Archives for posts with tag: Werner Herzog

Meeting

Werner Herzog gained intimate access to the last leader of the Soviet Union for this watchable documentary. Herzog, who comes across as the consummate dork throughout, mainly confines his questioning to the realm of historical platitude, but crosses the line into outright tastelessness in prodding the aged Gorbachev to discuss his agony over his wife’s death from leukemia: “How much do you miss her?” Even so, the film, combining interview segments with archival footage, does manage to produce a few moments of interest, with Herzog’s thesis presenting Gorbachev as a tragic figure deserving of audiences’ sympathy. Oddly, the elder statesman is one of those individuals who looks like a completely different person in old age, with even his signature birthmark seeming to have changed color over time – so let the retarded Paul-is-dead impostor conspiracy-theorizing commence!

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Meeting Gorbachev is:

Anti-Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a “reckless type”, Gorbachev laments, reflecting, “I should have sent him off somewhere.”

Pro-German. “I believe we have a common destiny with the Germans,” says Gorbachev, who grew up with German neighbors. “I personally feel that they are our closest friends.” Ultra-cuck Herzog, however, makes sure to remind viewers of the 25 million citizens of the Soviet Union killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Anti-nuke and anti-Trump. Gorbachev remains committed to nuclear disarmament, and Margaret Thatcher emerges as an antagonistic force in her more belligerent nuclear stance. “It’s a shame that the current American president declared he will modernize their nuclear arsenal,” observes Horst Teltschik, National Security Advisor to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Pro-NATO and anti-Putin. Teltschik downplays the threat that NATO poses to Russia. “But we have to get back to having reasonable discussions with Russia,” says Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, “and probably that takes some sort of a jolt for Mr. Putin to realize that the hostility is not good […]” Disappointingly, Gorbachev is not permitted to say much of anything about Russia under Putin.

Socialist! “More democracy – that was our first and foremost goal,” says Gorbachev. “I also wanted more socialism!” The film does allow, however, for “errors in centralized planning” having contributed to the Soviet Union’s demise. Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is accused of “sinister reasoning” in his determination to take advantage of Gorbachev’s sincere desire for reform. “He really believed that he could reform communism,” Walesa scoffs. “Of course, I and many others knew communism couldn’t be reformed.” “Rather than dissolving the Union,” Gorbachev believes, “we should have given the republics more rights.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

 

gorillas-in-the-mist

Forget Runaway Slave (2012) or Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (2016). Gorillas in the Mist (1988), starring Sigourney Weaver as mountain gorilla specialist Dian Fossey, is the ultimate liberals-are-the-real-racists experience on film.

Fossey is a sixties feminist freakazoid whose work with handicapped children fails to satisfy her attraction to the dysfunctional and the grotesque. Instead, she travels to the African jungle to subsist all alone on a mountain with wild gorillas and nobody but mostly unfriendly blacks for miles around. One of the zanier heroines in eighties cinema, she is something of a thematic cousin to the protagonists of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982).

Disregarding her mentor’s warnings, Fossey, after first being spooked by one of the rampaging apes, slowly gets close and personal with a particular group of gorillas. She crawls around on the ground with them, learns to imitate their grunts, and gets to know each one of them individually. In one of the movie’s breakthrough moments, she even holds hands with one of the things and practically swoons with schoolgirl languor.

Her interactions with the black natives are far less promising. A group of soldiers ransacks her belongings and scatters her scholarly papers. The local Batwa tribesmen offend her sensibilities with their traditional hunting techniques, prompting her to sabotage their traps. Fossey capitalizes on their superstitious conviction that she is a witch by encouraging them in this impression, making them afraid of her with devilish exhibitions of voodoo.

dian-fossey

Dian Fossey, gorilla supremacist feminist icon

Eventually, after a party of poachers cuts off the head of one her apes, Fossey loses her mind and practically goes Col. Kurtz on the “wogs”, as she calls them, setting fire to grass huts and even staging a mock-lynching (!) for one of the culprits.

Gorillas in the Mist, on its surface, may only be the story of one woman, Dian Fossey. On the subtextual level, however, what is at stake is race relations. The overly optimistic idea is that, if this miracle worker, Dian Fossey, can even tame the savage heart of a wild mountain gorilla, then surely, too, there is hope that whites can live in peace with primitive blacks someday.

There is, too, an implicit imperialism of the heart about Fossey’s presumptuous shouldering of the white woman’s burden to teach the ignorant Africans how to conserve their wildlife. Maurice Jarre, most famous for composing the score to Lawrence of Arabia, was tapped to create the soundtrack to Gorillas in the Mist. Just call her Fossey of Afro-Apia!

The film’s depiction of Fossey as a woman of mingled passion and bigoted misanthropy seems to have been rather on the mark. The L.A. Times, in its notice of Fossey’s unsolved murder in 1985, noted:

“What is important is that she was the first to ‘habituate’ gorillas” to the presence of humans, said Belgian ecologist Alain Monfort, an adviser to the Rwandan Park Service. “Before that, people thought gorillas were highly dangerous,” Monfort said.

But the naturalist’s sometimes-eccentric behavior irritated both the Rwandan government and the international wildlife community. […]

In an interview at her camp in May, one of the last she gave, Fossey defended her policy of encouraging the apes to fear black Africans because nearly all poachers were black. She conceded that the policy could be branded as “racist.”

The Wall Street Journal also says this:

Fossey, who was hacked to death with a machete in her bed 16 years ago – by whom, we still do not know, though it could have been poachers, a disgruntled Rwandan servant, or even an American colleague – saw herself as a benign earth-mother to the highland gorillas she helped protect. There can be no denying her path-breaking achievements, and had it not been for her, and for the attention she attracted to the cause of the mountain gorillas, it is possible that we might, today, have been talking of those animals in the past tense.

But Fossey was also a racist alcoholic who regarded “her” gorillas as better than the African people who lived around them. Her anthropomorphization of the apes was matched by her unceasing belittlement of the area’s natives. Arguably the world’s first eco-colonialist, she habitually referred to Rwandans as “wogs,” never in all her time recruited a single black African as a researcher and even burned the crops of neighboring peasants whom she suspected let their cattle graze in the reserve.

As extreme as Gorillas in the Mist makes Fossey’s obsessiveness appear, the film constitutes a positive sanitization of her activities if her fellow primatologists Bill Weber and Amy Vedder are to be believed when they claim that Fossey “pistol-whipped a man suspected of poaching on her reserve, and then supervised his prolonged torture at her camp, including the rubbing of stinging nettles on his penis and testicles.”

The feminist conservationist icon might have missed her calling shoveling Shlomos into the ovens in a Spielberg epic, sounds like. At least Madison Grant never messed wit muh dik.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY SIXTEEN

Red Army

Red Army tells the intriguing story of the Soviet hockey system – the players, the bureaucrats, and the sport’s utilization for patriotic propaganda purposes under Brezhnev. Star performers like Viacheslav Fetisov, whose reminiscences form the core of this exceptional documentary, contributed to the development of an intricate, distinctively cooperative hockey style as contrasted with the rougher, more individualistic Canadian-American model. While loved and idolized by their people, Soviet athletes, as Red Army makes painfully clear, did not enjoy the freedom and the celebrity lifestyle associated with sports in the United States.

A participant in the celebrated Miracle on Ice of 1980, Fetisov and his teammates went on to win the Soviet Union its sixth and seventh gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics. Fetisov was beaten and harassed by authorities before finally being able to emigrate to the U.S., where he at first had difficulty adjusting to an unappreciative American system. In 1995 he was traded by the New Jersey Devils to the Detroit Red Wings, whom he helped to Stanley Cup victories in 1997 and 1998, largely through a recreation of the successful five-man formation, the “Russian Five” or “Russian symphony”, that had worked so well for the Soviet team.

One criticism of Red Army is that it treats the propagandistic agenda of Soviet sports culture as if this was somehow unique to the communist experience – as if sports in United States, for instance, do not convey the official myths of this decaying society. The U.S. distinguishes itself with the cultural Marxist flavor of its spectator sports, with team members of all different races, sexual orientations, and national origins coming together for a single purpose and teaching not pride in one nation or race, but multicultural meritocracy and allegiance to uniforms. “Spectator sports today is used as a perfume to hide the aroma of our decaying society,” writes Harrison Elings at The Occidental Observer. “It has ushered in an age of sports ritualization. It is used as an escape mechanism for a lost identity, an identity which now accepts and believes in the entrance and mixture of all races into all Western societies. It is Exhibit A for successful multiculturalism and interracial harmony and cooperation.”

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Red Army is:

3. Anti-materialistic. To its credit, Red Army does not stoop to glorifying the gaudy, gangsterish switch to capitalism in the 1990s. “Different mentality. Different culture,” Fetisov says in reflecting on his return to his formerly communist homeland. “We kind of forget about the patriotism. We [are] kind of ashamed [of] what we was before.” Furthermore, he confesses, “We lost something. We lost our pride. We lost our soul.” What Red Army neglects to tell the viewer, however, is just how Jewish the criminal Russian nineties were.

2. Zionist. Directed by a very self-consciously Jewish immigrant’s son, Gabe Polsky, Red Army is comparatively well-behaved in its cautious treatment of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but the choice to include one particular clip from journalist Vladimir Pozner is very telling. “Much of the problems” – that is, in the Russia of today – “are still anchored in that [totalitarian] past,” he says, leaving to viewers’ imaginations what “problems” Russia has. This is something of a throwaway statement in the context of the full-length documentary, but crucial in the marketing of the film to the public, as millions of Americans have heard this remark about Russia’s alleged Soviet-Putin continuity “problems” in the widely seen Red Army trailer included on many 2014 Sony Pictures Classics releases. Asked by an audience member at a Toronto Film Festival Q & A why no Russian filmmaker had previously made a film about the Soviet hockey system, Polsky responded, “maybe because [of] some of the politics in the country, they might just – it’s not possible.” The insinuation of this vague reply is that Putinist Russia is some oppressive bastion of censorship preventing the production of intellectually satisfying hockey documentaries.

1. Pro-immigration, reinforcing the notion that immigrants have valid reasons for moving to the United States and attempting to find a better life. Fetisov, because of his high achievements and non-threatening genetics, presents an unusually appealing immigrant narrative. Some NHL personnel were wary of the sudden influx of Russian players after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Red Army includes a sound bite from one such nativist who suggests the imports are stealing American jobs. This, however, the film implies, was just a form of bigotry that had to be won over. “They’re playing for us and they’re good,” one hockey fan exults after Fetisov and his countrymen hit their stride with the Detroit Red Wings.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Have shopping to do and want to support icareviews? The author receives a modest commission on Amazon purchases made through this link: http://amzn.to/1NV7Rcd

Jack Reacher

A forgettably generic, silly, implausibly contrived mystery-thriller, Jack Reacher is nonetheless watchable and even enjoyable for starring the still remarkably gorgeous Tom Cruise, who retains a fascination that shines even through the most lackluster sorts of material.  He is at no point entirely convincing as the secretive, laconic drifter of the title, a man who moves from town to town with only one set of nondescript clothes and who, like Henry Fonda’s Tom Joad, will “be there” when trouble necessitates.

This adventure has Jack coming to the unlikely aid of psychotic Iraq war veteran James Barr (Joseph Sikora) who, in an apparent open-and-shut case, is the prime suspect in a seemingly random shooting spree.  Teaming with easy-on-the-eyes public defender Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), he has little difficulty getting himself into pickles that involve exciting car action and entertainingly cartoonish hand-to-hand combat.  He unearths an ornate conspiracy involving enigmatic one-eyed villain “the Zec” (Werner Herzog) and soon finds himself the subject of unfriendly attention from the police and various inept criminal minions.

Whether or not the film is a worthwhile waste of time will ultimately be determined by each viewer’s taste or distaste for Tom Cruise, who makes or breaks the innocuous Jack Reacher accordingly.  3.5 of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Jack Reacher is:

8. Anti-Christian.  A murderous thug (Vladimir Sizov) wears a gaudy crucifix.

7. Anti-slut.  Jack has standards.  A woman loose in her associations meets an unenviable end.

6. Anti-military/antiwar.  Four types of people enter the military: those following in a family tradition; patriots; people who need work; and those looking for a legal venue in which to commit murder.  Private security contractors in Iraq engage in something dubbed a “rape rally”.  Just as disillusionment with American activity in Vietnam trickled into the cinema with a proliferation of films about mentally unhinged veterans bringing the war home in Motor Psycho, The Ravager, Taxi Driver, Cannibal Apocalypse, First Blood, and others, the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are giving rise to a cinema of the Iraq psycho as evidenced by Savages, Jack Reacher, and probably more to come.

5. Gun-ambivalent.  The private gun owners who frequent Robert Duvall’s shooting range are characterized as poor marksmen and “touchy” about their Second Amendment rights.  Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me” plays at the range, reinforcing the brutish hick image for gun rights advocates.  Duvall, though he gives Jack some very useful information and tactical assistance, exhibits poor judgment of his patrons’ character when he says he “always liked” the insane Barr.

4. Leftist.  Cops never vote for Democrats, Jack suggests (though others might disagree).  The corrupt police in Jack Reacher are therefore, one assumes, supposed to be evil Republicans.  Public defenders are idealists working to protect the innocent citizenry.

3. Anti-police.  Police are corrupt and allow a suspect to be beaten brutally while in custody.  When Jack is wrongly suspected of a murder and hotly pursued by squad cars and a police helicopter, a friendly black man (who presumably understands from personal experience that police will frequently hound an innocent man) lends him his cap to help him make himself inconspicuous in a crowd.

2. State-skeptical.  Government pork spending is at the root of the conspiracy.

1. Pro-vigilante.  With police like these, who needs criminals?

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