Archives for posts with tag: pro-marriage

trainwreck

Sow-faced Jewess Amy Schumer impersonates a white woman as a slovenly, arrogant slut in Judd Apatow’s romantic comedy Trainwreck, written for the screen by the slob herself – and she shows a surprising range as an actress, managing fairly touching moments as a woman whose floozy ways conceal more substantial emotional needs. Absurdly, the star writes a bevy of men into the script – even muscle-smothered wrestler John Cena – who of course find her implausibly irresistible. Schumer plays a journalist doing a magazine story on sports doctor Bill Hader, whose nice guy ways and patience are tested when Schumer begins to resist the pull of love and romantic commitment to him. Colin Quinn is a breath of freshly polluted air as Schumer’s cantankerous, ailing father, and even LeBron James is shockingly competent as an actor in his supporting role as one of Hader’s celebrity patients. Unnecessarily gross as one would expect from an Apatow joint, Trainwreck nonetheless has its vomit-flecked charms for those willing to take the proper sanitary precautions.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Trainwreck is:

9. Pro-immigration. An African nursing home orderly (Method Man) mentions that he was a doctor in his home country, reinforcing the idea that immigrants are underappreciated, underutilized, and highly skilled workers.

8. Pro-slut. Hader remains devoted to Schumer even after learning what a biohazardous tramp she is. “Don’t judge me fuckers. I’m just a sexual girl,” she explains. “I am fine. I am in control.”

7. Pro-drug. Schumer gives a box of drugs to vagrant Dave Attell. During the prelude to a sexual encounter, a minor (Ezra Miller) snorts what appears to be cocaine. “We think it’s Ritalin,” Apatow says during his audio commentary, but the director also acknowledges that “it could be anything.” “We should celebrate! We should go out!” Schumer declares in a deleted scene. “We should get drunk! […] I feel like you don’t really know someone until you see them drunk.” Binge drinking leads to a romantic dancefloor kiss.

6. Pro-gay. Homos, Schumer explains, are “people”, and she objects to what she diagnoses as her father’s homophobia. In a wisely deleted scene, sports talk among seemingly heterosexual men leads to an orgy of homoerotic beer-spraying and sucked hot dogs.

5. Trainwreck receives a (dishonorable) honorary mention as an anti-gun film in view of the shooting incident that occurred in a theater during the film’s release – prompting its star to enter into collaboration with her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, to lobby for stronger anti-gun laws.

4. Anti-Christian. “I let Tim and his [black] brothers tag-team me on Christmas morning,” confesses repulsive Bridget Everett. “And you know what? It was wonderful.”

3. Pro-miscegenation. In addition to the above anecdote, Schumer’s buddy Vanessa Bayer lusts after dysgenic unions.

2. Anti-white. “Babe Ruth was awful,” scoffs the protagonist’s father. “How could you be a superman when you never played against a black guy your whole life? Every twelve-year-old kid in the Dominican Republic right now could probably beat Babe Ruth.” Somewhat tantalizingly, the film, like Schumer’s stand-up comedy routine, flirts at times with race realism in its implicit acknowledgment that friendships tend to form along racial lines. The writer-star milks humor from her character’s goofy attempt to use a photograph of a black waiter serving her in a restaurant to prove that she has black friends. While Trainwreck at times appears to be skewering the hyper-sensitive absurdities of political correctness, it actually takes sadistic pleasure in the discomfort PC totalitarianism creates for whites who struggle for footing amid the constantly shifting requirements for white debasement and verbal self-policing. “We’re really making fun of white people here,” Apatow clarifies for those in doubt during his audio commentary. Most ridiculously, the film features a scene in which blacks are bothered by whites talking during a movie.

1. Pro-marriage. Opening with a woman’s memory of her philandering father’s breakup with her mother, Trainwreck concerns itself with a very real challenge confronting millennial singles: the problem of creating healthy and lasting adult relationships in the absence of successful parental models. After avoiding commitment all of her life, Schumer concedes that all along she has actually envied the comfortable but unerotic stability of her sister’s married life.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

bone-tomahawk

Bone Tomahawk is the real deal: a gritty, unapologetic – or, anyway, not overly apologetic – portrait of a time when western civilization’s future was secured with sacrifice and with blood and when subhuman savagery met with the requisite repercussions. Patrick Wilson, in a winning and physically demanding role, plays Arthur O’Dwyer, an injured cowboy whose broken leg is the last thing on his mind when wife Samantha (Lili Simmons) is abducted by “troglodytes” – a pack of cannibalistic cave-dwelling Indians straight out of a horror movie.

Joining O’Dwyer on the ride into savage territory to rescue Samantha are rock-solid Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell, more mature but just as badass as in Tombstone), gentleman Indian killer Mr. Brooder (Matthew Fox, who thankfully has a more dignified role than as the honky serial killer hunted by Madea in Alex Cross), and elderly, slow-witted backup deputy Chicory (Killing Them Softly’s Richard Jenkins, filling the Walter Brennan type sidekick role). Kurt Russell is Bone Tomahawk’s star power, but Jenkins practically steals the movie with his endearingly goofy interpretation of Chicory. Lili Simmons is perhaps never entirely convincing as a woman of the nineteenth century; but every member of the ensemble cast is entitled to ample applause.

Bone Tomahawk is as fine a contribution to the western genre as the present century has made; but viewers hoping for something as wholesome as Shane or even The Searchers are likely to find that Bone Tomahawk makes some fairly extreme demands on audience stomachs with its graphic and gory depictions of the troglodytes’ atrocities. This astounding outing was written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, a man whose slim résumé would hardly suggest that his first movie as a director would be such an undisputable masterpiece. “I believe those fleas are alive – and talented,” Chicory says in fond remembrance of a flea circus he once attended; and similar words could characterize this grumpy reviewer’s experience of watching Bone Tomahawk – which, if nothing else, demonstrates that the perverted parasites of the movie industry can from time to time still create a thing of actual beauty and earn the money they grab from the goyim.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Bone Tomahawk is well worth seeing and:

4. Flat-Earther! The flatness of the terrain crossed by the posse causes Chicory to give voice to his doubt about the roundness of the planet.

3. Pro-marriage. Bone Tomahawk presents multiple touching examples of loving marriages. It is O’Dwyer’s devotion to his wife that drives him to drag himself to the end of his adventure.

2. Christian. Characters dismissive of faith are disproportionately the ones who meet with unpleasant ends. “You can always sell ‘em to some idiot,” doomed thief David Arquette says in defense of the Bible. The likable Chicory is a Christian, as is O’Dwyer, who calls on God for strength as he drags his tired body toward what threatens to be a suicidal raid on the troglodytes’ lair. “This is what I prayed my whole life for – for help right now.” He crosses himself on finding his wife still alive, his faith in God’s existence seeming to have been confirmed. Sid Haig’s bandit, who hypocritically demands that the Bible be treated with respect while he goes about cutting sleeping men’s throats and steals their possessions, does, however, illustrate that mere profession of Christianity is no definite indication of merit.

1. Racist! The only advantage the “four doomed men” of the posse have against the troglodytes, Sheriff Hunt announces, is that they are smarter than the subhumans. The cave-dwellers are grotesque, with animal bone piercings, and, in addition to being cannibals, blind and incapacitate their females, using them only for reproduction. This is implicitly contrasted with the comparatively high standing women have enjoyed in western civilization. The men of the frontier town of Bright Hope are respectful toward Mrs. O’Dwyer, who has even been able to study medicine and doctor the locals. Women of the twenty-first century, Bone Tomahawk would seem to suggest, would probably not be wise in welcoming white men’s eclipse in the world. Perhaps to mitigate the white-vs.-brown premise, the troglodytes appear smeared in a whitish clay pigment; while, in another ass-covering gesture, the movie includes a distinguished Indian character called “The Professor” (Fargo Season 2’s Zahn McClarnon) who explains that the troglodytes are inbred and “something else entirely” from typical Native Americans.

Brooder, who remains an arrogant but nonetheless likable character throughout the film, shoots two Mexicans who approach the posse’s camp, suspecting them of being the scouts for a raid. “Mr. Brooder just educated two Mexicans on the meaning of Manifest Destiny,” Chicory explains to O’Dwyer, who asks if they deserved it. “I don’t know,” Chicory answers with meaningful ambiguity. An ethnomasochist in the audience at a question-and-answer session with the cast and crew (included on the DVD as an extra) refers to Brooder as a psychopath; but nothing whatsoever in the film suggests this. Brooder is a good and ultimately selfless man in spite of what Chicory anachronistically characterizes as his “bigotry”. There is an awareness and an appreciation in Bone Tomahawk that in the construction of civilizations, unpleasant actions must sometimes be taken so that the greater good can be secured.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Little Bit Zombie poster

Steve (Kristopher Turner) and Tina (Crystal Lowe) are, despite their cutesy neuroses, happy together and engaged to be married in a week.  The only problem is that Steve is starting to get cold feet – literally – after a plague-carrying mosquito bites him and turns him into a brain-craving corpse.

Neither the first nor the last romantic comedy to consider itself cleverly different and adorable for featuring a zombie in love, A Little Bit Zombie does nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the horror comedy pack.  With its derivative ideas, cloyingly broad comedy, indomitable preciousness, and the nearly nonstop yammering of Lowe as the shrewish, controlling Tina, A Little Bit Zombie is, sadly, a little bit of a chore to endure.  Even the gratuitous gross-out humor, including an homage to Bloodsucking Freaks, gets old before very long.

The film does, however, have a polished look to it, and supporting players Kristen Hager and Shawn Roberts (who resembles a muscular Seann William Scott) are attractive and fun in their respective roles as Steve’s sarcastic sister Sarah and macho, raunchy buddy Craig.  Stephen McHattie (a poor man’s Lance Henriksen) is also picturesque as rugged, no-nonsense zombie-hunter Max.  Still, it can hardly be said to count in a film’s favor when the mosquito that bites the protagonist is one of the most sympathetic characters.  Consequently, ICA advises potential viewers to skip it and watch Warm Bodies (2013) instead.

2.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Little Bit Zombie is:

14. Pro-gay.  “I support your decision,” Craig jokingly says of the idea of a hypothetical homosexual zombie wedding.  (cf. no. 5)

13. Anti-religion.  “Holy fuck, dude.”

12. Anti-German.  Craig, overhearing talk of shit-eating, asks if the reference is to Germans.

11. Pro-wigger.  “My bad,” concedes Max.  “Thug life,” comments Craig at Tina’s plan to abduct a stranger for Steve’s nourishment.

10. Gun-ambivalent.  Firearms are fetishized in picturesque moments, but are not employed with consistent wisdom.

9. Anti-obesity.  More than one fat zombie meets with flippant disposal.

8. Anti-family.  It is at Steve’s family’s cottage where the fatal bite occurs.  Steve has a dream mocking stereotypical 1950s domestic bliss.  Craig makes reference to Steve’s “fuckin’ freak family” and also calls them the Manson Family.  Max’s father left him to fend for himself in a Filipino jungle.  He says he would unhesitatingly shoot his mother in the face if she became infected with the plague.

7. Drug-ambivalent.  Craig and Sarah are both secret smokers.  Drinking makes a dupe susceptible to abduction.  One drunk urinates on another.

6. Anti-police.  Tina suggests that they ensnare a police officer so Steve can eat his brain.

5. Anti-redneck.  A local yokel sits outside and stares with open-mouthed fascination at the sun.  Craig calls eccentric meat market proprietor and gun aficionado Capt. Cletus “Admiral Redneck”.  Cletus refers to Craig as a “queer-lookin’ feller”.

4. Un-p.c.  Steve kills a rabbit by biting into its skull.  A “team-building” exercise is described as “retarded”.  Craig more than once calls Steve a “gay-ass zombie”.  “I hate the Portuguese,” Tina confesses.  Max calls a hybrid a “fucking hippie car.”

3. Feminist.  “I could teach you to cook,” Tina offers, eliciting a disgusted sigh from Sarah.  The pair outsmarts a “big scary guy” by using their womanly wiles.  Women fight and wield guns with comfort and effectiveness.

2. Pro-castration, celebrating the sensitive, wimpy man in Steve, a fellow for the “workplace conflict resolution initiatives” who allows his fiancée to micro-manage his life.  Craig, after playing the macho man and advising Steve to “grow some nads”, wimpily asks him not to tell Sarah that he smokes.  He also cops out in the end and apologizes for calling Steve a “gay-ass zombie”.

1. Pro-marriage.  Tina sticks by Steve despite his disconcerting condition.

 

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Java Heat poster

This innocuous fix of action exotica has renegade American counterterrorism agent Jake Wilde (obnoxiously handsome model type Kellan Lutz) sojourning in Indonesia in his hunt for the culprit in a string of international terrorist bombings. In a scenario reminiscent of Red Heat and The Kingdom, the irreverent, charmingly ugly American is teamed as an action odd couple with totally serious Indonesian counterpart Lieutenant Hashim (Ario Bayu). Naturally, this far-fetched pairing allows for corny intercultural bonding and mutual respect to develop as the two must set aside their differences if they are to rescue an abducted sultana (Atiqah Hosiholan) and save Lieutenant Hashim’s family from capitalo-terrorist Malik (Mickey Rourke, who tops himself for sleazy weirdness). Java Heat milks its colorful Indonesian locations to pleasing effect, lending to every scene a degree of novelty, and never slows down long enough to be less than amusing.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Java Heat is:

10. Antiwar. Wilde’s younger brother, who joined the military to follow admiringly in his footsteps, is a casualty of the War on Terror.

9. Feminist. A female university student suggests that the sultana’s accession to the throne has been sabotaged for sexist reasons.

8. Anti-slut. Hookers are untrustworthy creatures. Their lifestyle is one of degradation, torture, and personal ruin.

7. Anti-drug. A nightclub slut slips a mickey into Wilde’s drink.

6. Anti-gay. Malik is a pederast. Wilde rebuffs the offer of ladyboy companionship.

5. State-skeptical/media-critical. A self-aggrandizing general plays to the media and stages a raid for publicity. News reports unjustly vilify Lieutenant Hashim.

4. Anti-capitalistic. Behind the highly publicized bogeymen of the War on Terror lies a cynical profit motive for conflict. Malik is the personification of western exploitation of Third World countries.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Wilde is initially a suspect in what is believed to have been the sultana’s death because he flirted with her at a royal soiree. He also has encounters with Indonesian hooker/masseuse types.

2. Pro-family. Wilde and Hashim, a model father, are both motivated by family-oriented grievances.

1. Multiculturalist. “We’re not all terrorists.” Like The Kingdom, Java Heat is at great pains to persuade western viewers that not all Muslims are evil and violent. Toward this end, the film presents an idyllic portrait of Lieutenant Hashim’s happy domestic existence and and his family’s hospitality. As always, the multicultural experience is a humbling one for the Caucasian and particularly for the American, who discovers that he is not so exceptional. “Americans. You are like children.” To Indonesians, an American is only a “bule dog”, or stupid white person. “From now on, we play by my rules. Java rules,” Hashim informs Wilde after getting the best of him in a physical altercation. Hashim embodies the film’s attempt to show that, along with the legendary corruption, the Third World also boasts truly devoted civil servants, dispelling Wilde’s colleague’s assertion that, “They’re all dirty in that country.” Indonesia, though plagued by terrorism, is depicted as representing a potentially peaceful realization of a multicultural society, with Hashim and a Christian colleague on the police force interacting as cultural equals.

Baseball’s black deity, Jackie Robinson, gets the big screen treatment again in 42; and, with the exception of some suspensefully staged ball-playing sequences, it is a thoroughly pedestrian, by-the-numbers portrait of an uninteresting but inspirational figure who is less a living, breathing human being than the inspirational embodiment of an inspirational ideal.  For the most part, this inspirational film is a repetitive series of inspirational scenes in which whites express schock, hostility, and ultimately admiration as the inspirational Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) encounters and inspirationally overcomes racist adversity; provides inspiration to fellow blacks; or inspirationally embraces his wife (Nicole Beharie) and tells her he loves her – all as the mandatory inspirational strings and brass inspirationally swell and soar at appropriately inspirational moments.

Chadwick Boseman, who resembles a young Wesley Snipes, is adequate but less than revelatory in the role of Jackie Robinson; although, to be fair, such lackluster material would probably challenge and stump any actor to make something interesting of it.  The same goes for Nicole Beharie as his wife and Andre Holland as sportswriter Wendell Smith.  Geriatric, bespectacled Harrison Ford affects (?) a raspy grumble as color-blind Branch Rickey, the lovable old voice of morality at the heart of the film, and is probably 42‘s most notable asset.

Unfortunately, writer-director Brian Helgeland has some things to learn about crafting crowd-pleasing narratives of racial emancipation in these post-Django times.  For instance, in a locker room scene, Robinson confides to fellow Dodger Ralph Branca (Hamish Linklater) that he waits and showers after his teammates rather than joining them because he wants to avoid making any of them uncomfortable.  Inexplicably and inexcusably omitted is what ought, again in this post-Django age, to be the obligatory reference to why Robinson defers in the matter of showers.  The truth, of course, as every intelligent viewer of 42 must know, is that the wise and humble Robinson fears frightening the scurrying whites by unparking his jurassic prick – and yet, when Branca eventually persuades Robinson to shower with them, nothing so much as a bug-eyed reaction shot or a double-take is inserted to indicate the inspirational monstrousness of our hero’s penis.

In simpler, happier, less degraded times, Helgeland penned one of this reviewer’s favorite horror films, 1988’s 976-Evil.  One can only assume that his fee for that script was an infinitesimal fraction of the price he commands as a screenwriter today in the Hollywood major leagues; and yet, to have fallen from those satanic teen horror heights of the 1980s to churning out boring p.c. fluff to indoctrinate the masses demands serious consideration of one implacably flame-engulfed question: is the money really worth it? – for what shall it profit a screenwriter if he gain Hollywood and lose his individuality in the process?

2.5 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 42 is:

9. Anti-Catholic.  A Catholic youth group’s sanctimonious meddling loses adulterous Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) his job.

8. Pro-marriage/pro-family.  Them was differnt times, y’understand.

7. Anti-science.  Study of human biodiversity is made the stuff of mockery when one pressman laughs at another for suggesting that blacks’ longer heel bones give them an unfair physical advantage in baseball.

6. Capitalist – albeit probably inadvertently.  42 presents a sympathetic portrait of businessman Branch Rickey, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  While Rickey’s motive for integrating baseball is, as he explains, motivated by his desire to right a moral wrong, he is also taking the risk to satisfy the niche market of black baseball fans.  More importantly, 42 demonstrates the ability of the market to regulate civility and race relations without the interference of government agencies.  When Robinson’s old team the Kansas City Monarchs stops at a filling station and the attendant forbids him to use the whites-only restroom facilities, Robinson threatens on behalf of the club to take their business elsewhere – so that the attendant, fearful of losing the money these black customers represent, relents and allows Robinson to relieve himself.  Viewers are thus reminded that before affirmative action and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there were healthy competition, choice, and consequently stronger private property rights.

5. Multiculturalist/pro-wigger.  In an inspirational turn, more and more whites respond positively to Robinson’s inspirational trailblazing.  Rickey relates to Robinson an anecdote about how he saw a young white boy at play and pretending he was Robinson – a white boy wanting to be like a black man!  How . . . inspirational.

4. Anti-South/anti-white.  Florida hicks threaten to attack a house where Robinson is staying.  Throughout 42, the southerner’s drawl might as well be the mark of the Beast, and there is actually a character listed in the credits as “Cracker”.

3. Black supremacist.  A previously skeptical racist, after seeing him play, concedes that Robinson might after all be a “superman”.  A reporter speculates that blacks will run whites right out of the game.  A little black boy (Dusan Brown) who shows up occasionally for cutesie points, always starry-eyed over Jackie Robinson, demonstrates blacks’ superior vocabulary by saying “discombobulated”.

2. Christian.  Rickey invokes the Bible more than once and compares the necessities of Robinson’s task to the prescriptions of Jesus Christ.  “Life Is a Ball Game”, the gospel song that plays as the credits roll, informs viewers that Jesus is waiting for Robinson at the home plate.

1. Anti-racist/anti-fascist/progressive (i.e., pro-yawn).  A trite narration opens the film, perpetuating the myth of the “greatest generation”, celebrating America’s “victory” over fascism in WW2, and explaining to the audience how blacks, despite being especially responsible for this “victory”, returned home only to face the atrocities of Jim Crow era segregation.  Rickey later equates the war against the Nazis with the civil rights struggle at home, the implication being that racist southerners and other internal opponents of integration are just like the Nazis – an enemy to be destroyed.  A group of racist teammates creates a petition objecting to Robinson’s presence in their game, dubbing this document the “Brooklyn Dodger Declaration of Independence” and in this way associating the country’s slave-owning founders with a heritage of racism shared by the KKK and the Nazis.  “A Jew probably wrote that,” racist Phillies manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) scoffs when confronted with an editorial scolding him for his shameful baiting of Robinson – a reminder that blacks and Jews are in it together when it comes to combating and exorcising the pale racist specter that haunts America.

Part I of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler in Ideological Content Analysis: A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective of the Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

A relatively restrained Adam Sandler stars as Robbie Hart, a man who a few years previously (to The Wedding Singer‘s retro present, 1985) dreamed of rock renown, but has settled into a less than high-rolling existence as a schmaltzy performer at weddings and currently lives in his sister’s basement.  With his own marriage around the corner, however, things appear to be going well for the personable entertainer – that is, until his shallow fiancee (Angela Featherstone) stands him up on their wedding day, sending him into emotional doldrums that threaten his qualifications and livelihood as a mood-enhancer and spirit-lifter for hire at nuptials.  Fortunately, Robbie’s outlook brightens when he befriends pretty waitress Julia Sullivan (cuddly Drew Barrymore); the only problem is that Julia, while clearly perfect for Robbie, is instead engaged to sleazy, self-absorbed womanizer Glenn (Matthew Glave).

One of the top romantic comedies of 1998, The Wedding Singer  deservedly charmed its way into audiences’ hearts as the perfect date movie, irresistibly sweet for the girls but funny and occasionally gross for the guys.  Sandler’s magic soft-spoken chemistry with Barrymore is uncanny and ought to have spawned more than a mere two films featuring the pair.  This one at least stands as a monument to what Sandler can do with (mostly) tasteful comic material, marred only here and there by hopelessly crude, cheap laughs at the expense of foul-mouthed and feel-copping elderly people.  Brief, atrocious bits like the notorious rapping granny can be forgiven in the light of everything The Wedding Singer does with simple, economically heartwarming panache.

4 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Wedding Singer, in addition to being a superlative romantic comedy, is:

7. Pro-gay.  In one of The Wedding Singer‘s several moments of ass-grabbery, two men are seen slow-dancing, holding each other by the glutei maximi.  Robbie’s womanish bandmate and Culture Club aficionado George (Alexis Arquette) is a grotesque but endearing figure.

6. Anti-drug, in the fine 80s tradition.  More than one character vomits after drinking alcohol.  Robbie only turns to Sneaky Pete out of despair, and wakes up after his night of imbibing in a compromising position.  Neither he nor Julia is a habitual drinker.

5. Anti-materialistic/anti-capitalistic.  Robbie makes an abortive attempt at yuppiedom to compete with Glenn, but finds himself unprepared for the gray suit-and-tie existence.  As a representative of the financial world, Glenn is naturally a complete scumbag.

4. Anti-slut.  Julia objects to the idea of tongue-kissing at her wedding, insisting that at the most there might be a little conservative “church tongue”.

3. Traditionalist/pro-family.  A point of contention between Robbie and his ex-fiancee is his intention to raise a family in his hometown.  He maintains close relations with his surviving family members.

2. Pro-miscegenation.  The entire plot revolves around the cutely inevitable union of Robbie, an undisguised Jew, and flaxen-haired, cherub-cheeked Julia.  Also, Hart’s Jewishness in conjunction with his Anglo-Saxon surname suggest a mixed ancestry.  Two extras, a black man and a white woman, are seen entering a club together.

1. Pro-marriage.  A romantic comedy titled The Wedding Singer could hardly be otherwise.  Robbie’s brother-in-law confides that passion can fade after years of mundane married life, but an elderly couple celebrating their anniversary demonstrate that marriages can also endure.

Tyler Perry, wearing men’s clothes for a change, plays the titular Detroit police detective in this adequate serial killer thriller.  Cross, along with partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns), comes up against a worthy adversary in a sadistic assassin (Matthew Fox) dubbed “Picasso” for his eccentricity of leaving charcoal drawings as signature clues.  The leads are serviceable, with Fox turning in an intense performance, but the script is uninteresting.  Neither woefully dull nor particularly memorable, Alex Cross is a passable evening’s diversion, but hardly essential action viewing.  It earns 3 out of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Alex Cross is:

12. Anti-corporate/philanthropy-skeptical.  European magnate Monsieur Mercier (Jean Reno), who poses as the industrial savior of Detroit, is actually just a criminal and murderer.

11. Anti-drug.  Mercier’s assistant is a drug addict.

10. State-skeptical/ambivalent.  The police chief (John McGinley) is running for mayor and so speaks in platitudes and thinks only of what will benefit him politically rather than what will protect the citizens.  The federal government, however, receives an endorsement when Cross and Tommy decide to apply for gigs with the FBI.

9. Anti-military/anti-torture.  Cross, going by the killer’s refinement of torture techniques, guesses that Picasso is ex-military.  “Inflicting pain is a crucial part of my true calling,” the killer says later, seeming to validate Cross’s hypothesis.

8. Feminist.  When Tommy surmises from a victim’s lavish lifestyle that the woman must have had a rich man in her life, his tough girlfriend/colleague Monica (Rachel Nichols) objects, “Is that your only idea for how a woman could get money?”  “It was very sexy to be saved by a beautiful woman,” one of the Germans (Werner Daehn) flirts.

7. Pro-police.  With the exception of top brass, policemen are honest and hardworking.

6. Pro-vigilante.  Notwithstanding the above, Cross and Tommy find it necessary to throw out the rulebook and do things their own way, breaking into a station at night and stealing evidence.  Cross understandably has personally motivated vengeance in mind after his wife is killed.

5. Christian.  Cross’s name suggests the special relationship of blacks with God and Christian suffering, and the character is an appropriately spiritual man, retreating to a chapel for meditation after the death of his wife.  Blacks enjoy singing a hymn at a funeral (“I sing because I’m free” – from slavery, presumably, in black-run Detroit).

4. Multiculturalist.  Alex Cross celebrates the contributions to law enforcement of blacks, other minorities, women, and even whites.  The friendship the protagonist shares with partner Tommy Kane handily demonstrates the multiculturalist ideal of color-blind brotherhood.  (Together they eat at McDonald’s, probably worthy of their patronage and of mention in the film because of its progressive 365Black promotion.)  Detroit appears as a mostly orderly and suprisingly Caucasian multicultural city.  Mrs. Cross (Carmen Ejogo) even puts in an endorsement for the city’s post-apocalyptic public schools when she voices reluctance to move because it would mean taking her children out of Detroit’s public institutions of learning.  “I have no idea what the public school system is like in D.C.,” she worries.  (Could it be worse?)  Glimpses of the actual Detroit occur, however, in a few ruined buildings and abandoned theaters like the Michigan Palace, once home to rock bands like Iggy and the Stooges, but now just a picturesque parking garage.  Also, an indication of the city’s real crime problem is given when Tommy says, “Witnesses?  This is Detroit.  Nobody’s sayin’ anything.”

3. Anti-white male.  Apart from Tommy, white men are either dishonest, incompetent, cowardly, rude, or psychotic.  The white male as usual furnishes the profile of America’s typical terrorist threat.  Picasso’s close haircut also reminds viewers to be aware of the undying skinhead menace.  A group of German security guards illustrates the tight-assed, “Ja wohl”-spitting constipation of personality to which whites are prone when left to themselves on whole continents for centuries (and also the inferiority of private security contractors to public authorities like Cross).

2. Pro-family/pro-marriage.  Cross is a model husband and father.

1. Black supremacist.  Alex Cross is the sort of character one only encounters in the movies: the hyper-intelligent, cultured, spiritual, upstanding black citizen, family man, badass, invaluable public servant, and super-sleuth who could probably catch Sherlock Holmes napping on the job.  Alex Cross is the paragon Shaft only dreams of emulating, a character who exists not in any recognizable reality, but solely for the purpose of salving blacks’ insecurities as to what they like to imagine is their superiority in every category of human or animal endeavor.  He inhabits a fantasy world in which black people practice at the piano, play chess, eat in fancy restaurants, and respectfully say, “Yes, Ma’am” to their elders.  Also possessed of Lecter-like superhuman senses that enable him, through faint odors or minute stains, to divine everything his wife has eaten or what errands she has run during her day, Cross is uniquely suited to perfectly, almost psychically, reconstruct crime scenes.  “It’s like working with sixth-graders with you two,” he tells colleagues.  One assumes that his penis is also quite large when he makes a condescending reference to Tommy’s “little chip”.  An establishing shot of a sculpture of the Madonna creates a parallel between Cross’s murdered pregnant wife and the mother of Jesus, hinting that the hero, if not for the evil meddling of his white antagonist, might have fathered a new messiah, which in turn would suggest that Cross, the son-sacrificing black man, is, as Jeremiah Wright would aver, the manifestation of God on Earth.

Nazis at the Center

From They Saved Hitler’s Brain and The Frozen Dead to The Boys from Brazil and, more recently, the gotterdammerung-awful Iron Sky, B-movies have gotten a lot of mileage out of the notion of the Fourth Reich – a return to power by fugitive Nazis who, during the decades intervening since their defeat in World War 2, are supposed to have been plotting and building their organization in some secret hiding place.  Just so that the movie industry can reassure itself that all of the possible bases of Nazi resurgence are covered, Nazis at the Center of the Earth opts for the opposite approach from its cohort Iron Sky, positing that the inevitable Nazi invasion will come not from outside the Earth’s atmosphere, but from within, under Antarctica’s frozen surface.  As in The Boys from Brazil, the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson) is the mastermind behind it all.

Nazis at the Center of the Earth, unfortunately, fares little better than Iron Sky; whereas that one groped for laughs with zany, unhumorous humor, Nazis at the Center of the Earth feels like a comedy with all of the jokes removed.  What funniness there is to be had from it derives from the premise, situations, and visuals: graphic but comfortingly absurd gore scenes and even a cyborg Adolf Hitler (James Maxwell Young), or at least the Fuhrer’s sneering head encased in a terrarium planted on top of a CGI robot body.  With the exception of Jake Busey’s singular turn as Antarctic bacteriological researcher Dr. Reistad, however, most of the actors play the material straight, with the result that the film has an uneven tone, ranging from the ridiculous to the incongruously serious.

Jake Busey, both physically and in his screen presence, is very much a chip off the famous old block, and one wishes he had more to do here than standing around looking odd, as Busey is easily Nazis at the Center of the Earth‘s greatest asset.  Basically competent technically, the film still comes up lacking in the entertainment department.  The gore effects are good, but not sufficiently plentiful to carry the day for horror fans; and whatever suspense is generated during the first half hour is dissipated once it becomes clear the story is going nowhere novel or fun.  The wax flake snow, the pedestrian score, the boring moralizing, and chintzy effects all might be forgiven if only this cheap exploitation effort had acknowledged its roots and gone for the throat with the gore or included some sexy material – or, better yet, some humor in the form of one-liners or comedic characters instead of a generalized, intermittent, and anticlimactic absurdism.

2 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Nazis at the Center of the Earth is:

7. Conspiracy theory-friendly.  All those kooks who wrote those books about Nazi flying saucer experiments were right!

6. Euthanasist.  The unfortunate Dr. Maynard (Adam Burch) is kindly put out of his misery by one of his colleagues after being discovered with all of his skin removed.

5. Pro-life/anti-slut.  Dr. Reistad, learning from his girlfriend that she is pregnant, knocks her out and extracts the embryo for its stem cells, which are used to revive the Fuhrer’s head.

4. Zionist.  Dr. Blechman (Andre Tenerelli), captured by the Nazis and identified by Mengele as a Jew, denies this, saying, “No, I’m not religious.”  He is vaporized anyway, having failed to understand that the Nazis and probably WASPs and other gentiles generally hate Jews not because they practice Judaism, but because they are Semites and a biological abomination.  Implicit in Blechman’s punishment is a validation of militant Jewish vigilance.

3. Pro-marriage.  Dr. Morgan (Dominique Swain) accepts when Dr. Moss (Joshua Michael Allen) proposes to her.

2. Anti-Christian.  Hitler seems to be the most religious person in Nazis at the Center of the Earth.  “The Lord of the Universe has been so generous to us in recent years that we bow in gratitude before a Providence that has permitted us to be members of such a great nation,” he proclaims after coming back to life.

1. Anti-racist/anti-fascist/anti-eugenics, etc. (i.e., pro-yawn).  “Bomb every non-Aryan country!” Hitler commands, intending to wipe out the untermensch with flesh-eating bacteriological warheads.  “We are about to start a New World Order where only the strong will survive,” Dr. Mengele explains.

Set aboard a melodrama-plagued pleasure cruise, writer-director Je’Caryous Johnson’s soulful examination of love among African-American couples and singles benefits in energy from being a filmed production of a live play as opposed to a conventional film.  Johnson is a talented jokester with a heart and creates compelling characters brought to vibrant life by an emotionally present and engagingly boisterous all-black cast.  Think Neil Simon keepin’ it real.

A neurotic tension and sense of panic constantly inform Love Overboard, with Johnson portraying African-Americans as a people ever prey to the supernatural forces in their lives, their bodies the eternal, intensely contested battleground of spiritual warfare as they navigate between their fear of God and obsession with sexual satisfaction.  Two types of entity, appropriately, are apostrophized in Love Overboard: Jesus Christ and the male sexual organ.  Love Overboard gets so overheated at times, with a man and woman apparently unable to stop themselves from flying into each other’s arms and grinding in public in one instance, that it starts to make Three’s Company look like I Married Joan.  “Y’all think this is a leg I’m standin’ on, dontcha?  I gotta take my shoe off every time I go pee.”

Running the gamut from shockingly crude to genuinely touching, Love Overboard front-loads most of the bawdy humor and concentrates in its second and third acts on depicting in very human terms people fraught with insecurities and struggling seriously with their relationships, their values, and faith.  The subject of marriage especially frightens and frustrates everyone on the ship.  Those who already are married wonder if staying together is worth the trouble; those unmarried fear the commitment.  Can healthy, excitingly black sex thrive within the constraining cage of a monogamous matrimony?

The ensemble cast is consistently praiseworthy in imbuing the various threads of the story with zany life.  Everyone involved in the production is either highly expressive in speech or song or excels at physical comedy.  Zacardi Cortez, who plays Big Daddy, has the most affecting musical moment; while Rhona Bennett and Tammy Townsend are probably most tender among the women as they hold their end of the line in this floating battle of the sexes.  Je’Caryous Johnson’s humor and humanity as it comes across in his writing probably has the best claim to top billing, however.  Recommended without reservation.  4.5 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Love Overboard is guaranteed fun and:

6. Anti-gay.  An opening monologue mocks San Francisco Christians.

5. Black Uber Alles.  Racial solidarity seems to be of importance.  Oprah’s book recommendations are valued.  “You rollin’ with Obama?” a woman asks, hearing that one of the men works for the Department of Homeland Security.  Women want a man like Obama: “fine”, “intelligent”, and “able to protect me.”  “Chocolate’s out now that Barack is in,” a lighter-skinned man teases a darker one.  Characters enjoy their own and others’ variations of flavor and blackness.

4. Capitalist.  Despite the suggested endorsement of President Obama, the characters give every evidence of not buying into his demagogic desecration of the American dream.  These are people who, rather than playing the victim and begging for coddling by the welfare state, have succeeded or failed according to their own talents and decisions.  One runs a car dealership; another is a stripper; all work for a living or aim to do so.  “Life is what you make it,” Russell (Khalil Kain) observes; or, “Take yo ass to work,” as Johnson puts it bluntly elsewhere in his screenplay.

4. Anti-miscegenation.  Vianessa Castanos warrants special mention for her role as the Latin temptress who threatens black marital stability and wins a unique award from Ideological Content Analysis for displaying the GREATEST CLEAVAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.

3. Traditionalist/pro-family.  “This is a family cruise,” the opening monologue explains, raunchy content notwithstanding.  A pregnant woman refrains from drinking and wants her child to have a good man for a father.  One character does, however, reveal herself to have been horribly wronged by a family member.

2. Christian.  Buck wild though they may long to get, these are people with a fear of God.  “The body according to the Word should be governed by modesty,” pious Lea (Rhona Bennett) reminds herself.

1. Pro-marriage.  Divorce is discouraged.  Couples having troubles should work it out for themselves and for their children’s sake.   The “hit it and quit it” lone wolf mentality loses its appeal with maturity.

Though not the first film to draw the parallel between crime-infested Los Angeles and the Wild West of legend (high-rolling drug-runners are dubbed “cowboys” by the police), End of Watch is easily the most frightening and realistic of these and probably the most urgent and unsettling plea for drug legalization yet produced by Hollywood.  The film follows young beat cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) as they patrol and try to protect the streets of South Central, with Taylor’s amateur video footage documenting their daily duties.

In his voice-over introduction, Taylor explains that, while he might not necessarily agree with the laws his job obligates him to enforce, he does, nonetheless, very forcefully enforce the laws.  He thus introduces the strong element of grayness and human complexity into what is an extremely sympathetic portrait of public servants who, while flawed and given to unprofessional and irrational behavior, are good men genuinely concerned with the safety of the citizenry.  Taylor and Zavala thrive on machismo and drive without fastening their safety belts – in more than one sense – so that the viewer is constantly in fear for their lives even when they themselves are not.

More than the usual regimen of danger and crisis awaits them when their beat duties intersect with shocking evidences of Mexican drug cartel strength and encroachments.  (One black thug voices real anxiety over demographic change and the supplanting or extinction of his kind from the Mexican influx.)  By not shying away from confronting what proves to be a larger and better-organized, more vicious and immediate menace than both men realize, they soon find themselves on the prey side of the street jungle equation and end up having to fight just to try to get out with their lives.  “Spent most of his time as a teenager on the most troubled streets of South Central Los Angeles,” reads the trivia section of writer-director David Ayer’s IMDb profile – of which End of Watch is an ample proof.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that End of Watch is:

7. Cristo-ambivalent.  Mike Zavala derives meaning and structure from faith, but the Christianity practiced by the cartel “cowboys” is devoid of morality and has its gaudy roots sunk in grotesque pagan ritual.

6. Pro-miscegenation.  Zavala suggests that Taylor should marry a nice Mexican girl.

5. Politically incorrect/arguably racist/anti-Negro.  Taylor and Zavala good-naturedly rib each other with race-based humor.  Ayer is careful to provide positive depictions of Hispanics to counterbalance the savagery of the Mexican cartel primitives, but blacks, also largely criminal, are more than once depicted as lacking parental competence.  A lazing black officer is also the butt of Taylor’s practical joke.

4. State-skeptical.  The drug war is a failure.  Federal agents are suspiciously secretive and mostly unseen players in the story, but more than once appear to be omnipresent.

3. Pro-marriage/pro-family.

2. Antiwar – in this case, the drug war.  The violence, the product of the gangster-empowerment resulting from prohibition, is always disorienting and unpleasant rather than cartoonishly entertaining.

1. Pro-police.

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