Posts Tagged ‘narrative’

The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009)

Posted: December 3, 2009 in Binoy Kampmark
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Men Who Stare At Goats

When men do stare at goats
by Binoy Kampmark

Your wives are back at home having sex with Bart Simpson and Burt Reynolds.”
-Iraqi Propaganda leaflet, to American soldiers in the 1991 Gulf War.

There is a line at the start of Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare at Goats: ‘More of this is true than you would believe.’ The line is off putting – what is, or isn’t true? The audience is none the wiser, and the traces to the original book from 2004 by Jon Ronson by that name are left vague.

Military men are as superstitious as any other, hiding behind the veneer of scientific dogma and vast, mechanized schedules for killing and maiming. But when it comes down to it, do these lethal practitioners know any better than the sagacious shaman?
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The International
DVD: The International
Blu-ray: The International

This film is a fictionalized suspense thriller based upon a criminal international bank. This story, as revealed by the writer in the DVD extras, is based upon BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which was one of the largest criminal conspiracies ever to exist.

The International is a well thought out suspense plot where a lone Interpol investigator (Clive Owen) goes up against an insurmountably huge and well-connected adversary, the “International Bank of Business and Credit.”

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There Will Be Blood
DVD: There Will Be Blood
Blu-ray: There Will Be Blood

Oil, blood and greed

Alan Maass compares the movie There Will Be Blood with the book that inspired it.

Article originally appeared at socialistworker.org.

WHEN I heard about it–one of today’s best filmmakers, Paul Thomas Anderson, making a movie from a novel by socialist writer Upton Sinclair–I moved quick, and asked to do the SW review.

There Will Be Blood, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, based on a novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.
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District 9

District 9 is an Ugly Marvel
Science Fiction of the Now

By KIM NICOLINI

District 9 is not a pretty movie. It doesn’t look pretty. Its message isn’t pretty. It hurts the eyes to watch. In fact, District 9 is an outright ugly movie, but it is an ugly that is perfectly crafted and takes ugly to the heights of a new aesthetic. The screen is full of unflinchingly realistic ugly slums, banal ugly interiors of institutionalized spaces, and ugly people whose entire lives and bodies have been corrupted by the ugly greedy powers that dominate everything in the landscape.

Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, the movie centers on a camp of stranded space aliens who have been contained within a hideous filthy militarized slum and are in the process of being relocated to a concentration camp in the desert. Through its narrative, District 9 overtly exposes South Africa’s egregious practice of apartheid, a system of segregation that was the government-sanctioned practice of legal racism. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out this connection and to understand the film in relation to its historic and geographic specificity. Certainly, apartheid and all systems of racism need to be addressed. But what makes this movie most interesting is how it uses the real life practice of apartheid as a jumping point to expose a whole global system of exploitation, discrimination, and economic cannibalism. District 9 doesn’t take on these big issues with bombastic Hollywood gloss and spectacle, but rather through a beautifully ugly hybrid of film genres – sci-fi, body horror, toxic accident, war and action films – to show how in a world where the toxins of global capital are so fluid, everything is corrupt, nothing is in its natural state, and toxic hybrids have become the new norm.
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District 9
District 9 – Sci Fi Action with brains and soul.

by Bill Martell
Sex in a Submarine / Script Secrets

It’s a foreign film, so it’s cultural.

So, here we are at the end of summer… and not a great summer. Though there have been some gems like HURT LOCKER and HANGOVER, most of the films have been big really stupid popcorn flicks. Last summer we have IRON MAN and DARK KNIGHT, two films that worked as popcorn *and* were good films that actually explored characters and issues. Movies that were both kinds of good. This year it seems like no one was trying to make movies that were “popcorn plus”, instead we’ve had good popcorn like STAR TREK and bad popcorn like… well, too many to name them all. What happened? Has the slump in DVD sales made the studios stop thinking about tomorrow? And aftermarkets? Hey, no one’s buying DVDs anyway, so why make a film that is good enough that people will want to own it and see it again and again? Let’s just make completely disposable summer popcorn flicks that people forget as soon as they’ve seen them? (Hmm, maybe that’s the marketing plan – if the film is really forgettable consumers will have to see the film again on DVD?) The problem with making completely disposable summer films is that they cost so damned much. There was a time when a movie could live just on cinema box office receipts, but with summer popcorn films costing as much as $250 million, many of these films *need* the DVD money to make a profit for the studio. The thing I do not understand – it costs the same to make a big popcorn movie with a brain as it does to make a big stupid popcorn movie – so why not make the version that I want to buy on DVD and see again, rather than the version that makes me want to go home right after the movie and pop in IRON MAN or BATMAN BEGINS into the DVD player to wash away any memory of that crappy film I just paid $11.50 to see?

So, here comes this $30 million sci-fi film from South Africa with no one in it you’ve ever heard of (Shia LaBouf isn’t in a single frame of this film, thankfully) and it opens at #1 in the USA on opening weekend and ends up #2 in its second weekend… and I suspect this will be one of those word-of-mouth films that hang around for a while. Oh, and I already want to buy the DVD because I not only want to see the behind the scenes making of stuff, I want to see the movie again.
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Outstanding sci-fi film, go see it (in theaters now).

The best sci-fi has something to say and uses elaborate worlds to say it. District 9 excels because it has something to say, and the story is solid.
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BRUNO

Seeing Brüno Twice
Guilty Laughter in the Dark

By KIM NICOLINI

Believe it or not, I have seen Brüno twice at the movie theater since it opened two weeks ago. I went the first time not really knowing what to expect because I had never seen a Sacha Baron Cohen movie before. I knew it would be funny. I knew it would be outrageous. I knew it would push buttons. I was pretty sure I would get some good laughs out of it (even if they were politically incorrect laughs), but I really wanted to see it because I wanted to see what all the controversy was about. I’ll be honest with you. I laughed my ass off both times I saw the movie, but I also will concede that my laughter was not without a minor dose of guilt lurking over my shoulder from all those people who see Brüno as cinematic gay bashing. Every time I laughed at, say, Brüno getting his anus bleached or swapping his iPod for a black baby, I had to ask myself, “Am I wrong for finding this funny?” In fact, that needling voice of controversy even led me to believe that I wasn’t enjoying the movie as much as I was. By the end of the movie, I had proclaimed that there were even too many ass jokes for me in the movie (and that’s saying something because I love a good ass joke.) By the time I finished watching 81 minutes of Sacha Baron Cohen bending over or baring his butt thong or squirting a fire extinguisher up his pygmy flight attendant boyfriend’s arse, I thought that even I had my fill of butt jokes. When the movie closed with its uplifting celebratory gay-positive song performed by the likes of Snoop Dog, Sting, Bono, Elton John and Brüno, I was reluctant to embrace Brüno, and my response to the movie remained tepid. I wasn’t sure what my stand on it was. Did I like it? Did I not like it?
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Trailer: The Hurt Locker

Screening the Politics Out of the Iraq War

By David Sterritt, Ph.D.
DavidSterritt.com

The Hurt Locker, the widely praised movie about American soldiers on a bomb squad in Iraq, has arrived in theaters with enough rave reviews to fill two dozen quote ads. While the film is excellent in some respects, its politics are worrisome – not because they’re wrong, but because there are no politics in a film about the most politically fraught conflict in recent memory. And the eagerness of critics to overlook or excuse this bothers me just as much.

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

DVD: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith holds up over time better than most of the films shot in the 1980s. This is a “classic,” but that’s not why it’s a top pick on most political film lists. It’s more than a classic; it’s about something real. Jimmy Stewart turns in a tour de force performance the kind that still sends chills 70 years later. And it’s funny, with great comic timing and scenes that sear.
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CASABLANCA
DVD: Casablanca
Blu-ray: Casablanca

Casablanca Revisited

By David Macaray

With the Motion Picture Academy having recently announced a change in next year’s format (i.e., going from five Best Picture nominees to a whopping ten), it might be useful to revisit the classic 1943 Best Picture winner, “Casablanca,” one of the most celebrated films in Hollywood history.

Not only is it still ranked as one of the greatest movies ever made, not only does it feature one of the greatest movie songs (“As Time Goes By”) ever written, and one of the most-quoted movie lines of all-time (“Play it again, Sam”), but it managed to beat out an astonishing nine other nominees to win Best Picture.

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The Motorcycle Diaries
DVD: The Motorcycle Diaries

Brazil’s Bid at a Continental Cinema
Walter Salles Jr.’s Motorcycle Diaries in context

by Norman Madarasz

By awarding Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 the Palme d’Or, the 2004 Cannes Film Festival jury, presided by Quentin Tarentino, only did what was natural at this moment in time for art. It used the film to denounce the tyranny of Bush and the neocons for having intensified the violence and terror they claim to have been eradicating, and for doing so primarily to seize central Asian natural resources for personal and family gain. France happened to be the ideal place to declare such a message for more reasons than one.

Apart from the country’s opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the festival was also set against the social strife affecting France’s arts industry workers—the “intermittents du spectacle.” In the summer of 2003, they had managed to bring the Avignon Theatre Festival to a halt in protest of the Chirac government’s attempt to rid their status of job security and unemployment benefits. In the end, neither the intermittents nor the American occupation of Iraq made the Cannes dream-machine flicker into a fade out. Nor was there much discussion about the stance that art ought to take on the world’s current flow.

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Traitor (2008)

Posted: July 12, 2009 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: , , , , ,

Traitor

DVD: Traitor

Blu-ray: Traitor

Traitor plays with fire, and ends up a little wet.

It’s hard to tell what’s guiding this thing along.

Is it the “reality” that the filmmakers believe they are throwing up on the screen?

Is it the need to present an alleged “even handed” treatment of America’s foreign policy and wars?

Is it the need to have some stuff blow up, in Hollywood formulaic fashion?
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