Archives for posts with tag: suburbs

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig, an actress for many years, reveals herself to be a talented writer and director with Lady Bird, a standout coming-of-age story starring the excellent Saoirse Ronan as a mischievous, unappreciative Catholic schoolgirl with a “performative streak”. Lady Bird is the rare teen film that will be just as enjoyable, if not more so, to parents as to younger viewers, and the film’s development of its protagonist’s relationship and interactions with her parents, her sweet and vulnerable father (playwright Tracy Letts) and especially her stern but big-hearted mother (Roseanne’s Laurie Metcalf), is finely textured and affecting. Occasional grossness fails to ruin an overwhelmingly touching and funny film experience.

Five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lady Bird is:

6. Pro-gay. Lady Bird, at first disgusted to discover that her boyfriend (Lucas Hedges) is gay, ultimately feels sympathy for his situation.

5. Populist. Lady Bird, at first ashamed of living in Sacramento, comes to accept her attachment to “the Midwest of California”. Gerwig set the film in 2002 and 2003, she says during her commentary, to mark the period she identifies as a key moment in “the erosion of the middle class”, with 9/11 and the Iraq War referenced as contributors to middle America’s decline. “Is this a joke?” the protagonist asks on seeing a picture of Ronald Reagan hanging in the home of a more well-to-do family. In a refreshing break from typical suburbs-bashing fare like Todd Solondz’s Happiness, Gerwig concedes that American suburbia is “in my bones”, and this affection communicates itself through the tempered and never obnoxious sentimentalism on display in Lady Bird.

4. Drug-ambivalent. Students share a rumor that their teacher Father Leviatch (Stephen Henderson) had a son who died of a drug overdose, but the overall tone of Lady Bird toward recreational substances is more permissive. “Her mom clearly knows that they’re high,” Gerwig observes of one scene in which Lady Bird’s mother encounters her daughter with a group of her friends. “She’s not gonna do it [i.e., reprimand them]. She’s gonna just leave,” Gerwig approves. Lady Bird’s grandmother, on the other hand, is said to have been an “abusive alcoholic”.

3. Race-ambivalent. Catholicism appears in Lady Bird as a successful model for peaceful coexistence of races, but the existence of sub-rosa racial tensions is also acknowledged, as when Lady Bird suggests that her adopted mestizo brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) got accepted by a competitive university primarily because of his ethnicity and he in turn accuses her of racism. It is interesting to note that Miguel and fellow non-white adoptee Shelly (Marielle Scott) are usually framed separately, so that they never seem to be fully integrated members of the McPherson family. Mild moments of anti-white bias occur in Lady Bird when the protagonist is shown copying answers from an Asian girl during a test and when comparatively well-behaved Miguel and Shelly have to scold unruly white girls for wrinkling the magazines in a grocery store, where Lady Bird is also shown shoplifting. Her Asian boss at the coffee shop where she later gets a job also has to reprimand her for flirting on the clock – a second juxtaposition of oriental seriousness and work ethic as opposed to white American frivolousness.

2. Anti-Semitic! Lady Bird vomits after drunkenly kissing an atheistic New York Jew named David at a party. “We don’t have to constantly be entertaining ourselves, do we?” Lady Bird’s mother objects at her daughter’s fiddling with the car radio. Who but a hate-filled anti-Semite would object to a non-stop saturation diet of popular culture?

1.Christianish. Writer-director Gerwig had a Catholic upbringing and brings both an affectionate familiarity and an irreverence to her depiction of a Catholic high school, acknowledging Catholicism’s “theatricality” and making light of the superstitions associated with transubstantiated wafers and such. At the end of the film, however, the protagonist abandons her concocted identity as “Lady Bird” and embraces her given name of Christine, a marker of her identity as a Christian. In addition, after moving from Sacramento to New York, she feels herself drawn to the comforting beauty of a cathedral service with its choir. She returns, says Gerwig, to “the place that is home to her”.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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cooties

Elijah Wood, an aspiring novelist, shows up for his first day of work as an elementary school teacher only to find that the student body has been infected with a rapidly transmitted cannibal zombie plague, which complicates his hopes of sparking a geeky romance with faculty colleague Alison Pill. Cooties is a difficult film to review for the reason of the impression it gives of being two stylistically clashing stories forced into uncomfortable cohabitation. It is, on the one hand, a delightful take on the quirky romantic comedy genre and, at the same time, as repulsive a dose of dysfunction-inducement as has ever been splattered onto celluloid.

For the mostly harmless first fifteen minutes or so, the unsuspecting viewer might mistake Cooties for merely a fun but biting social commentary on various twenty-first century neuroses; but the extreme evisceration and the trivialization of violence toward children that follow steer the movie into an altogether darker and more upsetting territory. Cooties is wittily scripted and brilliantly cast, with several very memorable character turns from Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, and the other adult performers; but it is too bad that their efforts work to strengthen such a remorseless assault on already collapsing demographics.

Cooties earns 4 out of 5 stars for the fine comic talent on display, but goes onto the list of films whose producers will be interned in the pitiless gulags of an imagined moral future. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Cooties is:

6. Pro-drug. Jorge Garcia gets through the ordeal with the help of a bag of psychedelic mushroom “medication”.

5. Racist! Indulging in a bit of hipster racism, the film features a Japanese janitor (Peter Kwong) who (naturally) turns out to have mad martial arts skills. In a scene that can be read more than one way, a seemingly random reference to “shekels” creates a moment of strange discomfort in the faculty lounge. Is this a sly reference to Jewish hegemony in the world of high finance, or an indication that only socially awkward types who alienate their peers take an interest in such conspiracy theories?

4. Pro-gay. Jack McBrayer appears as a screechily drawling homosexual.

3. Liberal. With one set dressed in decorations for the school’s Fourth of July pageant, Cooties advertises itself as a commentary on twenty-first century America. Conservatives and terrorists, it seems, are to blame for turning a generation of children into rabid maniacs. The snottiest of the boys (Cooper Roth) was born on 9/11 and therefore named Patriot. His aspiration, he says, is to kick “towel head ass”. Alison Pill’s perky teacher character, however, claims to have beaten the terrorists “with a positive attitude.” Nasim Pedrad plays a shrill anti-government nutcase who ridicules the idea of evolution.

2. Pro-miscegenation and anti-white. “I always wanted to have sex with a prostitute who was non-white,” confesses Leigh Whannel in the role of a socially diseased weirdo. It is also noteworthy that the only two children to survive the zombie epidemic without being affected are a white girl (Morgan Lily) and a docile mulatto (Armani Jackson). The viewer is left to assume that these two will go on to repopulate a new and more peaceful human community. As in Reclaim, whites are invited to find hope and consolation in a racially alien pseudo-posterity.

1. Antinatalist. Set in Fort Chicken, Illinois – a name suggestive of cowardice and defensiveness – Cooties both expresses and exacerbates millennials’ anxieties about procreation, casting children as monstrous annoyances fit only for extermination. Pedrad’s character wears a “rape button”. Considering her workplace and suburban location, however, it is less likely that she fears sexual assault than that she has a problem with the prospect of adult sexual intimacy and motherhood. She and other freaks in Cooties reflect a generation’s psychological immaturity. The film, however, rewards them with a tentative survival for their determination to stamp out a possible posterity. As disturbing as the savage fire-extinguisher head-smashing and other means devised to murder children in the film are the multiple verbal associations of children and sex in a context of violence. “I’m givin’ you kids an ‘F’ – for ‘Fuck you!’” declares Rainn Wilson during the climactic battle sequence. “Fuck you, mom,” a boy tells his mother earlier in the film. Most disgustingly, a child is told to “eat a cock” as a truck’s chicken-shaped bumper ornament is rammed into his face to kill him.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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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