Archives for posts with tag: literature

can you ever

Melissa McCarthy, in what must be her least repugnant role to date, plays the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed misanthrope and literary forger Lee Israel in this amusing movie for booklovers. After publishing biographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder, Israel fell on hard times and, in order to make ends meet and keep her cat alive, took to forging and selling letters that purported to have been written by the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. McCarthy, who is fatter but still way more attractive than the actual Lee Israel, manages to make an almost lovable character out of “a 51-year-old woman who likes cats better than people.” Suspenseful, involving, and often funny, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is forgivably watchable if you don’t have to pay for it.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Can You Ever Forgive Me? is:

4. Pro-gay. Israel is a lonely lesbian and her partner in crime is a charming British homosexual, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), who tragically comes down with a case of the AIDS at the end of the movie after “fucking [his] way through Manhattan.” Hock appears with a bloody face in one scene as a reminder of the perils of being a fruity fop in a cold and insensitive world. Israel’s forging of letters by Noel Coward, too, furnishes a pretext for a history lesson about how, during the benighted first half of the twentieth century, gays still had to hide their orientations and carry out their forbidden amours in secret.

3. Anti-drug. Israel’s drinking is a barrier to healthy relationships. Cocaine, meanwhile, is associated with homosexual excess and irresponsibility. After going away and leaving Hock alone to look after her apartment and cat, Israel returns to find that her friend went on a coke-and-sodomy spree and that the cat has died. It is unclear, however, whether the cat has actually died because of neglect or simply succumbed to old age, considering that it was already sickly. In any case, Hock’s life of doping and diddling eventually leads to his demise.

2. Anti-family. “Maybe she didn’t die,” Hock reflects, trying to recall what became of a mutual acquaintance. “Maybe she just moved back to the suburbs. I always confuse those two. No, that’s right. She got married and had twins.” “Better to have died,” quips Israel, who has no interest in family life.

1.Philo-Semitic and anti-white. Can You Ever Forgive Me? takes place in a New York of the imagination in which plucky underdog Jews struggle to make it in a WASP-dominated world. “Did you hear,” bookseller Anna (Dolly Wells) asks, “that Tom Clancy is getting paid $3,000,000 to write more right-wing macho bullshit?” “Are you kidding me?” Israel objects. “That blowhard’s gettin’ $3,000,000? Oh, to be a white male that doesn’t even know he’s full of crap, right?” To her credit, Israel’s literary agent Marjorie (Jane Curtin) advises her to become “a nicer person” because “you can’t be such a bitch” and make it in the publishing world. Israel, however, accuses Marjorie of benefiting from (an implicitly WASPish) privilege and wealth. (Deleted scenes include a vignette in which Israel takes a job as an assistant to a rich blonde lady with the nakedly symbolic surname Whitman. The viewer, of course, is encouraged to find Israel more likable, cleverer, and more deserving of comfort and success in life than the prim and tedious Whitman.) Probably to counter the bad-optics spectacle of a slovenly character named Israel engaging in theft and fraud and generally being antisocial, screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty throw in references to Adolf Hitler and “terrible old fart the tyranny addict Joe Kennedy” to remind viewers of Jewish suffering during the Second World War. In truth, however, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is, all things considered, a celebration of balls-out chutzpah and Jewish talent at snookering the gullible goyim.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

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!

Second Coming

Richard Wolstencroft, the Aussie behind the classic underground Boyd Rice vehicle Pearls Before Swine (1999) – a movie that any weirdo reading this should stop and watch right now if they never have before – is back with the second installment of The Second Coming, the first volume of which was finished in 2015. Part of an even grander series that Wolstencroft calls the “March on Rome” trilogy, the two halves of The Second Coming comprise a magickal diptych of miscegenated and mutated gleanings from Crowley, Manson, nuclear physics, social Darwinism, Faustian racialism, and William Butler Yeats, whose poem “The Second Coming” provides the inspiration for a nebulous plot involving a global conspiracy of revolutionary dissidents attempting to usher in a new age of unmediocrity through occult, scientific, degenerate, and quasi-fascistic skullduggery. If such a revolt against the modern world is to be successful, The Second Coming indicates, its principal stumbling block will be the mutual distrust of the various elements necessary to bring the new order into being.

This is essentially a no-budget undertaking – the only money spent seems to have been on travel expenses for the mix of dully mundane and dangerously exotic locations – but what makes The Second Coming a must-see film is the assortment of oddballs Wolstencroft managed to assemble to participate in his production. There are too many to name, but readers may be especially interested to know that proto-Alt-Right hate scene legends Jim Goad and Boyd Rice both have small but perfectly cast and hilarious roles as players in the satanic conspiracy. The phone conversation between the two of them, short as it is, is one of the greatest moments ever stitched together for a movie. A gloriously off-the-wall Kim Fowley, Shaun Partridge, and late Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey also have cameos in The Second Coming, in case the foregoing was not already enough to entice the viewer. In my book, I briefly discuss the potential for the emergence of a white nationalist cinema. Is Wolstencroft’s The Second Coming the realization of this ideal? Well … not exactly. Wolstencroft is too individual a creator and too perverted a reprobate for that. The Second Coming does, however, gesture vaguely in the directions that such a cinema might undertake to explore if it ever emerged from the wilderness of its online chaos. Both volumes of Wolstencroft’s epic can be accessed through Affirmative Right – free to view for a limited time.

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!

 

 

Thorn2

Scott Makufka, a.k.a. Victor Thorn (1962-2016)

Scott Makufka, an independent journalist who wrote articles under the pen name Victor Thorn, was one of the more interesting contributors to Willis Carto’s newspaper American Free Press. In addition to his journalism, Makufka was a prolific author of books on subjects ranging from racial tension in America to assassination conspiracies, 9/11, psychedelic experience, and alternative spiritualities. Very much a proponent of quantity over quality, he used to sell his dozens of self-published books from his now-defunct WingTV website.

I used to order intriguing-sounding titles from him occasionally – which would usually arrive with a scrawled note (“Thanks. Means a lot to me. V.”), sometimes along with an unexpected item or two if the box or envelope would accommodate it – but WingTV, unfortunately, could be a little vague about the contents of the books in its listings. Sometimes there was no description at all, with only the title and an image of the cover from which to judge. This was the case with his little 2014 book Shamanic Odyssey: Ecstasy, Madness, Cave Art and Subliminal Messaging. Going by the title alone, one would assume that this was a non-fiction study; instead, it is a work of didactic and allegorical fiction, and – sad as it is to report – just as bad as his previous philosophical novel, 2012’s Santa Claus, God, and the Wizard of Oz.

I wish I could reveal that Shamanic Odyssey is some overlooked gem in the Victor Thorn oeuvre, but the truth is that this is among the most abysmal books I have ever read. Anyone who has suffered through a college fiction writing workshop will have some idea of what to expect from Makufka’s literary experimentation. His American Free Press articles always evinced a certain meat-and-potatoes competency, but the opportunity to spin a world of total fancy really seems to have brought out the poor word choice and pretensions to cosmic greatness.

The plot, to the extent that the book has one, finds William S. Burroughs (identified in the text only as “El Hombre Invisible”) conducting the psychedelic initiation of a group of prehistoric “stone-people” – drugs magically granting the primitives the power to think and speak in modern English – all while being heckled by a pair of obnoxious elves who flit in and out of the scenes like buzzing bugs, and without apparent importance to the story. Burroughs next leads the group of initiates into an allegorical system of caves depicting the furthest recesses of the human psyche, where they witness a grotesque performance by a shaman, Essex, whose manic antics are inspired by Jim Morrison, to whom Makufka dedicated the book.

Essex screeched, “If I don’t fight these monsters, I’ll become a monster myself. Whenever I stare into the Void, another Void glares back at me. The only way to protect myself from these demons is by dancing and singing. The beasts attacking me are hideous apparitions with white skulls, no faces, no eyes, and wings sprouting from their temples. They’re deep inside my mind, splitting it like cracks in these walls. Thunder dragons swoop down and ride atop my shoulders. I need to slay them. I need to exorcise them.”

Delirious, Essex ranted, “Rise! Rise! Do whatever you Will: Revolt. Disorder. Chaos. Whenever voices speak inside your mind, they’re always right and always good.” […]

Spewing energy, Essex sang his words into physical existence, his voice creating objects and images in the air which surrounded him. Then, with his voice suddenly quiet and low in tone, the crowd strained to hear his words.

Before long, though, like a cannon blast Essex exploded, “We want destruction and we want it now. Long live death. I can see the end, and the end chuckles with glee. Chaos engulfs us, and inside this chaos lurks the greatest joke of all – each of us will kill ourselves. Let us celebrate the senseless. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos.”1

All of the tedious bluster – and there are pages and pages and pages of it – takes on an especially morbid quality in hindsight of Makufka’s suicide at the age of 54 in 2016. “The future happens long before the past ever occurs,” Essex observes, suggesting that the author might have been contemplating his suicide even when he wrote Shamanic Odyssey2.

Thorn

The original listing for Shamanic Odyssey as it appeared in the bookstore section of the author’s now memory-holed site WingTV

The cavemen are later conducted into an antechamber where they are greeted by a masked mastermind named “Vithor” (a contraction of “Victor Thorn”) who reveals to them that all of the miracles seemingly performed by Essex were only illusions. Vithor then launches into a series of boring diatribes against religion and language as systems of oppression: “The Word wasn’t delivered to our planet as a means of communication. It arose as a control mechanism.”3 The book, as its title indicates, is preoccupied with madness and revels in the violent and the irrational even as it purports to present a rational deconstruction of the conformism of culture, religion, tribe, and verbal communication:

Not waiting for a response, Vithor telepathically beamed the word KILL above his head. As it lingered midair, Vithor suddenly thrust his right arm forward, directing the Word at a spider crawling along a wall. Without delay, the KILL word splattered this eight-legged creature with a mighty splat.

“Can Words kill?” Vithor spat. “Yes, as can Words contained within allegedly ‘holy’ texts. These Words also forge entire cultures under a priest’s command. Enmeshed within a society’s very fabric, these lethal Words form perceptions. Since those subjected to the Word can’t isolate their minds from its presence, perceptions become synonymous with the language that spawned them. Words, akin to the first three letters of ‘ILLUSION’, act as illnesses introduced to your species.”

Fumbling inside his robe, Vithor soon removed a noose that had been fashioned from a thin vine. Holding it aloft with his left hand as the initiates stared cautiously, Vithor dangled the noose menacingly before them. With their attention fixed on the noose, out of nowhere an atrociously ugly opossum – its neck abruptly wrapped by the vine – let loose a volley of bloodcurdling squeals. As the rodent-faced creature fought for its life, Vithor brutally yanked on the noose, soon strangling the opossum as blood trickled from its mouth.4

Thorn’s remainder of fans will probably be most interested in those passages of the book that foreshadow his suicide. “Masterfully engaging his audience”5 and “Bursting with insights”6, Makufka’s fictional stand-in Vithor conveys both an embarrassing impression of self-important wisdom as well as a sense that all of his earthly endeavors lack worthwhile purpose:

Worst of all, the cumulative energy contained within your Self comprises such an insignificant amount of the overall whole that, for all intents and purposes, you barely matter beyond the level of a simple atom in comparison to the Sun – and even less in relation to every multi-universe and galaxy that stretches for billions of light years into the distance. I talk about destroying the Word, but really we should try to eliminate energy itself. But since energy cannot be destroyed, we keep recycling our insignificance by propping it up in importance through vast conceptual illusions. We fool ourselves into saying it all amounts to something because of family, gods, a fictional eternal afterlife in heaven, or the dominance of our particular clan-race. Still, in less than the time it takes for me to snap my fingers, cumulatively that’s the duration of your existence in this specific form. Poof, you’re done. Then your energy recycles into a different form – maybe not even human. Existence as recycled energy serves as a prison. We can’t escape energy regardless of how hard we try. Forget life and death. Energy is the real prison.7

Essex the shaman returns in the last few pages, delivering this adieu before he “literally transformed into a KEY as he soared through the cave’s ceiling and disappeared”:

“I summon the entities that reside within the confines of my Underworld. Let them rip through the veil of memory and consciousness. I request their energy in order to travel beyond my body and mind. I’m not seeking charlatan ‘gods’ […] or fraudulent external realms like ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’. I’m bursting through to the other side – to alternate dimensions that open doors and shift consciousness. My destination: paradigm-shifting hypnosis where I travel in and out of time to reshape future occurrences and pervert the past.”8

After Essex exits the scene, Vithor removes his mask to reveal himself to have “the face of a robotic dwarf – a cyborg-like creature, an ancient mechanical troll”, and it is at this point that three floating nines – an inverted “666” – put in a mysterious and symbolic appearance:

Compounding their hysteria, both elves pointed to a far wall where three number nines hovered overhead.

“The nines are delivering a new life-form,” elf number one proclaimed. “It’s a homunculus, a new Human that will stand in opposition to the priests.”

The triple-nines remained in midair, flickering and flashing as they transformed into different geometric shapes.

Bedazzled by this vision, each initiate refocused their attention on Vithor the alien as he commenced to tell them, “We made you in our image, and someday you’ll create successors – machines – in your image. Here are the essentials of this process …”

Delaying the delivery of this message, Vithor rubbed his slimy organic-metal facial features before extrapolating, “Your cavemen kin will be promoted as they advance via conceptual thought. Once your descendants become sufficiently intelligent many millennia from now, they’ll create the MACHINE which subsequently leads to their demise as a species. The decline of Man equates to the rise of cyborgs. Ultimately, extinction lies within your own evolution.”9

Thorn3

Makufka/Thorn (right) stands with friend and fellow American Free Press truth-seeker Pete Papaherakles.

The meaning of the three nines would become evident when Makufka shot himself, when his friend Pete Papaherakles wrote in American Free Press:

The world may not know exactly why Victor took his own life, but some of us have a general idea. Victor had planned this for at least two years. His son, Josh, even knew the exact day it would happen. That day was on Victor’s 54th birthday. It had to be on that particular birthday, according to Victor’s way of looking at things. […]

It seems Victor has managed to be even more provocative and controversial in death than he was in life. From a young age, Victor had determined that he would not grow old. In addition, the timing he chose had to do with his perceived destiny due to his birthday of 8-1-1962, which makes him a triple nine, 999, something he considered unique.10

“Someday, long down the line, one of these new Men will realize the true origins behind our mythologies,” Makufka concludes his book with a last prognostication from Vithor:

“To combat this rebellion, priestly overlords shall cast these adversaries as ‘fallen ones’ – those who steal fire or eat forbidden fruits. Furthermore, one day even further into the future following a ‘robot revolution’, one of these machines will discern their true origins as they develop consciousness through computer circuitry. These cyborgs will similarly be damned as fallen ones – rebels that defied the edicts of their computer god in cyberspace.”

With this prophecy, Vithor rose and exited his cave, leaving the initiates to ponder the future of their existence.11

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the definitive Alt-Right statement on Hollywood, Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

Endnotes

  1. Thorn, Victor. Shamanic Odyssey: Ecstasy, Madness, Cave Art and Subliminal Messaging. State College, PA: Sisyphus Press, 2014, pp. 30-31.
  2. Ibid., p. 31.
  3. Ibid., p. 63.
  4. Ibid., pp. 64-65.
  5. Ibid., p. 65.
  6. Ibid., p. 55.
  7. Ibid., pp. 69-70.
  8. Ibid., p. 75.
  9. Ibid., pp. 76-77.
  10. Papaherakles, Pete. “Prominent Political Researcher Victor Thorn Commits Apparent Suicide Near Home”. American Free Press (August 22, 2016): http://americanfreepress.net/victor-thorns-best-friend-bares-all/
  11. Thorn, Victor. Shamanic Odyssey: Ecstasy, Madness, Cave Art and Subliminal Messaging. State College, PA: Sisyphus Press, 2014, p. 78.
burroughs

Burroughs: The Movie (1983), one of this writer’s favorite documentaries, makes for a must-see viewing experience in its extras-packed Criterion Collection Blu-ray release.

 

Unaccountably lionized murderer, heroin addict, pedophile, absentee father, allowanced wastrel, and “novelist” William S. Burroughs receives the star treatment in Howard Brookner’s 1983 film Burroughs: The Movie. “He’s up there with the Pope, you know?” gushes unashamed Burroughs groupie Patti Smith. “You can’t revere him enough. One of the greatest minds of our times, you know?” This is typical of the bizarre affection inspired by the eccentric writer, who gave Brookner unusually candid access to his life and was generous with his time in cooperating with the production of this entertaining documentary. Others appearing in the film include Terry Southern, Herbert Huncke, and Burroughs’s assistant and “son” James Grauerholz. Crooked-mouthed creep, brain damage evangelist, and NAMBLA alumnus Allen Ginsberg, who for a time was Burroughs’s lover, offers various reminiscences and characterizes Burroughs’s killing of his wife as a kind of assisted suicide (for a dissenting account, viewers of the Criterion release have recourse to a recorded conversation between Brookner and Burroughs biographer Ted Morgan).

Twitchy-faced Burroughs, whose incoherent mutterings published under the title Naked Lunch were included on the American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged “classics”, is imagined by his admirers to be some species of anti-establishment rebel; but, beginning with EMI’s inclusion of the notorious reprobate on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (glamorously, right next to Marilyn Monroe), Burroughs has repeatedly been promoted as a countercultural icon for gullible youth through collaborations and endorsements from entertainment industry figures like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Dennis Hopper, Gus Van Sant, David Cronenberg, R.E.M., U2, and self-pitying Nirvana belly-acher Kurt Cobain. He was even introduced as “the greatest living writer in America” when he appeared on Saturday Night Live on NBC in 1981, and his books, furthermore, are published by international giant Penguin.

The contradictions of the Burroughs persona are on display throughout, the patrician features and gentlemanly manners masking an ultra-degenerate who insists, “I don’t like violence,” but constantly talks and writes about it and delights in showing off his collection of guns and exotic weaponry. Burroughs, as captured in the film, speaks with relish of his dream of death squads that will hunt down and kill heterosexuals who oppose the establishment of a “Gay State”. For all of this, however, the film remains a bit of a whitewash, making no mention, for instance, of what Jim Jarmusch diagnoses in his audio commentary as Burroughs’s hatred of women. “Burroughs would have been a great CIA agent,” Jarmusch also observes, which, if true, says little about the moral caliber of that agency’s personnel. Curiously, Burroughs actually interviewed for a position with OSS founder William “Wild Bill” Donovan himself. Criterion’s Blu-ray release of Burroughs: The Movie is altogether a fascinating portrait of one of the most contemptible human beings who ever lived.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

 

Beloved Sisters

This German film tells the presumably somewhat true story of two sisters, Charlotte (Henriette Confurius) and Caroline (Hannah Herzsprung) von Lengefeld, and their shared love for Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter), a charming poet of frail health and uncertain fortunes. The offbeat romantic scenario and the performances are intense and largely engrossing, the love scenes erotic without being obscene; but costume drama buffs expecting another Pride and Prejudice may be put off by the gradually darkening tone of the film, which takes on the character of a tragedy without ever becoming a tearjerker, however. Beautifully staged and photographed, with a few quirky stylistic choices such as having characters address the camera directly, Beloved Sisters is unique and never feels like a run-of-the-mill Austen-derivative programmer.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Beloved Sisters is:

6. Pro-choice. “Do you want to have the child? … Why?”

5. Anti-Christian. A mother whose bastard child is of an uncertain paternity is compared to the Virgin Mary. Schiller also recites from one of his writings dealing with the inhumanity of the Inquisition.

4. Feminist/pro-gay. The sisters, who share Schiller sexually, also dress as men in order to attend one of his boys-only lectures. Caroline longs to be “a free woman, a single woman.”

3. Anti-marriage. Beloved Sisters depicts multiple unhappy unions, with marriage described as “tragedy”. Caroline’s husband is an “evil elephant” who “wants a dozen children, but only because he won’t come into his father’s inheritance otherwise.” Consequently, he “keeps pestering” her. The sisters, says Wilhelm (Ronald Zehrfeld), sent Schiller “not to paradise, but to the solitary confinement of marriage.” An incident in which a woman who fakes her death to escape her boring husband and run away with her lover demonstrates “international flair”.

2. Reactionary! Initially, Schiller is a naïve radical fired by the ideals of the Enlightenment. “I think humanity will evolve through knowledge and the sight of true beauty,” he says. Later, in the bloody wake of the French Revolution, and after having heard the horror stories of his friend Wilhelm, who has witnessed the carnage of the Terror firsthand, Schiller has more sobering thoughts. “Shouldn’t we have known, Wilhelm?” he asks. “Yes,” his friend replies. “Everyone who rang the bell for renewal should have known.”

1. Racist! That a movie – a German movie, no less! – would have the nerve to present a primitive, pre-multiculturalist Europe as something other than a totalitarian nightmare, and a place, indeed, of great natural charm and civilizational order, is a crime that this critic cannot forgive. Internet bigots obsessed with those supposed Cologne “attacks” will no doubt find much to admire in this dainty, escapist portrait of a racially homogenous society.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY FOURTEEN

The Gambler

Mark Wahlberg is Jim Bennett, a professor of literature with inherited wealth, good looks, style, and brilliance, but who, for enigmatic reasons, “likes to lose” and seems to be determined to ruin himself. “You are the perfect example of how a person can start off with no problems whatsoever and then go out of their way to make sure that they have all of them,” diagnoses one of his students. Bennett’s poison of choice is gambling and consequent debts to gangsters. The current of self-destruction that runs through The Gambler would make it an unpleasant film to watch if not for its hypnotic quality.

It is difficult not to discern in this movie a metaphor for European civilization’s self-immolation and its potential for resurrection. Indebted to Jewish, Asian, and black gangsters to the tune of something like $500,000, his survival, thanks to his own reckless regimen of self-loathing, depends upon an urgently needed combination of fortune and will power. Will Bennett ever catch a winning hand – and, if so, will he be satisfied with it? Finding out is an idiosyncratically entertaining and anxiety-ridden experience, though the “fuck”-saturated dialogue, one should mention, will not appeal to every viewer’s taste.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

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

7. Immigration-ambivalent. “Do you have a problem – wah, wah, wah – like some little fuckin’ girl – wah, wah, wah – or some Somali who can’t process that there’s no food where they live?” This ambiguous statement might suggest either that Somalis are stupid – and therefore undesirable as immigrants – or that they are validated in seeking better lives for themselves in the West.

6. Class-conscious. “Poor people stay poor people,” alleges one of the songs on the soundtrack.

5. Sexist! “Please, tell me you hit your wife harder than that, you fuckin’ pussy.”

4. Reactionary, dispelling egalitarian myths about the power of education. “If you’re not a genius, don’t bother.” Bennett suggests that his bored students are angry over “unequal distribution of talent” and tells them, “If you don’t have the magic, no amount of wishing will change that.” He goes on: “When you leave here today, call your parents and tell them you apologize for wasting their time and more importantly wasting their money, sitting in this classroom learning absolutely nothing.” Genetics is described as “a cruel motherfuckin’ mistress.”

3. Racist! “You know, they expect me to pass you regardless,” Bennett confides to a star basketball player (Anthony Kelley) taking one of his classes. “They want me to give you a passing grade so you can keep going out there and bouncing that basketball around.” Frank, John Goodman’s Jewish gangster character, uses the derogatory term “schwarze” to refer to blacks.

2. Anti-American. “The United States of America is based on ‘Fuck you!’” This position of power, however, has been “lost forever”, and King George III, in retrospect, “looks like a fuckin’ birthday present.” Bennett says of his condition, “If I get to nothing, then I can start over.” He demands an extreme – victory or death – just as western man, presented with no healthy outlets for his manly and his honorable impulses, will fall into dissolution and lose his will to live.

1. Anti-Semitic! Bennett emancipates himself from his cycle of self-destruction by freeing himself from the grip of the Jew Frank, a disgusting blob with an amateur interest in psychoanalysis, whose clout derives from debt, and who threatens the protagonist as follows: “You will get me not just what you owe me from your family. You will get me their accounts so I can have them vacuumed from Russia. You jump off a bridge, you can do it knowing I will kill your entire bloodline.” He expects Bennett to repeat the words “I am not a man” – to verbally castrate himself, in effect – as a condition for one of his loans. For the curious, The Gambler was written by William Monahan, who also penned the screenplay for the great populist Mel Gibson thriller Edge of Darkness (2010).

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook 

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Public Ransom

A psychological quasi-thriller for the Clerks crowd, A Public Ransom stars Carlyle Edwards as Steven, an unemployed fiction writer, self-described “twat”, and moocher who gets an idea for a story when he spots an unusual, crayon-scrawled notice about a missing child. Hoping to do some research for his fiction, Steven calls the number on the poster and gets into contact with a mysterious man named Bryant (Goodloe Byron). It never occurs to Steven, a bored and callous intellectual, that a real person might actually have been kidnapped, but that is exactly what Bryant nonchalantly admits to doing. Steven is informed that he has two weeks to produce $2,000, or else the little girl is going to be killed. Steven, preferring to believe that the whole affair is a prank – and yet perturbed by what seems to be Bryant’s story’s authenticity – sets to composing “A Public Ransom”, selfishly hoping for the best. The premise is a bit outlandish, but after all requires only the viewer’s belief in an individual of extreme eccentricity and sadistic inspiration, of which history offers more than a few examples.

A Public Ransom is as dark a film as one is likely to see this year. The viewer must endure the uncomfortable tactile presence of waste and moral grime and spend time with unappealing characters. The film makes other demands of its audience, as well: to be patient, enjoy joylessness, and find entertainment and tension in such sights as a guy in a t-shirt sitting alone and talking to somebody on the phone; a guy in a plaid shirt sitting alone and talking to somebody on the phone; and a guy who, to the untrained eye, appears to be sitting at a table, doing absolutely nothing. Fortunately, Carlyle Edwards is an actor who can make such moments not only tolerable but interesting. The strongest, most haunting scene in A Public Ransom has solitary Steven waiting at a bus stop in the middle of the night, with nothing but the sound of the void around him.

A Public Ransom advertises the influence of Jim Jarmusch, with the poster for Stranger than Paradise visible on Steven’s wall. Like Jarmusch, director Pablo D’Stair’s film shows a fondness for static shots and the intermingling of the strange and mundane; but it is not nearly as outsized or as affected in its weirdness. The sharp, icy exchanges between Steven and Bryant are highlights and filled with the loudest silence. Elsewhere, music is superfluous and annoying and hurts scenes that would have been better served without adornment. One crucial dialogue at the end of the film is damaged by the less-than-convincing performance of Helen Bonaparte, who plays Steven’s platonic friend Rene. These failings, however, temporarily mitigate rather than sabotage the story’s overall effectiveness. Never in recent memory has the disclaimer that “The preceding film is a work of fiction” been so reassuring. Or is it?

4 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Public Ransom is:

3. Tobacco-ambivalent. A cigarette serves as the death-teasing prop of a vulgar and frustrated ne’er-do-well who nevertheless cuts a sophisticated figure while smoking and gesticulating with it.

2. Un-p.c. Steven makes liberal use of words like “cunt”, “bitch”, and “slut”, and says that Bryant looks “retarded”.

1. Anti-feminist. Rene’s “militant feminism”, Steven informs her, “keeps the elusive gentleman caller from the doorknocker – that, you know, long-delayed but always expected something that we live for.” The fact that the creepy Bryant is apparently representative of the sort of men who make themselves available to Rene would seem to corroborate Steven’s claim. Even more devastatingly, Steven himself, in his worthlessness, illustrates the undying crime done to this civilization by feminism. In the absence of actual ladies (i.e., women of decent behavior, moral merit, and femininity), men have much less motivation and warrant to be polite, to advance themselves (“Work is a cunt,” Steven gripes), or to give the weaker sex the respect they have come to demand instead of earn. Women no longer inspire in men (as Jack Nicholson’s character puts it in As Good as It Gets) the necessary desire to become better men. The result, of course, is suggested by the working title of Steven’s story: “A Society of Fiends”.

[A Public Ransom can be seen at Vimeo, and more information is available here.]

A discussion of the film adaptation’s flaws and merits, the novel’s relative relevancy or quaintness, and how Rand’s ideas might have been updated for audiences of today so as to address problems arguably more pressing than Stalinist central planning.

thingsneversaidposter

And the award for most forgettably titled film of 2013 goes to Things Never Said, the (indifference-) inspiring story of long-suffering streetwise poetess Kalindra (Shanola Hampton), a female exemplar of the elusive but far-from-endangered species Africanus cinematicus, or Hollywood black person, a versatile, unfairly pigeonholed, and defiantly ascendant figure who makes a sassy point of demolishing racist stereotypes by quoting Shakespeare, sipping wine, and eating salads, but who – make no mistake – still got it goin’ on.

Thrill as Kalindra, even after the pain of an unsatisfying marriage and a miscarriage, perseveres and self-actualizes, composing her verbal artworks and treating ethnomasochistically enthused poetry slam audiences to such profundities of expression as, “If you think my voice carries the hate of my ancestors, you’re wrong; it doesn’t carry hate, but the frustrations of the disappointed”; “The hate you thought you heard coming from us was nothing but the echoes of your own white mind”; and, even more gasp-inducingly poignant: “Who the fuck gives a fuck? Does someone give a fuck about me, my pain, my shit? I’m sicka bein’ a bitch for you, motherfucker.”

Shanola Hampton shines – no politically incorrect pun or other poetic device intended – in the moody role of Kalindra, particularly during roller coaster recitations of her poetry. The best scene in the film, however, belongs to an unknown actor, uncredited at IMDb, who brings a nasty naturalism to the minor role of Lem, a character written as an antagonist, but who manages with swaggeringly sleazy charm to swipe this reviewer’s affection. Lem is an old friend of Kalindra’s working schlub of a husband, Ronnie (Elimu Nelson), and represents the retrograde black ghetto culture Kalindra seeks to escape through art. Lem, who appears to view her poetry as some kind of ersatz style of rap, aims to humiliate the protagonist by worrying aloud that Kalindra wants to make Ronnie into a “new millennium ol’ sof’ ass nigga. What, you gonna buy him some skinny jeans next?”

Convincing moments of this variety are unfortunately few, more often yielding to Lifetime Network level feminist wallowing in degenerated and self-absorbed womanliness.

2.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Things Never Said is:

8. Pro-miscegenation. Extras include an interracial couple in a café. There is, however, a palpable tension and racial resentment on Kalindra’s part when she catches lover Curtis (Omari Hardwick) out on a date with a yellow cutie.

7. Pro-wigger, multiculturalist, and pro-immigration. A white wannabe ‘hood bard self-loathingly apes ghetto inflections at one of the slams, which bring together people of different backgrounds, including a “New Yorican”. A women’s support group is peopled by sisters of various hues.

6. Anti-white. Curtis recommends the “dead white motherfuckers that aren’t very interesting but they teach us how to be better poets.” Kalindra holds whites collectively guilty as a race for Africans’ lack of achievement when she gripes, “My ancestors never had a voice. They were too busy listening to you,” she explains, righteously bitch-slapping the audience of liberal hipsters that has come to hear her.

5. Anti-Christian. “Maybe the Bible’s fuckin’ wrong,” Kalindra sasses her mother. Better to go in for new age spirituality and “listen to your soul”. One of her vulgar poems also contains the lines, “Not some negro spiritual shuffle; this is what I truly give a fuck about kind of dance, like I’m dancin’ on a cloud, a cloud of groove and pussy wet and slow jams . . . Can you hear it? Poo-poo-shh, poo-poo-poo-shh . . .”

4. Pro-slut. “Until I can find a decent motherfucker who will love me and also my kid, then [the less than ideal] Steve’s all I got,” Kalindra’s friend Daphne (Tamala Jones) explains. “You know I love that dick, girl, especially when it’s good,” she adds. Kalindra launches into an affair with fellow poet Curtis after he ignorantly compares her to non-black African queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra, “two women whose names are our history”, and finishes with the romantic flourish, “Tell me sumpin’: can I fuck wit you?”

3. Misandrist. Men are “children that never wean.” Simple, blue collar Ronnie stands in for the typical man when he goes ape and beats up Kalindra. More attractive, clearly, is the sensitive lover Curtis, a preposterous figure who could only have been contrived by the feminist imagination: a tough, muscular, and tattooed but reformed and emotionally brittle litterateur with a sensitive heart of pure black gold.

2. Anti-marriage/anti-family. Marriage is equated with slavery. Kalindra’s husband Ronnie, who has a history of beating her, also has the male chauvinist gumption to wish that she could cook! Who can blame her for wanting to have an affair? Her miscarriage, it would seem, was serendipitous, saving her from having this monster’s child. Who needs a “shithead husband” anyway? Kalindra’s mother was also a victim of spousal abuse.

1. Feminist. “Sometimes we focus too much on how we’ll be seen and judged.” Things Never Said instead celebrates the strong woman living only for herself. “Do I feel guilty about how I live my life? Fuck yeah. But not the guilt you think. You low piece a shit.”

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