Archives for posts with tag: Olivia Munn

Office Christmas Party

Jason Bateman plays straight man to a cast of corporate crazies in Office Hanukkah Party, Hollywood’s latest assault on every decent thing left in this maggoty world. The movie does manage to lampoon the self-negating neuroses bred by workplace compliance with inclusivity policies and political correctness, but ultimately embraces the same sort of idiocy, only spicing it up with vice and obscenity in order to make the New World Order seem somehow appealing. Viewed in isolation from any moral considerations or greater societal impact, Office Hanukkah Party is an admittedly fun film buoyed by a talented cast of comedic actors including Jennifer Aniston and T.J. Miller as feuding tech executive siblings Carol and Clay. Kate McKinnon insults Christians everywhere in the role of the rigid but flatulent “Mary”, while Vanessa Bayer and Randall Park reprise their interracial flirtation from the similarly depraved Trainwreck.

4.5 out of 5 stars – and, to be absolutely clear, this rating reflects not the film’s sociological value but its likely appeal to its intended audience of unredeemed degenerates. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Office Hanukkah Party is:

9. Disingenuously anti-corporate, disapproving of impersonal business cultures, profit-prioritizing layoffs, and the like, but fully endorsing the atomized hedonism favored by the neoliberal establishment. (I find a pleasing irony in the fact that the film’s initials, O.C.P., are also those of Omni Consumer Products, the evil military-industrial megacorporation from RoboCop.)

8. Russophobic, with Russians depicted as gangsters. One of them, a thug named Alexei (Michael Tourek), gets nightsticked for calling a liberated American woman “bitch”.

7. Jewish supremacist. Indicating priorities in the opening moments of the movie, a menorah occupies the center of the frame in a shot of a holiday snack table. Aniston also demonstrates the superior merits of Krav Maga. In a possible insult to Arabs, a foreign-looking fellow is seen literally fucking a camel statue in the back of a truck.

6. Feminist. Carol, in addition to being able to hold her own in a fight against her brother, refers to God as “Her”. “Suck my dick,” a woman tells her male supervisor.

5. Anti-Christian. The entire movie constitutes a denigration of Christians’ celebration of the birth of Christ, as symbolized when Clay sleds down a staircase and demolishes a Nativity scene.

4. Anti-family. Learning that Allison (Bayer) is a single mother, Fred (Park) replies, “That’s great. I was raised by a single mom.” Children are bothers and fit primarily for corruption, as in the end credits image of two women who appear to be snorting cocaine in the presence of a minor. Asked what is most annoying about the internet, Jeremy (Rob Corddry) replies, “Pictures of people’s kids.” A youthful caroler thrusts his middle finger at the protagonist, while the inappropriately named Carol tells another child, “Fuck you” – continuing Hollywood’s use of foul language referencing sex acts with children (cf. Cooties).

3. Pro-gay. “I’m talkin’ ‘bout take your pee-pees out and put ‘em in some booties,” proclaims DJ Calvis (Sam Richardson). Clay, meanwhile, is “straight – except for that one time.” Viewers are also treated to a guy-guy dancefloor kiss and the sight of Jason Bateman simulating fellatio with an ice sculpture. Then, too, there is mention of a “Human Centipede situation in the men’s room.”

2. Pro-miscegenation. Josh (Bateman) finds himself attracted to icy Eurasian cutie Tracey (Munn). Allison, meanwhile, after being grossed out by Fred’s mommy fetish, winds up smooching with Indian nerd Nate (Karan Soni). There is also a briefly glimpsed interracial toilet stall orgy.

1. Pro-drug. Drug humor in Office Christmas Party runs the gamut of cocaine, booze, and the abuse of prescription medications. One employee remarks that it is “boring as shit” that no one gets inebriated before noon. It is only after a bag of cocaine is accidentally dropped into a snow machine that the party really comes alive. Straight-laced black executive Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance, the indispensable negro sonar genius from The Hunt for Red October) gets particularly loose after taking a blast of powder in the face and later declares that this has been “the best night of my life” even after being hospitalized following a brutal fall. Clay, too, snorts a quantity of cocaine and gets into a wreck which serendipitously corrects a previous fracture.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Magic Mike poster

Magic Mike, along with Katy Perry: Part of Me, was one of the faith-shakingly embarrassing trailers that seemed to hound this critic every time he went to the movies during the summer of 2012. “Oh, no, not this again,” he would think to himself, slumping into his seat as his heart sank in his breast. The fact of the matter is, however, that this amusing and unassumingly sharp drama from screenwriter Reid Carolin and director Steven Soderbergh not only rises to the occasion on more than an anatomical level, but ends up as one of the most outstanding films of its year.

Channing Tatum, who actually worked as a stripper during an earlier phase of his show business career, puts his skills to productive use in Magic Mike, a role perfectly suited to the actor’s dissolute good looks, sex power, and sense of humor. Tatum’s semiautobiographical Mike is an American original, a creatively driven renaissance stud who aspires to build handcrafted furniture for a living, but works at construction, car detailing, and stripping until he can put together the venture capital he requires. Handsome Alex Pettyfer plays Adam, the fresh piece of meat Mike recruits to join the dance revue at Club Xquisite, and whose pretty but staid sister Brooke (Cody Horn) will become Mike’s reluctant romantic interest.

It is Matthew McConaughey, however, who majestically steals much of Magic Mike as the Mephistophelean Dallas, the Gordon Gekko of male strip club proprietors. In particular, the sequence in which erotic drill instructor Dallas is training greenhorn Adam for his first tour of duty under the lights provides McConaughey with the most explosive monologue of 2012. “Who’s got the cock? You do. They don’t,” he prods his pupil like a madman, showing him how to win over a crowd of emotionally vulnerable women by whirling and thrusting his pelvis properly. “You are the husband that they never had. You are the dreamboat guy that never came along. You are the one-night stand, that free fling of a fuck that they get to have tonight with you onstage and still go home to their hubby and not get in trouble because you, baby, you make it legal. You are the liberation!” McConaughey even gets to sing a sweet little country ditty, “Ladies of Tampa”, which he himself co-wrote.

Soderbergh again shows himself to be the consummate master, a man in complete and comfortable control of his craft. Magic Mike is a career highlight, but with no small assistance from his collaborators at every level of this nearly perfect production. From performances to editing and visual design, Magic Mike is a classy show and deserving of repeated viewings. Music also adds much to the verve of the experience, with cleverly selected songs setting the movie’s various tones and rhythms. Of special note, Win Win’s “Victim” is darkly repetitive, cock-rocking magic; Countre Black’s cover of “It’s Raining Men” is a scintillating introduction to the men of Xquisite doing a campy raincoats-and-umbrellas routine; and Chris Mitchell’s coy rendition of “Like a Virgin” is an appropriate accompaniment to Adam’s shy first appearance onstage.

Highly recommended at 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Magic Mike is:

11. Anti-Christian. A crucifix pendant and cross tattoo appear in irreverent contexts.

10. Antiwar. The troupe of strippers performs a mock-patriotic military-themed routine, firing their crotches to the sound of gunfire. While, on the one hand, this points to the warrior ideal as a perennially appealing archetype in women’s sexual fantasies, it might just as easily equate war with show business as something tawdry, phony, and whorish, or suggest that war is really a sublimation of primal, sexually motivated aggression.

9. Anti-obesity. One of the strippers hurts his back trying to lift a chubby customer.

8. Pro-gay. “I don’t care what your preferences are,” says Brooke when she discovers her brother’s dance outfits and takes these for evidence of his homosexuality. Then, as if 2005’s Brokeback Mountain had been insufficient degradation of an American movie icon, the cowboy archetype is further downgraded by a homoerotic gunfight strip routine.

7. Statist. “Fuck school altogether,” Dallas opines with reason. His idea is that children should be homeschooled with special emphasis on finance and investment strategies, but Mike, presumably from faith in the liberal public education system, dismisses this as “stupid shit”.

6. Anti-American. “That’s the state of the country, man. America. People. Stupid.”

5. Pro-wigger. Mike affects a hoodie, backwards cap, and “y’all” talk.

4. Feminist/anti-marriage/anti-family. Brooke is offended and gets defensive when she assumes Mike is suggesting that she cook breakfast for him. A woman wearing a “bride to be” sash is seen dancing uninhibitedly onstage with one of the strippers, and Dallas explains that women patronize his establishment because their marriages are unfulfilling, with nude male revues providing the psychological “liberation” women require. The institution of motherhood, meanwhile, receives grotesque parody treatment in the memorable image of pink-haired tart Nora (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough) bottle-feeding milk to a piglet.

3. Drug-ambivalent. Strippers partake of something called “hey juice” and stupid sorority girls demand to know: “Who do we have to fuck to get a fucking drink?” Joints are passed around without consequence, but drinking and harder drugging (and drug dealing) get Adam and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) into serious difficulties. Mike and Adam barely make it out of a sorority house with their lives when Adam enrages a girl’s boyfriend by slipping her some E. To its credit, Magic Mike contains a classic morning-after atrocity scene too good to spoil.

2. Slut-ambivalent. Relatively conservative Brooke regrets her adolescent decision to get tattooed. Adam is warned to avoid oral contact with customers so as to avoid contracting herpes. One laid-back dope dealer enjoys an open marriage (“My wife’s tits are awesome. Check ‘em out, man.”), but this segment, rather than serving as an endorsement of swinging lifestyles, is intended to evince the decadence and the seductive evil of the world into which Adam is being initiated. Casual orgy partner Joanna (Olivia Munn) comes across as unhappy and frightened by intimacy, with Mike ultimately realizing that what he needs is a good girl and a sexually conventional life. In the final analysis, Magic Mike is less than satisfactorily judgmental where sexual promiscuity is concerned, but does give the impression that such escapades are best suited for youth if at all necessary and better abandoned in maturity.

1. Anti-capitalistic-cum-populist. In Magic Mike’s complicated and nuanced moral universe, informed by the compassionate socialist-populist worldview of screenwriter Reid Carolin (whose nonprofit group Red Feather Development has, according to Wikipedia, been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show!) and director Steven Soderbergh (hagiographer of Che Guevara and happy producer of George Clooney’s disingenuous anti-McCarthy clunker Good Night, and Good Luck) honest toil when set to the pattern of the typical employer-employee paradigm becomes a species of semi-prostitution. “You don’t wanna know what I have to do for twenties,” Mike tells Brooke significantly. The capitalist, as exemplified by Mike’s construction foreman, is a petty exploiter who balks at the notion of paying “benefits and shit”.

It is stripper-impresario Dallas, however, who most clearly personifies capitalism in this film. Icy, dishonest, superficial, materialistic, and nihilistic, he is also a charming, seductive swaggerer whose charisma no viewer will deny. A manipulator of others, Dallas also whores himself, serenading his customers (whom he describes collectively as his “wife”) and climbing back into the saddle for an impressively sweaty farewell performance of his own, erupting a shower of crumpled dollar bills onto his naked torso. Going into business as partners with Dallas is clearly a matter of dealing with the Devil (“Nobody walks on water on my team.”), and Dallas expectedly lets Mike down, going back on his glorious promises. Commerce, for Dallas, is glorified theft. “You are worth the cash you pry out of their fuckin’ purses,” he snidely pontificates.

It is the small, honest, dream-driven entrepreneur, uncorrupted by greed and mercenary prudence, with whom these filmmakers sympathize. Mike’s desire to start his own custom furniture business is admirable and casts him as, if not a starving artist, then a creative man of principle unwilling to compromise on his vision. This type of endeavor, Magic Mike charges, is thwarted at every turn by the old boys’ club of the business and financial establishment. This becomes painfully obvious when Mike, seeking a startup loan for his venture, is turned down as a bad credit risk by a bank’s loan officer (Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt, who, this reviewer is grieved to report, is at no point in the film treated to a private dance from Mike). “The only thing that’s distressed is y’all,” Mike tells her defiantly on being refused. One of the morals of Magic Mike, then, is that self-reliance and hard work, even if it results in a less comfortable life than that of a high-class courtesan, is, albeit a more difficult one, a more dignified way to live. Magic Mike, consequently, has mostly scorn for slacker Adam, who shirks his responsibilities, sleeps on his sister’s couch, and refuses to interview for a job that requires his wearing a “fuckin’ tie”.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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