Archives for posts with tag: The Prodigy

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A reader suggested that I review this oddity, so it’s with a tinge of sadness that I report that I don’t like it very much. This hodgepodge of conspiracy theories, urban legends, magical realism, cult consumerism, and synchronicity is essentially a hipster version of The X-Files with a self-consciously quirky and ironic millennial spin. Ne’er-do-well protagonist Sam (Andrew Garfield) becomes obsessed with secret messages in popular culture after reading a cheesy zine called Under the Silver Lake. Strange occurrences start to haunt the befuddled hero as he combs Los Angeles hunting for clues, seeking the ultimate profundity of it all, and also tries to track down elusive inamorata Sarah (Riley Keough), who is apparently supposed to be some kind of fascinating woman of mystery but just seems like a dumb and gross pothead to me. Amplifying my annoyance with this movie is that, at 139 minutes, it’s so goddamned long and just keeps getting less and less interesting as it progresses. Maybe it’s only that I’ve become a middle-aged fogey, but fuck this movie, altogether a disappointing non-delivery on the promise of writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s previous effort, the superior horror outing It Follows (2014).

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Under the Silver Lake is:

Pro-drug. Sam and Sarah bond over weed and a movie after a meet-cute occasioned by dog poop.

Anti-Alt-Media. As much as Under the Silver Lake might like to market itself as an homage to conspiracy lore and to find an audience among extremely online devotees of hidden history and various autistica, the filmmakers’ condescension is plainly in evidence. The characterization of the pop music industry as an establishment contrivance, of course, has some validity; but, mixed as it is with whimsy about underground tunnels decorated with Egyptian ephemera and guarded by hobo initiates, the brief whiff of truth here and there in this movie is most often overpowered by the stench of bullshit. Sam – whom production designer Michael Perry describes in the DVD extras as a “conspiracy nut” – is a kidult who still plays video games and seems incapable of managing his life. Unconcerned that his rent and car payments are overdue, he instead spends his money in a bookstore or a bar or orders a pizza, the responsibilities of life apparently being beneath him. This representative conspiracy researcher is also a dope smoker for whom, in Perry’s words, “everything’s connected. So we have the Kennedy assassination, World War II, aliens” – dissident investigation of political murders or the facts of the Second World War apparently being on par status-wise with UFOlogy. The writer behind the Under the Silver Lake zine, once Sam meets him, is a bugman whose home is filled with toys, comic books, and pornography – the preoccupations of an arrested development. Even when Sam’s investigations seem to validate his suspicion that surface reality conceals a world of secret meaning, his adventures can still be interpreted as a mere satirization of what goes on inside the heads of alternative media consumers. Under the Silver Lake is not an endorsement of the work of David McGowan, for example, but a cinematic snicker at the suckers who read him. Smug liberal consumers of corporate media will be able to view this film in the comfort of bias confirmation, their point of view personified in the screenplay by Sam’s friend played by Topher Grace. “I used to think that I was gonna be someone that, like, people cared about,” Sam complains. “Maybe do something important” – which his skeptical friend diagnoses as “narcissism and entitlement” – the qualities that presumably motivate rabbit-hole explorers and dissident researchers in the opinion of David Robert Mitchell. Sam’s friend, giving voice to the TV believers, internet conspiracy pooh-poohers, and pop psychologists in the audience, dismisses Sam’s feelings of being followed as “the modern persecution complex. Who needs witches and werewolves anymore, right? Now we have computers. I swear to God, at the very least, the entire population is suffering from mild paranoia. See, our little monkey brains, they’re not comfortable knowing that they’re all interlinked and routed together now in some kind of all-knowing, alien mind hive, and that shit is a straight-up cesspool for delusion, for fear …” In another scene – one that contributes nothing obvious to the advancement of the story – Sam catches some youngsters vandalizing cars and brutally beats them; and I can’t help but wonder if this moment, like the ones I recently spotlighted in Drunk Parents and The Prodigy, speaks to a tribal industry’s anger and anxiety about trollish young white men in the era of the Alt-Right and Trump.

Nihilistic and anti-human. One of the most off-putting things about Under the Silver Lake is that its characters are so unlikably casual and desensitized. Sam absently screws some floozie, for instance, as they watch a news broadcast, and he later turns an old man’s face into a crater, smashing his head repeatedly with a guitar – all of which the filmmakers thought I needed to see in graphic detail for some reason or other – I suppose because they think it’s funny. The casualness with which Sam and the women in his life approach their sexual relationships – the screenplay seems a bit confused as to whether the character is cool or a loser – makes his infatuation with Sarah a bit of an arbitrary head-scratcher given that there’s nothing particularly intriguing about her apart from her looks; and nightmare visions of Sarah and other women barking like dogs serve to reinforce an impression of general contempt for the trainable human animal. The revelation, too, that popular culture emanates not so much from the brilliance of revolutionary artists as from a hidden establishment with ulterior motives, contributes to a feeling of futility and despair as opposed to wonderment. Give up. You can’t win!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Drunk Parents

Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek, once they send their daughter (Michelle Veintimilla) off to college, struggle with making ends meet and hiding their poverty after being well-to-do and suddenly finding themselves in dire financial straits. Tasked with housesitting for out-of-the-country neighbor Nigel (Aasif Mandvi), the couple instead gets drunk and places a Craigslist ad to rent out the house, precipitating a wacky succession of misunderstandings and chaotic hijinks – all of it furnishing a serviceable showcase for the stars, with Baldwin doing his usual thing and Hayek totally over-the-top as she rants about hippies in a supermarket, spastically writhes as CGI spiders crawl over her face and body and bite her, and finds herself in various other zany situations. Colin Quinn and Will Ferrell, meanwhile, have amusing cameos as hobos.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Drunk Parents is:

6. Anti-white. Baldwin and Hayek are the comedy’s obligatory positive depiction of an interracial couple. Like The Prodigy, Drunk Parents reflects Hollywood’s discomfort with politically rebellious young white men and includes two bratty kids, Trey (Jeremy Shinder) and Tristan (Eddie Schweighardt), who have hacked a neighbor’s baby monitor and are teaching the infant to say “the N word”. The name Tristan, which this character shares with a Wagnerian protagonist, may be indicative of the fear of rising identitarianism among intellectually inclined and irreverent white youth.

5. Pedo-sympathetic. New neighbor Carl (Jim Gaffigan), a convicted sex offender, is revealed to be a basically harmless eccentric whose attempt to save some children from a shark was misunderstood as predation. Reinforcing the theme of sympathy for accused sex predators, Baldwin and Hayek are abducted by vigilantes who have mistaken them for pedophiles. Again, as in The Prodigy, a racist white boy – in this case, Tristan – falsely accuses Baldwin and Hayek of sexual molestation. The industry would seem to be circling the wagons in response to growing public awareness and hostility toward Hollywood degeneracy.

4. Consumerism-critical. “Why did we get all this stuff?” Hayek frets after coming to ruin and finding herself in debt.

3. Media-monopolist. Alternative media – which is to say, the democratization of the means of disseminating information – makes the world of Drunk Parents a more dangerous place. This is demonstrated when the anti-pedo vigilantes upload a video of Baldwin and Hayek to the internet and turn them into a viral sensation.

2. Drug-ambivalent. Drunkenness makes Hayek accident-prone and gets her and Baldwin into some trouble, but the movie’s attitude toward alcohol is ultimately rather Taoist, with everything working out alright in the end. “A drunk man’s actions are a sober man’s thoughts,” narration explains. Trafficking drugs lands a trucker in prison, but the man is not depicted as fundamentally a bad person, and the fact that his daughter is left without a provider is intended to evoke sympathy and possibly militate against the regime of prohibition. Ferrell demonstrates that smoking is dangerous, however, when he sets himself ablaze while siphoning gas. Cocaine is also mentioned as a nutritional supplement utilized by ancient warriors.

1.Class-conscious. Ferrell’s character, a once-wealthy man reduced to homelessness, explains that the rich will “prey on you” – and the film’s representatives of “Wall Street” and “family money” are of course white men. Respectability or criminality, in the world of Drunk Parents, are situational products of environment and the vicissitudes of fortune. Rather like Trading Places, this is a story about a man discovering how his social inferiors live. Suddenly an entitled Baldwin finds himself thieving a bottle of pricy wine and only meeting with job offers he once would have considered undignified. One of Hayek’s gripes is that, “You have to be rich to be skinny. All the cheap foods are the ones that pork you up. The sugars, the carbs, the corn syrup.” Now that they are struggling, “people look away. They avert their eyes. Especially our friends.” They are ultimately happy to have lost the “stuck-up, useless friends” of their former social milieu.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

Prodigy

The popular creepy kid genre can be traced all the way back to The Bad Seed (1956), but really took off in the years that witnessed the introduction of the birth control pill and the legalization of abortion in conjunction with overpopulation propaganda, with Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973), It’s Alive (1974), The Stranger Within (1974), Devil Times Five (1974), I Don’t Want to Be Born (1975), The Omen (1976), and The Brood (1979) being notable examples. The purpose of such movies, when it is not simply to make a quick, exploitative buck, has frequently been to instill in deracinated women associations of anxiety and disgust with their own biological imperative, and The Prodigy (2019) is an especially noteworthy development of this tradition. I found it to be genuinely scary – even as I smirked inwardly at its gross subtextual purpose.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Prodigy is:

3./4. Anti-gun and pro-choice in one fell swoop. You have to watch out for those meddlesome old white men with their guns trying to save children from being murdered by their mothers. BELIEVE WOMEN when they determine that their sons deserve to die.

2. Antinatalist. The Prodigy might as well have been titled Abort the Alt-Right: The Movie.

1.Anti-white. New parents John (Peter Mooney) and Sarah (Taylor Schilling) – who have the surname Blume but do not appear to be Jewish – seem to have the perfect suburban life until their unhealthily pale son Miles (Jackson Robert Scott) starts to manifest precocious intelligence while lagging behind in emotional development and social skills. He also has different-colored eyes like Nazi LARPer David Bowie, who is name-dropped in the screenplay. These are the film’s first clues that what devil-child Miles really represents are Jewish and globalist anxieties about the remaining potential for a resurgence of nationalism and fascism among peskily still-reproducing white people. One of the semi-autistic child’s first demonstrations of intolerance is when as a schoolboy he becomes jealous at the sight of a Mexican-looking boy working on a project with a white girl. Miles wants to be paired with the girl instead and attacks the other boy in deplorably savage fashion with a wrench. A not-so-insignificant establishing shot shows him attending Buchanan Elementary School – because everybody knows the antisocial influence that Patrick J.’s tutelage exercises over the kids these days.

A Jewish parapsychologist, Dr. Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore), finally determines that Miles, who speaks in Hungarian while he sleeps, is the reincarnation of a misogynistic serial killer, Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux), whose family had relocated from Orban Land to Ohio. Scarka, as seen in The Prodigy’s prologue, disrespectfully chopped off womyn’s hands and murdered them in his supervillainous hillbilly house of horrors. He was probably a Republican, too – the viewer just senses it. Hungary, in Jewish consciousness, is inseparable from its twentieth-century history of anti-Semitism and the “Holocaust”, and Scarka personifies the threat of retro central-European bad-optics nationalism’s reincarnation in Rust Belt populism and toxic masculinity. After Dr. Jacobson tries hypnotizing Miles in order to learn more about the malevolent Hungarian soul occupying his body, Miles threatens to accuse him of sexually molesting him – because, of course, that is what incorrigible young white men are doing these days – falsely accusing Jewish men of being pedophiles. Who needs the bother, amirite, sisters? Just #RESIST pregnancy and have an abortion.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

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