Archives for posts with tag: period piece

Beloved Sisters

This German film tells the presumably somewhat true story of two sisters, Charlotte (Henriette Confurius) and Caroline (Hannah Herzsprung) von Lengefeld, and their shared love for Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter), a charming poet of frail health and uncertain fortunes. The offbeat romantic scenario and the performances are intense and largely engrossing, the love scenes erotic without being obscene; but costume drama buffs expecting another Pride and Prejudice may be put off by the gradually darkening tone of the film, which takes on the character of a tragedy without ever becoming a tearjerker, however. Beautifully staged and photographed, with a few quirky stylistic choices such as having characters address the camera directly, Beloved Sisters is unique and never feels like a run-of-the-mill Austen-derivative programmer.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Beloved Sisters is:

6. Pro-choice. “Do you want to have the child? … Why?”

5. Anti-Christian. A mother whose bastard child is of an uncertain paternity is compared to the Virgin Mary. Schiller also recites from one of his writings dealing with the inhumanity of the Inquisition.

4. Feminist/pro-gay. The sisters, who share Schiller sexually, also dress as men in order to attend one of his boys-only lectures. Caroline longs to be “a free woman, a single woman.”

3. Anti-marriage. Beloved Sisters depicts multiple unhappy unions, with marriage described as “tragedy”. Caroline’s husband is an “evil elephant” who “wants a dozen children, but only because he won’t come into his father’s inheritance otherwise.” Consequently, he “keeps pestering” her. The sisters, says Wilhelm (Ronald Zehrfeld), sent Schiller “not to paradise, but to the solitary confinement of marriage.” An incident in which a woman who fakes her death to escape her boring husband and run away with her lover demonstrates “international flair”.

2. Reactionary! Initially, Schiller is a naïve radical fired by the ideals of the Enlightenment. “I think humanity will evolve through knowledge and the sight of true beauty,” he says. Later, in the bloody wake of the French Revolution, and after having heard the horror stories of his friend Wilhelm, who has witnessed the carnage of the Terror firsthand, Schiller has more sobering thoughts. “Shouldn’t we have known, Wilhelm?” he asks. “Yes,” his friend replies. “Everyone who rang the bell for renewal should have known.”

1. Racist! That a movie – a German movie, no less! – would have the nerve to present a primitive, pre-multiculturalist Europe as something other than a totalitarian nightmare, and a place, indeed, of great natural charm and civilizational order, is a crime that this critic cannot forgive. Internet bigots obsessed with those supposed Cologne “attacks” will no doubt find much to admire in this dainty, escapist portrait of a racially homogenous society.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWENTY-THREE

Water Diviner

The idea with The Water Diviner seems to have been to mix the Merchant Ivory period prestige formula with a few rugged adventure story components and just a dash of New Age inanity, the end result feeling something like The English Patient’s underachieving kid brother. Russell Crowe, who also directs, plays an Australian farmer whose three sons are believed to have died in Churchill’s disastrous Gallipoli sideshow of the First World War. After his wife commits suicide, Crowe becomes obsessed with the fool’s errand of reclaiming his three boys’ remains and so journeys to the recently deceased Ottoman Empire, where, against the backdrop of rising Turkish nationalism, he becomes personally involved with a native widow (Olga Kurylenko) and her son (Dylan Georgiades).

Beginning as a compelling character study, The Water Diviner deteriorates in its middle portion into a misguided romantic drama before finally turning into something of an action movie, so that the tone is a bit inconsistent, the storytelling atmospherically disjointed. Still, notwithstanding the sometimes obnoxious stylistic flourishes like the gratuitous dream-vision whirling dervishes and a flurry of probably symbolic papers being thrown dove-like from a balcony, Crowe’s feature film debut as director is much more good than bad, and its heart is frequently in the right place.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Water Diviner is:

3. Irreligious. The local cleric displays no sympathy when Crowe loses his wife and even has the nerve to extort an extravagant donation from him in his grief. Crowe later says he regrets filling his sons’ heads with rhetoric about God and king and country. Turkish women are depicted as feeling stifled by their Islamic culture.

2. Pro-miscegenation. Crowe’s interracial romance with the Turkish widow presents a Coudenhove-Kalergi model for the abolishment of international conflict.

1. Anti-war. Where The Water Diviner succeeds is in depicting both the physical and – more particularly – the psychological carnage of armed conflict. The scene of Crowe’s bullet-riddled sons bleeding to death on the battlefield is highly effective. One wishes, however, that the screenplay had been so bold as to name ZOG champion Winston Churchill as the author of the Gallipoli disaster in his capacity as First Lord of the Admiralty.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY ELEVEN

Madame Bovary

Sophie Barthes adapts Flaubert’s great novel as a film that covers the essentials of the narrative, but proves as unfaithful as its protagonist in reproducing the author’s tone and his mordant humor. Madame Bovary succeeds, at least, in evoking the nineteenth century, and no frame of the film is unattractive. Mia Wasikowska, who plays the lead, is not to blame for the choice to depart from the novel’s attitude, and her presence does much to sustain viewer interest; but the character’s bitchiness is toned down, her agency in her mistakes diminished, and her selfish culpability in the campaign to convince her husband, country doctor Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), to perform a disastrous experimental surgery is deemphasized – the cumulative effect of which is to make the character less intriguing. Surprisingly, given that it is the current year, even some opportunities for eroticism are neglected. “Perhaps Bathes’ intention was to do her part to prevent anyone from wanting to read the novel?” speculates Cinema de Merde. “Regardless, that remains the most interesting thing about this film: wondering what the director’s intentions possibly could have been.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Madame Bovary is:

4. Anti-Christian. Emma finds no solace in the Church.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Emma’s first extramarital love interest is the clerk Dupuis, played by weird-looking Jew Ezra Miller. Cinema de Merde is again worth quoting at this point: “Ezra Miller […] looks like the face of a young Alan Rickman emerging from within a hairy vagina. It’s the sort of thing where you think: ‘Maybe women find that attractive? Is that possible?’”

2. Anti-capitalistic. Aggressive, insinuating merchant Lheureux (Rhys Ifans) is the cause of much of the Bovary household’s trouble. (Why could Ezra Miller not have been cast as Lheureux?)

1. Vaguely feminist. The camera obsesses over the lacing of Emma’s corset, the idea apparently being to squeeze sympathy from her unenviable plight as an oppressed woman presented with no options for self-actualization by nineteenth century society. Then, too, her husband is shown to be a sexually inattentive lover. She even has a brief, inarticulate rant about how insidious men are – though this viewer was somewhat perplexed as to whether or not this scene was supposed to be comic. Enough of Flaubert remains, however, for the protagonist’s behavior to be inexcusable on account of patriarchy.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Dallas Buyers Club

Matthew McConaughey, who over the past few years has become one of this writer’s favorite actors working today, is the only reason to watch Dallas Buyers Club, the most recent attempt to subvert and metamorphose the American cowboy into a gay activism icon after the manner of Brokeback Mountain (2005). McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a narrow-minded ne’er-do-well whose life changes forever – or, anyway, for what remains of it – after he is diagnosed with what Andy Warhol called “gay cancer”.

Jennifer Garner portrays a concerned physician, while Jared Leto munches the scenery as junkie transvestite Rayon, who becomes Woodroof’s business partner in the “Dallas Buyers Club”, a grassroots enterprise designed to provide AIDS sufferers with a healthier treatment alternative than the big pharmaceutical competition. Woodroof’s drive to prolong his life and combat the establishment’s market stranglehold is fairly compelling, but squeamish viewers are forewarned that the movie contains such tacky attempts at heart-tuggery as the sight of a sick, self-pitying transvestite drooling blood and whining “I don’t wanna die . . .”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dallas Buyers Club is:

9. Anti-Christian. Woodroof dresses as a priest while attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico. The image of an AIDS patient wearing a clerical collar is of course no sartorial accident and works as a barb directed at Catholic moral hypocrisy, so many priests being closeted homosexuals, many of whom are known to have succumbed to AIDS.

8. Anti-drug. Woodruff’s intravenous drug use, along with his inveterate whore-chasing, has put him at greater risk for contracting AIDS. Also, Rayon’s dope addiction only exacerbates his decline.

7. Anti-racist. One of the personal failings Woodroof must overcome is his racism, evidenced by his references to Asians as “chinks” and Saudis as “sand niggers”. As his drug procurement operation goes global, he learns to appreciate the profitability of doing business with foreigners. “I like your style,” he tells a Japanese doctor.

6. Feminist. In addition to overcoming his racism, Woodroof must also come to accept women’s contributions to the modern workforce. “I don’t want a nurse, I want a doctor!” he protests in one early scene.

5. Anti-redneck. The spectacle of a gun-toting “homophobic asshole” and piece of “Texas hick white trash” suffering from AIDS and lashing out in his agony as dignified professional women and minorities look on with contempt is pure political porn for liberals, the quintessence of their wishful thinking.

4. Capitalist. Dallas Buyers Club betrays a left-libertarian streak in its combination of social liberalism and celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit, attempting to illustrate how unfettered markets will serve both the small businessman and consumer. “I say what goes in my body, not you.”

3. Anti-corporatism. The IRS, DEA, and particularly the FDA appear as antagonists in the film, the cronyist footmen of big pharma monopolists looking to squeeze the competition. “Now that’s the shit that’ll rot your insides,” Woodroof avers, examining a package of meat in a grocery store. “What a surprise,” he then adds, “FDA-approved.” The FDA, Dallas Buyers Club alleges, merely functions as big pharma’s glorified street pushers.

2. Pro-gay. Through a business partnership that blossoms into a friendship, Woodroof learns to appreciate Rayon as an individual, and comes to appreciate the general plight of homosexuals as he succumbs to the disease they share. AIDS, as the great sexual-sociopolitical equalizer, almost seems to be the movie’s unsung hero. Demonstrating his transformation from homophobe to humanitarian, Woodroof in one scene grabs his bigoted friend T.J. (Kevin Rankin) and holds him in a headlock until he agrees to shake Rayon’s hand. Homosexuals appear as sensitive and nurturing throughout Dallas Buyers Club.

1. Pro-NWO. “Look at this place,” Woodroof muses, surveying the scene in a bohemian clinic south of the border. “Fuckin’ chinks, homos, herbs, hot nurses. You got a regular New World Order goin’ on here . . .”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

The_Grand_Budapest_Hotel_Poster

Not since Nicolas Refn’s Only God Forgives has this reviewer seen such a shameless triumph of style over substance. Overrated Rushmore auteur Wes Anderson, the most artificial of all filmmakers, delivers in Grand Budapest Hotel a work that is less a movie than a succession of fetishistic explorations of elegant line and symmetry and fastidiously composed tableaux of actors making eccentric faces and striking unnatural poses. Anderson’s admirers will probably enjoy this nonlinear, tonally anachronistic account of the various characters – several big name actors in small parts among them – whose lives revolve around the titular luxury accommodation. Others are, however, advised to seek their lodgings elsewhere.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Grand Budapest Hotel is:

8. Anti-gun. An absurd and needlessly destructive gunfight erupts in the middle of the hotel.

7. Anti-slut. It is Agatha’s (Saoirse Ronan – worst name ever?) purity that makes her attractive.

6. Anti-Christian. Lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) pushes over a piece of religious statuary, breaking it into pieces.

5. Anti-fascist (i.e., pro-yawn). “I find these black uniforms very drab.”

4. Pro-gay. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) is a stylish and comfortable bisexual, prompting bigoted bad guy Dmitri (Adrien Brody) to call him a “fruit” and a “faggot”.

3. Anti-white. The hotel’s clientele is described as “rich, old, insecure, vain, superficial, blonde, needy.” “Why blonde?” “Because they all were.”

2. Pro-immigration and pro-miscegenation. “You can’t arrest him simply because he’s a bloody immigrant. He hasn’t done anything wrong.” Agatha’s marriage to immigrant Zero endorses the dissolution of national identities and, in view of her Mexico-shaped birthmark, advertises its relevance to the present Mestizo settler colonization of the United States.

1. Zionist. The Grand Budapest Hotel evinces a very Jewish sensibility, racking up a few extra shabbos goy points for the director, and The Jewish Daily Forward‘s review of the film is actually titled “How Wes Anderson Became a Jewish Emigre Director“. In a ridiculous reversal of the real world, Jeff Goldblum plays a Jewish attorney as an exemplar of moral rectitude who is mutilated and murdered by vampiric gentile Willem Dafoe. Alluding obliquely to the “Holocaust”, the film notes that Agatha dies of a “Prussian” disease. “Today, we treat it in a single week, but in those days, many millions died.”

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