Archives for posts with tag: statist

Neighbors

Audiences accustomed to expect the ultimate in raunchy excess from Seth Rogen comedies ought not to be disappointed by Neighbors (2014), a highlight or lowlight of the actor’s career depending on individual taste. Rogen (The Guilt Trip) and Rose Byrne (The Internship) play recent parents whose idylls are disrupted when the rowdy Delta Psi Beta fraternity moves into the house next door. When the noise from the nearby parties becomes too much for the couple to take, a no-holds-barred feud breaks out between equally immature factions. What ensues is an hour and a half of some of the most unflinchingly filthy cultural venom this critic has tasted, and some of it is actually pretty funny. Can any doubt remain that Rogen, notwithstanding his irresistible charm and impeccable comic delivery, is for precisely these reasons one of the most dangerous men in the world today, able as he is to cajole audiences into swallowing the most murderous poison? This is the dread testament to his greatness.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Neighbors is:

10. Statist, glorifying police brutality.

9. Anti-gun. Byrne shoots down Rogen’s idea of buying a gun to protect his home.

8. Green. “You better put that in a recycling bin. All of it,” Byrne insists with reference to the beer cans strewn across her lawn.

7. Multiculturalist. Delta Psi Beta includes not one, but two token blacks and even an Asian.

6. Racist! Demonstrating that Jewishness is a get-out-of-jail-free card for anything, Rogen gets to say “nigga” and even wears a hipster-racist T-shirt depicting a negroid feline eating watermelon.

5. Pro-gay. “That’s awesome,” Rogen comments when a faggot couple with a baby moves into the neighborhood. Much of the fraternity’s party culture suggests latent or even overt homosexuality. Two frat lads, instead of having a proper fist fight, grab each other’s groin. “Is that how people fight now?” Rogen asks. “What are they doing?” Rogen is shocked but not too upset at seeing his wife kiss another woman. His climactic confrontation with nemesis Zac Efron involves dueling dildos, with Rogen compelled to suck his enemy’s weapon at one point.

4. Degenerate. “I’m takin’ you to bone town, bitch,” Rogen tells his wife as he fucks her in view of their smiling mischling baby. In one graphic scene of full-frontal obscenity, a girl has an unusually long dick wrapped around her throat. “Hey, guys,” she boasts, “what do you think of my new necklace? It’s a choker.” Sundry other moments, too many to mention . . .

3. Pro-drug. Weed blazes throughout the film, with Rogen lighting up on his break at work and also smoking in the presence of his infant daughter. For the final blowout, the frat house is transformed into an epic “hotbox”, with barrels of burning marijuana getting everyone on the premises high. Neighbors also contains casual cocaine use and scenes with Rogen gobbling psychedelic mushrooms. Waxing wigger, the hero repeatedly uses the word “dope” to describe anything that meets with his approval. Drinking interferes with Rogen’s sexual performance, but he manages to parlay even this into a comedy shtick to amuse his wife. “I feel like shit, but I love it,” she says when her hangover hits. Referencing Breaking Bad, the couple dresses their daughter up in a yellow suit like Walter White and poses her for photographs with Gatorade ice cubes designed to look like the show’s “blue stuff”. “She’s a little meth head,” Rogen dotes.

2. Family-ambivalent. “We are the family you get to choose and we don’t get divorced,” explains one brother of his fraternity. A tension persists throughout Neighbors between Rogen and Byrne’s commitment to being responsible thirty-something parents and their desire to have fun and feel like freewheeling twenty-somethings. Probably only to give itself some tenuous veneer of socially redeeming value, Neighbors ends with the couple reaffirming their identity as a family. Permeating the story, however, is the sense that they seek escapism from their “boring-ass lives as parents”. “Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I’m going to change who I am,” insists Byrne, to which Rogen counters, “Just because I’m a father doesn’t mean I can stop doing mushrooms with teenagers.”

1. Zionist-triumphalist. Notwithstanding the disinformation it generally spews with regard to global Zionist machinations, Hollywood knows and has always known the reality of Judaic high crimes and atrocities. A long and honored Israeli tradition is comically flaunted when Rogen and company stage a false flag party of sorts, shooting fireworks from the frat house to prompt a reaction from the police. Rogen’s compatriot Isaac “Ike” Barinholtz even inserts the Hebrew expression for “Game Over” into a phony letter he crafts to trick the fraternity into misbehaving. Acknowledging Jewish supremacist attitudes toward goy cattle and “shikse” women, Neighbors includes one disgusting sequence in which Rogen milks wife Rose Byrne like a cow. “We should go mom-tipping later,” he jokes, adding, “I was just trying to lighten the mooooood.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Contagion

Steven Soderbergh directs an ensemble cast including Laurence Fishburne (cool, calm, and collected), Matt Damon (heartbroken and desperate!), Gwyneth Paltrow (autopsied!), Kate Winslett (who, sorry to say, does not appear nude), Jennifer Ehle (scientific!), Bryan Cranston (insignificant!), Jude Law (slimy and limey), and Elliott Gould (Elliott Gould!) in this frightening film in the tradition of 1995’s Outbreak. A planet goes literally batshit crazy when a virulent new virus ravages its way from China to the U.S.A., causing a panic and the potential for societal collapse. If nothing else, the flawlessly paced Contagion demonstrates that the inevitable breakdown of civil order, whatever its cause, will not be fun. (Naturally, the disorder also provides an irresistible opportunity to depict ravenous white men rioting and robbing blacks.) A neat and polished product with an effective electronic score to match, this respectable but gruesome (and ideologically servile) entry on Soderbergh’s resume may suffer only from slight dearth of soul.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Contagion is:

9. Pro-gay. The virus at one point mutates into some funky kind of variation on AIDS, reminding viewers of how urgently the world needs a cure for gay cancer.

8. Anti-miscegenation. Unusual interspecies contact has brought the new disease into existence. “Somewhere in the world the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat.”

7. Black supremacist. The juxtaposition of a black doctor (Fishburne) and a white janitor (John Hawkes) says it all.

6. Egalitarian. Pesky “socio-economic factors” affect people’s susceptibility to the plague. When a vaccine finally becomes available, it is rationed by lottery so as to democratize the suffering.

5. Anti-slut. An adulteress (Gwyneth Paltrow) is Patient Zero.

4. Pro-family. Contagion features two touching father-daughter relationships.

3. Green and anti-capitalistic. An American corporation’s blundering program of deforestation displaces a population of oriental bats and so sets off a chain reaction that ironically takes the life of one of the company’s own executives. Black Friday crowds and confusion exacerbate the epidemic. Consumer culture must be regulated or Nature will have its vengeance! Undercutting Contagion’s environmentalist credibility, however, is its illustration of how convenient expendable laboratory monkeys can be during a catastrophic pickle.

2. Conformist. Alternative media receive a condescending send-up and a thrashing from Contagion. Decidedly de-glammed Jude Law portrays Alan Krumwiede (the name speaks for itself), a fringe blogger and crackpot conspiracy theory peddler who accuses the CDC of colluding with pharmaceuticals manufacturers, only to be exposed himself for profiteering on the crisis by stoking fears of the end of the world and defrauding the public by hyping an ineffective wonder drug called Forsythia. The lesson, one assumes, is that dissenters and those who promote distrust of government officials are not to be tolerated. Contagion is thus cronyism-tolerant in seeking to discredit those who would point out the distasteful symbioses between privileged corporations and grasping government.

1. Statist and pro-military. Self-sacrificing agents of the CDC, DHS, CIA, and other agencies contribute to the effort of saving humanity. Great pains seem to have been taken to show that the federal government has learned from the mistakes of Katrina. Laurence Fishburne’s wise technocrat even implies that the central government might do well to subsume all regional autonomies when he frets, “There are fifty different states in this country, which means there are fifty different health departments, followed by fifty different protocols.” In other words, why not just have one gigantic bureaucratized managerial leviathan to handle everything? End credits offer “special thanks” to the U.S. Department of Defense. Kate Winslet leaves the audience with the memorable image of woman-government-agent-as-Christ.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Magic Mike poster

Magic Mike, along with Katy Perry: Part of Me, was one of the faith-shakingly embarrassing trailers that seemed to hound this critic every time he went to the movies during the summer of 2012. “Oh, no, not this again,” he would think to himself, slumping into his seat as his heart sank in his breast. The fact of the matter is, however, that this amusing and unassumingly sharp drama from screenwriter Reid Carolin and director Steven Soderbergh not only rises to the occasion on more than an anatomical level, but ends up as one of the most outstanding films of its year.

Channing Tatum, who actually worked as a stripper during an earlier phase of his show business career, puts his skills to productive use in Magic Mike, a role perfectly suited to the actor’s dissolute good looks, sex power, and sense of humor. Tatum’s semiautobiographical Mike is an American original, a creatively driven renaissance stud who aspires to build handcrafted furniture for a living, but works at construction, car detailing, and stripping until he can put together the venture capital he requires. Handsome Alex Pettyfer plays Adam, the fresh piece of meat Mike recruits to join the dance revue at Club Xquisite, and whose pretty but staid sister Brooke (Cody Horn) will become Mike’s reluctant romantic interest.

It is Matthew McConaughey, however, who majestically steals much of Magic Mike as the Mephistophelean Dallas, the Gordon Gekko of male strip club proprietors. In particular, the sequence in which erotic drill instructor Dallas is training greenhorn Adam for his first tour of duty under the lights provides McConaughey with the most explosive monologue of 2012. “Who’s got the cock? You do. They don’t,” he prods his pupil like a madman, showing him how to win over a crowd of emotionally vulnerable women by whirling and thrusting his pelvis properly. “You are the husband that they never had. You are the dreamboat guy that never came along. You are the one-night stand, that free fling of a fuck that they get to have tonight with you onstage and still go home to their hubby and not get in trouble because you, baby, you make it legal. You are the liberation!” McConaughey even gets to sing a sweet little country ditty, “Ladies of Tampa”, which he himself co-wrote.

Soderbergh again shows himself to be the consummate master, a man in complete and comfortable control of his craft. Magic Mike is a career highlight, but with no small assistance from his collaborators at every level of this nearly perfect production. From performances to editing and visual design, Magic Mike is a classy show and deserving of repeated viewings. Music also adds much to the verve of the experience, with cleverly selected songs setting the movie’s various tones and rhythms. Of special note, Win Win’s “Victim” is darkly repetitive, cock-rocking magic; Countre Black’s cover of “It’s Raining Men” is a scintillating introduction to the men of Xquisite doing a campy raincoats-and-umbrellas routine; and Chris Mitchell’s coy rendition of “Like a Virgin” is an appropriate accompaniment to Adam’s shy first appearance onstage.

Highly recommended at 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Magic Mike is:

11. Anti-Christian. A crucifix pendant and cross tattoo appear in irreverent contexts.

10. Antiwar. The troupe of strippers performs a mock-patriotic military-themed routine, firing their crotches to the sound of gunfire. While, on the one hand, this points to the warrior ideal as a perennially appealing archetype in women’s sexual fantasies, it might just as easily equate war with show business as something tawdry, phony, and whorish, or suggest that war is really a sublimation of primal, sexually motivated aggression.

9. Anti-obesity. One of the strippers hurts his back trying to lift a chubby customer.

8. Pro-gay. “I don’t care what your preferences are,” says Brooke when she discovers her brother’s dance outfits and takes these for evidence of his homosexuality. Then, as if 2005’s Brokeback Mountain had been insufficient degradation of an American movie icon, the cowboy archetype is further downgraded by a homoerotic gunfight strip routine.

7. Statist. “Fuck school altogether,” Dallas opines with reason. His idea is that children should be homeschooled with special emphasis on finance and investment strategies, but Mike, presumably from faith in the liberal public education system, dismisses this as “stupid shit”.

6. Anti-American. “That’s the state of the country, man. America. People. Stupid.”

5. Pro-wigger. Mike affects a hoodie, backwards cap, and “y’all” talk.

4. Feminist/anti-marriage/anti-family. Brooke is offended and gets defensive when she assumes Mike is suggesting that she cook breakfast for him. A woman wearing a “bride to be” sash is seen dancing uninhibitedly onstage with one of the strippers, and Dallas explains that women patronize his establishment because their marriages are unfulfilling, with nude male revues providing the psychological “liberation” women require. The institution of motherhood, meanwhile, receives grotesque parody treatment in the memorable image of pink-haired tart Nora (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough) bottle-feeding milk to a piglet.

3. Drug-ambivalent. Strippers partake of something called “hey juice” and stupid sorority girls demand to know: “Who do we have to fuck to get a fucking drink?” Joints are passed around without consequence, but drinking and harder drugging (and drug dealing) get Adam and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) into serious difficulties. Mike and Adam barely make it out of a sorority house with their lives when Adam enrages a girl’s boyfriend by slipping her some E. To its credit, Magic Mike contains a classic morning-after atrocity scene too good to spoil.

2. Slut-ambivalent. Relatively conservative Brooke regrets her adolescent decision to get tattooed. Adam is warned to avoid oral contact with customers so as to avoid contracting herpes. One laid-back dope dealer enjoys an open marriage (“My wife’s tits are awesome. Check ‘em out, man.”), but this segment, rather than serving as an endorsement of swinging lifestyles, is intended to evince the decadence and the seductive evil of the world into which Adam is being initiated. Casual orgy partner Joanna (Olivia Munn) comes across as unhappy and frightened by intimacy, with Mike ultimately realizing that what he needs is a good girl and a sexually conventional life. In the final analysis, Magic Mike is less than satisfactorily judgmental where sexual promiscuity is concerned, but does give the impression that such escapades are best suited for youth if at all necessary and better abandoned in maturity.

1. Anti-capitalistic-cum-populist. In Magic Mike’s complicated and nuanced moral universe, informed by the compassionate socialist-populist worldview of screenwriter Reid Carolin (whose nonprofit group Red Feather Development has, according to Wikipedia, been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show!) and director Steven Soderbergh (hagiographer of Che Guevara and happy producer of George Clooney’s disingenuous anti-McCarthy clunker Good Night, and Good Luck) honest toil when set to the pattern of the typical employer-employee paradigm becomes a species of semi-prostitution. “You don’t wanna know what I have to do for twenties,” Mike tells Brooke significantly. The capitalist, as exemplified by Mike’s construction foreman, is a petty exploiter who balks at the notion of paying “benefits and shit”.

It is stripper-impresario Dallas, however, who most clearly personifies capitalism in this film. Icy, dishonest, superficial, materialistic, and nihilistic, he is also a charming, seductive swaggerer whose charisma no viewer will deny. A manipulator of others, Dallas also whores himself, serenading his customers (whom he describes collectively as his “wife”) and climbing back into the saddle for an impressively sweaty farewell performance of his own, erupting a shower of crumpled dollar bills onto his naked torso. Going into business as partners with Dallas is clearly a matter of dealing with the Devil (“Nobody walks on water on my team.”), and Dallas expectedly lets Mike down, going back on his glorious promises. Commerce, for Dallas, is glorified theft. “You are worth the cash you pry out of their fuckin’ purses,” he snidely pontificates.

It is the small, honest, dream-driven entrepreneur, uncorrupted by greed and mercenary prudence, with whom these filmmakers sympathize. Mike’s desire to start his own custom furniture business is admirable and casts him as, if not a starving artist, then a creative man of principle unwilling to compromise on his vision. This type of endeavor, Magic Mike charges, is thwarted at every turn by the old boys’ club of the business and financial establishment. This becomes painfully obvious when Mike, seeking a startup loan for his venture, is turned down as a bad credit risk by a bank’s loan officer (Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt, who, this reviewer is grieved to report, is at no point in the film treated to a private dance from Mike). “The only thing that’s distressed is y’all,” Mike tells her defiantly on being refused. One of the morals of Magic Mike, then, is that self-reliance and hard work, even if it results in a less comfortable life than that of a high-class courtesan, is, albeit a more difficult one, a more dignified way to live. Magic Mike, consequently, has mostly scorn for slacker Adam, who shirks his responsibilities, sleeps on his sister’s couch, and refuses to interview for a job that requires his wearing a “fuckin’ tie”.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Blackfish poster

Not many movies move this jaded reviewer to tears, but Blackfish (2013) does exactly that. This top-notch documentary details the troubled life of Tilikum, a literal killer whale responsible for the deaths of three people – two orca trainers, Keltie Byrne at Sealand of the Pacific in 1991 and Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld in 2010, plus mysterious SeaWorld trespasser Daniel P. Dukes in 1999. Like other orcas before him, Tilikum was abducted as a child and delivered into captivity for the entertainment of tourists. As Blackfish reveals, hunters prefer to capture the young whales because they are cheaper to transport, with the result that orca families are systematically bereaved by the amusement park industry.

The whales are then thrust into unfamiliar surroundings, frequently into the company of unfriendly fellow orcas, and kept in cramped quarters equivalent to confining a human being to a bathtub for the whole of his life. Whales living in captivity, consequently, tend to have lifespans half of that of their brethren in the wild and can manifest what in a human would be considered psychosis or psychological trauma. Tilikum’s life seems to have been an unusually unhappy one. In addition to the indignity of doing demeaning tricks for fish in an unsavory circus atmosphere, he was regularly abused by the female orcas with whom he performed as a lucrative stud – Tilikum’s dorsal collapse, or lugubrious drooping of his fin, serving as an appropriate symbol of his sexual humiliation and sadness.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Blackfish is:

4. Statist. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) appears as a force of good in the film, condemning SeaWorld for covering up such unscrupulous practices as misleading its employees about Tilikum’s violent past.

3. Anti-capitalistic. Blackfish stands as a shocking document of the reprehensible things some people will do to “make a buck”.

2. Animal rights militant. No person with a heart, having once seen Blackfish, will want the practice of killer whale capture and exploitation to continue.

1. Diversity-skeptical. Three of the interviewees, speaking only with overt reference to whales, make statements on the tribal nature of the creatures suggestive of broader relevance for the humans in the audience. Multiculturalism, it turns out, is just as dysfunctional among killer whales! Orca researcher Howard Garrett explains killer whale groupings in captivity:

And they say that they’re a family, that the whales are in their family, they have their pods; but that’s just a, you know, an artificial assemblage of their collection, however management decides they should mix them, and whichever ones happen to be born or bought and brought in, or – that’s not a family, you know, come on.

Orca trainer turned animal rights activist Jeffrey Ventre adds:

You’ve got animals from different cultural subsets that have been brought in from various parks. These are different nations. These aren’t just two different killer whales. These animals, they’ve got different genes, they use different languages.

Most sobering of all, Emory University biopsychologist Lori Marino offers uncomfortable truths diversity cultists ought to heed and consider in their parallel human ramifications:

Well, what can happen as a result of their being thrown in with other whales that they haven’t grown up with, that are not part of their culture is, there’s hyper-aggression, a lot of violence, a lot of killing in captivity that you don’t ever see in the wild.

Red Tails poster

Exactly the trite, pedestrian, chest-swelling exercise one would expect it to be, this George Lucas production is just another entry in the unending cycle of films spotlighting Congoid-American achievement. These movies are always the same: mighty blacks encounter and overcome race-based adversity . . . sweeping, inspiring music soars . . . The End. This time the Hollywoodized achievers are the Tuskegee airmen, the first black aviators allowed to participate in combat – in this case, appropriately enough, against those immortal bogeybots and inhuman emblems of racism, the Nazis, who, of course, are in for a “good ol’ Georgia ass-whoopin’” when they encounter the Red Tails. These valiant warriors have not only to defeat the Germans, however, but must also vanquish racism on their own side.

Bryan Cranston, slumming in a thankless cameo, plays the military bureaucrat unwilling to give the brothers a chance. Cuba Gooding turns in a puzzlingly deadpan and colorless performance as Major Stance, and Terrence Howard is safely poker-faced as Colonel Bullard. Whether the other actors in the film are capable of much is hard to say, considering the humdrum (nonde)script with which they have to work. “War is Hell. What we’re doin’ is just boring as Hell,” one of the pilots remarks with candor. Red Tails is the sort of movie that will have viewers glancing at the clock fifty minutes in and groaning that the film, far from winding down for a landing, is flabbergastingly not even half-over yet!

There are, of course, the obligatory scenes in which black romantic prowess receives its due and in which central character Lightning (David Oyelowo) enters an officers’ club, the piano abruptly falls silent, and one of the evil bigots tells him, “This is a whites only officers club. You’re off the reservation, pal.” Most obnoxious, however, is the constant glorification of war and particularly of “killin’ Jerries”. Only genocidal blacks and the most self-loathing whites will exult in the flippant depiction of so much joy in human desolation. There is, too, an indication that the Red Tails take special delight in shooting down white fighters when one alludes to a German’s “bright yellow nose”, a suggestive reference not only to his plane’s paint job but also his lack of melanin. After so many computer-generated explosions and social triumphs, however, the viewer may not find himself stirred to multicultural pride by this cinematic backfire, so much as grumpily in tune with the unwelcoming white officer in the club who dismisses Lightning, saying, “Hey. Go home,” and throws in a racial slur for good measure.

2 stars. Ideological Content Analysis points Red Tails toward the hatefully segregated Crap Only facilities and indicates that this film is:

7. Pro-miscegenation. An Italian ditz (Daniela Ruah) blows a kiss to Lightning, who then woos her for the remainder of the film.

6. Ostensibly Christian. Smokey (Ne-Yo) carries a picture of “Black Jesus.” Whether this is simply to indicate that the historical Jesus was black or is instead a satirical jab at segregation, under which blacks require not only separate facilities, but also a deity of their own, only Black Jesus can say for certain. Not all of the pilots believe in the supernatural, however. (cf. no. 1)

5. Drug-ambivalent. Easy (Nate Parker) has a drinking problem. Smoking, however, gets a free pass, with Cuba Gooding working a pipe in picture 1940s style. Lightning smokes a cigar and Smokey appears to chew tobacco.

4. Statist. “You signed up to follow orders.”

3. Anti-racist and egalitarian. Skeptical whites are repeatedly forced to come to terms with the ability of blacks and say things like, “I guess there’s more to you coloreds than I thought.” The separate but equal doctrine extends to the military and receives a critique from Colonel Bullard, who, lobbying for more expensive equipment, says, “No more hand-me-downs. If you get us new planes, we can help your boys.”

2. Pro-war. The mutual mass murder politely termed war is as usual a noble enterprise, particularly when directed against unprogressive white men and when it serves as a vehicle for civil rights at home. The war effort even receives a spiritual endorsement: “Black Jesus, we thank you for bringing Red Squadron back home to us.”

1. Black supremacist. “We are on the side of God Almighty,” Red Tails boasts. “Hallelujah, the saints are marchin’ in,” proclaims one Red Tail as he enters the fray.

Ride Along

Ice Cube plays straight man to clownish Kevin Hart in Ride Along, a decent urban action-comedy set in the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia. School security guard and police force aspirant Ben (Hart) is in love and intends to marry his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). Unfortunately for him, Angela’s hard-nosed top cop brother James (Cube) thinks Ben is a punk with no potential. Ben hopes that admission into the police academy will change his prospective brother-in-law’s opinion of him, but James is having none of it and decides to take Ben out for a ride along, a training day of sorts, with the intention of scaring the piss out of the weasel and getting him out of his life and away from his sister for good.

Ride Along benefits immensely from stone-faced, masculine Cube’s presence in the driver’s seat, while his smoldering, in-yo-face attitude makes the perfect foil for Hart’s lightweight ridiculousness. The latter’s antics grow on the viewer over the course of the film; but Hart still comes across as something like a poor man’s Chris Tucker, so that one wishes a livelier, more monkey-like, and facially animated performer like Tucker or Marlon Wayans had been cast in the key comic role. Laurence Fishburne collects a paycheck in a smallish part as crime kingpin Omar, while third-billed John Leguizamo (thankfully) has even less screen time.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Ride Along gets extra brownie points for including an Action Jackson reference and that it is:

7. Pro-family. James is fond of his sister and puts Ben through hell only out of a sense of protectiveness.

6. Drug-ambivalent. The morphine pumped into Ben to treat his gunshot wound is played for laughs, and Cheech and Chong are visible on a television screen in another scene. Alcohol, however, is bad news and could prevent a brother from playing basketball.

5. Feminist. Damsel-in-distress Angela frees herself from her bonds and gives some assistance to the boys with her frying pan. She also proves to be a natural at Ben’s first-person shooter game.

4. Neoconservative and anti-Slav. Ben does his part for the War on Terror by fighting the Taliban in his favorite video game. James is out to stop some Serbian gunrunners from providing Omar with the firepower he needs to take over Atlanta.

3. Statist/anti-gun. Ben, demonstrating Hollywood’s contention that the average Joe has no business with a gun in his hand, makes a fool of himself with a shotgun, giving the lie to the pro-gun poster behind him at the firing range. Security at the range is overly lax and Ben walks out with one of their guns. James, presumably the sort of government agent who, in Ride Along‘s view, should have the benevolently despotic monopoly on firearms, does his badge proud by engaging in a bit of glorified police brutality, slamming a shopkeeper’s head into a counter for no good reason.

2. Anti-police. Half the Atlanta police force is crooked, which would seem to conflict with the message intimated in no. 3.

1. Black supremacist. “I’m the brains. You’re the brawns,” James informs two fellow officers. White kids are a bad influence on an impressionable black youth, who could easily grow up to be a wino just by hanging out with them, Ben admonishes.

The-Internship-movie-poster

Wedding Crashers costars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite in The Internship, adequate underdog comedy fare that plays it safe and superficial, never deviating from genre conventions, and gives audiences exactly what the trailer has led them to expect. Vaughn and Wilson play Billy and Nick, wristwatch salesmen who, finding themselves the latest casualties of modernization, apply for a competitive Google internship in the long-shot hope of employment.

The protagonists’ plight will be an uncomfortably poignant one to endangered data entry workers, Blockbuster Video clerks, and all of the other expendable relics of the late twentieth century, along with that general portion of the audience comprising the rear guard of the technologically squeamish. There is an irony to the early scene in which Nick and Billy cavalierly order a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, as they themselves, like Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, are suddenly made conscious of the fact that the world they knew until now is gone. After being dismissed as dinosaurs by their younger and more brilliant rivals, however, the pair finds that their age and experiences lend them a skill set and a valuable difference of perspective, a reconciliation that finds expression in the image of a tyrannosaurus skeleton wearing Groucho glasses.

Nick and Billy’s obligatory (and unlikely) comeback notwithstanding, the film offers little hope to those still haunted by the words of former employer Sammy (John Goodman) when he tells them, “Everything’s computerized now. [. . .] They don’t need us anymore.” Then, too, there is one cynical young intern’s assertion that, “The whole American Dream thing that you guys grew up on – that’s all it is nowadays – a dream.”

Vaughn and Wilson make a great comedy team, and the supporting cast, from John Goodman to Josh Brener, Will Ferrell, and the delightfully arch Aasif Mandvi, greatly enlivens an uneven script by Vaughn and Jared Stern. The Internship is funny, if not, perhaps, as consistently hilarious as one might hope; but the pacing is impeccable, so that the movie is never in danger of grating on the viewer’s patience – even if that same viewer’s sense of the decent is in for a thrashing.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Internship is:

13. Statist. The eccentric Yo-Yo’s (Tobit Raphael) traumatic homeschooling serves implicitly to endorse the public education system (cf. The Bling Ring).

12. Feminism-ambivalent. Dana (Rose Byrne) admits that her single-minded careerism has prevented her from having a happy and normal domestic existence. Her solution, however, is not to quit her job and raise a family, but to begin an affair with a new coworker. (cf. The Heat)

11. Pro-gay. “Seriously, same-sex partners make excellent parents,” Neha (Tiya Sircar) gushes. “I so wish my parents were gay.” Strippers engage in lesbian play. Anal sex is a “life changer”.

10. Pro-miscegenation. The sight of curvaceous black booty gets an obnoxious mattress salesman (Will Ferrell) hot to trot. Asian guy Yo-Yo, meanwhile, receives serial lap dances from one or more white strippers. There is also flirtation between Indian Neha and white guy Stuart (Dylan O’Brien).

9. Pro-wigger. Lyle (Josh Brener) appropriates ‘hood lingo throughout. “Hells yeah,” fist-bumping, etc.

8. Anti-Luddite. Things are getting better all the time. One suspects that Nick (Wilson), after finally landing a job with Google, would retract his earlier words of despair: “People have a deep mistrust of machines. Have you seen Terminator? Or 2? Or 3? Or 4?” (cf. no. 7)

7. Technology-skeptical. Despite its basic endorsement of innovation, The Internship does imply critiques of what gadgetry and the internet have done to human interaction. “People hate people,” Sammy observes, and post-adolescent representatives of Generation Y exhibit social dysfunction ranging from crippling shyness to barely human rudeness and lack of any shame whatsoever in the discussion of matters best left private. Neha, like many of her generation, fetishizes Japanese pop-cultural garbage and says she enjoys cosplay (dressing up like anime characters). (cf. no. 8)

6. Pro-slut. Dana sleeps with Nick on the night of their first date.

5. Pro-drug. Billy (Vaughn) unwisely suggests he would be happy to have a “cold one” or “get high” with the severe Mr. Chetty (Mandvi). He also expresses a willingness to procure alcohol for underage co-interns. Students have the best night of their lives getting drunk and raising a ruckus at a strip club. The film does, however, at least discourage drunk driving and warns against overzealous imbibing (“I think my liver hurts”).

4. Anti-family/anti-marriage. Old client Bob (Gary Anthony Williams) has an ugly daughter who Nick and Billy have to pretend is pretty. Yo-Yo’s father (Fel Tengoncion) is a henpecked husband. His mother (Chuti Tiu) was overly protective, breastfeeding him until he was seven. She also mentally and physically abuses him, which has made Yo-Yo overly harsh on himself, so that he feels he must punish himself for “inferior performance”. “My mom calls me a maniac every night when I tell her I love her,” he says. (cf. no. 11)

3. Multiculturalist/pro-immigration. “Diversity is in our DNA,” Lyle says of his company. Intellectually bright non-whites appear in depressing abundance as juxtaposed with dopey white guys Nick and Billy. Anti-American zillionaire and ethnosaboteur Mark Zuckerburg will probably get misty-eyed when he watches The Internship‘s depictions of all the technologically adept diversity awaiting the country as soon as “immigration reform” is passed.

2. Progressive. Google is “an engine for change”.

1. Corporate. The Internship is essentially a feature-length Google commercial.

The zombie apocalypse genre has come a long way culturally since its invention by George Romero with Night of the Living Dead. That prestigious leading man Brad Pitt now stars in a $190,000,000 zombie movie from Paramount says quite enough about how firmly the ravenous hordes of corpses have ensconced themselves as a mainstream phenomenon. World War Z, the resulting film, happily rises above its origins in a pop horror fad and delivers the goods both in terms of suspense and as grist for speculative consideration, with director Marc Forster rising to the occasion and producer Pitt’s extracurricular interest in international philanthropy only slightly marring an otherwise exciting and rewarding adventure. Imagine, in short, 28 Weeks Later, but with more faith in human nature and hope for species survival.  4.5 stars. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that World War Z is:

10. Moderately pro-castration.  United Nations errand boy Gerry Lane (Pitt) is an exemplar of the sensitive man, a homemaker who cooks breakfast for his wife and daughters. Thankfully, Lane mans up fast when the action necessitates.

9. Anti-police. One officer rudely knocks the driver’s side mirror off Lane’s vehicle, and another is seen participating in the looting of a store, taking no interest in the violence happening around him.

8. Progressive/pro-philanthropy. “Movement is life,” Lane advises in Spanish in the context of trying to convince a Hispanic family to leave the precarious safety of their apartment. Lane resolves the global crisis in Taoist fashion when he discovers that humanity’s hope lies in the emulation of its weakest elements. “Help each other,” Pitt says at the end over images of unfortunate Third Worlders in a moment that would make Bono misty-eyed with pride.

7. Feminist. Tough Israeli soldier Segen (Daniella Kertesz) with her buzz cut and resourcefulness represents the unsexed woman warrior ideal.

6. Pro-family. Lane cares deeply for his wife and daughters and agrees to come out of retirement only with the intention of protecting them.

5. Multiculturalist. World War Z goes out of its way to depict compassionate people of different races showing consideration for each other (cf. nos. 3 and 4).

4. Zionist. The special historical experience of the Jews as a persecuted people has spurred them to a greater level of preparedness than other nations; their protective wall was thus completed just before the zombie apocalypse went global. Look to the Magic Kingdom for guidance, the film seems to say (cf. nos. 3 and 5).

3. Immigration-ambivalent and anti-Arab. World War Z sends some mixed and confusing signals here. Israel, even after the zombie outbreak, continues to allow controlled Palestinian immigration on the principle that every human allowed to come under their protection is one potential zombie less to fight in the future. “It’s too late for me to build a wall,” Lane reflects in reference to America’s situation (zombie or Mexican?) when he witnesses the initial success of the Israeli security system. Unfortunately, the immigrant infiltration proves subversive when the obnoxious wailing of Palestinian refugees on a microphone drives the zombies outside into such a frenzy that they pile on top of each other to scale the wall like an angry ant swarm. Arabs, serving an inadvertent Trojan horse function, are thus equated with the mindless zombies (cf. nos. 4 and 5).

2. Statist/pro-NWO. The valiant internationalists of the United Nations and the World Health Organization are Earth’s only hope.

1. Green. A lame opening credits montage suggests that climate change is responsible for the rabies-like plague ravaging the planet.

[UPDATE (11/18/13): Richard B. Spencer of the National Policy Institute offers his insights into World War Z in an engaging and articulate YouTube talk here.]

Sofia Coppola’s latest effort is very much her own. Bright, punchy, or ambient music, an elegant eye, and a sardonic sense of humor imbue yet another examination of rampant girldom with Coppola’s trademark sensibility. Unlike Lost in Translation or Marie Antoinette, however, The Bling Ring features no strong or particularly likable central protagonist, and is consequently a much more detached and ironic study than its predecessors.

The Bling Ring opens with shots of the Facebook pages of characters Marc (Israel Broussard), Chloe (Claire Julien), and Rebecca (Katie Chang) – an appropriate means of introduction in this true crime story set in an amoral teenage order founded on trendiness and popularity. All attending a high school for affluent problem kids, these are the more sophisticated and fashionable counterparts to the hedonistic nihilists in Larry Clark’s Bully, operating out of the sinister psychological intersection of thug chic and a privileged entitlement mentality.  Along with like-minded recruits Nicki (Emma Watson) and Sam (adorable Taissa Farmiga), the group combines its vapid interests in celebrity, pop criminality, and haute couture by committing a series of casual burglaries of the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and others.

An odd feature of these young people’s lives is how little concerned with love they appear to be. Tawdry apparel, dirty dancing, sex, and group acceptance interest them plenty, but these new teen creatures bear almost no resemblance to their grandmothers, the malt shop loiterers of old, with their puppy love crushes and idealism. The new teen queen is a kind of ravenous beast sustained by a constant regimen of dope, dainty baubles, irresponsible escapades, and protected from introspection by forbidding walls of abrasive music preoccupied with self-determined fabulousness.

It is difficult to watch The Bling Ring and not be reminded of another group of young Californians who targeted celebrity victims – namely, the Manson Family. In both cases, pathological fascination with the rich and famous, coupled with peer pressure, drugs, and an unhealthily violent cultural diet, result in celebrities being simultaneously venerated as idols and dehumanized as potential victims. Marc, reflecting on the meaning of his acts in the aftermath of his arrest, confides that after the story of his involvement hit the news, he received over 800 Facebook friend requests, suggesting that it is criminality itself as much as fame that attracts the adulation of the unsavory masses.

If The Bling Ring has any discernible shortcoming, it may be the dearth of surprising event, as the film proceeds along a fairly straight, predictable line as far as the plot. Apart from the signature Sofia Coppola seal in terms of color, design, and atmosphere, the film’s most attractive strength must be its delightful cast. Israel Broussard, featured in what, for lack of any real hero, is The Bling Ring‘s lead role, has a Byronic look and an enigmatic vulnerability that complements the Coppola aesthetic nicely; and all of the damsels in dissipation, from Katie Chang to Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, and Emma Watson, are irresistibly vile, divine, and luscious.

4.5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis kisses Sofia Coppola’s ring and indicates that her most recent flourish as a dependable writer-director is:

11. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation.  People of different races interact as without the least consciousness of their physiological or cultural differences. One of the girls has a thug Latino boyfriend. The camera lingers longingly over untouchable Katie Chang.

10. Anti-wigger.  Pop veneration of the ghetto mentality goes hand in hand with nihilism, crime, and self-destruction.

9. Pro-police.  Authorities conduct their investigation and effect the necessary arrests professionally and without inflicting unnecessary harm.

8. Anti-religion.  Modern woman’s faith is junk spirituality, “the philosophy of the Secret”, a kooky, relativistic melange in which words like “Lord” rub shoulders indiscriminately with new age talk of “karma”.

7. Anti-gun.  Privately owned guns, this film appears to want to convince viewers in one very frightening scene, make homes less safe and endanger the mentally deficient.  However, the fact that one of the girls steals a gun and gives it to her thug boyfriend demonstrates that criminals are not above obtaining their guns illegally and that gun control legislation is therefore futile.

6. Philanthropy-skeptical.  One suburban family claims a commitment to charitable causes in Africa, but cannot identify the specific country where they are active.  This pretended philanthropy is played as a sympathy card after the girls are caught by the police.

5. Statist.  The pitiable demonstration of home schooling as practiced by one ditzy mother (Leslie Mann) is an implicit endorsement of public education.

4. Anti-drug.  Drinking and driving results in a non-fatal accident, which, however, fails to prevent the girls from going out and behaving just as carelessly as before. Accelerating substance abuse parallels the girls’ increasingly poor judgment and carelessness in their criminal endeavor.

3. Pro-gay.  Sexually ambiguous Marc shares his girlfriends’ interest in fashion (including high heel shoes) and refers to a male schoolmate as “hot”.

2. Class-conscious.  Coppola (perhaps responding to the criticism that Marie Antoinette depicted a self-absorbed aristocrat sympathetically without taking into consideration the economic plight of the French peasantry?) depicts moral decay as in part deriving from wealth and privilege (cf. Billy Madison).

1. Pro-family.  The horror wrought by permissive or absentee parenting is the unstressed theme that haunts The Bling Ring.

A brilliant evocation of a dystopian world, The Purge tells of a future America in which the “New Founding Fathers” have implemented a national night of catharsis, “the Purge”, on which all crime, murder included, is allowed to be committed with absolute impunity, all emergency services being suspended.  Otherwise peaceful and productive citizens are allowed to release their inner demons, their pent-up frustrations and hatreds, with the result that crime of the everyday variety has been drastically reduced for the rest of the year.  One reason for this is that the poor, who presumably commit crimes only from privation, are disproportionately the victims of the annual Purge because they cannot afford the home security systems that keep well-to-do non-participants safe.   (The Purge thus stubbornly perpetuates the mistaken notion that poverty levels rather than racial makeup are a more accurate predictor of rates of crime.)  Consequently, unemployment has also been virtually eradicated, with the low-skilled and unproductive segments of the population being periodically weeded as a kind of collective sacrificial Negro.

The national night of helter skelter has naturally been a lucrative boon to the private security industry and in particular salesman and suburbanite James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), who has made a mint selling home armoring systems to his neighbors and has been able to afford an addition to his house.  Unfortunately, his success has also given rise to resentment in the community.  The Sandins are accustomed to locking down for the night and not participating – at least actively – in the annual Purge; but that changes when their teenage son (Max Burkholder) sees a black man (Edwin Hodge) in distress in the street and without consulting his father disarms the home security system long enough to allow the stranger to come inside.  Borrowing an idea from John Carpenter’s classic Assault on Precinct 13 (of which Purge writer-director James DeMonaco wrote the screenplay of the remake), a pack of masked Purgers then besieges the Sandin home, demanding that their human quarry be returned to them, or else that the Sandins themselves will become the marauders’ victims.

Reminiscent of Death Race 2000 in pointing to national ritual and sport as both a source and a valve for suppressed violent impulses in the American people, The Purge nonetheless creates an original and frightening world straight out of schlockumentarian Michael Moore’s most delirious nightmares.  Prospective viewers generally but pants-pissing dumb white liberals particularly are therefore advised to anticipate an hour-and-a-half’s worth of razor-edge suspense and accelerated heartbeats. Devilishly conceived and cleverly constructed, The Purge, notwithstanding its sociological idiocy, is the best film of the year thus far and heralds potentially great and wonderful things for creator James DeMonaco.

5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Purge is:

7. Pro-miscegenation.  Two of the Sandins’ neighbors are miscegenators.

6. Antiwar.  The hunted stranger, a homeless black man, wears dog tags, an indicator that America has not always been kind to its veterans and also a reminder of the myth that that blacks have borne a disproportionate burden of America’s casualties in conflicts like the Vietnam war.

5. Anti-gun.  For the opening credits montage of surveillance camera violence, 1992 footage of armed Korean shopkeepers defending their property against the African savagery of the Rodney King riots has been repurposed as a vilification of gun owners.  The Purge does depict gun owners defending themselves, but also being victimized by guns and having their own weapons taken from them.  In one scene, Mr. Sandin is choked with his own gun.

4. Noncommittally statist.  The Purge cautions viewers about the self-interested intentions of utopia-touting governments, with lawmakers serving lobbies and exempting themselves from their own decrees, but the film is itself a de facto statist statement in its implied endorsement of gun control and the welfare state.  Americans, The Purge appears to be urging, ought to be grateful for the disastrous government-engineered employment numbers of the Obama years – because look what draconian steps would have to be taken to reduce unemployment to tolerable levels!  End the federal stranglehold on the economy and a veritable Holocaust would ensue!  James DeMonaco is most probably the whimpering type of welfare-statist for whom the Ludwig von Mises Institute must appear a kind of looming Fourth Reich or harbinger of the Apocalypse.

3. Anti-white/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Fanatical Purge partiers wear masks representing grotesquely wholesome, smiling, Caucasian faces. The implication is clear: behind the friendly facades of those once considered normal, upstanding citizens lurks an atavistic desire to butcher blacks, the homeless, and other poor, defenseless, and downtrodden creatures.  The film has a major ax to grind with suburbia and the ostensibly perfect America of the Cleaver family and so dresses its horde of murderers in preppie sweaters, jackets, ties, and conservatively virginal white dresses for the girls.

2. Anti-capitalistic.  Business interests make their money at the expense of the death and misery of the underprivileged.  Sandin, the film’s representative merchant, sells his neighbors a fraudulent bill of goods in a home security package that delivers less than it promises.  Only when confronted in his own home with the reality of the situation is Sandin moved to consider the moral dimension of his profiteering.

1. Anti-American.  There is something about the all-American health and contentment of Leave It to Beaver that drives radicals up the wall and causes them to rage with destructive self-loathing at the evil monolith of the establishment under which they imagine themselves to be cruelly crushed.  The Purge endeavors to tear it down.

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