Archives for posts with tag: Martin Scorsese

911-cover

The Woodstock and Altamont concerts of 1969 are widely and rightly regarded as epochally emblematic events and both have been the subject of studies into the sociological, occult, and even the possible mind control significance of each of these programmed mass experiences. The Concert for New York City staged at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001, has received much less scrutiny but is no less worthy of investigation on similar grounds. It is interesting to note that, with the inclusion of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Who, the lineup at Madison Square Garden would feature personnel from each of the previous countercultural extravaganzas, inviting comparison between the events. In the case of the Concert for New York City, however, the rock icons who had previously heralded the arrival of an ostensibly freer and more open society valuing peace and love would instead lend whatever remained of their revolutionary prestige to the entrenchment of an authoritarian establishment determined to intensify the drive for war and Zio-corporatist global domination.

The program was orchestrated by the Robin Hood Foundation – ostensibly as a fundraiser for the families of the heroic firefighters and law enforcement officers who had suffered tremendous losses during the rescue efforts in Manhattan on September 11th. Celebrities in attendance begged the viewers at home to donate. Susan Sarandon, making what she characterized as the “money pitch”, assured the audience of the benevolent intentions of the organizers: “Let’s give it up for the Robin Hood Foundation, I can personally vouch for them.” What is the Robin Hood Foundation? Lynn Parramore characterizes the initiative as “Robin Hood in Reverse”:

America’s parasitical oligarchs are masters of public relations. One of their favorite tactics is to masquerade as defenders of the common folk while neatly arranging things behind the scenes so that they can continue to plunder unimpeded. Perhaps nowhere is this sleight of hand displayed so artfully as it is at a particular high-profile charity with the nerve to bill itself as itself as “New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization.” […]

The Robin Hood Foundation, named for that green-jerkined hero of redistribution who stole from the rich to give to the poor, is run, ironically, by some of the most rapacious capitalists the country has ever produced – men who make robber barons of previous generations look like small-time crooks. Founded by hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones, the foundation boasts 19 billionaires on its leadership boards and committees, the likes of which include this sample of American plutocracy […]

By occupation (the more useless and parasitical the better), it comes as no surprise that 12 of the 19 men in leadership positions at the Robin Hood Foundation happen to be hedge fund managers. […]

The mission statement of the Robin Hood Foundation brays about all the funding it provides for school programs, generating “meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods.” Soup kitchens! Homeless shelters! Job training! The tuxedoed tycoons throw money at all these causes “to give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.”

How far does this largesse actually go toward ameliorating New York’s poverty problem? Unsurprisingly, not very far at all. In fact, as Hedge Clippers points out, the poverty rate in the city has grown over the course of the Robin Hood Foundation’s history, from 20 percent in 1990 to 21.2 percent in 2012.

Guess what’s also grown? The bank accounts of 19 billionaires on the Robin Hood Foundation’s boards, which have ballooned 93 percent since 2008.

A look at Robin Hood’s directors reveals such worthies as Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, pioneer of toxic mortgage-backed securities trading, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Also sponsoring the Concert for New York City was Bear, Stearns, Inc., which, according to a study by investigators Mathewson and Nol, was one of the companies engaged in suspicious trading activity during the days leading up to the destruction of the World Trade Center. There “investors traded 3,979 contracts from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10 on September options that profit if shares fall below $50. The previous average volume for those options was 22 contracts” according to Mathewson and Nol. Clearly, these were people gravely concerned about the welfare of the city’s firefighters and police.

911-bowie

The program opens with David Bowie performing the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” to a montage of historic images of Manhattan and newly arrived immigrants. Bowie, not himself an American – and who, just a few years previously, had declared “I’m Afraid of Americans” – would seem at first glance a peculiar choice to perform this particular number and to open the show. However, even this, as with much of the evening’s symbolism, was very deliberate in design. Bowie would be but the first of several British performers to take the stage, reinforcing the coupled commitment of the United Kingdom and the United States in pursuing the newly minted “War on Terror” agenda. Curiously, “America” contains a bizarre and seemingly comical reference to espionage and deceptive appearances. “She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy. I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.”

Odd, too, is the fact that the montage of shots of New York City skyscrapers includes a clear image of the old International Telephone and Telegraph building on Park Avenue. This is an unexpected choice for inclusion considering that the company is most notorious for its instigation of a CIA-managed coup to install Augusto Pinochet as dictator in Chile on September 11, 1973. Bowie, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra from the Late Show with David Letterman, next performs “Heroes” – a song with an arguable 9/11 resonance owing to its inclusion in 1998’s Godzilla, a film depicting apocalyptic havoc in New York City and featuring the Twin Towers prominently. “We can beat them forever and ever,” Bowie vows, stirring the men in the audience to warlike enthusiasm.

911-drum

Next the comedian Billy Crystal – not to be confused with decidedly unfunny PNAC signatory Bill Kristol – takes the stage to make some goofy jokes about the then-current anthrax scare. “You know who I’m worried about?” Crystal begins. “My relatives. I mean, my relatives are Jews, they smell everything that looks suspicious.” Crystal perpetuates the theme of paranoia and introduces the evening’s concern with the fate of the Jews. He continues, bringing out the concert’s symbolic involvement with the uniform-oriented regimentation of spectator sports:

Somebody said that this is bigger than Woodstock […] and music brings everybody together. And it’s all about togetherness tonight. We’re here tonight, we are alive in New York, the Yankees are kickin’ ass, the Knicks will kick ass. Alright, we’ve been hit, we’ve been a little down, but we are not out, we are still the greatest city in the world […] and we’re a better New York. We’re a better New York […] and we’re a compassionate nation. We’re a compassionate nation. While we’re at war. We’re at war but we’re also dropping food on Afghanistan. […] Now tonight is important, just to have fun and get away from the news for a while, it’s okay. I can’t watch the shows anymore with the ticker tape going at the bottom of the set, it’s driving me crazy. My neck hurts. […] Get away from the news. And you hear the same things over and over again. […] It’s not the good old days when the only guy we hated was John Rocker. This is a different thing. Now we can have fun. We can make fun of the Taliban. And when they’re together, don’t they look like ZZ Top? But let me ask you something. We have learned something in all of this mess. We have to be kind to people who are different than us, who look different, who talk strange, who have different beliefs. I’m talking ‘bout people from Jersey. We should learn and whether we are Christians or Jews, or a Muslim, we all have to agree on one thing. We can never, ever again let Mariah Carey make a movie. Please.

Crystal makes clear that Muslim terrorists are not the only enemy America faces. The Concert for New York City is also haunted by the specter of the angry white bigot – the old American type personified by Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker, who in 1999 had said of New York,

It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing. […] The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?

The War on Terror, while rallying westerners to slaughter the inhabitants of distant and easily misrepresented foreign countries, would also pressure Americans and Europeans to find within themselves the capacity to accept an increasingly alien presence in their midst. As Crystal suggests, the 9/11 attacks have metamorphosed the citizens into “a better New York” and “a compassionate nation” that is also “dropping food on Afghanistan”. The obedient open-mindedness demanded of the audience extends beyond the mere acceptance of immigrants from foreign cultures. They must also accept the sexual other, as represented on the concert program by David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Rudy Giuliani, and Hillary Clinton. The pedophile demographic is also represented, with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Pete Townshend in attendance, and Allan Konigsberg, known to the world as Woody Allen, contributing a short film to the show.

“These colors don’t run” reads an American flag sign hoisted among the audience. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, whose office received one of the anthrax letters five days before the concert, reinforced the bellicose mood of the night, declaring that “America will never be defeated!”

911-bon-jovi

A firefighter then introduces Bon Jovi, with the Jersey boys performing a somber rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – significantly, a song about economic hardship made bearable by a faith in the irrational. The theme of a necessary sacrifice would be repeated in the calls for viewers to donate money and in Jim Carrey’s assertion that “freedom comes at a terrible price.” Bon Jovi next performs “Wanted Dead or Alive”, which, in the context of the Concert for New York City, is cleverly metamorphosed into a song about war and the bravery of soldiers, cowboys on steel horses, riding off to fight in “another place where the faces are so cold.” If the lyrics are honest about one thing, it is that they “might not make it back.” Ironically, Bon Jovi’s drummer beats on a set adorned with images of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty, the effect being that Lady Liberty takes a pummeling throughout the patriotic performance.

Jay-Z grabs the mic to deliver the drug-slinging anthem “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, its title a reference to the Israelite god Jehovah. This selection might seem out of keeping with the evening’s festivities if not for the fact that U.S. forces were then in the process of seizing Afghanistan for the reclamation of its poppy fields. The Goo Goo Dolls next invade the stage to rock a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, with frontman John Rzeznik parading around in camo pants to show his solidarity with the mission of “Operation Enduring Freedom”.

911-scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro then introduce Martin Scorsese’s short film “The Neighborhood”, which concerns itself with the demographic changes reconfiguring the director’s old stomping grounds on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. “Today, on the surface,” Scorsese begins, “it seems obvious that the neighborhood’s changed. I mean, it’s Asian-American. It may be Chinese now. But it’s not that simple.” He visits a Mr. De Palo, the proprietor of a cheese shop, who gives the audience a lesson in diversity and social change:

People today say “This is not Little Italy anymore.” And I tell them “You’re wrong. You’re wrong. The spirit of Little Italy, the immigrants that came here […] and you look down the street and you see this whole group of people.” I said “That’s the same exact thing as my grandparents and great-grandparents. This neighborhood hasn’t changed.”

“Wow, look at that cheese, eh?” Scorsese enthuses before treating the audience to a historical lecture that utilizes the themes established by Billy Crystal’s deprecating remark about John Rocker earlier during the show.

There were groups of bigots called Know-Nothings. They didn’t want the Irish in America at all. This was back in 1844. They gathered together to march down Prince Street from the Bowery to burn and destroy St. Patrick’s, but when they got to the corner, they saw that the place was defended not just by Irish men, but by Irish women and by Irish children, too. […] And that was the beginning of the end. The change. The change over acceptance about what America’s supposed to be. Letting in the immigrants, letting in other cultures, other religions, other races, and everybody living together – in freedom […] I had this thing that happened to me […] by 1979 I […] developed dyslexia. Invariably, I want to say “right” but “left” comes out. I want to say “left” but “right” comes out. And, uh, when I think of New York I want to say “New York” but “America” comes out. And that’s real. That’s true.

This will never be the country of the ignorant Know-Nothings again, Scorsese suggests, so nativists are advised instead to learn to love and live with the multicultural gaggle of schoolchildren who traipse across the screen during his diatribe. After all, just like the Italians, they will acculturate and eventually be transformed into real and fully assimilated Americans.

911-joel

Billy Joel shows up to perform “New York State of Mind” and “Miami 2017” – an upbeat tune that, oddly enough, seems to revel in imagery of New York City’s destruction.

Will Ferrell next appears in the role of “W” in a comedy segment celebrating the popular myth of the cowboy adventurer Bush administration and trivializing the horror of the invasion of Afghanistan by turning it into a stupid cartoon:

I wanted to give y’all an update on the current proceedings. Let me take a second to give you my own little Behind the Music on the Artist formerly known as the Taliban. Earlier today I met with the U.S. Senate in their chambers. And then I met with the House of Representatives in their new offices, which are in the basement of an abandoned Sam Goody’s in eastern Maryland. We discussed our plan […] to bomb the Taliban into the Stone Age. The problem is […] they don’t seem to notice the difference. So we had to come up with a new plan. And right now we are focusing our attacks on all the major cities under the Taliban, or as I call them, the Evil Doers. We’ve just started attacking Mazar-i-Sharif. And you know what? Sharif don’t like it. Rock the casbah, rock the casbah. You know, Sharif don’t like it. Now, as many of you know, we’ve had to change the name of our military campaign several times […] but I’ve talked to some of the people here tonight and they’ve given me some new ideas. Paul McCartney said, “Why don’t we call it Taliband on the Run?” I thought that was good. Destiny’s Child suggested “Operation Bootylicious”. Macy Gray, she said somethin’ to me, but I couldn’t understand a word she was sayin’. […] Well, whatever we call it, the mission is clear. The Evil Doers are in their caves. And we’re gonna smoke ‘em out of their caves. And then we’re gonna smoke ‘em back into their caves just for the heck of it. And then out of their caves and then back in. And why are we gonna do this? I can do anything I want, my approval rating is like 106% right now. And since I can do whatever I want, I’m gonna sing a song tonight.

“W” then launches into a rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” only to be interrupted before he can get to the telling line “The piper’s calling you to join him.”

Chris Kattan introduces Destiny’s Child, who treat the crowd to a song titled “Emotion” (“emotions takin’ me over”) followed by a gospel medley to shut down rational thought and give God’s sanction to the new age of international interventionism. An apparently inebriated Harrison Ford thanks the Robin Hood Foundation and Bear, Stearns for their generosity, after which the audience is further distracted with a feel-good “Lovely Day” video with smiling babies, interracial couples, and dogs.

911-clapton

Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, continuing with the transatlantic theme, collaborate on “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” with backing from Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra.

James Lipton from Inside the Actor’s Studio provides a distinguished introduction for Adam Sandler, reprising the role of his Saturday Night Live character Operaman in order to honor the fallen firefighters and other heroes with novelty songs about consumerism, homosexuality, and Jewish erections. “I got a bone-ah! A Jewish circumcised bone-ah! Can’t get rid of this bone-ah! Operaman wish he was alone-ah!” Generous as his performance has already been, the virtuoso cannot bring himself to leave the stage without first directing the audience’s thoughts to excretions and bestiality:

He no let women read. He no let women vote-ah!

That’s why the only love he gets is from a mountain goat-ah!

He want to spread disease-oh in our mailbox.

For he himself suffers from a case of smallcox!

Osama kiss my ass! Osama bite my dink!

Osama go to hell! Osama get a shrink!

Osama says he’s tough, Osama says he’s brave.

Then tell me why Osama is shitting in a cave!

The Backstreet Boys, tasked with the difficult chore of following Sandler’s triumph, sing “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” – again, an ironic selection in consideration of what the concert has been designed to do. David Spade and Melissa Etheridge put in appearances, after which Halle Berry makes another “money pitch” and introduces a Spike Lee tribute to the New York Yankees. Visible over a doorway in the film is a quote from General MacArthur: “There is no substitute for victory.” This conveniently frames the necessity of the “War on Terror” through the collective memory of the “good war” America fought against fascism. MacArthur, of course, commanded American forces in the Pacific theater opened after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The “War on Terror” had similarly been launched by a “New Pearl Harbor” event as predicted in PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document. Paul McCartney would also draw a parallel between the Second World War and the “War on Terror” by mentioning that his father served as a firefighter during the Blitz.

911-who

John Cusack introduces the Who, who storm through “Who Are You” with a Union Jack projected onto a screen above the stage. An American flag replaces it during “Baba O’Reilly” with its assessment of a generation “all wasted”. “Behind Blue Eyes” cranks up the anger with its “vengeance” that is “never free”. American flags symbolically flank a Union Jack for the final song of the set, which, in the Concert for New York City’s greatest irony, is “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Images of the Twin Towers appear on the screen to remind the audience why the war drums have been beating all night.

Governor George Pataki puts in his two cents with some “God bless America!” tripe, after which Cusack introduces Konigsberg’s short “Sounds from a Town I Love”, which spies on neurotic New Yorkers as they kvetch into their cell phones post-9/11. Two of the overheard conversations warrant special attention. “This is the greatest city in the world,” one man says. “Where else can you be paranoid and right so often?” The New Yorker’s paranoia takes on particular meaning in consideration of another character’s restaurant review: “Hey, we went to Balthazar last night. Oh, it’s fantastic. At the table next to ours was Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Marlon Brando, Tiger Woods, Tony Blair, the president, and Osama bin Laden. I am telling you, that is the in place to be.” The idea that George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden might be having a business lunch together is only intended to be a joke, because only Allan Konigsberg could imagine something so silly happening – right?

911-stones

The home viewer’s attention is more than once redirected to a Bud Light banner as well as to a bimbo in the audience showing off her ample cleavage, keeping the people’s collective consciousness squarely planted between their legs, which is where it stays as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards take the stage. The pair sings “Salt of the Earth” as an excuse to get in “a prayer for the common foot soldier”, after which Mick hoots his way through “Miss You”. Matters only get grubbier from there, with Howard Stern trotting out and showing the crowd his buttocks.

Hillary Clinton put in a brief appearance behind the microphone and was reportedly booed, but this audience reaction was allegedly edited out of the concert as presented on DVD. Bill, after referencing the Oklahoma City bombing, bubbas his way through a creepy speech in which he says, “We hope we can make your children our children. We hope your future will be ours.” He then finishes with a statement reinforcing the multicultural theme established by Billy Crystal and Martin Scorsese: “Just one last thing I want ‘em [i.e., al Qaeda] to know: in America, you can have any religion you want, you can be from any race or background […] you can do anything you want [i.e., what thou wilt] and still be part of our crowd, if you recognize that our common humanity is more important than all of our interesting differences. That’s the big difference between us and them,” he declares. To fight against terrorism, then, and to be a true American patriot, is to view the racists and the religious bigots as enemies of the state.

911-backstage

James Taylor sings “Fire and Rain” and “Up on the Roof”, followed by Michael J. Fox – another interesting piece of booking for the program – introducing a firefighter who angrily brays: “Osama bin Laden, you can kiss my royal Irish ass!”

Rudy Giuliani puts in a good word for New York tourism, after which Jimmy Fallon gives vent to his poor taste by singing a comic rendition of “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” to a room full of people whose loved ones had, in fact, just died. Jon Bon Jovi introduces a foul-mouthed Kevin Smith short, followed by John Mellencamp doing “Peaceful World” and “Pink Houses”. Hilary Swank brings out Vladimir Ondrasik, whose stage name, “Five for Fighting”, slyly reinforces the hawk objective.

911-portman

Natalie Hershlag next pops out to sell the alliance with Israel with sex appeal. “Hi, everybody, I’m Natalie Portman. I was born in Jerusalem, but I am now a proud resident of New York and I want to wish peace to everyone who is a human being [i.e., Jews] everywhere.” Hershlag smooches a fireman and teases the crowd, “I would kiss all of you if I could. Thank you!” Yes, thank you, goyim. Thank you for fighting Israel’s wars. Israel had nothing to do with 9/11, by the way. Check me out, you goyim. I’m totally hot!

Richard Gere, the only performer who seems to want, however timidly and ineffectively, to oppose the rampant warmongering spirit of the night, receives a negative reaction to his embarrassed message of peace:

This is the moment when we need to be healed and when music showed us the way. Music does what it does best, it helps us to heal. And I think in the situation right now, when we have the possibility of taking this energy, this horrendous energy that we’re all feeling – and the possibility of turning it into more violence and revenge – we can stop that. We can take that energy and turn it into something else. We can turn it into compassion, to love, into understanding. That’s apparently unpopular right now, but that’s alright.

An excerpt from a Ric Burns documentary has journalist Ray Suarez spouting more multiculturalist rubbish and hammering into Americans’ heads how brown they have to become and how Jews are eternal victims:

I would submit at the beginning of the twenty-first century that New York is one of those places that you can use to understand the entire American experience, from a string of Indian villages out on the tip of the eastern seaboard to a place where blacks and Dutch and Jewish refugees and people from the four corners of the earth came in – to the America factory […]

Salma Hayek calls out Jim Carrey to do a clown routine before he composes himself and gets serious. “It is the end of a selfish and cynical age,” he proclaims, reinforcing the notion that a new nation has come into being. The heroes of 9/11, he says, “have reminded us who we really are.”

911-mccartney

Finally, to bring the Concert for New York City to a close, the oligarchs trot out their ultimate showstopper, decrepit old beetle [sic] Paul McCartney, who, trashing his stature as the author of “All You Need Is Love”, reveals himself to be a prostitute of the military-industrial complex by unveiling what is positively the stupidest song of the long and depressing decrescendo of his career – and all for the benefit of some parasitic bankers and Zionists. “I tell you what,” the cute beetle announces after playing “I’m Down” and “Yesterday”. “We wrote a new song, um, the day after the attack, and it’s about freedom. That’s one thing these people don’t understand,” he challenges, raising his fist in a martial gesture. “It’s worth fighting for.” McCartney finally launches into the idiotic “Freedom”, instructing audience members to stomp their feet and clap their hands for percussive entrainment similar in its effect to that heard on John Lennon’s record “Give Peace a Chance”. “I will fight for the right to live in freedom,” the song states repeatedly, zombifying the listener.

After the rest of the stars on the program join McCartney for “Let It Be” – another signal to viewers’ brains to shut down logical thought processes and take refuge in the vague and pastel – McCartney again insists on subjecting the audience to another run-through of “Freedom”, this time with all of the other stars taking part and thereby endorsing its insipid neoconservative messaging. “I want to see everyone joining in this time,” McCartney commands, intending that those who sing along will become complicit in the sanction of war and have an emotional investment in the project. Amusingly, McCartney wears a firefighter’s T-shirt that says “Chinatown Dragon Fighters” – as apt a label as any for a charlatan energizing a nation to wage a war against a foe that only exists in a culture’s imagination.

911-singalong

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Advertisements

buzzard

Writer-director Joel Potrykus and star Joshua Burge create one of the cinema’s great characters in Marty Jackitansky, as scathing a condemnation of this critic’s generation as has yet dared to bring the pain to the screen. Jackitansky is a loser, but seemingly unaware or unconcerned by this indisputable fact. He “works” for a bank’s mortgage division, but does little to earn his pay and actually spends most of his time devising ways of clipping the company for a quick buck. He orders useless supplies just to sell these back to the vendor for a cash refund, and even thinks he can get away with signing customers’ refund checks over to himself.

Jackitansky, a child of the 1980s, seems to have lost touch with reality sometime during the 1990s, as evidenced by the fact that he plays video games obsessively and yet refuses to use a computer because, as his even nerdier friend Derek (Potrykus) suggests, he is “scared of technology and robots and stuff.” He is young enough to suffer from the same desensitization and nihilism that characterize Generation Y, but too old to be comfortable with the personal technology that defines the social lives of those a few years younger.

Digital technology and an ineffectual public education system have left people like Jackitansky with little or no understanding of rudimentary math or economics. He blows all of his money on horror paraphernalia, and it never seems to occur to him to ration his limited resources once he goes on the run in order to elude the authorities. He thinks nothing, for instance, of eating out or throwing away the bulk of his dwindling cash on one evening in a nice hotel – and ordering room service, to boot.

Jackitansky is almost infectiously likable as an anti-heroic protagonist, his scams indicative of a creative if stupid and misguided resourcefulness and mischievously rebellious streak – at least, that is, until his anarchic revolt reveals itself to be little more than self-absorption and lack of regard for his fellow man. His intensifyingly hostile rudeness toward the admittedly goofy Derek kills any sympathy the viewer might have harbored until the point when Jackitansky finally becomes insufferable. Hoping to avoid detection by the authorities, he crashes in Derek’s father’s basement. Rather than being grateful, however, he dismisses his friend as a “fuckin’ loser” and even has the nerve to complain that his couch “sucks”. Buzzard progressively darkens in tone as the viewer begins to understand that Jackitansky is driven not by merely merry pranksterism, but by genuine junk-food-fueled psychopathy.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that this journey into the nightmare realm of cubicle jobs, adult virgins, and institutionalized alienation is:

4. Reactionary! Jackitansky, a representative socialist, has had his head filled with vague notions about the unfairness of capitalism. Consequently, he has no compunctions about cheating a “crap mortgage company” out of an honest day’s work or threatening or even attacking a small businessman (Joe Anderson), whom he accuses of “corporate thievery”, for standing in the way of one of his idiotic schemes. “I’m gonna strangle you and rape your fuckin’ face off,” Jackitansky tells him, unaccountably adding, “You’re the reason people get mad and die.” At the same time, not much can be said for an economy that reduces Derek, a man who appears to be in his late twenties or thirties, to living at home with his father. One could, if one chose to find an anti-capitalist message in Buzzard, interpret Jackitansky’s parasitic hustling as merely an echo and reflection of the unproductive vulture economy responsible for the subprime mortgage collapse.

3. Media-critical. A Freddy Krueger poster enlivens the protagonist’s apartment, the Nightmare on Elm Street films clearly furnishing the inspiration for the deadly weapon he fashions from a Nintendo Power Glove. That he chooses to make this game control into a weapon for use in the real world, too, indicates a dangerous confusion of reality and the virtual world of glorified violence. Jackitansky’s given name, Marty, carries for this reviewer associations with two other famous Marties of the American cinema: Ernest Borgnine’s conversely sympathetic role in the 1955 film of that title, and Martin Scorsese, a godfather of trivialized movie bloodshed. Jackitansky, unlike Borgnine’s Marty, allows his self-pity to drive him to lash out at others, with whom he is unable to empathize. Significantly, he wears a T-shirt advertising Demons (1985), an Italian horror classic about demonic creatures emerging from a movie screen to do their evil in actuality.

2. Anti-white. The Jewish-looking Jackitansky, asked about his unusual name, replies that his ethnic background is “White Russian”, an answer that verbally reinforces the character’s presumptive whiteness vis-à-vis the non-whites he encounters during the film. Blacks appear as orderly, clean-cut, honest workers, whereas whites are lazy, crazy, socially awkward, and criminal. A blond convenience store cashier (Alan Longstreet) cheats Jackitansky out of a five-spot. Others, such as Derek, who has “party-zoned” his father’s basement, or those who aimlessly vegetate at a hip-hop performance, waste their lives.

1. Anti-Y. Generation Y, as personified by Marty Jackitansky, has no work ethic whatsoever. It has been made self-absorbed and autistic by spoilage, instant gratification, and pop-cultural depravity.

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/1TjLpwC

American Hustle poster

To be perfectly honest, this reviewer was bored for lengthy portions of American Hustle, David O. Russell’s unaccountably lauded opus about the Abscam scandal. Like too many period pieces set in fashion-distinctive epochs, Hustle evinces an overly polished and inorganic quality, more concerned with fussing about its garish clothing, bizarre hairstyles, and flaunting an unwarranted sense of its own super-coolness than with the development of characters deserving of the audience’s interest. As with the less inspired moments in Scorsese’s oeuvre, American Hustle is too content to slide by on the likability of its vintage pop soundtrack and slick but empty visual flair, with – of course! – the obligatory trip to a decadent discotheque.

The performances of Bale, Cooper, and others are fine, but hardly career highlights. Russell’s unconvincing dialogue, co-credited to Eric Warren Singer, bears much of the blame for the film’s lifelessness. Actors can hardly be blamed for failing to salvage compelling drama out of the likes of the following yawners: “This is bullshit. We are bullshit. You were bullshit. You were bullshit.” While no character in American Hustle is particularly sympathetic, there are some affecting moments toward the end of the film when flimflam man Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) begins to feel guilty about misleading and ruining a mark he has come to view as his friend. This in no way justifies a run time in excess of two hours, however – leaving the viewer to wonder whether the tale of this potbellied, philandering Jew con artist with a heart of gold needed to be told at all.

ICA’s advice: For a 70s con game period piece, see Richard Gere in The Hoax instead.

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

8. Pro-drug. Nothing sells marijuana like the sight of a beautiful temptress (Amy Adams) smoking a joint.

7. Anti-American. Check the title.

6. Multiculturalist. Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) maintains friendly relations with the minority community and even adopts a black kid to show what a great guy he is.

5. Pro-gay, with one gratuitous lesbian kiss.

4. Pro-slut. Movie stars making out in a bathroom – how glamorous! Rosenfeld does “the right thing” by marrying single mother Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence).

3. Zionist, calling attention to the undying bogeyman of American politicians’ insidious willingness to sell out the country’s well-being to the Arabs. Dismissive reference is also made to (Israel-hating, Palestine-loving) “fuckin’ Jimmy Carter”.

2. Relativistic. “That’s the way the world works. Not black and white like you say. Extremely gray.”

1. Obamist. In union-friendly Carmine Polito, American Hustle portrays the corrupt but humble and likable politician as tragic hero, a man of the people, a caring, avuncular figure genuinely concerned with the welfare of his constituents, and who presides over a system of corruption only so as to create new jobs. “We dream and we build,” he says. Overly zealous investigators like DiMaso (Cooper) are ruining America, Rosenfeld charges, by exposing high misdeeds and so destroying the people’s faith in their leaders. So lay off the Solyndra, Benghazi, NSA, IRS, and other scandals, American Hustle cautions, lest the spiritually vulnerable masses lose their precious hope.

KILLING-THEM-SOFTLY-poster

A strong exercise in Scorsese imitation, writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly may well be the most depressing experience to which multiplex moviegoers are treated in 2012.  Set in a bleak expanse of rust belt squalor during the meltdown of 2008, the gangland story begins when small-time gangster and dry cleaner the Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) recruits two crooks, naive Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and ne’er-do-well Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), to pull a masked hold-up of the gambling establishment run by Markie Trattman (GoodFellas alumnus Ray Liotta), who is to be framed for staging a robbery of his own game and customers.  Markie, true to his name, is the perfect mark for the crime because he previously staged just such an inside job and admitted to it and so will be the obvious prime suspect if the same thing happens again.  Into this situation enters the mysterious enforcer Jackie (Brad Pitt), assigned the tasks of investigating what actually happened and meting out the appropriate sanctions.  Flying in to assist him is button man Mickey (James Gandolfini), previously a class act but now a sloppy, erratic drunk going through a divorce.  The upshot is that, however it all ends up going down, none of this business is going to be pretty.

On one level, Killing Them Softly is a tough, unsentimental crime film and a set of character studies.  At the same time, however, it operates as an unsubtle and tactless allegory about the decline of American prosperity and the bankruptcy of the ideals traditionally associated with it, with samples of speeches by Bush and Obama running parallel to the action.  The words of the title appear onscreen in succession as part of a fractured, abrasive montage of optimistic Obamaspeak coupled with grating noise and shots of trash blown in the wind that sweeps a desolate lot walked by doomed Frankie on his way to meet the Squirrel – a representative entrepreneur and criminal mediocrity, there being no distinction between the two things as depicted in this story.  Killing Them Softly posits the existence of two types of players in this world: statists and businessmen.  All are gangsters who run their rackets through subterfuge and coercion.  In one of the film’s cheapest and least imaginative moments, Jackie sits in a bar and mocks the Obama speech playing on television and goes on to smugly thumb his nose at the American experiment itself, denouncing Thomas Jefferson for getting drunk, screwing his slaves, and keeping his children in bondage.  This country is a business, Jackie asserts, and every man looks out for himself like a beast in the jungle.  Or, as Mickey succinctly puts it and sums up the story, “It’s all bullshit.”

More than simply a downbeat, despairing sociopolitical tirade or declaration of nihilism, however, Killing Them Softly offers more than enough to make it recommendable.  Multiple character creations compel viewer interest, with Gandolfini and McNairy in particular making the most of their scenes.  Gandolfini immediately establishes sympathy and scorn with his characterization of a tough but dissipated and finally pathetically apathetic thug going through a divorce and wasting his life on liquor and prostitutes, which allows the actor the opportunity to deliver some 200-proof obscenity (causing an elderly woman at the screening I attended to become audibly agitated, surely the mark of fine movie profanity) in high gangster style.  Liotta, though he has only a few brief scenes, also appears to solid effect.  Less reliable than the impeccable acting is the selection of pop songs, which, in faithful Scorsese tradition, are rather overutilized.  “The Man Comes Around”, for instance, is the perfect song to establish Jackie’s seriousness and formidability as an enforcer, while “It’s Only a Paper Moon” assists the screenplay thematically and casts an amusing irony over events; but is it really necessary that the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” accompanies the scene in which Russell shoots up heroin?  On the whole, however, Killing Them Softly is an admirably adult and serious film, heavier on the dialogue than on the flash and action, and will test the patience of those expecting a typical shoot-em-up.  4 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Killing Them Softly is:

9. Diversity-skeptical. Jackie isn’t buying it.

8. Sexist/anti-slut.  Women are whores and trash.  Mickey’s wife has been unfaithful.  Russell recounts for Frankie a sickening episode of random sex with an insane nymphomaniac, imitating the ludicrous sounds she made, and telling how she afterward threatened to commit suicide, to which Frankie casually replies that they all behave that way.

7. Anti-torture.  Markie, under interrogation, receives a beating so unpleasantly savage and bloody that no viewer should be left with the idea that violence is glamorous and fun.

6. Antiwar.  During the credits, “Money (That’s What I Want)” fades into a lugubrious sound collage that includes helicopter noise and what sounds like echoing urination.

5. Anti-drug/drug-ambivalent.  Russell, through heroin, becomes an even more disgusting mess than he is at the beginning.  Cigarettes, however, retain a certain grimy chic, though one corporate type gangster is more than once offended by the odor.

4. Pro-miscegenation.  Mickey enjoys himself with a black hooker (who, however, frustrates him by treating her anus “like a national treasure”) and recommends Jewesses to Jackie.

3. Anti-business.  Criminals are businessmen and vice versa.  The “corporate mentality” has left even organized crime unmanned and degraded.

2. Anti-state.  Bush and Obama are phonies.  Jefferson was a drunkard who owned and abused slaves, thus discrediting all subsequent U.S. history and achievement.  The ridiculousness of gun and drug control is illustrated by the fact that, though no government agency interferes with the mob murders in the film, hitman Mickey was once arrested for gun possession while on a bird hunting trip, while Russell is eventually nabbed by the authorities not for armed robbery, but for mutually voluntary and perfectly ethical drug trafficking.

1. Nihilist/anti-human.  The sky is always dark.  “It’s all bullshit.”  The human condition is vile, obscene, and absurd.

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