Archive for December, 2012

jamie-foxx-as-django-in-django-unchained

Tarantino’s American Love Story

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

I went to see Django Unchained with a screenwriter friend yesterday, forgetting that it was Christmas week and the matinees would be crowded. I’ve always been a little ambivalent about the already legendary director Quentin Tarantino’s movies. I think the under-appreciated Jackie Brown is one of the best movies ever and most of his oeuvre is quite good, if over-the-top at times. Though other than Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction, I doubt I’ll watch any a second time. Django, however, is the best movie I’ve seen in years and will be part of film school AND American History curricula for years to come, as well. And I plan to see it at least once more on the big screen.

Tarantino’s script is superb; the acting excellent; the score beautiful; the cinematography stunning and the absolute horror of Slavery has never been addressed this well in film – even Roots never came as close. It’s the most important film so far on American Slavery.

Director Spike Lee says he won’t even see it, as it is “disrespectful to my ancestors.” I had to see it, as this makes four movies now that Spike Lee has disparaged publicly that I’ve found to be outstanding. He slammed Ali, mainly because it had a white Director; he went after Flags of Our Fathers because it didn’t have enough black actors in it – when Blacks were confined to kitchens in WWII’s Pacific Theater (he might as well have complained that there weren’t any depictions of women hitting the Iwo beaches) and he sneered at Pulp Fiction. While I find Lee’s Do the Right Thing to be one of the top 20 movies of all time, I can only conclude that Spike is either a woeful, jealous film critic or a racist. The only “disrespect” here is Lee attacking another Director’s work without even seeing it.

I won’t go much into the plot and all, as anyone can find tons written about that on-line. Suffice to say, the movie pulls no punches when it comes to the malevolence of Slavery (a couple brutal scenes are almost unwatchable); and, when it comes to depicting the acute division between field and house slaves, one can almost hear Malcolm X’s exceptional speech on the topic. Samuel L. Jackson’s head house slave “Stephen” is destined, as Jackson has said, to be “the most hated Negro in film.” (Jamie Foxx, who pulls off the very difficult title character role, has noted that one deleted Jackson scene would cement that notion, and likely would have garnered Jackson an Oscar.)

The almost unrecognizable Jackson, who gets to say his trademark “muthafucka” four times, says that when he watched the film in a theater full of African-Americans, they were shouting, laughing and crying the entire time, though it has to be excruciating for Black people to watch. (When I was growing up in inner city Flint, MI, some of my Black buddies and I would go to the Westerns at the neighborhood theater on Saturdays. Jimmy, Wally and Cleo would always root for the Indians – Native Genocide being the other great affront that America keeps its head firmly in the sand about.)

Lee and others have condemned the film for violence and use of the N-word. Ahem; how could anyone faithfully depict what was really going on back then sans either? Sure, the violence is rampant on a Rambo scale, yet it has a Tom & Jerry, buckets of cherry juice aspect to it. And, the N-word is used so often that it just blends into the scenery, a la Lenny Bruce.

It is fiction, after all. But, if had watched Django and then back-to-back, the overrated, clownish, allegedly true-to-life Lincoln, I would end up howling at every one of Lincoln’s pompous pronouncements.

The performances of the entire ensemble are also magnificent. Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I’ve never liked in any movie, should get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Calvin Candie, the vile owner of Candieland plantation, who has a side business staging gladiatorial fights between slaves. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve seen DiCaprio where I didn’t see Leonardo DiCaprio; the first time he melts completely into his character. Christopher Waltz is outstanding as Dr. King Shultz, Django’s ally, a German immigrant bounty hunter who is completely perplexed by white and Black society’s shock at simply seeing a Black man on a horse – and boy can Foxx handle a horse. Kerry Washington is first-rate as slave Broomhilda, Django’s wife and the object of Shultz and Django’s liberation quest. And, as I noted, Jamie Foxx is outstanding in the lead role; one of the all-time pulp fiction heros. The Grammy-winning Foxx even wrote a song in the usual excellent Tarantino soundtrack.

Lesser characters are skillfully portrayed by a plethora of Hollywood stars: Don Johnson is very good as a plantation owner; Walton Goggins has a fine turn as one of Candieland’s brutal enforcers. Others – Laura Cayouette is excellent as DiCaprio’s creepy, incestuous sister; Bruce Dern, James Russo and Tarantino, himself, have cameos. As does Jonah Hill, in a hilarious proto-KKK scene that could have been lifted from Blazing Saddles. Even the original Django, Franco Nero, has a short scene in a bar. Scores of Black actors/actresses take on what had to be painful, harrowing roles as slaves.

Lincoln will win all the Academy Awards (and Daniel Day Lewis is Oscar-worthy superb in the title role). After all, the Academy is known for not being cutting edge – and Django is as edgy as it gets. The Academy picked the fluff of An American in Paris over great The Best Years of Our Lives; Chariots of Fire over Reds; The Greatest Show on Earth over The Quiet Man; Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan; Jackie Brown didn’t even get nominated the year Titanic won and the top Documentary of all time, Fahrenheit 911, which had a box office larger than four of the Academy’s five top movie nominees combined, didn’t even get the Documentary nod after getting Cannes’ Palme D’or and many other awards as top movie!

I recommend all adults, hopefully including Spike Lee, see this film – in the theater. Definitely leave the kids at home. Just as the Spaghetti Westerns it pays homage to debunked the familiar Hollywood Western myths, this movie yanks America’s head out of that comfortable sand. In its way, it blasts away at the wall of denial around Slavery like (Lone Watie) Chief Dan George’s unforgettable speeches on the injustices suffered by Native Americans in The Outlaw Josey Wales does for that denial.

 

In the end, the movie is a love story: a retelling of the original Broomhilda myth with Django playing as, Shultz in a takes-one-to-know-one moment notes, a real-life Siegfried who rescues his love; a story of a man’s undying love for his wife.

MICHAEL DONNELLY lives in Salem, OR. He can be reached at pahtoo at aol.com

Liberty Lockdown: Raid on Zuccotti [LEAKED TARU FOOTAGE]

[This article has been met with controversy and censored by a usually-reliable outlet, despite its relevance to the current political situation in the US.]

2013 UNOCCUPIED

by Joe Giambrone

“Fight not unless the position is critical.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The ”Occupy” movement has apparently receded into the long night.  That may not be such a bad thing, as a new Phoenix can arise from different strategies, different emphases and different goals.  The structural challenges remain the same, and opposition is still needed.  What has been exposed as fruitless, however, is the idea of occupying parks in chaotic sieges that signify nothing.

What were the benefits of occupying parks?  There was really only one, and that was publicity.  The utility of the tactic lay in attracting the media and achieving penetration into living rooms across the nation.  Once that was accomplished, there was no further benefit, and a whole laundry list of downside problems.  There is a lesson here.

No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.
-Sun Tzu

Your opponents know their strategies and tactics.  They’ve been doing it for a lot longer than you have.  Centuries.  When I listened to the delusional pronouncements of “occupiers” on how they were overthrowing “capitalism” and building a new society from the ground up, already it was obvious that it was over before it had begun.  The revolution would not be televised, and this revolution would not even metastasize.

By what chain of cause and effect was camping in the city park going to overthrow anything whatsoever?  Clearly, this was a public-relations stunt, and nothing more.  It would come and go like any other minor event.

Why the name Occupy?

Websters says, “to take or hold possession or control of,therefore to occupy is a militant endeavor.  Armies occupy.  The US military and NATO occupy Afghanistan and other foreign lands.

The Occupy Movement – from its inception – intended to take public spaces and hold them.  It is in the DNA of the movement.  It was born from aggression and a belligerent posture, the mindset of an invading army.   What these occupiers intended to do once they seized the spaces is less clear – even today.

Sun Tzu tells of the key components, which determine the success of any campaign.  These include:

“The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.”
Sun Tzu

Sing it now.  “One, two, three, what are we fightin’ for?”

The Occupy Movement made some initial assumptions that never did pan out and strike gold.  Firstly, that it would be a leaderless movement, with equal time given to every lunatic street vagrant who showed up.  Secondly, that the rest of the population, the proverbial “99%,” was automatically on their side, because they said so.  It wasn’t.  Thirdly, that electoral politics was history and no longer mattered.  It does.

How did the general population respond to the movement’s strategy of seizing parks, to the idea of “occupation” itself?

We know that in the case of Zuccotti Park, in New York City, the main legal complaint brought against the encampment was that they had taken the space to the exclusion of everyone else, and for an undefined amount of time.  Some citizens were arguably denied use of the public space as a result of this occupation.  Frisbee games may have been cancelled.  This legal maneuver led to the November 2011 raid and eviction of the encampment.

Was this a violation of the First Amendment?  The right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances?  Quite possibly so.  Perhaps this section of the Bill of Rights has been erased now, but do self-styled “anarchists” care about concepts like the Constitution in the first place?   Do they accept the legitimacy of government in any form?  This ties into the third assumption listed above: electoral politics matters.  Who is in charge matters.  The judges who are appointed to hear these cases also matter.

It was never apparent at occupations that the protesters were petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.  So what were they doing?  Open question.

The website/magazine  “Adbusters”  is credited with originally launching their movement, to some degree.   From this opaque organization some anonymous person described the downfall of Zuccotti Park:

 We wanted a Tahrir moment, an American Spring, a new vision of the future, and they attacked us in Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011 in the dead of the night with military precision.

Ignoring the absolute mess that is Egypt today, how is Zuccotti Park in any way analogous to Tahrir Square?  The square was a short march to the presidential palace in the center of Cairo.  The marchers had a single consistent demand: to overthrow Mubarak.  They disgraced him and overthrew him when the shifting alliances of the military and security apparatus found that they could maintain control without the old corrupt bastard.

There is nothing in the Occupy encampment of Zuccotti Park that could even be close to analogous to the Egyptian situation.  They were not even in the capital city, nor even voicing opposition to Barack Obama!  The parameters of their protest were so varied and so distant from the Egyptian uprising that the two can scarcely be compared to one another.

 

FJziSImage by OccupyWallSt

Occupy seemed to occupy for the sake of occupying.  Some occupiers argued that they were building a new society at the camps, a new way of organizing mankind, without capitalism.  They said this with a straight face, so we should believe they meant it.  They were certainly not building a viable political party to replace the people in charge.

The Occupy Movement first caught my attention when they promised a new congressional convention in Washington DC, scheduled for July 4th of 2012, if the Wall Street serial rapists weren’t dealt with by then.  They were going to challenge the integrity of the federal government with representatives from every congressional district, etc.  That seemed like a clear and reasonable enough demand to take them seriously, at the time.  Not soon after, this proposal disintegrated and was mostly forgotten about.  The trials and tribulations of police incursions took center stage.  The camps were swept away by Obama’s black shirts, but by then these tent cities were just hanging on for the sake of hanging on.  Nothing was happening, politically, except that the embarrassments needed to be hosed out of sight before election time.   When July 4th finally did roll around, it was a barely noticed anti-climax.  A few hundred showed up, perhaps a few thousand.  It was officially over.  The “occupy movement” had failed.

Never Achieved Legitimacy

Claiming you represent 99% of the people is not the same as actually representing the people.  This was a fundamental disconnect, born of utopian fantasies.  It was easy to remain skeptical of such bold claims that lacked evidence, that lacked gravitas.

How does one gain legitimacy in a democracy?  One gets millions of people to vote for them and wins the election.   Similarly, in parliamentary systems, one gets votes for one’s party to establish some proportional representation in the government.  The entire population is permitted to participate, and vote fraud is discouraged and policed.

While the Occupy Movement claimed to have true democracy as their guiding principle, the notion that their own version of democracy was limited to the people present at the assembly, to the exclusion of the rest of the nation, doesn’t seemed to have registered.  By eschewing electoral politics, they in fact disregarded an important democratic principle and ignored the overwhelming majority of the nation.  Less than one percent of the American people participated in these occupations, rendering their “true” democracy to just a hollow exercise of their own little 1%.

Love him or hate him, Obama took in nearly 60 million votes in the 2012 race.  The Occupy candidate received – zero.  There was no Occupy candidate.  Not in that race, not in any race.  The Occupy Movement rejected the one avenue for achieving power in the United States legitimately, and that is by convincing a majority to elect them into office.  There has yet to be a dog catcher elected from the Occupy Party.  So why should anyone take them or their politics seriously?

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
-Sun Tzu

Occupy, to me, was always devoid of coherence.   By rejecting electoral politics, the end result was preordained.  They would change nothing.  They would be given the big black boot eventually, one way or another.  After months of lingering, they wore out their welcomes.   Perhaps this movement did more harm than good.  Protest is now criminalized, and police departments across the nation have been militarized and emboldened into discarding Constitutional Amendments at will.   The incoherence of the Occupiers served to denigrate and even delegitimize real critical opposition to the crimes of the government and its corporate overlords.  That’s because Occupy never had anything to offer the general population except camping in parks with signs, a publicity stunt that went on far too long.

Lessons for the future include changing strategy.  For starters: reform over revolution.  I’ve confronted some anarchists on their grand visions of smashing the state, as if that would be a positive thing and beyond debate.  Suffice to say, they don’t have the numbers, and they never will.  Most Occupiers were not of the destroy-all-government variety and wanted to maintain a fair system of checks and balances.  It is these reformers who need to step up and take it forward into the electoral arena.

The left parties of the United States are fragmented, underfunded and even in pointless competition with one-another.  Some of their disputes concern the reform v. revolution question.  Reformers need to step up and join forces to combine existing third party structures into one umbrella party.  One.  The left can at least act in solidarity with itself if it ever hopes to convince middle of the road people that they are serious and offer a viable alternative.

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
Sun Tzu

The left can make a difference, and can even achieve power locally, where the real opportunities lie.  There have been too many showpiece presidential campaigns destined to score below 1% of the total.  Establish legitimacy town by town, state by state.  Until the masses have actually come to accept that you exist, you have no business hoping to win their votes.  It takes more than ideas.  It takes more than words.  It takes a lot more to play this game than a Facebook page.

The New Left Party, whatever its name, can employ some of the lessons of the failed Occupy Movement, and show up for a massive jubilee celebration – right back in those parks, to the delight of bored news reporters everywhere.  They might even face off against the tear gas cannons.  And then go home.  The point isn’t to “occupy,” but to make a splash across the world’s news cycles.

Then you do it again, another day, another occasion, another voter registration drive and house canvassing organizing session.  Real politics, on the ground, in the communities, and back into those parks to reclaim the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.  Then go home.  Repeat as needed.

Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete.  This is the method of attacking by stratagem.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

* “In that spirit, we welcome journalists, activists, educators and others to make free use of all original content authored by OccupyWallSt.org. As thanks, we ask only that you provide a link back to this site.”

 

End of Year Crap

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: , , , ,

New-Years-in-Costa-Rica

Okay, some viral shenanigans of 2012, some of which was previously posted … but not this one:

Don’t you wish you were that kid?

Bane Outtakes

Eye of the Sparrow

Feel Inside and Stuff Like That

In Your Hands

Pledge of Allegiance

Movie, The Movie

Anonymous: Syrian Rebels supplied wiith SARIN Nerve Gas

 

TRUE GRIT

True Grit (2010) is the remake by the Coen Brothers, which I finally caught online after resisting it all this time.  The original starred John Wayne, which I also had no interest in watching.  Not a Wayne fan, by any stretch.  Here Jeff Bridges steps into the role of Rooster Cogburn, a murderous, torturing, broken down bully with a badge.

Perhaps Cogburn isn’t the worst person in this thing, as the fourteen year old Mattie Ross gives him a run for his money.  Mattie is a cold-blooded capitalist with a slave owner mentality.  Interestingly enough, she treats Cogburn like her own personal assassin slave for most of the picture.  Her quest for vengeance seems to be out of principle alone, with zero love ever expressed for her murdered father.

In this world of murder at every turn, where justice is at the end of a rope, there is no one to care about anywhere in this depressing, harsh story.  Not sure why the Coen brothers chose to remake this film.  It should have been left alone.  They are so much better at original, twisted comedy tales.

 

Oliver Stone returned to RT, and takes on the Obama regime’s extra-legal offenses against the Constitution.

 

zero-dark-thirty-2012-pic03

Mark Boal Addresses Torture Issue in The Wrap

Let’s start with the truth:

“We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden…

Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama bin Laden.  We have reviewed the CIA records and know that this is incorrect…

No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound where Usama bin Laden was hidden…
–Senators Feinstein, Levin & McCain (letter to Sony Pictures)

More on this criminal CIA behavior and the torturer lionized by Boal in the film here:

The Real “Maya”

Arrest All Torturers

 

 

 

Shakespeare set in modern times, this film might remind people of the 1995 Richard III, set in a fascist World War Two scenario. Here the war is modern and messy, but the language is the original play. It’s an odd discordant meshing of new and old.

I hadn’t known the story of Corialanus and didn’t know what to expect. Some interesting twists of fate, and even more interesting visuals reminiscent of the Arab Spring or street battles in Greece, make this an interesting experience to take in.

Ralph Fiennes, who starred and directed the film, plays a Roman general so fanatical in his bloodlust and drive to conquer that he has become a bit of a monster. When it comes time for him to enter the world of Roman politics he falters. The elites of Rome, of which Corialanus is a member, consider the common people as sub-human scum. While other Patricians easily lie and mislead the rabble, Corialanus is far too proud and arrogant to hold his tongue. He winds up in hot water.

Then comes the big twist of the story’s midpoint.

corialanus4

The visual style has really made this 400 year old story accessible and relevant. Revolution by the people, elites who despise the commoners, dictators, politics, fascistic militarism, worship of the soldiers, that Shakespeare guy was well ahead of his time. Aspects of the story fit seamlessly in with the tanks and shock troops.

Corialanus on Netflix.

Congress Disgracefully Approves the FISA Warrantless Spying Bill for Five More Years, Rejects All Privacy Amendments

 

Al Jazeera covers Mickey Huff and the 2012 censored stories:

 

 

There are stories that have enormous consequences on the lives of Americans but are regularly under-reported or misrepresented by the mainstream media. Project Censored, the US media watchdog group, has released their annual report examining the shortcomings of reporting in 2012.

The 2013 Project Censored List

 

Former representative Cynthia McKinney gives an inspiring speech…

 

 

 

Quentin+Tarantino+Django+Unchained+Old+West+gNxxPC1FtSJl

Lengthy podcast interview here.

Script Magazine notes that John Ford played a Klansman in Birth of a Nation.  Tarantino had this to say:

“…he put on the Klan uniform. He got on the horse. He rode hard to black subjugation. As I’m writing this — and he rode hard, and I’m sure the Klan hood was moving all over his head as he was riding and he was riding blind — I’m thinking, wow. That probably was the case. How come no one’s ever thought of that before? Five years later, I’m writing the scene and all of a sudden it comes out.

One of my American Western heroes is not John Ford, obviously. To say the least, I hate him. Forget about faceless Indians he killed like zombies. It really is people like that that kept alive this idea of Anglo-Saxon humanity compared to everybody else’s humanity — and the idea that that’s hogwash is a very new idea in relative terms. And you can see it in the cinema in the ’30s and ’40s — it’s still there. And even in the ’50s.”

mlk02

 

 

One day,

Youngsters will learn words they will not understand,

Children from India will ask: “What is hunger?”

Children from Alabama will ask: “What is racial segregation?”

Children from Hiroshima will ask: “What is the atomic bomb?”

Children at school will ask: “What is war?”

You will answer them, you will tell them: “Those are words not used any more,

Like ‘stage-coaches’, ‘galleys’ or ‘slavery’,

Martin Luther King