Archives for posts with tag: reality television


Trash and horror fans, do you know about the new Asshat podcast? Movie fans Newt of Double T’s Blog of Reviews and Nadia of Nadia’s Necronomicon chat about gore, satellite television, Mississippi race hatred, British juvenile delinquency, exorcism, Amish organized crime, heroin, Breaking Bad, corporal punishment for children, and all sordid and sundry points in between in this thrilling second episode of the program. Also, in his patently idiosyncratic “Ten Minutes of Fury” segment, the Fucker from Hell rants about how cultural conspiracy theorists are ruining Disney movies for kids!

All three contributors’ social views probably fall slightly to the right of those of the typical neo-Marxist university sexual degenerate and so do not meet with the full approval of the dread bastion of crotchety codgerism that is Ideological Content Analysis; but because they are friends of the blog, they nevertheless receive the prestigious ICA power plug with accompanying lousethyme achievement award. God’s peed, you bulk importers.


Katherine aka The Radical (1975) ****

Originally broadcast on television, this worthwhile film asks how a rich college girl from a respectable family could grow to so hate the society that has given her every advantage that she winds up as a bitter domestic terrorist and founding member of the murderous Weathermen Underground.  A pre-Carrie Sissy Spacek stars as the title character, with an unusually energetic Henry Winkler playing her quirky lover and fellow subversive.  To its credit, the film stops short of glorifying revolution, but it does humanize the aspirants in giving a glimpse into their experiences and motivations.  Balancing this, however, is the sympathetic portrayal of Katherine’s conservative parents (Art Carney and Jane Wyatt), who disapprove of their daughter’s decisions but love her and only want to help.  Rounding out the cast is Julie Kavner, future voice of Marge Simpson, as one of Katherine’s college friends whose life follows an entirely different course.  Some of the music is poor, but the film is recommended to anyone interested in the young stars or the radical politics of the period.

4 out of 5 stars.


KGB Connections

The KGB Connections (1982) ****1/2

Before Michael Moore and reality television programs popularized the obnoxious, attention-grasping gonzo approach, the documentary used to be a consistently fascinating and dignified form of filmmaking. Thankfully, The KGB Connections, an old-school black-and-white CBC documentary, hails from the days when stark truth was all that was necessary to hold the viewer’s attention. Consisting largely of interviews with CIA men and defectors from communist intelligence services, the film exposes shocking breaches of national security by the KGB, which utilized diplomatic missions (particularly the UN, described as a “nest of spies”) and “illegals”, spies smuggled into the country under false identities, to increasingly undermine U.S. interests throughout the sixties and seventies and into its last decade of existence.  If the film is to be believed, the Soviets even had the ability to monitor the phone calls at the White House and the Pentagon using harmless-looking antennae mounted on their consulate buildings.

The most amusing interviewee is easily Hedda Massing, who during the 1930s was one of the Soviet Union’s most distinguished recruiters of influential American citizens.  Massing and former communist Nathaniel Weyl dish the dirt on traitors Laurence Duggan, Noel Field, and Alger Hiss.  Also of interest is KGB proxy activity through Cuban intelligence and the recruitment and training of young American terrorists like the Weathermen.  There is a spareness to The KGB Connections that will probably not appeal to those with short attention spans, but history buffs and the politically aware will want to take the time to digest its abundance of information.  The unsettling electronic musical stings that introduce the different segments do much to enhance the film’s real eeriness.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Skew, a low-budget POV horror that ought to satisfy viewers still hungry for more of what last year’s V/H/S had to offer, opens with a quotation from Balzac to the effect that photography, not limiting itself to documenting reality, actually takes something away, somehow diminishing the subject.

When Simon (Rob Scattergood), one of three twenty-or-thirtysomethings on a road trip en route to a wedding, finds that his camcorder makes unsettling revelations about the people around him, the question then becomes whether the camera is only conveying something invisible to the naked eye, or is actually creating the misfortunes that dog the trio on their trip.  The camera becomes an obsession for Simon, to the point that he is unable to tear himself away from it and feels compelled to film every moment of his day.  Companions Rich (Richard Olak) and Rich’s girlfriend Eva (Amber Lewis) are made increasingly uncomfortable by Simon’s fixation and claims of fleeting visions, a situation made more volatile by his ambiguous feelings toward Eva.

Skew is usually more engrossing than a moody, shakily photographed study of three foul-mouthed underachievers ought to be, and manages a mild, attention-sustaining eeriness.  3 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Skew is:


3. Animal rights militant.  As in Deer Crossing, roadkill can only mean an albatross and trouble ahead.  Skew goes as far as to feature two albatrosses, a coyote and a deer, both hit by automobiles.  The occupants of the offending vehicle must pay.

2. Anti-family/anti-marriage.  Simon blames his parents for depriving him of his childhood memories by not taking any pictures of him.  Unmarried, childless cohabitation is the order of the day.  A tourist trap display of the world’s most humongous pot and dish represents articles of domesticity as absurdly imposing behemoths.  Traveling to a wedding becomes the occasion for the characters’ doom.  Rich, an atheist, says he only believes in the here and now and in family and friends before being murdered by his friend.

1. Neo-Luddite.  Technology is evil and haunted.  Cameras kill, buses crash, and cars slaughter wildlife.  Reality television, by filtering life through an electronic lens, is in fact a paradoxical proposition in that it skews reality in the act of documentation.


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