Archives for posts with tag: South America

Green Inferno

Eli Roth, the sadistically grinning embodiment of the distinctly Jewish torture porn horror subgenre that flourished under George W. Bush, has never been one of this writer’s favorite moviemakers; but Rainer Chlodwig von Kook is big enough to admit when one of his cultural adversaries knocks one out of the park – one severed head, that is. Cannibalism, as practiced in remote and exotic places, naturally lends itself to action and horror cinema; and the cannibal film, which has an affinity with the “Mondo” genre, flourished especially in Italy in the seventies and eighties, producing such classics of controversy as Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981). It makes perfect sense that unredeemed gorehound Roth would eventually turn his attention to the limitless potentials of the Amazon rainforest to generate compelling and grotesque stories. The Green Inferno is Roth’s homage to Ruggero Deodato and all of the other filmmakers who stalked the forest before him.

Lorenza Izzo plays Justine, a naïve university student who finds herself drawn to a messianic community organizer named Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Wanting to feel that she can give something of value back to the world, but also hoping to spend more time with Alejandro, Justine signs on to accompany a group of volunteers to the jungle to stop a construction project from destroying the indigenous way of life. Once the rag-tag team of idealists has scored its media coup, however, the group finds itself in a world of pain when the local gut-munchers mistake them for the developers they had come to oppose. Worse, the mysterious Alejandro might not be the saintly soul they imagined when they began their journey. Drenched in jungle colors and the epic production values that can only be found in the natural world, Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is a literally eye-gobbling experience!

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Green Inferno is:

5. Anti-gun.These are our guns,” says Alejandro as he brandishes a cell phone. The idea is that citizen journalism renders armed self-defense unnecessary. Justine has learned a lesson at the end of the film and prevents a mercenary from shooting her by convincing him that she has him on camera.

4. Politically incorrect. “Honestly, I hope they starve to death,” says frivolous college girl Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) of fellow students enduring a hunger strike out of solidarity with the school’s benefit-bereft janitors. (The Green Inferno, though not released until 2015, was finished in 2013, and there is an Occupy Wall Street feel to the film’s Ché shirt milieu.) She also taunts one of the hunger strikers with a big bagel. “Activism is so fucking gay,” Kaycee declares. Roth, in his audio commentary, indicates that Kaycee is “the voice of realism” in The Green Inferno. Her cynicism prevents her from taking any interest in the jungle expedition from which so few of her peers will return. The primitives are literally redskins who paint themselves with a bright red pigment, so that their communal practices can be read as a skewering of communism as ideological cannibalism. (See the Charlton Heston western Arrowhead for another example of redskins as subtexual commies.) “Maybe we’d have a chance [against the natives] if we hadn’t blown up the bulldozers,” one of the activists laments. Despite the story essentially being one of liberals mugged by reality and confronted with the ignoble nature of the savages they adore, Justine maintains the lie after returning to civilization. “I never felt afraid when I was with them,” she says. Justine even claims the natives saved her. Lefties, the movie suggests, will stoop to feeding false information to the public so as to perpetuate the myth of turd world people’s saintliness.

3. Pro-drug. A bag of powerful weed comes in handy once the activists are prisoners. They stuff it down the throat of one of their dead comrades, so that, when the natives inevitably cook her, they all get high and mellow, allowing for an escape attempt. Unfortunately, the natives also get a giggly case of the cannibal munchies.

2. Cynical and conspiracist. Alejandro, a representative SJW, is revealed to be an unfeeling cad and unconcerned with the safety of his fellows. Confronted with one of The Green Inferno’s worst atrocities, he proceeds to masturbate in order to ensure that he can “think clearly”. The whole expedition on which he has led the group turns out to be a ruse. Instead of being motivated by the dignity of the rainforest or the rights of its indigenous peoples, Alejandro is actually in the employ of a rival developer looking to frustrate a competitor’s project. “Everything’s connected,” Alejandro explains. “The good guys and the bad guys. You think the U.S. government didn’t allow 9/11 to happen? You think the war on drugs is something real?” Understandably, given Roth’s racial background, he situates 9/11 in LIHOP Land and has nothing to say about Larry Silverstein, Dov Zakheim, Odigo, or the celebrants spotted at the Doric Apartments in Union City, New Jersey, on the morning of September 11, 2001. Oil, it is suggested elsewhere in the film, is what motivates U.S. foreign policy.

1. Judeo-obscurantist. “The only things those posers care about is looking like they care,” fumes Kaycee. “It’s just some weird demonstration to appease that fucking white stupid suburban Jewish guilt. Hi, I’m Jewish,” she quickly explains, displaying her Star of David pendant to a passerby. “I’m allowed to say that.” Roth would have viewers believe that Jews are “white” and that their “social justice” agitation is motivated by “Jewish guilt” rather than hatred of Europeans and conscious promotion of social chaos.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Multiple MickBlame_It_on_the_Night_poster

Blame It on the Night (1984) ***1/2

Top arena rocker Dalton (Nick Mancuso) has his busy but more-or-less freewheeling backstage lifestyle upset when he learns he has an illegitimate son, Job (Byron Thames), now a teenager attending a military academy. Dalton desperately wants to make up for lost time and to be a real father to the boy, who, however, has been accustomed to icy military discipline and insists on acting like he has a baton stuck up his ass. The clash of their personalities and the cache of Job’s unresolved emotional suppression and resentments provide the background for this innocuous 80s movie’s conflicts.

Philip Norman gives the following account of the Rolling Stones frontman’s involvement with Blame It on the Night in his 2012 biography Mick Jagger. Approached with the opportunity to star in the film, “Mick was initially interested, especially when producer Gene Taft offered him a co-credit for ‘original story’ if he would provide material from his own direct experience of rock stardom. He changed his mind, however, on realizing that the estranged parent-child theme had uncomfortable parallels with himself and his daughter Karis. When the film finally came out in 1984, ‘Michael Phillip Jagger’ was still co-credited [with Gene Taft] for the story.”1

The resulting experience suffers, haunted by the absent Jagger’s specter, so that one can only wonder, while watching Blame it on the Night, what the film might have been like had Jagger actually committed to playing the lead, which instead went to handsome but comparatively colorless Nick Mancuso. Jagger’s input on the rock ‘n’ roll life would likely have lent a gritty edge to what, in the event, is an overly sanitized portrayal of the world of rockers, roadies, and floozies, so that the movie almost seems to have been made to play on the Disney Channel. Scenes of Dalton angrily telling his son to clean up his room or, worse still, engineering a cringe-inducingly forced reconciliation around a campfire, are unconvincing, to say the least. Only former Willie Nelson drummer Rex Ludwick brings an air of rock excess to the film in the role of Dalton’s hearty-partying bandmate Animal.

Perhaps to compensate for the absence of Mick, notable Rolling Stones collaborators Billy Preston and Merry Clayton (whose fiery “Rape! Murder!” vocals fans will know from “Gimme Shelter”) appear as themselves in minor roles. Unfortunately, the music, with the exception of the marginally catchy title tune, is uniformly uber-generic 80s pop cheese delivered with sappy Michael McDonald earnestness. On the plus side, Blame It on the Night is appealingly paced and goes down as smoothly (and is about as nutritious) as a spoonful of Jell-O. Nostalgia aficionados, furthermore, will appreciate that Blame It on the Night features more than one obligatory 80s rock montage sequence. Think of it as a C-grade rock ‘n’ roll Over the Top minus all the testosterone and arm-wrestling.

Running out of Luck

Running out of Luck (1986) *****

Previous to helming this epically bizarre film, Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980) director Julien Temple had also created the atmospheric music video for the Rolling Stones’ “Undercover of the Night” (1983). “For Julien Temple,” relates Philip Norman, “the filming [in Paris, passing for South America] was an experience that made the Sex Pistols seem almost a rest cure by comparison.”2 But whatever his bad experiences on that set, Temple agreed to reunite with Mick for another tropically-themed collaboration in 1985 when he jaunted to Rio de Janeiro to film the absurd rock musical Running out of Luck.

Essentially a vanity project for Mick, Running out of Luck finds the star playing his arrogant, sneering self in what amounts to a series of several music videos connected by a loose adventure narrative. After shooting a video for self-absorbed director Dennis Hopper (!) in Rio, Mick picks up three women who turn out to be transvestites (“She’s a geezer!”) and who beat him up, rob him, and stow him in a meat truck that takes him into the middle of Brazilian nowhere. After stumbling around and hallucinating in a desert, Mick gets picked up by a horny virago (Norma Bengell) who forces him to work on her banana plantation and satisfy her sexual needs. While there he hooks up with Brazilian bimbo Rae Dawn Chong (who has a steamy, bare-breasted love scene with the star) and makes his escape from the plantation only to fall into further misadventures and gets thrown into a grimy prison, which, fortunately for the viewer, is lax enough to let Mick to sing and wiggle his butt to his heart’s content. Mick’s moll Jerry Hall, who also appears in the film as herself, has meanwhile decided that Mick is deceased and entered into a tawdry affair with an American politician.

For those who feel, as this writer does, that the “Dancing in the Street” video with Jagger and David Bowie camping it up like a couple of move-busting insane asylum escapees is one of the finest slices of cinema ever broadcast, Running out of Luck is the real thing – a veritable mother lode of eccentric 80s Mickness in full-lipped snarling glory. Among the various sights and sounds and marvels awaiting the viewer of this freak show of a flick is Mick in drag, Mick getting manhandled and stepped on, Mick licked, Mick groping a tranny, Mick eating maggot-infested prison gruel, Mick playing the roulette tables like James Bond, Mick writhing with a tarantula on his back – and more! The funniest scene has him stumbling into a country store, trying to convince the proprietor that he is, in fact, Mick Jagger, and futilely jumping around, shouting, and shaking his ass to prove it. In short, any Rolling Stones or 80s obscurities fan should pounce at the chance to watch this sicko sweetness dredged from the VHS trash trove.

Mick Jagger performs “She’s the Boss” in Running out of Luck (1986)

Endnotes.

  1. Norman, Philip. Mick Jagger. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012, p. 475.
  2. Ibid., p. 526.
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