Archives for posts with tag: hedonism

Leisure Seeker

The Leisure Seeker is little more than a piece of scurrilous hate mail that disguises itself as a valedictory love letter to the Baby Boomer generation. Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren play John and Ella Spencer, an elderly couple whose twilight years are rapidly fading to black. John is a retired literary scholar whose intermittent lapses of long- and short-term memory at times reduce him to petulant childishness, and Ella is dying of cancer and getting by on pills and alcohol. Conscious that they both have little time left, Ella, without informing their worried son and daughter, is taking a final road trip with John to Key West for a life-and-death-affirming pilgrimage to Ernest Hemingway’s house. The title refers on the literal level to the Spencers’ gas-guzzling motor home and on the figurative level to hedonistic selfishness as the outmoded vehicle in which the Baby Boomers tripped, crashed, and will righteously burn. Morbid vitriol thinly veiled as bittersweet dramedy, The Leisure Seeker will hold the most appeal for the unperceptive.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Leisure Seeker is:

4. Gun-ambivalent. Ella defends herself against redneck highway robbers with a shotgun, but the senile old man’s access to the weapon is intended to cause the viewer anxiety, and Ella discards the shells after the would-be muggers have gone. Guns, if permitted at all, should be placed in women’s responsible hands, the movie appears to suggest.

3. Pro-gay. It is strongly insinuated that the Spencers’ cake-baking son Will (Christian McKay) is a homosexual. Ella is not only unperturbed, but seems to be fond of the idea.

2. Pro-miscegenation. John and Ella barge uninvited into a retirement home to visit her black ex-boyfriend, Dan (Dick Gregory), who, as it turns out, does not even remember who she is. Ella’s wistful expression on seeing him again makes clear, however, that her memories of him are dear.

1.Anti-white. The Leisure Seeker evinces resentment and distrust toward the Baby Boomers, whose revolutionary potential and openness to new experiences have ended in mindless, maudlin conservatism. The film is set shortly before the 2016 presidential election and a tacky pickup truck flying Trump flags rolls into view during opening credits as Carole King can be heard lamenting, “it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late, though we really did try to make it.” In a later sequence, John, in one of his absent states, confusedly wanders into a crowd of Trump supporters robotically chanting “USA! USA!” and seems to be enjoying himself until his wife retrieves him like a mother apprehending an errant toddler. This is the film’s representative Trump voter: a senile and disoriented bumbler in need of supervision. Disingenuous appeals to Boomer nostalgia are inevitably undermined, as when John and Ella’s attempt to resuscitate the disco spirit makes her nauseous and causes their dance to be interrupted when she abruptly vomits. Displaying their insensitivity to the people of color oppressed by their hegemonic ancestors, John and Ella visit a theme park simulating colonial America and blithely ignore the background actors performing as toiling negro slaves. Their self-absorption reveals that the Boomers have failed to make amends and that further generational redress will be necessary. They repeatedly bore and annoy the younger and browner people around them, such as when John insists on discussing Hemingway with strangers in restaurants. In one key scene, however, John encounters a bright black waitress who turns out to be a Hemingway scholar herself (as contrasted with a ditzy white waitress featured in a previous scene). When John suffers a memory lapse and cannot recall a passage from The Old Man and the Sea, the black waitress finishes his thought for him, demonstrating that the white man has become a redundancy and that non-whites are fully capable of serving as the repositories of high culture going forward.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

rough night

Aspiring state senator Jess (Scarlett Johansson) agrees to join a handful of her old college friends for one last decadent blast in Miami before tying the knot. The challenge will be to get through the debauchery of the bachelorette blowout planned by old pal Alice (Jillian Bell) without tarnishing her public image in advance of the vote. Some tension between the chubby Alice and Jess’s new Australian buddy Pippa (Kate McKinnon) notwithstanding, the getaway seems to be going well enough until the accidental death of a stripper (Ryan Cooper), which has the women scrambling to dispose of the body before their lives – and, of course, Jess’s electoral prospects – are ruined forever. Rough Night is not exactly bad in the way that being bent over a toilet vomiting is bad, for example; but it is rather bad in the sense that the feeling of having squandered an evening is arguably worse.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Rough Night is:

6. Green, with Al Gore receiving an endorsement.

5. Pro-gay, with Ilana Glazer appearing as token lesbian buddy Frankie. A black transvestite DJ also contributes to the movie’s festive atmosphere.

4. Activism-ambivalent. Frankie participates in a protest of government surveillance, but her idealism is characterized as, at best, a side-effect of the idleness of the unemployed. Hers is a loser’s pastime, a dismissive assessment reinforced when she later announces her resolution to take a “protest dump”.

3. Pro-miscegenation – and, honestly, it’s the rare Hollywood product these days that doesn’t fall into this category in one way or another. This time, it’s mystery meat lesbos.

2. Feminist/pro-slut, with Alice looking forward to “swimmin’ in dick”. Alice’s assortment of sex novelties – penis glasses and the like – is supposed to be funny, but the whole hedonistic ethos unintentionally bores and comes across as stale in this film, which surely represents peak slut and the high-water mark for blasé depravity in western civilization. Blair (Zoe Kravitz) experiences a revelatory orgasm when, as part of a plan to steal a surveillance video, she participates in a threesome with swinger Demi Moore and her husband. The consequences of promiscuity are, moreover, trivialized when one of Blair’s friends reassures her, “Whatever. We all have HPV.” Anyone, the screenplay suggests, who has had sex after 1991 has probably contracted HPV – so what’s the point of being careful, right? The stripper dies immediately after having called Jess a slut, the viewer having the impression that his death is a form of instant karma.

1.Pro-drug. In a flashback sequence to Jess’s college days, she wears a costume referencing marijuana culture. Frankie, complimented on her scent, replies that she has a pound of weed in her bra. Elsewhere, the movie promotes abuse of prescription drugs like the tranquilizer Xanax (“Oh, God, that was good”). Perhaps most disturbingly, Rough Night joins the ranks of Ted, Trainwreck, White Girl, and Office Christmas Party in rehabilitating recreational cocaine use. Coke, in Rough Night, facilitates the bonding of a girls’ night out: “It would mean so much to me if we could do a little bit of cocaine together,” Alice pleads. The filmmakers could point to the fact that Alice is under the influence of cocaine when she accidentally kills the stripper – but her sexual recklessness turns out to have been serendipitous when the stripper is revealed to have been a dangerous criminal.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Paul Morrissey

Paul Morrissey

Mention Paul Morrissey and movies about transvestites, heroin addicts, and other varieties of lowlife are likely to come to mind; but the director of such films as Flesh (1968) and Heat (1972) holds very different views than one might assume from a first impression of these films and from his professional association with Andy Warhol. “Staunchly conservative, Morrissey still frowns upon the moral and artistic state of America today,” writes Steve Ryfle, who interviewed the filmmaker in 2000. Rather, Morrissey’s vintage films reflect his view that “modern American life was going down the toilet.”1 David Bahr of The New York Times writes:

Paul Morrissey disdains rock music, abhors recreational drugs and thinks even less of liberal politics. When asked his views on sex, he pauses for a moment, looks his inquisitor in the eye and says: “I’m Catholic. I’m with Rome 100 percent.”

Such sentiments may seem surprising coming from a director whose films luxuriate in the libertine lives of heroin users, masturbating transvestites and polymorphous-perverse male prostitutes. Yet Mr. Morrissey – who from 1966 to 1972 directed more than half a dozen movies produced by Andy Warhol, discovered the avant-garde rock band the Velvet Underground and once saw a court label his work “obscene, vulgar and profane” – believes he’s misunderstood, to say nothing of misrepresented.2

Morrissey situates his work outside the counterculture and characterizes it instead as his disapproving reaction to the general collapse of morality as it occurred around him:

There’s something I realized years later, after I had made all the films, although I probably realized it at the time even though I wasn’t conscious of it. At that time, there was this idea that was just coming in – the media was just getting hold of it, and the music world was just screaming its lungs out about how great it was – saying you could do whatever you want. That was really idiotic, and stupid and foolish and silly, unbelievably stupid.

People, by the late sixties, were doing whatever they felt like, and nobody gave a damn.

“I understood that these people were good story material, good subjects to show where life had gotten to, and how pathetic it was,” Morrissey explains.3 Blood for Dracula (1974), for instance, imagines a future-shocked traditionalist vampire (Udo Kier) who despairs of finding virgin blood to drink in the sexually free and easy 1970s, while Trash (1970) depicts the boredom of heroin dependency. “So much of the culture glamorized drugs at the time,” remarks frequent Morrissey leading man Joe Dallesandro. “Paul wanted to show the seedier side, where it all led to.”4 Women in Revolt (1972), which utilizes a cast of transvestites for satirical purposes, mocks the increasingly noisy and confrontational feminist movement of the day. “I thought it would be funny if they were playing women who were converted to lesbianism by the women’s lib movement,” Morrissey says. “The whole women’s thing was so ridiculous. ‘We don’t need men,’ and all that.”5

The director envisioned his Madame Wang’s (1981) as a satire of nonexistent American values and the decline of Western Civilization:

The huge Masonic Temple was a Greek temple, it represented past culture, and it was abandoned and lived in by derelict female impersonators. That was my take on Americans, especially Southern California Americans. They couldn’t care less about anything, except maybe getting up in drag or doing a punk rock show and screaming and throwing themselves on the floor. And the poor Russian agent comes from East Germany and says, “I’ve got to meet Jane Fonda, we’re taking over this country one day, and we have to have all of our operatives in place and I’m one of them.” And everyone says, “great, so what?”6

Morrissey gives the following explication of his comedy flop Spike of Bensonhurst (1988), in which his “pain in the ass” protagonist (Sasha Mitchell) “treats everybody like dirt, and does whatever he wants”:

The little switcheroo, which I thought was the point of the story, was that finally when someone disciplines him it turns out to be the best thing that happens to him. The idea that there are some standards and a sense of order in the world somewhere […]7

Like so many avowed conservatives in American politics, however, Morrissey’s work reveals his complicity in the projects of the culture destroyers even as he professes traditionalism. The mundane drugs-and-drag depravity of his classic oeuvre, while successfully illustrating the emptiness of the revolutions in sexuality and consciousness that had been engineered during the 1960s, also serves to normalize the ascendant dysfunction.

“Life is so second rate now,” Morrissey assesses.

And that idea that life has degenerated to a second rate position was part of the story to all those movies. I still don’t see that as a story element in any other movies – the obvious fact that life today is so much poorer than it was before. And I don’t think you can tell that story unless you’re aware that there’s a difference now. Most people don’t even know there’s a difference between today and before.8

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Endnotes

  1. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  2. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  3. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  4. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  5. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 20.
  6. Ibid., p. 21.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p. 19.

Lust in the Time of Heartache

Written by neoreactionary blogger Davis M.J. Aurini, the ten-minute short film Lust in the Time of Heartache is less a movie than a multimedia essay, with situations and visuals illustrating the ideas in Aurini’s text, which is essentially a Nietzschean lifestyle manifesto. Aurini, who in his YouTube talks comes across as something along the lines of a laidback, Gen-X D’Annunzio, here affects a hardboiled persona as he offers the voice-over narration to various squabbles and humiliations. He is also seen strolling around Calgary looking passably cool before he is forced to confront a gang of well-dressed assassins representing his weaknesses and inner demons. Thematically, Lust in the Time of Heartache bears striking similarities to Fight Club (1999), but stylistically goes for more of a film noir sensibility as filtered through Quentin Tarantino. This is ultimately a vanity project, but still worth the ten minutes of open-minded viewers’ time.

Davis Aurini

Davis Aurini

3.5 out of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lust in the Time of Heartache is:

6. Pro-tobacco, perpetuating the romance of the philosophical smoker of hardboiled pulp entertainment.

5. Zionist. “The thing I hate most about seeing the powerful abuse the weak is knowing that the weak did something to deserve it.” (cf. Aurini’s exasperating remarks about the CIA being “aligned with the brighter-half of the morality meter” and the leftist establishment trying to “hand Israel over to the Mohammedans”)

Aurini knows they did something to deserve it.

Aurini knows they did something to deserve it.

4. Sexist! Feminists will be apoplectic at certain of Aurini’s assertions as these could be construed to refer to domestic violence: “Abuser. Abused. Two sides of the same coin.” Perhaps to counter this potential criticism, these reflections have been accompanied by scenes of women mocking men.

3. Activism-ambivalent. Aurini’s writing is catchy, but fraught with a tension and contradiction between a jaded resignation and tortured will to power. Of man’s attitude toward the world around him, Aurini seems to advise a kind of detached voyeurism in keeping with fellow neoreactionary Aaron Clarey’s “Enjoy the Decline” ethos: “So here we are at the end of history. The end of money. The end of hope. The end of purpose. The end of man and the end of woman. Nothing to do then but light a smoke and watch the fireworks go down. Enjoy the final decadent days of our once proud and mighty empire. Watch the leaves turn golden and watch as they begin to fall.” This defeatism, however, clashes with the narrator’s final exhortation to “find something worth dying for”, which in turn conflicts with his earlier admonishment not to “go asking for a better world than this because this is the world we chose. This is the world we deserve.”

2. Anti-materialist. “This is the end state of our materialist fate. Capitalism turned innovators into land rapers and socialism turned charity into oppression.” On the sexual front, Aurini laments “a generation that never learned how to love” and argues, “If you don’t know how to love, all you understand is hate.” “It’s pain that makes us who we are. Embrace it.”

1. Anti-hedonist. “Hedonism always turns out the same. Without love, all you’ve got is sex. And if all you’ve got is sex, you’ve gotta keep upping the ante or else it gets boring.” “We’ve become nothing but a bunch of well-dressed apes” in Aurini’s diagnosis. “It’s the luxury that makes us soft. It’s the enemy that makes us cruel. What you need is a struggle. An enemy to overcome.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

[For more on the Manosphere and figures of the Neoreaction, read “Fear of Commitment or Love of Shekels? Matt Forney’s Awkward Dance with Race“.]

David DeCoteau, along with Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski, was one of the more heroic and endearing directors to emerge in the era of VHS.  He is especially noteworthy to horror fans of a nostalgic bent for having made two low-budget wonders, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and Nightmare Sisters, which brought together Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley, and Brinke Stevens, the three premier scream queens of the period.  Now, in 1313: Cougar Cult, the four great screen queens – Bauer, Quigley, Stevens, and DeCoteau – are reunited for one more roll in the trash, this one about a trio of supernatural pagan sisters who turn into cougars – literally! – and devour the young men they succeed in luring into their tackily decorated Malibu mansion.

Photogenic Ryan Curry, Bryce Durfee, and Jack Kubacki star as college students who show up (and end up showing a lot) to take jobs as the cougars’ houseboys.  There is something resembling a plot in 1313: Cougar Cult – something about ritual sacrifices to please an ancient Amazonian deity – but the film is really just an exercise in bisexually friendly cheesecake, with Bauer, Quigley, and Stevens slinking around and acting horny, and lots of long, lingering shots of young actors washing their sculpted torsos or sensually writhing in sleep.  Harboring no illusions about what it is, the film is at times playfully self-deprecating – and even annoyingly so when the sisters’ transformation into their carnivore forms is depicted by the cartoonish superimposition of cougar heads over the actresses’ faces.

1313: Cougar Cult will appeal primarily to two mostly separate groups: those who enjoy ogling half-naked young men and those who fondly remember the scream queens’ work in the low-budget video gems of the 80s and early 90s.  It will, unfortunately, frustrate many in this latter group because 1313: Cougar Cult is ultimately little more than a gigantic tease.  For having a premise built on three evil middle-aged women’s insatiable lust, the film is remarkably tame and devoid of explicit heterosexual action.  Bauer, Quigley, and Stevens are very sexy women, their vintage notwithstanding; and while, having reached a certain stage in their careers, they may be understandably reluctant to undress or engage in simulated sex onscreen (note: do yourselves a favor and see Assault of the Party Nerds), the fact that nothing of the sort appears in 1313: Cougar Cult is still a pretty grievous disappointment.  What but sadism, for instance, could motivate a film in which Brinke Stevens informs a young stud he will have the pleasure of oiling and massaging her – and the viewer never even gets to see it?

Most puzzling of all, perhaps, is that whole decades had to pass before the three venerable cuties could be brought back together.  That occasion, sadly, contents itself with being coquettish and uber-campy rather than satisfyingly sleazy or even vaguely horrific; but no Amazonian deity dictates that the actresses’ collaborations have to stop with this one.  They will, if the gods of video nerd garbage are benevolent, be making more films as a trio in the not-too-distant future.  Meanwhile, fans must content themselves with the picturesquely animal lust on Stevens and Bauer’s faces in this film as they softly paw Bryce Durfee’s body – that and the gratifying moment when Quigley, speaking in a ludicrously demonic voice, commands the audience, “Come to Mama.”

3 of 5 possible stars – one apiece for each of these enticingly mature scream queens.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 1313: Cougar Cult is:

5. Anti-state.  The cougars pay their manservants cash, seeing no reason to involve the government in their private transactions.

4. Drug-ambivalent.  Smoking – smoking cigarettes, that is – is bad for your health.

3. Innocently class-conscious.  The decadent rich prey upon the weak, sexually and as cannibals.

2. Feminist.  Women give the orders.

1. Hedonistic.  The human body is beautiful and a source of fun.  The fun, furthermore, should be prolonged for as long as humanly or cougarly possible.

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