Archives for posts with tag: mainstream media

under

A reader suggested that I review this oddity, so it’s with a tinge of sadness that I report that I don’t like it very much. This hodgepodge of conspiracy theories, urban legends, magical realism, cult consumerism, and synchronicity is essentially a hipster version of The X-Files with a self-consciously quirky and ironic millennial spin. Ne’er-do-well protagonist Sam (Andrew Garfield) becomes obsessed with secret messages in popular culture after reading a cheesy zine called Under the Silver Lake. Strange occurrences start to haunt the befuddled hero as he combs Los Angeles hunting for clues, seeking the ultimate profundity of it all, and also tries to track down elusive inamorata Sarah (Riley Keough), who is apparently supposed to be some kind of fascinating woman of mystery but just seems like a dumb and gross pothead to me. Amplifying my annoyance with this movie is that, at 139 minutes, it’s so goddamned long and just keeps getting less and less interesting as it progresses. Maybe it’s only that I’ve become a middle-aged fogey, but fuck this movie, altogether a disappointing non-delivery on the promise of writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s previous effort, the superior horror outing It Follows (2014).

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Under the Silver Lake is:

Pro-drug. Sam and Sarah bond over weed and a movie after a meet-cute occasioned by dog poop.

Anti-Alt-Media. As much as Under the Silver Lake might like to market itself as an homage to conspiracy lore and to find an audience among extremely online devotees of hidden history and various autistica, the filmmakers’ condescension is plainly in evidence. The characterization of the pop music industry as an establishment contrivance, of course, has some validity; but, mixed as it is with whimsy about underground tunnels decorated with Egyptian ephemera and guarded by hobo initiates, the brief whiff of truth here and there in this movie is most often overpowered by the stench of bullshit. Sam – whom production designer Michael Perry describes in the DVD extras as a “conspiracy nut” – is a kidult who still plays video games and seems incapable of managing his life. Unconcerned that his rent and car payments are overdue, he instead spends his money in a bookstore or a bar or orders a pizza, the responsibilities of life apparently being beneath him. This representative conspiracy researcher is also a dope smoker for whom, in Perry’s words, “everything’s connected. So we have the Kennedy assassination, World War II, aliens” – dissident investigation of political murders or the facts of the Second World War apparently being on par status-wise with UFOlogy. The writer behind the Under the Silver Lake zine, once Sam meets him, is a bugman whose home is filled with toys, comic books, and pornography – the preoccupations of an arrested development. Even when Sam’s investigations seem to validate his suspicion that surface reality conceals a world of secret meaning, his adventures can still be interpreted as a mere satirization of what goes on inside the heads of alternative media consumers. Under the Silver Lake is not an endorsement of the work of David McGowan, for example, but a cinematic snicker at the suckers who read him. Smug liberal consumers of corporate media will be able to view this film in the comfort of bias confirmation, their point of view personified in the screenplay by Sam’s friend played by Topher Grace. “I used to think that I was gonna be someone that, like, people cared about,” Sam complains. “Maybe do something important” – which his skeptical friend diagnoses as “narcissism and entitlement” – the qualities that presumably motivate rabbit-hole explorers and dissident researchers in the opinion of David Robert Mitchell. Sam’s friend, giving voice to the TV believers, internet conspiracy pooh-poohers, and pop psychologists in the audience, dismisses Sam’s feelings of being followed as “the modern persecution complex. Who needs witches and werewolves anymore, right? Now we have computers. I swear to God, at the very least, the entire population is suffering from mild paranoia. See, our little monkey brains, they’re not comfortable knowing that they’re all interlinked and routed together now in some kind of all-knowing, alien mind hive, and that shit is a straight-up cesspool for delusion, for fear …” In another scene – one that contributes nothing obvious to the advancement of the story – Sam catches some youngsters vandalizing cars and brutally beats them; and I can’t help but wonder if this moment, like the ones I recently spotlighted in Drunk Parents and The Prodigy, speaks to a tribal industry’s anger and anxiety about trollish young white men in the era of the Alt-Right and Trump.

Nihilistic and anti-human. One of the most off-putting things about Under the Silver Lake is that its characters are so unlikably casual and desensitized. Sam absently screws some floozie, for instance, as they watch a news broadcast, and he later turns an old man’s face into a crater, smashing his head repeatedly with a guitar – all of which the filmmakers thought I needed to see in graphic detail for some reason or other – I suppose because they think it’s funny. The casualness with which Sam and the women in his life approach their sexual relationships – the screenplay seems a bit confused as to whether the character is cool or a loser – makes his infatuation with Sarah a bit of an arbitrary head-scratcher given that there’s nothing particularly intriguing about her apart from her looks; and nightmare visions of Sarah and other women barking like dogs serve to reinforce an impression of general contempt for the trainable human animal. The revelation, too, that popular culture emanates not so much from the brilliance of revolutionary artists as from a hidden establishment with ulterior motives, contributes to a feeling of futility and despair as opposed to wonderment. Give up. You can’t win!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

public

Try as it might to seem hip and relevant, Emilio Estevez’s hero-librarians vanity project The Public never manages to shake a vague feeling of being something slightly quaint left over from the 1990s. Estevez, in a role perhaps intended to reference the actor’s iconic turn as a cool school library detainee in The Breakfast Club, appears as an idealistic but hardship-weathered employee of the Cincinnati Public Library whose personal and professional ethics are tested when a mob of crazy homeless men occupies the facility and demands to be allowed to use the library as an overnight shelter on a bitterly cold evening. Curiously, writer-director-producer Estevez appears to cling to the outmoded liberal convention of the white savior coming to the aid of downtrodden blacks and browns – in 2019. Star-power casting, with Christian Slater and Alec Baldwin also appearing, make the movie more watchable than it probably deserves to be.

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

5. Green. Annoying but well-meaning millennial chick Jena Malone rides the bus to work to reduce her carbon footprint, and the presence of a taxidermied polar bear (“Beary White”) in the library serves to remind the viewer of wildlife impacted by melting ice caps.

4. Anti-drug. One subplot involves the search for a missing opioid addict (Nik Pajic). Estevez’s character is also revealed to be a recovered alcoholic who once lived on the streets.

3. Media-critical. A self-promoting local reporter (Gabrielle Union) intentionally misrepresents the protagonist’s stance of solidarity with the homeless, leaving viewers with the impression that he is a madman holding hostages inside the library. Her cameraman (Ki Hong Lee) objects, but is ultimately complicit in the duplicity. Provocatively, the term “fake news” is applied to the mainstream media rather than to independent commentators.

2. Communist. “To each, according to his needs” is very much the moral of the film.

1.Racially confused. The Public represents a partially naïve effort at postracialism while also including distinctively anti-white elements. Against expectation, the film casts black actress Gabrielle Union as the unlikable reporter – showing that blacks can also be bad – but other blacks in the movie appear well-intentioned or victimized, with some depicted as harmlessly insane. Jeffrey Wright, however, appears as a polished and capable black library director. Christian Slater plays a slickly dressed law-and-order prosecutor and mayoral candidate who, though his political party is never mentioned, represents a heartless all-white Republicanism that must eventually give way to a more inclusive vision represented by his compassionate black political opponent.

Oddly, the movie opens with an angry black rapper shouting “Burn the books!” and ranting about tearing down monuments as various unfortunate street people appear queuing up to get into the library and out of the cold. The rap’s apocalyptic vision forecasts what is presumably the fate awaiting reactionary whites who fail to get “woke” and join the fight against inequality. European-American literary heritage in The Public is a universal legacy and an inspiration for all of “the people”, but Europe’s classical civilization is also insulted. The setting of Cincinnati invokes Cincinnatus, the exemplar of selfless public service, but the name “Athena” – evoking the Greek goddess of wisdom – is given to an eccentric old anti-Semite (Dale Hodges) who suspects those around her of belonging to “the Tribe”, while another of the vagrants (Patrick Hume) is nicknamed “Caesar”, with antiquity symbolically displaced, homeless, and reduced to pitiable madness in the context of multicultural modernity. A library book defaced with a swastika, meanwhile, reminds viewers of the persistent threat of white bigotry.

More interesting is the treatment of the preserved polar bear, “Beary White”, which – whether intentionally or otherwise – evokes “polar bear hunting” or the anti-white “knockout game” in a ghettoized urban setting in addition to bolstering the global warming messaging. The film concludes with a shot of the towering, fierce, and triumphant-looking polar bear, which is perhaps intended to symbolize the moral victory of white-liberal-savior-with-soul Emilio Estevez, who redeems himself and his race and hopefully avoids the hunt by self-sacrificingly taking up the cause of impoverished minorities. The irony of such an interpretation is that the life-like bear is merely a feat of accomplished taxidermy and that the once-majestic creature is already dead inside.

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!

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWENTY

Kill the Messenger

Anybody with even a casual interest in conspiracy lore knows at least the outline of the true events that inspired this worthwhile film. Released on the heels of the Ferguson unrest of 2014, Kill the Messenger tells the story of San Jose Mercury News journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), who discovered that the 80s crack apocalypse epicentered in Los Angeles was facilitated by the Central Intelligence Agency through its sponsorship of the Nicaraguan contras.

Unlike any number of other media stories about police brutality, microaggressions, gentrification, hoodie scares, or other mysterious manifestations of racism and white privilege, Webb’s unsavory revelations give blacks good reason to be angry at their government’s actions. Webb made powerful enemies with his disclosures, which cut across partisan politics but incensed blacks in particular, and understandably so, given crack’s devastation of their families and neighborhoods. Kill the Messenger stops short of alleging that the CIA intentionally targeted black communities for destruction, but does highlight the particular blight these areas have endured.

Primarily, Kill the Messenger is the story of Webb the man, whose life and career were irreparably damaged by the titular smear campaign. Tastefully, but admittedly somewhat disappointingly, the movie leaves to viewers’ imaginations the question of whether Webb, as the official version goes, committed suicide by shooting himself twice (!) in the head or was murdered by some New World Order assassin. Renner is intense as Gary Webb, and the use of actual television news reportage of the day – including CIA shill (and current Ben Carson foreign policy advisor) Duane Clarridge’s jaw-droppingly stupid and smarmy reaction to Webb’s allegations: “Don’t give me that conspiracy bullshit. […] There has never been a conspiracy in this country” – does much to enhance the impression of reality.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Kill the Messenger is:

6. Non-partisan. Both Republicans and Democrats are implicated, as is indicated by the opening montage.

5. Pro-gun. Webb keeps a handgun in his home and uses it to scare a spooky prowler away from his car.

4. Drug-ambivalent. Webb and his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) smoke weed, but a visit to South Central Los Angeles underscores crack’s social ravages.

3. Media-critical. After initially celebrating his breakthrough, Webb’s fellow journalists either distance themselves from him or devote themselves to discrediting his work.

2. Anti-state. This writer must not have been paying attention during his high school civics class when the teacher explained how it was the government’s responsibility to import hard drugs into the country.

1. Borderline anti-Semitic! Richard Schiff plays Richard Zuckerman, a CIA asset and shill utilizing The Washington Post to trash Webb’s credibility. Tim Blake Nelson plays sleazy attorney Alan Fenster, who, while lending crucial assistance to Webb’s investigation, comes across as the stereotypical lawyer who insists even in private conferences on referring to his client “Freeway” Rick Ross (Michael K. Williams) as merely an “alleged” drug dealer. Oliver Platt, meanwhile, appears as Mercury News executive editor Jerry Ceppos, who at first defends Webb’s work but then wimps out in the face of the media firestorm. Perhaps to compensate for these unappealing characterizations, both Webb and his wife as visualized in the movie are darker, less Nordic-looking figures than the biographical subjects.

Gary Webb

Gary Webb

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner

 

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Family poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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