Posts Tagged ‘aristocracy’

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There are so many movies, but so few good ones, that I was happy to stumble upon Oscar Wilde’s tale of debauchery and Faustian bargains. For free on Hulu right now: http://www.hulu.com/watch/562422

Colin Firth and Ben Barnes really breathe life into this classic tale. The production is raunchy enough to do Wilde proud, and a modern score pulses and warps the world. They could have gone even more exploitative but opted instead to retain a bit of class. It’s an interesting story, and it can be viewed from several angles.

In one sense Dorian is the ultimate English aristocrat, with power and wealth, and he exists above the law. With these perks his moral compass slides off into oblivion. Unrestrained by the rules that apply to most, the young and attractive lord becomes a Nietzschean superman. Inevitably his excesses lead to regrets and misery. Yet he soldiers on.

From another angle it’s a Frankenstein’s monster story, one of a social mentor and apprentice. Jolly good show.

4/5

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Rolling Stone with the reality check (mate):

1. New income generated since 2009 that has gone to the top 1 percent: 95 percent

2. Financial wealth controlled by the bottom 60 percent of all Americans: 2.3 percent

3. Record combined wealth of the top 400 richest Americans: $2,000,000,000,000

4. Real decline in median middle-class incomes since 1999: $5,000

5. Percentage of Hispanic and African-American children living in poverty, respectively: 33.8 percent; 36.7 percent

6. Amount that food stamps will be cut in 2014: $5 billion

7. Federal minimum wage: $7.25

8. What the minimum wage would be if it had kept pace with gains in worker productivity since 1968: $21.72

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lRCzIaeJio

 
American Psycho was such an odd, disturbing black comedy / satire that a lot of people didn’t know what to think about it.  Reviews were pretty polarized at the time, and yet the film endures as a kind of popular meme, even parodied recently by Huey Lewis and Weird Al Yankovich.

Lewis’ 80’s pop music is cited in the film itself as an example of what American Psycho Patrick Bateman considers the quintessential music of the 1980s Reagan period.  Bateman has a lot of opinions about a lot of things, always trying to find the best of the best, or at least the most expensive, with a quirky Batemanesque appeal.

Case in point, he orders a “real blonde” prostitute from a call girl service.  Only, she’s not exactly what he ordered.  Things end badly.

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The film creates a milieu of Ivy League plutocratic decadence with Wall Street trading types loaded with cash and beyond the touch of what most people call the real world.  It’s not about Bateman exclusively, but about a sickening American aristocracy laid bare for one of their own to go off the deep end.  I’m not sure if the film succeeds at being coherent or consistent thematically.  It is a sort of slasher mind fuck question mark.  But damn, it’s difficult to forget.

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A highly political dramedy set in Victorian England.

Women are treated as inferior and incomprehensible by the medical establishment, the government, the laws. Into this warped society a new doctor enters, with modern ideas of germs and science. The world will never be the same.

This delightfully naughty period piece pits the modern world against the stuffy, ignorant aristocracy of old. Highly recommended.

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On Netflix.
 

 

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.

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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.