Archive for the ‘Joe Giambrone’ Category

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Indeed one of the most unnecessary remakes of all time, this one has five times the ammunition with much less of the cinematic punch.

I could grind my teeth over getting there early and being subject to advertiser cliches and Hollywhore bimbos hawking TV shows, Coca Cola, cell phones and the rest of the corporate mindless culture we all know and despise. But I’m pretty clear where I stand on that, and it may have given me the dose of blinding anger I needed to get on board an anti-corporate crime film.

If only they’d played Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic instead, where black comedy is understood, where shots are framed and held for more than two seconds.

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I thought of hating the new Robo, all the choices made that were lesser than the original, particularly his transformation. But, this was a distinctly different take on the world, a man/drone for a more fascistic America, a post-9/11 lobotomized America.

The first problem that tipped me off about the tone deafness was in the opening sequence. We’re supposedly in Tehran, Iran, as part of a right wing propagandist’s TV show. The idea was to push the robot warriors so that America would demand robot police across the land here. Only, when we get to the occupied Iranians, who are they?

They’re generic Hollywood “suicide bombers” from whereveristan. With suicide vests, they launch an attack on the invading ED-209s, and are pretty much wiped out in the process. The reason America’s lethal invader robots are marching through Tehran in the first place is irrelevant. Who the occupied people are is irrelevant. Nothing here is black comedy, and nothing here is done well to rise to the level of actual drama.

Then we’re onto Murphy, the new tough undercover Murphy who’s out on a limb, a loose cannon, a hot headed son of a bitch with a badge dodging 8,000 assault rifle rounds with ease. Someone should have told them that each bullet fired diminishes the impact of the one before. Here the bullets are nothing more than light shows, flickering props.

But onto RoboMurphy. The difference here is with the doctor assigned to the Robocop development project. Now we have a doc who’s essentially the protagonist and Murphy his Frankenstein’s monster. An odd choice, but the relationship between Robo and his support team is perhaps more feasible than in the original. How long could a few slabs of meat remain alive without intensive care?

Also Murphy’s wife gets more lines. But is she going to become a generic damsel by film’s end? How could she not?

I had a serious problem with Robo torturing suspects as some kind of routine now. There’s a lot of fascist imagery, but not all of it intentional it seems. Now, I do recall a scene in Robocop 2 where Murphy beats up a dirty cop who sold out the police and set them up for assassination. That was an uncomfortable scene, and perhaps I’m in the minority pulling that one out for mention. Here we live in the cops as torturers world. Torture doesn’t merit a second thought. The idea of selling torture to young people, but hiding behind a PG-13 rating, like this is an acceptable version of violence, really irks me.

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We’re at a point where our society is slipping into medieval barbarism, more and more each year. In the original Robocop, Murphy was meticulous about responding to situations with only the appropriate level of force. Here, I don’t think this was as big a concern. It isn’t so much about the law, morality, what is justified or any of those concerns. It’s more about which action sequences look cool with half a million bullets flying for almost no reason – a video game. Video games have corrupted drama, and that’s how they did it. They replaced mindless shooting for meaning and character development.

We get a last opportunity to rewrite the Tehran / foreign policy question at the very end. I can’t see the redneck slobs in my theater actually getting it though. Maybe I’m underestimating someone. That’s possible. It’s a sticky situation, calling out US foreign policy and global bullying, to Americans.  It seems they wanted to try and please everyone, for marketing’s sake — for Mammon’s sake — and ended up pleasing no one.

3/5

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Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde, naughty temptation and a drug sparked insanity – what could go wrong?

It turns out that a good premise often lacks that essential payoff by the end. This was the problem with Spring Breakers, and so many stories just seem to fizzle. We already know Rockwell’s going to go off the deep end, just from the trailer, but why do we care, really?

Rockwell, a repressed small town pharmacist, is stuck in a loveless marriage with a domineering woman who doesn’t appreciate him. His son is a basket case pain the the butt. He needs something, but perhaps not a narcotic cocktail. Some funny developments, and some highly implausible over the top shenanigans too.

My main beef though is with the ending. A poorly thought out structure and payoff relies on a deus ex machina, and that’s just not enough. Didn’t the ancient Greeks know that?  The story never rises above soap opera.

It’s tough to find anything worth watching lately, so I’m feeling generous today…

2.5/5

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Just a bit of British comedic escapism. This one is also an elaborate defense of the status quo. It’s got a strong acceptance theme, an inability to change the past (or anything else) despite super powers.

The ladies were teary-eyed by the end, and this is a very character-centered movie. It seems to be sci-fi, but not really, romantic comedy, but not really either. What it is, more, is a poem about the major events in life, for well-off white people anyway. So there’s nothing about struggling for money. No war, no crime. Nice little reality if you can find it. That target demographic kind of custom-designed world lingered in the background.

So the film clings to the big moments for average westerners: love, marriage, birth and death. Very standard, very conventional, and a bit predictable. I can’t shake that feeling of being manipulated and pandered to, but that’s me.

Still, you could do a lot worse at your local Redbox this week. Although I just noticed Better Living Through Chemistry has showed up. That’s where I’ll be heading next.

About Time: 3.5/5

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A film 50 years past its expiration date?

I got the feeling that this didn’t translate well, and that the main draw was in the poetic language of the prose. The characters are dismal and pointless for the most part. The plot is slim to none.

What the book is famous for is opening up new possibilities to the squares of the early 50s. It was a stifling time of conformity and blinkers. Kerouac is credited with going the opposite way and pushing the boundaries of what people expected America to be. Obsessed with jazz and inebriation, he made an homage to this counterculture in the form of a rambling poem/journal.

Kerouac was apparently smitten with his friend, a charismatic grifter type who felt no responsibility to anyone or anything, named Dean Moriarty. The story seems to take a perspective on Moriarty, painting him as an immature sociopath.

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Only, it’s not enough to keep this thing interesting. I may be jaded in the modern age where a lot of shit happens on screen. In that I’m not alone. This story was simply aimed at another time and another place. The revelations weren’t particularly shocking or poignant. The statements made weren’t particularly groundbreaking.

What’s more it felt episodic and repetitive. A lot of driving around the country, endless miles, but why? A pointless randomness guides these people, and that was once hailed as revolutionary or unique, but it seems more lame and wasteful now. I don’t mind the idea of going out exploring, but these characters don’t find anything, not anything noteworthy. Their little lives are sad perhaps, but not the stuff of legend.

So in the end it felt like much ado about nothing.

2/5

SYRIA-GAS-ATTACKAl Nusra chemical weapons attack.

 

Still exiled to the London Review of Books, Seymour Hersh continues to expose the covert intelligence fraud involving nerve gas attacks inside Syria.  These were perpetrated by US allied “rebel” forces, the Al Nusra brigades, which the US knew all about yet lied to the world repeatedly.

Analysis by Jonathan Cook:

And of course we’ve been writing and posting about this fraud here since before it happened.  And Jeremy Scahill and BBC owe apologies to the honorable Mother Agnes for the despicable, unconscionable attacks they perpetrated on her for the crime of telling the truth.

When will you respond, Scahill?

 

PS.

Hersh on the Libya / Turkey / Syria “Rat Line:”

A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director

 

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Machete don’t Tweet, and his blade may be collecting a bit of rust. This sequel to the head chopping Mexican badass universe shows that the joke has already been pushed too far. It felt like the scriptwriters were just phoning it in.

There isn’t much use keeping track of the plot or any sense of danger in this one. It cheapens itself by massacring just about everyone who appears on screen. It’s a constant stream of bullets and severed limbs without much drama worth mentioning.

Not that I expected Shakespeare in a grindhouse spoof, but still, you gotta care enough that the story actually makes some sense. Here it’s just a vehicle for a series of cameos. The best bits are in the trailer anyway, and so my disappointment is real.

Rodriguez has enough talent to put it to use actually saying something. The Machete franchise has included some racial content, xenophobia, racist white people policies of the US, but he’s largely abandoned that with a few stock caricatures thrown in purely for laughs.

Will I show up for Machete in Space, if the thing gets off the ground? Dunno. Probably not.

2/5, no trailer.

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Washington Post:

CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says

Here is my response to the WP’s imperial weasel wording:

Translated to eliminate propaganda…

“CIA Conspiracy to Lie to Congress in Torture Cover-Up”

The Central Intelligence Agency has been caught in numerous felony violations in its ongoing cover-up of war crimes throughout the 2000s. President Obama continues to protect official torturers, and the agency has stonewalled the Senate Select Oversight Committee, a normally compliant co-conspirator. Torture has degraded the image of America around the world and many nations justifiably question America’s claims to democracy, freedom and even civilization and the rule of law.

Secretive, lawless agencies that torture with impunity are a clear and present danger to the republic, and this Constitutional crisis deserves full investigation and public action.

In the cse of Zubaydah, he provided evidence that he was working for Saudi state intelligence prior to his torture (or possibly afterward / competing accounts). This Saudi complicity in his actions was soon eliminated from the story after repeated torture leading critics to question if the purpose of the torture was to produce false testimony (videotapes of this Saudi link with phone numbers of three Saudi princes divulged by Zubaydah were destroyed illegally by CIA).

Further Saudi intelligence links to the September 11th attacks remain covered up by CIA and the administrations of George W. Bush as well as Barack Obama. Senator Bob Graham’s investigation into the San Diego hijacker cell showed clear Saudi Arabian material support to the hijackers. Further support in Sarasota Florida links the Saudi regime, an undemocratic monarchy, to the named 9/11 hijackers. These facts and the FBI investigations surrounding them remain redacted and somewhat hidden from public view. Such “aid and comfort” to the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks meets the Constitutional definition of “Treason.”

BUT-WAIT

The Miami Herald:

Citing broad public interest, newspapers ask judge to deny bid to block 9/11 lawsuit
I suppose there are still brain dead ignorant Americans who have no clue that they are living in a police state.  Perhaps with racist blinders they assume that abuses will only be directed at outsiders, people unlike themselves.  That is, of course, how fascism succeeds.  The government fosters the concept of in-groups and out-groups: scapegoats.  The scapegoats allow them to remove restrictions on government power.  This is how the Nazis came to power and other fascists.  It’s an old script, which shouldn’t work except for the profound ignorance of the public.

Gravity (2013)

Posted: April 1, 2014 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: ,

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Appropriate special effects can’t raise the weak characterization any higher. Sorry, Sandra, this was a decent distraction from regular life, but in the end that’s all it seemed to be.

Gravity follows an astronaut through some travails in an attempt to survive fubar in space. It’s all about making the odds of success very remote. It’s all about plot essentially, putting obstacles in the way. That’s the weakness. It failed to include any real conflict of ideas.

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The one questionable idea that incites the whole thing is that Russia would just out of the blue blow up one of its satellites, leaving a dangerous debris field for the others. Has this ever happened in real life? Was this just a good chance to throw in some more anti-Russian propaganda?

That is what starts the process of blowing up everything in sight. Given that this could happen, we then have some questionable coincidences. It isn’t just one coincidence either, but three, four, five six?

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The debris field hits the space shuttle, sending Sandra and Clooney into the black. This same debris field will come back around the earth and pinpoint the exact same spot again, wherever Sandra happens to be, not once more but twice! It’s like space is really, really small.

That’s not the only coincidence, as you’ll likely see.

It’s a short feature, not as ambitious as may have been implied. The story is simple, contrived, and lacking gravitas, no pun intended.

3/5

 

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What a great fuckin’ movie. End of review.

Just kidding. I’ll babble more, but what the hell does anyone really want in a movie review anyway?

I don’t want spoilers. I just want assurances that I’m not wasting my time, my valuable life on something second rate. There’s a lot of second and third rate bullshit hyped to the max out there.

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Luckily for you American Hustle is the real deal. I can’t count the times I laughed my ass off. Same with Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese and David O’ Russell are the top American masters working today. They have a drive to see more in a movie, and they shoot more, write more, twist those expectations and put it all on the line.

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I think I would have given the Oscar to DiCaprio out of the pack. Admittedly there are numerous films and particularly foreign offerings I didn’t catch. But of the nominees, DiCaprio for Wolf. Best picture 12 Years a Slave. Best screenplay American Hustle. Lots of good stuff in 2013; don’t believe the naysayers.

Up next… Gravity.

American Hustle: (fuck it) 5/5

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If Tarantino can gush over Dazed and Confused, which I thought was unimpressive, a little too corporate and obvious, on the nose, then I can bring up a far more interesting young and wasted story. Actually both films, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Wild Life, cover pretty much the same territory.  Superbad as well.   It’s just that The Stoned Age is very guerrilla, balls out, and gritty.

Plus, I feel like I’ve met some of the characters in real life, whereas not so much in the other films.  I felt distanced and completely alien to the Dazed and Confused characters.  The ending in particular was an anticlimax.

Here, however, there’s a real interplay between the two main characters, sort of an anti-buddy comedy. These two are rubbing against one another like sandpaper throughout the entire journey. The plot, of course, hinges on trying to find a girl and party. That’s not the interesting part.

 

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What elevates the movie are all the wacky side characters they come up against along the way.  It’s an odyssey, and all these dregs and misfits are pretty much in the same boat as they are, out of love and trying to get wasted to pass the time and soothe their egos. The plot takes a major turn when a secret gets spilled, that there are a couple of eligible young ladies in waiting.  Spilling this news leads to major conflict later on.

 

3 (1)

 

It’s a damned funny movie about the kind of misfits I remember well, without the feeling that there are 57 guys with machines and lights and cranes hovering about behind the camera.

 

cult

 

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I’ve watched both the play and the film now, and I remain confused about all the conflicting themes. Also, the story is a real downer, a negative take on human nature in my view. So, it’s hard viewing, and doesn’t seem to have wowed them at the multiplexes.

The cast in the film is stellar, of course. You’ve got Meryl Streep run amok, Julia Roberts ready to snap, Juliette Lewis, Cumberbatch and other pros. It’s all very well acted, with sharp dialogue and loads of family conflict. The post-funeral dinner is a crowning achievement of the piece, really ratcheting up the notion of a dysfunctional family.

It has much going for it; so why does it feel like such a drag? The matriarch, Streep, is a horrible person, a product of childhood abuse and poverty. A theme concerns how parents pass on their faults and fucked up baggage to the next generation.

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Interestingly, with three very different sisters in the next generation, and a half brother to boot, they have all responded quite differently to the mad matriarch. Naturally there is a great variance between the parents and offspring. The missing father is another factor, a different response to a similar upbringing, different from Streep with his choices and with his children.

I ought not give too much away. Some changes happened that improved the film, except perhaps for the very ending. The film’s ending is missing a scene. The play ends on a bang, an over the top moment that builds up with a lot of drama. The film changed this, as it isn’t really very plausible/realistic and wouldn’t likely play out right in a movie.

Only, when they cut that scene and neutered what they did show, they decided to replace it with something far less dramatic and more generic. They took away the play’s final thunder and forgot to script something equally as powerful to finish on.

3/5

Joint Task Force Exercise

 

A bit late, this has appeared at the OpedNews site today:

Obama Off the Ukrainian Deep End