Archives for posts with tag: gangster

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Adam Sandler turns in a pleasantly understated performance as Max Simkin, a Lower East Side shoe repairman who discovers that an heirloom stitching machine has magical properties in Tom McCarthy’s film The Cobbler. Put on any customer’s two shoes and Max takes on that person’s appearance, allowing him to indulge such entertaining caprices as sneaking into a black thug’s gun-and-bling-filled apartment or walking into a beautiful stranger’s bathroom. Max eventually takes his place as a “guardian of souls” in addition to his work as a mender of soles.

While funny, The Cobbler is a film which, like Punch Drunk Love (2002), allows Sandler to show off his non-idiot side and is welcome as a change of pace. Steve Buscemi and Dustin Hoffman appear in supporting roles as, respectively, Max’s barber neighbor and mysteriously absent father. Viewers may see the surprise ending coming, but so much of The Cobbler is entertainingly unexpected that any conformity to audience expectations is handily offset.

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

6. Obesity-tolerant. “I’m not fat. I’m big-boned.”

5. Pro-gay and pro-miscegenation. Simkin’s eventual love interest is peppery Carmen (Melonie Diaz). An Asian woman (Greta Lee) flirts with Simkin in a bar after he has unwittingly taken on the form of a bisexual man (Dan Stevens). “I think it’s hot,” she reassures him. Sandler also dons high heels to occasionally assume the appearance of a gauche Latin transvestite (Yul Vazquez).

4. Family-ambivalent. Simkin is deeply devoted to his mother (Lynn Cohen), who was abandoned by his father (Dustin Hoffman). The latter turns out to have responded to a higher calling. Asked if she ever wanted to be somebody else, Mrs. Simkin replies, “I’m your mother. That’s all I ever wanted to be.” Carmen seemingly discounts the necessity of fathers, however, when she says, “My dad split when I was 12. Life goes on.”

3. Localist and populist. Carmen works for the Lower East Side Action Committee, committed to halting the area’s gentrification, and attempts to get Simkin to support the cause. “I’m glad that you’re supporting a local business,” she tells him when she sees him with a box of pickles.

2. Racist! The Cobbler’s only important black character is a career criminal, a murderer and abuser of women, played by rapper Cliff “Method Man” Smith. “You Jewish?” this black bigot interrogates Simkin. “Lucky you.” He then insensitively asks if his recently deceased mother left him any money. In another scene, the fiend creates a Michael Brown-style ruckus in a convenience store.

1. Borderline anti-Semitic. Surprisingly, The Cobbler offers an unsavory portrait of a Hebraic slumlord and gangster in tough-as-nails “Jew from Queens” Elaine Greenawalt (Ellen Barkin). The film compensates for this cinematic blood libel by providing typical wailing violin movie portrayals of weak, long-suffering Jews like Simkin, who gives submissive shoeshines to arrogant blacks. Ratcheting up The Cobbler’s Jewish victimhood factor is Fritz Weaver from the 1978 Holocaust miniseries, who appears as Mr. Solomon, the helpless old man Greenawalt hopes to evict by any dastardly means necessary.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Equalizer

Denzel Washington stars as the title character in The Equalizer – a superhuman bundle of Robin Hood, Barack Obama, Angus MacGyver, and Jason Voorhees rolled into a single American hero. Perhaps the most preposterous film in which Washington has yet appeared, The Equalizer concerns an ex-CIA spook who comes out of retirement to save filthy, greasy-lipped prostitute Chloe Moretz from the clutches of the oil-and-pimping syndicate run by ridiculously named Russian gangster “Vladimir Pushkin” (wink, wink), played by Vladimir Kulich.

Washington’s genius allows him to improvise endlessly inventive and cruel methods of dispatching his enemies, frequently by means of split-second calculus – cogitations conveyed cinematically by extreme close-ups of Washington’s all-seeing eyeball – and always directed at Caucasian men. The Equalizer is silly, offensive, inorganic, and way too long at a run time in excess of two hours, but those who suffer the full duration of its unending equality mandate will at least be treated to an awe-inspiring rap by Eminem.

3 out of 5 stars for the unintentional humor. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Equalizer is:

6. Pro-torture. Enhanced interrogation be da bomb.

5. Black supremacist, pro-immigration, and anti-white. The titular hero, living up to his name, disburses the villains’ ill-gotten gains among a group of Asian immigrants. Juxtaposed with the brilliant, polite, well-read, and fastidious Washington – an extraordinary specimen of Africanus cinematicus – white men appear as boorish ogres who mistreat women. Washington scolds a white co-worker for his foul language, and one scene even shows a white criminal in a hoodie robbing minorities at gunpoint. In still another scene, he literally uses a book to disable a Caucasian. “Change your world,” the Equalizer advises, a recommendation that screenwriter Richard Wenk seems to have taken to heart in depicting lifeforms on this planet.

4. Anti-police. Boston cops – white ones, of course – are on the take and extort protection money from minority businesses. In a lame reversal of the famous scene in Dirty Harry (1971), a black man points a gun at a white cop and calls him “punk”.

3. Anti-Russian and pro-war. As in all recent Hollywood output – The Heat (2013), Bullet to the Head (2012), and Pain and Gain (2013) being other examples – Slavic women are depicted as prostitutes. Moretz’s pimp, played by David Meunier, is even named “Slavi” so as to as to scream his ethnicity into the viewer’s ears in case the fact of his being a Russian was not already obvious.

Marton Csokas portrays Itchenko, the iciest and most bestial of the Russians – a character whose name suggests that he is subhuman (i.e., an “it”) as well as being a biological nuisance (an “itch”). Itchenko also has epaulette tattoos on his shoulders, a detail which implies that imperious militarism constitutes a physiologically inextricable aspect of the Russian subhuman’s being. Of “Pushkin”, it is said that “his money and political ties make him untouchable”, which can only suggest that he is somehow connected with Russian government officials – Putin himself, perhaps?

In one scene, an assembly of Russian mobsters refuses Washington’s offer of $9,000 in exchange for a hooker’s “freedom”. “You should have taken the money,” he taunts after murdering all of them. The significance of this confrontation, almost unrecognizably distorted in its filtering of geopolitical reality, is that Russia, by rejecting America’s globalist porno-economic order of capitalo-totalitarian usury, has invited its own extermination. At the film’s conclusion, Washington travels to Russia to assassinate “Pushkin” – and, like a proper slasher movie serial killer, confronts him while he is taking a shower.

2. Pro-N.W.O. CIA officials appear as tender and devoted nurturers. Clearly, the casting of Washington as the hero also carries an onomatological resonance.

1. Anti-Christian and Jewish supremacist. “I will have vengeance,” one hears muttered repeatedly during one of the songs featured on the Equalizer soundtrack. Indeed, it has been some time since this reviewer has seen a movie as viciously and mockingly anti-Christian as this one. Early on, The Equalizer associates and nearly equates Christianity with Russian brutality, with gangsters sporting crucifix tattoos and lounging around a bar with an Orthodox icon on the wall. When Washington intrudes and casually slaughters them, the icon is splattered with their blood.

An early scene that establishes Washington’s character and trajectory draws a parallel with the protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. On the surface, this refers to Washington’s being an older man of former achievement who rises from mediocrity to take on a massive challenge, or catch the big fish represented by “Vladimir Pushkin”. So blatant is The Equalizer’s hatred of Christianity, however, that the significance of the fish allegory is multiple. At the deeper level, Washington is the personification of Judaic vengeance, the golem, the butcher, and fisherman who has finally, triumphantly, reeled in Christendom. The script, at the moment of Washington’s summary of the novel, warrants quotation:

Old man tied the fish to the side of the boat, had to row back to shore. The fish bled in the water, sharks came, and ate the whole fish till there was nothing left. [. . .]  The old man met his greatest adversary when he thought that part of his life was over [. . .] Came to respect it the more it fought.

Asked why the fisherman refused to relinquish the fish, Washington replies that, “The old man’s gotta be the old man. Fish gotta be the fish.” The big fish is Christendom, its bleeding either the vivisection of Christ or the degradation and rot of the West by corrosive culture-disease. European man, in the allegory, is Jewry’s big trophy catch – and neither, if it is to be true to itself, can ever give up the struggle against the other’s all-or-nothing efforts.

In the climactic scene, the hissing and superficially civilized Itchenko is transfixed in a ritual sacrifice by Washington, whose sadistic choice of a nail gun to do the job is the key to understanding the movie’s subtext. Here, for America’s rooting enjoyment, is a thinly disguised Christ-snuff film framed as a thrilling adventure in which ZOG saves the world again from crypto-tsarist-fascist bigotry. For the cherry to top the cloying Jewishness of the whole tawdry abomination, in an earlier scene Washington even subjects Itchenko to psychoanalysis before committing a massive act of industrial terrorism to spite him.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Ready 2 Die

After robbing a Federal Reserve Bank branch and leading the LAPD on a televised freeway chase (“like O.J., Holmes”), four luckless desperadoes find themselves stranded without a car in East L.A., pursued both by the authorities and – after a “ghetto APB” and word of their loot gets out – their greedy fellow gangstas as well.

Writer-director John Azpilicueta stars as the bereaved Lucky, dismissed from a SEALs training camp for “emotional problems”; Jacob Martinez is Smiley, a chubby old thug who tried in vain to go straight, but whose financial troubles have thrust him back into a life of crime; and Pablo Hernandez is Psycho, a hitman who pretty much lives up to his name. The most interesting character, dishonorably discharged Ranger and Coolio haircut hood rat Sniper, is played by Bless May, who unfortunately receives the least screen time of the foursome.

Azpilicueta’s film, typical for an Asylum release, is shoddy and rough-hewn, with crap special effects, some substandard acting, too little coverage for action scenes, and overreliance on quick cuts and shaky-cam cinematography. A series of black-and-white flashbacks, intended to humanize the leads, only succeeds in stalling the action; but sleazebags attracted to a movie as underachievingly titled as Ready 2 Die will no doubt be entertained by its ready abundance of murder, profanity, rape, and pandemic nastiness.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Ready 2 Die is:

7. Anti-Christian. More than one thug is adorned with a cross, either as a necklace or a tacky tattoo.

6. Anti-marriage. A mulatto wife is a lazy, unfaithful freeloader.

5. Miscegenation-ambivalent. The aforementioned wife is, however, depicted as quite the sexual trophy and gets the hiding heroes excited as they voyeuristically enjoy the sight of her in the act of adultery.

4. Anti-bankster. The fact that the crooks attack a Federal Reserve bank makes them, if not quite sympathetic, at least not as dastardly as if they had robbed a small business like a liquor store. Ready 2 Die conveys a generalized anger at the economic plight of the country; and, without articulating any particular argument, the movie seems to be suggesting blame by flashing the Federal Reserve Bank sign during the opening robbery. Sniper is unemployed, and the fact that Smiley is behind on his house payments reminds viewers of banks’ predatory lending tactics.

3. Anti-police. Ready 2 Die evinces either indifference toward the “fucking po-po” or, if anything, actual hostility, casting them as the pesky antagonists who pursue the central characters.

2. Anti-war. Sniper expresses the nihilism of war brought home when he says that shooting at police cars and helicopters is “just like Fallujah, baby – just different motherfuckers.”

1. Racist! Ready 2 Die demonstrates as well as a movie could why even minorities have reason to fear the eventuality of their neighborhoods going majority non-white. Gangs, drugs, and scary tattoos are the norm, with mothers living in fear that their children will be murdered not by white supremacist pigs, but by members of their own wretched raza. Furthermore, blacks appear in an almost uniformly unfavorable light in the film. Sniper is one of the movie’s most coldblooded killers. “Fuck that funny-lookin’ bitch,” he excuses himself for shooting a bank teller. “She was lookin’ at me all crazy and shit.” He robs and kills because he would rather do this than “flip some burgers”. A black cop lounges around his home milking “disability”, while his misbehaving son ludicrously claims to have been suspended from school just for being black.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Family De Niro

Robert De Niro in The Family (2013)

LUC BESSONFat and happy Zionist asset Luc Besson

Family poster

Robert De Niro stars in this gory, mean-spirited “comedy” as a glorified serial killer and sadist who, with his sad pyromaniac spouse (Michelle Pfeiffer) and two chip-off-the-old-block teenagers (John D’Leo and Dianna Agron), has moved to Normandy at the behest of the Witness Protection Program. Posing unconvincingly as an academic, De Niro and his ultraviolent spawn lay waste to the French in a nihilistic bid for the affections of the Freedom Fry aficionados in the American audience. Tommy Lee Jones, looking as wrinkly and battered as the Constitution, appears as De Niro’s long-suffering Witness Protection case worker. The veteran leads are fun to watch, but their characters live too far beyond the possibility of redemption to deserve two hours of viewers’ time. Recommended to neoconservatives only.

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

5. Anti-Christian. Pfeiffer lost her virginity in a church. A judgmental priest (Christopher Craig) becomes irate and commands her to leave his cathedral after hearing her confession.

4. Ultra-green, with De Niro’s brown tap water driving him to an act of eco-terror.

3. Feminist/pro-castration. De Niro’s daughter – surprise, surprise! – is tough as nails and delivers a savage thrashing and genital-beating in reply to a come-on.

2. Zionist, perpetuating the myth that America “liberated” France. The Family, with its story of smug, self-important Americans storming overseas and asserting themselves by destroying things, serves as a frightening allegorical normalization of Jewish-American foreign policy. Gullible audiences, The Family hopes, will internalize as good, old-fashioned Americanism and “family values” the license to commit genocide that Rush Limbaugh chooses to pretty up as “American exceptionalism”. Pfeiffer, for instance, blows up a grocery store after overhearing a perfectly justified complaint about American (i.e., Jewish) media brainwashing. Jews appear in The Family as the victims rather than as the perpetrators of organized crime.

1. Pro-torture/anti-human. Men having their bones broken, testicles crushed, being dipped head-first into a barrel of acid – how hilarious! From murder to thievery to drug dealing in a school, The Family’s attitude is that crime is cute. De Niro, furthermore, attempts to validate his admittedly “sadistic urges” by arguing that he mutilates people for a “good reason”. “You’re the best dad anybody could ever ask for,” his daughter informs him moments before he drifts into a daydream about barbecuing a neighbor’s head. “Writing is intense,” he says in another reflective moment. “I feel like I been lookin’ at myself in a mirror all day.” One wonders what hideous creatures The Family’s screenwriters, Michael Caleo and Luc Besson, glimpse as in a mirror while they ply their appalling trade.

 

Kick-Ass 2

2010’s Kick-Ass advertised itself as presenting audiences with “A New Kind of Superhero”. What was new was the fact that, in that film, the hero nearly drops the ethnic disguise that crypto-Jewish predecessors – Batman, Superman, and others – had worn in winning the public’s heart. In adapting John Romita, Jr.’s comic book for the screen, Kick-Ass not only exposes but almost openly celebrates the Chosenness of its protagonist by transforming Dave Lizewski from the blond, Nordic-looking character of Romita’s creation into a curly-headed, bespectacled Jewish nebbish ably portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Hit-Girl, too – though her name is given as Macready, and despite being portrayed by Chloe Grace Moretz, a precocious actress who claims to come from a “very Christian” background – conveys a decidedly Judaic sensibility; and the character’s Jewishness goes overt in the scene in which she watches as her father, Nic Cage, conflagrates as a one-man Holocaust.

Kick-Ass poster

Kick-Ass 2 (2013), like its forebear, is filthy, foulmouthed, ultraviolent, and full of over-the-top bloodletting, but only half as engaging as the original Kick-Ass. For one thing, the novelty of the DIY hero idea is diluted by the fact that Kick-Ass 2 populates New York City with whole armies of would-be superheroes and villains, none of whom are fully developed characters as Kick-Ass and Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are in the first film.

Nor are matters helped by the fact that the entertainment-evaporating Morris Chestnut receives extra screen time as Hit-Girl’s tedious foster father Marcus, a straight-laced, sterling example of Africanus cinematicus who chides his young ward for her obscene language and institutes a swear jar penalty for every offense. Meanwhile, the toilet humor factor, as if to compensate for Kick-Ass 2’s lack of human interest, is ratcheted to the nth degree, with Kick-Ass and girlfriend Night Bitch (Lindy Booth) literally having sex in a toilet stall. The only other paltry attraction of note is Jim Carrey in his supporting turn as ridiculously mugging and slugging hero Col. Stars and Stripes.

Kick-Ass Chloe

Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass (2010)

Fortunately, Chloe Moretz is a few years older this time out, which softens the borderline pedophilia of the first film’s fetishization of Hit-Girl. Kick-Ass made explicit Hit-Girl’s forbidden appeal to older males, with her leather outfit, whore wig, short skirt, sensuous, sneering lips, and penchant for blowing kisses and using language like “cunts”, “motherfuckers”, and “giant cock”. One scene of the first film frames her against an erotic billboard advertisement with Claudia Schiffer, juxtaposing Hit-Girl’s juvenile form with that of the fully developed sex siren.

Kick-Ass Claudia

Hit-Girl inappropriately framed with Claudia Schiffer

Jane Goldman

Kick-Ass (2010) writer and devourer of innocents Jane Goldman

Kick-Ass screenwriter Jane Goldman, in the A New Kind of Superhero documentary included on the Kick-Ass blu-ray, refers cryptically to the “odd domesticity” between Hit-Girl and her father, a wording which casts a disconcertingly serious light on Hit-Girl’s meaning when she says, “I’m just fuckin’ with you, Daddy.” Kick-Ass 2 only reinforces this impression when Hit-Girl tells Marcus, “I know you see me as this little girl, but I’m not, and I never was. You’re right, Daddy did take my childhood away, but I’m not so sure that was a bad thing.”

Jeff Wadlow

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) writer-director-cryptographer Jeff Wadlow

2.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Kick-Ass 2 is:

10. Anti-Arab. Hit-Girl threatens to “go Saudi Arabia on your ass” before chopping a man’s hand off. A typically hypocritical Zionist warmonger, she engages in precisely the crimes of which she accuses the enemy. The Motherfucker’s henchmen commit an Islamic terrorist-style decapitation – which, like those supposedly performed by ISIS on Foley and Sotloff, never actually appears onscreen. (cf. no. 1)

9. Crypto-antichrist. Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewsky, though substantively Jewish, affects a veneer of Christian belief for gullible audiences, attending a Christian funeral ceremony for his father (Garrett M. Brown). Lizewsky’s irreverence toward his putative faith reveals itself, however, when he affects a comical pimp disguise with gaudy crucifix bling. On his bedroom wall, furthermore, is a poster advertising Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar’s comic book American Jesus, book one of which is titled “Chosen”. Military-minded Col. Stars and Stripes, meanwhile, is a born-again Christian who shows his faith and patriotism by dishing out beatings with his trusty baseball bat and barking orders like, “Yo, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain!” “I’ll be immortal, like an evil Jesus,” says the Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

8. Egalitarian/class-conscious. The wealthy Motherfucker and his minions are the “one percent”, with heroes coming from what remains of the middle class. “A family livin’ in the street deserves a hot meal,” opines Col. Stars and Stripes in his role of embodiment of the schizophrenic mental retardation that is Barack Obama’s America.

7. Multiculturalist, pro-miscegenation, and pro-wigger. Hit-Girl, an orphan, is raised by an Africanus cinematicus. Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), Kick-Ass’s girlfriend from the first film, breaks up with him and informs him that an African rival has a larger “baton”. Girls are encouraged to twerk and jerk to congoid booty-shaking beats.

6. Drug-ambivalent. Hit-Girl cut her teeth on the drug dealers she and her father targeted, but wins in the end of Kick-Ass 2 with the help of hypo full of adrenaline. Mr. Lizewsky is concerned that his son may be using drugs, but “an inebriated college girl deserves to make it home safe at night,” proclaims Col. Stars and Stripes.

5. Pro-gay. The Kick-Ass queer super-friends and allies include a token sodomite. Homophobic talk, the audience learns, “makes you sound super-gay.”

4. Misandrist and pro-castration. Hit-Girl beats up and mutilates a number of men. “In a weird way, I kinda liked it,” says Kick-Ass of being on the receiving end of Hit-Girl’s abuse. More than one male groin gets brutalized. Night Bitch devotes her career as a superheroine to stopping sexually predatory men.

3. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Would-be supervillain the Motherfucker is loose with the racially insensitive stereotypes, which he defends rather as “archetypes”. (cf. no. 10)

2. Anti-family. Chris D’Amico (Mintz-Plasse) accidentally murders his mother in a fit of rage. Then, after discovering her S&M gear, he repurposes the items as a bad guy costume and dubs himself the Motherfucker. Hit-Girl’s high school rival, a catty and unprogressive blonde bitch (Claudia Lee), only aspires to be a wife and mother. (also see above remarks on incest and pedophilia)

Join Fight

1. Zionist. “We were in the ultimate clique. It didn’t matter that no one else knew. We knew,” gloats a self-satisfied Kick-Ass. Supervillain and would-be “evil Jesus” the Motherfucker knows that Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl – which is to say, Zionist Jews – assassinated his father (Mark Strong) in the first film. The ‘Fucker’s mother (Yancy Butler), however, dismisses her son’s claims and insists that Mr. D’Amico simply “died in a fire.” The Motherfucker, then, stands in Kick-Ass 2 as an insulting caricature of all the disgruntled “conspiracy theorists”, a representative of the Gentile Spring and the ascendant minority of the angry and awakened gentiles who know that the Jews did 9/11.

Kick-Ass 2 contains what may be a cryptic admission of Jewish guilt for the 9/11 attacks, if considered together with the conclusion of the first Kick-Ass, which ends with gangster Frank D’Amico exploding into an orange fireball high outside a New York City skyscraper. In the sequel, the hero teams up with a new vigilante (Donald Faison) who goes by the name Dr. Gravity – a handle suggestive of the force dictating that what goes up must come down. Significantly, the scene in which “ultimate clique” member Kick-Ass and artificial force of nature Dr. Gravity beat down two street thugs with skinhead haircuts takes place outside a restaurant with a sign clearly visible at the top of the frame. “Since 1911,” it reads – a reference to 9/11/01?

China and Russia, both inconvenient geopolitical counterbalances to the implementation of a Jewish World Imperium, appear personified as antagonists Genghis Carnage (Tom Wu) and Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), best described as a female version of Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV. In another show of Jewish storytelling chutzpah, Col. Stars and Stripes’s German shepherd is suggestively named Eisenhower and wears a tacky American flag mask. The American president and Supreme Allied Commander of World War 2 is thus revealed as the Zionists’ pet, a faux-patriot Shabbos goy attack dog to be unleashed on the enemies of organized Jewry.

Lastly, the much-abused phrase “peace in the Middle East” occurs in the script as a reference point for something incredibly complicated, in the sense in which the proverbial “rocket science” is typically used. This, of course, obscures the fact that Americans, instead of subsidizing the Israelis’ genocide against the Palestinian people, would do better to further the aim of peace by cutting off Israel’s 3.5 billion-a-year in welfare checks.

Kick-Ass American Jesus

“Chosen”

American Hustle poster

To be perfectly honest, this reviewer was bored for lengthy portions of American Hustle, David O. Russell’s unaccountably lauded opus about the Abscam scandal. Like too many period pieces set in fashion-distinctive epochs, Hustle evinces an overly polished and inorganic quality, more concerned with fussing about its garish clothing, bizarre hairstyles, and flaunting an unwarranted sense of its own super-coolness than with the development of characters deserving of the audience’s interest. As with the less inspired moments in Scorsese’s oeuvre, American Hustle is too content to slide by on the likability of its vintage pop soundtrack and slick but empty visual flair, with – of course! – the obligatory trip to a decadent discotheque.

The performances of Bale, Cooper, and others are fine, but hardly career highlights. Russell’s unconvincing dialogue, co-credited to Eric Warren Singer, bears much of the blame for the film’s lifelessness. Actors can hardly be blamed for failing to salvage compelling drama out of the likes of the following yawners: “This is bullshit. We are bullshit. You were bullshit. You were bullshit.” While no character in American Hustle is particularly sympathetic, there are some affecting moments toward the end of the film when flimflam man Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) begins to feel guilty about misleading and ruining a mark he has come to view as his friend. This in no way justifies a run time in excess of two hours, however – leaving the viewer to wonder whether the tale of this potbellied, philandering Jew con artist with a heart of gold needed to be told at all.

ICA’s advice: For a 70s con game period piece, see Richard Gere in The Hoax instead.

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

8. Pro-drug. Nothing sells marijuana like the sight of a beautiful temptress (Amy Adams) smoking a joint.

7. Anti-American. Check the title.

6. Multiculturalist. Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) maintains friendly relations with the minority community and even adopts a black kid to show what a great guy he is.

5. Pro-gay, with one gratuitous lesbian kiss.

4. Pro-slut. Movie stars making out in a bathroom – how glamorous! Rosenfeld does “the right thing” by marrying single mother Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence).

3. Zionist, calling attention to the undying bogeyman of American politicians’ insidious willingness to sell out the country’s well-being to the Arabs. Dismissive reference is also made to (Israel-hating, Palestine-loving) “fuckin’ Jimmy Carter”.

2. Relativistic. “That’s the way the world works. Not black and white like you say. Extremely gray.”

1. Obamist. In union-friendly Carmine Polito, American Hustle portrays the corrupt but humble and likable politician as tragic hero, a man of the people, a caring, avuncular figure genuinely concerned with the welfare of his constituents, and who presides over a system of corruption only so as to create new jobs. “We dream and we build,” he says. Overly zealous investigators like DiMaso (Cooper) are ruining America, Rosenfeld charges, by exposing high misdeeds and so destroying the people’s faith in their leaders. So lay off the Solyndra, Benghazi, NSA, IRS, and other scandals, American Hustle cautions, lest the spiritually vulnerable masses lose their precious hope.

The_Heat_poster

“The making and authorized distribution of this film supported over 13,000 jobs and involved hundreds of thousands of work hours,” reads a message following The Heat‘s end credits, as if in apology or as an excuse for what the viewer has just experienced. Sure, that montage of McCarthy and Bullock bonding as they hip-shake to Deee Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart” might have been a little pathetic and painful for you to sit through, but by purchasing that ticket, you were making a difference in the life of an underprivileged Hollywood union schlub. The product of those hundreds of thousands of schlub hours, sad to say, would appear to be something significantly less than the sum of these thousands of toilers’ efforts.

Sandra Bullock stars as anal retentive FBI agent Ashburn, who, in the course of trying to nail a Boston drug kingpin – and The Heat, make no mistake, is set in Boston solely for the opportunity this provides of including a gaggle of superfluous characters with easily ridiculed accents – is thrust into an unwelcome partnership with local slob policewoman Mullins, played with irascible gusto and admirable comic timing by husky comedienne Melissa McCarthy. The fitful joy of the film – and despite its ultimate mediocrity, there are occasional laughs to be had – derives from the epic clash of the pair’s diametrically opposed personalities.

The boring displays of womanly courage, physical might, and weapons prowess; the endless, prideless parade of wimpy and contemptible men; the open, obsessively unabashed discussions of anatomy; the entertainment-deficient moments of earnestness and emotional searching; and, last but not least, some execrable slapstick – all of these are to be expected in a film of this type; but what finally puts the damper on The Heat is its unwieldy length and uneven pacing, with the movie overstaying its lukewarm welcome by at least 40 draggy minutes. If there is a reason to endure The Heat, however, it is easily Melissa McCarthy, who, as big, jiggly, probably smelly ball of charisma Mullins, should fill a screen of any size with little difficulty.

2.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Heat is:

13. Anti-Slav. As in Pain and Gain and A Good Day to Die Hard, the Slavic female is an exotic, shady, kinky, inferior creature.

12. Anti-Christian. “That’s one of the better Jesus-sports-themed paintings I’ve seen,” Ashburn observes uncomfortably, indicating a kitschy picture in the Mullins family’s home.

11. Anti-white male. An insecure, misogynistic, loud-mouthed albino (Dan Bakkedahl) says it all.

10. Pro-gay. Lesbians cavort on a dance floor.

9. Racism-skeptical. The albino’s whining about the heroines’ “albino prejudice” parodies race hustlers’ constant harping about whites’ racial insensitivity. (Either that, or it mocks whites’ complaints of reverse racism.) “Don’t play that race bullshit card with me,” Mullins gripes in a bizarre encounter with a black man (“Spoken Reasons”, a.k.a. John A. Baker, Jr.) who accuses her of racism after she hurls a watermelon at him. Unfortunately, given the convoluted nature of this film’s moral universe, Mullins may receive a pass to balk at hackneyed victimologies only because she has already taken the litmus test and desegregated her vagina (see no. 5).

8. Drug-ambivalent. Ashburn and Mullins bond over drinks and enjoy a rowdy evening; but the hangover and the knowledge of how she behaved kills Ashburn’s buzz the following morning. A peaceable pot smoker (Reasons) minds his own business until hassled by Mullins, while her brother (Michael Rapaport) gets into more serious trouble through hard drugs. About regular old tobacco, Mullins recommends quitting because she “had a great aunt who lost most of her teeth to smoking.”

7. Multiculturalist. Federal agents contributing to the law enforcement effort include blacks, whites, and Hispanics. Even street gangs and organized crime are multiracial concerns.

6. Anti-family/anti-marriage. The Mullins family is of course grotesque and dysfunctional. Mullins, unsuitable for marriage or motherhood, gives vent to a petty resentment toward America’s ex-normalcy when she catches a family man in the act of cruising for hookers and tortures him before trying to ruin his marriage by phoning the man’s wife to tell her about it. The wife, appraised of the situation, encourages Mullins in further cruelty.

5. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation. Ashburn and fellow agent Levy (Marlon Wayans) engage in the obligatory interracial flirtation, while “Nine out of ten guys I fuck are black guys,” Mullins boasts.

4. Obesity-tolerant. Given that 64% of American women are now overweight, it is only natural that Hollywood, with an eye to satisfying changing demographics, should give the heavyweights movie stars of their own. Now fat women not only have characters with whom they can identify, but ones who reassure them that slovenliness is desirable. Whereas overweight women in movies and television previously filled the roles of matronly types (e.g., Hattie McDaniel or Frances Bavier) or bitchy hags (Roseanne in the Barr phase of her career), obese actresses like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson represent a new mutant feminist temptress and fat pride pin-up ideal. Mullins, McCarthy’s character in The Heat, is more than once supplicated by ex-boyfriends, who follow her around like wounded puppies, salivating at the thought of another shot at a hop on the paunch. Her girth more than once makes things difficult for her, but that’s just the part of the price she has to pay for being a sexy bitch (cf. nos. 1 and 2).

3. Basically statist. The Heat would appear to be confused about the value of the various government agencies it portrays and the usefulness of their endeavors to the public these agencies purport to serve. At no point in all of the movie’s mayhem is there any indication, civic-minded lip service and back-patting notwithstanding, that FBI or DEA agents have accomplished anything for taxpayers by pursuing the endless War on Drugs. But the one man who dares to refer to his status as a taxpayer (“I pay taxes, so fuck the government”) is then immediately obliterated by a car bomb, so let that be a lesson to you.

Never mind that different federal agencies, even as depicted in The Heat, are mutually hostile and interfere with each other’s overlapping investigations. Nor should the viewer allow the fact that one of the federal agents is revealed to be in cahoots with the mob to reflect on the collective integrity of America’s civil servants. (USPS personnel are, however, represented rather poorly, with a post office hag in a bar mumbling, “Eat my fuckin’ Irish ass.”)

“When bad shit happens in my neighborhood, I get a little passionate about it,” Mullins proclaims, with unintentional humor deriving from the fact that much of the “bad shit” and violence that occurs in her neighborhood is of her own doing. At times, police work just seems to be an excuse for an officer to let off steam by harassing and physically abusing the common citizen. The most sinister aspect of The Heat‘s concept of law enforcement is that police brutality is treated so casually, normalized, in fact, as something perhaps lovably eccentric but wholesomely populist in its appeal. After all, “if you’re not in trouble, you’re not doin’ your job.”

2. Pro-castration. The Heat delights in depicting male suffering and humiliation. Mullins plays Russian roulette with a criminal’s dick and Ashburn shoots another offender twice in the crotch, with a seething hostility toward men’s genitalia permeating the film. Women determine the terms of their interactions with the men, who are left to beg for attention or mercy, as when Levy pitifully propositions Ashburn, “If you’re gonna boss me around, you could at least buy me dinner first.” It is this appalling exemplar of the sensitive man, however, who has the best shot at winning Ashburn’s affection (cf. nos. 1 and 4).

1. Feminist. Mullins makes repeated, obsessive references to testicles, including testicles for women, and is given to saying disgusting things like, “I’m balls-deep in boredom.” Tough but sensitive women in manface: this is The Heat‘s neurotic essence. But, “You go, girl!” the viewer presumably is expected to cheer at this spectacle of degeneracy – no matter how repulsive the heroines may be as they swagger around in men’s wear, ape masculine traits, shout at men, beat them up, and picturesquely point and shoot their government-issue penises.

Whatever screenwriter Katie Dippold’s intentions, however, her script has much to say about how unhappy women have made themselves by buying into the feminist fraud. Chief among the hallucinations propagated by the feminists is the idea that a woman, having paradoxically actualized her femaleness by disposing of her femininity, can somehow retain her worth as a woman rather than as the ersatz man she has chosen to become. “I’m a lady,” claims a deluded Mullins, giving voice to this untenable view. Ashburn’s careerism ended her marriage and she admits to being lonely. Her sleuthing skills may be Monk-like, but “being a woman in this field is hard. Men are just so intimidated by me.” Most men naturally find her mannishness unappealing. “Hard to believe she’s single,” a coworker observes sarcastically. There is a reason why Ashburn’s only romantic prospect at the end is a total weenie, and an African one at that, who expects her to pay for his meals in exchange for his company. But is it because white men are “intimidated” by her, or that they are simply disgusted by what she and her type have become? (cf. nos. 2 and 4)

2platesposter

Filmed in 2010 as The Two Plates and re-released at Redboxes this week under the stronger and more attention-grabbing title Blood Red Presidents, this ghetto epic from writer-director Jonathan Straiton is well worth checking out. Nasty, raw, and uncompromising, Blood Red Presidents dispenses with the Hollywood kid gloves in the depiction of blacks and emphasizes instead the grittily real. So firm is this film’s commitment to presenting the truth, no matter how unflattering to the society it depicts, that much of it feels almost as if actual camera phone footage straight out of the ‘hood had been edited together and uploaded onto YouTube as a movie, with most of the actors mumbling and slurring their lines instead of hamming it up and projecting; but there is much audiovisual style displayed here along with the handheld and seemingly primitive, with several memorably composed frames and such tactics as split screen employed more than once and used especially effectively in a doom-laden money-counting montage and musical interlude. Hip-hop is very much a part of this film’s personality and does much to enhance its power.

The violent story has two small-time hustlers, Deshaun (Assault) and Buck (Ambush), making a play for the big-time money as counterfeiters after they steal two plates that once belonged to a Peruvian drug lord. Unfortunately for them, their scheme attracts the attention of Secret Service agent Caddell (John Patton), who, along with Richmond cops Beck (Chris Morrison) and Burnett (Wes Reid), is determined to bring Deshaun and Buck’s successful run to an end. Before the tragic but blackly humorous story has run its seedy course, many will die, families will suffer, and friends will turn against each other. Blood Red Presidents, then, lives up to its title as yet another cautionary tale about how money, the titular “presidents”, is supposedly “the root to all evil.” Buck and Deshaun are no pitiable victims of any white Man’s “system”, however; these are crude, coldblooded brutes, self-described “niggers killin’ niggers” who deserve everything they get and more.

4 out of 5 stars. Recommended.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Blood Red Presidents is:

6. Christian. “Yeah, I’m sure, man. Is Jesus black?” Director Jonathan Straiton thanks God in the credits for His “guidance”.

5. Pro-family. Straiton dedicates the film to his father. Executive producer John M. Clark, meanwhile, thanks “Gene my adopted son who I appreciate very much for helping my retarded son.”

4. Sexist and slut-ambivalent. A rap that plays over the opening credits warns of crooked lawyers and “bitches with game”. “Get the fuck off the bed,” Deshaun tells his “shorty” in one early scene. “You need to take that shit to the clinic,” one young wastrel says to her. Leaning in the pro-slut direction, however, the executive producer gives a “special thanks” to “the designer of crotchless panties and peach flavored douche.”

3. Drug-ambivalent. In the opening scene, an old-fashioned white father, no doubt intended to be laughable, is shocked that his son would use marijuana. Thugs smoke joints and blunts and drink alcohol throughout the film, but “seein’ ya mama on that glass pipe is a painful sight.” In the end credits, executive producer John M. Clark thanks “the French wheat growers for doing their part to distill Grey Goose Vodka without which I couldn’t get through a day,” while producer Mean Gene thanks Bud Light “for always being there for me in time of need.” The director, Jonathan Straiton, says, “To anyone I forgot I apologize but it’s late and I’m drunk.”

2. Police-ambivalent/anti-state. Blood Red Presidents presents a sympathetic portrait of rookie cop Burnett and his chief. “You know how the media is,” Burnett complains to his chief after being accused of police brutality. “I mean, where were they last week when I was changing that old lady’s tire?” Surprisingly, Burnett is the only character in the film who shows any remorse after committing a murder, and he even risks blowing a major investigation to try to save a criminal informant’s life. His colleague Beck is another matter. In a situation similar to that in The Place Beyond the Pines, this officer attempts to cover up for Burnett after his mistaken killing of an unarmed suspect. Meaningfully, the victim, an aspiring rapper, is found to have been holding a microphone rather than a gun. (Symbolically, this might be read as suggesting that the police state feels less threatened by black crime than by socially conscious black men’s freedom of expression.) One of the extras in the police station has clearly been cast to capture the worthless, doughnut-scarfing blob archetype.

1. Diversity-skeptical/anti-wigger. A close-up of Virginia’s state flag, with its motto, “Sic semper tyrannis”, calls to mind Lincoln’s assassination and never-completed Reconstruction. “Freedom ain’t free,” one rap number suggests, and racial resentments going back to the days of slavery inform the typical thug mindset, with the ghosts of slaves, heard from the trees, encouraging young black men to “Squeeze that tech, nigga.” White police, consequently, are vulnerable both to violence and defamation in the media. In one scene, a black man punches a white stranger on sight. Buck and Deshaun’s wigger associates, “silly-ass white boy” Chuck (Ashby Brooks) and his brother, “ol’ crazy-ass white boy” Mike (Rob Rozier), turn out to be untrustworthy. Authorities, meanwhile, are frustrated by criminals’ use of unintelligible Ebonics.

undergroundbloodred

This 2010 grade-Z kick-fest, just released to Redboxes on a double feature disc with the superior gangster study Blood Red Presidents, stars writer-director Wilbert Berthaud, Jr., as Mike, an urban martial artist who to his regret gets mixed up with an underground fighting ring to help pay the bills and support his little brothers. Berthaud might have done better to concentrate on his duties behind the camera, as, high kicks aside, the young man has little in the way of screen presence and could have spent more time developing his script. More interesting is his unkempt afro, which goes through mutations during the film and in one scene is displayed half-fluffed, the other half of his head subdued in cornrows, a rare (probably unintentional) piece of poetic imagery that captures Mike’s divided self, as he receives occasional visits from his own dark side. This and other elements make for a somewhat offbeat action picture, its oddity failing, however, to compensate for quality. The action scenes and comic relief are tolerably good, but with no compelling characters to cheer to a victory, Underground is an indie picture best left interred.

2 out of 5 possible stars. ICA’s advice: for a good underground fighting drama, check out Lorenzo Lamas in Night of the Warrior; or for decent kung fu mayhem with a black star, see any Jim Kelly movie.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Underground is:

6. Feminist. Jade (Sara Walsh) proves to be a worthy opponent for Mike and even beats him on one occasion.

5. Class-conscious/anti-business. A representative entrepreneur is a condescending slob. Businessmen throw away money “like it’s candy.” “You think because you can afford designer suits that you can tell me what to do?”

4. Anti-police. A goofy loser/small-time crook (Donald Foley in an amusing performance) turns out to be a goofy loser/undercover cop who forgets to load his gun for the final confrontation. Humorously, his ample flab makes him impervious to an assailant’s pressure point attacks. Police play an antagonistic role during the climactic sequence.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Mike has a mulatto girlfriend (Sara Rattigan). Black gangster Monro is intimate with blonde henchwoman Jade, who sits on his lap and calls him “Sir”. “Such a pretty face,” she says on meeting the star/screenwriter.

2. Multiculturalist. With important exceptions, the film takes place in what would appear to be a largely postracial society, with blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians interacting without regard for each other’s racial differences. Underground opens itself up to the charge of stereotyping, however, when Mike, channeling his inner janitor, uses a mop handle as a weapon and then, channeling his inner African cannibal, bites Monro on the ankle during their final confrontation.

1. Anti-Semitic. Mike’s exaggeratedly hook-nosed friend Jason (Mike Harb) turns out to be a Judas.

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