Archives for posts with tag: Night of the Living Dead

Cold in July

Cold in July is the story of a man who, having once peered into the rabbit hole and inadvertently set one foot inside it, cannot bring himself to turn away. Michael C. Hall stars as Richard Dane, a Texas everyman who shoots an intruder into his home and is subsequently terrorized by the dead man’s ex-con father, Russel (Sam Shepard). But is the dead man really dead? If not, who occupies the coffin, and why would the authorities assign a false identity to the corpse? Dane and Russel discover together that the world is not as it seems; and, teaming with earthy private detective (and pig farmer) Jim Bob (Don Johnson), they set out on a western-flavored, neo-noir odyssey in search of the truth – and, ultimately, violently ironic justice.

Notwithstanding its humor and undisguised pop flourishes, Cold in July is a serious film with strong performances all around. Johnson’s screen presence particularly, far from having faded in the years since Miami Vice, has taken on a new depth and authenticity, so that he brings a great deal of color and masculine clout to the film. Hall is 100% convincing as the man in over his head, while Shepard’s turn is comparatively understated but no less essential to the success of the whole. Pleasantly, an attempt has been made to match the film stylistically with its 1980s setting, so that viewers are treated to a period-faithful electronic score and some elegant, crowd-pleasing slow-motion shots.

Highly recommended. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Cold in July is:

5. Anti-porn. Young women pursuing this trade place their lives at considerable risk.

4. Pro-immigration. “Prostitutes cross the border illegally and nobody cares” – after which they are lured into starring in snuff films, the presumptive implication being that if America had a compassionate immigration policy that was not so “broken”, Mexican women would not be forced to demean and endanger themselves in order to access the American Dream. Mariachi musicians illustrate the vibrant diversity Mexicans offer.

3. Gun-ambivalent. The film strongly suggests that Dane would be a happier man had he not shot the burglar invading his home, and he subsequently disapproves of his young son’s toy gun play. A pistol also appears as a danger and liability in the hands of the emotionally distraught. Guns feature prominently and excitingly in the vigilante action of the conclusion, however.

2. State-skeptical. Part of Dane’s journey of discovery is the realization that his government is not what he imagined. In this context, Russel’s line “All I know is what I’m told” carries more than a surface resonance. In a minor, local way, Dane is initiated into the ugly reality of conspiracy. Scenes deleted from the final cut of the film show FBI agents tailing him. In one scene, a drive-in is playing Night of the Living Dead, a reference which reinforces the themes of paranoia and government cover-ups.

1. Pro-family. Dane is a committed father and husband. Discounting Jim Bob’s diagnosis of married men as “poor bastards”, Cold in July communicates the necessity of the intact family for the well-adjusted existence of an individual or a society. Without obnoxiously articulating the point, the film suggests that Russel’s son has chosen a path of evil as a result of not having had a father during his developmental years.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

The zombie apocalypse genre has come a long way culturally since its invention by George Romero with Night of the Living Dead. That prestigious leading man Brad Pitt now stars in a $190,000,000 zombie movie from Paramount says quite enough about how firmly the ravenous hordes of corpses have ensconced themselves as a mainstream phenomenon. World War Z, the resulting film, happily rises above its origins in a pop horror fad and delivers the goods both in terms of suspense and as grist for speculative consideration, with director Marc Forster rising to the occasion and producer Pitt’s extracurricular interest in international philanthropy only slightly marring an otherwise exciting and rewarding adventure. Imagine, in short, 28 Weeks Later, but with more faith in human nature and hope for species survival.  4.5 stars. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that World War Z is:

10. Moderately pro-castration.  United Nations errand boy Gerry Lane (Pitt) is an exemplar of the sensitive man, a homemaker who cooks breakfast for his wife and daughters. Thankfully, Lane mans up fast when the action necessitates.

9. Anti-police. One officer rudely knocks the driver’s side mirror off Lane’s vehicle, and another is seen participating in the looting of a store, taking no interest in the violence happening around him.

8. Progressive/pro-philanthropy. “Movement is life,” Lane advises in Spanish in the context of trying to convince a Hispanic family to leave the precarious safety of their apartment. Lane resolves the global crisis in Taoist fashion when he discovers that humanity’s hope lies in the emulation of its weakest elements. “Help each other,” Pitt says at the end over images of unfortunate Third Worlders in a moment that would make Bono misty-eyed with pride.

7. Feminist. Tough Israeli soldier Segen (Daniella Kertesz) with her buzz cut and resourcefulness represents the unsexed woman warrior ideal.

6. Pro-family. Lane cares deeply for his wife and daughters and agrees to come out of retirement only with the intention of protecting them.

5. Multiculturalist. World War Z goes out of its way to depict compassionate people of different races showing consideration for each other (cf. nos. 3 and 4).

4. Zionist. The special historical experience of the Jews as a persecuted people has spurred them to a greater level of preparedness than other nations; their protective wall was thus completed just before the zombie apocalypse went global. Look to the Magic Kingdom for guidance, the film seems to say (cf. nos. 3 and 5).

3. Immigration-ambivalent and anti-Arab. World War Z sends some mixed and confusing signals here. Israel, even after the zombie outbreak, continues to allow controlled Palestinian immigration on the principle that every human allowed to come under their protection is one potential zombie less to fight in the future. “It’s too late for me to build a wall,” Lane reflects in reference to America’s situation (zombie or Mexican?) when he witnesses the initial success of the Israeli security system. Unfortunately, the immigrant infiltration proves subversive when the obnoxious wailing of Palestinian refugees on a microphone drives the zombies outside into such a frenzy that they pile on top of each other to scale the wall like an angry ant swarm. Arabs, serving an inadvertent Trojan horse function, are thus equated with the mindless zombies (cf. nos. 4 and 5).

2. Statist/pro-NWO. The valiant internationalists of the United Nations and the World Health Organization are Earth’s only hope.

1. Green. A lame opening credits montage suggests that climate change is responsible for the rabies-like plague ravaging the planet.

[UPDATE (11/18/13): Richard B. Spencer of the National Policy Institute offers his insights into World War Z in an engaging and articulate YouTube talk here.]

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