Posts Tagged ‘struggle’

J. Giambrone

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This British import arrived, and I knew not how nor why. But it’s a marvelous period piece, and the period is 1940. It’s also a movie about making a movie, and the characters are the screenwriters.

This nuanced tale tackles the sexism of the day. The main character is a Welsh girl who is suddenly called up by the Ministry of Information to help write “the slop,” which is female dialogue for their propaganda films.

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When Dunkirk inspires a heroic rescue story, the plot kicks into gear. A news article praises a pair of sisters who stole their drunken dad’s boat to join in the rescue. The government functionaries decide this is grade-A propaganda to inspire the working class to go fight the Germans.

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As Catrin develops the story with her co-writers, many tangents appear. Many obstacles to production too, and some are hilarious. Catrin grows as a writer…

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Well then…

Sometime after midnight I’m going to tell Amazon to screw you guys over and double the price. Hah! That’s what I get to do, muthafuckas. Can you feel the power pulsing and gushing out across the web? That’s right. This shit is of the utmost seriousness. Money, bitches. Currency. Economics. It’s all going down around midnight, and then you can cry and weep to each other as I giggle atop my pile of riches and count my jewels.

 

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See Chapters 1 and 2

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Opens Christmas Day:

Looks very powerful.

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This low-grade grammar school level smear may appeal to some of the brain damaged hordes who love them their Walmart.

The alleged “professional protesters” are demonized.  Because only someone hired to say things could possibly have anything against benevolent Walmart et al.

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I love how the wording actually mentions “higher wages and better benefits!”   Oops.  Corporate’s not gonna like that!

In another bit of astounding hypocrisy, we are given a voice over that demonizes the people on the screen — their own hired actors, more Walmart employees!  How stupid do people have to be to buy these lies?

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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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Dr. J.’s Commentary: Hairspray: We’ve Come so Far; We Have So Far to Go

by Steven Jonas

Hairspray is a movie that can be taken on a number of levels, your choice. It’s a funny, sassy, heartwarming old-style Hollywood movie musical about teenage life in Baltimore, circa 1962. It’s about actors like Christopher Walken, John Travolta, Queen Latifah, and Michelle Pfeiffer playing against type (and doing it marvelously well). It’s about a classic Hollywood “discovery,” the previously unknown high school senior, an aspiring actress from Great Neck, NY, Nikki Blonsky, delivering a drop-dead performance as the lead, Tracy Turnblad. It’s about terrific singing and dancing all designed to make you feel oh-so-good while you’re watching it.

At the next level, the social issue of obesity is prevalent, how it affects the lives of so many Americans in so many different ways. John Travolta in a fat suit playing Tracy’s mom shows how socially crippling it can be. Tracy, also obese, shows how one can overcome the prejudice our society has against overweight people, even as it encourages overweight (much more now through the role of the food industry than back then, but back then too). Tracy says “I’m happy with myself. I can do tons of stuff, and if you don’t like me because I’m fat, that’s your issue, not mine.”

The next level is classically political. The movie shows very starkly just how the nation was beginning for the first time to deal with race-relations and the coming desegregation, in a former Border State city, Baltimore. A highly popular afternoon teenage TV show that features high-powered singing and dancing by and for teens is totally and consciously segregated. It’s an all-white show, with one “Negro Day” a month. In Tracy’s high school, when she is sent to detention for some minor infraction in the classroom, virtually everyone else there is African-American. It is in that setting that Tracy, who can already dance, is introduced to the coming wave of African-American popular dancing that is about to burst into the mainstream for the first time.

Tracy, who looks entirely different from all the other white kids on the show, somehow manages to win a dance contest and get a slot on it for herself. But by then, she has already been taken by the black dancing and is beginning to spend time with and work her way into the culture. She eventually proclaims that the show should be integrated and, with Queen Latifah who plays the entertainer-leader of the black kids, she is in the leadership of a street march and demonstration that eventually leads to just that eventuality. For a Hollywood movie, this one has an unusual amount of bare-bones, yes, that-is-what-it-was-like, politics in it. The progressive forces are the good guys. The police and the station management are the bad guys (and boy does Michelle Pfeiffer do a marvelous job of playing a bad guy). And the movie ends with the triumph of integration over prejudice, at least circa 1962.

The next level on which one can view the movie and its lessons is not nearly so happy. This is one that is encapsulated in a line from the movie’s climactic musical number: “We’ve come so far; we have so far to go.” Indeed we do, in terms of race relations in our country. The issue is not on the movie’s agenda in any way. But the line does make the politically conscious person think, right to the present. Are things better than in 1962? Of course they are, in many areas of discrimination. Are things worse? Oh yes they are, in the political arena. During the 1960s, it seemed that political racism was on the way out, that George Wallace would be its last howl of un-reason. And then came Nixon and the Southern Strategy that has defined the modern Republican Party.

Race prejudice and its political usage is what defines the Southern Strategy, and defined the Nixonian Republicans into the Reagan Era. Starting with Reagan’s capitulation to the Christian Right, the modern Bush-Cheney-Rove Republican has taken prejudice to a much broader level and made it into their party’s political foundation. Race is there, of course, in the judicial nominations that led to the recent Roberts Court decision that said racism is for communities to decide, through their democratically elected representatives. And racism is there in the conscious campaign started by Ashcroft to use the “Justice” Department to suppress black voting, under the cover of “dealing with election fraud as mandated by the Civil Rights Act (sic, and sick).” But these folks have taken the political use of prejudice to a whole new level.

Just consider: the political exploitation of prejudice against homosexuals simply because of who they are, not anything they have done; the political exploitation of prejudice against those of us (in this case, the majority of the population) who believe life begins at the time of viability, and the drive to criminalize our belief; the political exploitation of prejudice against Hispanics through the whole so-called “illegal immigration crisis”; the political exploitation of a prejudice these people are building from the ground up: Islamophobia; the political exploitation of prejudice against anyone who is labeled a “liberal,” because as Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh/Bill O’Reilly say out in the open and the party’s leadership says in code words, “liberals” are traitors, and, it so happens, the penalty in this country for treason is death.

Yes, the modern Republican Party has reached new depths. If the Democrats don’t begin to take it on directly on this issue of the political use of prejudice, and soon, it will very likely, very quickly get to be too late. Yes indeed, “We’ve come so far; we have so far to go.”

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY), a weekly contributing author for The Political Junkies, and contributing editor for The Moving Planet Blog.

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People vs. Polluters

The birth of the environmental movement and what our species is up against.  This is important work.

Indiewire write-up.

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I mean,

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I avoided this based on initial negative reviews.  Some cinematographers, however, praised it to the moon.  Myopia?  Does image trump the story and execution?  Or is there something here worth exploring?

Later I found that it was directed by Tom Tykwer, and I simply had to see it for myself.  Tykwer has been legendarily great with Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior and Perfume.

After the opening two minutes however, I had to pause it and write this:

If the first minutes of Cloud Atlas were posted online I would not have bothered (the opposite of Serenity, btw, where that did happen, and I did run out to see it as a result).  It’s a disjointed and overly confusing beginning with simply too many characters, times and stories all irrelevant to one another.  This is like a mishmash of incomprehensible proportions, right off the bat.  The intense focus and single minded drive of a film like Run Lola Run is traded for apparently compressing half a dozen different book chapters into mere seconds of jigsaw cinema.  How can anyone be brought into the story, when they can’t even comprehend which story or time period they are supposed to be entering?  This is a major flaw and miscue in the storytelling that no one would expect from Tykwer.  The Cloud Atlas novel has been described as “unfilmable” which may not be true – but then again, not like this.  Establish something, for fuck’s sake, before you jump all over the universe.

By 20 or 30 minutes in, it’s obvious that these stories really don’t belong in the same film at all.  Some later tenuous nanofibres pretending to connect them are simply not going to do it.  These stories simply don’t intertwine, and their relation to each other isn’t really going to pay off satisfactorily (assuming any such relationship eventually is revealed).  Some of the actors jump from life to life and time to time, but so what?  This calls attention to the weakness of the connections more than it makes them.  It seems to say that we have Tom Hanks, and he costs X dollars, so let’s make sure he’s in 1760 and 1920 and 1973 and 2294 or whatever.  The specifics are as unimportant as the existence of the various unrelated snippets.  Any of the individual stories may have worked on their own terms, but what the hell are they all doing in the same movie?  It’s like the author/screenwriter jumped from cable tv channel to channel and wished and prayed that he could somehow tie all the video clips together by throwing the same actors in each channel’s story.  It really does play that disjointed.

A similar film which springs to mind immediately, due to its similar malady, is Magnolia.  Described by my wife as, “the emperor has no clothes,” the problem with Magnolia is that it’s not really a movie, it’s just cut that length.  Magnolia knitted together a bunch of unrelated snippets, probably from a bunch of shorter works, none of them suitable for a feature-length story.  This creative (pretentious) dering-do fell flat on its face in some quarters.  There’s suspension of disbelief, and then there’s the suspension of eye-rolling and the desire to hurl your Slushee at the screen.  I think of Cloud Atlas in that category, that genre of chopped together short stories that really don’t have any connection to one another, but if we preen and pretend we’re artists above all that maybe they’ll give us an Oscar™.

Conversely, Robert Altman’s Short Cuts worked for some reason.  Don’t even ask me why.  I guess the idea was broadcast right in the title, up front and blatant.  Everything happened in the same general locale (Los Angeles) in the same time period.  What’s more I expected them to link the stories together, with characters from one milieu crossing into other circles during the progression of the film.  Short Cuts pulled off what it set out to do without jumping three centuries backward or forward.  Perhaps Tykwer meditated more on Aronofsky’s The Fountain, another multiple period story, and another one that worked because it wasn’t so disjointed that there was no hope of tying them together in the end.  Perhaps The Fountain is the model, the one that went out farthest on a limb without that limb breaking.  In The Fountain storytelling may have achieved new possibilities that people hadn’t believed possible before, including Tykwer.

But here?  In Cloud Atlas it can’t tie these characters, plotlines or events together in any way shape or form for the first half of the picture.  I can’t even count the number of different lives we’re supposed to be remembering.  The audience, who needs you to throw them some kind of bone, just can’t hang on in such a desolate environment.  Personally, he lost me before the title screen came up.  Tykwer’s just outsmarting the audience and outsmarting himself.  And I still believe he’s one of the greats, but he needs better, more filmable material.

So after endless jumping through time, one guy is poisoning another guy; why?  Who knows.  Maybe about a girl and jealousy.  One guy is leading a super techno race chick to a mountaintop through cannibal country and fighting the urge to kill her.  One guy is on a ship with a stowawayy slave.  One synthetic android Chinese chick has escaped future sex-slave In ‘N Out Burger to join the revolution. One super gay music composer shot some dude who wants him captured, although he’s writing the great timeless Cloud Opera symphony, from the first guy’s dream, and oh yeah he already kills himself in a bathtub in the opening minute – huh?  The film is a giant huh, with some loosely strung together themes about freedom and people dominating others.  But, it’s Tron / Speed Racer one moment, and on a sailing ship in the 18th century the next.  It’s got everything and kitchen sinks from the past, future and beyond.  I forgot to mention the Big Oil wants to blow up a nuclear reactor assassin subplot.  Yeah, it’s that movie, that you were clamoring for Hollywood to finally make, right?

Okay, I’m feeling sarcastic.  But, who in the fuck thought stringing all these stories together in one movie was a good idea?

After an hour some of the themes start to look similar.  But the worlds look nothing like one another.  The plots of each story are also wildly disparate.  Time separates them, but there are so many characters in so many times and worlds that it’s hard to figure out who may have a tenuous future connection to whom, based upon some of the clues that may be clues, or they may be background because there’s so much going on in so many subplots, who the hell can remember?

I actually like some of the themes and ideas the film tries to bring out.  My problem is with the execution, and the shoehorning of all these plots.  They just don’t fit together.

There’s another plot with an old wacky publisher guy chased by thugs who is locked in an old folks home by his pissed-off brother.  But, who can keep track of this overturned pot of spaghetti?  The jagged cutting, often to clips lasting no more than a few seconds from any one story, is reminiscent of a child playing with the TV remote.  This makes it all but impossible to care, or invest emotionally in any of the characters or horrors portrayed, leaving them as nothing more than curiosities in a passing kind of noise that echoes from many different lives.

That’s Cloud Atlas.

Movie, the Movie made more sense.

 

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Okay, turn off your brain and fire up the kettle corn.  I had, of course, avoided this big garish video game of a movie whose trailer inspires sea sickness and epileptic shock.  Then, my wife who is even a bigger sci-fi geek than me forced me to watch it.

And you know, it’s not that bad.  I wouldn’t say great, but definitely a solid future film with tons of action and mindbending.  Essentially, a new nanotech interface melds brain cells with communication.  Having these cells inside your mind makes you part of “Society,” a way to make money by being controlled by gamers, or to spend money by controlling other people’s actions.

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With freaks paying to control others like live puppets, the company and its megalomaniacal CEO become the richest, most powerful entities on earth.  Played by Dexter, the CEO is a bigger than life outrageous Bill Gates cowboy.

The main guy however is the muscle bound Scotsman Gerard Butler, who’s in prison.  This prison allows the inmates to fight real combat game scenarios against each other, for the benefit of the real big spenders.

And so you’ve got your sex, violence, mind control, class, power, plutocracy and revolution.  Add action and visual effects.  Performances are pretty good actually, and the guys behind Crank pump up the scenarios to 11 whenever possible.

Like I said, it’s not a great film, and it won’t be heading over to my Best Sci-Fi list.  A couple of scenes are so dumb you’ll just yell out loud.  But still.

Excruciating decisions — many lists like this exist, and so what are the criteria? A political movie needs to say something, say it well and deliver theatrically. To me political struggles are about power and injustice, the organization of society. I’ve seen a lot of films, not as many as some but more than most.

Best / Most Impact

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Bob Roberts

This may be the best American political movie of all time.

JFK

This may also be the best American political movie of all time.

Chinatown (Collector's Edition DVD)

Chinatown

Emotional punch, rawness that isn’t apparent until the very end.

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All the President’s Men

I felt obligated to watch this again, but it sure does slice deeply, if a little short on action.

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Full Metal Jacket

The military culture opened up like a festering wound.

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Battleship Potempkin

Classic for a reason, quite useful to study.

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I Claudius

Noticed this on another list, and was instantly sold. It’s a TV production, a mini-series but why not? This deserves to be here.

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The Tudors

Similarly a mini-series, set in the court of Henry VIII, done with such perfection it has to be recognized.

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Caligula

The most chilling, raw film on the entire list. Mad Caesar, the fitting heir to a mad culture, the pinnacle of absolute power and atrocity.

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Dr. Strangelove

The cold war in a nutshell.

Idiocracy

A favorite of mine, and we quote it often. America continues down this path every day, and it is unlikely to ever seem dated, barring nuclear annihilation.

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Platoon

The US military as its own universe.

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The Handmaid’s Tale

The correct take and the correct villains.

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Miss Bala

How a corrupt narco empire intersects with the people under its dominion.

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Brazil

Fascism, absurdism, escapism.

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The Player

Hollywood as a class system.

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American Psycho

Ivy league Mansons: the masters of the universe.

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Cosmopolis

Elite self-loathing, power disparity and the obscenity of unrestrained capitalism.

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The Thin Red Line

Another take on the military, war as conquest and thought the enemy of soldiers.

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A Clockwork Orange

The state vs. crime, an experiment not so difficult to imagine.

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Raising Arizona

Recidivism, ethics, morality and love.

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Election

Ethics vs. morality.

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The rot at the center of American politics, pervasive corruption, social manipulation.

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Thirteen Days

Nuclear brinksmanship and the madmen clamoring to wage war at any price.

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The Pianist

Warsaw Ghetto, the politics of survival.

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28 Days Later

At the edge of civilization, humanity is stripped away.

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Robocop

Corporate takeover of policing and government.

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Aguirre: The Wrath of God

Fools rush in.

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How to Get Ahead in Advertising

Society necessitates a personality split, and can only continue in its present form by destroying.

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Heathers

Society as a high school.

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The Road Warrior

The forces of civilization vs. the forces of anarchy, and one man caught in the middle.

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Eyes Wide Shut

Elite depravity and unaccountability.

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Bridge Over the River Kwai

Stockholm Syndrome, myopia, desperation clouds the mind.

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Americans from childhood are fed a diet of bullshit that carries on into adulthood. One of these bullshit myths concerns Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated by the US government, and not by a lone gunman, on April 4th of 1968.

Exactly one year to the day prior to that event, April 4th of 1967, Dr. King gave the most political and controversial speech of his life. Lashing out at the war in Vietnam, the mass murder, billions squandered, the imperialist machinations of the US government, Dr. King essentially signed his own death warrant by stating point blank:

“Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

Full Text: Beyond Vietnam, A Time to Break Silence

I believe that section of the quite lengthy speech is contained in this clip:


  
Dr. King reveals US meddling prior to US involvement in the war:

“After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again”

He reveals clear war propaganda lies by the United States:

“Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made.”

Dr. King was labeled one of the most dangerous “national security” threats in America several months before his liquidation. Statements like these directly challenged the legitimacy of the war, the draft and the government in Washington:

“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam.”

Professor Jared Ball discusses the whitewashing of Dr. King’s actual struggle, and his revolutionary stances against poverty and militarism as well as racism.


  
Lastly, a civil trial took place in 1999 which ruled that there was a conspiracy to kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the morning of April 4th 1968. I highly suggest that those who are interested research the evidence brought out during that trial.

The rifle which was claimed to have killed Dr. King, and said to belong to James Earl Ray could not have done so. The sight was completely off. What’s more, the rifle itself was deposited in an alley beside an arcade company 10 minutes prior to the actual shooting. It was planted by an unknown figure, and clearly not in the possession of James Earl Ray when Dr. King was shot. Numerous other anomalies surround the case, and the jury came to a verdict in a very short amount of time.

Dr. Martin Luther King was not about nostalgia, feel good photo opportunities or homogenized, sanitized history. He was a fighter who chose non-violent, and quite risky confrontation. His legacy should be taught and remembered for what it actually was, and not for what white corporate Amerika would like it to be.

Judge Arthur Haynes testified that he was, of course, James Earl Ray’s first lawyer along with his father, and he testified that in the course of their early on-the-scene investigation, they talked to Guy Canipe, who owned the amusement shop in front of which was found the bundle which contained, amongst other things, the rifle. He said Canipe told them very early on, before anyone else apparently had done any kind of tampering with him, told him very early on that that bundle was dropped some minutes before the actual shooting. Imagine that, that the bundle, the murder weapon, the rifle in evidence, was dropped minutes before the actual shooting.”(Civil Case: King Family versus Jowers)

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

 

You need to see this.

Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

http://www.mumia-themovie.com/