw employed to dispatch disposable antagonists, not to mention the scene in which a musclebound brute uses a drug addict’s head as a battering ram – undermine earnest consideration of the human costs of war. There is arguably, too, a neoconservative content to the sequence in which Lou seeks to negotiate with the narco-terrorists and is killed for his trouble. The screenplay leaves it to a villain to describe soldiering as glorified “murder”.

Midly anti-capitalistic. Lou, as a used car dealer, stands as an unflattering avatar of the business mindset.

Drug-ambivalent. An info-blurb at the front of the movie mentions the current opioid epidemic, and early on a dead-ender jumps to her death. Other substances receive more favorable or at least ambiguous treatment, however. Fred drinks and drives without comment during the exposition, though later Lizard snatches a bottle from his hand, telling him, “This is bullshit” and calling him a “pussy” for boozing when things get tough. Sadler smokes “shitty cigarettes” while Doug smokes “science weed”. Abe calls marijuana “poison” and sticks to liquor until, just before the final battle, he snorts a fistful of the bad guys’ dope to give himself a martial edge.

Civic nationalist. Veterans in the film regard each other as worthy comrades regardless of race. “They gonna feel the might of the American military!” Williamson declares, and one of the hypers even gets a flagpole shoved down the gullet.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Stray Dolls

For those who enjoy movies like Heaven Knows What (2014), American Honey (2016), and White Girl (2016), which wallow nihilistically in America’s unwiped asshole, Stray Dolls is a decent entry in the growing genre. The story centers on Riz (Geetanjali Thapa), an illegal immigrant who gets a job as a maid at the super-seedy Tides Plaza Motel. Riz, who worked with a gang of thieves in India, is attempting to start her life anew but gets drawn back into a life of crime by her lowlife roommate Dallas (Olivia DeJonge). Dallas wants to open a nail salon someday, but meanwhile spends her time doing drugs and getting screwed on bathroom sinks. Her boyfriend Jimmy (Robert Aramayo), a creep with a neck tattoo of a snake, is the Tides Plaza manager’s son and a smalltime hustler, and when Riz steals a brick of cocaine from one of the motel rooms, they think they might be able to make enough money to get out and break the cycle of humdrum degradation. Unfortunately for the two antiheroines, things get complicated and they end up having to murder a couple of people before the movie is over. Those who enjoyed the three films mentioned at the top of this review will probably appreciate Stray Dolls, as well, but it breaks no real new ground in the field of cinematic slumming.

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

Pro-miscegenation. Jimmy cheats on Dallas with a black chick named Peaches (Yvette Williams).

Pro-gay. Riz and Dallas have a sort of half-hearted sexual attraction to each other, and participate in a three-way encounter with Jimmy.

Drug-ambivalent. The argument could be made that Stray Dolls is anti-drug in that nearly everyone whose life intersects with the business is ruined: a dealer is murdered, Riz and Dallas are drawn deeper into dangerous criminal activity, and an addict mother’s children are left unsupervised. Riz, too, is vulnerable to sexual assault after Dallas drugs her. The anti-dope message of the film almost seems accidental, however, and Riz and Dallas experience no immediate repercussions after bonding over some coke they snort together.

Misandrist. All men in the movie are sleazy and ill-intentioned, and Jimmy in particular turns out to be a rat. The others are violent and/or sexually predatory.

Immigration-ambivalent. Stray Dolls attempts a sympathetic portrait of a new arrival in the character of Riz, but fumbles it in that she and the other foreigners depicted in the film are hardly credits to an open-borders agenda. One of her fellow Indians, Sal (Samrat Chakrabarti), uses the motel to move cocaine by arrangement with the manager, Una (Cynthia Nixon), who seems to be from Poland. Una shreds Riz’s Indian passport after she hires her, knowingly employing an illegal immigrant, and is a generally unsympathetic character, though she does appear to want a different and better sort of life for her son, whose lifestyle she disapproves. “You work hard, you make it here. You believe that?” Una asks Riz when she hires her. Riz claims to believe it, and whether or not the “American Dream” remains viable is at stake throughout Stray Dolls. Notwithstanding the less than wholly flattering depiction of aliens, there is an undeniable anti-American content to the film. Juxtaposed with Riz’s initial meekness and politeness, Dallas represents Americans poorly by rudely using the bathroom with the door open right after meeting her. “Are you, like, Mexican or somethin’?” she asks, indicating possible nativist residue or, at the least, a stereotypical redneck lack of culture. “You’re gonna give yourself a heart attack,” one of Riz’s coworkers tells her, seeing her busily at work in the motel laundry room, thus perpetuating the meme of lazy, entitled Americans and hardworking immigrants. In one scene, Donald Trump’s inauguration speech appears on a television screen as Riz is cleaning, but the moment carries not so much an emphatic anti-Trump impact as a seemingly numbed indifference. Trump’s ineffectual pontifications are simply irrelevant to the situation on the ground in America, but the election of Trump may be added to the mix as a contributor to Riz’s anxiety about being caught by the authorities.

Irreligious. Una displays a picture of Pope John Paul II in her office, but represents Catholics rather badly. The John Paul portrait even seems to smirk knowingly as Una destroys Riz’s passport. “Jesus fuck,” her son cries repeatedly after being shot, saying little for the quality of his Christian upbringing.

Relativistic. “We’re all just a buncha sinners doin’ the best we can,” claims Dallas, and it says quite a bit about the film’s worldview that it features not one major character who isn’t a criminal.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

color

Nic Cage fans should get a kick out of this genuinely unnerving H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. Cage plays Nathan Gardner, a family man finally “living the dream” after moving his family out of “the big city” and onto a rural New England farmstead. The trouble starts when a stinky meteorite lands in his yard, after which strange transformations start to occur among Gardner’s family and in the wilderness around them. Devotees of crazy, freaked-out Cage moments will have a ball with his close-encounter-in-the-shower scene, driveway tantrum, and the sight of him blasting away at a mass of slimy mutant alpacas. Some of the outrageously grotesque situations and visuals are reminiscent of films like From Beyond (1986), The Curse (1987), and Society (1989), which ought to give prospective viewers a fair warning of what lies in store. Color Out of Space does, unfortunately, overstay its welcome by twenty minutes or so, particularly when it slips into all-encompassing CGI saturation mode; but, at its best, Color Out of Space is good, spooky, occasionally campy fun.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Color Out of Space is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Drug-ambivalent. Tommy Chong plays a forest-dwelling hermit and weed aficionado. His chemical pastime is played for laughs, but his easygoing disposition also leaves him spacey, reckless, and incapable of perceiving the threat right under his feet (and in his cup).

Media-skeptical. When TV news does a story on the landing of the meteorite at Mr. Gardner’s farm, the interview is inaccurately captioned “UFO Sighting in Arkham?” and the reporter insinuates that Gardner is only a drunk.

Green, suggesting that politicians are insufficiently concerned with conservation and public health. Arkham’s corrupt mayor (Q’orianka Kilcher) proceeds with a profitable reservoir construction project despite being warned about the environmental hazards.

Wicca-ambivalent. Gardner’s daughter, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), practices witchcraft, casting spells to, for instance, keep her mother (Joely Richardson) free from cancer. She claims never to practice black magic, and is depicted as a more or less normal teenage girl. Her spells are ineffective at combating the titular menace, however, and viewers are left with the impression that Wicca is probably only a silly hobby. Interestingly, one of the talismans employed during one of her rituals is a swastika made from Barbie doll legs. This could, on the one hand, indicate her character’s immaturity; but it might also suggest elites’ anxiety over potentially negative, possibly nationalistic outcomes of young European-Americans’ abandonment of Abrahamic religion in favor of a return to paganism, however superficial (cf. Midsommar).

Urbanite. Lavinia is dismissive of country life, dislikes being made to eat “peasant food”, and, unlike her father, would have preferred to continue enjoying life in “the big city”. The family’s isolation and remoteness from civilization and help does contribute to their downfall in the end.

Pro-miscegenation. Lavinia has a crush on a “kinda cute” African-American hydrologist, Ward (Elliot Knight), who comes to survey the Miskatonic River for a hydroelectric company. H.P. Lovecraft, who advocated “the domination of English and kindred races over the lesser divisions of mankind”, would no doubt have been appalled. Fortunately, the color out of space culturally enriches Lavinia before the suitor of color can.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

booksmart

Booksmart is, on the one hand, an involving study of two brainy teenage girls’ unique friendship, and, on the other, a comedy death-fart that did not make me laugh even once. Directed by Olivia Wilde and penned by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman – it apparently takes the combined creative resources of four women to put together a screenplay this unfunny – Booksmart is nothing if not a hoarse and harrowing howl of girl-power intransigence into the maelstrom of Trumpian apocalypse. Unsmiling lesbian Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and smug, RBG-venerating Jewish fatty Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are academic all-stars who reach the end of their senior year with a sudden sense of regret at not having done any partying like their cooler peers during their time in high school. With one last night in which to revel before their graduation, Amy and Molly determine to cut loose and go buck wild whatever the cost. No one can fault the ensemble cast for the energetic, fully invested maniac performances on display; one only wishes the script had given the actors something a little more dignified to do with their talents. Booksmart is fast-paced and never exactly boring, but the accidental-finger-up-the-butt hijinks, microphone fellation, and scoldings about the difference between sexual orientation and “gender performance”, etc., failed to turn the engine in my inner gay pride parade float. This is a movie that does not so much attempt to tickle audiences’ funny bone as thrust its hand down its pants Don Lemon style before rubbing its malodorous fingers under the viewer’s nose in a botched, mentally ill attempt at seduction.

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

Multicultural and pro-miscegenation. The almost uniformly brilliant student body of the girls’ Los Angeles high school seems to be comprised entirely of homosexuals and diversity. Molly’s secret crush, as it turns out, is mystery meat jock Nick (Mason Gooding). Hip black teacher Miss Fine (Jessica Williams), meanwhile, has an end-of-year fling with a Mexican student.

Anti-white. “Straight white man, your time is [over],” proclaims a graduation speaker. In one of the more grotesque expressions of the dumb blonde archetype ever to hit the screen, an athletic but spastic girl named Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) appears to be borderline retarded.

Anti-Trump. The girls’ car displays “Resist” and “Warren 2020” stickers. So brave!

Pro-drug. A dose of psychedelic strawberries has the girls hallucinating and finding themselves in the bodies of Barbie-like dolls, precipitating the obligatory exploration of the objectification of women. Talk to the hand, W.C. Fields. This feminist comedy steamroller can’t be stopped!

Gay. “Amy, do you know how many girls are gonna be up your vagina at Columbia next year? Are you aware of it? ‘Cause I’m aware of it,” the heterosexual Molly assures her best friend. “Every time I come to visit you, you’re just gonna be scissoring a different girl.” Putting in what I suppose is intended as an endorsement of gender-neutral bathrooms, male and female students converge on the same facilities where they gossip, draw dicks, and write obscene messages on the walls. In addition, Booksmart truly puts the Globo in Globohomo by giving a shout-out to increasingly gay-friendly Botswana even as Amy laments the fact that she would be murdered in heterofascist Uganda.

Feminist. Molly aspires to be the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg, while Amy rejects male value altogether. “My Body My Choice,” booms a poster on her wall. “Honestly, ‘pushy’ is a compliment,” Molly observes. “You know who else was pushy? Diane Sawyer. Joan of Arc. Queen Noor of Jordan.” Tediously, one of the movie’s running gags is that Molly and Amy will periodically pause to give each other sassy pep talks and tell each other how hot, fabulous, and empowered they are – almost as if neither one is convinced.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

 

under

A reader suggested that I review this oddity, so it’s with a tinge of sadness that I report that I don’t like it very much. This hodgepodge of conspiracy theories, urban legends, magical realism, cult consumerism, and synchronicity is essentially a hipster version of The X-Files with a self-consciously quirky and ironic millennial spin. Ne’er-do-well protagonist Sam (Andrew Garfield) becomes obsessed with secret messages in popular culture after reading a cheesy zine called Under the Silver Lake. Strange occurrences start to haunt the befuddled hero as he combs Los Angeles hunting for clues, seeking the ultimate profundity of it all, and also tries to track down elusive inamorata Sarah (Riley Keough), who is apparently supposed to be some kind of fascinating woman of mystery but just seems like a dumb and gross pothead to me. Amplifying my annoyance with this movie is that, at 139 minutes, it’s so goddamned long and just keeps getting less and less interesting as it progresses. Maybe it’s only that I’ve become a middle-aged fogey, but fuck this movie, altogether a disappointing non-delivery on the promise of writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s previous effort, the superior horror outing It Follows (2014).

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Under the Silver Lake is:

Pro-drug. Sam and Sarah bond over weed and a movie after a meet-cute occasioned by dog poop.

Anti-Alt-Media. As much as Under the Silver Lake might like to market itself as an homage to conspiracy lore and to find an audience among extremely online devotees of hidden history and various autistica, the filmmakers’ condescension is plainly in evidence. The characterization of the pop music industry as an establishment contrivance, of course, has some validity; but, mixed as it is with whimsy about underground tunnels decorated with Egyptian ephemera and guarded by hobo initiates, the brief whiff of truth here and there in this movie is most often overpowered by the stench of bullshit. Sam – whom production designer Michael Perry describes in the DVD extras as a “conspiracy nut” – is a kidult who still plays video games and seems incapable of managing his life. Unconcerned that his rent and car payments are overdue, he instead spends his money in a bookstore or a bar or orders a pizza, the responsibilities of life apparently being beneath him. This representative conspiracy researcher is also a dope smoker for whom, in Perry’s words, “everything’s connected. So we have the Kennedy assassination, World War II, aliens” – dissident investigation of political murders or the facts of the Second World War apparently being on par status-wise with UFOlogy. The writer behind the Under the Silver Lake zine, once Sam meets him, is a bugman whose home is filled with toys, comic books, and pornography – the preoccupations of an arrested development. Even when Sam’s investigations seem to validate his suspicion that surface reality conceals a world of secret meaning, his adventures can still be interpreted as a mere satirization of what goes on inside the heads of alternative media consumers. Under the Silver Lake is not an endorsement of the work of David McGowan, for example, but a cinematic snicker at the suckers who read him. Smug liberal consumers of corporate media will be able to view this film in the comfort of bias confirmation, their point of view personified in the screenplay by Sam’s friend played by Topher Grace. “I used to think that I was gonna be someone that, like, people cared about,” Sam complains. “Maybe do something important” – which his skeptical friend diagnoses as “narcissism and entitlement” – the qualities that presumably motivate rabbit-hole explorers and dissident researchers in the opinion of David Robert Mitchell. Sam’s friend, giving voice to the TV believers, internet conspiracy pooh-poohers, and pop psychologists in the audience, dismisses Sam’s feelings of being followed as “the modern persecution complex. Who needs witches and werewolves anymore, right? Now we have computers. I swear to God, at the very least, the entire population is suffering from mild paranoia. See, our little monkey brains, they’re not comfortable knowing that they’re all interlinked and routed together now in some kind of all-knowing, alien mind hive, and that shit is a straight-up cesspool for delusion, for fear …” In another scene – one that contributes nothing obvious to the advancement of the story – Sam catches some youngsters vandalizing cars and brutally beats them; and I can’t help but wonder if this moment, like the ones I recently spotlighted in Drunk Parents and The Prodigy, speaks to a tribal industry’s anger and anxiety about trollish young white men in the era of the Alt-Right and Trump.

Nihilistic and anti-human. One of the most off-putting things about Under the Silver Lake is that its characters are so unlikably casual and desensitized. Sam absently screws some floozie, for instance, as they watch a news broadcast, and he later turns an old man’s face into a crater, smashing his head repeatedly with a guitar – all of which the filmmakers thought I needed to see in graphic detail for some reason or other – I suppose because they think it’s funny. The casualness with which Sam and the women in his life approach their sexual relationships – the screenplay seems a bit confused as to whether the character is cool or a loser – makes his infatuation with Sarah a bit of an arbitrary head-scratcher given that there’s nothing particularly intriguing about her apart from her looks; and nightmare visions of Sarah and other women barking like dogs serve to reinforce an impression of general contempt for the trainable human animal. The revelation, too, that popular culture emanates not so much from the brilliance of revolutionary artists as from a hidden establishment with ulterior motives, contributes to a feeling of futility and despair as opposed to wonderment. Give up. You can’t win!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

us

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to the 2017 horror hit Get Out, this surprisingly effective allegorical genre entry stars Lupita Nyong’o as a woman whose family vacation to Santa Cruz brings her into confrontation with a childhood trauma with ramifications for all of humanity. This is a difficult film to describe without giving away too much of the plot, but it revolves around the protagonist’s anxiety regarding the existence of a “shadow” or doppelganger and her experience of a series of evilly portending coincidences. Peele has a genuine knack for suspense, and the film has humorous moments, as well, thanks largely to the presence of Winston Duke, who appears as the hapless family patriarch.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

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

Drug-ambivalent. The family bonds over a dope-referencing rap tune, even as the father warns his children not to use drugs.

Conspiracist. The movie opens with an intriguing blurb about networks of ominous tunnels running underneath the expanse of the US, and the mystery at the heart of the story is revealed to have something to do with a mind control experiment gone awry. Early on, in something of a foreshadowing, the protagonist’s daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) poses: “Did you know that there’s fluoride in the water that the government uses to control our minds?” Of course, all of this could also be read as a satire of online conspiracy theories; but the movie on the whole seems to discourage the viewer from being dismissive of the existence of the otherworldly and outrageous.

Feminist. “You don’t get to make the decisions anymore,” Nyong’o informs her husband. Later, she is shown literally occupying the driver’s seat of their car and taking the initiative in confronting the “shadows”.

Anti-white. Though racial tensions are not the focus or principal subtextual relevance, scenes of interracial violence carry an undeniably racial charge, with audiences probably intended to feel a special satisfaction at the sight of a sassy black girl disposing of feral white girl doppelgangers. Likewise, the moment when a feral black girl doppelganger falls upon a grouchy white guy is probably supposed to convey a sense of justice or racial revenge. In one scene, white actor Tim Heidecker wears a shirt that says “Fragile”, which presumably is intended to endorse the concept of “white fragility”.

Egalitarian and globalist. In its revelation that, living undetected in tunnels under the United States is an underclass of uneducated, underprivileged, dysfunctional, and disgruntled doubles corresponding to more prosperous counterparts on the surface, Us invites interpretation as an expression of proletarian or lumpenproletarian angst and resentment toward upper-middle-class and wealthy Americans. In making the “shadows” physically identical to their class enemies and demonstrating that a specimen of the former set is able to pass as a member of the latter, Us plays with the theme of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Environment, Peele suggests, is the difference between success and squalor, so that compassion for one’s less fortunate fellows is in order if cataclysmic retaliation is to be averted. The ambiguous “us” of the title lends itself to different interpretations, one of which is that it refers to blacks specifically and arguably the discomfort of the “talented tenth” with their own teeming and rather frighteningly criminal coethnics. The protagonist and her family, who enjoy an upper-middle-class lifestyle on par with that of successful whites, are horrified when they are confronted with their own “shadows” – violent, primitive versions of themselves in convict-style red jumpsuits. It is a “there, but for the grace of God, go I” moment, but also an indication of elitist disgust at the cultural gulf that the protagonists perceive between themselves and their social inferiors. The revelation that the protagonist herself, however, is actually the “shadow” and that her savage assailant is the one who was born topside indicates that this condescension is misplaced, undermining the “Us vs. Them” dichotomy implied by the title. Beyond this, Peele also mentions in one of the DVD extras that he believes the people of the United States as a whole to be the beneficiaries of a “collective privilege”, the solution presumably entailing some form of global reparations.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the book Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Drunk Parents

Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek, once they send their daughter (Michelle Veintimilla) off to college, struggle with making ends meet and hiding their poverty after being well-to-do and suddenly finding themselves in dire financial straits. Tasked with housesitting for out-of-the-country neighbor Nigel (Aasif Mandvi), the couple instead gets drunk and places a Craigslist ad to rent out the house, precipitating a wacky succession of misunderstandings and chaotic hijinks – all of it furnishing a serviceable showcase for the stars, with Baldwin doing his usual thing and Hayek totally over-the-top as she rants about hippies in a supermarket, spastically writhes as CGI spiders crawl over her face and body and bite her, and finds herself in various other zany situations. Colin Quinn and Will Ferrell, meanwhile, have amusing cameos as hobos.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Drunk Parents is:

6. Anti-white. Baldwin and Hayek are the comedy’s obligatory positive depiction of an interracial couple. Like The Prodigy, Drunk Parents reflects Hollywood’s discomfort with politically rebellious young white men and includes two bratty kids, Trey (Jeremy Shinder) and Tristan (Eddie Schweighardt), who have hacked a neighbor’s baby monitor and are teaching the infant to say “the N word”. The name Tristan, which this character shares with a Wagnerian protagonist, may be indicative of the fear of rising identitarianism among intellectually inclined and irreverent white youth.

5. Pedo-sympathetic. New neighbor Carl (Jim Gaffigan), a convicted sex offender, is revealed to be a basically harmless eccentric whose attempt to save some children from a shark was misunderstood as predation. Reinforcing the theme of sympathy for accused sex predators, Baldwin and Hayek are abducted by vigilantes who have mistaken them for pedophiles. Again, as in The Prodigy, a racist white boy – in this case, Tristan – falsely accuses Baldwin and Hayek of sexual molestation. The industry would seem to be circling the wagons in response to growing public awareness and hostility toward Hollywood degeneracy.

4. Consumerism-critical. “Why did we get all this stuff?” Hayek frets after coming to ruin and finding herself in debt.

3. Media-monopolist. Alternative media – which is to say, the democratization of the means of disseminating information – makes the world of Drunk Parents a more dangerous place. This is demonstrated when the anti-pedo vigilantes upload a video of Baldwin and Hayek to the internet and turn them into a viral sensation.

2. Drug-ambivalent. Drunkenness makes Hayek accident-prone and gets her and Baldwin into some trouble, but the movie’s attitude toward alcohol is ultimately rather Taoist, with everything working out alright in the end. “A drunk man’s actions are a sober man’s thoughts,” narration explains. Trafficking drugs lands a trucker in prison, but the man is not depicted as fundamentally a bad person, and the fact that his daughter is left without a provider is intended to evoke sympathy and possibly militate against the regime of prohibition. Ferrell demonstrates that smoking is dangerous, however, when he sets himself ablaze while siphoning gas. Cocaine is also mentioned as a nutritional supplement utilized by ancient warriors.

1.Class-conscious. Ferrell’s character, a once-wealthy man reduced to homelessness, explains that the rich will “prey on you” – and the film’s representatives of “Wall Street” and “family money” are of course white men. Respectability or criminality, in the world of Drunk Parents, are situational products of environment and the vicissitudes of fortune. Rather like Trading Places, this is a story about a man discovering how his social inferiors live. Suddenly an entitled Baldwin finds himself thieving a bottle of pricy wine and only meeting with job offers he once would have considered undignified. One of Hayek’s gripes is that, “You have to be rich to be skinny. All the cheap foods are the ones that pork you up. The sugars, the carbs, the corn syrup.” Now that they are struggling, “people look away. They avert their eyes. Especially our friends.” They are ultimately happy to have lost the “stuck-up, useless friends” of their former social milieu.

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.

can you ever

Melissa McCarthy, in what must be her least repugnant role to date, plays the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed misanthrope and literary forger Lee Israel in this amusing movie for booklovers. After publishing biographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder, Israel fell on hard times and, in order to make ends meet and keep her cat alive, took to forging and selling letters that purported to have been written by the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. McCarthy, who is fatter but still way more attractive than the actual Lee Israel, manages to make an almost lovable character out of “a 51-year-old woman who likes cats better than people.” Suspenseful, involving, and often funny, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is forgivably watchable if you don’t have to pay for it.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Can You Ever Forgive Me? is:

4. Pro-gay. Israel is a lonely lesbian and her partner in crime is a charming British homosexual, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), who tragically comes down with a case of the AIDS at the end of the movie after “fucking [his] way through Manhattan.” Hock appears with a bloody face in one scene as a reminder of the perils of being a fruity fop in a cold and insensitive world. Israel’s forging of letters by Noel Coward, too, furnishes a pretext for a history lesson about how, during the benighted first half of the twentieth century, gays still had to hide their orientations and carry out their forbidden amours in secret.

3. Anti-drug. Israel’s drinking is a barrier to healthy relationships. Cocaine, meanwhile, is associated with homosexual excess and irresponsibility. After going away and leaving Hock alone to look after her apartment and cat, Israel returns to find that her friend went on a coke-and-sodomy spree and that the cat has died. It is unclear, however, whether the cat has actually died because of neglect or simply succumbed to old age, considering that it was already sickly. In any case, Hock’s life of doping and diddling eventually leads to his demise.

2. Anti-family. “Maybe she didn’t die,” Hock reflects, trying to recall what became of a mutual acquaintance. “Maybe she just moved back to the suburbs. I always confuse those two. No, that’s right. She got married and had twins.” “Better to have died,” quips Israel, who has no interest in family life.

1.Philo-Semitic and anti-white. Can You Ever Forgive Me? takes place in a New York of the imagination in which plucky underdog Jews struggle to make it in a WASP-dominated world. “Did you hear,” bookseller Anna (Dolly Wells) asks, “that Tom Clancy is getting paid $3,000,000 to write more right-wing macho bullshit?” “Are you kidding me?” Israel objects. “That blowhard’s gettin’ $3,000,000? Oh, to be a white male that doesn’t even know he’s full of crap, right?” To her credit, Israel’s literary agent Marjorie (Jane Curtin) advises her to become “a nicer person” because “you can’t be such a bitch” and make it in the publishing world. Israel, however, accuses Marjorie of benefiting from (an implicitly WASPish) privilege and wealth. (Deleted scenes include a vignette in which Israel takes a job as an assistant to a rich blonde lady with the nakedly symbolic surname Whitman. The viewer, of course, is encouraged to find Israel more likable, cleverer, and more deserving of comfort and success in life than the prim and tedious Whitman.) Probably to counter the bad-optics spectacle of a slovenly character named Israel engaging in theft and fraud and generally being antisocial, screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty throw in references to Adolf Hitler and “terrible old fart the tyranny addict Joe Kennedy” to remind viewers of Jewish suffering during the Second World War. In truth, however, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is, all things considered, a celebration of balls-out chutzpah and Jewish talent at snookering the gullible goyim.

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.

IRRUSSIANALITY

Russia, the West, and the world

Muunyayo

Nature Has Us In Immutable Checkmate...

Alt of Center

Life. Liberty. And the Pursuit of Beauty

The Alternative Right

Giving My Alt-Right perspective

The Espresso Stalinist

Wake Up to the Smell of Class Struggle ☭

parallelplace

Just another WordPress.com site

NotPoliticallyCorrect

Human Biodiversity, IQ, Evolutionary Psychology, Epigenetics and Evolution

Christopher Othen

Bad People, Strange Times, Good Books

Historical Tribune

The Factual Review

Economic & Multicultural Terrorism

Delves into the socioeconomic & political forces destroying our Country: White & Christian Genocide.

Ashraf Ezzat

Author and Filmmaker

ProphetPX on WordPress

Jesus-believing U.S. Constitutionalist EXPOSING Satanic globalist SCAMS & TRAITORS in Kansas, America, and the World at-large. Jesus and BIBLE Truth SHALL PREVAIL!

Two Hundred Years Together

A History of the Russians and the Jews