Archives for posts with tag: pro-vigilante

Baytown Outlaws poster

Prospective viewers may be disappointed to discover that ostentatiously billed Billy Bob Thornton has only a potty-mouthed supporting role as villain Don Carlos in this violent ersatz-Tarantino concoction disingenuously passing itself off as genuine good ol’ boy entertainment. The film concerns the reckless redneck exploits of the Oodie brothers, Brick (Clayne Crawford), Lincoln (Daniel Cudmore), and McQueen (Travis Fimmel), as they rip through an array of ridiculous comic book adversaries to rescue a handicapped teenager (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from Don Carlos’s clutches.

The Baytown Outlaws is lightning-paced and at times diverting, but too condescending and mean-spirited to squarely hit its target. Worse, its perpetrators (writer-director Barry Battles, is that your real name?) betray a disturbing moral confusion and an obvious disregard for human dignity and life, as typified by the scene in which one of the brothers accidentally shoots and kills a maid and says, “Oh shit. My bad, lady”, and then goes casually about his business. Flippant to excess, this one may appeal to ADHD-afflicted consumers of films of the Snatch or Cat Run type.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Baytown Outlaws is:

11. Drug-ambivalent. Don Carlos abuses pills. Liquor’s antiseptic quality comes in handy during a medical emergency. “You want one of these?” Brick asks, offering a minor a cigarette after a battle and telling the boy, “You earned it.”

10. Ostensibly Christian. Brick wears a cross on a necklace, but this fashion statement would appear to be the extent of how his faith expresses itself. The Oodies claim with sarcasm to have been in church while they were actually out raiding a residence and exterminating its occupants. “This Is Our Song”, a southern-fried hip-hop tune that plays over the end credits, says, “Folks round here still believe in God” and “Tell the government to leave my check and church alone”. A cross tattoo on a hitwoman suggests that the Christian content of the film is something less than sincere, however.

9. Anti-police. Celeste (Eva Longoria) wants peace of mind, “something the cops can’t give me,” she says. Officers catching sight of the Oodies locked in rowdy highway warfare turn a blind eye and give no pursuit.

8. Anti-corporate. “I kind of look at my future empire as the Wal-Mart of bottom dollar retail crime,” Don Carlos explains to impertinent underlings who have approached him about a raise. “I need stockers and cashiers and mercenaries and mules.”

7. Localist/pro-vigilante. The sheriff resists federal meddling and even eschews the law itself, maintaining the Oodies as his personal vigilante squad to keep criminals off the streets and spare the court system the trouble.

6. Gun-ambivalent. A t-shirt reads, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” The Oodies are poor poster boys for responsible handling of firearms, however, and kill several people by mistake.

5. Pro-immigration. Illegals are bright, talented, underappreciated professionals like nurses who, if given a chance, would be a boon to the U.S. What is more, they are whites’ intellectual betters. “Your ignorance is unbelievable,” a valiant wetback bimbo tells Brick when he says, “You’re a nurse. You oughtta be helpin’ people,” and suggests she become naturalized. “Your country doesn’t make it that easy for us,” she complains.

4. Black supremacist. The black sheriff (Andre Braugher) enjoys sassing and establishing his mental superiority and official authority over whites. “Just do what you’re told,” he scolds a deputy. In a scene that is seemingly intended to draw an ironic humor from racial role reversal in view of the hoses that were once turned on civil rights agitators, the sheriff unsmilingly sprays a white child with a garden hose for no apparent reason and tells him, “I don’t even know you.”

3. Family-ambivalent/anti-marriage. “This Is Our Song” includes the line, “God and my family is all I need”; but, with the exception of the Oodies’ mutual loyalty, the representations of family relationships in the film are derogatory. The Oodies have “no known mother” and the irresponsibility of their father, an abusive Ku Klux Klansman, necessitated their being transferred to foster care. Don Carlos is another negative father figure whose relationship with Celeste has ended in violence. “There goes the longest relationship I ever had,” McQueen reflects after he and his brothers dispatch a bevy of biker hitwomen.

2. South-ambivalent. “Welcome to the South, motherfuckers!” The Baytown Outlaws is something of a Trojan horse where the South is concerned, any regional pride it evinces being superficial and devious. Brick Oodie, who, along with his brothers, seems never to bother changing his clothes, always wears a sleeveless shirt bearing the Confederate stars and bars – but, as with his cross, more as a fashion object than as a proclamation of political philosophy. The hell-raising, empty-headed redneck, forever the film industry’s favorite image for the perpetually stereotyped southern white male, appears in The Baytown Outlaws as a kind of cute, quaint, grotesque curiosity, something like a dog to be petted and encouraged in its animal eccentricities, but also restrained by a master’s leash. The redneck can be an endearing type and useful as long as his wild ways are harnessed by a black representative of the state made wise by his sufferings during the struggle for civil “rights”. That one of the brothers, a brutish mute, is named Lincoln may be interpreted either as a sarcastic joke or as an indicator that progress is being made in the South and that northern dictators now vie with General Lee in the christening of white trash children. Alabama, it is observed, has its own pace but is “behind the times”.

1. Un-p.c. and repeatedly racist! The Baytown Outlaws is an exercise in what is termed hipster racism, which occurs when progressives knowingly appropriate stereotypes for their own putatively innocuous purposes and so expect a free pass for their playful, winking insensitivity. The Baytown Outlaws strains the confines of this classification, however, with its depiction of a group of Indian assassins who scalp their victims and shoot arrows. There is also a pack of vicious, foul-mouthed blacks, one of whom feels compelled to warn another, “This time, try not to hit the motherfuckin’ baby.” Other instances of political incorrectness include the use of “faggoty”.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Kick-Ass 2

2010’s Kick-Ass advertised itself as presenting audiences with “A New Kind of Superhero”. What was new was the fact that, in that film, the hero nearly drops the ethnic disguise that crypto-Jewish predecessors – Batman, Superman, and others – had worn in winning the public’s heart. In adapting John Romita, Jr.’s comic book for the screen, Kick-Ass not only exposes but almost openly celebrates the Chosenness of its protagonist by transforming Dave Lizewski from the blond, Nordic-looking character of Romita’s creation into a curly-headed, bespectacled Jewish nebbish ably portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Hit-Girl, too – though her name is given as Macready, and despite being portrayed by Chloe Grace Moretz, a precocious actress who claims to come from a “very Christian” background – conveys a decidedly Judaic sensibility; and the character’s Jewishness goes overt in the scene in which she watches as her father, Nic Cage, conflagrates as a one-man Holocaust.

Kick-Ass poster

Kick-Ass 2 (2013), like its forebear, is filthy, foulmouthed, ultraviolent, and full of over-the-top bloodletting, but only half as engaging as the original Kick-Ass. For one thing, the novelty of the DIY hero idea is diluted by the fact that Kick-Ass 2 populates New York City with whole armies of would-be superheroes and villains, none of whom are fully developed characters as Kick-Ass and Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are in the first film.

Nor are matters helped by the fact that the entertainment-evaporating Morris Chestnut receives extra screen time as Hit-Girl’s tedious foster father Marcus, a straight-laced, sterling example of Africanus cinematicus who chides his young ward for her obscene language and institutes a swear jar penalty for every offense. Meanwhile, the toilet humor factor, as if to compensate for Kick-Ass 2’s lack of human interest, is ratcheted to the nth degree, with Kick-Ass and girlfriend Night Bitch (Lindy Booth) literally having sex in a toilet stall. The only other paltry attraction of note is Jim Carrey in his supporting turn as ridiculously mugging and slugging hero Col. Stars and Stripes.

Kick-Ass Chloe

Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass (2010)

Fortunately, Chloe Moretz is a few years older this time out, which softens the borderline pedophilia of the first film’s fetishization of Hit-Girl. Kick-Ass made explicit Hit-Girl’s forbidden appeal to older males, with her leather outfit, whore wig, short skirt, sensuous, sneering lips, and penchant for blowing kisses and using language like “cunts”, “motherfuckers”, and “giant cock”. One scene of the first film frames her against an erotic billboard advertisement with Claudia Schiffer, juxtaposing Hit-Girl’s juvenile form with that of the fully developed sex siren.

Kick-Ass Claudia

Hit-Girl inappropriately framed with Claudia Schiffer

Jane Goldman

Kick-Ass (2010) writer and devourer of innocents Jane Goldman

Kick-Ass screenwriter Jane Goldman, in the A New Kind of Superhero documentary included on the Kick-Ass blu-ray, refers cryptically to the “odd domesticity” between Hit-Girl and her father, a wording which casts a disconcertingly serious light on Hit-Girl’s meaning when she says, “I’m just fuckin’ with you, Daddy.” Kick-Ass 2 only reinforces this impression when Hit-Girl tells Marcus, “I know you see me as this little girl, but I’m not, and I never was. You’re right, Daddy did take my childhood away, but I’m not so sure that was a bad thing.”

Jeff Wadlow

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) writer-director-cryptographer Jeff Wadlow

2.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Kick-Ass 2 is:

10. Anti-Arab. Hit-Girl threatens to “go Saudi Arabia on your ass” before chopping a man’s hand off. A typically hypocritical Zionist warmonger, she engages in precisely the crimes of which she accuses the enemy. The Motherfucker’s henchmen commit an Islamic terrorist-style decapitation – which, like those supposedly performed by ISIS on Foley and Sotloff, never actually appears onscreen. (cf. no. 1)

9. Crypto-antichrist. Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewsky, though substantively Jewish, affects a veneer of Christian belief for gullible audiences, attending a Christian funeral ceremony for his father (Garrett M. Brown). Lizewsky’s irreverence toward his putative faith reveals itself, however, when he affects a comical pimp disguise with gaudy crucifix bling. On his bedroom wall, furthermore, is a poster advertising Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar’s comic book American Jesus, book one of which is titled “Chosen”. Military-minded Col. Stars and Stripes, meanwhile, is a born-again Christian who shows his faith and patriotism by dishing out beatings with his trusty baseball bat and barking orders like, “Yo, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain!” “I’ll be immortal, like an evil Jesus,” says the Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

8. Egalitarian/class-conscious. The wealthy Motherfucker and his minions are the “one percent”, with heroes coming from what remains of the middle class. “A family livin’ in the street deserves a hot meal,” opines Col. Stars and Stripes in his role of embodiment of the schizophrenic mental retardation that is Barack Obama’s America.

7. Multiculturalist, pro-miscegenation, and pro-wigger. Hit-Girl, an orphan, is raised by an Africanus cinematicus. Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), Kick-Ass’s girlfriend from the first film, breaks up with him and informs him that an African rival has a larger “baton”. Girls are encouraged to twerk and jerk to congoid booty-shaking beats.

6. Drug-ambivalent. Hit-Girl cut her teeth on the drug dealers she and her father targeted, but wins in the end of Kick-Ass 2 with the help of hypo full of adrenaline. Mr. Lizewsky is concerned that his son may be using drugs, but “an inebriated college girl deserves to make it home safe at night,” proclaims Col. Stars and Stripes.

5. Pro-gay. The Kick-Ass queer super-friends and allies include a token sodomite. Homophobic talk, the audience learns, “makes you sound super-gay.”

4. Misandrist and pro-castration. Hit-Girl beats up and mutilates a number of men. “In a weird way, I kinda liked it,” says Kick-Ass of being on the receiving end of Hit-Girl’s abuse. More than one male groin gets brutalized. Night Bitch devotes her career as a superheroine to stopping sexually predatory men.

3. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Would-be supervillain the Motherfucker is loose with the racially insensitive stereotypes, which he defends rather as “archetypes”. (cf. no. 10)

2. Anti-family. Chris D’Amico (Mintz-Plasse) accidentally murders his mother in a fit of rage. Then, after discovering her S&M gear, he repurposes the items as a bad guy costume and dubs himself the Motherfucker. Hit-Girl’s high school rival, a catty and unprogressive blonde bitch (Claudia Lee), only aspires to be a wife and mother. (also see above remarks on incest and pedophilia)

Join Fight

1. Zionist. “We were in the ultimate clique. It didn’t matter that no one else knew. We knew,” gloats a self-satisfied Kick-Ass. Supervillain and would-be “evil Jesus” the Motherfucker knows that Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl – which is to say, Zionist Jews – assassinated his father (Mark Strong) in the first film. The ‘Fucker’s mother (Yancy Butler), however, dismisses her son’s claims and insists that Mr. D’Amico simply “died in a fire.” The Motherfucker, then, stands in Kick-Ass 2 as an insulting caricature of all the disgruntled “conspiracy theorists”, a representative of the Gentile Spring and the ascendant minority of the angry and awakened gentiles who know that the Jews did 9/11.

Kick-Ass 2 contains what may be a cryptic admission of Jewish guilt for the 9/11 attacks, if considered together with the conclusion of the first Kick-Ass, which ends with gangster Frank D’Amico exploding into an orange fireball high outside a New York City skyscraper. In the sequel, the hero teams up with a new vigilante (Donald Faison) who goes by the name Dr. Gravity – a handle suggestive of the force dictating that what goes up must come down. Significantly, the scene in which “ultimate clique” member Kick-Ass and artificial force of nature Dr. Gravity beat down two street thugs with skinhead haircuts takes place outside a restaurant with a sign clearly visible at the top of the frame. “Since 1911,” it reads – a reference to 9/11/01?

China and Russia, both inconvenient geopolitical counterbalances to the implementation of a Jewish World Imperium, appear personified as antagonists Genghis Carnage (Tom Wu) and Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), best described as a female version of Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV. In another show of Jewish storytelling chutzpah, Col. Stars and Stripes’s German shepherd is suggestively named Eisenhower and wears a tacky American flag mask. The American president and Supreme Allied Commander of World War 2 is thus revealed as the Zionists’ pet, a faux-patriot Shabbos goy attack dog to be unleashed on the enemies of organized Jewry.

Lastly, the much-abused phrase “peace in the Middle East” occurs in the script as a reference point for something incredibly complicated, in the sense in which the proverbial “rocket science” is typically used. This, of course, obscures the fact that Americans, instead of subsidizing the Israelis’ genocide against the Palestinian people, would do better to further the aim of peace by cutting off Israel’s 3.5 billion-a-year in welfare checks.

Kick-Ass American Jesus

“Chosen”

Assault-On-Wall-Street-Dominic-Purcell

Prolific writer-producer-director Uwe Boll, best known for notoriously reviled horror films like House of the Dead (2003) and Alone in the Dark (2005), now taps into understandable populist rage at the crony capitalist establishment with the depressing Assault on Wall Street. Powerfully built Dominic Purcell, something of a poor man’s Clive Owen, stars as down-on-his-luck security guard Jim Baxford, who, after losing his job and his wife (Erin Karpluk) following her protracted illness and financial anxiety suicide, decides to diversify his portfolio with a little vigilante vengeance directed at the seemingly untouchable high-rollers and bankster exploiters he holds collectively responsible for his personal tragedy.

Purcell is adequately tough and earnest, if not particularly interesting, in the lead; but it is in two key supporting roles that Assault on Wall Street shows true inspiration in casting. An aging John Heard is the perfect choice to play number one on Baxford’s hit list: selfish, nihilistic toxic investment CEO Jeremy Stancroft. Even greasier, however, in a role one wishes had been expanded, is uber-oily Eric Roberts as money-grubbing attorney Patterson. Roberts has aged, if not quite gracefully, then fascinatingly, with a uniquely silverfish-like screen presence that ideally lends itself to high villainy. Other familiar faces in the cast include Keith David, Edward Furlong, and Michael Pare as Baxford’s buddies Freddy, Sean, and Frank.

Assault on Wall Street is a decent rental, but may disappoint vigilante fans by spending too much time (nearly an hour) on the humiliating build-up and not enough on the retribution so temptingly advertised in the title. Consequently, it earns a modest 3.5 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Assault on Wall Street is:

11. Pro-police. Cops are depicted as human types who share in the general plight and sympathize with Baxford’s mission.

10. Anti-slut. “I’m gonna get an STD from this sandwich,” Frank teases a waitress. Corporate bigwigs consort with whores.

9. Christ-ambivalent. While a preacher attempts consolation, mouthing, “God visits us with many mysteries in life,” Baxford rather takes to heart more militant Biblical passages such as, “He trains my hands for war” (cf. nos. 1 and 7)

8. Marriage-ambivalent. Baxford’s marriage is a devoted one and would, if not for her illness and his financial worries, be happy. Friend Frank’s wife, however, is a cheater.

7. Antiwar. Baxford is a veteran forgotten in his time of need by the country that used him. In reply to the idea that violence is not a solution, a caller to a radio program asks, “Isn’t violence the official solution in Iraq and Afghanistan?” (cf. nos. 1 and 9)

6. Postracial, with blacks and whites interacting as friends irrespective of racial differences. And to demonstrate that his is an equal opportunity beef, Baxford even liquidates a few blacks along with the many white guys in suits and ties.

5. Drug-ambivalent. Baxford smokes philosophically and his friends are enthusiastic drinkers. “Let’s go get some alcohol, make the pain go away.” Baxford, in the wake of his personal ruin, is invited to “watch the game and do some serious drinkin'” for therapeutic purposes. But a man is claimed in a news report to have died in a “drunken accident”.

4. Anti-state. The cronyist statist quo, or the “plutocratic capturing of American politics”, transcends Republican vs. Democrat squabbles, with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Chris Dodd, and Alan Greenspan getting name-dropped as culpable players. At a lower level of weaselliness, Assistant D.A. Marwood (Barclay Hope) insensitively brushes off Baxford’s concerns. That Baxford is able to purchase military wares from a black market gun dealer (Clint Howard) militates against the notion that government-mandated gun control is effective or enforceable. Betraying the movie’s mixed messages about the place of government, however, is the fact that deregulation is also blamed for the ’08 collapse.

3. Anti-corporate. “The real fuckin’ criminals –  they’re downtown [i.e., on Wall Street].” Goldman Sachs, MF Global, Cerberus Capital, JP Morgan, and Lehman Brothers are among the outfits that receive negative product placement.

2. Anti-capitalistic. “System’s rigged, motherfucker.” Told “Fuck you,” a banker calmly replies, “That’s a fair response, I suppose.” Free market talk conceals an “anything goes mentality”. “The rich still get richer and the poor get poorer.” Stancroft justifies his misdeeds with a social Darwinist outlook. “That’s the free trade system, my friend,” he says. “That’s capitalism.” “There’s not a person on this earth who’s worth over a hundred million dollars that came by that money honestly.” The film also evinces a naive sympathy for the homeless, juxtaposing their plight with the ease of the leisure class.

1. Pro-vigilante. Baxford is his own law, but also a people’s fury, and wears an Anonymous-reminiscent white mask for the final killing spree.

Do Not Disturb, previously released in 2010 as New Terminal Hotel (the latter version, according to IMDb, is thirteen minutes longer), marks a welcome return to the horror genre for character actor Stephen Geoffreys, who, after appearing in a handful of 80s classics like Fright Night and 976-Evil, took the (to say the least) unexpected career plunge of becoming a gay porn star and spent most of the 90s plumbing the depths of that smelly cinematic demimonde.

In Do Not Disturb, he plays Don Malek, an eccentric screenwriter living in a skid row apartment and driving his agent, Ava (Tiffany Shepis), to distraction by his refusal to do any work. She is apparently less concerned by the fact that Don is also murdering people. Malek, however, is, as it turns out, no run-of-the-mill serial killer, but an unorthodox and unusually refined variety of vigilante, taking matters into his own hands where karma would seem to have failed his sense of justice.

Geoffreys retains his familiar knack for muted, quirky intensity, his youthful impishness dampened here, however, by an air of defeat and experience that suits the characterization. The most mysterious person in Do Not Disturb, though, is not Don, the killer, but rather his agent, Ava, whose feelings and motives are questionable throughout the film. Tiffany Shepis is tough and consistently interesting as Ava, managing to make the character likable in spite of her harshness and unfeminine crudity. Ezra Buzzington, meanwhile, contributes a memorably disgusting performance as Spitz, Don’s perverted, handicapped neighbor.

BC Furtney’s direction is solidly simple, allowing the film to feel like a respectful adaptation of a stage play, with scenes consisting largely of two characters talking in a room. The strong cast, fortunately, ensures that this format is successful, maintaining tension and viewer interest. Add some nudity, gore, and squirmy, unnerving synthesizer music, and what results is a pleasant-enough black comedy suitable for late-night viewing.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Do Not Disturb is:

11. Xenophobic. An annoying Brit in a bar provides murder fodder.

10. Anti-state/anti-police. The world is an “Orwellian Babylon”. “Little cameras are watching us wherever we go now, aren’t they?” Police investigation annoys Don’s plans. The criminal justice system is unreliable. One of Don’s victims, a Hollywood bigwig, is said to have “killed that girl and we all know it.” “They don’t prosecute [rich, powerful] guys like Stanley.”

9. Anti-racist. Spitz makes a reference to a prostitute’s “nigger pimp”. His racism is presumably intended to add further justification to Don’s decision to murder him.

8. Anti-Christian. The Lord’s name is taken in vain. When Ava asks him, “Are you alone?”, Don asks, “In the universe?” It is apparently his disbelief in an afterlife or in divine retribution that drives him to vengeance (see also no. 5).

7. Media-critical. “Isn’t any press good press?” The detachment Ava displays when confronted with Don’s handiwork suggests a severe desensitization to violence. Is this the result of the industry in which she works?

6. Antiwar/anti-military. “Military service ain’t worth shit,” says wheelchair-bound Spitz, who complains about his medical expenses.

5. Subversive. “Join the workforce,” Don says sarcastically, to which Ava replies, “Be an upstanding citizen.” “God fearing,” Don adds (see also no. 8). A crummy end credits song, “Tables Turn”, threatens, presumably on behalf of degenerates everywhere, “We’re all gonna take you down.” Tattoos abound.

4. Drug-ambivalent. One writer is said to have a $400 daily drug habit. Another man’s predilection for cocaine leads to his death. Despite what is clearly the alcoholism of at least one character, Do Not Disturb buys wholly into the romance of the bottle and the picturesque hipness of drinking, with Geoffreys and Buzzington milking every drop of cool that they possibly can from the stage business of imbibing.

3. Feminist. “Don’t pull my dick,” says Ava, an exemplar of the mannish career woman. Men are more than once shown to behave as predators toward women and are, consequently, dispatched by Don.

2. Pro-vigilante. Don is a “strangely noble” murderer. The film evokes no sympathy for his victims.

1. Nihilist. Do Not Disturb, with its grim relativism, verges on the anti-human.

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.

Jack Reacher

A forgettably generic, silly, implausibly contrived mystery-thriller, Jack Reacher is nonetheless watchable and even enjoyable for starring the still remarkably gorgeous Tom Cruise, who retains a fascination that shines even through the most lackluster sorts of material.  He is at no point entirely convincing as the secretive, laconic drifter of the title, a man who moves from town to town with only one set of nondescript clothes and who, like Henry Fonda’s Tom Joad, will “be there” when trouble necessitates.

This adventure has Jack coming to the unlikely aid of psychotic Iraq war veteran James Barr (Joseph Sikora) who, in an apparent open-and-shut case, is the prime suspect in a seemingly random shooting spree.  Teaming with easy-on-the-eyes public defender Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), he has little difficulty getting himself into pickles that involve exciting car action and entertainingly cartoonish hand-to-hand combat.  He unearths an ornate conspiracy involving enigmatic one-eyed villain “the Zec” (Werner Herzog) and soon finds himself the subject of unfriendly attention from the police and various inept criminal minions.

Whether or not the film is a worthwhile waste of time will ultimately be determined by each viewer’s taste or distaste for Tom Cruise, who makes or breaks the innocuous Jack Reacher accordingly.  3.5 of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Jack Reacher is:

8. Anti-Christian.  A murderous thug (Vladimir Sizov) wears a gaudy crucifix.

7. Anti-slut.  Jack has standards.  A woman loose in her associations meets an unenviable end.

6. Anti-military/antiwar.  Four types of people enter the military: those following in a family tradition; patriots; people who need work; and those looking for a legal venue in which to commit murder.  Private security contractors in Iraq engage in something dubbed a “rape rally”.  Just as disillusionment with American activity in Vietnam trickled into the cinema with a proliferation of films about mentally unhinged veterans bringing the war home in Motor Psycho, The Ravager, Taxi Driver, Cannibal Apocalypse, First Blood, and others, the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are giving rise to a cinema of the Iraq psycho as evidenced by Savages, Jack Reacher, and probably more to come.

5. Gun-ambivalent.  The private gun owners who frequent Robert Duvall’s shooting range are characterized as poor marksmen and “touchy” about their Second Amendment rights.  Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me” plays at the range, reinforcing the brutish hick image for gun rights advocates.  Duvall, though he gives Jack some very useful information and tactical assistance, exhibits poor judgment of his patrons’ character when he says he “always liked” the insane Barr.

4. Leftist.  Cops never vote for Democrats, Jack suggests (though others might disagree).  The corrupt police in Jack Reacher are therefore, one assumes, supposed to be evil Republicans.  Public defenders are idealists working to protect the innocent citizenry.

3. Anti-police.  Police are corrupt and allow a suspect to be beaten brutally while in custody.  When Jack is wrongly suspected of a murder and hotly pursued by squad cars and a police helicopter, a friendly black man (who presumably understands from personal experience that police will frequently hound an innocent man) lends him his cap to help him make himself inconspicuous in a crowd.

2. State-skeptical.  Government pork spending is at the root of the conspiracy.

1. Pro-vigilante.  With police like these, who needs criminals?

I’m impressed with Andrew Garfield, who has exactly the geeky charm and wiry physique I remember Spidey having in the Marvel comic books.  The action sequences in this franchise reboot are adequate, but the Lizard, though played capably in human form by Rhys Ifans, is never quite convincing in full computerized mutation.  For the most part, though, The Amazing Spider-Man is as fun and exciting as might be hoped.  The casting of Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May is inspired, and a 2012 Miniskirt Queen of Aryan Purity Award goes to Emma Stone as irresistibly cute love interest Gwen Stacy.  Denis Leary, meanwhile, seems to have made a graceful transition to playing grumpy, older authority figures.  4 of 5 stars.

The Amazing Spider-Man is mostly politics-free fun.  Ideological Content Analysis, however, indicates that this film is:

7. Multiculturalist.  A diverse team of crane operators helps Spidey at the end.  Also, we learn that his famous mask was in fact inspired by a Mexican luchador’s.

6. Antiwar.  An executive at the unscrupulous Oscorp, which is an arms manufacturer in addition to its medical interests, intends to utilize a veterans’ hospital’s patients as guinea pigs for limb regeneration experiments – a reminder of the many mutilated bodies coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq.

5. Persistent in perpetuating the idea that angry white males pose a terrorist threat.

4. Anti-gun.  Guns, even when employed responsibly by police (which is not usually the case in this film), are ineffective.  One innocent character dies from a gunshot.

3. Genetic research-ambivalent.

2. Pro-vigilante/anti-police.

1. Leftist.  Uncle Ben, explaining to Peter his absent father’s moral philosophy, sums it up as, “Not choice – responsibility,” which captures the liberal mentality in a nutshell.

This has been a public service announcement of the Committee for Raising Emma Stone to a Pedestal for a Better View.

The Dark Knight Rises is flawed, but can hardly be faulted for not giving its all.  If anything, it feels like too much movie squeezed into too little time, so that nearly every scene in this long but fast-moving film feels abbreviated.  It probably would have needed to be at least twice its length to develop all of its ideas and tangents satisfactorily, and I wouldn’t have minded at all if that had been the case.  A gloomy, brooding opus with adult themes, this is by no means a superhero film for the kiddies, and it may not leave you with a smile on your face; it will, however, give you a lot to consider.  I give it 4.5 of 5 stars for its ambition, atmosphere, and awesomeness of vision.  So much power has never before been generated by the simple sight of an underdog climbing a wall in combination with rousing music.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Dark Knight Rises is:

7. Mildly pro-green.  Bruce Wayne looks forward to the day when a clean energy source can be safely unveiled for public consumption.

6. Feminist.  Catwoman repeatedly allows men to underestimate her and then takes advantage of them.

5. State-skeptical.  Authorities are too often given to self-aggrandizement and poor judgments.  The sinister Dent Act, meanwhile, has ushered in draconian measures to fight crime.

4. Pro-police.  Despite the above note, police are depicted as mostly admirable and self-sacrificing heroes.  They are, however, human, and some are prone to terrible errors.

3. Pro-vigilante.  Police aren’t always enough.

2. Persistent in perpetuating the idea that angry white males pose our scariest terrorist threat – with which many, after the recent massacre, would probably concur.

1. Capitalist.  Despite Michael Savage’s ignorant assertion that responsibility for the Aurora massacre belongs to this film and to Hollywood, “the ones who gave us Obama”, The Dark Knight Rises is actually a cautionary tale about the bankruptcy of class warfare politics and where it leads a society.  Despite the initial, naive flirtation of some characters with wealth redistribution of one sort or another – burglaress Catwoman has no sympathy for the rich, and some police are even reluctant to intervene when Bane targets Gotham’s stock exchange – the romantic illusions crumble when socialism shows its true colors in practice.

Bane, an eloquent fraud who poses as a messianic revolutionary but is actually a former mercenary and nihilistic madman, promises “hope” (with a capital H, perhaps?) to the people of Gotham while leading them over the brink and into moral anarchy and authoritarian red terror with his unquestioning lynch mob of slavish occupiers (capital O, perhaps?).  The only thing missing is the guillotine, with a punitive stretch of (metaphorically?) thin ice substituting.  The Dark Knight Rises favors redistribution, but only of the strictly voluntary variety.  Bruce Wayne, the film’s representative billionaire, is not only a hero and a formidable philanthropist, but also demonstrates the fluid membership of the 1% when his fortune is dashed in one fell swoop.  There are other hues and complexities to the class question as treated in this story, but the general tendency of the film’s sympathies is clear.

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