Posts Tagged ‘depravity’

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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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Instant Cult Status

A first-time director, no money, no air conditioning and a captivating story that I’d been hoping would show up–I don’t actually look forward to much from the movie business these days.

 

Sadistic elite depravity and the corruption of money keep two down on their luck guys enthralled by the prospect of easy riches. Not so easy it turns out.  The puppetmasters sink their hooks into the two, and it becomes increasingly harder for them to wriggle out from their machinations.

A socio-political undercurrent grounds this black grindhouse comedy. With very little in resources, the crew managed to score a diabolical win and thrill them at last year’s festivals. Cheap Thrills showed up at the big red neighborhood boxes, and it’s sure to cut a little deeper than the competition. So bon appetit.

4.5 / 5

 

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Roger Ebert once called Fight Club a “fascist movie.”  Although that might have been misplaced, it may apply more aptly to these murder is fun films, Kickass and Kickass 2.

It’s so frustrating when the ideas are so nakedly presented to offset the other malignant ideas that were just presented moments ago.  The level of manipulation reaches schizophrenic heights when torture is fun, but all of a sudden another character pretends to have a moral conscience.  We have a battle of marketing manipulation memes, selling fascist ideas, but trying to also wrangle those peacenik dollars and assuage the consciences of parents who let their kids watch these assaults.

I was shocked at the prospect of “Hit Girl” (Chloe Moretz) the moment I read about the first film in production.  This was a kind of line that had to be crossed, inevitably, but for what purpose?  What is the meaning of Hit Girl?  She’s some kind of super enforcer freak show that could never exist in real life.  She’s also a bloodthirsty mass murderess, with flashy colors and makeup to sell killing as cool.  Of course a collection of lowlifes are presented for her to mow down.  What are people to make of this murder as fun and games, it’s all part of the modern lifestyle, kind of vibe?

The society has drifted quite a bit from the times of peace protests and antiwar movements.  We’ve regressed to a kind of infantile love of mindless violence.  Meaning and consequences are stripped away in favor of blood and circuses.  Now in Amerika it’s easy to sell violence as the solution to just about anything.  Little girls playing dress up is now little girls playing dress up with hollow point rounds and machetes.

The title character, Kickass (Aaron Johnson), represents the common knave. He’s brought into the world of murder for fun and Hit Girl, as a way of establishing his own identity as a superhero.  He’s a scaredy cat and inept.  The contrast between the two remains throughout.

With Kickass attempting to bring balance to the vigilante ideal, the films meander toward gore and death and back toward justice and forgiveness.  The people behind it coldly manipulate the storylines to sell death and supremacy one moment and high school innocence and the rule of law the next. 

Vigilantism is pitted against a useless law and justice system that essentially does nothing positive, ever.  This is an ideological attack on the idea of a justice system at all.  Never are the police called or do they do anything positive.  The only solution is massive force and violence by unaccountable individuals.  Similarities to other vigilante comic book stories (Batman) are intentional, but to what end?  What is it these people think they’re saying in the end?

My guess is that they’re saying: ‘we put x in there to counter y, so give us lots of money, assholes.’

Sounds about right.

No trailer.  Fuck you, Kickass.

2/5

 

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I indulge some guilty pleasures, stuff from Showtime and HBO, as many do.  It’s usually more engrossing than the network TV universe, with naked people and bad behaviors.  I’ve gone in for the L-Word, The Tudors, Weeds and recently gave a shot to Californication, starring David Duchovny and Natascha McElhone.

This hyper-real often silly show spouts dialogue that is so over the top and accelerated that no one really talks that way.  Stuffed with sarcasm, allusions, metaphors and anger, the show combines the ridiculous with a deeply flawed and dramatic main character arc.   People like watching others self-destruct, and David Duchovny makes a sport of it.

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I had to keep watching because Hank Moody’s family struck a relevant chord with my own experiences.  Not the steady stream of sex and alcohol, unfortunately, but the female members of his on-screen family unit.  Moody’s situation is one of an exceptional and often estranged middle-aged father trying to keep his family together as their teenaged daughter matures and drifts away.  His relationship with his wife Karen is epically strained, and no woman in her right mind would ever return to Moody.

That’s one of the weaknesses of the show.  Karen is pulled around like a puppet, constantly.  She lacks the agency needed for this to be taken seriously.  They try to put Karen in the driver’s seat, but it’s always a response to Moody’s crass infidelities.  Duchovny’s voodoo hold over womankind is taken to laughable extremes.  He’s a philanderer, an arrogant loudmouth and a drunk.  His excesses push farther than viewers might expect.

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I think Californication is a bell-wether of our nihilistic, self-absorbed age.  As in Wolf of Wall Street it’s our culture, and it’s real enough.  We are the new Romans drowning mindlessly in our excess and depravity.  There isn’t much to redeem these characters.  Human, yes.  Heroes?  Not on your life.

 

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No spoilers.

Amazing, nothing short of amazing.  Dicaprio’s tour de force performance helps lay bare the moral depravity of Wall Street better than Michael Moore could dream of doing.

Wolf of Wall Street is a black comedy about an anti-hero who represents the ultimate ugly American.  He’s the cornerstone of an ugly empire, in this case a Wall Street trading firm that does what Wall Street trading firms do: take money from suckers and put it into their own pockets.

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As an up and comer, a nobody, not born to the manor, Dicaprio’s guy might just be fair game, a sacrificial lamb to draw attention away from the rest.  In its totality, Wolf is a smart, meaningful, sexy, groundbreaking piece of American cinema that lays bare the obscenity of Wall Street rape and pillage.  Scorsese tops Wall Street films that have come before and goes balls out, full bore.

I’m really glad we made it to the opening day of Wolf.  Some scenes had me laughing my ass off — and not everyone at the packed house got it.  Some stunned faces, some grumbling.   Great movie.

Continued:

Wolf: Scorsese’s Best Film?

 

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‘Knockout game’ leads to arrests, more police patrols
Teen ‘knockout game’ continues to harm innocent people

The worrying ‘game’ is played by choosing victims at random and trying to knock them to the ground with one punch. More and more people report being victimized by its callous ‘players.’