Posts Tagged ‘1980’s’

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The real “war on drugs” looks nothing like what US high officials describe.

“In 1984, the inspector general discloses, the CIA intervened with the U.S. Justice Department to seek the return from police custody of $36,800 in cash that had been confiscated from Nicaraguan drug-smuggling gang in the Bay Area whose leader, Norwin Meneses, was a prominent Contra fund-raiser. The money had been taken during what was at the time the largest seizure of cocaine in the history of California.”

Kill the Messenger may bring these revelations to some more people, but of course it’s decades later and the perps have moved around, changed tactics, changed names, moved the goal posts.

“…there are sufficient factual details which would cause certain damage to our image and program in Central America.” -CIA

Make no mistake. Make no contorted abuse of the language: this is CONSPIRACY. Not a theory, a fact. Conspiracy that reaches the top of the US government over decades. The American people have been criminally uncurious as to what is done with their tax money and in their names.

“…Reagan was referring to when he called the Contra leaders the “moral equivalent of our founding fathers”, aggressively pursued a plan of bombings of civilian centers in Nicaragua and assassinations. He also developed a Contra fundraising scheme that, according to CIA memos, relied on “kidnapping, extortion and robbery.”

CIA loves terrorists, and it always has.

The CIA and the Art of the “Un-Cover-Up”

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This is must see, and I hope they don’t fuck it up.

 

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Kieran Kelly recommended this Salon article — which is actually a revisionary look at the films of Harold Ramis.*

Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street
Harold Ramis was a master of subversive comedy. But the politics of “Caddyshack” and rude gestures have backfired

* I am not in complete agreement with anyone concerned.  While the films could be criticized for their targets and execution, I don’t think the writer makes his case.  The terminology used displays some dissonance, and he rejects a nuanced, complex reading of the films.

“And that makes for a pretty liberal film, right? I mean, who else makes fun of country club grandees except for us lefty authority-questioners?

Well, free-market conservatives do.”

Here the writer steeps his clumsy criticism in the pop left/right knee jerkism we’ve come to expect out there in the mainstream.  Presenting his false argument about “authority-questioners”, it’s almost condescending.  Authority isn’t a virtue.

The reason these movies stand out and endure is because they have complexity.  They aren’t meant to tell you want to think, but to give you the opportunity to do so.  Without that complexity and challenge, there’s no classic.

Perhaps the article’s best dig is:

“The kind of liberation the rude gesture brings has turned out to be not that liberating after all, but along the way it has crowded out previous ideas of what liberation meant—ideas that had to with equality, with work, with ownership.”

Here, the author, Thomas Frank, almost makes his point.  But the dissonance, in light of what he argued previously, sinks his argument.  How he can lay all of this on Ramis and Company, in the context of a farcical comedy, is unclear.   But work and ownership, Frank says, are intrinsic to his idea of liberation.

Like the Ghostbusters?

Frank just decried the idea of the small business startup, but now he’s in favor of work and ownership.  Well make your mind up, Frank.

“Here the martinet is none other than a troublemaking EPA bureaucrat; the righteous, rule-breaking slobs are small businessmen—ghost-hunting businessmen, that is, who have launched themselves deliriously into the world of entrepreneurship.”

Yes, work and ownership.  In fact bureaucracy and the EPA itself can have problems, misdirected activities, harm.  That’s the nature of power and authority, and in this case unaccountable power: the EPA man is not the one facing jail.  Reading too much into this EPA angle may be biasing any fair interpretation of the film.

The EPA bureaucrat made a unilateral decision that was disastrous while choosing ignorance over the consequences of said decision.  It is that kind of reasoning that is the true target, not the Environmental Protection Agency or the concept of reasonable regulations.  That’s the distinct difference that received no mention.

In some ways I agree with Frank that these films chose some easy targets and largely symbolic middle fingers.  That would make them less effective, in the political context, not more.  Trying to pin the Reagan era on Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and friends is too much of a stretch to be taken seriously.  The photo (above) that Salon chose to go with seems a tad dishonest in its complete dissing of Ramis and his widely beloved works.

Unthinking lefties are as unpalatable to me as unthinking right wingers, and perhaps were to Ramis too.  We must confront these challenges and the myriad opposing ideas, even in comedy, if we’re to stand the test of time.

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Did Jerry Rubin sell out?  He seems more concerned with rejecting the past than in addressing the ongoing problems.

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Gary Webb may finally be vindicated this year with a biopic that tells the story of “Dark Alliance,” Webb’s reporting on the CIA/Contra drug running.  This obviously goes straight to the top of my must-see list.

CIA-Contra Cocaine Scandal: The Tragic Saga of Gary Webb

H. “Corky” Johnson reports:

There’s now practically a cargo plane full of records replete with connections between the CIA and drug trafficking. Was the CIA complicit in the Contra drug trade? Check. Did the CIA and the U.S. pay the same Contra contractors who were also shipping drugs to the U.S.? Check. Did CIA Director William Casey obtain a special dispensation from the Attorney General to allow his Contra-support team to “look the other way” regarding the drug dealing? Check. Did the CIA deliberately deny to other agencies knowledge of Contra-connected dealers? Check.”

Jeremy Renner will play Webb in the film adaptation of Kill the Messenger, by Nick Schou.

“By operating in the subterranean world of arms and drug smuggling, the CIA took us down the rabbit hole where narco-mad hatters weren’t about to give us any straight dope, where the spooks had no clue and didn’t care where this unfettered trafficking would lead and where they were powerless to predict how many lives would be ruined in the country they were sworn to protect.”

Gary Webb took his own life after being hounded out of the journalism profession and his character assassinated by corporate media for daring to go after the Central Intelligence Agency.

“There’s no question in my mind that people affiliated with or on the payroll of the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while in support of the Contras.” -Sen. (now Sec. of State) John Kerry, PBS

 

Additional–

I highly suggest you read the above linked article first.  EW has a little more on the production:

“Michael Cuesta (Homeland) will direct, and Peter Landesman (Trade) is writing a script that draws from two books, Kill The Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb by Nick Schou and Webb’s own book, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.”

Get the books:

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DARK ALLIANCE: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion [Paperback]

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KILL THE MESSENGER: How the CIA’s Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb [Bargain Price] [Paperback]

 

 

Oh yeah.

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Few films are so beloved as John Hughes’ quirky 80’s tale of high school truancy and the cry for freedom.  A distant relative of mine recently named her baby “Ferris.”  What is it that clicked into place on this film, and why does it still hold up, while so many teen comedies fizzle upon further reflection?

The legend is that John Hughes wrote the script in 6 days, confronted by a fast approaching writer’s strike.  Hughes is the 80’s teen comedy guy, with such films as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Weird Science to his credit.  Hughes also directed and cast the film with just the right actors at just the right moment.

Ferris (Matthew Broderick) talks to the camera, repeatedly breaking the 4th wall, a high-risk move that fails more often than it works.  Luckily, Broderick had recently been in three different roles that also did this, and he was now so comfortable acting to the camera and so confident that he could pull it off, it just naturally emerged to give the comedy an elevated sense of philosophical musing.

Ferris’ best friend Cameron is the real central character, the project, the one with an arc and a life change to make.  Ferris acts as a hyper-real, charismatic catalyst to bring his friends, and the audience, on a greatest day of their lives kind of joyride.  And joyride they do – in Cameron’s father’s $350,000 classic Ferrari.

The point of the story is to break free and live more, to seize the day.  In that regard, it floats above the usual teen love/angst film, where shy nerds usually search for sex.  That’s not the goal here.  It works on a different plane.  It’s an unconventional storyline, and you can’t easily predict where the caravan will head next.

In the Behind the Scenes the atmosphere on the set is so spontaneous, so elastic and ripe for improvisation, credit really goes to Hughes for being such a collaborator.  Actors ad lib and mold the scenes, and they have great fun doing it.  The way a comedy should unfold.

The conflicts are strong and so memorable.  The school’s principal is on a wild-eyed Jihad to bring Ferris down, at any cost.  So is his jealous sister, Jeannie, who despises how Ferris gets away with everything, but she can’t get away with anything.

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I’ve never met anyone who disliked Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and perhaps its timeless story of industrialized education suffocating the youth, and their natural inclination to rebel and break free will live on forever in the classics section.

Ferris on Netflix.

Save Ferris.

And if you can handle it, one of the best mashups between two completely irrelevant movies, ever:

Ferris Club