Archives for posts with tag: high school

booksmart

Booksmart is, on the one hand, an involving study of two brainy teenage girls’ unique friendship, and, on the other, a comedy death-fart that did not make me laugh even once. Directed by Olivia Wilde and penned by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman – it apparently takes the combined creative resources of four women to put together a screenplay this unfunny – Booksmart is nothing if not a hoarse and harrowing howl of girl-power intransigence into the maelstrom of Trumpian apocalypse. Unsmiling lesbian Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and smug, RBG-venerating Jewish fatty Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are academic all-stars who reach the end of their senior year with a sudden sense of regret at not having done any partying like their cooler peers during their time in high school. With one last night in which to revel before their graduation, Amy and Molly determine to cut loose and go buck wild whatever the cost. No one can fault the ensemble cast for the energetic, fully invested maniac performances on display; one only wishes the script had given the actors something a little more dignified to do with their talents. Booksmart is fast-paced and never exactly boring, but the accidental-finger-up-the-butt hijinks, microphone fellation, and scoldings about the difference between sexual orientation and “gender performance”, etc., failed to turn the engine in my inner gay pride parade float. This is a movie that does not so much attempt to tickle audiences’ funny bone as thrust its hand down its pants Don Lemon style before rubbing its malodorous fingers under the viewer’s nose in a botched, mentally ill attempt at seduction.

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

Multicultural and pro-miscegenation. The almost uniformly brilliant student body of the girls’ Los Angeles high school seems to be comprised entirely of homosexuals and diversity. Molly’s secret crush, as it turns out, is mystery meat jock Nick (Mason Gooding). Hip black teacher Miss Fine (Jessica Williams), meanwhile, has an end-of-year fling with a Mexican student.

Anti-white. “Straight white man, your time is [over],” proclaims a graduation speaker. In one of the more grotesque expressions of the dumb blonde archetype ever to hit the screen, an athletic but spastic girl named Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) appears to be borderline retarded.

Anti-Trump. The girls’ car displays “Resist” and “Warren 2020” stickers. So brave!

Pro-drug. A dose of psychedelic strawberries has the girls hallucinating and finding themselves in the bodies of Barbie-like dolls, precipitating the obligatory exploration of the objectification of women. Talk to the hand, W.C. Fields. This feminist comedy steamroller can’t be stopped!

Gay. “Amy, do you know how many girls are gonna be up your vagina at Columbia next year? Are you aware of it? ‘Cause I’m aware of it,” the heterosexual Molly assures her best friend. “Every time I come to visit you, you’re just gonna be scissoring a different girl.” Putting in what I suppose is intended as an endorsement of gender-neutral bathrooms, male and female students converge on the same facilities where they gossip, draw dicks, and write obscene messages on the walls. In addition, Booksmart truly puts the Globo in Globohomo by giving a shout-out to increasingly gay-friendly Botswana even as Amy laments the fact that she would be murdered in heterofascist Uganda.

Feminist. Molly aspires to be the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg, while Amy rejects male value altogether. “My Body My Choice,” booms a poster on her wall. “Honestly, ‘pushy’ is a compliment,” Molly observes. “You know who else was pushy? Diane Sawyer. Joan of Arc. Queen Noor of Jordan.” Tediously, one of the movie’s running gags is that Molly and Amy will periodically pause to give each other sassy pep talks and tell each other how hot, fabulous, and empowered they are – almost as if neither one is convinced.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

 

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig, an actress for many years, reveals herself to be a talented writer and director with Lady Bird, a standout coming-of-age story starring the excellent Saoirse Ronan as a mischievous, unappreciative Catholic schoolgirl with a “performative streak”. Lady Bird is the rare teen film that will be just as enjoyable, if not more so, to parents as to younger viewers, and the film’s development of its protagonist’s relationship and interactions with her parents, her sweet and vulnerable father (playwright Tracy Letts) and especially her stern but big-hearted mother (Roseanne’s Laurie Metcalf), is finely textured and affecting. Occasional grossness fails to ruin an overwhelmingly touching and funny film experience.

Five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lady Bird is:

6. Pro-gay. Lady Bird, at first disgusted to discover that her boyfriend (Lucas Hedges) is gay, ultimately feels sympathy for his situation.

5. Populist. Lady Bird, at first ashamed of living in Sacramento, comes to accept her attachment to “the Midwest of California”. Gerwig set the film in 2002 and 2003, she says during her commentary, to mark the period she identifies as a key moment in “the erosion of the middle class”, with 9/11 and the Iraq War referenced as contributors to middle America’s decline. “Is this a joke?” the protagonist asks on seeing a picture of Ronald Reagan hanging in the home of a more well-to-do family. In a refreshing break from typical suburbs-bashing fare like Todd Solondz’s Happiness, Gerwig concedes that American suburbia is “in my bones”, and this affection communicates itself through the tempered and never obnoxious sentimentalism on display in Lady Bird.

4. Drug-ambivalent. Students share a rumor that their teacher Father Leviatch (Stephen Henderson) had a son who died of a drug overdose, but the overall tone of Lady Bird toward recreational substances is more permissive. “Her mom clearly knows that they’re high,” Gerwig observes of one scene in which Lady Bird’s mother encounters her daughter with a group of her friends. “She’s not gonna do it [i.e., reprimand them]. She’s gonna just leave,” Gerwig approves. Lady Bird’s grandmother, on the other hand, is said to have been an “abusive alcoholic”.

3. Race-ambivalent. Catholicism appears in Lady Bird as a successful model for peaceful coexistence of races, but the existence of sub-rosa racial tensions is also acknowledged, as when Lady Bird suggests that her adopted mestizo brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) got accepted by a competitive university primarily because of his ethnicity and he in turn accuses her of racism. It is interesting to note that Miguel and fellow non-white adoptee Shelly (Marielle Scott) are usually framed separately, so that they never seem to be fully integrated members of the McPherson family. Mild moments of anti-white bias occur in Lady Bird when the protagonist is shown copying answers from an Asian girl during a test and when comparatively well-behaved Miguel and Shelly have to scold unruly white girls for wrinkling the magazines in a grocery store, where Lady Bird is also shown shoplifting. Her Asian boss at the coffee shop where she later gets a job also has to reprimand her for flirting on the clock – a second juxtaposition of oriental seriousness and work ethic as opposed to white American frivolousness.

2. Anti-Semitic! Lady Bird vomits after drunkenly kissing an atheistic New York Jew named David at a party. “We don’t have to constantly be entertaining ourselves, do we?” Lady Bird’s mother objects at her daughter’s fiddling with the car radio. Who but a hate-filled anti-Semite would object to a non-stop saturation diet of popular culture?

1.Christianish. Writer-director Gerwig had a Catholic upbringing and brings both an affectionate familiarity and an irreverence to her depiction of a Catholic high school, acknowledging Catholicism’s “theatricality” and making light of the superstitions associated with transubstantiated wafers and such. At the end of the film, however, the protagonist abandons her concocted identity as “Lady Bird” and embraces her given name of Christine, a marker of her identity as a Christian. In addition, after moving from Sacramento to New York, she feels herself drawn to the comforting beauty of a cathedral service with its choir. She returns, says Gerwig, to “the place that is home to her”.

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!

KMFDMAdios

Adios – the “final” piece in constructing the “Columbine Matrix”?

On Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1999, the abrasive German electronic pop group KMFDM (depending on the source, either “Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode” or “Kein Mehrheit Furh Die Mitleid,” which means “No Pity for the Majority”) released what was supposed to be its final album, Adios. This would be a comparatively insignificant footnote in history if not for the fact that this was also the day of the Columbine High School massacre. Eric Harris, a fan of the band, took notice of what he seems to suggest is something more than a simple coincidence. “Heh, get this,” he wrote in his journal. “KMFDM’s new album is entitled ‘Adios’ and its release date is in April. How fuckin appropriate, a subliminal final ‘adios’ tribute to Reb and Vodka [i.e., Harris and Klebold], thanks KMFDM…”

“The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, amid pressure over the long delay in publishing their investigation’s findings, released a report in May 2000 including over eleven thousand pages of lead sheets, ballistics and eyewitness reports and other attack-related media,” Evan Long states in the introduction to his essential documentary challenge The Columbine Cause. “The length of these reports did not lend them to rapid digestion, and the 9/11 attacks and overall shift in the American political climate of 2001 obscured many of the pressing domestic troubles facing America,” Long continues. “Perhaps the dust of the Twin Towers has settled enough by now for the people of the world to take a fresh look at the attack launched on Columbine.”

Was the “Trench Coat Mafia” something other than what mainstream media outlets reported it to be in 1999? Was the Columbine massacre something other than what it appeared to be? “Now, as far as the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency or some type of brainwashing network, we have to be careful here in terms of avoiding that which our convictions may prejudice us to believe,” Michael A. Hoffman II cautions in “The Columbine Matrix”, a lecture he recorded shortly after the event.

In other words, a good researcher doesn’t act a priori. He doesn’t establish what he wants to see in a story and then look for those things. But rather, he goes to a story with an open mind, even if that report, even if the news details, contradicts his own convictions about something; and, therefore, to the very best of my knowledge, I have not yet seen evidence of an organizational brainwash going on against these two boys. In fact, I think we need to understand what happened in Littleton at a higher level of mind control than what has been previously put forth.

Trench Coat Mafia

Note the KMFDM hat.

Notwithstanding the absence of concrete and credible evidence of intelligence agency involvement, Long, using material released after Hoffman delivered his lecture, presents a compelling case for a cover-up of testimonies concerning disturbing aspects of the Columbine event. The details are beyond the scope of the present essay, which the reader should supplement with a viewing of The Columbine Cause. A further quotation may, however, whet the appetite:

According to an unnamed individual in the JCSO report, the attack had been “the big rumor for two years.”

And Martin Middleton, who had been in the Jefferson County area in the mid-90’s, at that time encountered an individual talking about the attempted bombing that would take place on Hitler’s 110th birthday who also told him that the Trench Coat Mafia which would be attempting it was not just a bunch of lonely depressed kids, but something much larger.

Indeed, we were told after the attack that the Columbine attackers had planned to not just shoot and maim a few dozen students, but to kill 500 people, level the school with bombs, hijack a plane from Denver’s New World Airport and, despite their total inexperience with aviation, fly it over 2000 miles where they would perhaps lodge it into skyscrapers in New York City, a plan which may have sounded foreign to audiences of 1999 but which today seems all too familiar.

KMFDMAdios2

Natural selection, a concept that interested Harris in the social Darwinist context, is also referenced in “Rubicon”, a song by KMFDM, one of the boy’s favorite music groups.

KMFDMParty

Original artwork for the Coup’s album Party Music. A few promotional copies of the CD were sent out with this cover before the official release.

Those acquainted with 9/11 conspiracy lore will be aware of the theories of eerily prescient content in the entertainment media during the years leading up to that event. Such films as The Siege (1998) and Fight Club (1999), in addition to the notorious pilot episode of the short-lived Fox TV series The Lone Gunmen, furnish examples of these alleged indications of foreknowledge of the World Trade Center attack, as does the scrapped artwork for rap group the Coup’s 2001 release Party Music, which depicts the Twin Towers being remotely detonated. Similarly, with Columbine, conspiracy-oriented researchers like Hoffman and Long have pointed to the proliferation of a violent trench coat goth image and sensibility in Hollywood productions like The Crow (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Blade (1998), and The Matrix (1999), which was released a mere three weeks before the shootings in Littleton, Colorado.

As with Warner’s Party Music, the cover of TVT Records’ suspiciously synchronized KMFDM release displays a startling parallelism with the events of that day. Mimicking comic book artwork, the Adios imagery created by Aidan “BRUTE!” Hughes shows two gunmen being rammed and run over by a scowling driver. The content of at least one of the songs is strangely relevant to the Columbine massacre, as well. The lyrics of one track, “Full Worm Garden”, go in part as follows:

Tincture of lead be said with no remorse full of confusion
Wish to enjoy this weightlessness lay me out full worm garden

A noose-knit put on sweater tie it up around the arm
Looks to grip along the trigger down the barrel of a gun

KMFDM

KMFDM’s Sascha Konietzko models the trench coat look.

Another song on Adios, titled “R.U.OK?”, concludes with these interesting lines:

For a moment you might question what you see
For a second your whole world will disappear

This is mind control and you know it
This will shut you up and you know it

Mind control

This is mind control
Mind control
This is mind control
Mind control
This is mind control

That’s all you get
It’s all you need

“That’s All”, meanwhile, features the enigmatic phrases “Get defamed in isolation two plus one negate divine”; “News-print news-peak nevermind”; and “Free the hostage situation taken as a simulation”. “Rubicon”, another of the tracks on Adios, has this to say:

Violence for inner-peace
Bombing for therapy
Terror is everything you need

Cross the dotted line
Fake your destiny […]

Natural selection is based on deception
The ignorant elder empowers the youth

KMFDMAdios3

KMFDM fans

Both boys were known admirers of the group and were photographed wearing KMFDM apparel. Eric Harris made multiple references to the group’s body of work in his writings, and it is difficult, in retrospect, to listen to KMFDM’s output in the years leading up to the Columbine massacre without psychologically hyperlinking much of the band’s imagery back into the Trench Coat Mafia’s “Columbine Matrix”, as Hoffman terms it.

KMFDMNihilMore than one of the songs included on KMFDM’s 1995 album Nihil conveys an angry anxiety coupled with a lack of agency. “Flesh” declares “I am the thing that I can’t control”, while “Beast”, the following song in the album’s sequence, screams “I got no choice / I’m out of control / And the kids just love it”. The listener can only expect to “get respect / When you’re kickin’ ass,” the singer explains. “Some people call them terrorists,” says the sample of an unknown man’s foreign-accented voice that opens the track “Terror”; but “these boys have simply been misguided.” Repeated lines in the song describe a fragile mental state: “I’m close enough to trip the wire / I cannot keep my hate inside.” “Our societies are saturated with bloodlust, sensationalism and violence as a result of alienation from oneself’s reality,” explains another of the sampled voices in “Terror”. Nihil’s next song, “Search & Destroy”, asks, “Are we victims or winners / Believers or sinners? / Do we sit in the saddle / Or are we just cattle?” Here again, as would be the case with much of the public discourse that followed the Columbine massacre, the lines separating automaton and deliberate actor, victim and brutalizer, are blurred.

KMFDMXtortKMFDM’s 1996 effort Xtort declares itself the “Industrial soundtrack to the holy wars” and, in its opening number “Power”, prescribes the use of “Excessive force”: “The children of fear / Are not alone / Rivers of tears / Flesh and blood / An eye for an eye / That’s all we’ve got”. “Craze”, a particularly evil-sounding song on this same album, is especially interesting in consideration of Hoffman’s advancement of his theory of “Revelation of the Method”, or “Must Be”, as James Shelby Downard termed it, according to which a shadow establishment openly mocks its intended audience, both confirming and strengthening its control over a population by “telling you what they are doing to you”. “There’s nothing like giving the game away / All the people are feeling the same today,” asserts a demonically processed voice in “Craze” that goes on to command, “Take a hammer and break a bone for me / There’s nothing like giving the game away”. Whether intentionally or not, the song expresses the wicked delight an elite manipulator would presumably feel in dropping such cryptic hints as to his doings and intentions. Also notable on Xtort is “Son of a Gun”, which describes a “Massive attack” by a “Son of a gun” who has been “Born to kill”. “All are equal” to this “Superhero #1”, who exercises “No discrimination” in his murders – a characterization that prefigures Salon writer Dave Cullen’s description of Harris and Klebold: “They were equal-opportunity haters, railing against minorities and whites, praising Hitler’s ‘final solution’ – and then ranting against racism.” Harris said “Son of a Gun” was one of his favorite songs.

The song “Stray Bullet” from KMFDM’s 1997 album Symbols is known to have been of interest to Eric Harris, who made reference to it on at least one occasion. A “Stray bullet / From the barrel of love” is both an eroticized explosion of violence and an apotheosis: “Stray bullet / From the heavens above […] I’m the illegitimate son of God”. “Megalomaniac”, another track from Symbols, declares “Terrorism our trade” and “Chaos our mental state”. “Anarchy”, a song from Symbols mentioned in Harris’s entry in classmate Nathan Dykeman’s yearbook, evokes a character motivated by revenge who has “made a God out of blood”. Had Harris and Klebold, as Hoffman suggests with reference to the desensitizing content of The Matrix, taken their “MKULTRA marching orders” from KMFDM?

Konietzko

Konietzko

KMFDM snarler-songwriter Sascha Konietzko has complained that “a giant shitstorm came down on KMFDM” after the Columbine horror, and it is entirely possible that Konietzko is justified in his outrage at the band’s being falsely implicated. It is not this essay’s intention to charge that the personnel of KMFDM or Rammstein or any other group are Mossad or Central Intelligence Agency contractors bent on programming America’s youth for commission of acts of mass murder. Easy answers may never be forthcoming where the Columbine massacre is concerned, with more mystery and convolution emerging the more one examines the case. This essay is purely exploratory.

A lack of conclusive information does nothing to dispel the number of anomalies and bizarre circumstances surrounding the event, the release of Adios being one of many of these. Evan Long cites “an unnamed individual in the reports [who] called up accounts of a Denver-area culture well outside the bounds of humanity.” He continues:

This individual, who attended another high school in the area, related that he had been to parties attended by goths and Trench Coat Mafia individuals in their 20’s across the area, and that most of the Trench Coat Mafia individuals were out of school and that there were not very many who were still in school. He stated that they were into bloodletting, cutting and violence.

He also was questioned on sexually explicit photographs found in his backpack which were homosexual in nature, and stated that he had been to the house of an individual known to some in this circuit as “Pedophile Bill”, a homosexual man who was, quote, “not nice sexually” and had given him these pictures and also showed him photo albums which made him sick to his stomach. The albums, he said, contained sexually explicit photographs of small children up to the age of fourteen.

Who was “Pedophile Bill” and what was his connection, if any, to the events at Columbine High School? How extensive was the Trench Coat Mafia, and what was its organizational structure – if indeed it had any to speak of? If Long’s film The Columbine Cause demonstrates anything, it is that the public does not know what happened April 20th, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado, and that further research, much of it on the ground, must be conducted before the case can be closed to any critically conscious observer’s satisfaction. As Sheriff Ted Mink’s reported destruction not only of weapons and shell casings from the crime scene but also the infamous “Basement Tapes” of Harris and Klebold indicates, the authorities are determined that no independent investigator will ever be able to challenge establishment narratives with the aid of this key forensic and psychological evidence.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY THIRTEEN

If I Stay

Concocted as catnip for teenage girls, If I Stay is likely to please that audience with its story of sweet and insecure high school cellist Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her cute rocker boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley). The title refers to the limbo in which Mia finds herself when she has an out-of-body experience following a car accident. As a bald black woman (Aisha Hinds) does what she can to revive her, Mia revisits her memories of the events leading up to the tragedy. Mostly pretty sappy stuff, If I Stay does contain a powerful breakup scene and manages in a few moments to be genuinely touching. The great Stacy Keach gets an innocuous supporting role as Mia’s devoted grandfather.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that If I Stay is:

5. Christ-ambivalent. A priest consoles Mia’s grandmother (Gabrielle Rose), but the movie’s Christian credentials are undermined by Mia’s irreverent suggestion that “Christmas threw up” to produce a mug of chai.

4. Pro-gay. “Go, Astrid,” Mia cheerleads on seeing two girls kiss.

3. Pro-slut. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” Adam says approvingly when he sees Mia dressed up like a rocker chick – which is to say, like a hooker. (see also no. 2)

2. Pro-drug. “I’m feelin’ good, I’m feelin’ high,” Adam sings in one of his songs. Mia’s hip parents and their friends drink beer and joke about drugs around their children. Mia drinks a shot at a rock concert on the night she tenderly loses her virginity. To deprive Mia of her caffeine, meanwhile, would constitute “child abuse”.

1. Pro-family. Mia’s father (Joshua Leonard) gave up a burgeoning rock band career to devote himself to his family, while Mia’s mother (Mireille Enos) is a “full-time supermom”. The clan demonstrates high levels of affection and mutual reinforcement throughout, and Adam admires the fact that Mia has “a real family”. “This is exactly why I could never procreate,” says Willow (Lauren Lee Smith), who, however, goes back on her word.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Have shopping to do and want to support icareviews? The author receives a modest commission on Amazon purchases made through this link: http://amzn.to/1lmBVT2

The Jar

The Jar (1984) ***

Paul (Gary Wallace) is a dull, bearded man who will spend most of The Jar wandering through nightmares and staring at his surroundings with irritable angst after experiencing a fateful auto accident. The other driver, a strange old man (Les Miller), is shaken and uncommunicative, so Paul takes him home with him to his apartment. The elderly gentleman soon disappears, but leaves behind him a jar wrapped in a paper sack. Inside the jar is a little blue demon, and before very long Paul is suffering visions of his bathtub filling with blood and his shower head emitting rays of otherworldly light that transport him into a dark, rocky pit. Crystal (Karin Sjoberg), a beautiful, bright-eyed brunette with a dimpled chin, for some reason takes an interest in Paul, wants to date him, and attempts to drag this drab, unfriendly nutcase out of his madness and increasing isolation.

An offbeat, minimalist horror obscurity that will try and annoy all but the most open-minded seekers after the arcane, The Jar is a film that flouts conventions, refusing to conform to the expectations of genre buffs. People who rented the video based on the cover image of what the box describes as “a repulsive, embryonic creature” and hoped for another Gremlins (1984) or Ghoulies (1985) must have been sorely disappointed, as the thing only appears onscreen for a second or two at a time and is almost totally inanimate, to boot. Unremittingly weird and yet frequently boring, The Jar‘s most unforgivable fault is that next to nothing happens for the duration of its draggy 85 minutes.

On the plus side, The Jar has quite a few eerie moments and shows how scuzzy production values and a cast of non-professional actors can sometimes evoke more menace and atmosphere than high-dollar horror. The Jar, in a Vietnam flashback scene, also contains the most maddening helicopter noise ever heard in a film, the electronic sound design doing much to sustain viewer interest for much of this rather frustrating movie. Unsurprisingly, this was writer George Bradley’s and director Bruce Toscano’s only film.

3 out of 5 stars.

 

Getting Lucky

Getting Lucky (1990) ****

Bill (Steven Cooke) is a nerdy, liberal weenie and recycling enthusiast being bullied by the jocks at school when he fortuitously finds a recovering alcoholic leprechaun (Garry Kluger) in a beer bottle. Granted three wishes, Bill naturally wants a shot at hot cheerleader Krissi (Lezlie Z. McCraw), which brings him into intensified conflict with sadistic stud Tony (Rick McDowell), who also wants to get his paws on her. The hit-and-miss Irish magic results in such memorable moments as Bill being turned into a cat, Tony’s tennis racket coming to life and giving him a whacking, and Bill shrinking to mite size, riding a naked vixen’s bar of soap as she lathers herself, and bouncing around in Krissi’s panties and holding on for dear life in the perilous jungle of her pubes. Throw in a few quaint soft rock songs, and Getting Lucky has the makings of an 80s classic.

Admittedly, Getting Lucky, sporting its 1990 copyright, is not technically an 80s movie, but it does demonstrate nicely how the early 90s were in many instances a holdover, a culmination, or a last gasp of the 80s – and so it narrowly squeezes in as an 80s Oddities Month pick. Something of a straggler within its genre, Getting Lucky is essentially a throwback to the early-to-mid-80s variety of teen raunch comedy, a genre which had lost steam over the course of the decade, with the charming likes of Screwballs (1983) and Hot Moves (1984) having given way to lamely tame youth fare like The Allnighter (1987) and How I Got into College (1989). At the same time, Getting Lucky‘s imaginative nastiness is tempered by a sweetness and innocence that at times recalls The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High (1987).

4 out of 5 stars. Recommended to fans of films of this type.

 

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Sofia Coppola’s latest effort is very much her own. Bright, punchy, or ambient music, an elegant eye, and a sardonic sense of humor imbue yet another examination of rampant girldom with Coppola’s trademark sensibility. Unlike Lost in Translation or Marie Antoinette, however, The Bling Ring features no strong or particularly likable central protagonist, and is consequently a much more detached and ironic study than its predecessors.

The Bling Ring opens with shots of the Facebook pages of characters Marc (Israel Broussard), Chloe (Claire Julien), and Rebecca (Katie Chang) – an appropriate means of introduction in this true crime story set in an amoral teenage order founded on trendiness and popularity. All attending a high school for affluent problem kids, these are the more sophisticated and fashionable counterparts to the hedonistic nihilists in Larry Clark’s Bully, operating out of the sinister psychological intersection of thug chic and a privileged entitlement mentality.  Along with like-minded recruits Nicki (Emma Watson) and Sam (adorable Taissa Farmiga), the group combines its vapid interests in celebrity, pop criminality, and haute couture by committing a series of casual burglaries of the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and others.

An odd feature of these young people’s lives is how little concerned with love they appear to be. Tawdry apparel, dirty dancing, sex, and group acceptance interest them plenty, but these new teen creatures bear almost no resemblance to their grandmothers, the malt shop loiterers of old, with their puppy love crushes and idealism. The new teen queen is a kind of ravenous beast sustained by a constant regimen of dope, dainty baubles, irresponsible escapades, and protected from introspection by forbidding walls of abrasive music preoccupied with self-determined fabulousness.

It is difficult to watch The Bling Ring and not be reminded of another group of young Californians who targeted celebrity victims – namely, the Manson Family. In both cases, pathological fascination with the rich and famous, coupled with peer pressure, drugs, and an unhealthily violent cultural diet, result in celebrities being simultaneously venerated as idols and dehumanized as potential victims. Marc, reflecting on the meaning of his acts in the aftermath of his arrest, confides that after the story of his involvement hit the news, he received over 800 Facebook friend requests, suggesting that it is criminality itself as much as fame that attracts the adulation of the unsavory masses.

If The Bling Ring has any discernible shortcoming, it may be the dearth of surprising event, as the film proceeds along a fairly straight, predictable line as far as the plot. Apart from the signature Sofia Coppola seal in terms of color, design, and atmosphere, the film’s most attractive strength must be its delightful cast. Israel Broussard, featured in what, for lack of any real hero, is The Bling Ring‘s lead role, has a Byronic look and an enigmatic vulnerability that complements the Coppola aesthetic nicely; and all of the damsels in dissipation, from Katie Chang to Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, and Emma Watson, are irresistibly vile, divine, and luscious.

4.5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis kisses Sofia Coppola’s ring and indicates that her most recent flourish as a dependable writer-director is:

11. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation.  People of different races interact as without the least consciousness of their physiological or cultural differences. One of the girls has a thug Latino boyfriend. The camera lingers longingly over untouchable Katie Chang.

10. Anti-wigger.  Pop veneration of the ghetto mentality goes hand in hand with nihilism, crime, and self-destruction.

9. Pro-police.  Authorities conduct their investigation and effect the necessary arrests professionally and without inflicting unnecessary harm.

8. Anti-religion.  Modern woman’s faith is junk spirituality, “the philosophy of the Secret”, a kooky, relativistic melange in which words like “Lord” rub shoulders indiscriminately with new age talk of “karma”.

7. Anti-gun.  Privately owned guns, this film appears to want to convince viewers in one very frightening scene, make homes less safe and endanger the mentally deficient.  However, the fact that one of the girls steals a gun and gives it to her thug boyfriend demonstrates that criminals are not above obtaining their guns illegally and that gun control legislation is therefore futile.

6. Philanthropy-skeptical.  One suburban family claims a commitment to charitable causes in Africa, but cannot identify the specific country where they are active.  This pretended philanthropy is played as a sympathy card after the girls are caught by the police.

5. Statist.  The pitiable demonstration of home schooling as practiced by one ditzy mother (Leslie Mann) is an implicit endorsement of public education.

4. Anti-drug.  Drinking and driving results in a non-fatal accident, which, however, fails to prevent the girls from going out and behaving just as carelessly as before. Accelerating substance abuse parallels the girls’ increasingly poor judgment and carelessness in their criminal endeavor.

3. Pro-gay.  Sexually ambiguous Marc shares his girlfriends’ interest in fashion (including high heel shoes) and refers to a male schoolmate as “hot”.

2. Class-conscious.  Coppola (perhaps responding to the criticism that Marie Antoinette depicted a self-absorbed aristocrat sympathetically without taking into consideration the economic plight of the French peasantry?) depicts moral decay as in part deriving from wealth and privilege (cf. Billy Madison).

1. Pro-family.  The horror wrought by permissive or absentee parenting is the unstressed theme that haunts The Bling Ring.

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