Archives for posts with tag: wilderness

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is reluctantly recruited by ex-girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) to rescue as many species of dinosaurs as they can from Isla Nublar before the island’s volcano erupts. The enterprise is being bankrolled by a mysterious philanthropist (Rafe Spall) – but is his offer what it appears to be? Most importantly, can the unfossilized and feral creatures be contained after they are transported to safety? Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom delivers the mayhem fans are expecting and more, with the volcano’s explosion providing the perfect pretext to fill the screen with giant reptiles of every variety as they scurry and stomp for their lives.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is:

[WARNING SPOILERS]

4. Feminist and pro-miscegenation. Representing the Coalition of the Fringes are a tattooed Latina man-hater (Daniella Pineda) and a nebbishy mulatto computer whiz (Justice Smith).

3. Anti-white, anti-gun, and animal-rights-militant. Ted Levine appears as a “great white [sic] hunter” whose hobby of assembling necklaces from the teeth of endangered species earns him a dinosaur jaw’s worth of trouble. Guns, in addition to being unreliable, are problematic in the possession of trigger-happy white men in particular.

2. Disingenuously antiwar but actually anti-Slav and neoconservative. The dinosaur rescue operation turns out to be a nefarious military-industrial plot – what? social justice hijacked for capitalist plunder? I’m shocked! – and the movie climaxes at an auction at which arms procurers from around the world bid on weaponizable reptiles. Present at the auction are representatives from Russia, Slovenia, and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. “Too many red lines have been crossed,” as well – ostensibly with regard to Frankenstein genetic science, but probably also in reference to Syria.

1.Racist! Bookending the film are testimonies from learned elder of science Jeff Goldblum, who warns that humanity, by saving the dinosaurs, is risking its own extinction. Underlying the film is the West’s anxiety about the acceptance of “refugee” populations from the Third World. The dinosaurs, as savage, prehistoric animals – rather like Africans, the film seems to imply – are objects of both amazement and civilizational trepidation. Indicative of the mingled fear and excitement experienced by mentally ill social justice warriors in the presence of rapefugees is an unsettling scene in which a dark-colored dinosaur creeps into a little girl’s room and hovers over her in her bed, extending a claw to caress her. This same child’s decision at the end of the film to release the dinosaurs into the modern world can be read either as a parody or a celebration of naïve Europeans’ – and particularly women’s – childishness and erotic retardation in ushering in their own racial and cultural annihilation. She makes her momentous choice after discovering that she is a clone and not the person she thinks she is – which is to say, after having her sense of identity undermined.

Alternatively, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom can be read as an allegory about the danger inherent in providing succor to Jews. After rescuing the dinosaur-Jews from the volcano-Holocaust, western man is faced with the problem of how to survive with these troublesome creatures in his midst – an interpretation bolstered by an attempt to exterminate the dinosaurs with cyanide gas at the end of the film and which, furthermore, would put a somewhat different and perhaps self-revelatory spin on the aforementioned scene of the giant lizard in the little girl’s bedroom.

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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It Comes at Night

A plague has decimated the United States, plunging the population into anarchy and reducing living standards to the bare rudiments. Rather than offering a panoramic view of the cataclysm, however, It Comes at Night opts instead to tell this story on an intimate level, with a minimal cast, and through the interactions of two families trying to survive in a forested wilderness.

Joel Edgerton lives in a remote house with wife Carmen Ejogo and son Kelvin Harrison. The death early on of the mother’s father, played by David Pendleton, serves as a reminder of the family’s continued vulnerability to the mysterious pestilence even in their isolation and haunts the remainder of the film.

New tensions are introduced when another family, headed by Christopher Abbott, enters their lives. Edgerton never completely trusts Abbott’s motivations, and lonely and sensitive Harrison finds himself drawn to Abbott’s attractive wife, portrayed by Riley Keough.

Highly effective moments of paranoia reminiscent of John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing enhance this morose and often oppressive horror drama, tipping this review in favor of a recommendation. 4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that It Comes at Night is:

3. Anti-gun, with firearms contributing to a tragic denouement instead of successful home defense.

2. Pro-miscegenation, with Edgerton married to a black woman and helping to raise her black son (it is never clear whether Harrison is supposed to be Edgerton’s biological or adopted son, but he looks too dark-skinned to be the former). The film includes a dream-turned-nightmare fantasy scene in which Keough grotesquely straddles and smooches the congoid boy before spewing black plague-slime into his face. Perhaps inadvertently, the scene conveys the temptation to miscegenation as well as the sense that there is something wrong and unnatural about it.

1.Borders-ambiguous. Writer-director Trey Shults has said that It Comes at Night is fundamentally about “fear of the unknown”; and one expression of this in the film is instability created by the unexpected presence of an outsider. Viewed microcosmically, It Comes at Night can be interpreted as an allegory about the immigration debate and the popular call for a wall and strong protectionist measures. Christopher Abbott, who plays the stranger, has some Italian ancestry, but could easily read visually as a mestizo. His character enters the lives of Edgerton and his family when he breaks into their home hoping to find supplies – he is, in other words, illegal and undocumented – but is allowed to move into the house with his wife and child after winning Edgerton’s trust with successful food-for-water barter. His presence, tolerated on pretexts of mutual economic benefit and universal compassion, also represents a threat to Edgerton’s family’s domestic security, however; and, just as Mexicans entering the United States have brought with them illnesses such as highly virulent strains of tuberculosis, Abbott and his family carry with them the risk of plague contagion. Perhaps endorsing this reading is Shults’s description of the climactic sequence as a “Mexican standoff” and his confession during his commentary on the film that, “I was reading books on genocide and thinking about, like, us as humans, you know, and how long we’ve been on this planet and that […] ingrained in us is tribe mentality, you know, and, like, basically, these two families are these two tribes.” The inability of the two men to maintain a peaceful collaboration is treated as a tragedy, but one that could have been avoided if their paths had never crossed – if, for example, Edgerton’s home security precautions had been more thoroughgoing and Abbott had never been able to break into his home in the first place.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

The Grey

Reminiscent of The Edge (1997) in its tale of wilderness survival, The Grey has a plane full of oil rig workers crashing in the snowy Alaskan waste, where the few survivors must struggle both against the cold and a pack of vicious wolves who hunt them while also coping with their own intragroup tensions. Neeson is perfectly cast in the lead as the only man in the group with the skills that may be able to keep them alive. Existential flavoring, unexpected bits of humor, and spooky utilization of locations and sound design make The Grey a thrilling adventure and a solid career highlight for the star.

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

4. Anti-corporate. The oil company employs criminal misfits, mercenaries unsuited for any other kind of life. The greedy corporation, one survivor speculates, will expend as little effort as possible to find them, since rescuing the men would only mean having to pay them what they are owed.

3. Pro-family. The men miss their loved ones and have occasional recourse to consoling memories.

2. Anti-Christian. In a moment of despair, Neeson calls out God, demanding that He show him a sign of His existence. Finally, receiving no reply, he resolves, “I’ll do it myself.” A tacky neon cross adorns the exterior of an inn where brutish louts are drunkenly brawling in an early scene.

1. Sadistically green and animal rights militant. The Grey takes place in a universe in which the primordial is sacred and man’s transgressions against the natural world constitute the worst of sins. Neeson, who kills wolves professionally for the oil company, has his Ancient Mariner moment early in the film when he shoots a wolf that presents no immediate danger to him. The other men, too, though fundamentally decent sorts, are accomplices in the corporate rape of the environment and so must be punished by the wolves, the vengeful Furies of the Alaskan wilderness.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Wild poster

A career highlight showcase for star Reese Witherspoon, this freewheeling emotional odyssey into triumphant you-go-girlism concerns real-life tramp Cheryl Strayed, whose epic hike along the Pacific Crest Trail takes her from “piece of shit” and “hobo” to liberated and self-actualized piece of shit with an Oprah’s Book Club pick. As with all wilderness pictures, from Jeremiah Johnson to Rescue Dawn, there is an innate fascination to the scenes of Strayed’s one-woman struggle with the elements. The interspersed flashbacks to the unpleasant experiences that drive her to make her quest, however, are hit-and-miss, diminishing any sympathy this reviewer is able to muster for her. Laura Dern appears as Strayed’s long-suffering, cancer-ridden mother.

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

6. Drug-ambivalent. Wild sends mixed messages about Cheryl’s life as a heroin addict. Marijuana, however, seems to be a laid-back thing to do. Alcohol appears as a no-no, though, with Cheryl vomiting after some hard stuff. (see also no. 1)

5. Anti-Christian. Foulmouthed Cheryl utters multiple blasphemies.

4. Anti-redneck. The rural white male is a constant menace hovering in the gloaming of Cheryl’s consciousness, leering at her and making unsavory advances.

3. Pro-choice. Cheryl has an abortion.

2. New age, peddling mass market paperback mysticism that might have been cribbed from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The film ends with Witherspoon reciting some philosophical gobbledygook about how nobody knows what leads to what – the scientific method, contrary to this reviewer’s mistaken impression all his life, turning out never to have been invented after all – life being one big mysterious journey, each seeming adversity or disastrous decision constituting a necessary step toward destiny’s fulfillment. People – and, by extension, societies – might as well experiment to their hearts’ content on this starry trek of objectively valueless existence.

1. Feminist. Wild celebrates the junkie-adulteress-intellectual as heroine. One of its many nuggets of womany wisdom is that divorces, unlike marriages, tend to be lasting. Regarding her serial back-alley extramarital humps and heroin habit, Cheryl apologizes to her nice-guy husband (Thomas Sadoski) but later confesses that she harbors no regrets about anything. Adrienne Rich’s poem “Power”, a favorite of the protagonist, furnishes Wild with its theme. Marie Curie’s “wounds”, Rich explains, “came from the same source as her power”. Witherspoon’s body, accordingly, appears with unsightly contusions and cuts throughout the movie, these presumably being the feminist stigmata symbolizing the suffering through which she has attained her “power”. In a parallel characterization, Cheryl’s mother is an abused wife who abandons her alcoholic husband and goes back to school for her education because, she says, she never felt like she was in the driver’s seat of her own life.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Oprah’s Bucks Club

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The first half of this Nic Cage serial killer thriller is so uninspired that it comes as a bit of a shock to realize an hour or so into its run time that it actually packs some fair suspense. Cage is, as always, easy to watch and perfectly adequate in his role as an Alaskan state trooper investigating a series of gruesome hooker murders, though fans of his more outrageous performances may be disappointed by his relatively sedate turn here. It is Cage’s Con Air castmate John Cusack, however, here cast against type as the seemingly mild-mannered murderer, who constitutes the primary reason to see The Frozen Ground. The initial interrogation and confrontation between Cage and Cusack is especially electric and easily the strongest scene in the film. Also featured prominently is Vanessa Hudgens as a revolting prostitute targeted by Cusack and coddled by paternally protective Cage. Rounding out the cast are Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris in a frustratingly small supporting role and rapper 50 Cent looking somewhat out of place as a pimp on ice. The Frozen Ground is no Angel or Vice Squad, too serious in its approach to its true crime subject matter to take full advantage of exploitative potential; but, approached with appropriate expectations, it might be worth a Redbox rental one of these chilly nights.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Frozen Ground is:

6. Racist! Fiendishly perpetuating the black pimp stereotype. Even if it is based on a true story, truth is no excuse for racism!

5. Anti-gun. Cusack is a hunter and Hudgens relates that, when she saw all the animal heads mounted on his walls, she knew there was no point in begging for mercy.

4. Anti-drug. Recreational pharmaceuticals solve nobody’s problems. Cage’s sister died in an accident caused by a drunken driver.

3. Anti-Christian. The killer, whose middle name is Christian, is, appropriately enough, a Christian, as an FBI psychological profile has predicted. One senses that his family’s emotional life is stultified by the strictures of his faith, which has probably also contributed to his vicious attitude toward fallen women.

2. Anti-family/anti-marriage. Like American Beauty, Breach, and countless other subversive films, The Frozen Ground is eager to reveal the conservative family man to be a closet pervert and a volatile maniac. Cusack’s wife is clearly a silent sufferer in an unhappy marriage. Hudgens, child of a teenage mother, reveals that she was molested by an uncle.

1. Slut-ambivalent. The film can hardly be accused of prettifying the life of a hooker, and it graphically illustrates the danger of hawking sloppy thousandths on the mean, moose-prowled streets of Anchorage, Alaska. The movie stumbles onto thin dramatic ice with its attempt to drum up audience sympathy over the rape of a shameless whore, however, and irritates with its perpetuation of the popular misconception that streetwalkers’ lives have value.

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