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color

Nic Cage fans should get a kick out of this genuinely unnerving H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. Cage plays Nathan Gardner, a family man finally “living the dream” after moving his family out of “the big city” and onto a rural New England farmstead. The trouble starts when a stinky meteorite lands in his yard, after which strange transformations start to occur among Gardner’s family and in the wilderness around them. Devotees of crazy, freaked-out Cage moments will have a ball with his close-encounter-in-the-shower scene, driveway tantrum, and the sight of him blasting away at a mass of slimy mutant alpacas. Some of the outrageously grotesque situations and visuals are reminiscent of films like From Beyond (1986), The Curse (1987), and Society (1989), which ought to give prospective viewers a fair warning of what lies in store. Color Out of Space does, unfortunately, overstay its welcome by twenty minutes or so, particularly when it slips into all-encompassing CGI saturation mode; but, at its best, Color Out of Space is good, spooky, occasionally campy fun.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Color Out of Space is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Drug-ambivalent. Tommy Chong plays a forest-dwelling hermit and weed aficionado. His chemical pastime is played for laughs, but his easygoing disposition also leaves him spacey, reckless, and incapable of perceiving the threat right under his feet (and in his cup).

Media-skeptical. When TV news does a story on the landing of the meteorite at Mr. Gardner’s farm, the interview is inaccurately captioned “UFO Sighting in Arkham?” and the reporter insinuates that Gardner is only a drunk.

Green, suggesting that politicians are insufficiently concerned with conservation and public health. Arkham’s corrupt mayor (Q’orianka Kilcher) proceeds with a profitable reservoir construction project despite being warned about the environmental hazards.

Wicca-ambivalent. Gardner’s daughter, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), practices witchcraft, casting spells to, for instance, keep her mother (Joely Richardson) free from cancer. She claims never to practice black magic, and is depicted as a more or less normal teenage girl. Her spells are ineffective at combating the titular menace, however, and viewers are left with the impression that Wicca is probably only a silly hobby. Interestingly, one of the talismans employed during one of her rituals is a swastika made from Barbie doll legs. This could, on the one hand, indicate her character’s immaturity; but it might also suggest elites’ anxiety over potentially negative, possibly nationalistic outcomes of young European-Americans’ abandonment of Abrahamic religion in favor of a return to paganism, however superficial (cf. Midsommar).

Urbanite. Lavinia is dismissive of country life, dislikes being made to eat “peasant food”, and, unlike her father, would have preferred to continue enjoying life in “the big city”. The family’s isolation and remoteness from civilization and help does contribute to their downfall in the end.

Pro-miscegenation. Lavinia has a crush on a “kinda cute” African-American hydrologist, Ward (Elliot Knight), who comes to survey the Miskatonic River for a hydroelectric company. H.P. Lovecraft, who advocated “the domination of English and kindred races over the lesser divisions of mankind”, would no doubt have been appalled. Fortunately, the color out of space culturally enriches Lavinia before the suitor of color can.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

can you ever

Melissa McCarthy, in what must be her least repugnant role to date, plays the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed misanthrope and literary forger Lee Israel in this amusing movie for booklovers. After publishing biographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder, Israel fell on hard times and, in order to make ends meet and keep her cat alive, took to forging and selling letters that purported to have been written by the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. McCarthy, who is fatter but still way more attractive than the actual Lee Israel, manages to make an almost lovable character out of “a 51-year-old woman who likes cats better than people.” Suspenseful, involving, and often funny, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is forgivably watchable if you don’t have to pay for it.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Can You Ever Forgive Me? is:

4. Pro-gay. Israel is a lonely lesbian and her partner in crime is a charming British homosexual, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), who tragically comes down with a case of the AIDS at the end of the movie after “fucking [his] way through Manhattan.” Hock appears with a bloody face in one scene as a reminder of the perils of being a fruity fop in a cold and insensitive world. Israel’s forging of letters by Noel Coward, too, furnishes a pretext for a history lesson about how, during the benighted first half of the twentieth century, gays still had to hide their orientations and carry out their forbidden amours in secret.

3. Anti-drug. Israel’s drinking is a barrier to healthy relationships. Cocaine, meanwhile, is associated with homosexual excess and irresponsibility. After going away and leaving Hock alone to look after her apartment and cat, Israel returns to find that her friend went on a coke-and-sodomy spree and that the cat has died. It is unclear, however, whether the cat has actually died because of neglect or simply succumbed to old age, considering that it was already sickly. In any case, Hock’s life of doping and diddling eventually leads to his demise.

2. Anti-family. “Maybe she didn’t die,” Hock reflects, trying to recall what became of a mutual acquaintance. “Maybe she just moved back to the suburbs. I always confuse those two. No, that’s right. She got married and had twins.” “Better to have died,” quips Israel, who has no interest in family life.

1.Philo-Semitic and anti-white. Can You Ever Forgive Me? takes place in a New York of the imagination in which plucky underdog Jews struggle to make it in a WASP-dominated world. “Did you hear,” bookseller Anna (Dolly Wells) asks, “that Tom Clancy is getting paid $3,000,000 to write more right-wing macho bullshit?” “Are you kidding me?” Israel objects. “That blowhard’s gettin’ $3,000,000? Oh, to be a white male that doesn’t even know he’s full of crap, right?” To her credit, Israel’s literary agent Marjorie (Jane Curtin) advises her to become “a nicer person” because “you can’t be such a bitch” and make it in the publishing world. Israel, however, accuses Marjorie of benefiting from (an implicitly WASPish) privilege and wealth. (Deleted scenes include a vignette in which Israel takes a job as an assistant to a rich blonde lady with the nakedly symbolic surname Whitman. The viewer, of course, is encouraged to find Israel more likable, cleverer, and more deserving of comfort and success in life than the prim and tedious Whitman.) Probably to counter the bad-optics spectacle of a slovenly character named Israel engaging in theft and fraud and generally being antisocial, screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty throw in references to Adolf Hitler and “terrible old fart the tyranny addict Joe Kennedy” to remind viewers of Jewish suffering during the Second World War. In truth, however, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is, all things considered, a celebration of balls-out chutzpah and Jewish talent at snookering the gullible goyim.

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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