Archives for posts with tag: Faustian

Art of Racing

Not being an animal lover, I’ve never been much of a dog movie aficionado; but now and then, if I’m feeling up for some furry sentimentality, a properly heart-tugging pooch pick can hit the spot. The Art of Racing in the Rain, pleasantly, is a superior entry in the genre and distinguishes itself with a benign eccentricity. Kevin Costner furnishes the voice of Enzo, who narrates his life with his friend and master, Denny (Milo Ventimiglia), an up-and-coming race car driver and all-around likable and lickable guy. Enzo’s idylls are complicated when Denny falls in love and eventually marries and starts a family; but, even though he now has to share his best friend with these newcomers, Enzo selflessly remains his master’s devoted companion. The old dog increasingly feels a sense of helplessness as tragedy visits Denny’s household; but, though Enzo is mostly a passive observer and not an important player in the human events around him, he does get the chance to give his master a crucial nudge when it counts. With the exceptions of its abundant pee-pee-poo-poo content and Enzo’s brief, off-color remark about the plumpness of a pair of human buttocks, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a shockingly wholesome and politics-free dog-centric family drama, with no drag queens, beleaguered refugee children, or man-made climate change catastrophes to be found.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Art of Racing in the Rain is:

Media-credulous. Enzo views television as a valuable source of information and insight into human behavior.

Class-conscious. Though he never exactly articulates it, Denny’s wealthy father-in-law clearly looks down on Denny’s working-class background and ungentlemanly profession. When the father-in-law attempts to manipulate the justice system to wrest custody of Denny’s daughter away from him, the viewer is left with the impression that the rich use the courts as a venue for class-based lawfare.

New Age, promoting the idea of reincarnation. Enzo hopes to experience his life so deeply that he will imprint its lessons and memories on his soul for his next life as a human. “I know death is not the end,” Enzo insists.

Pro-life and pro-family. “It must be amazing to have a body that can carry an entire creature inside,” remarks Enzo when Denny’s wife becomes pregnant. Later, after the baby is born, he reflects, “I had never encountered a creature quite so beautiful.” Denny is even forgiving of his jerk father-in-law after his ordeal in the courts, the integrity of the family bond being paramount.

Pro-white. Intraracial procreation by healthy, attractive, and intelligent white people constitutes a revolutionary act in America’s twenty-first century. In Denny, The Art of Racing in the Rain presents a positive image of a white father who even evinces a hint of the Faustian when he explains, “if you intentionally make the car do something, you don’t have to predict. You control the outcome. […] When I’m in a race car, I’m the creator of my own destiny. That which you manifest is before you. Create your own conditions and rain is just rain.” Later, Enzo observes that Denny has willed a victory into reality “because he needed one.” At the end of the movie, Denny lives happily ever after – significantly, in Europe. (Interestingly, identitarian sentiment even exerts a nagging but ineffectual pull on Enzo. “I thought about escaping,” he says. “I wanted to push everyone away and run off to live with my ancestors on the high desert plains of Mongolia.” Earlier, Enzo makes the ambiguous confession, “Sometimes I hate what I am.” It is not entirely clear from the context whether he means only that he would prefer to be a man, or whether he indicates resentment about his subservient status. Does he sometimes hate being a dog or only being a domesticated dog?)

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

Replicas

You know you’ve fallen into an awesome Keanu Reeves vehicle when one of the first lines out of the actor’s mouth is, “This man is dead, yet his neurological data is still accessible.” Reeves is bracingly earnest as William Foster, a Faustian darer in the tradition of Frankenstein as he experiments with the transferal of consciousness after death. After his wife and children die in an automobile accident, Foster enlists comic-relief dweeb friend and colleague Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to clone the deceased in order to transplant their minds into blank-slate brains. Soon – much to viewers’ suspense and amusement – Foster finds himself trapped in a “giant, sucking hole of lies” as he tries to keep his life together while concealing his activities from the mysterious medical research project that employs him. Replicas, notwithstanding its abundance of CGI, actually constitutes an exemplar of the old-fashioned mad scientist genre and ought to be remembered as one of the better sci-fi entries in the Reeves filmography.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Replicas is surprisingly poz-free and:

Miscegenation-ambivalent. After having moved his family to Puerto Rico, Foster finds that his daughter has caught the attention of a local boy named Juan. Foster impersonates his daughter in a text message, declining Juan’s invitation to meet him and claiming to be grounded until age 18; but it is unclear if Foster does this only to create a cover story for his daughter’s temporary disappearance or if he is also a dangerous bigot and Asian-Aryanist supremacist.

Anti-war. The biomedical firm employing the hero is revealed to be a front and to have other, probably military-industrial motives. “Who would spend this much money saving mortally wounded soldiers?” cynically poses Foster’s adversarial project manager, Mr. Jones (John Ortiz). “My God, man, come on. That’s not how you win wars.”

Agnostic. “We’re going straight to hell,” worries Ed; and Foster’s wife (Alice Eve) also expresses apprehensions about the morality of her husband’s research. At stake is the matter of whether human beings have souls or if humanity is “all neurochemistry” – a question never resolved in the screenplay. After the doom-laden, chaotic build-up, it is a little surprising not to see Foster meet with some form of divine retribution. Instead, the cloning of his family is successful, and the viewer is left to assume that they live happily ever after.

Transhumanist. The end of the film presents the synthetic prolongation of consciousness as a potentially ultra-lucrative business venture of the future – a prospect that the end-credits song, “I Will Live Forever”, seems to celebrate.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

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