Archives for posts with tag: martial arts

doctor-strange

Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) stars as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme in this decent supernatural action-adventure adaptation. A brilliant but arrogant surgeon whose hands are ruined after a car accident, Strange treks to Nepal in the hope of finding a means of recovering his manual dexterity, only to find instead that a world of occult knowledge and power awaits him. Tilda Swinton appears as “The Ancient One” who mentors him. She, along with Strange’s big brother adept Chiwetel Ejiofor and antagonist Mads Mikkelson, does a good job of keeping a straight face while delivering gobs of earnest mystical gobbledygook; but the team of screenwriters has also wisely peppered the script with irreverent observations from Doctor Strange, who, like the viewer, experiences the occult side of reality as a newcomer and serves as his own comic relief. With action choreography and a concept similar to The Matrix, fans of CGI-heavy special effects extravaganzas ought to be satisfied. One does, however, wish that sexy Rachel McAdams (True Detective season 2) had received more screen time as Strange’s love interest.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Doctor Strange is:

4. Anti-gun, with a physician mentioning “a drunk idiot with a gun” as a recipe for bodily injury.

3. Pro-drug. Stan Lee, in a cameo, is seen reading Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception and exclaiming, “That is hilarious!” There is, too, a psychedelic sensibility to Doctor Strange’s visuals – Strange, on first experiencing the otherworldly, even wonders aloud if he has been dosed with psilocybin – and sitar flavors the music that plays during the end credits.

2. Multiculturalist. Only after sitting at the feet of black masters and enlightened bald women are white men permitted to save the universe.

1. New Age. As in The Matrix and any number of other martial arts movies, eastern wisdom is sold to impressionable western youths as a means of attaining preternatural fighting prowess and impressive occult powers. Strange is instructed that he must forget everything he thinks he knows – abandon the European achievements of reason and scientific knowledge, in other words – in order to find that which he seeks.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Advertisements

cooties

Elijah Wood, an aspiring novelist, shows up for his first day of work as an elementary school teacher only to find that the student body has been infected with a rapidly transmitted cannibal zombie plague, which complicates his hopes of sparking a geeky romance with faculty colleague Alison Pill. Cooties is a difficult film to review for the reason of the impression it gives of being two stylistically clashing stories forced into uncomfortable cohabitation. It is, on the one hand, a delightful take on the quirky romantic comedy genre and, at the same time, as repulsive a dose of dysfunction-inducement as has ever been splattered onto celluloid.

For the mostly harmless first fifteen minutes or so, the unsuspecting viewer might mistake Cooties for merely a fun but biting social commentary on various twenty-first century neuroses; but the extreme evisceration and the trivialization of violence toward children that follow steer the movie into an altogether darker and more upsetting territory. Cooties is wittily scripted and brilliantly cast, with several very memorable character turns from Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, and the other adult performers; but it is too bad that their efforts work to strengthen such a remorseless assault on already collapsing demographics.

Cooties earns 4 out of 5 stars for the fine comic talent on display, but goes onto the list of films whose producers will be interned in the pitiless gulags of an imagined moral future. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Cooties is:

6. Pro-drug. Jorge Garcia gets through the ordeal with the help of a bag of psychedelic mushroom “medication”.

5. Racist! Indulging in a bit of hipster racism, the film features a Japanese janitor (Peter Kwong) who (naturally) turns out to have mad martial arts skills. In a scene that can be read more than one way, a seemingly random reference to “shekels” creates a moment of strange discomfort in the faculty lounge. Is this a sly reference to Jewish hegemony in the world of high finance, or an indication that only socially awkward types who alienate their peers take an interest in such conspiracy theories?

4. Pro-gay. Jack McBrayer appears as a screechily drawling homosexual.

3. Liberal. With one set dressed in decorations for the school’s Fourth of July pageant, Cooties advertises itself as a commentary on twenty-first century America. Conservatives and terrorists, it seems, are to blame for turning a generation of children into rabid maniacs. The snottiest of the boys (Cooper Roth) was born on 9/11 and therefore named Patriot. His aspiration, he says, is to kick “towel head ass”. Alison Pill’s perky teacher character, however, claims to have beaten the terrorists “with a positive attitude.” Nasim Pedrad plays a shrill anti-government nutcase who ridicules the idea of evolution.

2. Pro-miscegenation and anti-white. “I always wanted to have sex with a prostitute who was non-white,” confesses Leigh Whannel in the role of a socially diseased weirdo. It is also noteworthy that the only two children to survive the zombie epidemic without being affected are a white girl (Morgan Lily) and a docile mulatto (Armani Jackson). The viewer is left to assume that these two will go on to repopulate a new and more peaceful human community. As in Reclaim, whites are invited to find hope and consolation in a racially alien pseudo-posterity.

1. Antinatalist. Set in Fort Chicken, Illinois – a name suggestive of cowardice and defensiveness – Cooties both expresses and exacerbates millennials’ anxieties about procreation, casting children as monstrous annoyances fit only for extermination. Pedrad’s character wears a “rape button”. Considering her workplace and suburban location, however, it is less likely that she fears sexual assault than that she has a problem with the prospect of adult sexual intimacy and motherhood. She and other freaks in Cooties reflect a generation’s psychological immaturity. The film, however, rewards them with a tentative survival for their determination to stamp out a possible posterity. As disturbing as the savage fire-extinguisher head-smashing and other means devised to murder children in the film are the multiple verbal associations of children and sex in a context of violence. “I’m givin’ you kids an ‘F’ – for ‘Fuck you!’” declares Rainn Wilson during the climactic battle sequence. “Fuck you, mom,” a boy tells his mother earlier in the film. Most disgustingly, a child is told to “eat a cock” as a truck’s chicken-shaped bumper ornament is rammed into his face to kill him.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

No One Lives Forever BCI

Grab it while supplies last … or not!

Included in the ten-feature action film collection No One Lives … Forever!, released in 2002 by the now-defunct BCI Eclipse DVD label, is an obscure 1999 Israeli oddity, Full Circle, directed by one Bernard McWilliams. The story concerns Boaz Golan, a Mossad agent sent to New York City in 1990 with the task of preventing a shipment of arms from reaching Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Golan is psychically scarred by the dual traumas of seeing his mother raped when he was a child and the adult experience of gory warfare in Lebanon (which, the movie deems it necessary to note, caused the hero to soil his pants). An early scene in Full Circle has Golan fantasizing about raping his female analyst, to whom he tells the blackly comedic war anecdote of discovering the bodies of a couple who had been unceremoniously killed in the middle of a blowjob.

Once he arrives in the United States, women find it difficult to resist Golan’s Hebraic charms, and a neighbor woman enthusiastically throws herself at him, enjoying a sex session on top of a table. Hilariously, the woman grabs a handful of what appears to be tapioca pudding and smears it across the Israeli’s ass in the heat of passion. Also true to the movie’s ethnic origin is a perverted scene in which the woman’s daughter discovers the mother’s vibrator and uses it as a toy airplane.

Full Circle Yuval Ovadia

Israeli superspy Boaz Golan in Full Circle (1999)

Being a spy and a Jewish one at that, Golan thinks nothing of lying to people to get whatever he wants. “I may be moving to New York to study engineering,” he gives as his reason for coming to America. He is also eager to demonize Saddam Hussein and to champion Israel as the ally of the U.S. “Saddam Hussein is crazy. He’s capable of doing anything,” Golan claims. “You know, if the Israelis hadn’t bombed his atom shell, he’d be using it right now against the United States.”

The action is stupidly pedestrian, with Golan depicted as a superhuman who is able to swing on a rope like Tarzan and have a fistfight even after being shot in the abdomen. A goofy scene of a dweeby Mossad asset being mowed down by a woman with a machine gun hidden in a baby carriage earns the movie some extra unintentional humor points, however.

The dull presence of singer-songwriter Richie Havens in a supporting role does nothing to enliven Full Circle, although his sassy girlfriend is an entertaining character, an anti-Semite who can smell an Israeli. In another scene indicative of Israeli attitudes toward American gentiles, Golan warms himself by a bum’s barrel fire, but becomes unnerved and flees when a vagrant approaches and giggles with a maniacal look on his face. This, no doubt, is intended as some sort of evocation of the eternal specter of the Shoah that hovers above all Jews.

The dialogue, typically Judaic, is filthy, with characters calling each other insulting names like “dickless piece of shit” and saying repugnant things along the lines of, “Wake up and smell my asshole.” Also quintessentially Israeli are soulless scenes of sleazy sex, meanness, and torture.

Whether or not Full Circle was designed primarily for American consumption is difficult to say. If so, the decision to leave more than one scene of this otherwise English-language film in untranslated Hebrew was poorly considered. Ludicrously, the end credits are interspersed with disingenuous anti-war messages like, “Instead of fighting one another we should fight those who make us fight.” A “special thanks” credit acknowledges the Broadcast Services of the Israeli Consulate for assistance in producing the film.

Yuval Ovadia

IDF veteran and Full Circle producer Yuval Ovadia

So far as this writer has been able to ascertain, the film has no listing at the Internet Movie Database, but the America-Israel Cultural Foundation website’s biography of one of its producers, Yuval Ovadia, gives information about a film titled Orphan of War which also seems to describe Full Circle:

Yuval Ovadia was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in October 31, 1965.

After serving 3 years in the Israeli army he flew to New York, planning to study filmmaking and acting in the best schools he could find.

In NY he studied at Lee Strasburg [sic] Institute, where he studied acting, singing and dancing. Later on he continued his studies at HB Studio, where he spent a long time under the late, famous Herbert Berghof and Bill Hickey. Then he studied all aspects of filmmaking at NYU Film School.

By the years 1996-1998 Yuval worked on a feature film called “Orphan Of War” – a 90 min, 35 mm Action/Drama, co-starring the legendary singer from Woodstock “Richie Havens” [who actually has only a tiny role]. In addition to co-producing this film, Yuval had starred in it, co-wrote the screenplay, edited, and came up with a music album called “Peaceful Circle” – based on songs from the film, which he produced together with Mr. Richie Havens.

[…] Yuval decided to go back to his roots and in 1999 he moved back from New York to Israel, were he got married and is having now 4 beautiful kids.

Full Circle, in short, seems to be as elusive as those notorious “Dancing Israelis” (creepily, Ovadia’s email address is listed as visual911911@gmail.com). The fact that the film is devoted to vilifying the Iraqi government, which would be overthrown by the Jew-puppeteered Bush administration in 2003 with September 11th utilized as the fraudulent pretext – in combination with the circumstance that the doomed Twin Towers make an appearance in the film along with a deck of tarot cards – adds up to Full Circle being a rather unsavory home theater experience. It may be worthwhile, however, for those with an interest in shitty action movies.

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/21Cxb9Q

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWENTY-ONE

Electric Boogaloo

Like most men who grew up in the eighties, this writer has a treasure trove of fond memories emblazoned with the immortal Cannon logo. Producers of everything from musicals and dance exploiters like The Apple (1980) and Breakin’ (1984) to science-fiction weirdies like Lifeforce (1985) and the remake Invaders from Mars (1986), the Israeli moviemaking duo of director-visionary-madman Menahem Golan and “shrewd businessman” Yoram Globus is most closely associated with a string of classic over-the-top action movies including Enter the Ninja (1981), Death Wish 3 (1985), American Ninja (1985), The Delta Force (1986), Cobra (1986), and Cyborg (1989). The wild variety of the Cannon output furnishes much of the wonder of this documentary.

Lightning-paced and packed to the gills with interviews with an array of writers, directors, actors, and editors who share with the viewer their first-hand memories of this crazy company, Electric Boogaloo is a feast of film clips, archival footage, and funny anecdotes. At a disastrous preview screening of The Apple, for example, the complimentary soundtracks provided to the audience ended up being angrily thrown and embedded in the screen! Actor Alex Winter describes director Michael Winner as “a pathologically brutal, sadistic, insecure, egotistical character” who delighted in depicting rape, while Sharon Stone “was hated on the set [of King Solomon’s Mines (1985)]. All the South Africans hated her. She took a milk bath [and] they peed in the water.” Meeting with Clyde the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose (1978), Golan is said to have turned to his female head of publicity and asked her, “Would you fuck this monkey?” Cannon staple Charles Bronson, meanwhile, is said to have insisted on being chauffered “about three feet from his dressing room” to the set in his personal Jaguar. “It was more like watching a man golf than act.”

Cannon catapulted to prominence (if not respect) in the industry through its formula of thriftily produced exploitation, outrageous content, and pre-sales chutzpah, the end coming when the company grew too big for its britches and tried to make extravagant special effects blockbusters conceived to rival major studio output but ended up with a list of duds like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and Masters of the Universe (1987). Responsible for products ranging from turkeys like the midget-in-a-suit chimpanzee film Going Bananas (1987) to the highly regarded Runaway Train (1985), Golan and Globus receive praise and vitriol ranging from actress Martine Beswick’s opinion that they were manipulative, “rotten and horrid”, to director Franco Zeffirelli’s assertion that they were “the best producers I ever worked for.” It is these delicious contradictions of character and clashes of larger-than-life personalities that make the story of Cannon Films such a fascinating ride.

5 stars. Highly recommended. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Electric Boogaloo is:

3. Multiculturalist. Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones recalls with pride how the Breakin’ movies brought the races together where even the United Nations had failed.

2. Zionist, endorsing the official War on Terror narrative. “In a way, [1985’s] Invasion U.S.A. was a very prescient film,” reflects editor Daniel Loewenthal. “We didn’t really think about terrorism, the terrorism was more of an abstract idea.” In fact, Cannon had a very conscious agenda of vilifying Arabs in the American consciousness, as evidenced by the portrayals in The Delta Force. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films alludes to these unsympathetic representations, but approaches the subject with a sense of humor rather than seriousness. Menahem Golan’s birth name was Menahem Globus (he is Yoram’s cousin), but he changed it to Golan in celebration of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. They are also credited with helping to popularize the Jewish supremacist term of abuse “shiksa” with American audiences in their Elliott Gould vehicle Over the Brooklyn Bridge (1984).

1. Oy vey, scratch that last one – this movie is anti-Semitic! Golan and Globus are repeatedly described in terms that reek of Jewish stereotypes. Producer Pieter Van Brugge says, “There was always that wheeling and dealing and that wheeling and dealing was very much – I mean, they were Israelis, and they were defined by that culture.” Laurene Landon, star of America 3000 (1986), excoriates: “You people have a cash register where your heart should be.” Described as being “very conservative”, both Golan and Globus thought nothing of corrupting American morals with their cultural Marxist depravity, one interviewee summarizing their winning formula as “something minus good taste”. Editor Mark Helfrich recalls of The Last American Virgin (1982), “An abortion is being played with U2 music under it, and you go from a doctor performing an abortion to some guy cutting up pizza. […] That’s insane. That’s just nuts,” he goes on, adding, “For instance, after the abortion Gary brings her a Christmas tree and a bag of oranges. That must have meant something in Israel.”

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/1T6d1SZ

Lust in the Time of Heartache

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

Davis Aurini

Davis Aurini

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

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

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

Aurini knows they did something to deserve it.

Aurini knows they did something to deserve it.

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

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

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

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

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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

Street Wars

Originally a two-part episode of the TV series True Justice, this ersatz “movie” has over-the-hill kicker Steven Seagal playing the chief of a special sheriff’s task force in the Seattle area. He becomes concerned when clueless clubbers start dropping like flies from a new drug making the rounds of the local rave scene. (Indicative of the depressingly meager budget of Street Wars is the fact that the psychedelic effect of the drug is conveyed by choppy editing, strobe lights, and a close-up of a water bottle being shaken.) “This is gettin’ bad, man. This is gettin’ bad. We gotta do somethin’,” the enlightened law enforcer decides. The investigation will lead his team into a tangle of mob hits and federal corruption, none of it particularly interesting.

Seagal, sporting a plastic Dracula ‘do and a few extra pounds around the midsection, characteristically whispers his way through police procedural gobbledygook and action epilepsy shot nearly entirely in gimmicky ADHD jerkvision to disorient the viewer and try to shock life into this video corpse. Speed-up/slow-down annoyance, generous expenditures of ammunition, and quick cuts (to distract from Seagal’s relative lack of mobility) were never so boring. Ever. The bleak non-entertainment that is Street Wars is probably best summed up by one of the hefty, greasy-faced hero’s lines of dialogue: “I mean, you gotta be kidding me, man. I ain’t got time for this.”

1.5 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Street Wars, in addition to sucking, sends mixed political signals and that it is:

9. Sexist! Workplace flirtation (i.e., verbal RAPE) goes unprogressively unpunished.

8. Pro-wigger. Seagal is given to occasional black affectations, calling people “y’all” and saying things like, “We ain’t suppose to be babysittas.”

7. Pro-family. “If I could turn back the hands of time,” Seagal says, “I’d spend a lot more time with my wife and kids.”

6. State-ambivalent. Street Wars accepts the validity of the War on Drugs, but depicts the DEA as corrupt and favors local law enforcement as more effective, honest, and caring. “If you think you’re going to make the government care about these [impoverished] people, you’re crazy,” Juliet (Meghan Ory) says, presumably with reference to the federal government. A visit to the site of Camp Harmony, part of Uncle Sam’s system of WWII Japanese internment camps, resurrects the specter of a belligerent, racist, authoritarian state. Later, when a conflict arises between federal law and the needs of the Seattle task force’s investigation, Sarah (Sarah Lind) asks, “You know this violates half a dozen federal laws?” “Rules went out the window when they tried to kill Gates, right?” Juliet bristles. “I hate to rationalize breaking the rules,” Sarah replies, “but, yeah, you’re right.”

5. Diversity-skeptical. Seattle is racially and politically polarized. “These people, the good and the bad,” says filmmaker Savon (Byron Chan), “are products of the environment that the government created.” “But do you understand that none of this is interesting to people like me?” Juliet sasses back. “And if your audience doesn’t consist of us young white Republicans, uh, you’re not really gonna get the advertisers, right?” Savon objects, saying, “An investigative piece is made as food for the brain – not for advertisers’ dollars”, to which Juliet snaps, “Yeah, well, I guess my brain just doesn’t, uh, eat what your restaurant is serving.” (see also nos. 1 and 3)

4. Anti-slut/anti-miscegenation. A ditzy hedonist (Annette Tolar) lets a black thug (Matt Ward) stuff dope in her mouth. “One of these and your whole world will change,” he says as he removes his pooplike finger from her lips. The pair dances briefly until she collapses, foams at the mouth, and dies. Street Wars would seem to be more tolerant of white guy/Asian girl hook-ups, however. “It’s so sexy when you get all technical like that,” Gates (Kyle Cassie) tells Sparks (Elizabeth Thai).

3. Conservative. Street Wars features a caricature of a left-libertarian social justice weenie in the annoyingly named Savon, a documentarian making a propagandistic film about the homeless with the cooperation of local authorities. Savon, an Asian nerd with a pretentious British accent, is convinced that a legacy of government oppression of minorities and the poor is to blame for society’s woes. Tough cookie Juliet identifies as a Republican.

2. Anti-drug. Few will envy the brain swelling, dementia, convulsions, and death.

1. Racist! Seagal’s black lackey (William “Big Sleeps” Stewart) calls him “Boss”. “Did you see that?” Sarah asks after Seagal has subdued a mulatto culprit on the run. “That was like trying to corral a monkey on crack!”

 

 

Street Music

Street Music (1981) ****1/2

A bittersweet variation on a staple 80s genre – the underdog story in which a motley assortment of misfits band together to save the [insert cause of choice: summer camp, dance club, etc.] – Street Music serves as the perfect vehicle for sprightly, diminutive cutie Elizabeth Guttman (alias Elizabeth Daily), whose exotic looks viewers may recognize from such classics of the decade as Valley Girl (1983) and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985).

Guttman plays Sadie Delaware, a busker who makes her living giving spirited renditions of old-timey jazz songs. Yet to get her big break in show business, Sadie lives with her boyfriend Eddie (Larry Breeding) in the ramshackle Victory Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, a colorful slum full of alcoholics, eccentric old codgers, and prostitutes. Unfortunately for the hotel’s residents, it is scheduled to be demolished, and all of its occupants are expected to vacate within a matter of days. Monroe (D’Alan Moss), a black Marxist who works at the Victory, hopes to mobilize the elderly tenants to picket and fight the eviction, but Sadie just wants to get out of the ghetto and make a better life for herself.

Street Music taps into common liberal fears of the 1980s: loss of individuality, ideals, and character; the sacrifice of the little guy on the altar of rising consolidation, commercialism, corporate power, and conformity. The tenants of the Victory – old Jews, blacks, Hispanics, crazies, food stamp recipients, and bohemian artists – represent the liberal dream of harmonious racial diversity in a setting of noble squalor and hearty communitarian grime. A modest movie about little heroisms, full of graffiti, garbage, and heart, Street Music will appeal to admirers of truly independent cinema. Sticklers for craft, however, are warned that, true to its subject matter, Street Music‘s boom operator seems to have been a drunkard, with the microphone dipping into view in more than one of the scenes.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Recommended.

Rooftops

Rooftops (1989) ***1/2

West Side Story director Robert Wise returns to the dance-oriented inner-city fantasy in Rooftops, the story of homeless heartthrob T (Jason Gedrick), who lives in a Lower East Side water tower “like a bat or a rat or something”. T falls for nappy-headed Puerto Rican treat Elana (Troy Beyer), unaware that she works for her cousin Lobo (Eddie Velez), the neighborhood crack cocaine kingpin. Lobo is making life difficult for everyone; and when one of his henchmen burns T out of his tower, Lobo’s days as the local thug-in-chief are numbered.

A prime document of the War on Drugs and its naive “Just Say No” ethos, Rooftops packs a vibrant blast of nostalgia for 80s freaks. Set in a fairy tale barrio where bright, resilient youths settle their differences with beat-driven martial dance showdowns, the movie is splashed with graffiti and peppered with quaint slum dialogue like “You dissin’ me, homeboy” and “don’t bust on my crib”.

Other sights and sounds of sentimental interest include the expected 80s fashions (Batman tank top, anyone?); funky music by the Eurythmics, Etta James, and others; and several shots of the World Trade Center looming large and doomed in the distance. Rooftops is elegantly photographed and entertainingly choreographed, but will be most likely to please admirers of period kitsch along the colorful lines of Body Rock (1984), Delivery Boys (1985), Band of the Hand (1986), and Lambada (1990). One only wishes Rooftops had more dancing and less sanctimonious anti-drug messaging.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rooftops preview

Only God Forgives

Ryan Gosling, fresh off of a revelatory turn in the excellent Place Beyond the Pines, unfortunately chooses to squander his talent in Only God Forgives, playing Julian, an American expatriate in Thailand whose boxing club fronts for a narcotics ring. When his immoral brother Billy (Tom Burke) kills a girl and is murdered in turn, Julian’s disgusting mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives from the States and insists that Julian seek revenge – even if this means eliminating a formidable police detective, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm).

In a pretentious feat of style-over-substance showboating, director Nicolas Refn and his collaborators place so much emphasis on their ostentatious color schemes, self-conscious compositions, and generally gratuitous visual flourishes that they very nearly succeed in ruining what, in less limp-wristed hands, could have been a solidly gritty story of a family vendetta. Worst is that most of the actors in this nearly dialogueless drama appear to have been instructed to behave as robotically as possible, never smiling, as if every movement of every muscle is meant to convey existential angst, every second of every moment an endless Holocaust of the soul which, rather, screens as overly deliberate soullessness. The copious music of Cliff Martinez, a mixture of organic and synthesized sound, is both a blessing and a curse, as some lackluster scenes receive energy from these contributions, while others seem overly noisy where silence would be preferable.

The film does contain some very good scenes and in places achieves an adequate level of suspense. Those looking for action or for any kind of hero will be disappointed, however. An odd performance notwithstanding, the compulsively watchable presence of Ryan Gosling is, ultimately, at least half of what makes this idiosyncratic effort work to the modest extent that it does.

3.5 grudging stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Only God Forgives is:

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

6. Drug-ambivalent. The film passes no apparent judgment on the brothers’ drug trafficking. Different characters smoke in an indifferent manner, though Julian’s mother’s exhalations at a restaurant table would seem to be intended to parallel her disrespectful words.

5. Slut-ambivalent. While the film shows the physical danger that goes with a prostitute’s lifestyle, the representative whores are graceful and beautiful creatures who conduct themselves with elegant composure.

4. Pro-miscegenation. Julian engages in voyeurism and limited sexual contact with whores, not from any apparent apprehensions of disease, but out of a misplaced reverence for oriental pussy. His mother enjoys ogling Thai musclemen.

3. Pro-police. Chang, a karaoke singer, exemplifies the law enforcer as fetishized performance artist.

2. Anti-white/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Several scenes juxtapose white characters’ rudeness, vulgarity, and presumption with Asians’ dignity, good manners, or superior fighting ability. Americans and Europeans, from a sense of their own superiority and Asians’ expendability, go to Thailand to exploit its people, causing them to prostitute themselves or hire themselves out as killers. Making no secret of her feelings, Julian’s mother refers to a “yellow nigger”. The film’s perpetrators also give clear expression to their European inferiority complex and belief in the awesomeness of things Asian by giving the title and credits in Thai, with subtitle-style English credits in smaller type beneath, so that no belching American privileged to enjoy Only God Forgives will get the mistaken impression that his entertainment is any more important than some Thai guy’s.

1. Anti-family. Grotesque family relationships abound in Only God Forgives. Julian, his lascivious mother relates, was envious of her sexual relationship with his brother Billy, and lives in exile after having murdered his father at her behest. A Thai man prostitutes his daughters and may be more aggrieved by the loss of revenue than the loss of his child after one of them is killed. The sight of a retarded boy, meanwhile, reminds viewers of the potential perils of unchecked procreation. Chang appears to have a loving relationship with his daughter, but the brief screen time devoted to this is too little to counterbalance the overwhelming abundance of family dysfunction. Julian acquiesces in his mother’s call for revenge only reluctantly, and with good reason, as his acknowledgment of a pointless blood obligation precipitates his downfall.

undergroundbloodred

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

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

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Underground is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear of Blogging

"With enough courage, you can do without a reputation."

Alt of Center

Life. Liberty. And the Pursuit of Beauty

The Alternative Right

Giving My Alt-Right perspective

Logos

ars erga excellentiam

The Espresso Stalinist

Wake Up to the Smell of Class Struggle ☭

parallelplace

Just another WordPress.com site

NotPoliticallyCorrect

Human Biodiversity, IQ, Evolutionary Psychology, Epigenetics and Evolution

Christopher Othen

Bad People, Strange Times, Good Books

Historical Tribune

The Factual Review

The Roper Report

Billy's Balkanization Blog

Economic & Multicultural Terrorism

Delves into the socioeconomic & political forces destroying our Country: White & Christian Genocide.

Ashraf Ezzat

Author and Filmmaker

ProphetPX on WordPress

Jesus-believing U.S. Constitutionalist EXPOSING Satanic globalist SCAMS & TRAITORS in Kansas, America, and the World at-large. Jesus and BIBLE Truth SHALL PREVAIL!

Floating-voter

A topnotch WordPress.com site