Category Archives: Movies

Being a Modern Heretic, by Donald Jeffries

The only thing being a modern heretic might do for you is preserve your self-respect. From Donald Jeffries at lewrockwell.com:

It’s not easy going against the grain in any time period, in any society. In our present crumbling America, it may be more difficult than ever.

When you oppose both authoritarian political correctness, and the all-encompassing greed that has produced an unprecedented disparity of wealth, as I do, your prospects in all ways will be severely limited. Family and friends roll their eyes, at best, and at worst shun you. Prospective employers are not impressed.

It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re a heretic. I should have been more thrilled than I was, as an old-time Washington Senators fan, to see the Nationals win the World Series. While I watched more baseball than I have in many years, and was happy over the victory, it was impossible to ignore the diminished level of play. This is probably even more the case with professional basketball and football. Since I can’t watch such a bad product in silence, I am not a popular guest at parties.

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They Live, We Sleep: Beware the Growing Evil in Our Midst, by John W. Whitehead

A filmmaker got it right over thirty years ago: the reality underneath is far different from what we see on the surface of our lives. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they’re people just like you. You’re wrong. Dead wrong.” — They Live

We’re living in two worlds, you and I.

There’s the world we see (or are made to see) and then there’s the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media.

Indeed, what most Americans perceive as life in America—privileged, progressive and free—is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and “freedom,” such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police armed to the teeth.

All is not as it seems.

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Meet the black, transgender Cinderella’s godmother you’ve all been waiting for (or so the woke media tells us), from RT

Hollywood is putting ideology before entertainment. We’ll see how that works out at the box office. From rt.com:

Meet the black, transgender Cinderella’s godmother you’ve all been waiting for (or so the woke media tells us)

 

Comedy Gold: The Joke’s on You, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

Doug Lynn dissects The Joker. From Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…

– 2 Timothy 3:1-4

As an internet writer seeking common ground, or, rather, a mutual base frame of reference with the readers, I’ll often use widely disseminated resources in order to inspire contemplation and conversation. Obviously, these sources would include movies and books.  So, with that in mind, I recently took advantage of $5 Tuesdays at a theater near me and saw “Joker”.   The antagonist of the film, of course, is Batman’s old arch nemesis, “The Joker”.

The movie was epic comic book fare – but also realistically familiar at the same time.  And this is understandable given the renowned infamy of the DC Comics super-villain.  But there were also more current, and grounded, correlations too.

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Hollywood reboots Russophobia for the New Cold War, by Max Parry

Washington and Hollywood have been in bed together for a long time. From Max  Parry at off-guardian.org:

​It is an age-old question as to the extent art reflects the world we live in. Bertolt Brecht allegedly said to the contrary that art was “not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”

The Marxist German playwright devised theatrical methods designed to distance the audience from the staged drama while drawing self-reflexive attention to the contrived nature of the spectacle itself.

The idea was that by estranging the spectator and encouraging critical examination, they would come to view society’s manmade injustices as similarly unnatural and be given agency to transform them in the real world. One of the implications of Brecht’s notion was that art in its more conventional forms often functions as a tool of mass persuasion for those in power to reinforce those inequities.

Marx and Engels themselves professed to have learned more about the contradictions of French society from the novels of Honoré de Balzac, which upheld the monarchy and the Church, than any historians or philosophers of their day. At its very worst, artistic mediums can be used by governments to manipulate a nation’s attitude towards other countries in order to justify war.

Brecht’s life and work coincided with the development of the film industry. However, most productions influenced by his ‘epic theatre’ were art-house and foreign films while commercial, mass-market Hollywood movies placed greater emphasis on appealing to the emotions over intellect.

However, there were some exceptions such as Charlie Chaplin who not coincidentally was persecuted for his politics by the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the Red Scare.

In the Cold War, Tinseltown played an important role in the cultural battlefield against the USSR and anti-Soviet paranoia was an ever-present theme in American cinema for decades, from the McCarthy era until the Berlin Wall fell.

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Trump Or Cheney? NYT Asks “Who’s The Real American Psycho?” by Maureen Dowd

Trump doesn’t have the blood of millions on his hands, although that doesn’t mean he won’t. From Maureen Down at the New York Times via zerohedge.com:

The NYT’s Maureen Dowd appears to have had enough of the hyperbole, hyper-short-memories, and hyped up virtue-signaling from the establishment. Reflecting on Adam McKay’s new movie “Vice” with Christian Bale playing Dick Cheney, Dowd gently nudges America back from the edge of the divisive Midterms to remember that much evil has come before…

Donald Trump is running wild – and running scared.

He’s such a menace that it’s tempting to cheer any vituperative critic and grab any handy truncheon. But villainizing Trump should not entail sanitizing other malefactors.

And we should acknowledge that the president is right on one point: For neocons, journalists, authors, political hacks and pundits, there is a financial incentive to demonize the president, not to mention an instant halo effect. Only Trump could get the pussy-hat crowd to fill Times Square to protest Jeff Sessions’s firing.

We make the president the devil spawn and he makes us the enemy of the people and everybody wins. Or do they? To what extent is lucrative Trump hysteria warping our discourse?

Trump may not be sweaty and swarthy, but he makes a good bad guy. As with Nixon and Watergate, the correct moral response and the lavish remunerative rewards neatly dovetail.

Even for Washington, the capital of do-overs and the soulless swamp where horrendous mistakes never prevent you from cashing in and getting another security clearance, this is a repellent spectacle. War criminals-turned-liberal heroes are festooned with book and TV contracts, podcasts and op-ed perches.

Those who sold us the “cakewalk” Iraq war and the outrageously unprepared Sarah Palin and torture as “enhanced interrogation,” those who left the Middle East shattered with a cascading refugee crisis and a rising ISIS, and those who midwifed the birth of the Tea Party are washing away their sins in a basin of Trump hate.

The very same Republicans who eroded America’s moral authority in the 2000s are, staggeringly, being treated as the new guardians of America’s moral authority.

They bellow that Trump is a blight on democracy. But where were these patriots when the Bush administration was deceiving us with a cooked-up war in Iraq?

Michelle Obama has written in her memoir that she will never forgive Trump for pushing the birther movement. Yet the Pygmalions of Palin, who backed Trump on the birther filth, are now among the most celebrated voices in Michelle’s party.

The architects and enablers of the Iraq war and Abu Ghraib are still being listened to on foreign policy, both inside the administration (John Bolton and Gina Haspel) and out. NeverTrumper Eliot Cohen wrote the Washington Post op-ed after the election telling conservatives not to work for Trump; Max Boot, who urged an invasion of Iraq whether or not Saddam was involved in 9/11, is now a CNN analyst, Post columnist and the author of a new book bashing Trump; John Yoo, who wrote the unconstitutional torture memo, is suddenly concerned that Trump’s appointment of his ghastly acting attorney general is unconstitutional.

MSNBC is awash in nostalgia for Ronald Reagan and W.

So it’s a good moment for Adam McKay, the inventive director of “The Big Short,” to enter the debate with a movie that raises the question: Is insidious destruction of our democracy by a bureaucratic samurai with the soothing voice of a boys’ school headmaster even more dangerous than a self-destructive buffoon ripping up our values in plain sight?

How do you like your norms broken? Over Twitter or in a torture memo? By a tinpot demagogue stomping on checks and balances he can’t even fathom or a shadowy authoritarian expertly and quietly dismantling checks and balances he knows are sacred?

McKay grappled with the W.-Cheney debacle in 2009, when he co-wrote a black comedy with Will Ferrell called “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W Bush.” In the Broadway hit, Ferrell’s W. dismissed waterboarding as a Bliss spa treatment and confided that he had once discovered Cheney locked in an embrace with a giant goat devil in a room full of pentagrams.

When McKay was home with the flu three years ago, he grabbed a book and began reading up on Cheney. He ended up writing and directing “Vice,” a film that uses real-life imagery, witty cinematic asides and cultural touchstones to explore the irreparable damage Cheney did to the planet, and how his blunders and plunders led to many of our current crises.

With an echo of his Batman growl, Christian Bale brilliantly shape-shifts into another American psycho, the lumbering, scheming vice president who easily manipulates the naïve and insecure W., deliciously played by Sam Rockwell. While W. strives to impress his father, Cheney strives to impress his wife, Lynne, commandingly portrayed by Amy Adams.

Before we had Trump’s swarm of bloodsucking lobbyists gutting government regulations from within, we had Cheney’s. Before Trump brazenly used the White House to boost his brand, we had Cheney wallowing in emoluments: He let his energy industry pals shape energy policy; he pushed to invade Iraq, giving no-bid contracts to his former employer, Halliburton, and helping his Big Oil cronies reap the spoils in Iraq.

The movie opens at Christmas, but it’s no sugary Hallmark fable. It’s a harrowing cautionary tale showing that democracy can be sabotaged even more diabolically by a trusted insider, respected by most of the press, than by a clownish outsider, disdained by most of the press.

After a screening of “Vice” Thursday, I asked McKay which of our two right-wing Dementors was worse, Cheney or Trump.

“Here’s the question,” he said.

“Would you rather have a professional assassin after you or a frothing maniac with a meat cleaver? I’d rather have a maniac with a meat cleaver after me, so I think Cheney is way worse. And also, if you look at the body count, more than 600,000 people died in Iraq. It’s not even close, right?

Has America Become a Dictatorship Disguised as a Democracy? by John W. Whitehead

Pull back the curtain on present-day America and you certainly don’t see the country our founding fathers had in mind. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into a trance. They have made us indifferent to ourselves, to others. We are focused only on our own gain.”—They Live, John Carpenter

We’re living in two worlds, you and I.

There’s the world we see (or are made to see) and then there’s the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media.

Indeed, what most Americans perceive as life in America—privileged, progressive and free—is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and “freedom,” such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police armed to the teeth.

All is not as it seems.

“You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they’re people just like you. You’re wrong. Dead wrong.”

This is the premise of John Carpenter’s film They Live, which was released 30 years ago in November 1988 and remains unnervingly, chillingly appropriate for our modern age.

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