Archives for posts with tag: ennui
Label

Kira Mathis and Mary Krasnoperova sulk in Jaschar Marktanner’s short “LABEL”

Jaschar L Marktanner’s 2014 short “LABEL” features a pair of German women (Kira Mathis and Mary Krasnoperova) giving voice to various seemingly petty grievances over cigarettes and coffee in a café – the caffeine, nicotine, and complaints constituting addictive and what might be considered quintessentially “First World problems”. Cigarettes never last long enough, the coffee cups are too small, and so forth. This man and that man, the women continuously gripe, are bastards and sons of bitches. Nothing, in short, is as they desire it. The viewer is left to speculate: what is the source of this ennui? What, furthermore, informs their apparent loathing of men?

Significantly, the film opens with a quotation from the Austrian author Heimito von Doderer, who for a time espoused National Socialism: “In a good conversation the pauses are as important as the talking itself.” The viewer, then, is invited to find the meaning in what is left unsaid between the two morose conversationalists. Germany, which since 1945 has not been a truly sovereign nation, today more than ever lives under a hostile occupation. The women allude, perhaps unconsciously, to the demographic disaster being perpetrated against their people in their ambiguous talk about “aliens”. A subservient German establishment, publicly represented by Zionist puppets like Chancellor Angela Merkel, has, in its complicity in the implementation of the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan for the dysgenic reconfiguration of Europe, reduced the continent’s once-proud men to powerless and effeminized cuckolds. “Did you just see that wanker?” Krasnoperova asks. “Waitressing is just a job for a true son of a bitch.” “Cigarettes are so crippled,” Mathis observes on the subject of this phallic insufficiency. Germany’s women, moreover, are mere shiksa livestock, a degradation symbolized by Krasnoperova’s nose ring (Jeff Lieberman’s classic short “The Ringer” comes to mind).

Two pictures hung on the wall behind them – a horse and butterfly – are images representative of the natural order, free and beautiful archetypes of masculine and feminine actualization that contrast with the morbid and sterile reality of the generic urban setting. “That’s how them up there want to keep things rolling,” Krasnoperova says with reference to an unnamed and remote elite. “Holding us pawns down.” “Just some real sons of a bitch,” agrees Mathis. “Yeah, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Krasnoperova continues. “Something must be done about that,” the other declares. “Yeah, but there are only spazzes. What is there left to do?” At this point the two women indict the audience in its complaisance by breaking the fourth wall and glaring directly into the camera.

Label 2

The viewer is implicated.

Once the waiter approaches and asks if everything was alright, however, the women instantly change their tune, feigning smiles and reassuring him that “everything was great.” The pair finds themselves constrained by Europeans’ pathological sense of propriety – the self-destructive determination not to be the cause of offense. “What a freak,” Krasnoperova says of him after he goes away. “Just a typical victim of the society of sons of a bitch,” diagnoses Mathis. Notwithstanding their discontent and the impending death of their civilization, they cannot bring themselves to address problems openly. Like Marktanner himself, they find means of communicating under regimes of censorship. The status quo, however, if continued to fester and to dismantle their civilization, will start to present Europeans with fewer First World problems than quandaries of the Third World variety.

4 out of 5 stars.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Gloria poster

Full disclosure. Your humble reviewer, stopping on a whim at his neighborhood Redbox machine to see what was newly available, quickly picked Gloria for no other reason than the disclaimer that it contained graphic nudity. Not realizing that this would be a serious foreign film requiring him to read subtitles, he ate his movie vegetables, as it were, by accident.

Set in Santiago, Chile, Gloria is the story of a lonely divorcee (Paulina Garcia), a professional woman and recent grandmother, who finds herself torn between dignity and sexual fulfillment. Somewhat nerdy but still shapely and graceful in her maturity, Gloria thinks she may have met the answer to her quiet yearnings in paintball park proprietor Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a man who gives increasing evidence of neurosis.

Gloria very much belongs to lead Paulina Garcia, a fascinating actress whose versatile face and nuanced expressions command the viewer’s undivided attention. Even had the script by director Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza not been so finely worked and surprising, the film would be worth seeing if only for the presence of Paulina Garcia. Eccentric, disturbing, and warmly human, Gloria gets this critic’s high recommendation.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Gloria is:

10. New Age. Gloria takes a yoga lesson.

9. Marginally pro-miscegenation. Gloria’s daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora) is involved with a Swede (Eyal Meyer), which is arguably a mild instance of interracial relationship. However, Chileans, particularly those living in Santiago, are of predominantly European descent, and resemble Spaniards in their attractiveness.

8. Anti-Christian. Gloria tries to hide her condescension as her maid (Luz Jimenez) talks about the Genesis flood and tells a story about cats issuing from a lion.

7. Racist! Gloria and Rodolfo, practicing at a firing range, shoot at a target representing a “black figure”.

6. Drug-ambivalent. Marijuana plays a role in Gloria’s new assertiveness. Her tobacco habit takes on varying shades of character depending upon the emotional context – sultry and sophisticated smoking after sex, or an anxious person’s prop in her moments of doubt. One smoker is reminded not to light up in the presence of a pregnant woman. Humiliation, despair, and overindulgence in drink drive Gloria into the arms of a random slob for a degrading one-night stand.

5. Anti-marriage. The protagonist’s ex-husband (Alejandro Goic) is an undependable drunkard. Rodolfo, like Gloria, is relieved to “finally” be divorced. Ana, a happy tramp with a pierced nose, is unashamedly pregnant with her Swedish lover’s bastard.

4. Anti-family/antinatalist. “Don’t be born, man! Don’t be born!” despairs one of Gloria’s neighbors. Rodolfo’s wife and daughters are selfish, needy, ungrateful nuisances. Gloria’s family, too, is broken.

3. Misandrist. A vengeful Gloria appropriates her insensitive lover’s phallus by attacking him with one of his own paintball guns. The men in her life are all immature. “Grow a pair,” she tells Rodolfo.

2. Anti-capitalistic. Old Chilean radicals look to loud young rabble to effect progressive change. Gloria’s idea of excitement would be to skip work and travel to Cuba. The film also presents an unflattering portrait of an entrepreneur in Rodolfo. (see also no. 1).

1. Anti-Semitic! “What Chile used to be now seems like a ghost, as if that Chile were dead, and what was built afterwards is a kind of replica of something that’s being devised in some other part of the world, where the driving force is greed.” “There aren’t any leaders anymore [. . .] if it’s about politicians who are up there, and they’re the ones governing, the ones that were chosen.”

A cute horror romance aimed at silly girls and daters, Warm Bodies imagines a post-apocalyptic America in which the last living people have barricaded themselves behind high walls against the teeming zombie hordes outside.  As in Rhodesia, manpower is precious and young people are expected to contribute to national/species security by serving in paramilitary units that go on foraging missions beyond the walls.  Grigio (John Malkovich), leader of the human resistance, even sends his own daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her boyfriend (Dave Franco) on an assignment to retrieve medicine from an abandoned clinic.  Their group, unfortunately, is attacked, with most of them being eaten by zombies; but, to her surprise, one unusually sympathetic corpse named R (Nicholas Hoult) takes pity on Julie and helps her escape from the horde.  The forbidden attachment formed between Julie and R (which, one assumes, stands for Romeo) sets in motion a Montague-Capulet dynamic, complete with balcony scene, with the pair of pulse-crossed lovers lost in a conflict of attrition between the seemingly irreconcilable biological imperatives of the dwindling living on one side and their eaters, the dead, on the other.

Why people became zombies in the first place is never made clear, though it seems to have had something to do with a collective abdication of the heart.  The dead, who preserve themselves by eating brains, decompose gradually, losing their humanity until, reduced to feral skeletons or “bonies”, they pounce like velociraptors on any heart that beats.  Hunger, whether for flesh or love, is one of the themes of Warm Bodies and finds its expression in a favorite song of Julie’s, Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart”.  The gaunt appearance of the end stage of zombification suggests that privation, whether literal or emotional, may be a cause of the plague.  R has no memory of his life, but assumes that because he was wearing a hoodie, he may have been unemployed.  The superior standard of living enjoyed by Grigio and the humans suggests that the human-zombie conflict may be one of haves and have-nots, an interpretation reinforced by R’s theft of Julie’s boyfriend’s expensive watch.  An expository montage introduces a possible political element by flashing the headline “President Infected”, indicating that Obama, whatever his role, is somehow a party to the plague – perhaps through his promotion of conventional and class warfare? – or maybe just another all-too-human victim of whatever human frailties are to blame.

As the shufflers in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead congregated around a shopping mall, pointing to consumer culture as the zombifying agent, the zombies in Warm Bodies gather in and around an airport, possibly invoking 9/11 as the traumatic cultural cataclysm.  One of the corpses, a former airport security guard, continues robotically waving a body screener, unable to extract himself from the War on Terror’s police state mentality.  If George Bush is to blame for the zombie plague, then the antidote, Warm Bodies may be naively hinting, is a detoxification in the form of love and transnational brotherhood to rid the body politic of the selective xenophobia standardized as America’s foreign policy.  Whatever its intentions, Warm Bodies need not be taken too seriously, as it functions just fine as a funny and involving zombie romcom.

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

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

8. Drug-ambivalent.  Prozac receives a sarcastic reference when the abandoned clinic is found to be stocked with it, perhaps indicating that too much medication has contributed to the allegorical zombification and societal disconnect and collapse.  Julie, however, is fond of liquor.

7. Gun-ambivalent.  Julie frowns on her father’s macho and, to her mind, closed-minded reliance on firepower, but also uses a gun to defend herself from the bonies.

6. Anti-family.  Parricide is in one instance a necessary act of self-defense.  Julie has to defy her father at every turn to save her love and facilitate a peace.

5. Bi-partisan.  The film encourages compromise, characterizing both the militaristic nationalism of Grigio and the soullessness of the bonies as bigoted, extreme, and destructive.  Warm Bodies invites the moderate elements of both sides to recognize the humanity in those across the aisle.  This process is vindicated when a pack of hungry zombies, witnessing Julie and R’s affection, feel stirrings of warmth within themselves and eventually join the humans against the bonies, who, however, are never allowed to redeem themselves and must be exterminated.

4. Antiwar.  Grigio’s shoot-to-kill policy toward the zombies makes peace and reconciliation impossible and almost results in R’s real death.

3. Moderately egalitarian.  Medical treatment provided by living humans – Ozombicare, if you will – helps to rehabilitate and integrate the salvageable elements of the zombie population.  They are then allowed to mix freely with the normal humans.  The bonies, however, represent the degradation and savagery, expressing itself in cannibalism, to which redistribution of wealth in its extremities of implementation is prone.

2. Pro-miscegenation/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Apart from the human-zombie romance at the story’s heart, there is the recurring appearance of a zombie black boy and white girl pair who parallel Julie and R’s discovery of interspecies amour.  “Corpse”, Julie explains to her girlfriend Nora (sexy but underutilized Analeigh Tipton) is just a word humans invented to label a state of being they fail to understand.

1. Alien-delugist.  Apart from the automatic association of a border wall with America’s illegal immigration problem, the alien element of the zombie horde is made explicit by the inclusion of one corpse wearing a turban.  The biological regeneration of R and other zombies, Warm Bodies suggests, demonstrates that foreign undesirables can be successfully assimilated and refashioned into productive Americans.  The film ends with the great border barrier crumbling to the ground, presumably under the weight of its crotchety old hatefulness, so as to usher in the rainbow-riding Age of Amexiquarius.

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