Archives for posts with tag: football

Men Women and Children

This ensemble film follows the interrelated lives of a set of high school students and their parents in the context of twenty-first century connectedness that paradoxically has resulted in a profound disconnect for them all. Jennifer Garner plays a paranoid mother obsessed with controlling and filtering her daughter’s online activities. The daughter, Kaitlyn Dever, strikes up a friendship-cum-romance with Ansel Elgort, a sensitive, gloomy boy who quits the school football team after realizing that sports are meaningless. Meanwhile Elgort’s gruff football enthusiast father, played by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, attempts to cope with his wife’s abandonment of the family. Norris thinks he may have found a new love with Judy Greer, whose trampy daughter, played by Olivia Crocicchia, aspires to become an actress and promotes herself online with risqué photographs. Adam Sandler, meanwhile, adds another “serious” role to his résumé as a dull accountant whose marriage to Rosemarie DeWitt has lost its magic, with both seeking sexual satisfaction on an extramarital basis.

On the whole, Men, Women and Children makes for an engrossing and mildly artsy Hollywood social commentary, but some threads of the story are definitely more rewarding than others. The insights about the debilitating effects of online pornography are welcome, and the portions of the film concerning young lovers Dever and Elgort are touching and nicely played; but the story about the straying spouses takes Men, Women and Children into regions of moral repugnancy too extreme to qualify as entertainment – a circumstance that militates against what otherwise might have been this critic’s unmitigated recommendation. The film does, however, have much to say about the consequences of living in a deracinated, nihilistic, high-tech society centered on empty civic nationalism and in which “football served as a common language for which they [i.e., father and son] had no substitute.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Men, Women and Children is:

6. Anti-Christian. The actions of Jesus Christ mean “absolutely nothing”.

5. State-skeptical. Garner’s surveillance of her daughter’s devices, while attacking the “helicopter parent” phenomenon as a sort of irrational paranoia, also serves as an allegory about the post-9/11 regime of domestic spying as the norm. The flaw in the analogy, of course, is that it suggests domestic surveillance is motivated by a misguided maternal devotion rather than a hostile mania for control.

4. Anti-porn. Sandler’s imagination has been vitiated by the instant gratification of online pornography. His computer, as a result, is also riddled with malware. His son, played by Travis Tope, has been rendered sexually dysfunctional by his own pornography habit. “By age 15,” narrator Emma Thompson informs the viewer, “Chris found it difficult to achieve an erection without viewing a level of deviance that fell well outside societal norms.” Now only the idea of female sexual domination arouses him, and he is incapable of performing with an actual girl. One wonders if Hollywood’s anti-porn stance as articulated in this film and in Don Jon (2013) is motivated by genuine concern for the public health or by worry about online pornography’s competing share of its target audience’s disposable time and income.

3. Slut-ambivalent. Elena Kampouris plays a girl who gets pregnant and has a miscarriage after losing her virginity in a sordid episode in the home of a friend. The audience is invited to hold blonde “bitch” Crocicchia in contempt when she says, “It’s a new era for women, okay? Just because I’m comfortable with my body and enjoy hooking up doesn’t make me a slut.” The film’s anti-slut credentials are, however, undermined by its comparatively casual treatment of marital infidelity.

2. Anti-marriage, pro-miscegenation, and anti-white. Sleazebag Sandler seeks and finds sexual gratification with a prostitute while his shiksa wife, Rosemarie DeWitt, signs up for an account with the Jewish homewrecking site AshleyMadison.com and takes the Allstate congoid, Dennis Haysbert, for her lover. DeWitt is eventually embarrassed to be found out by Sandler when he catches the witch in a bar with still another man, so that the film ostensibly shows that cheating carries risks; but Sandler’s response is tolerance, and his wife evinces embarrassment rather than actual regret. She clearly enjoys what she is doing, and Men, Women and Children makes a great to-do of eroticizing her first encounter with Haysbert. “I’m excited,” she says as she straddles the hulking, gorilla-faced lothario. “I want it […] in my mouth. I want that big penis of yours. I want it. I want your dick. I want you to destroy me with your big fucking cock.” The film, furthermore, could be argued to constitute de facto product placement for AshleyMadison.com’s AIDS-procurement service, suggesting as it does that women of Rosemarie DeWitt’s level of physical attractiveness can actually be met through the site. The viewer is left to assume, too, that, had Sandler’s wife not been caught in her infidelities, she blithely would have continued enjoying her shameless escapades.

1. Luddite. Technology has profoundly complicated the human condition, disrupting male-female relations and isolating individuals in a lonely cacophony. Like the Voyager outer space probe featured more than once in the movie, humanity has now entered treacherous “uncharted territories” thanks to technology.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Hood

A cheapo ghetto reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood, Hood stars bullnecked mulatto football prince Matt Singletary – an actor with all the charisma of a dead crack baby – as an “army hero” who, after fighting the Taliban (i.e., guarding the CIA’s heroin crop) in Afghanistan, comes back home to Chicago to find that his old neighborhood is being tyrannized by the Latin Kings. Determined to make a difference in “the community”, Hood becomes a hoodie-cloaked superhero of sorts, venturing out at night to rip off drug dealers and redistribute their ill-gotten gains to the needy. Assisting him in his low-intensity, action-deprived crusade are Father Tuck (Malik Yoba) and Juanito (Richard Esteras), with corrupt Chicago law enforcement taking the place of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Darren Jones is fun as an oily politician, and one wishes that Thea Camara had been given more screen time as the big and spirited Mrs. Fitzwalter; otherwise, not much to recommend this one.

2 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Hood is:

8. Anti-drug. Hard drugs empower evil. Hood does, however, enjoy a beer.

7. Anti-police. The Latin Kings have infiltrated Chicago’s police, and even the honest few are lazy, muffin-gobbling slobs.

6. State-skeptical. Cynical politicians are in league with criminals. “The worse a neighborhood gets, the more funding it gets,” an alderman rationalizes.

5. Pro-military. The Army appears as the ideal venue for multicultural empowerment. Blacks on the battlefield get to be called “sir”, mouth off to white superiors, and demonstrate their superhuman heroism by doing 187s on America’s enemies. Hilariously, Hood’s pathetic EBT-budgeted version of a Taliban fighter is just some bespectacled Jewish-looking guy in a caftan.

4. Immigration-ambivalent. Hood indicates that “new immigrants” (i.e., illegals) are a prime source of recruits for the Latin Kings because “most don’t speak English” and need a place to stay. Despite the national blight this obviously represents, the film appears to want to depict them as exploited victims.

3. Multiculturalist. So as not to create the impression of racial tension between blacks and mestizos, the Latin Kings are shown to have congoid subordinates while Hood receives the support of his Hispanic neighbors. A community center allows the races to come together in fellowship. Hood volunteers there and teaches tai chi to a vibrant set of youngsters.

2. Christian. Hood, his family, and friends are Christians, and Father Tuck keeps it real on the liberation theology tip. He acknowledges sin in the Church, however, when (after mistaking Hood for a pedophile) he says, “Unlike some priests, I don’t take too kindly to strangers putting their hands on little boys.” Hood’s soundtrack even features a little Christian rap, and the film ends with a Mother Teresa quotation.

1. Marxist. Hood and his band of merry diversityites rob not only Latin Kings, but honest businessmen as well. Troubled by the phenomenon of ghetto “food deserts” and apparently oblivious to the fact that these result from black consumer and criminal behavior, Hood and his gang commit a series of food truck heists, threatening “1 truck per week till you open stores in these neighborhoods.” Robbing trucks. Yep, that ought to spur investment in “the community” . . .

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Part IV of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler

In Ideological Content Analysis:

A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective

Of the ICA Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

The number five film at the box office in 1998 and the number two adult-targeted comedy of that year (after the juggernaut There’s Something About Mary), The Waterboy was another major hit for Adam Sandler, here reteamed with Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci.  From the beginning The Waterboy makes its intentions clear, breaking with opening credits tradition in proclaiming itself “A Frank Coraci Movie” rather than the conventional rendering “An [insert director’s name] Film”.  In other words, The Waterboy is self-conscious and unashamed popular entertainment, preemptively thumbing its nose at whatever the critics might say about it.  As such, the movie is more or less a success – an energetic, upbeat, and stupendously stupid sports comedy aimed at the proverbial lowest common denominator.

Sandler, in a turn reminiscent of his “Cajun Man” Weekend Update bit from Saturday Night Live, creates one of the most memorable comic characters of the decade in Bobby Boucher, a 31-year-old rube still toiling as a college football team’s waterboy.  Boucher is socially awkward, lacks confidence, wets his bed, and is still a virgin; but he is not, as might at first appear to be the case, mentally retarded.  Even more shocking, it turns out the loser has real rage inside and potential as a psychotically brutal offensive lineman whenever somebody makes Boucher angry enough.  Down-on-his-luck Coach Klein (Henry Winkler, in a wry performance indicative of his range beyond the Fonz) knows a star player when he sees one; and, against the wishes of Boucher’s fanatically protective Mama (Kathy Bates), gives the beleaguered waterboy the chance to lead the South Central Louisiana University Mud Dogs to glory.  The climactic team win peculiarly lacks the expected comic punch, but enough in the film is endearing and funny for its shortcomings to be forgiven.

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

9. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  A black player pictures a football as a Klansman’s head so as to motivate himself to kick it especially hard.

8. Feminist.  Distractingly sexy Fairuza Balk plays Boucher’s tough love interest, blade-wielding car thief and potential murderess Vicki Vallencourt, who can handle herself with ease against any would-be oppressor.

7. Mildly anti-South.  The hicks who populate the film are good sorts for the most part, but stereotypically ignorant white trash nonetheless.  One of Boucher’s college professors, a Col. Sanders look-alike, is brutally tackled in a moment of humiliation for an absurd visual representative of the plantation-infested Old South.

6. Drug-ambivalent.  “Don’t smoke crack,” says famous cocaine user Lawrence Taylor to a group of children.  Drinking humor occurs throughout, however, with even the Mud Dogs’ mascot imbibing.  The big game at the end is the Bourbon Bowl.

5. Anti-Christian.  Mrs. Boucher represents conservative Christians as fundamentalist twits obsessed with avoiding an omnipresent evil which lurks in unexpected places.  “Little girls are the devil,” she warns her son; also “Ben Franklin is the devil,” and she even mumbles about the Prince of Darkness in her sleep.

4. Pro-gay.  A sheriff and his deputy answer their door shirtless, the implication being that they have been in each other’s arms.  Misunderstanding Boucher to have said he is bisexual, a party tramp remarks, “I think that’s sexy.”  Coach Klein is seen wearing women’s shoes in a flashback.

3. Statist.  Decent vocabulary notwithstanding, homeschooled Boucher, with his lack of worldliness and social skills is essentially a walking, whimpering endorsement for public schools.  Knowledge-hungry Boucher, when given the chance, is eager to have a university education.  Nevertheless, The Waterboy inadvertently undermines the audience’s confidence in state-run education when the Louisiana high school equivalency examination is shown to include the following inaccurate question: “Ben Franklin discovered electricity.  In what year did this happen?”  (Ben Franklin, despite what unqualified Louisiana teacher union apparatchiks might teach the rustics, did not discover electricity.)

2. Pro-slut.  Tattooed floozy Vicki is all too happy to flash her breasts at the virginal football hero and flirts shamelessly with him in front of his disapproving mother.  (See also no. 4)

1. Family-ambivalent.  Boucher’s love for his mother is consistently touching, but her smothering affection is ultimately an obstacle that must be overcome.  Boucher’s father abandoned his family, and the son, in a triumphant moment of self-assertion, rejects his attempt at reconciliation.

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