Posts Tagged ‘Under The Radar’

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The lack of budget and slick effects hampered this Philip K. Dick film, but the story is interesting and topical. What’s more Phil wrote himself into the movie.

Snared in the rising fascism of the Reagan era, the paranoia and political persecution of dissidents are strong threads running throughout this one. The former McCarthyism red scare paranoia influenced this assault on free association in the land of the free. Dick was personally targeted, and this appears to be his response to an out of control security state, going after sci-fi writers and dissidents of the new “conservative” social order.

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In a purely personal moment, the actress playing the lead neo-nazi bitch looks a lot like my own stepdaughter. And yeah, I can see it.

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Dick brought a lighthearted treatment to this serious descent into totalitarianism. The situations are not new, but the alien contact twist certainly tosses in a monkey wrench. The ending was a bit weak, and this may have relegated it to the desperate-indie bin. With a stronger finish, it could have had the bucks it needed to succeed. C’est la vie.

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I removed Volume 2 from my Netflix queue, if that tells you anything.

Lars von Trier is the greatest living film director. Just ask him. He’s also obvious and self-indulgent, blunt like a sledgehammer and perhaps not the greatest screenwriter alive, although he may dispute me on it.

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Nymphomaniac is a weird movie, more weird than some of his other pieces. It reeks of male sexual fantasy transplanted onto a female character. It also comes from some hyper-artsy left field, forcing fishing motifs onto the sexual depravity of his puppet.

I never did feel any of it could be real, could happen in the real world as portrayed. The artifice of it all was glorified. Maybe this was an effort to please an audience of one, and the rest of us just simply aren’t in on the joke.

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I feel even more down on the film since it’s a pretty good idea for a movie. I just wish von Trier wasn’t involved, at all, as he fucked it up with pretentious gobbledygook. I’ll skip the finale.

UNDER

 

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Cuban Politics & Zombies

It seems a lot of American critics saw only the surface criticisms of the film, and ignored the equally scathing critique of capitalism contained therein. US pundits, who raved about the movie, sought to use it as a propaganda piece for their own purposes, ignoring the complexity. Predictable.

The film contains an obvious set of barbs skewering the Cuban socialistic system for its shortfalls. It is cut off, with an embargo from the US for fifty years, because the US doesn’t like to have bad examples where the people get health care, for example. The Cuban economy has been hit pretty badly, but it still attracts tourists from across Europe and Latin America, as acknowledged in the film.

Juan and his gang are low level criminals, thieves, grifters, opportunists. Here’s where the unacknowledged critique of capitalism enters the story. When the zombiepocalypse hits, Juan takes it upon himself to start a Ghostbusters type zombie killing service – for a fee. He’s a mercenary, entirely in it for the money and unwilling to help others because it’s the right thing to do. Did you catch that?

He’s a criminal turned capitalist. They are closely related.

His sidekick then literally machetes a man to death, not a zombie, a man who owes him money. Driven by the desire to have money, he murders a begging neighbor in broad daylight.

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While the anachronistic Cuban state TV propaganda receives much deserved satire, so too does the mercenary ruthlessness of disaster capitalism. Both these extremes are lampooned. This also elevates the film well above and beyond the simpleminded propaganda championed by simplistic US proponents. It takes a broader view, a more mature view of economic realities and shortcomings.

Spoiler

To bring the story full circle, Juan reconsiders his own personal self-interest by film’s close. Instead of running off to America with the others, he does a 180. As a patriotic Cuban, he returns to shore to do battle with the zombie hordes and save Cuba: a selfless act in the interest of the many, not of his own skin.

The deeper message is one of sacrificing for the good of the people, the socialistic ideal. The Cuban government, while evolving from the structures of the old Soviet times, retains this sense of the good of the many over the profit desires of psychopathic billionaires from abroad. That much is reinforced in the film. It takes some knowledge of the world beyond US State Department propaganda, though.

Juan is not a great zombie film, but it is a unique one. It’s an interesting take on a part of the world we don’t see too much.

Probably the best silent movie ever made, free right now on Hulu…

Charlie Chaplin, City Lights

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Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon doing what they do best, this is a fun heist film. The funniest I can remember since Disorganized Crime. Terence Stamp shows up. So you know it’s going to be interesting. And it is, with a decent script and distinctive characters who are not the best and brightest.

Looking over the Redbox selections and feeling massively underwhelmed, this was the only pick I could bother with. It has the heist movie homages, but the crew are so inept and at each others’ throats that the chemistry works.

Not an important, seminal work of artistic intent. It is worth watching though.

4/5

 

 

PS.

Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels were also pretty fun heist films.

 PPS.

The Big Hit. Way of the Gun.

Any more?  You people listening?

 

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Editor:

I hadn’t see quite a few of these…

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Originally posted on Flavorwire:

Today, our friends over at the Criterion Collection are giving the Blu-ray upgrade treatment to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson’s 2004 comedy/drama — a film that arrived with sky-high expectations (it was Anderson’s first film after the acclaimed Royal Tenenbaums, and star Bill Murray’s first since his Oscar-nominated turn in Lost in Translation) that it didn’t quite meet. But few films could have, frankly, and seen from this distance, Life Aquatic holds up quite well; in fact, it’s one of many films from the first decade of the 21st Century that doesn’t seem to have the reputation they deserve. In the spirit of celebrating such overlooked gems, we’ve assembled this list of the most underrated pictures of the 2000s.

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