Archives for posts with tag: Scoot McNairy

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY FOUR

NonStop

Joel Silver, to his dying day, will never tire of trying to spook the goyim with terrorism. The immortal boogeyman of the twenty-first century rears its turbaned head again, only this time it is not the Muslims – or is it? – in Silver’s production Non-Stop, a decent vehicle for star Liam Neeson, who plays an air marshal aboard a transatlantic flight being threatened by an unusually inventive mystery terrorist. Until a turn for the stupid plunges it into irreparable turbulence, Non-Stop lives up to its title as a high-velocity thrill-flight, so that viewers are guaranteed at least a solid hour of Neesony excitement. Creepy Julianne Moore is also on board and somehow manages to get through the whole film without wrenching her face and sobbing.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Non-Stop is:

9. Civic-minded, performing a public service by informing unsuspecting men that womyn can be triggered by being called “ma’am”.

8. Pro-gay, normalizing homosexual marriage. An Archie Bunkerish cop (Corey Stoll) is flying to London because, he says, “My fairy brother’s getting married to a guy with a British accent.”

7. Drug-ambivalent. Neeson is an alcoholic whose drinking, however, seems not to have impaired the performance of his duty. His smoking habit, furthermore, serendipitously leads him to the discovery an important clue.

6. State-skeptical. A federal agent (Anson Mount) takes advantage of his position to smuggle cocaine.

5. Media-critical and anti-vigilante. Talking head critics of security state spending come across as uninformed nuisances. Also problematic is the trend of democratized reportage and instantly uploaded videos of purported misconduct by the authorities. Out-of-context phone footage of Neeson manhandling a passenger contributes to a false news narrative according to which Neeson himself is the terrorist. Passengers seeing these reports are misled into revolting against his questioned authority. Neither mainstream nor alternative media are helpful. Best to let the feds conduct their searches of persons and phone records unimpeded by citizen scrutiny and interference. (cf. no. 1)

4. Anti-racist. Cast against audience expectations, the token Arab (Omar Metwally) turns out not to be a terrorist, but – surprise, surprise! – a mild-mannered molecular neuroscientist. Educated brother Nate Parker, meanwhile, knows how to program and hack cell phones.

3. Police-ambivalent. Corey Stoll plays a New York City cop who, while basically a decent sort, is a bit of a bigot. “You’re gonna let that guy in the cockpit?” he objects, seeing Metwally being ushered into the front of the plane to assist in a medical emergency. Later, after having his broken nose set by the Arab, Stoll seems to have been humbled and made to understand something about the brotherhood of man. Police, Non-Stop says, need not be abolished or cannibalized like pigs in a blanket; they only need to be made more sensitive. On the other side of the equation, a mouthy and uncooperative black man (Corey Hawkins) gets off to a bad start with air marshal Neeson, but eventually takes his side and helps him to retrieve his pistol in a difficult situation. Non-Stop invites badged authorities and non-whites to try to meet halfway and engage in mutual understanding.

2. Anti-war. Terrorists Scoot McNairy and Nate Parker are ex-military men who see their service in the War on Terror as pointless. Implausibly, they are most upset by what they perceive as the unsatisfactory state of airline security in the wake of 9/11. “Security is this country’s biggest lie,” they fret. Rather than simply going online and discovering that the event was perpetrated by Jews, however, the duo concocts an elaborate terror scenario designed to frame an air marshal for their own outlandish crime. One can only assume the pair sustained head injuries on the battlefield. Non-Stop’s anti-war bona fides are, however, disingenuous in light of the following consideration.

1. Zionist, perpetuating the 9/11 myth. The circumstance of a flight from New York to London conflates the ghosts of the 7/7 and 9/11 attacks, which hang over the film and reinforce the mythology of the linked destinies of the United States and Britain in fighting the enemies of the Jews.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Black Sea

Directed by documentarian Kevin MacDonald – no, not that Kevin MacDonald – Black Sea is a taut, gritty undersea suspense feature, a fine addition to the venerable submarine subgenre that manages to be original while also echoing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) in its story of treachery motivated by lust for gold. Jude Law, never one of this writer’s favorite actors, turns in a surprisingly masculine turn as an unemployed submariner who signs on with a ragtag, half-British, half-Russian team of dead-enders to swipe a sunken cache of Nazi gold and spite his previous employers by beating them to the punch. Black Sea also packs a major plot twist that ratchets the tension nicely. Definitely recommended.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Black Sea is:

4. Anti-tobacco. Peters (David Threlfall) has emphysema, reminding audiences of the dangers of smoking.

3. Anti-fascist. The backstory on the treasure is that Hitler, with Nazi Germany’s economy on the verge of collapse in 1941, extorted an exorbitant “loan” from Stalin’s “neutral” U.S.S.R. with a threat of invasion if the demanded sum was not received. The implication would seem to be that, while the communists enjoyed an ebullient economy, Hitler’s Third Reich was an inefficient basket case that could generate prosperity only through intimidation and violence. Nazis in a sunken sub are also revealed to have engaged in cannibalism.

2. Anti-corporate, anti-bankster. Financial elites inspire loathing and corporate players cannot be trusted.

1. Egalitarian. Robinson (Jude Law) dictates that every man in the crew is to receive an equal share of the booty regardless of his specific responsibilities or national origin. The submarine therefore functions as a microcosm of an experimental socialist society – one that sinks or floats on the strength of collective cooperation. Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn, reunited with Killing Them Softly costar Scoot McNairy, who plays corporate weasel Daniels) is the unredeemable teabagger type in the group, who thinks his ethnic cohort deserves a bigger share of the loot and refuses to share with the Russians. It is Fraser, with his combination of individualistic greed and jingoism, who will more than once put the crew in serious peril. Robinson, through his climactic demonstration of heroism, proves to be motivated more by a sense of justice and vengeance against a hostile elite than by greed or personal pettiness.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

KILLING-THEM-SOFTLY-poster

A strong exercise in Scorsese imitation, writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly may well be the most depressing experience to which multiplex moviegoers are treated in 2012.  Set in a bleak expanse of rust belt squalor during the meltdown of 2008, the gangland story begins when small-time gangster and dry cleaner the Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) recruits two crooks, naive Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and ne’er-do-well Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), to pull a masked hold-up of the gambling establishment run by Markie Trattman (GoodFellas alumnus Ray Liotta), who is to be framed for staging a robbery of his own game and customers.  Markie, true to his name, is the perfect mark for the crime because he previously staged just such an inside job and admitted to it and so will be the obvious prime suspect if the same thing happens again.  Into this situation enters the mysterious enforcer Jackie (Brad Pitt), assigned the tasks of investigating what actually happened and meting out the appropriate sanctions.  Flying in to assist him is button man Mickey (James Gandolfini), previously a class act but now a sloppy, erratic drunk going through a divorce.  The upshot is that, however it all ends up going down, none of this business is going to be pretty.

On one level, Killing Them Softly is a tough, unsentimental crime film and a set of character studies.  At the same time, however, it operates as an unsubtle and tactless allegory about the decline of American prosperity and the bankruptcy of the ideals traditionally associated with it, with samples of speeches by Bush and Obama running parallel to the action.  The words of the title appear onscreen in succession as part of a fractured, abrasive montage of optimistic Obamaspeak coupled with grating noise and shots of trash blown in the wind that sweeps a desolate lot walked by doomed Frankie on his way to meet the Squirrel – a representative entrepreneur and criminal mediocrity, there being no distinction between the two things as depicted in this story.  Killing Them Softly posits the existence of two types of players in this world: statists and businessmen.  All are gangsters who run their rackets through subterfuge and coercion.  In one of the film’s cheapest and least imaginative moments, Jackie sits in a bar and mocks the Obama speech playing on television and goes on to smugly thumb his nose at the American experiment itself, denouncing Thomas Jefferson for getting drunk, screwing his slaves, and keeping his children in bondage.  This country is a business, Jackie asserts, and every man looks out for himself like a beast in the jungle.  Or, as Mickey succinctly puts it and sums up the story, “It’s all bullshit.”

More than simply a downbeat, despairing sociopolitical tirade or declaration of nihilism, however, Killing Them Softly offers more than enough to make it recommendable.  Multiple character creations compel viewer interest, with Gandolfini and McNairy in particular making the most of their scenes.  Gandolfini immediately establishes sympathy and scorn with his characterization of a tough but dissipated and finally pathetically apathetic thug going through a divorce and wasting his life on liquor and prostitutes, which allows the actor the opportunity to deliver some 200-proof obscenity (causing an elderly woman at the screening I attended to become audibly agitated, surely the mark of fine movie profanity) in high gangster style.  Liotta, though he has only a few brief scenes, also appears to solid effect.  Less reliable than the impeccable acting is the selection of pop songs, which, in faithful Scorsese tradition, are rather overutilized.  “The Man Comes Around”, for instance, is the perfect song to establish Jackie’s seriousness and formidability as an enforcer, while “It’s Only a Paper Moon” assists the screenplay thematically and casts an amusing irony over events; but is it really necessary that the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” accompanies the scene in which Russell shoots up heroin?  On the whole, however, Killing Them Softly is an admirably adult and serious film, heavier on the dialogue than on the flash and action, and will test the patience of those expecting a typical shoot-em-up.  4 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Killing Them Softly is:

9. Diversity-skeptical. Jackie isn’t buying it.

8. Sexist/anti-slut.  Women are whores and trash.  Mickey’s wife has been unfaithful.  Russell recounts for Frankie a sickening episode of random sex with an insane nymphomaniac, imitating the ludicrous sounds she made, and telling how she afterward threatened to commit suicide, to which Frankie casually replies that they all behave that way.

7. Anti-torture.  Markie, under interrogation, receives a beating so unpleasantly savage and bloody that no viewer should be left with the idea that violence is glamorous and fun.

6. Antiwar.  During the credits, “Money (That’s What I Want)” fades into a lugubrious sound collage that includes helicopter noise and what sounds like echoing urination.

5. Anti-drug/drug-ambivalent.  Russell, through heroin, becomes an even more disgusting mess than he is at the beginning.  Cigarettes, however, retain a certain grimy chic, though one corporate type gangster is more than once offended by the odor.

4. Pro-miscegenation.  Mickey enjoys himself with a black hooker (who, however, frustrates him by treating her anus “like a national treasure”) and recommends Jewesses to Jackie.

3. Anti-business.  Criminals are businessmen and vice versa.  The “corporate mentality” has left even organized crime unmanned and degraded.

2. Anti-state.  Bush and Obama are phonies.  Jefferson was a drunkard who owned and abused slaves, thus discrediting all subsequent U.S. history and achievement.  The ridiculousness of gun and drug control is illustrated by the fact that, though no government agency interferes with the mob murders in the film, hitman Mickey was once arrested for gun possession while on a bird hunting trip, while Russell is eventually nabbed by the authorities not for armed robbery, but for mutually voluntary and perfectly ethical drug trafficking.

1. Nihilist/anti-human.  The sky is always dark.  “It’s all bullshit.”  The human condition is vile, obscene, and absurd.

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