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can you ever

Melissa McCarthy, in what must be her least repugnant role to date, plays the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed misanthrope and literary forger Lee Israel in this amusing movie for booklovers. After publishing biographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder, Israel fell on hard times and, in order to make ends meet and keep her cat alive, took to forging and selling letters that purported to have been written by the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. McCarthy, who is fatter but still way more attractive than the actual Lee Israel, manages to make an almost lovable character out of “a 51-year-old woman who likes cats better than people.” Suspenseful, involving, and often funny, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is forgivably watchable if you don’t have to pay for it.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Can You Ever Forgive Me? is:

4. Pro-gay. Israel is a lonely lesbian and her partner in crime is a charming British homosexual, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), who tragically comes down with a case of the AIDS at the end of the movie after “fucking [his] way through Manhattan.” Hock appears with a bloody face in one scene as a reminder of the perils of being a fruity fop in a cold and insensitive world. Israel’s forging of letters by Noel Coward, too, furnishes a pretext for a history lesson about how, during the benighted first half of the twentieth century, gays still had to hide their orientations and carry out their forbidden amours in secret.

3. Anti-drug. Israel’s drinking is a barrier to healthy relationships. Cocaine, meanwhile, is associated with homosexual excess and irresponsibility. After going away and leaving Hock alone to look after her apartment and cat, Israel returns to find that her friend went on a coke-and-sodomy spree and that the cat has died. It is unclear, however, whether the cat has actually died because of neglect or simply succumbed to old age, considering that it was already sickly. In any case, Hock’s life of doping and diddling eventually leads to his demise.

2. Anti-family. “Maybe she didn’t die,” Hock reflects, trying to recall what became of a mutual acquaintance. “Maybe she just moved back to the suburbs. I always confuse those two. No, that’s right. She got married and had twins.” “Better to have died,” quips Israel, who has no interest in family life.

1.Philo-Semitic and anti-white. Can You Ever Forgive Me? takes place in a New York of the imagination in which plucky underdog Jews struggle to make it in a WASP-dominated world. “Did you hear,” bookseller Anna (Dolly Wells) asks, “that Tom Clancy is getting paid $3,000,000 to write more right-wing macho bullshit?” “Are you kidding me?” Israel objects. “That blowhard’s gettin’ $3,000,000? Oh, to be a white male that doesn’t even know he’s full of crap, right?” To her credit, Israel’s literary agent Marjorie (Jane Curtin) advises her to become “a nicer person” because “you can’t be such a bitch” and make it in the publishing world. Israel, however, accuses Marjorie of benefiting from (an implicitly WASPish) privilege and wealth. (Deleted scenes include a vignette in which Israel takes a job as an assistant to a rich blonde lady with the nakedly symbolic surname Whitman. The viewer, of course, is encouraged to find Israel more likable, cleverer, and more deserving of comfort and success in life than the prim and tedious Whitman.) Probably to counter the bad-optics spectacle of a slovenly character named Israel engaging in theft and fraud and generally being antisocial, screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty throw in references to Adolf Hitler and “terrible old fart the tyranny addict Joe Kennedy” to remind viewers of Jewish suffering during the Second World War. In truth, however, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is, all things considered, a celebration of balls-out chutzpah and Jewish talent at snookering the gullible goyim.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

Check out the trailer for my new book!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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Erik Bloomquist writes, directs, and stars in The Cobblestone Corridor as Allan Archer, hardworking editor of the elite Alfred Pierce Preparatory School’s newspaper, The Pierce Gazette. Archer is straight-laced and by-the-book – a young man who still believes in authority and the dignity of institutions – the sort of person one might expect to carry a picture of William F. Buckley in his wallet. He is also an amateur detective and has his inquisitiveness piqued when he learns that the circumstances of a teacher’s recent dismissal are more than a little fishy. Adding interest to the story is Lizzie Merriweather (Madeleine Dauer), whose simultaneous attraction and opposition of journalistic philosophy adds another layer of tension to the narrative.

The Cobblestone Corridor is a low-key comedy hybridizing genres from teen fare to mystery, and Mike Magilnick’s cinematography does a good job of compromising between tones, referencing noir while keeping things light enough for a chuckle. The film succeeds largely due to a cast of interesting faces, which include Bloomquist’s as well as that of Nicholas Tucci, whom viewers may remember from the outstanding slasher homage You’re Next (2011). An assortment of young women in school uniforms adds to the visuals. Finally, while something of a morsel at 25 minutes, there is a measure of substance to be detected down these halls.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Cobblestone Corridor is:

5. Anti-drug. Archer is contemptuous toward stoners.

4. Green-ambivalent. When classmate Claire (Alex Sarrigeorgiou) says paper publishing “just wastes trees”, her professor (Tucci) replies that this is “an interesting environmental argument”; Archer, however, dismisses Claire’s opinions as “shortsighted and ignorant”.

3. Feminism-ambivalent. Archer reviles “sluts” and puts a stop to an all-girl fight club. Lizzie’s contribution to his development as a journalist suggests, however, that women can contribute as professionals, giving the lie to a threatening note she receives informing her “little girls don’t belong in the big leagues.”

2. Tobacco-ambivalent. Archer cock-blocks a quintessential film noir ritual when he stops Lizzie from smoking a cigarette in his office. She later discovers that he has lied about not being a smoker, however.

1. Media-ambivalent. The Cobblestone Corridor’s best scene – crisply written and delivered by Mr. Bloomquist – concerns the question of the continuing relevance of the print medium. Journalism instructor Mr. Brown (Tucci) asks his class, “Are newspapers still important in today’s society, or are they well on their way to fading into historical oblivion?” Claire assails print as irrelevant in the age of the instantaneous dissemination of information; but Archer, who hates “supermarket tabloid drivel” and does what he can to uphold traditional journalistic standards, holds forth as follows:

People who write for newspapers understand that a story is more than just a clickbait by-line. These message boards that Claire talks about aren’t avenues for intellectual discourse, they’re a mosh pit of pseudo-scholars trying to outsmart each other. It’s not about the news, it’s not about the facts, it’s about being the loudest [. . .] and if one day the servers crash and everything goes to Hell we’ll still have a thoughtful piece of analysis we can touch and feel. That sure as Hell beats a tweet by some self-important high school drop-out hiding behind a screen name.

At stake in this scene and for the remainder of the film is the credibility of “conspiracy theories” and the post-9/11 alternative media, the latter being personified by blogger Lizzie. Archer naively believes that the major newspapers’ reporters are as thoughtful and idealistic as he is, is impressed by the Fourth Estate’s centuries of superficial prestige, and disparages the internet. He suggests, furthermore, that the anonymity of the blogosphere is an invalidation of its credibility, failing to consider the fact that alternative journalism is not, in most cases, a living, and that these writers might be putting their employment in jeopardy by signing their real names under their controversial interpretations of events.

However, after Lizzie’s insights prove to have been valuable in solving the mystery of the dismissed teacher, Archer is moved to establish an online edition of The Pierce Gazette, the idea being that online and print news media can coexist and mutually strengthen each other, and that independent researchers’ contributions can make a difference. This, Archer effuses with idealism, heralds the “beginning of a renaissance for The Pierce Gazette” – a revolution by technology and turnover in personnel. Bloomquist, though, by setting his story in the innocuous world of a non-profit student newspaper, has avoided the fundamental corruption of commercial “news” by controlling financial interests. Archer, once he ventures into the Orwellian sphere of professional journalism, will find his masters reluctant to publish material that strays off-script.

[For full disclosure of this writer’s diet of news and infotainment, he will admit to getting the vast majority of it online – from sites ranging from fluff like Yahoo! to deeper-digging content like Global Research – but also subscribing to a fortnightly print newspaper, Willis Carto’s populist American Free Press.]

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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