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Office Christmas Party

Jason Bateman plays straight man to a cast of corporate crazies in Office Hanukkah Party, Hollywood’s latest assault on every decent thing left in this maggoty world. The movie does manage to lampoon the self-negating neuroses bred by workplace compliance with inclusivity policies and political correctness, but ultimately embraces the same sort of idiocy, only spicing it up with vice and obscenity in order to make the New World Order seem somehow appealing. Viewed in isolation from any moral considerations or greater societal impact, Office Hanukkah Party is an admittedly fun film buoyed by a talented cast of comedic actors including Jennifer Aniston and T.J. Miller as feuding tech executive siblings Carol and Clay. Kate McKinnon insults Christians everywhere in the role of the rigid but flatulent “Mary”, while Vanessa Bayer and Randall Park reprise their interracial flirtation from the similarly depraved Trainwreck.

4.5 out of 5 stars – and, to be absolutely clear, this rating reflects not the film’s sociological value but its likely appeal to its intended audience of unredeemed degenerates. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Office Hanukkah Party is:

9. Disingenuously anti-corporate, disapproving of impersonal business cultures, profit-prioritizing layoffs, and the like, but fully endorsing the atomized hedonism favored by the neoliberal establishment. (I find a pleasing irony in the fact that the film’s initials, O.C.P., are also those of Omni Consumer Products, the evil military-industrial megacorporation from RoboCop.)

8. Russophobic, with Russians depicted as gangsters. One of them, a thug named Alexei (Michael Tourek), gets nightsticked for calling a liberated American woman “bitch”.

7. Jewish supremacist. Indicating priorities in the opening moments of the movie, a menorah occupies the center of the frame in a shot of a holiday snack table. Aniston also demonstrates the superior merits of Krav Maga. In a possible insult to Arabs, a foreign-looking fellow is seen literally fucking a camel statue in the back of a truck.

6. Feminist. Carol, in addition to being able to hold her own in a fight against her brother, refers to God as “Her”. “Suck my dick,” a woman tells her male supervisor.

5. Anti-Christian. The entire movie constitutes a denigration of Christians’ celebration of the birth of Christ, as symbolized when Clay sleds down a staircase and demolishes a Nativity scene.

4. Anti-family. Learning that Allison (Bayer) is a single mother, Fred (Park) replies, “That’s great. I was raised by a single mom.” Children are bothers and fit primarily for corruption, as in the end credits image of two women who appear to be snorting cocaine in the presence of a minor. Asked what is most annoying about the internet, Jeremy (Rob Corddry) replies, “Pictures of people’s kids.” A youthful caroler thrusts his middle finger at the protagonist, while the inappropriately named Carol tells another child, “Fuck you” – continuing Hollywood’s use of foul language referencing sex acts with children (cf. Cooties).

3. Pro-gay. “I’m talkin’ ‘bout take your pee-pees out and put ‘em in some booties,” proclaims DJ Calvis (Sam Richardson). Clay, meanwhile, is “straight – except for that one time.” Viewers are also treated to a guy-guy dancefloor kiss and the sight of Jason Bateman simulating fellatio with an ice sculpture. Then, too, there is mention of a “Human Centipede situation in the men’s room.”

2. Pro-miscegenation. Josh (Bateman) finds himself attracted to icy Eurasian cutie Tracey (Munn). Allison, meanwhile, after being grossed out by Fred’s mommy fetish, winds up smooching with Indian nerd Nate (Karan Soni). There is also a briefly glimpsed interracial toilet stall orgy.

1. Pro-drug. Drug humor in Office Christmas Party runs the gamut of cocaine, booze, and the abuse of prescription medications. One employee remarks that it is “boring as shit” that no one gets inebriated before noon. It is only after a bag of cocaine is accidentally dropped into a snow machine that the party really comes alive. Straight-laced black executive Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance, the indispensable negro sonar genius from The Hunt for Red October) gets particularly loose after taking a blast of powder in the face and later declares that this has been “the best night of my life” even after being hospitalized following a brutal fall. Clay, too, snorts a quantity of cocaine and gets into a wreck which serendipitously corrects a previous fracture.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY FIFTEEN

Get Hard

It sounds like a funny idea on paper. A pampered white businessman, convicted of embezzlement, hires what he mistakes to be a streetwise black dude to teach him how to “get hard” so as to protect himself from being abused when he goes to prison. The execution itself, sadly, feels at times exactly like the cinematic equivalent of one of the sodomy sessions dreaded by the protagonist. Will Ferrell, Hollywood’s go-to guy for playing weird, dim-witted white jerks and/or gluttons for punishment, gets to be both in Get Hard, with mildly funny Kevin Hart from Ride Along appearing in the role of straight man.

Indicative of the standard of entertainment on tap is bit player Matt Walsh’s credit as “Bathroom Stall Man” in a sequence way too sick for description here. Psyche-scarringly inappropriate for children or even mature adults, Get Hard is one of the most repugnant motion pictures this reviewer has witnessed, rivaling even the cataclysmically syphilitic A Haunted House. It is, in short, a film that could only have been written and directed by a degenerate named (((Etan Cohen))).

2 and a half out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Get Hard is:

4. Crypto-Zionist, implicitly endorsing the fairy tale of Osama bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11. Coach’s Craig T. Nelson, meanwhile, reprises the type of role he essayed in Action Jackson and Devil’s Advocate as a privileged and WASPy financial super-criminal, Larry David apparently having been unavailable.

3. Pro-immigration. Ferrell’s mestizo domestic servants roll their eyes and wag their heads with contempt at their master’s antics. Rather than fill the viewer with distaste at the further inundation of America with ethnically hostile Third World riff-raff, however, these scenes allow the film’s target audience of complacent liberals to feel smart and at one with the Mexicans, who they can pretend will share their progressive values going forward as they point and laugh together at the stupid white man.

2. Pro-gay. Hart befriends (but politely parries the flirtations of) a homosexual he meets in the course of his adventure.

1. Anti-white and pro-miscegenation. Ferrell and Hart make a narrow escape from the greasy clutches of a white supremacist biker gang. Ferrell eventually finds his soulmate in twerking ghetto denizen Dominique Perry and rejects the renewed advances of former fiancée Alison Brie when he dismisses her as having a “white girl’s booty”.

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

Redlands Poster

Vienna (Nicole Fox) is a Midwestern transplant to Southern California who dreams of immortalizing herself through art as a model. Allan (Clifford Morts) is the “fat pervert” and amateur Irving Klaw who entertains her vanity. The pair’s initial collaboration sets Redlands into deliberate motion.

An uneasy study of the creative process and of the artist-model relationship as an “energy transfer”, or a form of vampirism, John Brian King’s debut directorial effort is shot almost entirely in static master shots, a choice that screams “art house” (and low budget) and will automatically alienate the easily distracted. Potential viewers are warned that this is not a film for the faint of heart and that it contains one appalling scene of physical violence in addition to multiple instances of emotional cruelty.

Redlands, owing to a shared subject matter and sensibility, would make for a complementary double feature with Gut (2012) or 24 Exposures (2013) – not that most people would want to sit through two such films in a single sitting. Those sufficiently bold to be interested, however, can screen this gross and engrossing movie via Vimeo.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Redlands is:

9. Anti-miscegenation. A freakish, infatuated Asian sidler (Connie Shin) haunts a camera shop to be near its clerk (Leland Montgomery), but he wants nothing to do with her.

8. Anti-Christian. Vienna sports a kitschy “Have Faith” t-shirt as she rambles inanely about Falco.

7. Anti-vegan. Vegans are depicted as somewhat shallow. Hitler is more than once referenced as having been a vegetarian, presumably so as to discredit the lifestyle.

6. Populist, Luddite, anti-corporate, and protectionist. Allan becomes frustrated with a credit card company’s user-unfriendly robot phone system and finally snaps when he gets through to a human customer service representative, who turns out to be an African named Chiwamba. He calls her a “black bitch” after she informs him that her predatory bankster organization has lowered his credit limit without informing him and is charging him penalty fees for exceeding his newly decapitated limit. Allan’s anger is that of the disenfranchised white male and the American who has seen his countrymen’s jobs either shipped overseas or given to cheap wetbacks and other undesirables. In a fit of impotence, he smashes his phone.

5. Un-p.c. Characters use words like “bitch” and “retard”.

4. Anti-drug. Vienna’s father was an addict.

3. Anti-Semitic! Zack (Sam Brittan) is a parasitic Jew and quasi-pimp, an abusive easy rider who leeches off of his gentile girlfriend’s earnings. “Somebody’s gotta mind the store,” he says. “Might as well be me.”

2. Anti-porn. Parallel scenes of photography sessions evoke a powerful metaphor: pornography as a body of autopsy photos of western woman.

1. Anti-feminist/anti-slut. The misogynistic behavior of the men in Redlands is unpleasant to witness and not at all condoned in the tone of the film. What is impossible to deny, however, is that the unenviable treatment of the women in Redlands results from feminism and its destabilizing effect on the family and the moral fabric of society. The importance of the father as the central figure in a woman’s life comes across very clearly.

The Christmas Gift (1986) ****  John Denver, who in 1972 extolled his “Rocky Mountain High”, heads back to his beloved Rockies for this decent television production. Denver plays George Billings, a New York architect and recent widower who travels to Colorado for Christmas along with his little daughter Alex (Gennie James, who appeared in another TV movie, A Smoky Mountain Christmas, that same December). Ostensibly, Billings is on vacation and only seeking a change of scenery in the rustic hamlet of Georgetown; but Billings’s callous and greedy employer, Mr. Renfield (Edward Winter), has actually sent him to scout and survey the location of a future commercial development.

Billings begins to have second thoughts about the plan, however, when he meets local beauty Susan (Jane Kaczmarek) and comes to an appreciation of Georgetown’s unspoiled small-town charm and innocence. Exactly how innocent becomes clear to Billings when he realizes that even the adults in this backwater still believe in Santa Claus. Some in the town have fallen on hard times – chief among these being rancher Jake (Kurtwood Smith, whom viewers may remember as one of the villains in the original RoboCop), who has been unable to pay his debts and faces impending foreclosure – so that the lucrative proposition of Mr. Renfield, who has the connivance of Georgetown’s well-meaning Mayor Truesdale (James T. Callahan), presents a genuine temptation to a community faced with the difficult choice of modernizing and so losing its identity or struggling on and facing a possible future as a ghost town.

John Denver is effortlessly likable in the lead, and gets to sing one of his own songs, “Love Again” (from his 1986 One World album), in addition to joining with townsfolk for a couple of Christmas carols. Gennie James is cute, Jane Kaczmarek is wholesomely sexy, and Pat Corley (Murphy Brown), who comes across as a poor man’s Jonathan Winters, is amusing in his role of daffy old taxi driver Bud, with clown-faced veteran character actress Mary Wickes adding some extra color as Bud’s hotel proprietress sister. The Christmas Gift is harmless fun and worth an unwrapping if shoppers are snowbound, particularly since (as of writing) it has been uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. The Christmas Gift gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Christmas Gift

From Rocky Mountain High to Mount Zion rock bottom . . .

Israel O Blessed Israel!Israel, O Blessed Israel! (1992) **  Subtitled A Gospel Music Journey in the Holy Land, this dogforsaken howler from the VHS ejection heap is part sermon, part cheapjack music video, part travelogue, and part symbolic act of fellatio performed for the gratification of organized Jewry. Pat Boone, who shamelessly threw in with the Zionist lot back in 1960 when he warbled the overwrought anthem to Otto Preminger’s six-million-hour Israeli epic Exodus, returns to glowingly tread the paths that Jesus Christ Himself walked, sing some hymns, and drum up tourism dollars for America’s favorite Middle Eastern welfare case.

The show opens with “Israel, O Blessed Israel”, probably the worst piece of junk Boone ever recorded, stinking up the place over images of innocent children, flowers, mountains, and the majestically fluttering Israeli flag. Has-been Boone almost seems to fancy himself a kind of peripatetic holy man as he wanders about in his clean white shirt, beige slacks, and all-American tennis shoes – with a picture of Jesus disconcertingly fading into Boone’s faintly evil features at one point. In addition to singing tepid arrangements of “How Great Thou Art” and other standards, Boone recites uplifting passages from the scriptures – promising, for instance, that Israel’s enemies “will forever be destroyed” – and, so as to drive home the all-important point of the Savior’s Jewishness, more than once makes a point of referring to Jesus as “a rabbi”.

Unintentional humor occurs as a slack-jawed camel comes lumbering into view in slow motion to the tune of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and when a fly whizzes by Boone’s head as he renders “In the Garden”. For some reason, viewers are treated to the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii also makes an unexpected appearance. The tape even takes a brief turn for the scary, slipping into gray, vague, and indiscernible visuals, when Boone recounts a hoary anecdote about reanimated skeletons. To its credit, Israel, O Blessed Israel! does provide a showcase for the country’s bountiful natural beauties and impressive air of antiquity, but let these commendations not lead prospective viewers into any undue temptation, for this VHS relic, verily, brethren, is for hardcore schlock aficionados and Zio-masochists only. 2 out of 5 blue Stars of David.

Working Girls

Working Girls (1985) ****1/2  A humorous, high-quality anthology film about the different incarnations of prostitution – from call girl action to nagging housewifery – Working Girls is tastefully photographed and benefits immensely from featuring some the biggest and most charismatic names in the business.  Ron Jeremy gets things off to a harried start, with spouse Ashley Welles pestering him for a kitchen renovation and using anatomical leverage to pry an agreement out of him.  Jamie Gillis is good as a cocksure male prostitute, and Patti Petite is photogenically limber as a wife trying to squeeze a raise for her husband out of his horny boss (Mike Horner) at the office.

Especially notable is one of the segments directed by “David McCabe” (Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama creator David DeCoteau), in which Sheri St. Clair plays a prostitute who ties mustached wimp Robert Bullock to a chair at his request and then proceeds to display her body, finger herself, and talk dirty in her distinctively scorching, slightly scary, and awe-inspiring fashion.  The concluding vignette, “Kinky Sex”, also directed by DeCoteau, is really just a scatalogical joke, and one of many unusual situations that set Working Girls apart from the rest of the trash on the corner.  Recommended to 80s porn fans and those interested in seeing DeCoteau’s earliest directorial work.

Air Erotica

Air Erotica (1988) **1/2  This is a compilation of essentially plotless vignettes about airline pilots, passengers, and stewardesses.  Big names like Herschel Savage and Taija Rae appear (the latter in her less interesting but still sexy slimmed-down and blonded mode of the late 80s), but none of the segments elicits much excitement with the exception of Sheri St. Clair’s irritatingly brief turn as a horny passenger so hot she has to let Tom Byron take her into the airplane bathroom to plug her variously.  St. Clair commands more nasty and sinister magnetism than all of the other performers combined, and Air Erotica might have been saved by having the sense to include several segments featuring her; but what follows her encounter is a series of tolerable but pedestrian scenes of people screwing, licking, and sucking.

Taija Rae looks a little bored in her threesome with Chelsea and Kevin James, whose Nazi superman looks, protruding veins, and noisy breathing interfere with any eroticism his two scenes might have had.  Rachel Ashley is fine as a slut servicing coke-snorting businessman Nick Random, whose goofy pink neckerchief, gold necklaces, and open shirt showing his hairy chest provide one of the film’s amusements.  Overall, however, Air Erotica suffers from what might best be called a sense of jet lag, of bodies not always completely present, with boring music doing little to enliven the proceedings.  For hardcore fans of the performers only.

Flippantly violent after the Tarantinoid tradition and frenetically ADHD-afflicted and visually gimmicky in the Guy Ritchie mold – with whooshing split screens, speed-up/slow-down action, and more than one trip to the old follow-the-bullet-in-slow-motion trough – Cat Run is a high-energy Euro-flavored action comedy graced with fine performances and a few good laughs but ultimately let down by its director, John Stockwell (Top Gun‘s Cougar, not the CIA whistleblower), its beat machine editing, and its pervading air of triviality and gratuitous vulgarity.

When upscale prostitute Cat (Paz Vega) witnesses U.S. Senator Bill Krebb (Christopher McDonald, whose face has always connoted an intelligent sleaze) murdering one of her coworkers at a decadent party thrown by arms dealer Branko Jakovic (Branko Djuric), she flees with the security footage and soon has corrupt police and ex-MI6 assassin Helen Bingham (Janet McTeer) on her trail.  Meanwhile, two dweeby American expatriates, wiz kid and bad cook Anthony (Scott Mechlowicz) and sex-obsessed Julian (Alphonso McAuley) have opened an amateur detective agency and hope to establish their credibility by locating Cat before anyone else can beat them to her.

Janet McTeer, whose Helen is a darker version of Helen Mirren’s character in Red, is, along with lovable comedic talent McAuley, one of the two biggest incentives to watch Cat Run.  Every laugh in the film belongs to McAuley, who has something of the energy of a young Michael Winslow or Richard Pryor; and McTeer is charming whenever the gruesome script and costuming allow it (with her cleavage utilized to commendable effect in the film’s climactic action sequence).  Another noteworthy component of the cast is Europe itself, with several beautiful locations lending the story a touch of class.

Ultimately neither horrible nor noteworthily good, the film earns itself a modest 3 out of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Cat Run is deeply conflicted and:

12. Egalitarian.  Bleeding-hearted Anthony sympathizes when Cat steals his car, saying in earnest, “She must really need it.”

11. Anti-drug.  Amputee secretary Dexter lost his first arm after using a dirty needle.

10. Racist!  Enter into evidence the segue from Julian to a chimpanzee.

9. Anti-Christian.  “I thank God every day for what happened,” Dexter says after explaining his disabilities and recounting how his wife was eaten by a shark.  His faith fails to save him, however, when Helen lops off the arm with which he brandishes his Bible.  Schubert’s “Ave Maria” grotesquely accompanies this scene.

8. Antiwar.  Neoconservative fearmongering with respect to Iran is a scam driven by defense contractors and greedy politicians.

7. Selectively xenophobic, with Slavs depicted as seedy and untrustworthy.

6. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation.  White Anthony and black Julian are best friends, and Julian has “saved him from many brutal beatdowns.”  Julian charms European women and at one point lifts his kilt to reveal his cartoonishly gigantic penis.  All of his ex-girlfriends appear to be white.  Polyglot black amputee and communications specialist Dexter has a Purple Heart and valuable services to offer despite his disability.

5. Anti-police.  The Montenegran police are all in the employ of Branko Jakovic.  One policeman fails to report an abandoned car, hoping he can sell it instead.

4. Anti-family/anti-marriage.  Anthony has moved to Europe to avoid his meddlesome family.  “My father used to beat me with a belt and make me sleep in the barn with pigs,” Cat recalls.  Evil arms dealer Jakovic is married with children.  Julian recalls a college dean whose wife shot him in the face.

3. Feminist/pro-castration.  Cat Run appears to fancy itself highly original in repeatedly depicting a woman getting the best of the various men who confront her: kicking their testicles, shooting them, punching them, stabbing them, blowing them up, making snooty quips at their expense, amputating limbs, and even removing a penis with a cigar cutter.  Helen also effortlessly relieves an overburdened porter of one of the suitcases he is able to carry only with difficulty.  Wimpy heroes Anthony and Julian are favored over macho men, who meet with bloody and painful demise.  A pornographer is an “exploiter” of women and dies the most horrible death.

2. Pro-slut/pro-bastard.  Cat Run presents a sympathetic portrayal of whore and single mother Catalina.  “A blowjob provider?  That would be like calling Caravaggio a housepainter.”

1. State-ambivalent.  Senator Krebb is a murderous lecher, alcoholic, and warmonger.  Intelligence agents delight in torture and mayhem (“We’ll always have Angola”) – which, however, seems to be intended as entertaining, giving rise to an ambiguity in the film’s attitude toward state crimes against humanity.  Cat Run is bizarrely indulgent toward ex-MI6 psycho Helen, who wears a ghoulish pendant made from the teeth of an Arab she interrogated, but is celebrated as a sexy and empowered heroine whose sadistic mutilation and killing of innocents (and implied willingness to murder even babies) are apparently forgivable and negligible in the grand scheme of things because she is “killer cool”.

killer joe

Whereas 2006’s Bug was an interestingly novel but frustrating film, this second collaboration between playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts and director William Friedkin is an essentially perfect work of art and probably the greatest product of Friedkin’s career – which, in view of the fact that said career also includes The French Connection and The Exorcist, is praise of an unusually high magnitude.  An ironical study of human folly and avarice in the mode of the Coens’ Fargo, but resembling Oliver Stone’s U-Turn, Sling Blade, or No Country for Old Men more in its climate and milieu, Killer Joe is an elegantly and wickedly realized adaptation of a crime story in the pulpy and noirish tradition, and is brought to wonderful, vibrant life by the year’s finest assemblage of actors.

A stylized black comedy focusing on a Texas white trash family, Killer Joe surprises in not approaching its subjects with the expected Hollywood condescension, but in allowing even the dumbest and sleaziest characters their due degree of human dignity and consideration.  Emile Hirsch plays Chris Smith, a loser and gambler deep in debt to loan shark Digger Soames (Marc Macaulay).  His not-so-bright solution is to hire a hitman, policeman Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to kill his divorced good-for-nothing mother and collect on her life insurance policy.  Chris’s dimwitted father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), childish, enigmatic sister Dottie (Juno Temple), and whorish step-mother Sharla (Gina Gershon) are willing to go along with the plan; but when Chris and Ansel are unable to meet the killer’s condition of pay up front, Joe decides to take Dottie as his “retainer”.  This being a noir world, nothing goes as planned.

In The Manchurian Candidate, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) explains that, “the human race is divided into two distinct and irreconcilable groups: those that walk into rooms and automatically turn television sets on, and those that walk into rooms and automatically turn them off.”  Joe Cooper, in Shaw’s paradigm, is the serious man, the one who always walks into a room and switches off (or smashes) the television.  “I’m real,” he says to Dottie.  Joe is also an increasingly threatening and problematic figure for the Smith family, particularly after he shows himself content to keep his “retainer” indefinitely.

Killer Joe is insightfully cast.  Emile Hirsch is an obviously foredoomed man from the moment he first appears, while Matthew McConaughey displays a surprisingly icy, intimidating side.  Thomas Haden Church is both hilarious and melancholic, and quirky Juno Temple may have the prettiest, sweetest face and voice on the planet, the perfect sexual foil for scarily masculine Joe.  Gina Gershon is a national treasure and has the potential in coming years to become something approximating her generation’s Karen Black.  One of the great sexpots of the 1990s, her charisma and animal appeal remain undiminished; her age, if anything, has enhanced her capacity for juicy character parts, so that one can only look forward to the roles of her further maturity.

Gershon’s instantaneously immortal and deservedly notorious fried chicken moment is only one of many evidences of Killer Joe‘s unwillingness to pull its punches or compromise.  A violent film that in no way glorifies violence, Killer Joe‘s view of the human condition is a sophisticatedly absurdist one, with the chicken scene being the most grotesquely brilliant depiction of proxy object fellatio since Roger Watkins’s Last House on Dead End Street.   Whether the scene is gratuitously cruel and intended for mere shock value, or whether it rather has some thematic relevance and meaning is something viewers should enjoy contemplating for themselves, and will probably (or at least ought to) be a point of reference for film fans in perpetuity, much in the same way that the backwoods rape in Deliverance or the nuclear bomb ride in Dr. Strangelove have entered the cultural psyche.

One of the best films of 2012, Killer Joe receives five stars and the highest possible recommendation.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that the film is:

5. Pro-drug.  Use and trade in illegal drugs is a reality of average Americans’ lives and as casual a recreational comfort as beer.

4. Neurosis-critical.  Obsessive health consciousness and the ubiquity of empty sexual imagery have turned America into a basket case, with fast food, consequently, becoming the new pornography.

3. Anti-Christian.  The unthinking invocations of Jesus and God; the crucifixes decorating Ansel and Sharla’s trailer; the rote and meaningless funeral ceremony for a woman whose death was welcomed by the attendees – all are representative only of the obviously ineffectual superficiality of these people’s beliefs.

2. Anti-slut.  Sharla is in for some major pain and hideous humiliation.

1. Anti-state/anti-police.  Dallas police officer Joe moonlights as a hitman and says he likes vicious loan shark Digger.  The ease with which Chris acquires a gun illegally serves as a reminder of the futility of gun control legislation.

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