Archives for posts with tag: Quentin Tarantino

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY NINE

Swelter

Saddle up for another hipster riff on the western … Out-of-place big names Jean-Claude Van Damme and Alfred Molina pick up shameless paychecks for supporting roles in this sub-Tarantinoid dose of direct-to-streaming dreck. The actual leading man viewers get stuck with is a tedious congoid, Lennie James, who plays Bishop, the sheriff of a sleazy backwater outside Las Vegas that finds itself invaded by a gang of prison escapees searching for a cache of hidden loot. Van Damme, his accent thicker than ever, plays the implausibly named “Stillman”, one of the gang of psychotic outlaws, which also includes Cole (Grant Bowler), who discovers he has a score to settle with Bishop when he finds him shacked up with ex-girlfriend Carmen (Catalina Sandino Moreno). Annoyingly slapdash, with no sympathetic characters, Swelter is as uninviting, drab, and exhausting as its title advertises, with Van Damme’s charisma criminally underutilized. The great character actor Tracey Walter does add some much-needed color to a few scenes, however, in his role as “Old Man Henry Johnson”.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Swelter is:

4. Anti-police. Van Damme’s gang gets the hip Reservoir Dogs slow motion stroll treatment as they shoot down the officers manning a roadblock.

3. Anti-gun. Bishop’s deputy Ronnie (Alan Simpson) is a klutz. Bishop himself refuses to carry a gun until circumstances force his hand. Asked why he performs his duties without a sidearm, he replies, “I’m afraid I might shoot somebody.”

2. Anti-white and pro-miscegenation. White men are vicious, sadistic poison to women. “It’s your DNA,” says Carmen in rejecting Cole’s renewed advances. She prefers the dusky embrace of Bishop. Van Damme also kisses a mutt.

1. Obamist. Swelter unfolds against the backdrop of the upcoming election of a new sheriff. After electing Bishop, a man with a mysterious past, just to rid themselves of the previous power, the townsfolk have grown impatient with what they perceive as Sheriff Bishop’s moralistic stifling of free enterprise and are itching to vote for his lame white deputy as a replacement; but Bishop, the righteous black man of destiny, rides in, rises to the occasion, and manages to protect the townspeople from a descent into white barbarity. (cf. American Hustle)

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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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

Lust in the Time of Heartache

Written by neoreactionary blogger Davis M.J. Aurini, the ten-minute short film Lust in the Time of Heartache is less a movie than a multimedia essay, with situations and visuals illustrating the ideas in Aurini’s text, which is essentially a Nietzschean lifestyle manifesto. Aurini, who in his YouTube talks comes across as something along the lines of a laidback, Gen-X D’Annunzio, here affects a hardboiled persona as he offers the voice-over narration to various squabbles and humiliations. He is also seen strolling around Calgary looking passably cool before he is forced to confront a gang of well-dressed assassins representing his weaknesses and inner demons. Thematically, Lust in the Time of Heartache bears striking similarities to Fight Club (1999), but stylistically goes for more of a film noir sensibility as filtered through Quentin Tarantino. This is ultimately a vanity project, but still worth the ten minutes of open-minded viewers’ time.

Davis Aurini

Davis Aurini

3.5 out of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lust in the Time of Heartache is:

6. Pro-tobacco, perpetuating the romance of the philosophical smoker of hardboiled pulp entertainment.

5. Zionist. “The thing I hate most about seeing the powerful abuse the weak is knowing that the weak did something to deserve it.” (cf. Aurini’s exasperating remarks about the CIA being “aligned with the brighter-half of the morality meter” and the leftist establishment trying to “hand Israel over to the Mohammedans”)

Aurini knows they did something to deserve it.

Aurini knows they did something to deserve it.

4. Sexist! Feminists will be apoplectic at certain of Aurini’s assertions as these could be construed to refer to domestic violence: “Abuser. Abused. Two sides of the same coin.” Perhaps to counter this potential criticism, these reflections have been accompanied by scenes of women mocking men.

3. Activism-ambivalent. Aurini’s writing is catchy, but fraught with a tension and contradiction between a jaded resignation and tortured will to power. Of man’s attitude toward the world around him, Aurini seems to advise a kind of detached voyeurism in keeping with fellow neoreactionary Aaron Clarey’s “Enjoy the Decline” ethos: “So here we are at the end of history. The end of money. The end of hope. The end of purpose. The end of man and the end of woman. Nothing to do then but light a smoke and watch the fireworks go down. Enjoy the final decadent days of our once proud and mighty empire. Watch the leaves turn golden and watch as they begin to fall.” This defeatism, however, clashes with the narrator’s final exhortation to “find something worth dying for”, which in turn conflicts with his earlier admonishment not to “go asking for a better world than this because this is the world we chose. This is the world we deserve.”

2. Anti-materialist. “This is the end state of our materialist fate. Capitalism turned innovators into land rapers and socialism turned charity into oppression.” On the sexual front, Aurini laments “a generation that never learned how to love” and argues, “If you don’t know how to love, all you understand is hate.” “It’s pain that makes us who we are. Embrace it.”

1. Anti-hedonist. “Hedonism always turns out the same. Without love, all you’ve got is sex. And if all you’ve got is sex, you’ve gotta keep upping the ante or else it gets boring.” “We’ve become nothing but a bunch of well-dressed apes” in Aurini’s diagnosis. “It’s the luxury that makes us soft. It’s the enemy that makes us cruel. What you need is a struggle. An enemy to overcome.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

[For more on the Manosphere and figures of the Neoreaction, read “Fear of Commitment or Love of Shekels? Matt Forney’s Awkward Dance with Race“.]

Board to Death B

Board to Death is Dammie Akinmola’s miniature (15-minute) film inspired by a short story, “Death by Scrabble” by Charlie Fish. The movie’s title, framing ennui and death wish as a game, signals a playful attitude toward its dark subject matter. Joshua Exposito, an odd choice of leading man whose voice, accent, and moody stare recall Highlander‘s Christopher Lambert, plays the jealous husband of quintessential femme fatale Victoria Ashford in this neo-noir black comedy.

Wasting no time getting to the grit, the film opens with the insane protagonist staring across a Scrabble board at his smug, smoking wife and giving voice-over narration in the conventional hardboiled fashion. “I’ll break the bones of anyone who touches her, anyone who lays eyes on her,” her swears. “I’ll crack their skulls and smash their teeth on concrete. They’ll suffer till their lights go out.” He then proceeds to live up to this bloody vow.

The black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous, and director Akinmola, also a composer, has wisely opted to use music sparingly, so that Exposito’s crazed whisper commands every inch of the viewer’s attention. One only wishes to see Board to Death expanded into a full-length feature, as too many characters are crammed into its too-brief running time for the audience to have any satisfactory sense of the meaning of each character’s deserts. If nothing else, the short format and compressed storyline prevent the viewer from ever becoming bored – let alone to death.

Board to Death

4 out of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Board to Death is:

8. Anti-feminist. The wife is a monster who cruelly enjoys her husband’s suffering and the murders he commits. Women’s empowerment has complicated and corrupted male-female relations, maddening men and discombobulating their moral compass. She “can’t be trusted” because she is “far too strong”.

7. Arguably anti-Christian. The murderous maniac protagonist is a churchgoer.

6. Pro-tobacco. In classic 1940s fashion, cigarette smoking is code for sex.

5. Multiculturalist. Peaceful non-white Britons sit with attentive gazes during a Christian service, suggesting that they are positively assimilated participants in Western Civilization.

4. Pro-miscegenation. A mixed-race couple (Carl Muircroft and Latifah Parara) appear to have a healthier and more normal relationship than the leads.

3. Media-critical. In one blatantly postmodern and self-referential scene, Exposito picks a fight against the backdrop of the poster for Board to Death, the very film in which he appears at that moment. Is this to suggest that the character’s diet of violent entertainment has shaped his insanity, desensitized him, and incentivized his antisocial behavior? Judging from Akinmola’s admission on the movie’s website to admiring Quentin Tarantino and his (flippantly ultraviolent) attitude toward life, one can only assume that this critique is unintentional.

2. Anti-gun. A bartender (Cristinel Hogas) keeps a shotgun under the counter, but finds it worthless as protection when the jealous husband seizes it from him and pummels him.

1. Anti-marriage. The husband alleges that his wife is “a demon, a succubus sent to tempt men.” Among his final utterances are the words, “Wife. Liar. Killer. Husband. Possessive. Paranoid. Dead.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Infinite Santa 8000

Raise a generation on energy drinks, video games, Tarantino, torture porn, and perpetual war for perpetual peace, and what do you get? Crap like Infinite Santa 8000 – or, as it shall alternately be dubbed for the purposes of this review, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours. The cinematic equivalent of a twelve-year-old boy doodling weed-smoking skulls in the margin of a worksheet, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours is a crudely computer-animated post-apocalyptic adventure with cyborg Santa Claus battling robots and monsters for control of a futuristic wasteland. “You’re sick. All these things do is kill,” Santa at one point accuses his android-manufacturing arch-enemy Dr. Shackleton. He might just as well be speaking to Infinite Santa creators Michael Neel and Greg Ansin, both of whom this reviewer is led to suspect still gobble their boogers between bouts of World of Warcraft.

Set to a soundtrack of grinding, monotonous heavy metal music and ceaseless grunts, groans, gunfire, and obligatory jolly chuckling, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours is so dull and depressing it makes the experience of listening to Throbbing Gristle’s Second Annual Report feel like a life-affirming epiphany. A one-joke concept stretched to feature length, the story consists of little more than scenes of dismemberment, torture, holocaust, and other carnage as Santa whimpers and says things like, “I’ll get you, you scumbag turd!” and “Unwrap this, you bastards!” Worst, though, is that nothing of value is ever at stake in the story. In a world of nothing but robots and mutants – a world in which Santa Claus himself is ultraviolent, foulmouthed, and full of soulless wiring and circuitry – does it really matter if evil wins or if mad scientist Dr. Shackleton conquers what remains of the planet?

One star. Positively the worst movie this writer has had the poor judgment to pick for review since beginning his blog. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Infinite Running Time 8 Hours is:

3. Pro-gun. Survivalist Santa keeps an impressive stock of firepower for dispatching Dr. Shackleton’s minions.

2. Ostensibly antiwar in its depiction of a conflict-ravaged, post-apocalyptic Earth, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours nevertheless revels in the insipid spectacle of wide-scale annihilation for nihilistic giggles.

1. Anti-Christian. “Merry fucking Christmas!”

Machete Kills poster

Rodriguez’s most recent contribution to the Mexploitation subgenre, Machete Kills is exactly the movie one would expect it to be: a shallow, self-congratulatorily hip, and hyperviolent celebration of Mexican ethnic pride and muscle-flexing Reconquista. Danny Trejo reprises the role of the righteous butcher who in this sequel accepts a presidential offer of American citizenship in exchange for stopping a cataclysmic missile strike on Washington. Machete Kills is sufficiently fast-paced to ward off snores, but the cartoonish tone and the flippant approach to the violence keep it from generating any emotional interest or genuine suspense. One hopes for the sake of the future of film that this big-budget B-movie brand of Tarantinoid, winking, self-aware exploitation fetishism has almost run its course.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Machete Kills is:

13. State-skeptical. “Justice and law aren’t always the same thing.”

12. Anti-military. Corrupt soldiers sell government-issue arms to a drug cartel.

11. Anti-family. A whore recounts how her father raped her. (see also no. 2)

10. Drug-ambivalent. Machete “don’t smoke”, but lights a bazooka like a bong. The drug cartels are his enemies.

9. Pro-miscegenation. Can anyone blame Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard) for being unable to resist Machete’s haggard, wrinkly, and humorless Aztec charms?

8. Anti-gun. Machete prefers blades. A campaign commercial associates Second Amendment advocacy with pork spending on military hardware. The principal villain, Voz (Mel Gibson), is a firearms manufacturer.

7. Globalist and war-ambivalent. “This isn’t about Mexico no more. It’s about the world.” Voz reveals he has installed puppet troublemakers in North Korea and Russia so as to pump government interest in his military wares. While there is truth in the notion that international bogeys are frequently manufactured as pretexts for war, Machete Kills endorses the neocon worldview to the extent that it accepts that Russia and North Korea are legitimately threatening to American national security. “Fuck world peace,” says Miss San Antonio.

6. Feminist. “Don’t call me sweetheart,” bristles Sartana (Jessica Alba) before gunning down a male chauvinist pig. Machete Kills milks the tired non-novelty of women acting tough and shooting their mouths and machine-guns, which here include weapons mounted on the bosom and crotch. Interestingly, the long tradition of sexual violence directed exclusively at the male genitalia finally seems to be coming home to haunt the feminists in the form of the sickening “pussy punch”. Only girls are allowed to play this dirty hand, however. (see also no. 2)

5. Anti-Christian. Voz looks forward to a day when “kingdom comes”. White supremacist Sheriff Doakes uses expressions like “Amen” and “Hallelujah”. Assassin the Chameleon (a shapeshifter portrayed at different points in the film by Walter Goggins, Cuba Gooding, Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas) drives a truck called the “Holy Roller”, with kitschy religious knickknacks on the dashboard. “Preach it, Sister,” says villainess Miss San Antonio.

4. Anti-white. Whites – surprise, surprise! – are the bad guys. Those who, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, concern themselves with America’s sovereignty and security, are represented in Machete Kills by the likes of the dopey Minutemen-like “Freedom Force” and Sheriff Doakes (William Sadler), who calls Mexicans things like “taco” and “beaner”. Voz plans to abscond into outer space with a load of Mexicans to serve him as slave labor. Blonde beauty and secret agent Miss San Antonio lives up to her hair color and turns out to be a traitoress. The decision to cast Mel Gibson, with his off-screen baggage of accusations of anti-Semitism and bigotry, as supervillain Voz reinforces the anti-white/anti-racist theme.

3. Pro-amnesty. Machete is Mexico, observes President Rathcock (Charlie Sheen), who by offering citizenship to Machete is in effect endorsing the wholesale naturalization of everybody south of the border. “Even Jesus couldn’t get through that damn wall.” Sadly, many of the ignorant dupes who see this movie will probably be led to believe that there actually is a wall protecting the U.S. from turd world invasion.

2. Anti-human. The title says it all, with enough red splattering to paint a barn. In addition, Miss San Antonio in her pageant speech endorses “a woman’s right to choose.”

1. Razist. “You fucked with the wrong Mexican.”

Michael Bay is a filmmaker famous for his slick style-over-substance approach to the medium, and in Pain and Gain, a vibrant, blackly humorous meditation on the American dream by way of an injection of style steroids gouged straight into the audience’s eyeballs, the Bay formula pays entertainment dividends.  Mark Wahlberg plays Danny Lugo, an ambitious bodybuilder with an unhealthy fixation on self-improvement.  He claims to approve of the meritocracy that has made America great, but unfortunately finds exemplars of Americanism in figures like Michael Corleone and Tony Montana.  Consequently, he sees crime and not legitimate business success as the most promising road to riches, and recruits fellow bodybuilders Paul (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian (Anthony Mackie) to kidnap oily Schlotzky’s proprietor Victor Kershaw (Monk‘s Tony Shalhoub) in the hope of getting him to sign over to them his home and all of his possessions.

Mark Wahlberg is intense as musclebound loser Danny Lugo, and Dwayne Johnson, who demonstrated a knack for comedy even as a professional wrestler, here delivers a hilarious performance to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger’s versatility as an action hero equally adept at goofiness.  As with much of Tarantino’s work, Bay’s film constantly runs the dangerous risk of glorifying or trivializing its subject matter by making its criminals such funny and charismatic characters.  The misadventures of Wahlberg and company are so exciting, fun, and involving that someone could almost forget that these likable bunglers, for all their charm, are really just murderers and thieves.  In the end, however, those who do wrong are punished in this grotesque and shockingly true crime story based on events that occurred in Miami in the mid-90s.  The use of period-faithful tunes from C+C Music Factory, Bon Jovi, and Coolio give an added nostalgic kick to this punchy, pleasantly gross, and perfectly edited dark comedy.

4.5 of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Pain and Gain is:

11. Anti-gay.  Paul, seeing a warehouse full of gay sex toys, expresses discomfort with “homo stuff”.  He deals viciously with a gay come-on (see no. 4).  Danny makes a pejorative reference to “pickle-licking”.

10. Arguably anti-Semitic.  The oily, irascible Kershaw’s Star of David pendant hangs conspicuously as he prattles and makes a sleazy annoyance of himself at the gym.

9. Gun-ambivalent.  Men with criminal records have no difficulty buying weapons from an effeminate and masochistic gun dealer (and Stryper fan) who enjoys being stunned with a taser.  A Confederate flag hanging in his store is probably intended for this film’s purposes to associate gun ownership not with liberty, but with racism.  A woman attempts unsuccessfully to defend herself in her home with a gun.

8. Obesity-ambivalent.  As in Pitch Perfect, Rebel Wilson plays the shameless tubby sexpot.  Other tubs of lard are featured in the film strictly for gross-out humor and audience derision, however.

7. Misogynistic.  Apart from one character, women are in the main represented in Pain and Gain as sluts and slobs.

6. State-skeptical.  Miami police are at first uninterested in investigating Kershaw’s story of how he was kidnapped and dispossessed, citing his Colombian origins as cause for skepticism.  They later admit their mistake.

5. Anti-drug.  Steroids render Adrian impotent.  Paul blows his cut of the loot on cocaine and starts to lose what limited wits he has.

4. Anti-Christian.  Paul’s religious beliefs, which vie with his cocaine problem for possession of his soul, make him susceptible to manipulation.  His professions of Christian devotion constantly clash with his criminal projects and outbursts of violent temper.  Furthermore, the judgmental attitude he derives from his faith finds expression in his belief that he might cure Kershaw of his Judaism.  A homosexual Catholic priest compliments Paul’s physique and tries to put the moves on him.

3. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Adrian, a black man, marries Robin (Wilson), a fat white woman, who recounts at their wedding how her racist grandfather had warned her against black men.  (Ironically, the grandfather’s advice proves to have been valid at least in Adrian’s case.)  Nasty interracial dancing disgraces the screen.  Kershaw, half Colombian and half Jewish, likes Cuban women.

2. Immigration-ambivalent.  Victor Kershaw is the old type of coarse but fiercely entrepreneurial immigrant who through his own talent and efforts has become wealthy.  Two Slav women are depicted as oversexed ditzes.  The fact that one of these entered the country illegally through Mexico highlights America’s border insecurity.

1. Capitalist.  The unsung protagonist of Pain and Gain is Kershaw, the self-made man who, while less handsome and likable than his victimizers, is in the right in seeking lawful revenge against Lugo and his collaborators.  Lugo believes in the American dream and understands that meritocracy plays a role in this; but like others who would redistribute wealth, he is motivated by envy and spite.  This derives from his mistaken notion that all people are equal at birth, the implication of which belief for his type of mentality is that unequal distribution of wealth must be some kind of injustice if two people’s apparently equal origins and efforts result in inconveniently unequal outcomes.  Ed Harris represents the private sector positively as a private investigator who comes to Kershaw’s aid when police fail to act on his client’s allegations.

[UPDATE (8/14/13): A Christian YouTuber offers his disapproving observations on Pain and Gain‘s detrimental cultural significance here.]

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

AdamSandler

Unfairly trashed by the consensus critical apparatus on release, this ambitious outing from Adam Sandler goes where few previous comedies have gone with such earnestness of purpose, grappling with the eternal philosophical questions that have given mankind pause over millennia.  Why does evil exist in the universe?  Are there black people in Heaven?  And, most fundamentally, can white men jump – even when descended from the Prince of Darkness himself, and when the spiritual fate of the planet is being played out on the cosmic battlefield of the Harlem Globetrotters court?

Who but Adam Sandler – who, to his credit, manages to keep his face contorted in a comical grimace through every scene – could possibly have brought the heir to the throne of Hell to life in such edifyingly funny fashion while also essaying a bold theological meditation and commentary on the morals of fin-de-siecle America?  The answer – nobody!  Add a bevy of Sandler’s Saturday Night Live buddies including Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Ellen Cleghorne, Kevin Nealon, and Rob Schneider in cameos, stir with a pinch or two of tasty scatalogical humor and outright depravity, and Little Nicky makes for a strange but satisfying brew guaranteed not only to get the audience wasted, but lay their souls to waste as well.

4 out of 5 stars.  Actually a fairly heartwarming experience, Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Little Nicky is underrated, unholy, unashamed, and:

10. Corporate.  Bellicose product placement puts Popeye’s Chicken on the side of the angels.

9. Anti-South.  Nicky more than once jokes that he is from the “Deep South”, thus equating the region with Hell.

8. Pro-gay, at least from the standpoint that all publicity is good publicity.  Clint Howard portrays a grotesque but amusing transvestite.  Also, breasts are made to sprout from Kevin Nealon’s head, which later elicits a favorable remark from Rodney Dangerfield.

7. Multiculturalist/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Validating the authenticity of kitsch pictures hanging in the homes of believers of color, Little Nicky depicts a flock of angels of different races.  Hitler receives special (and very unwelcome) attention from Satan in Hell.  A pro-wigger current finds expression in the line, “Popeye’s Chicken is the shiznit.”

6. Drug-ambivalent.  Central to Nicky’s task of taking his errant brothers back to Hell is trapping them in a magical liquor flask, which could be interpreted as suggesting that liquor is the gateway to eternal damnation.  A boy is depicted vomiting after the drinking age is lowered to 10.  Still, “I came for the beer and the bitches,” says a kid at a Globetrotters game, and marijuana-spiked pastries also receive an endorsement.

5. Pro-miscegenation.  Nicky is the spawn of Jewish Satan (Harvey Keitel) and an Anglo-Saxon angel (Reese Witherspoon) and has one black and one white brother (Tiny Lister and Rhys Ifans, respectively).  Carrying on the bestial tradition from Billy Madison, a giant bird vengefully humps pervert John Lovitz.  A demon (Kevin Nealon) and a gorilla also find themselves in the throes of jungle fever.  Dog Mr. Beefy and sewer rat Heather have “five of the ugliest children you’ve ever seen.”  Jew Sandler again goes for the blondes, in this case mousy Patricia Arquette.

4. Anti-Christian.  Quentin Tarantino represents the faithful as a stereotypical blind-eyed fanatical street preacher.  Angels are portrayed as ditzes.  (See also no. 2)

3. Family-ambivalent/anti-marriage/dysfunction-tolerant.  “I love my father very much,” Nicky says, attempting throughout the film to do his father’s bidding and save him from oblivion.  His family is majorly dysfunctional, however, with unmarried parents and abusive brothers constantly scheming against him.  (“Mom and Dad tried dating for awhile, but were unable to deal with a long distance relationship.”)  The sum effect is a normalization of dysfunction.  A churchgoer praises God for his wife’s pregnancy only to be informed that the child is not his.  A baby in a carriage is transformed into an evil midget that attacks its mother.  “You look like my first wife – only she had more hair,” Dangerfield tells the gorilla.  “I’m cheating on my husband with the weather man,” says a reporter.

2. Relativist.  At stake in the story is the balance of power between good and evil, with one no better than the other.  “Why don’t we all just have fun and do whatever we want?”  Most demons are basically decent folks.

1. Racist! – and specifically anti-Semitic, in spite of the thin pretenses of no. 7 above.  Hell is conspicuously inhabited and lorded over by Jews, with Rodney Dangerfield, Harvey Keitel, and Sandler playing three successive Princes of Darkness.  Jon Lovitz also winds up in Hell.  An Asian stereotypically resorts to kung fu against Nicky.  John Witherspoon plays a jive-talking black thief.

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