Movie rawr: Requiem for the American Dream

It is hard to level criticism at a documentary that has the famous Noam Chomsky as spokesperson in it. Who am I to naysay a man who knows more, has experienced more, means more and has more written all over? But this, in a strange manner, works both ways. When a documentary is out to proof something accepting it because Chomsky says so sets us up for a fallacy called speaking from authority. But before continuing on: what is the documentary about anyway?

This documentary is trying to make the case that there is some kind of conspiracy to kill democracy and the American dream. It is not a documentary trying to give you an insight in the theories of Chomsky for instance or trying to give you an overview of his career. In fact Chomsky, being a linguist, is treading outside his area of expertise. We are in the land of economics, politics and power-mongers in general. Which doesn’t mean that he has noting valid to say, but it is really a pity that what he seems to have revolutionized isn’t being talked about or used. Linguistics, the use of language, is a powerful way to shape the world around us for it is the way we get to know the world. You can read books like 1984 or How to read Donald Duck to get an idea. Mind you that me naming them doesn’t mean that I agree with the contents, it merely to give you examples.

The documentary is split in two logical parts. One part has figures and charts that show how the divide between the rich and the rest of the country dramatically changes over the decades. It shows how all kinds of restraints and controls on banks and other financial institutions have been done away with. It shows how the labor unions declined and so on. It tries to make the case that power is getting monopolized. And this all commented upon by Chomsky. And there is nothing wrong with this as far as I can determine.

It is the second part however that made me pause. It is where the documentary and Chomsky try to suggest that all of this is deliberate and aimed at undermining democracy and the American dream to the benefit… of who actually and planned by whom?
And here is the weakness of the documentary which is profound. Who are those people, Chomsky? Only a flimsy piece of evidence is given, which is where Chomsky strongly suggests that Alan Greenspan admitted in an open inquiry to promoting worker insecurity. I was baffled at this, for what use is a conspiracy that openly reveals itself and thus admits to being one? And as a matter of fact, it wasn’t what Chomsky said it was. And Chomsky was even challenged on this back in 2014, but he didn’t bother to correct himself and even repeats it in this documentary but now in a sly way.
The documentary first has Chomsky say it was designed. Then it shows Greenspan concluding worker insecurity  kept the wages low and an excerpt of the rapport is given and then Chomsky immediately says in the next shot that it is deliberate again. Thus suggesting again strongly that it was a deliberate policy. It took me a few minutes to google this how Chomsky tries to misuse this. Down below is a link where Chomsky in Counterpunch says it was imposed. You can google the internet too.

Here are screenshots from the documentary

22 minutes into the documentary

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:33 AM
Chomsky stating it is deliberate(designed)
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:38 AM
Chomsky pointing at Greenspan
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:41 AM
Here Chomsky is at his slyest. Running implies he was in on it. But it also doesn’t imply direct involvement. He can can always claim he didn’t mean to imply Greenspan planned it.
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:49 AM
Read the the whole paragraph. ‘Considered surprising.’  ‘Less than predicted.’ ‘Atypical.’ Greenspan is making observations and they are not as many would have expected(Greenspan probably wants to pass himself off as smart by suggesting others are surprised but he is not. Oh the irony for now he is open to Chomsky’s accusation. Had he said: it surprised me as well, Chomsky would have had no case to make. Well almost not.).
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:56:04 AM
Probably but you still have to proof it was deliberate and planned.
The documentary in this part reveals to be another conspiracy aimed at promoting the idea that yet another version of the Illuminati is at it again, only now they are so vague that we do not even get to know who these people are(was it Greenspan?), what they do and how they do it. Chomsky talks unopposed and no criticism of what he says can be found in this documentary. It is preaching for the choir. It is propaganda.
Chomsky strikes me as a man walking in a forest who hears a tree topple over and concludes that a private company is out to wreck nature because the tree must have been cut down by a man, and that man can only work for a company and companies only do stuff because they aim at enriching themselves at the cost of anything else and therefore it is a deliberate way to wreck nature.
Upon investigation however it could very well be that the tree toppled over because it was old and decrepit. You can probably think of yet another explanation.
Alas this documentary doesn’t give room for alternate explanations and this damages the whole purpose. For what would be the upshot of Chomsky’s arguments? That a nefarious group of people plans this? Hence: get rid of this group and all will be well?

Chomsky shoots himself in the foot. For he has to twist language to vindicate his believes which is really shameful for a man who has been a linguist. Twisting words in one case with intent discredits everything else that is said for I do not have the time to fact check everything. And now? What can I trust you to say truthfully? I would almost say: shame on you, Chomsky and those who made this documentary and didn’t bother to check and correct. You did everyone(including yourself) an extreme disservice.

Sources for  Chomsky’s claim that it was planned(by Greenspan?)

Chomsky stating that it was ‘imposed’ by Greenspan in Counterpunch.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/28/on-academic-labor

Actual text of the report:
http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/hh/1997/february/testimony.htm

Invesitgation by politifact & social coldstream
www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/jul/21/facebook-posts/social-media-meme-says-alan-greenspan-said-insecur

social.coldstreams.com/2015/11/09/appeal-to-authority-assertion-of-false-quote-alan-greenspan-did-not-say-this

A detailed examination by the New York Times of the role of job insecurity at the time
http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/27/business/job-insecurity-of-workers-is-a-big-factor-in-fed-policy.html

Movie thoughts: Taxi Driver

 

The scene

A man has his arms crossed across his chest. He stares into the camera. He challenges an unknown adversary: are you talking to me? Are you talking to me…? Whom else would you be talking to?

IF

 

IF

 

IF

IF

Taxi Driver is about a man who returns from a foreign war to eek out a living  as a taxi driver. He lives in a crummy apartment, without any friends or family in a city that is as distant to him as it is to anyone else. He works in an underpaid job driving random people around.  He doesn’t mind who. As a taxi driver he just transports them.. but he never gets to know them.He is a  man isolated from the world.

He tries to connect to people, but soon enough when he interacts his inner strangeness surfaces to undo any approach. He will not connect.

IF

The whole movie gears to a point.. and at that point we still are not certain what will happen. And when violence finally erupts we might see a hero being made or a villain, but we as watchers know his inner thoughts: he  is just a pistol-shot away from being either a villain or a hero. It is a close call.

Taxi driver is a great movie as it explore the estrangement of  man  alone in a city.The story of this lonely man is well told and supported by music. The cinematography is great. Helped by the scenes of the city. A must see for the story and the combination of music and scenes.

Here some mood scene.

 

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Movie thoughts:The Kill Team

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2732932/

For who is unfamiliar with the name The Kill Team – we are, after all, not all American citizens -: it was given to themselves by a group of soldiers that were active in Afghanistan around 2010 and subsequently the name was taken over and spread by the media when these men were accused, arrested and convicted for crimes including pre-meditated murder during an incident known as the Maywand District murders(Maywand_District_murders)

The scene is set up well as we are introduced to the setting -Afghanistan in the first decade of the 21st century – then given some background on the soldiers in general and finally shift to the handful of individual soldiers that are the subjects of the documentary.

Screenshot - 3_20_2016 , 11_13_11 AM

In particular The Kill Team follows Adam Winfield, who had attempted to alert the army of The Kill Team’s existence prior to the Maywand incident. The actual whistle blower however was Justin Stoner. We should remind ourselves not to confuse Winfield with Stoner. The first made an attempt to alert the army, did not succeed, and then did not stop the murders from occurring. He was thus sentenced to prison and got an dishonorable discharge. Stoner did notify the army and thus the investigation was started on his instigation. He was dismissed with honorable discharge. I want to mention this because at first it seemed as if the whistle blower got punished for doing his duty.

Screenshot - 3_20_2016 , 12_00_35 PM.png

The documentary does an excellent job of portraying Winfield and his parents as they struggle with what he has become. We even get a moment where he cries over what has happened and tells us at one point that he once planned his own suicide. We get an in-depth view of the anguish of a man who knew what happened was wrong, what others did was wrong, what he did was wrong and did not stop it, mostly because he was unable to. It was a truly sad thing.

Screenshot - 3_20_2016 , 11_12_49 AM.png

But when the documentary wraps it up it feels like something is missing. In fact, besides the interviews and some spurious remarks about what happened to the key people involved, there is nothing that is lifted above the level of personal drama. Isn’t there a bigger picture?

Stoner sums it up at the end: Your job is to kill.You’re infantry.[] Well, why the hell are you pissed off when we do it?

And here the documentary fails. If soldiers are taught to kill and just kill regardless is that what we want them to do? And if we don’t, how come they do things that we don’t want them to do?
Would that not be a valid question to ask, explore and answer?

Here is a few quotes that gives us a startling insight in the armies way of thinking(see the wikipedia):

“Colonel Harry Tunnell’s (of the 5th Stryker Brigade) “inattentiveness to administrative matters … may have helped create an environment in which misconduct could occur.”

and

“The brigade, was reported to be “rife with lapses of discipline, misdirection and mixed signals about its mission.”

and

“As an Army, we are troubled that any soldier would lose his ‘moral compass’ as one soldier said during his trial.”

Does it mean that soldiers get bad when their commanders allow them to go bad? Is losing your moral compass the expected behavior when a lack of proper discipline releases a soldier from the leash that his superior keeps him in check with? Like a dog?
Does morality come with rank? And has a general more morality than a private?
Is that how we see people?

But if that explains it, why were those soldiers punished at all? I mean, without their commanders keeping them on the right track, they are bound to go off in the deep end as the reports seem to suggest. They lost their moral compass.Can’t they plead insanity(as in A time to kill) or perhaps a sufficient lack of amorality?

The kill team is a well made documentary but also one that leaves something to be desired. The documentary doesn’t spent much time on the bigger picture and keeps the camera focused on the personal drama of a few individuals, which makes for a gripping tale, but not much more and that is a pity. It would have been a lot stronger if it they had asked themselves: why did this come about? It tells you the who, the what, the how but does not address the why.

Sources:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2732932/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maywand_District_murders
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kill_Team

 

Review: Maleficent

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I often find myself among the cynical as it comes to movies, so when I see a movie that is heartwarming I suddenly know what I have been missing out.

Maleficent is such a heartwarming movie because it wants to make you understand the reason for the actions of the ‘evil’ person in an old fairy tale. It also incorporates a deeper tale as it shows the consequence of one (impulsive) action(the curse), which inevitably results in a series of actions that cause an inescapable result.

Maleficent is a magical being wronged by Stefan, a human friend who abuses her trust. He desires to be king, and therefore he steals her wings. The irony is that he only steals the wings and does not kill her as he was asked to do, he cannot bring himself to do it. His actions are therefore at the one hand selfish, but on the other hand: he also shies away from outright killing Maleficent.
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But stealing what is dear to her, her ability to fly, makes her hate him. So she plots revenge and when her old friend Stefan, now king Stefan gets a daughter she shows up at the celebration in the palace to place a curse on the child: she will prick herself on a spinning wheel the day she turns 17 and fall asleep until a true love will kiss her. And since Maleficent does not belief in true love, she is sure that it will never happen.

And this starts the tale. For Maleficent keeps track of her cursed victim, who grows up to be a lovely young woman. It puts her in a dubious position because to fulfill the curse the girl has to survive dangers and therefore she feels the need to rescue her unaware and unwanted charge. And thus the wicked witch thaws towards the girl.
But alas the curse can not be denied and inevitably the tale proceeds towards it’s predicated ending. Now Maleficent no longer has to make sure that the girl survives, she wants to rescue her from the curse. But how to do it?
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I won’t tell you the end, but the story gripped me. You probably see the twist at then coming from miles away, but I still find it a nice one and for once: what does it matter. This is a fairy tale and a lovely story.

However I admit that there are some things wrong with the movie. For instance, instead of explaining the actions of an ‘evil’ person, the ‘evilness’ attributed to Maleficent is in essence shifted on the shoulders of king Stefan. Now he becomes the evil guy as he has stolen her wings and turns into an unreasonable, uncaring and hatefu tyrant. It is sad that could not have him act withing the understandable limitations of humanity in that he intended to do good, but he ended up doing wrong. Now he is just the new bad guy.

And then there is one thing that was no pushed far enough. At some moments the relation between Sleeping Beauty Aurora and Maleficent seems almost of a lesbian nature. It could have been played upon more deliberately in my opinion. This would have given the movie an extra layer. However, considering that a lot of people would not understand nor like it and since this is a Disney film I can understand that they went as far as they went but not one step further.

The drill down: Angelina Jolie plays a marvelous Maleficent in a heart warming story that gives a twist on a well known fairy tale. You end up with a smile and a tear.

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Movie review: Colombiana

I would contend that almost any story is a voyage – often a mental one, if not always – and not seldom expressed in a physical one, where the protagonists move from one place to the next as a mirror to their mental journey in which they travel from one state to the other. Just some movies I can name are obvious ones like The Lord of the Rings or Saving Private Ryan. There are less obvious ones like The Third man or the Edge of Tomorrow. And there are even reversed ones like were the main characters are in one place in the way of others travelling.

While the reason for the journey is actually not the most important part of the journey, it is important enough as it can even have a profound influence due to the state of mind a person is in when the journey starts. Colombiana is a movie where the main protagonist Cataleya is confronted by the violent deaths of her parents. Her state of being is one of assumed innocence: as a nine year old child she sits at the kitchen table of her home, dressed in a neath clean black and white school uniform as violence erupts around her. With a inward turned gaze in her big doe brown eyes she faces the main henchman, who walks up to her, sit downs and talks to her. It is almost a Tarantino moment.

Almost, as it isn’t. For Megaton shows himself to be the lesser of directors by ruining it. Had he started out with this moment it might have captured some of the tension and even made the next scene tolerable. The one in which the nine year old drives a knife through the bad guys hand into the table underneath, then runs through the house, jumps through a small window and descends several storeys while being chased by goons emptying their guns at her.

What young kid could keep her wits to pull off well considered actions after having experienced the mental shock of her parents deaths, those that triggers her screams for revenge? Only a seriously mentally disturbed one can: a psychopath that has no feelings. So was this presumable innocent child, about to turn into a vengeful assassin, already a cold hearted murderer to start with? Was she already a natural born killer?

It would have worked if that had been born out in the next part of the movie. We fastforward fifteen years after Cataleya has found shelter with her uncle and demanded to be turned into an angel of death by him. Apparently he has not only the means to provide her with the necessary skills and equipment, but also the will, as is born out by the ludicrous scene in which he pulls out a gun and shoots at random people and cars on a crossing to make the point that anyone can shoot anyone at random, but you can’t get away with it. Which he proceeds to do next as he walks out while the police cars drive past. What message that conveys.

If the next part of the story would have told the journey of Cataleya’s demise as psychopath killer- but what psychopath would require the excuse for killing of deaths that occured 15 years ago- or ascension(or downfall) as a human being struggling to get away from her maimed past, it would have been a better movie. It reminds me of the movie Hannah, where Hannah is trained by her father to be that killer Cataleya’s is supposed to be, but while Hannah starts to change when confronted by the interaction with ‘normal’ humans, Cataleya doesn’t: she just has sex with them. For the four ‘intimate’ moments that she has with her lover has two with mainly sex in them. That is not character development, that is pandering to the male audience.

Megaton drops the ball twice. For without focusing on Cataleya as a person struggling with what she has become, he has to focus on the mayhem. But this is done is such a haphazard manner that the result is silly. In fact it commits the grievous sin of showing the director at work. For when Cataleya turns a corner and doesn’t run into a guard once or twice we might say that is sheer luck but if she does it all the time, including opening and closing grates just in time, fitting through ventilation shafts with ease and opening them without a hitch, this is the script being laid bare. That she can do the impossible is because the director wants her to, not because of luck or skill. And this makes a director a weak one. No good magician, and that is what a director is, shows how his tricks work: it takes the magic away.

Megaton develops nothing. Cataleya’s journey is rushed. Her targets are indistinct targets she and we could care less about, unlike the ones the Bride kills in Kill Bill, another avenging angel. And her skills are based on sheer luck, impossible powers and the stupidity of her opponents.

This movie has virtually nothing to show for it, except for one scene, the ones with the sharks, the acting of Saldana and James who do the best they can with a feeble script, and the song at the end: ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. But that masterpiece can’t save this movie: it only underscores how weak it actually is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colombiana

http://www.metacritic.com/movie/colombiana

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoe_Saldana

Movie review: Best of Enemies

While Best of Enemies is a documentary it could have easily been turned into a movie as it views like a dramatic story that works towards a climax at the end of the ten head on collisions between the progressive liberal Gore Vidal and the (neo) conservative William F. Buckley. The exchanges are cloaked as debates with the intent to comment on the national conventions of both parties in 1968 prior to the elections, but are more like verbal brawls. They remind me of the Nixon vs Frost interview in the way it exposes the participants in full view of the television audience. But these are not interviews, commentaries , debates or exchange of ideas. These are dirty below the belt catfights of the most shameful kind.

The summit is reached when Vidal entices Buckley to fall into a trap and has him commit the worst of acts that ends all debates: to turn to threats of physical violence. It is the word cryptonazi that does the trick, foreshadowing the famous Reduction ad Hitlerum fallacy in a way: any debate ends when Hitler or Nazis become an argument in the discussion. When Buckley recoils from his own rage Gore gives him a supreme smile so thick with glee that it even shames his supporters: he has gotten what he wanted, that is: to expose the ‘real’ Buckley that lurks under the charming veneer: a lout, a ruffian and a brute.

But at what price?

After Gore carried away the flag in triumph, his initial victory turns into Pyrrhic one and overtime becomes a sound defeat for the nation, so the documentary has it. For these representatives of two opposing political worlds are not without influence, Vidal being a famed writer, essayist and commentator and Buckley  an important publicist and more or less one of the founders of the neo-conservative movement.

And their fight does not end with the last of the debates. Instead in extends up to the death of the two well into the 21st century. The distaste and hatred between the two men, is mirrored in the isolation of influential groups and do nothing to make that country more stable. It would go a bit too far to state that this debate is the root of all evil , but it shows for the public eye something that was already in the make: the rising antagonism between (neo)conservatives and progressives that hijacks a nation. As the documentary has it: coming into being are two worlds that hardly communicate(and hate each other).

It is hard to judge if the documentary is biased, but it states, and this is impression I got, that Vidal went into the debates with the sole intent to tear down Buckley and what he stands for. Buckley seems to have had less of a purpose, but he quickly geared up. Yet I got the impression that Buckley was the more honest person and more personally affected by the personal attack, than Vidal was. The latter struck me as a cold calculating bastard to be honest. But maybe this is because Buckley felt far more charming than Vidal was.
It is sad to know that one man can hate another so much, or hate what the other stands for so much, as to show that in the public eye.

And it is sad that to see how people lap this up.

And this is probably the weakest part of the documentary. It doesn’t tell us much about the fanning of the hatreds. It never tells us that nobody had the decency to tell them to stop or that ABC gloated of this abject drama because of the soaring numbers of viewers. The documentary basically forgets about those large masses who were drooling over this live soap, showing the downfall of television as a serious means to inform and educate a nation. For when ABC got the most viewers with their entertainment, the other networks, with their boring serious distant coverage of the conventions lost theirs. And they saw what was happening and adapted: everything would become entertainment.

The documentary is one of the best I have seen and therefore quite unsettling. It not only concentrates on the debates themselves but glances at what happened before and how Vidal and Buckley fared after and gives us an impression of the participants. I would certainly recommend it, even if it is not a pretty sight.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_of_Enemies_(film)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3518012/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gore_Vidal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley,_Jr.

 

Movie review: Resident Evil: Retribution

Mister Anderson,

I know that you will never read this letter, but I feel compelled to write you anyway as you are the director of 3 out of 5 Resident Evil movies and thus in a large part responsible for the way the series has developed and is going to develop as you are about to release yet another one in the near future, at least that is what is being promised at the end of this movie.

I, being interested in stories in general, have been itching to ask you a question but before doing so I have to first establish a few things to make you understand the question better.
First let me admit that I never made a movie like you have, let alone made three movies and therefore are not aware of all the toil that goes into a movie. To be honest it seems like a daunting task to make one. Yet I am also a consumer of movies and as such I noticed a few disturbing developments about your works that must be brought to your attention, not only for your own sake, but especially for those who still endure in watching your products. Which made me prompt my question below.

A second thing that I might remark upon is that the movies have never been remarkable in any way and that nobody expects a Shakespearean experience here, although it would be nice if it just had a some of it, just a little part, but even a tiny little bit seems a tree too tall to climb for you. Therefore steady mediocrity has been the defining level of quality of the series, at least up till now.

And here we come to the heart of the matter. You see, most surprisingly the quality of you latest movie seems to have taken a downwards turn, a sharp one, we might say: a nosedive. Which is odd for someone who has been doing this for quite some time and should at least know better through experience. It seems as if you are getting a bit tired of it all.

Now having stated this, I need to back up my statements with examples and, given tons of examples to pick from, I will pick three as showcases of mishandling story telling that even a newcomer would have avoided.

The first is too much of everything.

There is unnecessary and mishandled exposition. Exposition is avoided in movies as it is telling something about the story which therefore yanks a viewer out of the story. Sometimes it is needed to establish the background quickly, like at the start of Star Wars for instance. Star Wars is a good example of properly handled exposition as it keeps it to the point and, most of all, it doesn’t let the protagonist do the exposition. But what do you do? Not only do you supply a lengthy exposition that is unnecessary as those who have seen the series already know and those who haven’t have no use for the lengthy speech, but most of all you have the main character Alice do it, which thus means that whatever dangers she is exposed to in this movie will not harm her in anyway. A bad bad mistake.

Then there is the three starts of the movie. It starts with a scene that has no bearing on the rest of the movie, except that it is the end of the previous movie. Then after that start we get another start. And then another before it finally takes off.

And the cast is bloated with too many people, some who have been killed in previous movies and thus reappear as ‘clones’ and in one example even three times over!. In fact there are so many actors that a lot of them get not enough screen time to establish a meaningful personality. Most are killed off shortly after, probably to avoid them becoming more interesting than Alice.

The second example is the lack of emotions displayed by everyone involved. Waves of zombies appear and nobody is shocked. People get killed and nobody bats an eye. A clone of an American woman wakes up inside a Russian underground station and gets shot at and for her it is all in a days work. Nobody cares, nobody screams, nobody curses and nobody gives a shyte. They go through the motions as if drugged. Nobody is even trying anymore.

A third thing is Alex Wesker who behaves like Mr. Smith from the Matrix movies. You have to make up your own anti-heroes and not copy them from other movies.

There are many many more examples of completely mishandling everything, but three is enough for the moment as it is time for the question:
Can you please, please sack your script writer? Because the current one sucks.. big time.*

 

*(for those not aware: Anderson is the script writer for all the Resident Evil movies(,

Movie Review: Zombieland

That Woody Harrelson can play something else besides the buffoon roles he seems to be condemned to can be gathered from a movies as the People vs Larry Flynt. He does however play the buffoon well, even to the point of being adorable, so he stars like a buffoon in Zombieland. He is joined by a cast of three, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin to make up a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse that has depopulated the world.

If you are a zombie nut you will be upset by Zombieland, either because you think it hogwash or because you find it hilarious. Zombieland is sheer baloney and that tends to gall people in unpredictable ways, just like it makes people giggle. The keyscene is probably the one in which Bill Murray dies, which makes Emma Stone suddenly giggle, saying; he still makes me laugh. Thus purposely ruining one of the few serious moments in the movie. The movie does at times build up to a serious moment but knocks it down flat a frame later.

The whole thing thrives on the interaction between the cast with the zombie background propelling the plot forward. How inconsequential everything is can be gathered from the fact that they basically travel from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular. As Harrelson says: some go west, stating it is safer there, some travel east, thinking it is safer there. Hence his drive is not safety, but twinkies. Just as scarce and as important as to endanger himself(and others to boot).

There is a very awkward romantic fling between Eisenberg and Stone who simply have nothing in common, but even that is in tune with the movie that turns everything upside down. The interaction between Breslin and Harrelson is much more believable, the first playing a twelve years old who hasn’t heard of Gandhi and Willy Nelson, much to the astonishment of the Harrelson who in turn has no clue who Hannah Montana is(that will be a bit more dated, I am sure).

While Harrelson plays the buffoon, Eisenberg plays the social misfit and Stone and Breslin play two sisters who make a living cheating others, out of their money before the zombie apocalypse and their cars and guns after the zombies have inherited the world.

The end scenes sees the two girls power up a theme park in the night so Breslin can have some fun. Where the power comes from doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that every zombie from miles around converges on the park, thus requiring the two men to save the girls.

Zombieland is not to be taken seriously really, which is the whole point. If that gets your feathers ruffled you better skip this one. But then you might not like Shaun of the Dead either. Which is really a shame. Perhaps refocus?
(I heard someone planned a spin off or something. I hope they rethink that, for there isn’t much to tell, unless the premise of the movie is changed into something more serious, which means it’s a different thing altogether)

Movie review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Some time ago a friend of my former partner involved herself in writing romance novels for a mass market publishing firm. She never showed any aptitude in writing before, but it was something to do next to running the family, which pinned her to her house for the better part of the day. The writing didn’t ask much imagination as the stories were pretty formulaic. Like painting by numbers she just stayed within predefined boundaries and soon enough she cranked out another cheap novelette under the name of a non-existent writer such as D. J. Barding.

The ingredients were always the same. The main protagonist was a woman aged twenty something to forty, single, and without any kids to tie her down. The man was in the same age range, but always a few years older, single as well, without romantic involvements. A setup to pursue their dalliance. Also the man was usually of a higher social standing and income group. She being a nurse, him being a doctor. She being a maiden, him being a lord. She being a student, him being a billionaire. And finally there was always something to surmount: a troubled past or a social barrier. The end saw the two joined in happy union. Usually.

Sounds familiar?
It is almost verbatim the story outline of fifty shades of grey.

At this point you would expect me to start a long list of this movie’s shortcomings, but I have to disappoint you for I am on the same page with the nostalgia critic in that this movie does the best with what it has got . In fact I will do one better. I find it a hilarious movie and it might be aiming for cult status by making a mockery of itself and of you.

There are preposterous moments such as at the beginning when the female protagonist, Anna, tells to a friend that Grey is so clean. Wait. What did she just say? I checked and, heck, she says it: clean.. Grey is clean. This is her appraisal of a guy she just met. And somewhat further into the movie he pops up in the hardware store she is working in and starts buying things as tie ribs, ropes and chains. And I doubled over laughing. Was this a promise of things to come? Would she, later on, be subjected to what he is buying together with her there and then?

And when he shows her his ‘play room’, a chamber done in black and red with racks filled with whips, floggers and canes – with only the bloody saw missing -, the only valid response would be to judge him batshit crazy and flee the premises, but instead she gapes as if he just revealed his private art collection, while at the same time listening to him telling her how he will use that stuff on her cause it is the only thing that turns him on. It is perfectly clear: they are seriously odd in the head.

More hilarious moments follow when they come to the contract he so persistently insists upon. So we get a lengthy exposition of all the particulars of the fetish contract and she even calls for a meeting to go point for point through the contract discussing such things as the use vaginal clamps and anal fisting. All things he wants to do to her.

Everything is off kilter in this movie that follows the prescription of a cheap romance flick but fills it with concepts that hail from the fetish world. He keeps on telling her how does not do the romantic thing, but for a large part of the movie he just does that, taking her with him in his helicopter, driving her around in his Lamborghini, taking her out for dinner and wooing her. He says A, but does B. And she believes B and ignores A. No wait she eventually begs him to do A. And when it happens she is really really upset about it.

This movie is a trashy romantic tale that you wouldn’t have wanted to see if it it hadn’t held the promise of kinkiness. The sin of this movie therefore lies not with the movie, but with its detractors. What did you expect? Romeo and Jullia go kinky? Pride and Prejudice in skin tight leathers? Superheroes in latex instead of spandex?  I am looking at you who goes to watch this on Valentine’s day and gets disappointed! What where you thinking?  You knew it is crap. You know crap stays crap because only in nature crap can produce roses. But ultimately what you wanted was PG rated kinky porn. That is by definition impossible. PG is not adult. If you want to see kinky porn go watch kinky porn.

It also gives a big middle finger to those who wanted so see their desire to have a continuous sexual stimulus, cloaked as having a ‘special’ relationship, a joining of spirits, vindicated and branded as a lifestyle. BDSM isn’t. You do it cause it turns you on. Just like using butt-plugs all the time : it is a fetish. And it remains disturbed if you need to hurt someone else for pleasure even if it is with consent and even if you label it differently. And that is what this movie shows you bondage fetishists and that is why you hate it .

 

 

 

 

 

Movie review: Er ist wieder da.

When Hitler wakes up in Berlin in 2014 he is confronted by a thriving
modern Germany that, much to his surprise and regret, has not been destroyed
in the Götterdämmerung that he had staged at the end of World War II
and which he thought was the only thing his country  and people deserved for
failing him, their Fuhrer, and destiny.

Hitler, seen as a satirical comedian, soon rises to national fame as a
freelance reporter sniffs him out and sells him as a gimmick to a
commercial television station who use the mass murderer to prop up
their popularity figures. The internet then does the rest.

The movie is at times slow and, I must say, boring, unlike the
trailers, five of them, that are made with fast edits and snappy
satire. The trailers in no way represent the whole movie, as the
situations are far and in between and only at times, mostly in the
second half, does the movie gain the same speed and snappy witticism
that the trailers have.

The big message in the movie is that if the fear of foreigners gets the
better of the average German, numbed by commercial television,
democracy will give a new Hitler another chance to rise to power again.
This comes a bit towards the end as most of the movie is about Hitler
being seen as a funny figure that nobody takes serious and just laughs
at or makes selfies with.

There are some brilliant moments in this movie. One is were the bunker
scene from der Untergang is replayed scene by scene, but with the staff
of the commercial TV station replacing Hitler and his circle.

Another is where they show how Hitler becomes viral on the internet and
YouTube, which is where the movie shines with fast edits and visual
tricks and  which shows exactly the emptiness of it all as I experience it
nowadays: it doesn’t matter what it is about as long as it gets you the viewers. It is regurgitating words.

A great scene is where Hitler looks at a mountain range, comments on
how beautiful it is and then throws an empty coffee cup into the grass.
He pollutes that which he finds pretty. It is Hitler used as a mirror
for all the people who do the same, but now that Hitler does it it
gets meaning. This has to be placed next to his remark that the only
party he would ally with is the Green Party, because they value nature
and thus they value Germany.

We have some snappy comments on the current day German politicians, but
this is as temporary as anything as most of them will be nobody’s in
ten years time, perhaps with the exception of Merkel.

It also comments on the emptiness of commercial television and
shows us the silly ultra right wing fringe groups who are mostly a sad
bunch and no threat to society except for some of the numskulls being
pretty violent.

But the major flaw of this movie is a serious one: it skirts around all
of the big issues. The problems with Islam gets nary a mention. Only at
the end we suddenly get to see that Islam exists and even Wilders gets
injected and the latter in such a cowardly way it offended me, for even
though I am not a supporter of him and his ideas I think it is unfair
to show him as a kind of new day Hitler.  Also
unmentioned is the fragile economy and the big millstone of the
European financial situation that hangs around the neck of Germany. In
fact Europe and the European Union hardly gets a mention at all.

This is all the more surprising given the fact that Hitler rose to
power partly because of the global financial crisis of 1929. But the
movie doesn’t even mention this, but instead harps on about Germans
with their petty problems with foreigners and the threat that this
might pose to democracy because that is what might get a new Hitler
elected.

But what irks me the most is this totally warped vision of modern
Germany that this movie offers. If there is one country(I can think of
another country: Japan) that is unlikely to ever get a new Hitler
elected it is probably Germany. The Germans of today are vastly more
liberal, vastly more democratic and far less struggling with their past
than they were back in the 30’s where the average German was a
conservative, disliked the Weimar republic(it was more or less
imposed), in fear of both right wing and left wing violence in a
country in turmoil because of a deep financial crisis and suffering
from a post war trauma(a surrender that never truly sprang from a defeat,
unlike World War II: in which it was made sure that it was a real
defeat: hence unconditional surrender).

Hitler wasn’t elected because Germans hated Jews. Hitler was elected
because of the chaos and the promise that he would end it. And he rose
to power not because he was democratically elected, but because key
people, politicians and business men, very anti democratic people at
that, supported him by perverting the democracy they hated in the
misbegotten idea that they could control him, profit from him or
otherwise gain an advantage or even, yes even, replace the republic with a system they preferred.

This is totally at odds with modern day Germany and somehow
arguing that a new Hitler might arise because modern day Germans have
issues with foreigners is a silly notion that insults a country and its
inhabitants and then to compound this by totally ignoring all the big
issues that actually might cause a Hitler to rise makes it a super
silly nonsense movie that has no relevance to anything and can only be
valued as being slightly funny but otherwise… pointless.