Archives for posts with tag: offbeat

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWOApartment Troubles

Written and directed by lead actresses Jess Weixler and Jennifer Prediger, this offbeat black dramedy concerns itself with what happens to artsy ditzes Nicole (Weixler) and Olivia (Prediger) when they run out of the money they need to pay the rent on their New York apartment. Seemingly out of options, the pair flies to L.A. to impose themselves on Nicole’s Aunt Kimberley (Will and Grace regular Megan Mullally), who hosts a reality TV talent show. Full of oddball characters and off-the-wall moments (a favorite is the lactose-intolerant vermicomposting malfunction), Apartment Troubles wafts by in an instant like a gust of fragrant spritz and is impossible not to enjoy. Weixler and Prediger make a cute comedy team and could easily turn their partnership into a charming TV sitcom or film series.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Apartment Troubles is:

6. Anti-drug. Pill-popping doofus Will Forte is a danger to himself and others, particularly behind the wheel, with Adderall receiving some bad publicity. Too much wine makes Nicole and Kimberley shameless.

5. Racist! A young African-American gentleman is shown wearing a T-shirt that says “Primitive”.

4. Fag-ambivalent. Kimberley is a predatory lesbian and a drunkard whose advances toward Olivia meet with diplomatic repulsion. Apartment Troubles could be argued to normalize homosexuality, however, with Kimberley presenting an unusually attractive seductress. The casting of a Will and Grace alumnus would seem to corroborate the latter interpretation.

3. Anti-family. Nicole is estranged from her family, who have gone on an unannounced vacation without her. Forte calls his domineering mother a “turkey”. “She’s a powerful lady and she will spank me,” he says. “She will spank me hard. She’s getting older, but she packs it, you know?” He then claims to have been joking when he said this, but he really does seem to believe himself when he confesses, “My mom has really helped me to hit rock bottom.”

2. Anti-cuck. American men, as Apartment Troubles painfully illustrates, have been turned into ineffectual man-children and sexually undesirable weaklings. Familiar character actor Jeffrey Tambor plays the protagonists’ landlord and Nicole’s unlikely ex-boyfriend and recovering beta orbiter. He consults an energy healer for relationship advice. Nicole’s Uncle Robert (Bob Byington) is a lifeless, depressed, and dominated by his lesbian wife. Forte, in another manifestation of the prevailing non-man, unconvincingly proclaims himself the “knight in shining armor” of the two heroines. A foreigner, meanwhile, absurdly accuses American fruit of being “aggressive” because it is too big.

1. Millennial-critical. Whatever the intentions of Weixler and Prediger in crafting this eccentric film, it plays like a sustained act of trolling directed at clueless, useful idiot liberals. Pervading Apartment Troubles and destabilizing its heroines’ lives is the extra-special snowflake mentality according to which the world is obliged to endure the idiosyncratic whimsy that lives in every millennial’s heart. What they must ultimately learn is that they have “that special nothing”; but “We need a benefactor,” they moan, not troubling themselves as to how they would earn such patronage.

Nicole and Olivia are typical women of their generation – overly educated in useless areas of endeavor, underemployed, in arrears, and socially retarded. Olivia’s cat substitutes for a more rewarding human companionship, and one can only agree with Nicole, who tells her, “You need to, like, get a boyfriend or something.” One brief moment has Olivia’s eye caught by a display of books for sale on rape and climatic apocalypse. These are the bogeys that haunt the mind of the liberated woman. A toothbrush is lower on the list of things to remember. So ridiculously committed are the duo to the environment that they make a conscious decision (or economical rationalization?) not to pay their electricity bill. “There’s no law that says you have to blow up mountains and frack,” opines Olivia, who comes across as ridiculous rather than sophisticated.

In place of a more dignified, traditional spirituality, both women go for make-it-up-as-you-go-along new age silliness, with Nicole taking an interest in eastern religions and Olivia leaning on a “teeny tiny therapist” (a small toy she keeps in a bag). Both women, even when supposedly too poor to feed themselves, consider Tarot readings a worthy investment. Like Hillary Clinton, Olivia, too, finds consolation in the eternal wisdom of ZOG lord Eleanor Roosevelt. Olivia’s belief in the power of “signs” does not appear to be justified.

The validity of all thoughts, all opinions, and viewpoints, no matter how stupid, that constitutes the relativistic crazy-quilt fabric of twenty-first century American values, finds expression in the behavior of every character in the film. “I’m an adult,” says Forte, “and I know when it’s safe to go through a fricking red [light]. Sometimes I’ll stop at a green, okay? Oh, my God, I want some candy, but is it too late for candy?” Red light, green light – all is subjective. A theme of Apartment Troubles is the need to grow up, but nothing has been definitively resolved as the story draws to a close, its characters still adrift and having found no rock – nothing that endures – on which to secure themselves.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Human Highway

Human Highway (1982) ****

Co-scripted and directed by eccentric rocker Neil Young (using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey), Human Highway is the weirdo sort of movie destined from its inception to become an item of cult interest. Young stars as lamebrained mechanic Lionel, who dreams of rock stardom while making a mess of his duties at Dean Stockwell’s roadside gas station and diner, where coworkers include Sally Kirkland, Russ Tamblyn, and Dennis Hopper. The diner is situated near a nuclear power plant where the boys from Devo work and are exposed to so much radiation that they actually glow with red light. Stockwell, who has inherited the diner from his father and finds it in financial disarray, gets the idea to torch his unprofitable business and be rid of it; but will he be able to hatch his plot before toxic waste, radiation poisoning, or a full-blown nuclear holocaust throws a monkey wrench into his plans?

More of a gratuitously bizarre curiosity than a genuinely admirable film, Human Highway remains a valuable document of the prevailing new wave musical sensibility of the day as applied to cinema, and also conveys the anxieties of the eighties about the possibility of nuclear holocaust and the threat to man and the environment posed by toxic waste. This black comedy’s script, unfortunately, too often aims for the random and leaves most of the ideas and characters underdeveloped, while the production values are on the order of a typical episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse – which, depending upon the viewer’s individual taste, could be a blessing or a curse. The film really starts to fall apart from a narrative standpoint during the second half, with (for some reason) a montage of Native Americans dancing around a bonfire of wooden Indians and Lionel dreaming after being knocked unconscious of rock-and-roll stardom and excess, and letting a groupie suck milk off of him with a straw. The high point of Human Highway is an extended bout of down-and-dirty, feedback-fried riffing and jamming between Neil Young and Devo, with the team totally freaking out and looking like a bunch of psychos.

4 out of 5 glass parking lots.

Incident at Channel Q

Incident at Channel Q (1986) *****

Al Corley headlines this trash heap treasure as Rick Van Ryan, a smug, sarcastic, rebel-rousing VJ at regional television station Q 23. The teenagers love him, but stick-in-the-mud suburbanite parents and Christian conservatives are all in a tizzy and picketing Rick’s unwholesome influence, demanding that his program, Heavy Metal Heaven, be taken off the air in order to save young people’s souls. Corporate sponsors are getting nervous, the old guard at Q 23 hates his guts, and the Tipper Gore ticket is getting unruly, with two right-wing brutes ambushing Rick in an alley and beating him up, after which the young radical moves to bring the cultural crisis to a head, barricading himself inside the TV station and calling on his followers to lend him support. 

What passes for a story line in Incident at Channel Q is primarily a pretext for exhibiting a series of then-recent music videos in their entirety, these videos – ranging from Rush to Rainbow, KISS, Iron Maiden, and all points in between – taking up half or more of the movie and simulating the experience of watching 80 minutes or so of MTV on a typical day in the 1980s. The music, for the most part, is fantastic stuff for 80s rock buffs, with a trio of videos – Lita Ford’s “Gotta Let Go”, the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, and Motley Crue’s vicious “Looks That Kill”  – constituting some of the greatest, most outlandishly photogenic material ever committed to film. Poofy hair, horror lighting, whore makeup, chintzy sets, studded leather wristbands, tight pants, and other depravity abound, with KISS’s “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” being another fun and action-packed video, while others – Rush’s “Body Electric” and Deep Purple’s “Knocking at Your Back Door” – showcase the post-apocalyptic imagery that was popular in those years.

5 pentagrams for the rock and the morally righteous camp value. VHS copies of Incident at Channel Q are inexpensive, so readers who see one languishing on a used bookstore shelf or in a moldy box in a basement are advised to redeem it or suffer the vengeful disfavor of Satan. 

 

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