Scarface

Not rated yet!
Director
Brian De Palma
Runtime
2 h 50 min
Release Date
8 December 1983
Genres
Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Overview
After getting a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban government official, Tony Montana stakes a claim on the drug trade in Miami. Viciously murdering anyone who stands in his way, Tony eventually becomes the biggest drug lord in the state, controlling nearly all the cocaine that comes through Miami. But increased pressure from the police, wars with Colombian drug cartels and his own drug-fueled paranoia serve to fuel the flames of his eventual downfall.
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  • Scarface

    [1]2,131 words

    White Nationalists spend a lot of time analyzing the themes in movies and the impact they have on our people [2]. However, we often ignore what lessons non-whites take. Blacks and Hispanics might be missing the point of some films, probably because they are making so much noise in the theater [3].

    Consider the one movie that has had a greater impact on hip-hop culture (which is to say, the dominant culture of this country’s youth and underclass) than any other – Brian De Palma’s 1983 Scarface [4]. As chronicled by books [5], articles [6], or even a simple glance at the themes in contemporary rap, no movie has a greater hold on the imagination of black and Latino youth.

    The film stars Al Pacino ferociously chewing the scenery as Tony Montana. Montana is a Cuban immigrant who rises to become a prominent cocaine dealer in Miami before dramatically losing his friends, family, power, and life.

    The film is noted for its extreme vulgarity, especially for the use of one particular example of Anglo-Saxon 226 times, or about 1.32 times per minute. For those who have overall questions about the plot, you can actually figure out the entire movie from just viewing every use of that one word.

     

    The movie itself is simply a more explicit version of one of the uniquely American film genres, the gangster film. An immigrant of lowly origins rises to the top of society through unethical methods. However, in his desire to become a powerful and wealthy man, and thus a true “American,” he loses the very things (culture, family, traditions, identity), that made him who he is. Eventually, the now deracinated protagonist is destroyed, losing even the ethereal wealth and power that he once possessed.

    In The Godfather Trilogy [7] for example, Michael Corelone, despite taking the family to new heights, dies alone and isolated, his daughter a victim of the violence he used to build his fortune, his son alienated and disgusted, his father Vito’s hopes that the Corelone family will “make it” as a prominent American family in ruins.

    In Goodfellas [7], Henry Hill ends up betraying all of his former friends and colleagues, and is disgusted to have to live as an average, anonymous American working on the consumer plantation, without even the comfort of his old neighborhood friends.

    The Sopranos [8] television series begins with Tony Soprano bemoaning the collapse of community standards and his acknowledgment that he is fighting a losing battle to keep La Cosa Nostra going.

    Scarface is a story in this vein, about an ambitious outsider caught between his old identity and the need to secure the wealth and power that modern America values far above family, patriotism, or identity. Even the hero’s name is a signal that Tony represents not Cubans per se but the universal experience of every “new American.” Montana is even an anti-Communist, butchering a former Castro confidante with a knife to earn his green card and entry into American life. In the end, though, Scarface is a cautionary tale. Tony’s mother, a humble house cleaner, sets up the conflict by saying, “You think you can come in here with your hot shot clothes and make fun of us. That is NOT the way I am, Antonio! That is NOT the way I raised Gina to be. You are not going to destroy her. I don’t need your money. Gracias! I work for my living.”

    Ultimately of course, Montana does destroy his sister, and everyone else around him. He murders his best friend in a jealous rage and sees his sister killed. His trophy wife abandons him, disgusted after a flabby and drunken Tony embarrasses himself at a restaurant. He is murdered, and perhaps even worse, defeated with no friends left to avenge him. Behind the cursing and bluster, Scarface suggests that American success comes at too high a cost. At the end of the movie, Tony lies floating in his own blood, his mansion occupied by his enemies, the line “the world is yours” serving only as an ironic counterpoint. Montana’s collapse and ruin is far more complete than anything suffered even by Michael Corelone or Henry Hill.

    This depressing lesson seems to have completely gone over the heads of the largely non-white fans of Scarface. When a new DVD version was released of the movie, crowds of Latinos camped outside the Best Buy in Secaucus, New Jersey like it was Black Friday. Scores of gangster rappers claim Tony Montana as a role model and an inspiration. Aaron McGruder, certainly the most perceptive critic of black culture from within the black community (and perhaps in the whole country), makes sure to characterize his pop culture-worshiping young black everyman character Riley Freeman as an outright Tony Montana wannabe. At any major city in America, T-shirt vendors can be found hawking cheap knockoffs of Al Pacino’s iconic pose, alongside images of Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, and of course, Barack Obama.

    The nonwhite worship of Tony Montana tells us a great deal about the values that blacks and Latinos internalize from American popular culture and what they believe America is all about. Collectively, nonwhites seem to simply block out not just Tony Montana’s defeat, but even the corruption of his career. For many, the ending needs to be changed outright. In the Scarface video game enthusiastically advertised to “urban” markets, Tony Montana’s iconic last stand is reimagined as him blasting his way out of trouble so he can rebuild his empire [9].

    [10]

    Al Pachino as Tony Montana

    Why the attraction to blacks and Hispanics? Tony Montana represents not just the quintessentially American desire for money and power, but the uniquely non-European American desire to have these things without having to identify with the American nation or its institutions. Montana neatly summarizes his view of his new hometown of Miami and his adopted country with the quote, “This is paradise, I’m tellin’ ya. This town like a great big pussy just waiting to get fucked.”

    Watching a news report on cocaine in Miami, Tony neatly transitions into a rant against the “bankers and politicians” who are the real bad guys. While Tony hates Communists, he also casually defines capitalism as “fuck you.” Tony accepts this, even revels in it. America is a Hobbesian jungle of all against all, with money and power as the only absolutes.

    However, there is a moral code behind Tony’s bluster. In contrast to the “WASP whores” with their money and connections, Montana’s criminality is more honest and forthright. By relying on his “balls and his word,” Tony simultaneously shames all of the law abiding, bourgeois Americans who obey a corrupt system and also the rich businessmen and politicians who are just as bad, if not worse, than drug dealers.

    In the famous “bad guy” speech, Tony Montana echoes a favorite Culture of Critique theme. Tony says drunkenly to a group of shocked whites at a fancy restaurant, “You all a bunch of fuckin’ assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers and say, ‘That the bad guy.’ So . . . what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide—how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say goodnight to the bad guy!”

     

    After all, if everyone is equally corrupt, no one can be good. In line with Tony’s own moral code though, the speech takes on a different meaning. All the old “mummies” with their illegitimate wealth and power are the real bad guys. They are soft, corrupt puppeteers who hide behind courts and fancy suits but don’t have the cojones to put their own bodies on the line. Tony, who earned his money with manliness and physical courage, is the real moral exemplar.

    This is the moral code that elevates the drug dealer over the legitimate businessman, or the street enforcer over the snitch. This is the code celebrated in the narcocorrdios of Mexico, or the rap anthems blaring in Los Angeles or Baltimore, or the stop snitching shirts and signs displayed with pride all over the ghettos.

    In fact, Tony Montana might even be a civil rights hero. Crime, murder, and crude displays of violence to show who can be the “big man,” if only for a few moments, are all ways of sticking it to the white power system. Ken Tucker, author of Scarface Nation, notes that white critics didn’t understand the movie in 1983. “But very quickly, Latino and black audiences seized on the story of Tony Montana . . . as an example of how a poor, disenfranchised ethnic person in America could improve his life in the Reagan era. That story has remained powerful.” Criminal action is not wrong, but simply a more honest and direct way of expressing one’s individuality and rage at “oppression.”

    Of course, the more direct the approach the better. Contemporary hip hop culture values the direct use of force and display of masculinity rather than the more subtle strategy favored by a Don Corelone. Tony Montana does not fail to disappoint on this front as well. The most relevant example is the case of Montana’s Jewish mentor Frank Lopez, an aging drug lord with a chai necklace and a blonde shiska mistress. Frank doesn’t want to rock the boat, and when Tony gets out of hand, Frank arranges to have him killed. But Montana, who kills him first and secures both his business and his girl, is more moral because he uses straightforward force as opposed to Semitic intrigue.

    While the Jewish identity of Lopez probably goes over most urban audiences’ heads, the frustration at the “white” (mostly Jewish) shop owners who run small businesses in the ghettos and barrios to “exploit the community” is very real. We can imagine many blacks and Hispanics fantasize not about having to build up such a business but about being able to simply claim it, or at least try to destroy it as they did during the LA Riots.

    The irony of course, is that Tony is not ruthless enough to maintain his power. He refrains from killing women and children even though he was ordered to by Sosa, his Bolivian cocaine supplier, killing Sosa’s henchman instead. If he had done this, his downfall would have been avoided. This speaks well of Montana, indicating at least some semblance of decency. But perhaps it is more a reflection of his own machismo. After all, he had no problem working with Sosa and profiting greatly from the relationship, despite Sosa’s tactics. He also glories in his murder of Sosa’s henchman. He presents his refusal to do Sosa’s will less as a moral stand than as a display of dominance over other men.

    After he shoots Sosa’s henchman, he crows, “I told you, man, I told you! Don’t fuck with me! I told you, no fucking kids! No, but you wouldn’t listen, why, you stupid fuck, look at you now.” The code of aggressive machismo, displays of dominance, and the quick resort to violence are of course all staples of contemporary urban culture. Tony Montana’s bloody last stand, after all, was not a defense of loved ones, a noble idea, or even himself, but simple rage at the people who were “fucking with him” and who didn’t realize they were “fucking with the best.”

    Scarface, despite the hilarious 80s montages, comic book dialogue, and over the top accents, is actually a chilling representation of what America has become and what people value today. Perhaps the most significant dialogue is not the famous “Say hello to my little friend” or the quotable “The only thing in this world that gives orders . . .  is balls” but an exchange between Tony and Elvira, his white, blonde, junkie wife that he claimed from Lopez, the mentor he killed. Elvira states, “You know what you’re becoming, Tony? You’re an immigrant spic millionaire, who can’t stop talking about money,” whereupon Tony interrupts, “Who the fuck you calling a spic, man? You white piece of bread. Get outta the way of the television.”

    The display of barely concealed racial hostility, papered over with money, drugs, alcohol, and television to fill the empty hole that used to be a country, perfectly sums up what America has become. Scarface is actually a profound criticism of the American Dream, suggesting that hard work and traditional values lead to greater happiness than the pursuit of quick money through criminality.

    Blacks and Hispanics, however, seem to have missed the point, seeing the antihero as an honest hero, and aspiring to be the next Tony Montana.

    Editor’s Note: If you liked this article, click here [11] and here [2] for more like it.

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    (Review Source)
  • Limitless
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,443 words

    Behold, I teach you the superman. Man is something to be overcome . . .

    By taking one pill a day, preferably with food. 

    The quest for the Superman unites or even defines the final objective of the authentic Right. Most Radical Traditionalists believe in a lost Golden Age, when men were one with their gods before falling to corruption of blood, body, and spirit in the materialist and decadent Kali Yuga. Reactionary conservatives take inspiration from what they believe was a superior time. Men and women of faith strive towards the divine as experienced in moments of religious ecstasy or as portrayed in the finest art of Western Civilization. The aesthetics of the Right focus on strength, beauty, and excellence and artists like Arno Breker speak to its soul, the eternal striving ever upward. Through steely discipline, fanatical will, the deliberate plan of centuries or some mysterious working of the gods, we believe we can overcome ourselves, and become more than man through supreme sacrifice and effort.

    But what happens if you could just get it at CVS? What if modernity gives us the Superman?

    Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a struggling writer in New York City. Cooper’s usual frat boy smirk is absent as the film begins, as Eddie Morra is about to commit suicide. A flashback to the beginning of the story shows Morra dumped by his girlfriend for being an underachiever and spending his days throwing himself around a squalid and filthy apartment he can’t even afford. Morra’s laptop sits forlorn on his desk, untouched, as he paces distractedly around the room, trying and failing to create so much as a page for his book contract. Filmed through a sickly blue lens, Morra shuffles around the decrepit city, another liberal arts graduate failure to launch poseur intellectual. He has nothing to offer the world and he’s a writer with nothing to say. He’s not a stupid, evil, or even lazy man – he’s just an ordinary loser.

    This suddenly ends when he randomly encounters Vernon, the brother of his ex-wife and a drug dealer. Out of nostalgia and sympathy, Vern gives him a pill (NZT-48) that will allow him to use “all” of his brain. Morra takes it – and is suddenly transformed.

    Of course, this unlikely scenario is one of several screenwriting blunders. How a random drug dealer happens to get a hold of the most significant product in world history is never satisfactorily explained. While in the original script [2] “Vern” appears sophisticated and wealthy, the Vern of the film seems sketchy and disreputable [3] – i.e. a drug dealer. Then there’s the likelihood of him randomly running into his ex-in law on the streets of New York City and gifting him with a wildly expensive narcotic. Luckily for us, we avoid having to deal with these questions as Vern is murdered the next day when Morra goes to get more. We never hear anymore from him – but not before Morra has found his stash of NZT and some cash.

    Questionable plot points aside, Limitless is a visually interesting movie. When Morra takes the pill, the sickly blue wash is removed and the world is full of color and vitality. As Morra says when NZT first kicks in [4], “I was blind, but now I see.” The viewer senses and even experiences his sudden exhilaration. It’s like a deep breath of oxygen after suddenly emerging from underwater. The movie seems to go at a faster pace, as if the viewer took a hit as well. Cooper clearly enjoys the acting school exercise, changing his posture, pronunciation, and overall presence so we are a looking at a totally different person. After his first dose, Morra appeases and then seduces his landlord’s bitchy girlfriend, using recalled memories he didn’t even know he had. Post-coitus, he strides into his room, organizes his belongings, and suddenly pounds out the first section of his book in a burst of energy. “I know what I needed to do, and how do it.” If you watched the movie at home like I did, you might find yourself suddenly pausing it to clean your own room.

    After Vern’s untimely death, Morra takes one pill a day and begins a rapid course of self-improvement. His conversation sparkles, and he seduces beautiful women and makes wealthy and stylish friends. He changes his appearance, with a new haircut, clothes, and workout regimen (learning new languages as he runs each day.) He finishes his book easily, learns the piano, travels with his new friends and forms valuable contacts. There’s the occasional sign of SWPL self-satisfaction, as “smart” Morra eats sensible salads rather than junk food and doesn’t smoke. “What would you do?” he asks.

    What does the modern man do when he becomes superhuman? Morra actually does fairly well. He’s not especially objectionable. He isn’t some reality TV nightmare suddenly given superpowers, like a horrifying version of Honey Boo Boo with a 300 IQ. He does indulge in the ultimate fantasy of the dumped, presenting his ex with a radically improved version of himself [5] showily speaking Italian at a fashionable restaurant, coolly emitting the aura of a man able to obtain any woman he wants. Nonetheless, rather than crushing the woman who dumped him, he happily takes her back and wants to use his new abilities to build a life with her.

    While this speaks well of him, the new superman is rather disappointing. While Nietzsche wrote that the hallmark of the Übermensch was the transvaluation of all values and the living of life as a work of art, Morra doesn’t actually change himself in a deeper sense. He pursues knowledge, but mostly to show it off in cocktail conversation. He becomes more daring, but it is limited to the kind of juvenile tricks any normal young man loves, like driving fast or jumping from high places. He finishes his book, but then immediately puts aside his artistic ambitions, saying, “Suddenly I knew exactly what I needed to do. It wasn’t writing. It wasn’t books. It was much bigger than that.” What’s the new big thing? You may have guessed curing cancer, or developing cold fusion, or building a supercomputer, but it’s not. We’re never actually told what it is. However, the first step is making money through day trading.

    To make money day trading, a budding capitalist requires capital, which Morra does not have. One would think that a materialist Übermensch would have a better idea of how to obtain money than going to a Russian gangster, but that would be a very boring movie. Even more baffling, after easily making millions more than he needs to pay back the loan, Morra simply ignores the gangster rather than settling the unpleasant business immediately. Somehow, he even manages to have the gangster steal one of his pills, which means that he spends much of the remainder of the movie being chased by super intelligent Russian gangsters desperate to obtain his supply. The movie simply asks for the viewer’s indulgence so the story can proceed – one doesn’t need NZT to see the problems here.

    Morra ups his dosage and uses his enhanced intelligence to see through the stock market. He recognizes that the market is an exercise in mass psychology and is able to discern patterns that allow him to profit effortlessly. Word spreads, and Morra obtains an introduction with powerful investor Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). Off remarkably little information, Morra discerns Van Loon is contemplating a merger with Hank Atwood, a venture capitalist who has beaten Van Loon with unpredictable and brilliant investments in the past. Morra is asked to consult on the merger and he leaves happily – he “has his shot.”

    While celebrating at nightclubs, Morra suddenly feels time slipping away, blacking out huge swaths of time. He has only scattered memories of talking to wealthy guests at various parities, having sex with a gorgeous blonde woman, somehow avoiding a random mugging, and remembering passing glimpses of a man in a tan jacket who seems to be following him. In a riveting shot, time and distance stretch forward as if the viewer is being pulled unwillingly from one time to another. He regains awareness disheveled and confused on top of a bridge the next morning.

    Morra attends the meeting unprepared and off NZT. Distracted and uncomprehending, he is still able to realize that Atwood’s sudden emergence as a financial power was most likely a product of NZT. He also sees a television report about the murder of the blonde woman from the night before. Shocked that he may be the killer, he makes an excuse, vomits, and flees.

    He looks up his ex-wife and learns about the inevitable side effects of NZT. Both the Russian and the mysterious man in the tan jacket [6] continue to pursue him. Suffering from withdrawal, Morra is forced to beg his current girlfriend to retrieve his stash from her apartment. She is pursued by the man in the tan jacket and takes a pill in order to escape. The pill saves her life, but she is frightened of everything it represents. Once again, she leaves Morra.

    Morra is running a race against time to develop a sustainable solution while the walls are closing in. He has to deal with the Russian, avoid the man in the tan jacket, negotiate a corporate merger, and somehow keep the news that he is a murder suspect away from his new corporate colleagues. The obvious lesson here is the danger of rocketing to the top “artificially” without paying one’s dues through hard work and sacrifice. Van Loon makes the point explicit when he calls Morra a freak that will destroy himself unless he goes through at least some of the same experiences as those who have earned it.

    What should happen is the certain collapse of our heroic protagonist for trying to cheat the laws of nature. This is precisely what happens in Alan Glynn’s The Dark Fields [7], the source material for Limitless. The defeated protagonist realizes with horror that the President is on NZT, and that a corporation is using the drug to control the world. The original script is more ambiguous but shares the overall thrust of the novel, with Eddie Morra seemingly overcoming the obstacles in his path, only to learn that Carl Van Loon controlled the pharmaceutical company making the drug and is tracking the people being given the pills. It’s also strongly implied that Morra did murder the blonde woman, that Van Loon knows about it, and that this knowledge will be used to essentially keep Morra as a high functioning slave.

    The movie radically breaks from this ending, providing the audience with a superficially “happy Hollywood [8]” ending, but ultimately a more thought provoking one. Morra ends up on the brink of defeat, about to commit suicide. The elite criminal defense attorney that he hired to keep away the murder charge steals his pills so he is all but helpless. When the Russians break into his apartment, Morra manages to murder the NZT addicted boss and drink his blood in order to obtain the last accessible bit of the precious drug. Outsmarting the other Russian hitmen, he escapes and finds that fellow NZT addict Hank Atwood has died from withdrawal, betrayed by the same attorney. The man in the tan jacket had been working for Atwood, but with Atwood’s death, he has no reason to try to murder our hero anymore. Together, they take out the attorney and Morra obtains the stash he needs. “It was all still possible,” he tells us.

    Twelve months later, Morra’s book is a best seller, he is coasting to a victory as a United States Senator, and he is suffering no ill effects of the drug. Van Loon has found out about his secret and destroyed his lab, but, in contrast to the original ending, he has not been behind it the entire time and is simply trying to get in the game late. Morra easily rebuffs Van Loon’s attempt at intimidation, demonstrating he’s “fifty moves ahead of you and everyone else,” sensing that Van Loon is dying of heart disease, claiming he has other labs, and boasting he is off the drug entirely, having learned how to gain all the benefits with none of the side effects. Van Loon drives off humiliated and defeated, and Morra strolls to lunch at an Asian restaurant with his old girlfriend, who has come back to him again. He speaks Chinese to the waiter, implying that he may still be on the drug.

    While Cooper says the ending is ambiguous [9], it doesn’t really matter. Even if he is lying about still on the drug, he has found a way to use it and ensure a steady supply without suffering blackouts. While the interwebs still wonder if Morra is in fact a murderer, it’s implied in this version that the man in the tan jacket committed the crime. Either way, Morra has gotten away with everything. The film essentially ends with his total victory.

    Critics who wanted to see Morra fall miss the point. He may be, in the words of one critic, a “chemical fraud,” but what difference would it make in this world? Morra does literally have to drink the blood of a slain enemy, but the bulk of his accomplishments come from his magic pills. The larger agenda behind them and who else is taking them is never explained. Cosmic justice is never served. But why should it be, when it so rarely is in the real world?

    If a pill could truly expand someone’s intelligence and focus, the possibilities are, if I can be forgiven, limitless. Intelligence builds on itself, so a smart person could easily reverse engineer medication that less enhanced people managed to create in order to remove the side effects. No strategist or even a combination of geniuses could possibly outwit or outplan someone with superhuman intelligence. While it would be more satisfying to see Morra collapse, there’s no reason to believe it would actually happen, nor can modern critics justifiably claim discomfort with the concept of such a pill.

    American society already celebrates “chemical frauds” as great human achievers. The myth of Lance Armstrong as a great comeback hero is collapsing as this is written, as his former teammates turn on him [10] to admit he used blood doping. This isn’t surprising, as it is increasingly clear that steroids, blood doping, and other banned substances and techniques are absolutely required to perform at the highest levels of sport. Essentially, sport at the highest level is simply an exercise in pharmaceutical management and beating drug tests. Everyone is doing it, and only a few get caught.

    In intellectual and professional fields, students and white-collar workers frantically consume performance-enhancing drugs such as Adderall without a prescription in order to cram for exams or meet a deadline. Morra’s comment of “I know what I needed to do and how to do it” is similar to the feeling this writer had after taking (nonprescribed) Adderall during finals at university, easily compensating for a semester of neglect within an evening. If there were no side effects, I would take such a pill every day without hesitation, reaping the rewards of enhanced productivity. In a mild sense, just about everyone does this, as there are few who begin a hard day’s work at the office or in the study without coffee or tea. A motley tribe of Radical Traditionalists, anarcho-primitivists, or the extremely health conscious may take care to avoid all artificial stimulants or chemicals, but mass society has already made the choice for an “artificial” life.

    What matters most is not the chemical stimulation, but the value system that underlies what these superhuman efforts are directed towards. According to an article promoted by American Renaissance [11], doctors in the inner cities are prescribing drugs such as Adderall to minority youths precisely because they are unable to function in schools on their own. One doctor proudly proclaims his efforts in the service of “social justice.” Much like the “anti-racism pill [12]” that was supposedly discovered, it’s easy to imagine “medicine” being used to enforce egalitarianism and social justice with ever increasing fanaticism [13]. Drugs that could be used to enhance humanity would actually be directed towards actively holding it back and reinforcing left wing social norms. While we might point out there is a contradiction inherent in using artificial enhancement to push egalitarianism, it would never occur to the prosperous, educated SWPL’s that even today pursue status while preaching equality.

    Eddie Morra and Limitless avoid left wing talking points, though the film does take care to show our hero engaged in various sexual activities with nonwhite women. However, Morra never really accomplishes something great with his new powers. Neither does anyone else. Atwood goes into finance capital, and then dies. Morra’s ex-wife gets a better paying job, before succumbing to the side effects and becoming a burnout. The Russian criminal simply becomes a more effective gangster. Morra is actually the most ambitious of the bunch because he becomes a politician, after quickly churning out his book. It’s implied that he wants to “shake up the Free World” and help people, and his book is entitled “Illuminating the Dark Fields – Mapping the American Psyche.” However, the audience is never actually told what he wants to do, what his book says, or why he cares about being a Senator. Instead, he seems to be following a slightly modified version of Scarface [14]first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get your old girlfriend back.

    Money and politics are pursued because they are ends in themselves, ways of enhancing his status within the value system of the existing society. While his concern with his girlfriend shows that Morra is not some kind of sociopath, he’s not really an extraordinary man either. He’s simply a super intelligent normal person, performing at a higher level to more efficiently acquire pointless belongings and implement (presumably) the same kinds of policies the government already has in place.

    Despite the confident predictions of “archeofuturism,” there are no signs that the Collapse will be upon us anytime soon. Even as Americans adjust to the new normal of a sluggish economy, technology and medicine will continue to advance as long as there is money to be made. iPhones will continue to become faster, computers will grow ever more powerful, and research into the workings of the human brain will continue apace, especially as more than a third of Americans live their lives on one kind of a drug or another [15]. While the sedentary lifestyle and horrific diets of most Americans overwhelm even the most effective pharmaceuticals, it may not always be so.

    Pop scientist Michio Kaku writes confidently [16] that the “power of the gods” will be ours within the century – and he may be right. It can be argued that a chemically enhanced life, free from struggle or the need for self-discipline, is no worthy life at all and we should flee to the woods and wage revolution from the periphery in defiance of such a fate. While a noble sentiment, Radical Traditionalists have to at least acknowledge the terrifying possibility that it may be technologically feasible for even the most woefully ignorant urban denizen to artistically increase intelligence and concentration to the point that the most disciplined intellectual will be no match for him. The “happy” ending of Limitless works because it stands by the disturbing implications of intelligence in a pill.

    Nonetheless, as an overall film, it fails. There are too many coincidences that don’t make sense, no growth in the characters, and no actual purpose to the entire experience. Of course, a lot of life and a lot of people are similarly pointless [17]. Limitless is a visually interesting thought experiment that is still worth seeing, despite its plot holes.

    That said, to Radical Traditionalists, it could be the ultimate nightmare. The future may give us a world where people have superhuman abilities to alternately pursue pointless materialism or push a degraded culture. A simple glimpse at the liberal arts departments of our major universities should dissuade anyone from the notion that high IQ automatically leads to healthy aesthetic, political, or moral judgments. The real lesson of Limitless is that while modernity may eventually give us a degraded superman, the Revolt Against the Modern World never ends, even if we have to use its own weapons. Modern man, even if he has a 500 IQ, is still something to be overcome.

     

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    (Review Source)
  • The Babysitting Bachelor as Aryan Avatar: Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty, Part 1
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,860 words

    Part 1 of 2

    “Mister City Policeman sitting
    Pretty little policemen in a row . . .
    Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna . . .”

    –“I Am the Walrus,” Lennon/McCartney

    “Even the perfect couple needs a little help.”

    — Ad for Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects

    For a Traditionalist living in the Kali Yuga, there’s no better example of “riding the tiger” than making use of this fancy new “moving-pictures” technology. By providing a sort-of living image of the past, they provide solace, instruction in how things went wrong, and even, perhaps, inspiration for the future.[1]

    Of course, not just any old film will do. You want to avoid anything where some smart-ass director or screenwriter tries to inject his phony, usually Leftist, notions of “uplift”– you know, that whole “Barton Fink feeling [2].”[2]

    Usually, you want a “B” picture, where the director had neither the time, nor the money, nor the talent or interest, to impose any kind of “vision.” You don’t want some Hollywood schmuck’s outdated and stupid “vision,” you want a window onto a better time, probably just what the “message” guy wanted to screw up, and in many ways has succeeded in doing so. Forget elaborate sets or FX; these guys didn’t even use the studio back lot![3]

    But don’t worry; I’m not going to force you to slog through some forgotten B movie “gem” like some French cineaste or ironic hipster. The movie I caught a few weeks back on the aptly named Turner Movie Classics[4] was somewhere in the middle, a modest but respectable little picture, based on a bestselling novel, and starring name actors, including one who would receive a Best Actor nomination to add to his two Best Supporting Actor nods. It’s Sitting Pretty, starring Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara, and featuring Clifton Webb.

    You’ve probably never seen or heard of it, and Clifton Webb is probably unknown as well, though you might immediately recognize him, or his voice (he was the inspiration for Mr. Peabody on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, kids), in a “oh, that guy” way. But the picture was a hit, Webb already a big Hollywood star and would continue to be until his death in the early ’60s, and that suggests it illustrates some interesting changes in our culture. Plus, there are some rather rarified Traditionalist themes in it that add a special layer of interest.

    As an example of cultural distance, consider this viewer’s reaction, on the Internet Movie Data Base:

    I had never seen this movie before and was curious about it. What a disappointment – there is nothing to like about it — especially Clifton Webb’s annoying portrayal of an arrogant know-it-all jerk. There is nothing funny or humorous, all it had me thinking was why he didn’t get his ass kicked and thrown out. The way he treats the kids is mean and awful and the way the whole plot is written out is nothing more than showing how mean spirited and arrogant people can be in using and hurting others. From the rat faced neighbor to the snooty boss and secretaries – this movie is just plain mean and unpleasant. And then they made that awful sitcom with the equally annoying Christopher Hewett playing the 1980s version of Mr. Belvedere. 1/10

    Well, admittedly he has a point about the sitcom. Still, it’s entirely possible this guy finds himself entertained, even edified, by the likes of Django or Basterds or Saw or Hostel. And yet the feel-good hit of 1948 nauseates him like he’s undergoing the Ludovico treatment from Clockwork Orange.

    And then, I remembered an incident from literally 30 years ago, when I was in grad school in Canada. I was sitting around one afternoon with a very “progressive” folk-singing friend when Cheaper by the Dozen came on screen. And yes, that had starred Clifton Webb too! This being years before anyone had cable, we tended to watch whatever came on — itself an indication of an entirely different mode of culture-formation back then. In fact, if we hadn’t been in Windsor, with access to Detroit stations, there would only have been one, the CBC! — and this was indeed a bit of American TV slipping over the border. Again, having vaguely heard of the film, or at least the phrase, we watched. Many minutes of silence passed as we beheld this “vintage comedy.” As the lovingly, sentimentally portrayed father once more began to verbally abuse one of his many adoring children, my friend turned to me, sneered “Is this supposed to be funny?” and switched channels in disgust at this bourgeois American filth.[5]

    Same reaction, same actor, equally popular film, and even largely the same character.

    Why such vastly different reactions, then and now – or even then and 30 years ago? I think it lies in almost equal parts with the movie as a token of the Way Things Were, the actor as embodying a unique kind of masculinity, and the underlying Traditionalist themes of the character and plot. The movie is an affront to Liberal notions of marriage and parenting, Liberal notions of the proper way to be “gay,” and Liberal notions that spirituality and especially religion are subjective whimsies and probably bunkum anyway. And thus it also demonstrates how Liberalism functions as a pseudo-opposition to Modernity, offering false alternatives while distracting from the One Thing Needful.

    The Movie: Mr. Belvedere

    Tacey King: Mr. Belvedere, is there anything you haven’t been?
    Lynn Belvedere: Yes, Mrs. King — I’ve never been an idler or a parasite.

    The action takes place in (or on?) Hummingbird Hill, and though there’s enough budget to shoot on a studio set, we are meant no doubt to see it as reflecting, humorously, on the problems of a newly prosperous post-War generation moving into the expanding suburbs. The opposite, then, of today, with a flat housing market and college graduates moving back to live with their parents.

    These suburbs, at least at first, were not today’s empty concrete wastelands but more like the British pre-War suburb,[6] or the planned or “garden” suburbs promoted by Lewis Mumford, such as Forest Hills or Sunnyside in Queens, or older, quasi-cities like Grosse Pointe. Relatively large, two storey, detached houses, some on actual hills, winding roads and plenty of space for gardening (the movie opens with a lost cab driver asking directions of a gardening denizen — who will later play a pivotal role in the plot).

    We zero in on our main protagonists: Henry King (Robert Young), his wife Tacey (Maureen O‘Hara), and their three children. In this prosperous and patriarchal era, Harry is an up and coming lawyer, and can not only afford his house and car, but has no need to, and wouldn’t dream of, sending his wife out to work. And she apparently is just fine with being a “homemaker.” (Teeth are already starting to grind in the TV audience.) Except: she’s unable to handle the kids. Fortunately, Harry can also afford to hire some help.

    Why she can’t handle them, since they seem to be perfectly normal, has puzzled viewers, but it’s the implausibility that is needed to set the plot in motion.

    The cab, it transpires, was called by the maid or nanny, who also can’t stand living with the children any longer. A series of teenage babysitters have also given up, except for one with an obvious crush on Harry, which he tolerates with amusement, as well as his wife’s not entirely amused jealousy. Here again we see a different era; today, this would start a movie starring Drew Barrymore or Alicia Silverstone, in which she insinuates herself into the family and kills them all, or else, if on Lifetime, Tacey would start kickboxing classes and take out the kid or husband, or both, with much shattered glass. In real life, Harry too would be setting himself up for a long stay at the Crowbar Hotel. In any event, the babysitter throws a “wild” dance party, which is reported to Harry and Tacey by . . . hey, it’s that gardening guy again! Back to square one.

    Tacey suggests hiring a responsible, older, live-in babysitter, and thinks the way to do this is to put an ad in the Saturday Review. Remember that bastion of middlebrow taste? And did they really take ads for nannies? Anyway, Harry is justifiably skeptical, but lo and behold, a letter arrives, announcing the imminent arrival — presumptuous, much? — of one Lynn Belvedere.

    And now the fun starts! Here’s the IMDB summary [3]:

    Tacey and Harry King are a suburban couple with three sons and a serious need of a babysitter. Tacey puts an ad in the paper [sic] for a live-in babysitter, and the ad is answered by Lynn Belvedere. But when she arrives, she turns out to be a man. And not just any man, but a most eccentric, outrageously forthright genius with seemingly a million careers and experiences behind him. Mr. Belvedere works miracles with the children and the house but the Kings have no idea just what he’s doing with his evenings off. And when Harry has to go out of town on a business trip, a nosy parker starts a few ugly rumors. But everything comes out all right in the end thanks to Mr. Belvedere.

    I’ve emphasized a few phrases that seem a little significant, and we’ll get to that in a bit. For now, enjoy this excerpt from YouTube that shows how Mr. Belvedere proves to the Kings that despite his gender, and self-confessed hatred of children, he’s just the man for the job.[7]

     

    This is the sort of thing that delighted audiences in 1948 and disgusted my folk-singing friend just a generation later. Today, it’s impossible to imagine this in a Hollywood film, and in real life the parents, rather than chuckling and deciding to hire the guy, would have called the police.

    The Actor: Clifton Webb

    “I have destroyed the formula completely. I’m not young. I don’t get the girl in the end and I don’t swallow her tonsils, but I have become a national figure.”

    – Clifton Webb

    I called Tacey’s inability to handle the children the implausibility needed to start the plot. But as John Braine told William F. Buckley, when the latter sought advice on novel-writing, a work of fiction must have at least one implausibility, but no more. That the Kings, and the 1948 audience, don’t think Belvedere is a child abuser and potential pedophile is due to their not having been exposed to decades of “listen to the children” nonsense, therapeutic Nanny State indoctrination, and spy on your neighbors propaganda — indeed, the “nosy parker“ is the main villain of the piece. (Of course, Harry’s earlier use of a “funny” foreign accent would have already marked him out as a vicious racist in need of sensitivity training.)

    The other potential implausibility is Mr. Belvedere himself; why did audiences not consider him at least to be an insufferable jerkass [4], and on the contrary, demanded two more sequels (until Webb, like Sean Connery, put his foot down to prevent typecasting, only, like Connery, to be sucked into at least a couple of similar roles, such as Mr. Scoutmaster and Dreamboat — in the latter he’s a college professor whose old movies turn up on the new medium of TV, like old porn roles haunting a politician today, and concludes with him watching that same breakfast clip from Sitting Pretty).

    One crucial reason is that Belvedere is not bragging or overcompensating. He is what he says he is. He says he can handle the children, and does so immediately. When he accidentally meets Tacey one night and invites her to dance, he doesn’t just say “I taught Arthur Murray” he proceeds, as Tacey exclaims, to “dance divinely.”

    [5]

    Clifton Webb, 1930

    And that scene, at least, wouldn’t work unless the actor could indeed dance divinely. Indeed, the whole performance, portraying a man of Aryan rectitude and modest pride in real accomplishments, itself succeeds because it is barely a performance at all. Clifton Webb may not have raised anyone’s children, including any of his own (he lived with his mother, throwing legendary Hollywood parties, until her death in the early ’60s) but he was a divine dancer, and he embodied the virtues of the Aryan Man.[8]

    In fact, Webb had already had one career, an accomplished dancer and performer on Broadway (he introduced “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and also “Easter Parade [6],” thus unknowingly launching the Judaic assault on Christian holidays) long before he came to Hollywood at the age of 54. (There were some screen tests in the ’30s; he may not have actually taught Arthur Murray but the studios thought he could replace Fred Astaire). He was brought to Hollywood by Otto Preminger to play Waldo Lydecker in Laura precisely because Webb reminded him of the real life model for Waldo, New York theatre critic Alexander Woollcott. No need to “act” but a good enough performance to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

    At this point, similarities with Humphrey Bogart begin to arise, along the lines I explored in my review of the Bogie bio Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart by Stefan Kanfer.[9]

    Both were born in the late 19th century, providing them with a sense of being from an earlier, better, era. Both were raised in the New York of Edith Wharton – Webb remembers it being “completely settled only as far north as 72nd St.” — with artistic mothers; both came to prominence on Broadway before being brought to Hollywood relatively late in life by the demand of a director. There the similarity stalls a bit; Bogart was brought over to recreate his role as Duke Mantee for the film version of The Petrified Forest, not for his physical resemblance to a fussy critic. It’s interesting to note, though, that even then his co-workers remarked on how, while playing a vicious killer, his personal behavior continued to be polite, even courtly, especially to women. No Judaic “method” acting for Bogart. Bogart as a person was of Webb’s type, but also able to act against type. Indeed, his early career floundered as he played butlers and playboys (he is supposed to have been the first to utter on stage the phrase “Tennis, anyone?” — Bogart!) until the role of Mantee gave him the chance to show another side of himself.

    Of course, this is why Bogart was the “better” actor, or rather, a major actor rather than a minor one, in the sense Colin Wilson gives the words in describing major and minor composers. Major composers, like Mozart, have more to say, but that doesn’t prevent a minor composer, like Delius, from being one’s favorite.[10]

    As Kanfer notes, the key to Bogart’s appeal was that his WASP background (or, as I would prefer to say, his Aryan nature) gave an interesting, straight from the headlines dimension to his villains; rather than the immigrant gangsters of Little Caesar or Scarface, Bogart suggested the new, angry Middle American Whites produced by the Depression, like Pretty Boy Floyd or Clyde Barrow. And yet, being White Guys, the audience, at least the Whites that comprised the overwhelming majority of American then, could assume they must be fundamentally honest, fundamentally Nice Guys. Thus, he was able to take unlikable characters, both murderous thugs and wise-cracking detectives, and make the audience root for them, as well as make it believable that that sophisticated women played by Mary Astor and Lauren Bacall would fall for them — in the latter case, even off screen.[11]

    And there was in fact some skilled acting involved in those roles of Webb’s. He was able to make audiences actually root for a manipulative psychopath like Waldo rather than the plodding detective, and believe that Gene Tierney would — almost — love him too. And he could make audiences take to the imperious Mr. Belvedere, and even believe that the children would come to love him, and that the neighbors would suspect Tacey was having an affair with him. That was the quality that Ayn Rand perceived even before Webb came to Hollywood, which led her to insist — unsuccessfully — that Webb play the role of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. The actor they used, she said later, “was too obviously evil.” Not subtle enough for Ayn Rand!

    The studio overruled Rand, and almost overruled Preminger, for the same reason modern audiences probably don’t believe Webb in those roles: Aryan men, that is, “white guys” are all evil jerks, right? And isn’t he obviously, well, gay? The fact that creative artists as different as Rand and Preminger actually fought for him in those roles, while today’s audiences think like 1940s studio heads, suggests that moderns aren’t as “smart” or “progressive” as they think they are, that largely Judaic Hollywood studios have indeed shaped our culture, and that “gay liberation” has been a disaster for both our culture and for homosexuals themselves — as I argue throughout my book.[12]

    Bogart forged a new, different kind of masculinity, “his own brand of masculinity” whose outstanding characteristics, Kanfer says, are “integrity, stoicism, a sexual charisma accompanied by a cool indifference to women” (p. xi), “aloof, proud, unwilling to accede to the demands of fashion” (p. 234) and, describing Sam Spade, “wounded, cynical, romantic and incorrodible (sic) as a zinc bar” (p. 69). All of which are exemplified by Mr. Belvedere, and Clifton Webb.[13]

    Neither actor is a traditional Hollywood beefcake. Both seem slight of frame (Bogart would hardly do better than Webb in that famous bathtub scene with Dana Andrews), they share what Tom Shone has called Bogart’s “stiff, slightly old-fashioned patrician bearing,” and it’s Webb that’s clearly the handsomer, what with Bogie’s battered, scarred face — and it’s Bogart who has the lisp.

    It’s when Kanfer contrasts Bogart’s masculine appeal to that of Hollywood’s crop of youthful stars like Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, and Tobey Maguire that their real similarity and appeal comes into focus. Both, in their different ways, are real men, middle-aged and with lives and accomplishments already behind them, not boys. That’s why Belvedere can excite gossip as a rival to Robert Young, a misnamed “King” who’s really just a struggling young husband under the thumb of a boorish boss. Belvedere, we recall, hates children — and that’s why then come to love him. Webb, as I said before about Bogart, embodies the Aryan character as delineated by Baron Evola:

    The sober, austere, active style, free from exhibitionism, measured, endowed with a calm awareness of one’s dignity. To have the sense of what one is and of one’s value independently of any external reference, loving distance as well as actions and expressions reduced to the essential, devoid of any exhibition and cheap showmanship—all these are fundamental elements for the eventual formation of a superior type.[14]

    On a personal level, Bogart and Webb had known each other in their Broadway days, and kept in touch; Webb was even a charter member of Bogart’s original Rat Pack, that index of heterosexual cool (Kanfer, pp. 201-2). As I outlined in my essay on Bogie, Webb was the sort of homosexual Bogart could like and even admire, like Truman Capote (who impressed Bogart with his work ethic – doing re-writes for Beat the Devil from a hospital – and his arm wrestling) or, fictionally, dignified, erudite, but devilishly clever Casper Gutman. Not in your face flamboyant, but ironic and quietly competent – like Bogart, like the Roman ideal.

    Gutman: [Pouring a stiff drink; Spade lets him pour] We begin well, sir. I distrust a man who says ‘when’. If he’s got to be careful not to drink too much it’s because he’s not to be trusted when he does. Well, sir, here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding. (They drink.) You’re a close-mouthed man.
    Spade: No, I like to talk.
    Gutman: Better and better. I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking’s something you can’t do judiciously unless you keep in practice. Now, sir, we’ll talk if you like. I’ll tell you right out I’m a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.[15]

    As wonderful example of how Webb’s Aryan professionalism and imperturbability underlie the Belvedere character, take another look at the breakfast table scene. After Belvedere delivers his line about how horrible the children are, the baby sneezes, and Webb, without missing a beat, adds “Gesundheit.” Needless to say, you can‘t get a baby to sneeze on cue; this was entirely an accident, but Webb was able to improvise a perfect response, saving the scene and even stealing it back from the kid.

    Speaking of styles of homosexuality, another reason the film succeeds in presenting an agreeable Belvedere is the nosy neighboring gardener, Clarence, played by Richard Haydn. He serves not only as a plot foil for Belvedere but also as a kind of Doppelganger, presenting a different, more hateful image of effeminacy. By contrast, Belvedere seems, as the cliché goes, crusty but benign, or a jerk with a heart of gold [7].

    In fact, when I first watched the film, I began from the first scene thinking Haydn was Webb, especially as he began snooping around the Kings during the whole babysitter fiasco, figuring that’s how he’d get hired, but wondering why they would take in such an obvious creep.

    [8]

    Note the almost split-screen effect, Haydn’s self-hugging suggesting weakness and narcissism while Webb carries what we will learn is a present for the family, and the subtle way light and dark characters are suggested in black and white film. In the next section, we’ll see how the Clarence/Belvedere couplet works on a higher, spiritual level.

    I also thought Haydn’s performance, in looks and sound, closely resembled Michael Redgrave’s Crocker-Harris in the far classier vehicle The Browning Version (Rattigan’s play premiered in 1948 as well, but was not filmed with Redgrave until 1951, so perhaps the influence went the other way). Stiff upper lip, meek wispy voice, etc. Harris‘s tragedy (apart from being a closeted homosexual with an unfaithful wife and a bad heart) is that rather than succeeding as a teacher, his prissy and haughty demeanor has made him hated and despised; the discovery that his pupils refer to him as “the Himmler of the upper fifth” precipitates his agonizing reappraisal of his failed life.

    [9]Sitting Pretty effectively splits the archetype of the bitchy, closeted homosexual, assigning Haydn the role of “Himmler” that Harris wandered into and to Webb the beloved pedagogue the boys all cheer for at the end: “Hooray for the Old Croc!”

    Needless to say, todays’ PC viewers implicitly run to Clarence’s defense, crying “homophobia” against the film makers. How dare they suggest “there’s something wrong with that” (to paraphrase Seinfeld) in living with your mother, obsessing about cross-pollinating orchids, and amusing yourself by opening other people’s letters and going through their trash cans in search of gossip. How camp! Why, it’s positively divine![16]

    Notes

    1. Even grumpy old Harry Haller, the eponymous Steppenwolf, admits that the bourgeoisie’s new toy, radio, is based on “a fact which every thinker has always known [though] put to better use than in this recent and very imperfect development.” and at the end is sentenced by Mozart “to learn to listen to the cursed radio music of life and to reverence the spirit behind it and to laugh at its distortions.” As for inspiration, in “Mad Männerbund [10]?” (reprinted in The Homo and the Negro [San Francisco: Counter Currents 2012]) I pointed out how even the modern actors themselves felt that period correct costumes helped create not only postures but attitudes appropriate to 60s characters. The example of the revolution in classical music brought about by “period performance” styles — overthrowing decades of hysterical, subjectivist Judaic “virtuosity”– which was decisively influenced in the beginning by Traditionalist Marco Pallis, and mentioned already by Hesse in the mock-historical Introduction to The Glass Bead Game, is too familiar to need discussion here. Needless to say this has nothing to do with prancing around in nerdy “Mediaeval Times” get-ups, which de Benoist rightly dismisses in On Being a Pagan, trans. Jon Graham, ed. Greg Johnson (Atlanta: Ultra, 2004).

    2.

    Of course, one has to use discretion here. Even the blackest of the blacklisted Commie stooges did work that’s useful at least for their location shots and retro-tech: Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street, for example — where Manhattan is still so underdeveloped that Richard Widmark lives in a shack on a rickety pier projecting out onto the river! — or Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil, one of the last great noirs, where John Garfield wears great suits, and you know he’s mobbed up because he has a secret telephone . . . in his desk drawer!

    3. A good example is The Dead Talk Back, a 1953 production so bad that no one bothered to pick it up at the lab, where it sat on a shelf until 1993, when it was released at the peak of the so-bad-it’s-good wave and became the first film to actually have its debut on MST3K the next year. Anyway, about midway through there’s a chase scene that apart from its inherent goofiness – imagine Lurch chasing Arnold Stang – was obviously filmed on the street without permits and gives us several minutes of live Hollywood Boulevard circa 60 years ago. For our purposes, the most interesting feature is that the whole plot revolves around the apparent fact that in the ’50s, aspiring DJ’s and models, as well as scientific cranks, came to LA and lived in boarding houses with kindly grandmothers cooking dinners, rather than today‘s tiny little individual rat-infested cells; how do you think that influences the “art” produced therein?

    Of course, being a big-budget, “prestige” picture doesn’t disqualify it. Consider, obviously, Gone with the Wind; could anyone make a picture like that today, in a Hollywood that lionizes Django Unchained? At what point will things have “progressed” enough for it to be excoriated alongside Birth of a Nation?

    Speaking of D. W. Griffith and history, Woodrow Wilson was perhaps the Worst President Ever, since he’s served as the template for every Imperial President since: “idealistic” wars and meddling overseas, “progressive” legislation at home, such as imposing the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax, all bolstered by a vigorous program of domestic repression. He’s the model for Barack Obama, who I’m sure wishes he could someday put Ron Paul in jail, just like Wilson did Eugene Debs. (In the Liberal understanding of “democracy” there can be no “loyal opposition,” only cranks and stooges, so in the “progressive” state one is governed by judges, Ivy League grads and other “experts.”) Which is ironic, since the one thing Liberals despise Wilson for is the one thing he got right: inviting D. W. Griffith to the White House and praising Birth of a Nation as “history written with lightning.” That’s the aspect of the motion-picture we’re looking at here in general. As something of a Southerner, and a professional historian, Wilson knew the “story” of the movie was, as Aristotle would say, truer than mere history. Events since, wherever Negroes have come to power, have proven him right; see the work of Paul Kersey, such as Black Mecca Down (on the ultimate fate of the city of Gone with the Wind) and Escape from Detroit.

    4. Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes Turner Classic Movies, “a channel devoted to lionizing Pre-Obama America and exalting it to heights that cause those in power to pause, albeit momentarily. Even DWLs [Disingenuous White Liberals] look at the actors in these films with a mixture of admiration and trepidation, recalling the time they first viewed the film and the emotions that came with it, yet realizing that the world in the 21st century resembles Falling Down more than it does Singing in the RainStuff Black People Don’t Like #61 [11]

    5. Much later the same evil Americans remade the film with the very different Steve Martin, which I can’t imagine viewing, though it must have been pretty well sanitized to be acceptable today, even as what my friend would still think of a propaganda for middle class values. Even so, bothering to remake it at all is a way another indication of how popular Webb’s original character had been.

    6. See “How Britain built Arcadia: The growth of the suburbs in the Thirties brought a better life to millions” by Juliet Gardiner, Daily Mail, 29 January 2010, here [12].

    7. One of the ironic advantages of the pursuit of such unpopular material is that it’s cheap! Although it’s a cultural disgrace that there’s no DVD release of our film, it’s easy to find a copy burned from the VHS release online (mine was $5.00) and indeed, since no one bothered to renew the copyright, the whole film is available for viewing on YouTube. Additionally, some maniac has posted an almost shot by shot synopsis of the movie here [13].

    8. Emblematic of the decline of interest in Webb is that there is only one biography, published just last year, entitled, inevitably, Sitting Pretty: The Life and Times of Clifton Webb, and published by relatively déclassé University Press of Mississippi. The first six chapters are actually written by Webb himself, part of an abortive autobiography begun at the behest of his friend Bennett Cerf of Random House. A few years ago, David L. Smith obtained the notes from the estate, and added on a standard “star” bio, for which we owe him much thanks. Webb’s own work only covers the period before his Hollywood days; the project was abandoned due to a combination of Aryan modesty and Aryan politeness; to go further would have involved talking about one’s friends and contemporaries: “Truth is a desirable quality in an autobiography,” he said, “though obviously not indispensable, and candor, I have found, compels me to put certain persons and events in a revealing, rather than a flattering light.”

    9. Here [14], and now reprinted in The Homo and the Negro.

    10. Colin Wilson, Chords and Discords: Purely Personal Opinions on Music (New York: Crown, 1966), p. 132. The 3-disc DVD of The Maltese Falcon includes “Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart,” hosted by TCM’s Robert Osborne, which documents the changing ways Warners packaged Bogart, from gangster and outlaw to romantic lead and accomplished actor, illustrating his range but also, unintentionally, his evolving style of masculinity.

    11. For an example of a private dick deliberately rendered as an unlikable jerkass, consider Ralph Meeker’s take on Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly, where director Robert Aldrich wanted to make some point about fascism or something. No one likes him even in the film, and it’s hard to believe any woman would fall for his greasy smarm. And as for “who needs acting,” Mickey Spillane was so angered by the performance that he actually played the character himself in The Girl Hunters; while it’s another film priceless for its New York location shots, Hammer comes across, ironically, as even less likeable, despite everyone telling him what a great pal he is, and almost getting Shirley Eaton, right before her Goldfinger role.

    12. “Constant Readers” (Waldo Lydecker, Alexander Woollcott, Dorothy Parker, get it?) will recall my discussion of Preminger’s further, less successful involvement with cinematic homosexuality in “Mad Men Jumps the Gefilte Fish Part Three: The Country of the Blind, Continued [15],” where the making of Advise and Consent re-unites him with Gene Tierney but not, alas, Clifton Webb, who would have made a far better President than that jerkass Franchot Tone.

    13. Anyone who finds such effortless effeminate multitasking implausible would do well to “contemplate” the career of Neil Munro (“Bunny”) Roger (1911–1997) was an English couturier (he ran the department at Fortnum, invested in House of Amies, and invented Capri pants), dandy (bought up to fifteen bespoke suits a year and four pairs of bespoke shoes or boots to go with each) and . . . war hero in the Italian and North African theatres. A “major-general and major queen in the same wasp-waisted body. (Birthday Bunny [16] by James Conway / June 9, 2011). Nicky Haslam claims to have witnessed a kilted Bunny beating his men up a Highland hill, pausing at the summit to adjust his makeup using a compact hidden in his sporran (Redeeming Features [New York: Knopf, 2009], p. 79).

    He also shared Webb’s way with an ad lib:

    Roger, like all proper dandies, rivaled Oscar Wilde in the one-liner department. When a gobby cab driver yelled from his window, “Watch out, you’ve dropped your diamond necklace, love,” Roger replied, in a flash, “Diamonds with tweed? Never!” [“All mouth and trousers” by Simon Mills; The Guardian, Friday 16 June 2006]

    Once, when his sergeant asked him what should be done about the advancing enemy troops, Roger, who liked to wear rouge even with his khakis, replied, “When in doubt, powder heavily.” When he ran into an old friend in the hellish, bombed-out monastery of Monte Cassino in Italy he responded to his pal’s incredulous “What on earth are you doing here?” greeting with one word: “Shopping” [BUNNY ROGER | BRITISH STYLE ICON YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF; The Selvedge Yard, January 28, 2010, here [17].

    Belvedere is actually a shade less violent, as fitting his Krishna-like role; his war experience was setting bones in Pershing’s army.

    14. Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Post-war Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, trans. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002),, p. 261.

    15. Gutman would be even more impressed when Belvedere downs a whole tumbler of gin; we know the boys are using the bottle to hold cold water, but Belvedere succeeds in horrifying Clarence the snoop. By the way, Gutman’s openly effeminate associate, Joel Cairo, who impresses Spade with his determination if not his competence, announces several times he is staying at the Hotel Belvedere.

    16. Just as modern audiences react differently to Belvedere than did his contemporaries, they may find an additional, unintentional level of creepiness in Haydn’s Appleton — a strong resemblance to Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates. In that opening scene, we find Appleton lives with his mother in a gingerbread Victorian house on a hill. We soon learn that he’s a snoop, just as Norman Bates has a peephole to spy on guests. Belvedere will suggest sending a flock of bees to “ruin his irises” referring to his flowers but also suggesting his visual fetish. Appleton’s obsession with cross-pollinating orchids suggests unhealthily artificial relation to sexuality, like Norman’s stuffed birds. Above all, the scene where Appleton finds his mother in her chair, having fainted from reading Belvedere’s tell-all book, is shot almost exactly like the famous “reveal” at the climax of Psycho.

    Ironically, in “real life” it was Webb who lived with his mother until her death at age 91; he died a few years later, almost to the day. (His protracted grieving led his friend Noël Coward to comment, “It must be terrible to be orphaned at 71.” His grief was similar when paying his last visit to the dying Bogart, when he collapsed into Lauren Bacall’s arms (Kanfer, p. 225); “he was definitely more of a problem than Bogie ever was” (Smith, p. 218). But unlike the scene in which Belvedere dances divinely with Tacey while Appleton, wheeling his crippled mother around, looks on censoriously, Webb’s mother, always known as Maybelle, was an uninhibited “Auntie Mame” type who helped him host some of the most decorously wild parties in Hollywood history. However, according to Myrna Loy, she did look exactly like Clifton, sans moustache, in drag, which brings us back to Tony Perkins.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Manos Redivivus: “The Master is Gone, But He is With Us Always”
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]6,627 words

    Manos: The Hands of Fate – Restored Edition [2]
    Written and Directed by Harold P. Warren
    Restoration Producer: Ben Solovey
    Synapse Studios, 2015

    “Why is he sleeping on a pile of dirt?”
    “This movie has deep philosophical significance.”
    “What about the beer bottles?”
    “Oh . . .”[1] 

    Well, here it is: the bottom of the bottomless barrel,[2] the worst of the worst — the loathed[3] and legendary Worst Movie of All Time: Manos, the Hands of Fate.[4] Comes now this two-disc version, on DVD and Blu-Ray, that surely must be considered definitive.[5] And there’s nothing in all this restoration and commentary that comes close to in any way challenging the film’s reputation.[6]

    But why? Why this film of all films?[7] Other films certainly have their own urgent, unique claims.

    It’s not like there are no other candidates, even within the somewhat arbitrary universe of “movies I saw on Mystery Science Theater 3000.” For example,[8] The Crawling Terror shares Manos’ origins in a bet (that the director could make a scary movie just like those guys in Hollywood), casting of the director in a starring role (though under the pseudonym, “Vic Savage,”), entirely overdubbed soundtrack (the original having been lost, supposedly, in Lake Mead), and above all, arguably the worst cinematography in history — some shots are so over-exposed that the screen is almost entirely white, making Manos, even in its unrestored state, seem like a Technicolor blockbuster.

    Other films share the incompetent filmmaking but go one better in post-production. Monster A Go-Go and The Dead Talk Back also dispense, for whatever reason, with sound sync, in favor of narrators; but the first was never even finished (Bill Rebane sold the remains to schlockmeister Herschel Gordon Lewis, who patched in new scenes, using some but not all of the original actors[9]), while Dead, finished, sat on a film lab shelve from 1957 to 1997 when it was discovered and shipped directly to Mystery Science Theater. Both movies also share the supremely irritating trait of cheating the ending: “There was no monster,” the narrator sternly informs us, and, as Tom Servo exclaims, “Hey, the dead never talked back!”

    The attentive reader will have noted that so far all these movies (one hesitates to call them “films”) are of the sci-fi/horror genres. It’s true that these genres, much to the chagrin of their fans, do tend to produce a lot of junk.[10] Or it may be, that their fans are seriously devoted enough[11] to demand a high level of performance to match the seriousness of the theme, making the gap between aim and achievement more visible, and risible, than in, say, a failed Hollywood rom-com like Gigli.[12]

    But it can happen elsewhere: take The Wild World of Batwoman, where the sci-fi elements (a superheroine with no particular abilities or fashion sense, a mad scientist whose role is realized mainly through splicing in scenes form The Mole People and a Mexican wrestling movie) are combined with an apparently[13] deliberate attempt at “comedy” or satire of some kind; the gap here produces 80 minutes of continuous douche chills.[14]

    Douche chills, however, will keep you awake. Just as its craggy non-actors have “broken the face barrier,” The Starfighters is easily the most boring, sleep-inducing movie ever made.[15] Designed, apparently (more research is needed on this), to convince NATO that the F-104 Starfighter was worthy of purchase, despite a comically deadly accident record,[16] its combination of stock footage and non-actors [17] creates a cinematic black hole.

    “It’s like they forgot to have things happen.”

    “I really think there’s more nothing in this movie than any we’ve ever seen.”[18]

    “Nothing,” however, can only remind us of the final challenger to Manos, the first entry in the Coleman Francis Trilogy (the Godfather Saga of bad films), The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    “About the most nothing film I’ve seen . . . little more than a home movie someone might make.” (Bob Burns, “film historian and erstwhile movie gorilla”).

    “An incredibly deadening experience” (Larry Blamire, B-movie director)

    “Before this movie, there was no such thing as clinical depression.” (Tom Servo, robot)[19]

    And yet . . .

    Bad as it is, Beast does edge out Manos, if only on points.

    Beast’s narration has its own Dadaist charms.[20] The cinematography is really rather good; although this was cameraman Lee Strosnider’s first chance to film 16mm, he had just come form several years making industrial films, while Hal Warren came straight from industry — fertilizer, in fact — and was actually using little more than a home movie camera.[21] Larry Blamire comments on the “heartbreaking” quality of the shots of the Flannery O’Connor-esque mother wandering around looking for her lost boys, and Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank”) refers to the “dark kind of lyricism” seen in the next film, The Skydivers (although, as he admits, no one else agrees).

    And that’s the main reason: Beast is part of a trilogy, and needs to be judged as such.[22] Above all, it’s only in the context of the three films together that the elements of repetition and futility emerge which make Francis’s work the mythological masterpiece that it is.[23]

    Repetition and masterpiece: that brings us to Manos. If you’ve read this far, you likely know the “plot,” which has been summarized as [3]:

    The peculiarly-paced story of a deeply uncharismatic man (director Warren) taking his wife Margaret (Diane Mahree) and daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) on a vacation that runs afoul of a cult led by the plurally-married Master (Tom Neyman) and his jittery, big-kneed manservant Torgo (John Reynolds).[24]

    So why does anyone care about this cinematic turd, and why care about polishing it? Why any “bad” movie? Consider this:

    In attempting to explain the film’s appeal, the Los Angeles Times hypothesized, “After screening Manos for probably the 10th time, I’ve concluded it has to do with intimacy. Because it is such a pure slice of Warren’s brain — he wrote, directed, produced and starred, and brooked no collaboration — Manos amounts to the man’s cinematically transfigured subconscious.”[25]

    But I, at least, am not interested in some Judaic pseudo-science like “psychoanalysis,” but rather in the super-science of Traditional metaphysics.[26] As Luis Varady has recently pointed out, the ancient wise men may have lack our physics and astronomy, but since they had the ancient teaching that “As above, so below,” the Microcosm is the Macrocosm . . .

    All things mirror all things and to fully understand even a small fragment of reality gives an insight into reality as a whole — this is a common teaching in the mystical traditions of the world.[27

    . . . they could learn the deeper truths about reality by studying their own consciousness, the results of which study they encoded in stories we call “myths.”

    Cosmological myths were used as a means to convey spiritual truths, and these spiritual truths pointed directly at the true nature of our psychology.

    And so:

    It is not the reasonableness or likelihood of a myth that attracts human beings to it. Rather, a myth’s attraction is its potential ability to convey spiritual or moral truths to every member of society, from the most intellectual to the illiterate.[28]

    In the same way, it is not the “reasonableness or likelihood” of a movie — the myths of the 20th century — that explains their appeal, but their “potential ability to convey spiritual or moral truths to every member of society.” Antd this potential is stronger in bad movies, which lack the pseudo-intellectual “sophistication” of the “quality production,” which is usually just a big budget rehash of Judaic PC-ideology, instead, most often accidentally, flying under the radar of both the director’s consciousness and industry censorship.[29]

    Furthermore, that “bad” movies should be the focus of attention makes sense, since humans have an odd relationship with truth, especially metaphysical truths about themselves and their situation: they crave it, yet fear and loathe it at the same time.

    And this, I think, is the key to the “bad film”: it sounds themes we suspect are true and important, but which we don’t want to admit; hence, we mock it, as the Roman soldiers and crucified thief mocked Christ. “It’s only a movie, and a bad one at that.”

    Writing about the Gnostics, and why they lost out to the “orthodox” Christians, Michael Hoffman writes:

    Why did people embrace childish lower-level Christianity (i.e., literal interpretation of the myths)?

    People were starting to shy away from some of the painful truths revealed in the mysteries. They had mixed feelings about being mere puppets of gods/fates.[30]

    The scriptures offered a choice between supernaturalist Literalism that takes pseudo-history as reality, and allegorical myth that reveals determinism — most people chose to stay in the supernaturalist reading.

    If some Michael,[31] Captain of the Deterministic Angels were to actually do as the New Testament prophecies and reveal the Christian mystery of God’s kingdom, and this kingdom turns out to be entheogenic Christ-myth determinism, and “eternal” life is experienced only during this life, most people would plug their ears.

    What use is a mere revelation of the metaphysical truth about moral agency, especially when such a revelation robs us of infinitely open possibilities and puts strict limitations on the types of freedom we can have? This is the already famous red pill versus blue pill choice from the movie The Matrix: would you rather slumber in often-comfortable fantasy or awaken to often-uncomfortable truth? Do you want the bliss of fantastic, uncritical, wishful thinking, or the sober intellectual satisfaction of high rational integrity?

    If you could resolve your metaphysical intellectual discomfort by waking up to deterministic consistency, would you want to?

    If God’s kingdom is deterministic, we don’t want it. It is no wonder the quantum physicists rejected (by fiat) finite, hidden-variables determinism and insisted on the endless magic of Copenhagenism instead. It is no wonder people chose the psychologically open-ended Literalist reading of Christianity rather than moving on to let the mystery of the deterministic kingdom of God be revealed.

    And, on a not-unimportant related point, boredom induction conduces to transmission of spiritual truth and ultimately to enlightenment, or at least, cultic membership.

    What is this mythological or metaphysical element that is feared by the masses? As already hinted, and as you might suspect from what you’ve heard about the movie, or seen yourself, it’s repetition. Obviously, the movie is about Fate, but specifically, in the words of the title of one of the soundtrack cues, “The Futility of Fate.”[32] Life here in the material world, on the samsaric plane, is an endless, horizontal round, a Circle, of the same, karma-induced events over and over; liberation/salvation/enlightenment is a matter of tossing aside karma (what I’ve called “passing the buck” and ascending vertically, via a Spiral (a Turn of the Screw), to a new level.[33]

    The cyclical nature of Manos’s plot is actually fairly common, even as a screenwriting technique. What raises Manos to its unique status are the ways in which Manos, deliberately or not, takes it up to eleven [4].

    The most notable, and perhaps the one “feature” that most everyone focuses on to explain the Manos Experience, is the extreme level of repetition in the dialogue, thus making it of a piece with the cyclical nature of the plot.

    Torgo: There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon. There is no way out of here.

    Torgo: He has left this world. But he is with us always. No matter where he goes, he is with us.

    Torgo: There is nothing to fear, Madam. The Master likes you. Nothing will happen to you. He likes you.

    Maggie: Likes me? I thought you said he was dead!

    Torgo: Dead? No, Madam, not dead the way you know it. He is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always.

    And my personal favorite, Michael and Maggie’s rather philosophical — or fatalistic — duet in response to his daughter’s dog’s disappearance:

    Maggie: Pepe’s gone. I just hope Debbie will understand.

    Mike: She’ll understand. She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

    Maggie: I hope so, darling. I sure hope so.

    Mike: She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

    It’s like listening to Charlie Parker jam with Lester Young!

    Further increasing the echo-effect is the soundtrack, which, as mentioned before, is entirely post-production. For various reasons, only two men and one woman were available, so the characters’ voices quickly become indistinguishable,[34] and the child’s voice, clearly a woman’s falsetto, achieves a Brechtian level of alienation.[35] This kind of “dubbing” leads to the “doubling” I’ve frequently pointed out in films with mythological subtexts.[36]

    Most of the repetitive dialogue belongs to audience favorite Torgo, who also acquires the equally beloved and repetitive Torgo’s theme [5], which sums up the movie rather like some big Hollywood themes like those of Gone with the Wind or A Summer Place.

    And mentioning Torgo leads us to the second theme: who passes the buck? Certainly not Michael, who we see at the very end, has replaced Torgo, even (of course) repeating his lines:

    Michael: “I am Michael. I take care[37] of the place[38] while the Master is away.”

    No, surprisingly enough, it is Torgo who passes the buck to Michael. Yet, how can this be?[39] Torgo, when last seen, was running away, his coat sleeve aflame, while The Master held his burning, amputated hand aloft, laughing like a Bond villain.

    But that’s just the point: Torgo gets away. The obvious fakery of the burning hand suggests that there has been some kind of magic trick, on one or both their parts.

    First Wife: You are losing your control. Even Torgo defies you.

    This also makes sense of the odd moment right before, where the Master commands his wives to kill Torgo (or rather, in the Manos idiom, “Kill! . . . Kill!) and they proceed to enact a kind of “liturgical dance” (MST3k) that culminates in what looks like an attempt to kill through . . . massage. It’s all fake, a set-up.

    And finally, one can see, as Torgo is rolfed to death, that his hat has a large hole in the crown, alluding to the Traditional symbol of the vertical path of escape, like smoke through a the top of a teepee.[40]

    Or perhaps the hand, the symbolism of which is surely a displacement for the phallus, is sacrificed to the god Manos? Or is it the equivalent of the eye, which Wotan sacrifices for wisdom?[41]

    No one knows, or more significantly, no one seems to be curious about, what seems to me to be the most curious aspect of the whole production, the bizarre and unique hand symbolism[42] that permeates the film, from the title onward.[43]

    Presumably, our Freudian friends will suggest this is a phallic symbol. Actually, the “hands” in question, starting with Torgo’s staff, are usually upright, at the ends of arm-like structures, suggesting not so much hands as fists.[44] In any event, the symbolism seems muddled here; the vertical staff should symbolize escape or “upright” in the sense of virile and “upstanding,” as Evola says in The Hermetic Tradition;[45] yet both Michael and the First Wife are tied to upright poles or trees, and subsequently are vanquished, while Torgo is forced to lie on a horizontal slab during his tickle-torture, and triumphs.

    The symbolism is much clearer with a related theme: As Jackey Neyman (“Debbie”) points out with remarkable insight, her character is always falling asleep on the couch, and the family members are always falling down — i.e., falling horizontally into samsara. But, she adds, Torgo never falls down, despite his unforgettable stumbling walk.[46]

    Even the MST3k crew intuits this, observing that “Torgo wobbles but he won’t fall down.” The wobble/hand symbolisms come together when the Master once more spreads his arms to disclose the giant hands embroidered on the inside of his robe,[47] and the crew suggests “Push him over!” Ultimately, this is what happens; the “Master” returns to his suspended, samsaric state, while Torgo makes a break for it. Michael and his family, attempting to escape, ultimately decide to return to the house (I guess on the principle of “they’d never think to look for us there!”), a horizontal trek that leads us back to the beginning, again.[48]

    The idea that Torgo is the hero, or at least the protagonist, is not that forced. The featurette notes that the original (and only) review of the film, in the El Paso Daily Post, already referred to Torgo as “the hero.” The character of Torgo, along with his “haunting theme music” immediately piqued the imagination of the MST3k crew, who incorporated Torgo into their cast of recurring characters (played by head writer Mike Nelson, who would eventually replace Joel Hodgson as the human host). The 2008 making-of documentary is entitled Hotel Torgo. And as recently as March of this year,

    The murderers on the Elementary [6] episode “T-Bone And The Iceman [7]” used the physical features of Torgo (portrayed by John Reynolds) to compose a fake facial composite to get the NYPD off their trail. It worked for a while before they were caught, due to the character of Dr. Joan Watson having recognized Torgo’s features from the film.[49]

    What, then, of this restored edition? What was the condition of the earliest cut of the film, the so-called “workprint”; was the film always this hard to watch? Apparently not.

    The trick about the cost-efficient on 16mm Ektachrome reversal film on which Manos was shot is that there was never a negative: when the film from the camera was developed, what resulted was the actual picture, not a negative thereof. That developed film was then duplicated for editing, eventually being assembled into the workprint that Solovey now possessed. It’s a minor miracle that the workprint survived not only standard disposal, but also the 1994 Northridge Earthquake which (according to Emersons) destroyed all the other extant Manos materials. And it’s pretty, too, thanks to the inherent hardiness of Ektachrome material.

    The few audiences that saw Manos at the time certainly didn’t get to see anything as spiffy as the workprint. Once editing was complete, a 35mm blowup was made — making the picture twice as grainy — and prints for theaters were copied from that blowup. Not a single fuck was given about framing or color by the people who made those prints, resulting in a badly cropped picture with much of the color drained out. When the film hit VHS decades later, it was based on the horrible theatrical prints, and of course VHS is not exactly an archival format, so it made the picture look that much worse.

    Although the result is better than anything seen by audiences in 1966, Solovey, in the restoration featurette, is adamant that the idea was not to “upgrade” the film into contemporary quality, in sound or vision, but to strip away accumulated dust, fingerprints, splices, etc., and return it to what was originally on the editing bench.

    What we have here, then, is rather like the “historically informed performance practice” movement (misleadingly mislabeled “authentic practice”) that aims not at a metaphysically impossible and aesthetically irrelevant attempt to “hear what the music sounded like back then” but rather to strip away centuries of acquired interpretations so that we can form our own interpretation of the work itself.[50]

    So, how does the “restored” version differ from the theatrical version (included, dubbed the “Grindhouse” cut, on the Blu-ray two-disc set only) which was used on MST3k, and is available on numerous cheap DVDs (it’s in the public domain[51]) other than in presentation?

    Most notably, the infamous opening, a long, infinitely boring sequence of the family just driving along the highway (“The slowest car chase ever”—MST3k). The story is that this was supposed to have the opening credits superimposed, but for whatever reason — money, competence, or patience — it was never done. The non-MST DVD’s I’ve seen just lop it off, and start with a simple title shot.[52] The restoration keeps all this footage, but starts with some establishing shots (including an appropriate “Waste” container) of the Mordor-like surroundings of the director’s native El Paso (“Welcome to lovely Ground Zero” Joel says of a later “scenic” background, eerily foreshadowing 9/11).[53]

    There’s also the aforementioned sequence in which the Master taunts, slaps, and smears blood on his tied-up first wife. Otherwise, individual shots seem to sometime be slightly longer. Some sequences, like the family’s escape attempt, have more shots included, the voices better synced; I suppose over time the theatrical release was subject innumerable cuts and splices, either to speed it up [!] for TV viewing or due to accidental damage.

    There’s nothing in all this that comes close to in any way challenging the film’s reputation, for good or bad.[54]

    In the featurette “Restoring the Hands of Fate,” although he likes to use the word “schmutz” a lot, restorationist Solovey presents as an almost aggressively Aryan type in appearance, modest and plain spoken. He is a very trustworthy and pleasant person to listen to, considering the types one runs across in the film world.[55] He takes obvious pride in in speaking of the fine German scanner he managed to obtain for the task, and the amateur viewer tends to believe what he says about the difficulties and decisions involved in the restoration process.

    Solovey ultimately makes a very important point: movies, a 20th-century invention, must be preserved, since so much of our history is now in them.[56]

    Speaking of history: one tends to think of productions like Manos as being in some sense auteur productions, for better or worse,[57] and so most attention has been focused on writer/producer/director/star Hal Warren. One thing that emerges from the “Hands: The Fate of Manos” featurette is that Tom Nyman, who played The Master, may have had far more influence on the film, providing, as he says with ironic modesty, “everything”: he contributed his own daughter as the daughter, his dog is the dog, his car as one of the two cars (he’s not sure which at this point), and as “production designer” he designed all the costumes (which were sewn by his wife, except for Torgo’s overalls, coat, and hat, which were Tom’s own) and above all, the set decorations: all those hands. Turns out, he had already sculpted dozens of such things (“His art was going through a period of fascination with hands” says Solovey, deadpan). Indeed, “One day I suggested we just call it Manos: The Hands of Fate.”

    Graciously, Tom adds that Warren “was involved in everything on the film,” And on that note, the featurette ends with Neyman, still photographer Anslem Spring (a German soldier who was hiding out — I mean, living in — El Paso), and Solovey paying homage to Warren as the kind of DIY culture-creator I’ve lauded before; Neyman emphasizes that Warren knew he was making a B-picture (if only!) with local community theater talent, but thought it would serve as “the start of something big.” Solovey even attributes to Warren the start of “the kind of independent, self-financed” filmmaking we’ve become familiar with since, say, Easy Rider (made around the time and place of Manos).

    Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the restoration process itself is an instance of the same kind of “hey, let’s make a movie” American can-do-ism as the movie itself — although, one must add immediately, on a far more successful level.

    Finally, the audio commentary track brings us the Neymans reminiscing about the production; rather than a couple of film nerds one-upping each other with trivia, it’s more like eavesdropping on a father and daughter still closely knit after all these years. Who knew Manos could be heartwarming?[58] [8]

    So, buy or not buy? Neophytes[59] should start with the MST3k’d version; it was available as a single disc from Rhino back in the day, now out of print, and currently Shout! Factory has a two-disc release, with the theatrical release and MST3k-centric special features.

    Once — if — you decide to experience it firsthand, this set is the way to go. It makes for a far more “pleasant” viewing experience, if that word can ever be used in the context of Manos, and, to paraphrase Tolkien, those who approve of courtesy (at least) to long dead Texas fertilizer salesman will purchase it, and no other.

    Notes

    [1] Jackey and Tom Neyman, commentary track.

    [2] “Coleman Francis is at the bottom of the barrel that’s beneath the one Ed Wood is in.” — Larry Blamire, interviewed in “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece,” a featurette on the DVD version of the MST3k episode Beast of Yucca Flats.

    [3] “Oh Joel, there’s a plethora of loathsomeness,” says Crow T. Robot as the end credits begin to roll.

    [4] According to Wikipedia: “Manos holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews. The book Hollywood’s Most Wanted lists Manos as the #2 in the list of “The Worst Movies Ever Made,” following Plan 9 from Outer Space [9]. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed Manos “The Worst Movie Ever Made.” The scene in which the seven-year-old Debbie is dressed as one of the Master’s wives was included in a list of “The Most Disgusting Things We’ve Ever Seen” by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew.”

    [5] New 2K restoration; audio commentary; Hands: The Fate of MANOS Featurette; Restoring the Hands of Fate Featurette; FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate Featurette; Manos: The Hands of Fate: Grindhouse Edition (Blu-ray only).

    [6] “Will I have a bad rep?” is a line suggested by Tom Servo as the teenage girl in Manos confronts the highway cops.

    [7] “But why? What’s the difference between 17 and 20?” demands the teenage boy in the educational short “Are You Ready for Marriage?”

    [8] I discuss these films, briefly, at the end of my “Essential Films . . . & Others,” here [10].

    [9] “This is like an entirely different movie” Joel says in stunned amazement during Episode 421; unfortunately, the new movie is just as bad.

    [10] Lovecraft, of course, was a frequent and rigorous critic of this fellow “authors,” while for sci-fi, the legendary Theodore Sturgeon defensively formulated his well-known Law, or Revelation [11], “90% of everything is crap.”

    [11] The stereotypical “nerd,” demanding to know why dome detail was changed, and proclaiming, like the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, “worst [blank] ever.”

    [12] Patton Oswald, apparently an MST3k fan (he moderates a couple of Comic Con MST3k panels that appear on the DVDs) has a bit where he fills in the blanks on the typical movie preview “From the director of BLANK and the star of BLANK, comes BLANK” with various flatulent noises. See Gregory Hood’s Counter-Currents review of Oswald’s implicitly White “black comedy” Big Fan here [12].

    [13] Directors frequently insist, like Martin Short’s Nathan Thurm [13] character, that of course, they were actually trying to be funny, why would you think otherwise? For example, Lewis insisted that whatever Rebane thought he was doing, he, Lewis, at least knew it was crap and tried to turn it into a Twilight Zone parody. As Mad magazine told us long ago (to the tune of “The Rain in Spain”), “An ad that’s bad will wind up spoofed in Mad.” As a further turn of the screw, directors began sending their own recent but unknown films to MST3k in hopes of generating enough “so bad it’s good” buzz to pump up home video sales or even, as with Hobgoblins, finance a sequel.

    [14] Angels’ Revenge, a Charlie’s Angels rip-off, has the same effect, not only humiliating TV sitcom legends like Alan Hale, Jr,. Jim Backus and Pat Buttram, but also dragging in the declining Peter Lawford and even Jack Palance, pre-Batman and pre-Oscar™ .

    [15] In color, at least. Radar Secret Service (1950), with its washed out, grey print, grey men and grey clothing and vehicles, takes the black and white title, employing what MST3k calls “sleep-induction through hypno-helio-static-stasis” (Episode 620).

    [16] The movie’s base commander proudly says “it’s even been called a rocket with a man in it,” but in the real world it was known as “The Brick with Wings” and “The Widowmaker.” Ten years later, Robert Calvert of Hawkwind would record a “satirical concept album” based on the Luftwaffe’s experience with the plane: Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters (UA, 1974) Musicians who appeared on the album include members of Hawkwind [14], The Pink Fairies [15], Brian Eno [16], Arthur Brown [17], Jim Capaldi [18], and Adrian Wagner. See the Wikipedia entry here. [19]

    [17] As the gang says about The Skydivers, Episode 609, rather than have the actors do their own flying, they had the flyers do their own acting.

    [18] MST3k, Episode 620.

    [19] All from the DVD extra “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece.”

    [20] “I thought I was listening to Spoon River Anthology performed by atomic mutants.” — Larry Blamire.

    [21] The MST DVD includes not only extensive contributions from Strosnider in the “making of” featurette — “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece” — he also gets his own interview segment, “Coleman Francis: The Cinematic Poet of Parking.”

    [ [20]22] Of a gunfight from ten feet away, after a careful, lovingly drawn out parking sequence, Crow remarks that “He’s trying things here he’ll perfect in Red Zone Cuba.”

    [23] As will be shown in my forthcoming essay, “Footprints on the Wasteland: The White Apocalypse of Coleman Francis.” Starfighters goes perhaps too far in the direction of entropy; the absence of “things happening” entails, of course, an inability to suggest the endless repetition of things. There is, however, the endless, repeated “refueling” stock footage, a lame practical joke that occurs twice (and actors so generic as to prompt the comment “Is that that one guy?”) as well stock footage of take-offs/landings; the latter perhaps suggest the puppet theme as well, although, since the emphasis is on how gosh darn safe the F-104 is, there’s only one bailout, and it’s off camera. Francis’s Skydivers (note the linguistic similarity) will by contrast be entire constructed of planes taking off and landing, and the eponymous skydivers diving, with the later a combination of stock footage and close-up shots of the actors hanging from harnesses in a warehouse.

    [24] “Manos: The Hands of Fate Restored — The So-Called “Worst Movie” Has Never Looked Better,” by Sherilyn Connelly on The Robot’s Voice, March 14, 2014, here [3].

    [25] Wikipedia, quoting Dan Neil, “Why We Love Bad Movies,” Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2005.

    [26] Let’s get the “psychology” out of the way. Judging from the recollections of the actresses in the “making of” featurette, Hal Warren seems to have been the usual horndog/control freak typical of the males of the Mad Man era: suggesting an actress take off her blouse, then quickly retreating to “just joking” when she refuses; entering the same actress in the Miss Texas contest without her knowledge, a publicity stunt that backfires when tells the judges that she’s an atheist, etc. This is clearly manifested in the film in three sequences: the infamous nightgown wrestling of the Master’s wives (the MST crew suggest “this is why the film was made”); the scene where one of the wives sees the husband/director unconscious and tied to a tree, whereupon she begins to kiss him, lick his face, and then slap him (as Tom Neyman says on the commentary track, “Sure, it’s what every woman wants); and a scene cut from the MST version, in which the Master slaps his own tied up wife. Misogynistic, yes, but too amateurishly made to be either erotic or disturbing. Hal Warren though had nothing on the director of the above-mentioned The Creeping Terror, the Bob Crane-like Vic Savage, who “makes Ed Wood look like Ward Cleaver” according to the recent bioflick, The Creep Behind the Camera [21] (Peter Scheurman, 2014).

    [27] “To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.” — Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.

    [28] Luis Varady: The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Gnostic Trinity of the Peratae (Amazon Kindle, 2015). For more on Varady, see “Lords of the Visible World: A Modern Reconstruction of an Ancient Heresy,” my review of his earlier essay A Life Beyond Change: The Gnostic System of Carpocrates (Amazon Kindle, 2015).

    [29] See my discussion of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, whose PC-anti-anti-communism intentions were subverted precisely because the screenwriter “had contempt for the material” and “wrote it fast, on autopilot,” thus allowing Traditional themes to emerge. “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as a Lovecraftian Tale,” reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

    [30] How appropriate, then, that included with the Restored Edition as a special feature is FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate, a retelling of the Manos story — one is tempted to say, the Manos myth — with puppets.

    [31] Michael, of course, is our “protagonist,” but apart from the aforementioned lack of charisma, I will soon suggest our “hero” is someone else.

    [32] Oh, and the soundtrack, the kind of laid-back jazz noodling that older guys like Warren still thought was “cool” back in the early sixties, and which I, growing increasingly fogey-ish, have lately grown fond of, calling to mind as it does long summer afternoons, light rain, and the soothing tones of Jessica Walter asking Clint Eastwood to play “Misty” for her. Although Coleman Francis mainly used free “library” music, The Skydivers has two interesting exceptions: a brief excerpt from Lionel Hampton’s “Going Home” (prompting Tom Servo to whine “Dad, change the station!”) and, by contrast, an appearance by then-famous surf guitarist Jimmy Bryant playing his then-hit, “Stratosphere Boogie.” “The jazz-centric score for Hal Warren’s horror “Master”-piece is forthcoming from Brooklyn’s own Ship to Shore Phono Co. The company sourced its audio from the 35mm soundtrack negative that was created for making theatrical release prints. The master tapes have never surfaced, thus leaving this 35mm neg as the closest one can get to the original recorded material. The company is offering three vinyl variants that will total a press run of 2000 LPs. Expected release date is the end of this month. More info about MANOS and how to buy the different vinyl color editions is here [22].” — Manos: The Hands of Fate screening & soundtrack premiere in Brooklyn on Oct. 7th!” here [23]. Check out the soundtrack LP here [24]: “Utilizing sparse, jazzy arrangements, Robert Smith, Jr. [25] and Russ Huddleston [26]’s score evokes the same bizarre, yet oddly compelling, feelings that fans of the film know and love.”

    [33] See the essays reprinted in The Eldritch Evola, as well as my forthcoming collection, Passing the Buck: a Traditionalist Goes to the Movies, which will include “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [27]“ and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [28].”

    [34] “Hey, that’s just one guy!” mutters Joel in muted wonder.

    [35] The poor child burst out in tears on hearing her “voice” during the premiere showing.

    [36] For example, in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables; see my review reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    [37] In the first act, Michael, typically, shouted “Where the hell is that caretaker?” This is the only time Torgo is referenced as “The Caretaker.” Michael’s transformation at the end recalls — or rather, predates — Jack Torrance’s in The Shining. “You have always been the caretaker.”

    [38] “In dwelling upon the nature of God and the universe, the mystics of the Talmudic period asserted, in contrast to the transcendentalism evident in some parts of the Bible, that “God is the dwelling-place of the universe; but the universe is not the dwelling-place of God”. Possibly the designation (“place”) for God, so frequently found in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, is due to this conception, just as Philo, in commenting on Genesis 28:11 says, “God is called ha makom (המקום “the place”) because God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything” (De Somniis, i. 11).” — Wikipedia, here [29].

    [39] “How can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!” — Dune. If this were MST3k, I’d shout out here “Give a dog a bone!”

    [40] See the essays collected in The Door in the Sky: Coomaraswamy on Myth and Meaning by Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, ed. by Rama P Coomaraswamy (Princeton, 1999).

    [41] See my comments on the Wotan theme embodied in the suicide of Lane Pryce in my latest collection, End of An Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents,2015).

    [42] “Manos” as the vibrant and diversity conscious modern viewer must know, is simply the Spanish word meaning “hands,” so the title is essentially Hands: The Hands of Fate, which already begins to enunciate the repetition theme we will begin exploring.

    [43] Apparently, quite arbitrarily. The “making of” featurette reveals that Tom Neyman (The Master) was also the production designer; he just happened to have a whole load of hand sculptures, since, as restorer Solovey says, dead pan, he had entered an artistic phase in which he was exploring the essence of hands. It was he (Neyman says) who suggested one day “Why don’t we just call this “Manos: The Hands of Fate.” But is not the theme of Manos that there are no “accidents”?

    [44] Did Warren anticipate the practice of “fisting,” which Edmund White called “the only new sexual act invented in recorded history”?

    [45] At least one hand is imbedded in a block of stone, thus literally “ithyphallic.”

    [46] “It’s like having Joe Cocker as your bellhop” (MST3k). Apart from being constantly high, John Reynolds was literally saddled with some kind of wire contraptions on his lower legs; people have speculated that he’s a satyr, or goat-man, but Tom Neyman, the production designer, again reveals that they, like the hands, were just some stuff he had lying around.

    [47] Neyman designed this himself, and his (real) wife sewed it, but he say that it was director Warren who insisted on his doing this over and over.

    [48] Torgo presumably heads for “the crossroads” where it was previously said the nearest phone is; this explains Michael’s curious initial idea of “hid[ing] out in the desert until someone comes to help.” The crossroad symbolism is obvious (the warp and woof of material elements) and it is from here that Torgo, like the initiate who has become the Realized Man, will ascend. See “The Corner at the Center of the World” in The Eldritch Evola, op. cit.

    [49] Wikipedia, here [30].

    [50] See Nicholas Harnoncourt’s remarks quoted in the liner notes to Telefunken’s Bach 2000 anniversary sampler disc (Teldec, 1999).

    [51] Or not: “Manos: The Hands of Fate is generally believed to be in the public domain because director Hal Warren failed to include a copyright symbol in the film (in the US in the 1960s this was enough to disqualify a film for copyright). When news broke of Solovey’s restoration, the son of Hal Warren, Joe Warren, started exploring the possibility that the film was in fact not in the public domain. Joe Warren discovered in 2013 that the script had been copyrighted, and he believes this means that the film is also copyrighted. However, no precedent exists for this case so the legal status of the film is uncertain. The release of the restored film is going ahead in spite of this.” — Wikipedia, here [31].

    [52] What with “manos” = hands, the title sequence subtly recalls the equally accidental doubling of the Larry Buchanan opus Attack of the Eye Creatures; as the MST crew says, “They just . . . didn’t . . . care.”

    [53] According to the commentary track, the road is, in fact, called Scenic Drive.

    [54] “Will I have a bad rep?” is a line suggested by Tom Servo as the teenage girl confronts the highway cops.

    [55] “Investigator Graham interests me. Very purposeful looking.” — Manhunter. “I like you, Tony, there is no lying in you.” — Scarface.

    [56] A sentiment echoed by Bob Burns in his Beast interview: “All films are interesting . . . It was a film, it did get made. . . . I think there’s a place for every movie that’s been made . . . It has a place. I’m not sure what that place is, but it has a place. I don’t think it should be forgotten.” And Larry Blamire concurs “Every movie is important to see, even the miserably bad ones.”

    [57] “Our auteur, ladies and gentlemen!” exclaims Crow as Coleman Francis sits down on the floor of a “Cuban”jail and spreads his legs wide in Red Zone Cuba (Episode 621).

    [58] “Say, I knew sex was corny, but who knew corn could be so sexy?” Another painful bit of “humor” from The Starfighters, delivered by the future Congressman Bob “B-1”Dornan.

    [59] “What’s a neophyte?” (MST3k, The Starfighters).

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Mad as Hell: How Broadway Ruined Network
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]5,521 words

    When asked to name my favorite film, I have a tough time choosing between Fight Club [2] and Network. I was delighted, therefore, when I learned that Network had been turned into a Broadway play starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad [3]. What could possibly go wrong?

    Well, everything, as it turned out.

    In order to communicate why this Broadway play is so bad – so importantly bad – I must give at least some brief account of why the film is so importantly good. Network was released in 1976 and swept the Oscars, winning in three of the four acting categories (Best Actor: Peter Finch; Best Actress: Faye Dunaway; Best Supporting Actress: Beatrice Straight). Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay also won, and the film should have won Best Picture, but lost out to Rocky (a fine film, but nowhere in the same league). Network was Chayefsky’s follow-up to 1971’s The Hospital, for which he also received an Oscar. (The Hospital deals with many of the same themes as Network, and is arguably just as good – suffice it to say that it is well worth seeing.)

    Network tells the story of Howard Beale (Peter Finch), host of the Evening News at UBS, a fictitious fourth network. Beale’s ratings are disastrously bad, as are the ratings of everything at UBS, which hasn’t had a single show in the top twenty. For those of you across the pond: “ratings” refers to how many people are watching a program on American TV, not to how well a program is reviewed by critics. “Ratings” are important because networks can sell commercial time on highly-rated programs for huge amounts of money. Low-rated programs cost a network advertising revenue, and thus are usually cancelled in short order. The inescapable conclusion is that American television exists to show commercials about products to potential consumers, while the programs are just lures to get people to watch the commercials.

    This system encourages network executives to think solely in terms of the popularity of programs, rather than their aesthetic or intellectual merits. It encourages networks to pander to bad taste. More importantly, it encourages network programmers and showrunners to worsen the public’s taste, and even their morals, by appealing to the baser elements in human nature in order to titillate and attract viewers. Anything to get ratings, in other words. This is a major theme of Chayefsky’s screenplay: the power of television to corrupt. Indeed, it is usually the only theme mentioned when the film is discussed, though Network deals with much more.

    In any case, with poor Howard Beale’s ratings in the crapper, UBS decides to fire him. The news is broken to him by his old friend Max Schumacher (William Holden), who is head of the news division. The next day Beale announces on the air that he is being fired and then informs the viewers that, because he has nothing else going on in his life, he intends to kill himself. Needless to say, this creates something of a controversy. The network brass are appalled, but Beale persuades Schumacher to allow him to appear one last time to make a dignified exit. “I don’t want to go out like a clown,” he says. But Howard is being disingenuous. As soon as he is on the air, he explains that he threatened suicide because “I just ran out of bullshit [4].” “Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living,” he explains. “And if we can’t think of any reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit.”

    The result of this tirade is that Schumacher loses his job, and the network dismisses the entire thing as a “disgraceful episode.” That is, at least, until the ratings come in. Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), the beautiful and ambitious head of programming, sees this as a golden opportunity. She envisions Beale as a “magnificent, messianic prophet inveighing against the hypocrisies of our times” and convinces the network to put him back on. Everybody thinks Beale is a curmudgeon going through a major mid-life crisis. In fact, he is going mad. He begins hearing voices, which command him to preach the truth to a nationwide audience. “Don’t worry, we’ll put the words in your mouth,” the voices say.

    This revelation culminates in the most famous scene in the film: Peter Finch’s stirring on-air speech, punctuated repeatedly by the words, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore! [5]” It’s one of the greatest scenes ever shot for a motion picture, and became a catch-phrase in American popular culture for years afterwards. When I saw Network on the big screen when it was revived at the Film Forum in Manhattan a few years ago, people in the audience were weeping during this scene (and I must admit my own eyes were moist). The reason is that Chayefsky’s words and Finch’s passion speak in a profound way to our dissatisfaction with the emptiness of modern life – which, of course, has only intensified since 1976. “I don’t have to tell you things are bad,” Beale begins, continuing:

    We all know that things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything’s going crazy. So we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house and slowly the world around us gets smaller, and all we ask is please at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my hairdryer and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone. Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad!

    [6]
     

    This is a film about much more than television. It’s about the creation of “mass man,” or Nietzsche’s “last man,” who really is happy if left alone with his TV and his steel-belted radials.

    The response to Beale’s speech is sensational. All over the country, viewers go outside or go to their windows and scream, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” (Chayefsky uses the brilliant device of setting the New York scenes against an electrical storm – simultaneously conveying chaos, madness, and the wrath of God – a device he also uses in The Hospital.) But it’s not clear that the response isn’t yet another manifestation of what Beale later decries as the public’s tendency to just mindlessly follow whatever TV tells them to do. It’s not clear that you really can make the Last Man as mad as hell. In another brilliant monologue [7], Beale tells his audience:

    If you want truth, go to God, go to your guru, go to yourselves! Because that’s the only place you’ll ever find any real truth! But, man, you’re never going to get any truth from us. . . . We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear. None of it’s true! But you people sit there – all of you – day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds – we’re all you know. . . . You’re beginning to think the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name, you people are the real thing! We’re the illusion!

    Beale ends by imploring his audience to turn off their television sets immediately – “right in the middle of this very sentence I’m speaking! Turn them off and leave them off!”

    We can imagine the viewers at home once again wildly enthusiastic at Beale’s words. Wildly enthusiastic, and not turning off their television sets! Of course they don’t turn them off. If they turned them off, they would miss out on Beale’s next sensational broadcast. They would miss out on their new hero, Howard Beale, telling them how to dress, how to eat, how to raise their children, and how to think – so as not to be like those people who just do what the TV tells them to do. And they would miss seeing the sensational new program that follows Beale’s, The Mao Tse Tung Hour (more on that later).

    Ultimately, Beale goes too far: He attacks a merger between UBS’s “parent company” and a shadowy entity backed by Saudi money. Beale is summoned into the office of the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Jensen (Ned Beatty). What follows is another stunning monologue [8], this time from Beatty (while Finch merely listens). Jensen informs Beale that he has “meddled with the primal forces of nature!” Which turns out to mean that he has meddled with the forces of globalism. “You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples,” Jensen says, continuing:

    There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. . . . It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. . . . Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

    In short, Jensen proceeds to lay out the substance of the Kojève-Fukuyama “end of history” thesis: global capitalism (a.k.a. “liberal democracy”) will overcome national boundaries and animosities and turn the entire world into one, big shopping mall. But at history’s end, we find always the Last Man, blinking. Thus, Jensen’s speech ends as follows:

    And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality – one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock – all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.

    [9]

    I don’t know of any speech in an American film that is intellectually richer, more challenging, or more provocative than this. And here we may note that the real “mad prophet” of this story is Paddy Chayefsky. Like a great work of philosophy or literature, Network only seems more prescient and “relevant” with each passing year. It is truly remarkable.

    In any case, Beale leaves Jensen’s office literally convinced that he has seen the face of God. He accepts Jensen’s teaching and dutifully begins to spread the gospel. When next Beale appears on his program [10], he informs his audience that the individual is “finished”:

    It’s the single, solitary human being that’s finished. It’s every single one of you out there that’s finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It’s a nation of some two hundred-odd-million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods. Well, the time has come to say is “dehumanization” such a bad word? Whether it’s good or bad, that’s what is so. The whole world is becoming humanoid, creatures that look human but aren’t. . . . The whole world’s people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things.

    [11]

    On one level, Beale has finally recognized the magnitude of what has been done to modern man – done by mass media, propaganda, the culture of narcissism, and the soul-rotting influence of capitalist comfort and abundance. Beale has realized that he hasn’t really been talking to anyone. One thinks of another great speech, this one delivered by Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner:

    Look at you. Brainwashed imbeciles. Can you laugh? Can you cry? Can you think?. . . In your heads are the remnants of a brain. In your hearts must still be the desire to be human beings again.

    But what if there really isn’t? Suppose that desire has been killed in them – thoroughly killed. This is frightening, but it is entirely possible.

    Yet in not only acknowledging this, but making peace with it, Beale goes off the rails. He goes from trying to make his viewers “as mad as hell” about their dehumanization, to persuading them to accept it as not so bad after all. His speech is cut off in this scene, but we know where it’s headed: He will suggest to his audience that although they may be humanoid, at least in this brave new world all anxieties will be tranquilized, all boredom amused. This I cannot accept. I know that many souls are lost for good (indeed, many have no souls at all). But there are others who do have, in their hearts, a desire to be human beings again. We have to fight for those souls, and fight to destroy the world of Mr. Jensen.

    In the end, Howard Beale is destroyed, his soul corrupted. (A fact that is acknowledged later in the film by the Schumacher character, in case you think this is just my interpretation.) As the narrator of the film states, “It was a perfectly admissible argument that Howard Beale advanced in the days that followed. It was, however, also a very depressing one. Nobody particularly cared to hear his life was utterly valueless.” Beale’s ratings plummet, and soon Diana, whose career had been made by the success of Beale’s show, is casting around for a replacement (“What about that terrific new messiah ABC was supposed to have signed up as our competition?”). However, it transpires that Mr. Jensen was perfectly serious when he said he wanted Beale to preach his worldview. He wants Beale to stay on the air, no matter how low his ratings go.

    In desperation, Diana meets with her network associates and plans the assassination of Howard Beale: “The whole thing would be done right on camera in the studio. We ought to get a fantastic look-in audience with the assassination of Howard Beale as our opening show.” And this does indeed come to pass, in one of the most famous conclusions in cinema history: Beale is gunned down by members of a terrorist group, just as his show opens. The film closes with the narrator’s voiceover: “This was the story of Howard Beale. The first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.”

    I hope the foregoing has made clear why I have such a high opinion of this film – and why I was so excited to see it adapted for the stage. I did not consider such an adaptation to be much of a stretch. Network is not spectacle. There are no car chases or exploding death stars. It is mostly all talk – exquisite talk, but talk nonetheless. It seemed a natural for the stage. And, of course, in recent years multiple films have been turned into plays or musicals (The Producers, The Lion King, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, Young Frankenstein, Spamalot, etc.).

    [12]

    Network’s adaptation for the stage is the brainchild of British playwright Lee Hall, who has had a string of stage successes in the last twenty years, and written several screenplays. One of his plays is Billy Elliot, the story of a boy from the tough, working-class North of England who, despite facing opposition and prejudice, dreams of being a ballet dancer. The Pitmen Players tells the story of a group of miners who learn about art and set out to become painters. (For some reason, both these plays make me think of that Monty Python, reverse D.H. Lawrence skit [13] about the boy who aspires to be a coal miner.) Another success was Spoonface Steinberg, the tale of an autistic Jewish girl dying of cancer. Hall’s opera Beached created controversy, however. It tells the story of what happens when a gay retired painter encounters some children at the seaside. After six months of rehearsals, the school that provided the child actors threatened to pull them unless lines like “I’m queer” and “I’d prefer a lad to a lass” were removed from the libretto. (Some verbal compromises were agreed to, and the production continued.) Contrary to all appearances, Hall is not a big, flaming poof. But he might as well be.

    His adaptation of Network opened in the UK at London’s National Theatre on November 13, 2017 and ran until March 24, 2018. Bryan Cranston starred as Howard Beale. The performance I saw (a preview at the Belasco Theater in Manhattan) also starred Cranston, and closely followed the staging of the London production. The setting is a live, on-stage television studio, with an onstage restaurant called “Foodwork,” where audience members who were willing to pay a lot more were served a three-course meal. (I’m not kidding.) A huge television monitor dominated the stage, and throughout the play cameramen followed the actors, projecting close-up images onto the screen. This gives one the experience of watching both a play and a television show. It is one of the better ideas in the production. The play also includes attempts at involving the audience, such as getting everyone to yell “I’m as mad as hell” (which I did with enthusiasm, while my neighbors remained mostly silent).

    Hall’s play follows the plot of the film very closely, and faithfully preserves a large amount of Chayefsky’s brilliant dialogue. The central story of Howard Beale is presented more or less just as it is in the film, and a major subplot is preserved (an affair between Schumacher and Christensen, not mentioned in my earlier account). Nevertheless, Hall does make a number of changes, and some of these are important and revealing. I’ll start with the minor issues first. Hall sometimes alters Chayefsky’s dialogue, shortening, expanding, or just tweaking some exchanges. In every case, the change is not an improvement. Indeed, if one knows the film well (and I know it practically by heart), one misses every line that is omitted – and the changes to perfectly-good lines are jarring and seemingly pointless. In order to adapt the film for the stage, Hall also has to invent lines and a few short scenes. This is not, in itself, unreasonable: adapting any work of art from one medium to another always requires changes. But in every case, Hall’s own dialogue is flat, uninspired, and pedestrian. It’s like reading a student’s plagiarized term paper, where all the good bits aren’t original and all the original bits aren’t good.

    [14]

    Hall’s major change is to cut entirely one of the film’s most famous subplots, which contains some of Chayefsky’s best satire and funniest dialogue. The subplot concerns Diana’s efforts to create a television show centered around the activities of a terrorist group. Through Laureen Hobbs, an activist affiliated with the American Communist Party (a character clearly based on Angela Davis, and played brilliantly by Marlene Warfield), Diana makes contact with the Ecumenical Liberation Army. The Ecumenicals are obviously based on the Symbionese Liberation Army, the group that kidnapped Patty Heart in 1974. (Chayefsky even equips the Ecumenicals with their own kidnapped heiress!) After some persuasion, they agree to star in their own network TV show, The Mao Tse Tung Hour. (It is these individuals who, in the film, carry out the assassination of Howard Beale.) Diana promises, “I’m offering you an hour of primetime television every week into which you can stick whatever propaganda you want. That’s a lot better than handing out mimeographed pamphlets on ghetto street corners.”

    The scenes involving Laureen Hobbs and the Ecumenicals deliver some of the biggest laughs in the film – all of it at the expense of the Left. Though Chayefsky was himself a man of the Left (or, at least, considered himself to be), he was wise to the fanaticism, dogmatism, and absurd ideological wrangling that Leftists engage in. (The Hospital also contains scenes that parody Leftist ideologues – specifically, protesters.) The leader of the Ecumenicals is a giant black man called The Great Ahmed Kahn. When Laureen Hobbs meets with him to pitch the network’s proposal, he is devouring a bucket of fried chicken (one of several crypto-racist moments in Chayefsky’s work). Laureen says, “I’m going to make a TV star out of you. Just like Archie Bunker.” “What the fuck are you talkin ‘bout?” he replies, his mouth full of KFC.

    Perhaps the funniest scene is the one where network attorneys meet with the terrorists to negotiate their contract. It is at this point that we realize that Laureen Hobbs has been corrupted by her deal with Diana, and has morphed into an arch-capitalist showbiz tyro. In the midst of negotiations, she explodes in anger, pointing at the Great Ahmed Kahn:

    Don’t fuck with my distribution costs! I’m making a lousy two-fifteen per segment and I’m already deficiting twenty-five grand a week with Metro! I’m paying William Morris ten percent off the top, and I’m giving this turkey ten thou per segment, and another five to this fruitcake! And Helen, don’t start no shit about a piece again! I’m paying Metro twenty-thousand for all foreign and Canadian distribution, and that’s after recoupment! The Communist Party’s not gonna see a nickel of this goddamn show until we go into syndication! I’m not giving this pseudo-insurrectionary sectarian a piece of my show! I’m not giving him script approval! And I sure as hell ain’t cutting him in on my distribution costs!

    Ahmed Kahn ends the quarrel by firing his pistol in the air and offering a compromise: “Man, give her the fuckin’ overhead clause.” This dialogue is pure gold – and all of it is excised by Lee Hall. The reason he gave was that the story of Howard Beale is the heart of Network, and he wanted to focus on that. And yet he includes the subplot about Diana’s affair with Max Schumacher, even though it is presented in an almost perfunctory fashion, with much of the best dialogue omitted. One wonders if the barbs Chayefsky directs at the Left didn’t hit a bit too close to home. One wonders if Hall saw himself in Chayefsky’s portrait of a phony activist, spouting Leftist drivel from out the back of a limousine, rushing to the barricades to fight for her overhead clause and her subsidiary rights.

    As to the story of the affair between Diana and Max, it includes some of the best, most memorable lines in the film – especially the scene where Max decides to leave her:

    Max: You need me. You need me badly. Because I’m your last contact with human reality. I love you. And that painful, decaying love is the only thing between you and the shrieking nothingness you live the rest of the day.

    Diana: [hesitatingly] Then, don’t leave me.

    Max: It’s too late, Diana. There’s nothing left in you that I can live with. You’re one of Howard’s humanoids. If I stay with you, I’ll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You’re television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You’re madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure, and pain . . . and love.

    [Kisses her]

    Max: And it’s a happy ending: wayward husband comes to his senses, returns to his wife, with whom he has established a long and sustaining love. Heartless young woman left alone in her arctic desolation. Music up with a swell; final commercial. And here are a few scenes from next week’s show.

    [Picks up his suitcases and leaves]

    [15]
     

    Almost the entirety of this priceless dialogue is eliminated by Hall. One is left wondering what the point was in retaining the Max-Diana affair at all.

    But what’s worse than any of these changes – far worse – is Lee Hall’s attempt to inject his own politics into the play. You knew we were coming to this, didn’t you? In the course of Howard Beale’s speech about the Saudi takeover of UBS, he warns his audience about efforts by “the Arabs” to buy up American companies and property. “Hell, they already own half of England,” he says. As is made clear in the film, the issue Beale has is with foreign interests controlling the American economy – especially when it affects the news business and the entertainment industry.

    In the play, Hall has Cranston growl the words “the Arabs” every time he utters them. And, unforgivably, he embellishes Chayefsky’s dialogue. Cranston warns us that “we’re going to be ruled by a bunch of emirs and mullahs and shahs!” The intent is crude and obvious: Hall is turning Howard Beale into a race-baiter. We are supposed to be reminded of all those “reactionary” voices raising alarm about the ongoing Muslim invasion of Europe. (Keep in mind that this was created for the London stage.)

    I’m at a loss to know where to begin to deal with this, as we have here such a tangle of foolishness and confusion. Does Hall actually think the point of the speech in the film was that Howard revealed himself to be a “racist”? Or is Hall well aware that this is his interpolation, and if so, how does it in any way complement or enrich the major themes of Network? And does Hall even understand what those themes are? The point of Network is not “beware of the power of television to create demagogues.” Is Hall really such a dullard that he could work for years with this material and think that it all reduces to that?

    To see Chayefsky’s poetry mucked up with this crude PC propagandizing positively sickened me. Watching this scene, I began to halfway suspect that perhaps the whole reason for reviving Network as a play was to warn us about Donald Trump. One can see the logic of that: former reality TV star becomes demagogue, spouts hateful rhetoric, divides country, grabs pussies! But, no. No, I thought. It can’t be that loathsomely simpleminded and conventional. Boy, was I wrong, as we shall see.

    As an aside, let me mention the irony of the Jewish Chayefsky warning us about Arab control of the media. I know that if I don’t mention that, someone will in the comments. Yes, Chayefsky’s own prejudices are rather obviously displayed in the film. There is Max Schumacher, the only character who seems to emerge uncorrupted. The film never explicitly identifies him as Jewish, but the name seems to be giving us a strong hint. And one of Chayefsky’s most negative characters is, of course, the icy, Nordic Diana, significantly surnamed “Christensen.” One suspects Max’s affair with Diana is a kind of wish-fulfillment for Chayefsky: his great winter romance with the sexually-aggressive schiksa.

    The exact same situation occurs in The Hospital, in the affair between the middle-aged Jewish Dr. Bock (George C. Scott) and the emancipated, affluent, WASPy Miss Drummond (Diana Rigg). Incidentally, when Network’s director, Sidney Lumet, proposed casting the pro-PLO Vanessa Redgrave as Diana, Chayefsky angrily dismissed the idea because of her politics. When Lumet (also Jewish) told Chayefsky that this amounted to “blacklisting,” the latter responded, “Not when a Jew does it to a Gentile.” (This incident was reported by Lumet in his memoirs.) Honestly, I do not care. These issues aside, The Hospital and Network are genuinely great films.

    Speaking of casting, Bryan Cranston was without question the best part of this production, and he won the Laurence Olivier Award for it. Yes, it was a pleasure to see Cranston, who I loved in Breaking Bad. Yet his performance as Howard Beale suffers by the inevitable comparison to Peter Finch. It’s clear that Cranston is concerned about such comparisons, as he deliberately tries to play scenes very differently from Finch. Finch shouts and gestures, working himself up into a state of quasi-religious ecstasy. Cranston, by contrast, is low-key. Indeed, he almost whispers parts of the “mad as hell” speech. It’s watchable, but it doesn’t work. One longs for Finch. A low-key Howard Beale simply won’t do. Sometimes there really is only one right way to play a role. Cranston should have damned comparisons, and given us the passion that the role requires.

    Nevertheless, as problematic as his performance is, Cranston towers over the other actors. Indeed, some of the other performers were downright amateurish. Tatiana Maslany as Diana was particularly objectionable. Maslany looks to be in her twenties, and is typical of many females of her generation: awkward, unfeminine, and nasal-voiced. Faye Dunaway managed to be feminine, poised, and as tough as nails. Maslany’s delivery was so damned flat I longed for Faye every time she opened her mouth. Several times, I was so embarrassed for her I cradled my head in my hands. I acted in high school drama with girls who could act better than this. There are also predictable nods to political correctness in the cast. One of the key roles (not mentioned earlier in this essay, but played in the film by Robert Duvall) was given to a young black man who did not so much act as recite his lines (lines which were, I fear, a bit too complex and literate for him to handle). The London production also featured a black actor in the role.

    So flat, dispassionate, and uninspired were these performances that midway through the play I felt like I was watching my favorite film being acted out by kids. (Sort of like that video that went viral a few years ago, of that children’s production of Scarface [16].) No one in the cast (save, perhaps, Cranston) had the gravitas of a Finch, a Holden, a Dunaway, or a Duvall. And no wonder. To paraphrase what Max says of Diana in the film, they’re TV generation. They learned life from Bugs Bunny. This is what happens when you hire an all-NPC cast to star in a play warning us about NPCs.

    But I have not yet come to the worst of it: Lee Hall actually changes Chayefsky’s ending.

    After Howard Beale is shot, Cranston rises from the stage, sits down at the edge, close to the audience, and begins speaking. Why? Well, to tell us what we should think the point of the story is, of course. Cranston proceeds to inform the audience that the whole problem with the foregoing was people believing in “absolutes.” We know we’re in trouble, he told us, when people are too convinced that they are right about things. Really? That’s it? That’s the message of Network? A sophomoric relativism? Of course, the audience – full of Left-wing New York morons convinced they’re absolutely right about everything they believe – erupted in thunderous applause at this attack on believing that anyone is absolutely right. If Cranston had squatted down and taken a dump all over Chayefsky’s script, the effect would have been the same.

    [17]

    Oh, but worse things were to come, gentle reader! Hard to imagine, but true. After the cast took their bows and left the stage, the crew projected a series of images on the giant monitor. They were scenes of American presidents taking the oath of office. The footage began with Gerald Ford, who was President when Network was filmed. Most of the audience remained in their seats, watching the footage. But I knew where this was headed, and began elbowing my way out. By the time I climbed the stairs to the top of the mezzanine, the footage had gotten to Barack Obama. Like a theater full of trained seals, the audience began cheering and clapping. And, you guessed it, when Trump came on the screen, boos and hisses filled the theater.

    Yes, folks, no humanoids here. Nobody who dresses like the tube, eats like the tube, raises their children like the tube, and thinks like the tube. Nobody mass-produced, programmed, numbered, and insensate. Nobody, it goes without saying, with a sense of irony (standard liberal affliction). And nobody who learned a damned thing from this brilliant story, which still shined through in spite of the witlessness of Mr. Hall, and the amateurishness of his performers.

    Fuming, I made for the exit – when suddenly a single voice rose above the boos, directed at Trump. A single male voice was cheering. And then that same voice screamed “Make America Great Again!” I’ve no idea where the guy was sitting, but his voice boomed out across the entire theater. I watched the responses of the audience. Some gasped. Some laughed as if they thought the guy was kidding (after all, who in that theater could possibly disagree with them?). Some laughed as if they thought he might be part of the show. Feeling cheered, and immensely gratified, I left the theater.

    Well, I thought, at least one guy was as mad as hell – and, I suspect, isn’t going to take this anymore.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: April 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]919 words

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    April was a far from cruel month for Counter-Currents. Thank you for being part of our good fortune.

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    If you visited our website in April, you were just one of 56,772 unique visitors. These visitors paid us 110,029 visits. Our highest numbers ever. The pages you viewed were among the 421,446 pages viewed in last month.

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 2010 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 2010 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 2010 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 2010 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 2010 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 2011 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 2011 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 2011 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 2011 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 2011 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB
    February 2012 53,345 99,607 376,288 411,915 14.43 GB
    March 2012 55,572 106,029 441,170 475,719 16.36 GB
    April 2012 56,772 110,029 421,446 428,678 16.08 GB

     

    As you can see, our traffic has remained pretty much plateaued since January. This has been our pattern: growth spurts, followed by a few months plateaued.

    2. Our Blog

    In April, we added 80 posts to the website, for a total of 1,674 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added nearly 1,000 new comments.

    3. April’s Top Twenty Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    Our number one essay, Daniel Michaels on Stalin’s plan to conquer Europe, has been a perennial favorite since we first published it in April of 2011. Two other perennial favorites, Irmin Vinson on Hitler and Gregory Hood on Scarface, were in our top 10 yet again.

    Greg Johnson had four articles in the top 20 (3 in the top 10). Jef Costello had three articles in the top 20. Matt Parrott and two top 20 articles, and Gregory Hood had two in the top 10.

    Six of our top 20 articles are about movies and television: Gregory Hood on Scarface and The Hunger Games, Jef Costello on Fight Club and Breaking Bad, Trevor Lynch on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which has been in the top ten for 5 months now), and Jonathan Bowden on The Passion of the Christ. Since Hollywood and the television industry are the primary media of anti-white propaganda, racially conscious analyses of movies and TV are highly effective at drawing traffic and combating enemy propaganda. (See Trevor Lynch, “Why I Write [22].”)

    4. Where Our Readers Are: The top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
    3. Sweden
    4. Germany
    5. Canada
    6. Australia
    7. The Netherlands
    8. France
    9. Finland
    10. Japan
    11. Norway
    12. Portugal
    13. Switzerland
    14. Czech Republic
    15. Poland
    16. China
    17. Spain
    18. Italy
    19. Russian Federation
    20. India

    5. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

    1. London
    2. New York City
    3. San Francisco
    4. Melbourne
    5. Sydney
    6. Chicago
    7. Stockholm
    8. Houston
    9. Seattle
    10. Toronto
    11. Berlin
    12. Washington, D.C.
    13. Vancouver, B.C.
    14. Dublin
    15. Lisbon
    16. Atlanta
    17. Mexico City
    18. Manchester
    19. Los Angeles
    20. Montreal

    Seven of our top 20  cities are in the United States. Four are on the West Coast of North America: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C.. Three are in Canada: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Two are in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. Two are in England: London and Manchester. Seven of them are national capitals: Washington, D.C., London, Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Mexico City, and Dublin.

    6. Upcoming Book Projects

    These are the titles that are at one stage or another in the editorial process. Beyond the first three titles, these are in only the roughest chronological order.

    11. Savitri Devi, Forever & Ever (May)
    12. Greg Johnson, ed., North American New Right, vol. 1 (May)
    13. Kerry Bolton, Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, ed. Greg Johnson (May or June)
    14. Trevor Lynch, Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies (June)
    15. Juleigh Howard-Hobson, “I do not belong to the Baader-Meinhof group” and Other Poems (June)
    16. James J. O’Meara, The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Literature, Politics, and Popular Culture (June or July)
    17. Francis Parker Yockey, The World in Flames and Other Essays, ed. Kerry Bolton
    18. Saint-Loup, Hitler or Juda? A Second Nuremberg Tribunal
    19. Derek Hawthorne, Above the Clouds (on the German mountain films)
    20. Collin Cleary, L’appel aux dieux (French translation of Summoning the Gods)

    Counter-Currents has now taken over the Savitri Devi Archive’s Centennial Edition of Savitri Devi’s Works. The next volumes will be a new edition of And Time Rolls On, followed by The Lightning in the Sun. Other longer term projects include Anthony M. Ludovici’s Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, Julius Evola’s East and West: Essays in Comparative Philosophy, and a collection of Alain de Benoist’s essays on Ernst Jünger.

    * * *

    As always, I want to thank our writers, donors, and proofreaders; our webmaster/Managing Editor; and above all, you, our readers for being part of a growing intellectual and spiritual community.

    Greg Johnson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: May 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]1,042 words

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    On June 11, Counter-Currents will celebrate our second anniversary of going online. We are also launching a major fundraising drive this month.

    May was another lively month for Counter-Currents. Thank you for making that possible.

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    If you visited our website in May, you were just one of 56,323 unique visitors. These visitors paid us 111,533 visits, our highest number ever. The pages you viewed were among the 400,243 pages viewed in last month.

     

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 2010 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 2010 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 2010 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 2010 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 2010 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 2011 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 2011 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 2011 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 2011 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 2011 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB
    February 2012 53,345 99,607 376,288 411,915 14.43 GB
    March 2012 55,572 106,029 441,170 475,719 16.36 GB
    April 2012 56,772 110,029 421,446 428,678 16.08 GB
    May 2012 56,323 111,533 400,243 404,483 15.70 GB

     

    As you can see, our traffic has remained pretty much plateaued since January. This has been our pattern: growth spurts, followed by a few months plateaued.

    2. Our Blog

    In May, we added 78 posts to the website, for a total of 1,752 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added over 1,000 new comments.

    3. May’s Top Twenty Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    Our number one essay, Daniel Michaels on Stalin’s plan to conquer Europe, has been a perennial favorite since we first published it in April of 2011. Two other perennial favorites, Irmin Vinson on Hitler and Gregory Hood on Scarface, were in our top 10 yet again.

    Gregory Hood and Jef Costello each had three top 20 pieces, Jack Donovan and Greg Johnson each had two.

    Alex Stark’s first CC article made the top ten. It is the first, we hope, of many.

    Eight of our top 20 articles are about movies and television: Gregory Hood on Scarface, The Avengers, and The Last Samurai, Jef Costello on Dark Shadows, Fight Club, and Breaking Bad, Trevor Lynch on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which has been in the top ten for 6 months now), and John Morgan on God Bless America. Since Hollywood and the television industry are the primary media of anti-white propaganda, racially conscious analyses of movies and TV are highly effective at drawing traffic and combating enemy propaganda. (See Trevor Lynch, “Why I Write [22].”)

    Two of our top ten articles were on comics and graphic novels: Christopher Pankhurst on “Civil War and The Big Lie” and Ted Sallis on “Marvel Comics, Ethnicity, and Race” (in German translation).

    4. Where Our Readers Are: The top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
    3. Canada
    4. Germany
    5. Sweden
    6. Australia
    7. China
    8. The Netherlands
    9. France
    10. Portugal
    11. Finland
    12. Japan
    13. Brazil
    14. Norway
    15. Spain
    16. Italy
    17. Poland
    18. Switzerland
    19. Russian Federation
    20. India

    5. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

    1. London
    2. New York City
    3. San Francisco
    4. Sydney
    5. Melbourne
    6. Stockholm
    7. Chicago
    8. Houston
    9. Lisbon
    10. Toronto
    11. Los Angeles
    12. Dublin
    13. Berlin
    14. Philadelphia
    15. Seattle
    16. Washington, D.C.
    17. Mexico City
    18. Vancouver, B.C.
    19. Montreal
    20. Athens

    Eight of our top 20 cities are in the United States. Four are on the West Coast of North America: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C.. Three are in Canada: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Two are in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. Eight of them are national capitals: Washington, D.C., London, Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Mexico City, Athens, and Dublin.

    6. Upcoming Book Projects

    These are the titles that are at one stage or another in the editorial process. Beyond the first three titles, these are in only the roughest chronological order.

    11. Savitri Devi, Forever & Ever (June)
    12. Greg Johnson, ed., North American New Right, vol. 1 (June)

    Forever and Ever and North American New Right have been delayed from May 30 to June 20 publication dates, NANR because of problems with the proofs, Forever and Ever because of issues with the cover/dust jacket.

    13. Kerry Bolton, Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, ed. Greg Johnson (June)
    14. Trevor Lynch, Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies (June)
    15. Juleigh Howard-Hobson, “I do not belong to the Baader-Meinhof group” and Other Poems (June)
    16. James J. O’Meara, The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Literature, Politics, and Popular Culture (June or July)
    17. William Joyce, Twilight Over England, with an Introduction by Greg Johnson
    18. Francis Parker Yockey, The World in Flames and Other Essays, ed. Kerry Bolton
    19. Saint-Loup, Hitler or Juda? A Second Nuremberg Tribunal
    20. Derek Hawthorne, Above the Clouds: Arnold Fanck, Leni Riefesnstahl, and the Metaphysics of Sex (on the German mountain films)
    21. Collin Cleary, L’appel aux dieux (French translation of Summoning the Gods)

    Counter-Currents has now taken over the Savitri Devi Archive’s Centennial Edition of Savitri Devi’s Works. The next volumes will be a new edition of And Time Rolls On, followed by The Lightning in the Sun. Other longer term projects include Anthony M. Ludovici’s Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, Julius Evola’s East and West: Essays in Comparative Philosophy, a new edition of Brooks Adams’ The Law of Civilization and Decay with an Introduction by Greg Johnson, and a collection of Alain de Benoist’s essays on Ernst Jünger.

    * * *

    Once again, I want to thank our writers, donors, and proofreaders; our webmaster/Managing Editor; and above all, you, our readers for being part of a growing intellectual and spiritual community.

    Greg Johnson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: June 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    1,061 words

    [1]Editor’s Note:

    Due to travel to deal with a family medical emergency, our June newsletter has been delayed. To save time, I have decided to post it on our front page rather than send it to our mailing list.

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    On June 11, Counter-Currents celebrated our second anniversary of going online. We are also launching a major fundraising drive.

    In June of 2010, we had 6,145 unique visitors. In June of 2011, we had 28,629 unique visitors. In June of 2012, we had 55,112 unique visitors. This is real growth in readership and impact. Thank you, our readers, writers, and donors, for making this possible.

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    If you visited us in June, you were one of 55,112 unique visitors. These visitors paid us 110,246 visits. The pages you viewed were among the 400,141 pages viewed in last month.

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 2010 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 2010 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 2010 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 2010 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 2010 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 2011 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 2011 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 2011 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 2011 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 2011 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB
    February 2012 53,345 99,607 376,288 411,915 14.43 GB
    March 2012 55,572 106,029 441,170 475,719 16.36 GB
    April 2012 56,772 110,029 421,446 428,678 16.08 GB
    May 2012 56,323 111,533 400,243 404,483 15.70 GB
    June 2012 55,112 110,246 400,141 404,162 13.66 GB

    As you can see, our traffic has remained pretty much plateaued since January. This has been our pattern: growth spurts, followed by a few months plateaued.

    2. Our Blog

    In June, we added 78 posts to the website, for a total of 1,830 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added over 600 new comments.

    3. June’s Top Twenty Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    1. Ava Moretti, “Pick-Up Artists [2],” June 18, 2012, 3,252
    2. Gregory Hood, Review of Scarface [3], February 27, 2011: 3,248
    3. Daniel W. Michaels, “Exposing Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe [4],” April 21, 2011: 2,746
    4. Andrew Hamilton, “White Survival and its Enemies [5],” June 8, 2012, 2,541
    5. Greg Johnson, Frequently-Asked Questions, Part 2 [6], June 8, 2012, 2,478
    6. Trevor Lynch, Review of Ridley Scott’s [7]Prometheus, June 9, 2012, 2,330
    7. Irmin Vinson, “Some Thoughts on Hitler [8],” April 20, 2011: 2,245
    8. George Hocking, “Is Darwin the Enemy? [9],” April 26, 2012, 2,236
    9. Andrew Hamilton, “Batman Returns: An Anti-Semitic Allegory? [10],” June 22, 2012, 2,054
    10. Trevor Lynch, Review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [11], February 10, 2011: 1,560
    11. Jef Costello, “Fight Club as Holy Writ [12],” January 9, 2012: 1,472
    12. Edgar Lowe, “Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee [13],” June 1, 2012, 1,291
    13. Greg Johnson, “Introduction to Aristotle’s Politics,” Part 1 [14], June 21, 2012, 1,247
    14. Greg Johnson, Frequently-Asked Questions, Part 1, June 5 [15], 2012, 1,179
    15. Collin Cleary, “Heidegger: An Introduction for Anti-Moderns,” Part 1 [16], June 4, 2012, 1,178
    16. Andrew Hamilton, “Hitler’s Speeches [17],” May 30, 2012, 1,167
    17. Jef Costello, “Breaking Bad: A Celebration [18],” April 3, 2012: 1,103
    18. Patrick Lebrun, “The Front Nationale’s Tactical Winning Streak Continues [19],” June 22, 2012, 1,075
    19. John Morgan, “Ray Bradbury: R.I.P. [20],” June 6, 2012, 1,069
    20. Andrew Hamilton, “The Sense and Nonsense of War [21],” June 15, 2012, 1,052

    Congratulations to Patrick Lebrun for his first Counter-Currents article, which made our top 20. Congratulations also to Ava Moretti and George Hocking for their first top 10 articles.

    Congratulations to Andrew Hamilton for four top 20 articles in June. Greg Johnson had three, Trevor Lynch and Jef Costello both had two.

    Our perennial favorites, Daniel Michaels on Stalin’s plan to conquer Europe, Irmin Vinson on Hitler, and Gregory Hood on Scarface, were in our top 10 yet again.

    Six of our top 20 articles are about movies and television: Gregory Hood on Scarface, Jef Costello on Fight Club and Breaking Bad, Trevor Lynch on Prometheus and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which has been in the top ten for 7 months now), and Andrew Hamilton on Batman Returns.

    Since Hollywood and the television industry are the primary media of anti-white propaganda, racially conscious analyses of movies and TV are highly effective at drawing traffic and combating enemy propaganda. (See Trevor Lynch, “Why I Write [22].”)

    4. Where Our Readers Are: The top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
    3. Canada
    4. Germany
    5. Sweden
    6. Australia
    7. The Netherlands
    8. France
    9. Italy
    10. Poland
    11. Portugal
    12. China
    13. Finland
    14. India
    15. Norway
    16. Brazil
    17. Japan
    18. Russian Federation
    19. Mexico
    20. Spain

    5. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

    1. London
    2. New York City
    3. San Francisco
    4. Sydney
    5. Melbourne
    6. Stockholm
    7. Chicago
    8. Los Angeles
    9. Houston
    10. Philadelphia
    11. Lisbon
    12. Toronto
    13. Mexico City
    14. Seattle
    15. Dublin
    16. Berlin
    17. Vancouver, B.C.
    18. Vienna
    19. Athens
    20. Edinburgh

    Seven of our top 20 cities are in the United States. Four are on the West Coast of North America: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C. Two are in Canada: Toronto and Vancouver. Two are in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. Eight of them are national capitals: London, Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Mexico City, Athens, Dublin, and Vienna (which is making its first appearance) — nine if you count Edinburgh.

    6. Upcoming Book Projects

    These are the titles that are at one stage or another in the editorial process. Beyond the first three titles, these are in only the roughest chronological order.

    13. Kerry Bolton, Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, ed. Greg Johnson (July)
    14. James J. O’Meara, The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Literature, Politics, and Popular Culture (July)
    15. Juleigh Howard-Hobson, “I do not belong to the Baader-Meinhof group” and Other Poems (August)
    16. Trevor Lynch, Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies (August)
    17. Savitri Devi, The Lightning and the Sun (September)
    18. William Joyce, Twilight Over England, with an Introduction by Greg Johnson
    19. Francis Parker Yockey, The World in Flames and Other Essays, ed. Kerry Bolton
    20. Saint-Loup, Hitler or Judah? A Second Nuremberg Tribunal
    21. Derek Hawthorne, Above the Clouds: Arnold Fanck, Leni Riefenstahl, and the Metaphysics of Sex (on the German mountain films)
    22. Collin Cleary, L’appel aux dieux (French translation of Summoning the Gods)

    Counter-Currents has now taken over the Savitri Devi Archive’s Centennial Edition of Savitri Devi’s Works. The next volumes will be new editions of And Time Rolls On and The Lightning and the Sun. Other longer term projects include Anthony M. Ludovici’s Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, Julius Evola’s East and West: Essays in Comparative Philosophy, a new edition of Brooks Adams’ The Law of Civilization and Decay with an Introduction by Greg Johnson, and a collection of Alain de Benoist’s essays on Ernst Jünger.

    7. Our Summer Fundraiser

    On June 11, our second anniversary, Counter-Currents launched a new fundraising campaign. Our aim is to raise $25,000. We have raised just over $4,000 and have a long way to go. If you have not yet contributed, now is a good time. Please visit our donation page here [23].

    * * *

    Once again, I want to thank our writers, donors, and proofreaders; our webmaster/Managing Editor; and above all, you, our readers for being part of a growing intellectual and spiritual community.

    Greg Johnson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: July 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    Portrait of Denis Diderot by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1767

    1,051 words

    Editor’s Note:

    After more than a month away from home, dealing with a family medical emergency, I am back in my office and getting caught up.  To save time, I have decided to post our July newsletter on our front page rather than send it to our mailing list.

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    If you visited us in July, you were one of 52,304 unique visitors. These visitors paid us 108,340 visits. The pages you viewed were among the 367,589 pages viewed in last month.

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 2010 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 2010 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 2010 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 2010 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 2010 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 2011 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 2011 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 2011 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 2011 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 2011 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB
    February 2012 53,345 99,607 376,288 411,915 14.43 GB
    March 2012 55,572 106,029 441,170 475,719 16.36 GB
    April 2012 56,772 110,029 421,446 428,678 16.08 GB
    May 2012 56,323 111,533 400,243 404,483 15.70 GB
    June 2012 55,112 110,246 400,141 404,162 13.66 GB
    July 2012 52,304 108,340 367,589 373,470 12.52 GB

    As you can see, our traffic has remained pretty much plateaued since January.

    2. Our Blog

    In June, we added 71 posts to the website, for a total of 1,901 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added over 600 new comments.

    3. July’s Top 20 Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    1. Andrew Hamilton, “Anders Breivik’s Closing Statement [2],” July 6, 2012: 6,310
    2. Ava Moretti, “What Women Want [3],” July 9, 2012: 4,146
    3. Gregory Hood, Review of Scarface [4], February 27, 2011: 4,008
    4. Greg Johnson, Frequently-Asked Questions, Part 2 [5], June 8, 2012, 3,391
    5. Dominique Venner, “Letter to My Friends on Identity and Sovereignty [6],” July 6, 2012: 2,326
    6. Trevor Lynch, “Jonathan Nolan’s Batman Movies [7],” July 16, 2012, 2,093
    7. Irmin Vinson, “Some Thoughts on Hitler [8],” April 20, 2011: 1,970
    8. Greg Johnson, “Anders Behring Breivik: The Neoconservative Rambo [9],” July 24, 2011, 1,923
    9. Gregory Hood, “The Order in Action: The Dark Knight Rises [10],” July 22, 2012: 1,875
    10. Daniel W. Michaels, “Exposing Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe [11],” April 21, 2011: 1,859
    11. Interview with Alexander Dugin [12], Jul7 27, 2012: 1,750
    12. Bruce Longfellow, “Pickup Artists, Game, and White Nationalism [13],” July 3, 2012: 1,585
    13. Greg Johnson, “Remembering William Pierce [14],” July 23, 2012: 1,585
    14. Andrew Hamilton, “Catching up with Kevin Sorbo [15],” July 13, 2012: 1,579
    15. Andrew Hamilton, “Population Age Structure and Fertility [16],” July 2, 2102: 1,549
    16. Jef Costello, “Breaking Bad: A Celebration [17],” April 3, 2012: 1,422
    17. Guillaume Faye, “Guillaume Faye on Nietzsche [18],” July 5, 2012: 1,341
    18. Andy Nowicki, “Sympathy for the Joker [19],” July 24, 2012: 1,331
    19. James J. O’Meara, “The Ponderous Weight of the Dark Knight [20],” July 28, 2012: 1,251
    20. Jack Donovan, “Zompocalypse Now: America’s Training-Wheel Tribalism [21],” July 11, 2012: 1,240

    Our perennial favorites, Daniel Michaels on Stalin’s plan to conquer Europe, Irmin Vinson on Hitler, and Gregory Hood on Scarface, were in our top 10 yet again.

    Dominique Venner, Guillaume Faye, Alexander Dugin, Andy Nowicki, and Bruce Longfellow made their first appearances in the top 20.

    Three pieces by European New Right luminaries made our top 20: Alexander Dugin, Dominique Venner, and Guillaume Faye

    Greg Johnson and Andrew Hamilton both had three top 20 pieces. Gregory Hood had two.

    Eight of our top 20 articles are about movies and television and related popular culture phenomena: Gregory Hood on Scarface and The Dark Knight Rises, Jef Costello on Breaking Bad, Trevor Lynch on Christopher Nolan’s first two Batman movies, Andrew Hamilton on Kevin Sorbo, James O’Meara on the Batman movies, Andy Nowicki on the Aurora, Colorado massacre at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, and Jack Donovan on zombiemania. Four of these pieces are related to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, thus capitalizing on the massive publicity surrounding one of the most anticipated and watched movies in history.

    As I never tire of pointing out: Hollywood and the television industry are the primary media of anti-white propaganda, racially conscious analyses of movies and TV are highly effective at drawing traffic and combating enemy propaganda. (See Trevor Lynch, “Why I Write [22].”)

    4. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
    3. Germany
    4. Canada
    5. Sweden
    6. Australia
    7. The Netherlands
    8. France
    9. Portugal
    10. China
    11. Finland
    12. Japan
    13. Poland
    14. Brazil
    15. Norway
    16. Russian Federation
    17. India
    18. Mexico
    19. Spain
    20. Ireland

    5. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

    1. London
    2. New York City
    3. San Francisco
    4. Melbourne
    5. Sydney
    6. Stockholm
    7. Chicago
    8. Houston
    9. Toronto
    10. Seattle
    11. Lisbon
    12. Los Angeles
    13. Washington, D.C.
    14. Mexico City
    15. Dallas
    16. Helsinki
    17. Dublin
    18. Berlin
    19. Atlanta
    20. Vancouver, B.C.

    Nine of our top 20 cities are in the United States. Four are on the West Coast of North America: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C. Two are in Canada: Toronto and Vancouver. Two are in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. Eight of them are national capitals: London, Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Mexico City, Washington, D.C., Dublin, and Helsinki.

    6. Upcoming Book Projects

    These are the titles that are at one stage or another in the editorial process. Beyond the first three titles, these are in only the roughest chronological order.

    13. Kerry Bolton, Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, ed. Greg Johnson (August)
    14. James J. O’Meara, The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Literature, Politics, and Popular Culture (August)
    15. Juleigh Howard-Hobson, “I do not belong to the Baader-Meinhof group” and Other Poems
    16. Trevor Lynch, Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
    17. Savitri Devi, The Lightning and the Sun
    18. William Joyce, Twilight Over England, with an Introduction by Greg Johnson
    19. Francis Parker Yockey, The World in Flames and Other Essays, ed. Kerry Bolton
    20. Saint-Loup, Hitler or Judah? A Second Nuremberg Tribunal
    21. Derek Hawthorne, Above the Clouds: Arnold Fanck, Leni Riefenstahl, and the Metaphysics of Sex (on the German mountain films)
    22. Collin Cleary, L’appel aux dieux (French translation of Summoning the Gods)

    Counter-Currents has now taken over the Savitri Devi Archive’s Centennial Edition of Savitri Devi’s Works. The next volumes will be new editions of And Time Rolls On and The Lightning and the Sun. Other longer term projects include Anthony M. Ludovici’s Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, Julius Evola’s East and West: Essays in Comparative Philosophy, a new edition of Brooks Adams’ The Law of Civilization and Decay with an Introduction by Greg Johnson, and a collection of Alain de Benoist’s essays on Ernst Jünger.

    7. Our Summer Fundraiser

    On June 11, our second anniversary, Counter-Currents launched a new fundraising campaign. Our aim is to raise $25,000. For the latest update, click here [23]. If you have not yet contributed, now is a good time. Please visit our donation page here [24].

    * * *

    Once again, I want to thank our writers, donors, and proofreaders; our webmaster/Managing Editor; and above all, you, dear reader, for making Counter-Currents possible.

    Greg Johnson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Phil & Will:Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day,Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    manhunter-1986

    [1]5,774 words

    Part 2 of 2 (Part 1 here [2])

    Manhunter [3] (1986); 119 minutes. Director: Michael Mann; Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Michael Mann (screenplay); Stars: William Peterson, Kim Greist, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Dennis Farina, Tom Noonan, Chris Elliot

    Groundhog Day [4] (1993); 101 minutes. Director: Harold Ramis; Writers: Danny Rubin (screenplay), Harold Ramis (screenplay); Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky 

    We’ve been using a variation on what Baron Evola called The Traditional Method, in which various historical traditions, each more or less incomplete, are held up against each other to provide a mutual critique of each one’s imperfections, and suggest the presence of the higher truth each imperfectly embodies.[1]

    Point of Terror, despite its somewhat endearing sleaziness, critiques Groundhog Day’s premise, and suggests the more Traditional notion that one’s character is a given, perhaps selected pre-natally but subject to very little variation in life, no matter how many repetitions one is given; in fact, the more likely result of endlessly repeating one’s life would be a kind of living Hell rather than resolution, reform, and living happily ever after.[2]

    Or perhaps, madness. The film Manhunter suggests that an unlikable jerk-ass in Phil’s situation is far more likely to develop into a serial killer than a saint, secular or otherwise.

    Constant Readers will not be surprised when I disclose that I am a Big Fan [5] of Manhunter, Michael Mann’s post-Miami Vice pastel-and-neon take on Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon.[3] Yes, we have here another Neglected White Masterpiece; perhaps one may suggest, neglected precisely because it’s a White Masterpiece? Despite all the “controversy” over the casting, the photography, and the music, if you listen closely, you can tell it’s hated because it’s so White.

    It is indeed a very White film, meaning that, like America of old, it is an unself-consciously, taken for granted White world. Will Graham, the retired FBI profiler (or “manhunter” as the tabloids dub him) is called back — having retired after first entering the mind of, and then being gutted with a linoleum knife by Hannibal Lecktor –to find the killer of two large, well-off White families in the New South (Birmingham and Atlanta, no less). His task is to save the next family — as so often in fiction, the psycho has provided a handy timetable for the authorities.[4]

    Graham’s mission is to save White families; he’s well-suited for the role, since he has one of his own — his very ’80s rail-thin and frizzy-haired wife (Kim Greist) and his very blond son.

    Jack Crawford: Oh, for Christ’s sake, it’s a foregone conclusion! It’s 11:30 P.M., the full moon is happening tonight. Give it up. Forget this month. It’s too damn late.

    Will Graham: I gave it up! Till you showed up with pictures of two dead families, knowing God damn well that I’d imagine families three, four, five and six. Right?

    Jack Crawford: You’re fucking right I did! And I’d do it again!

    Will Graham: Great! But don’t talk to me about late, pal! I’ll tell you when it’s too fucking late! Until then, we go as late as I wanna take it!

    It’s such a White film that even the bad guys are White: Hannibal Lecktor and Francis Dollarhyde.[5] Lecktor, whom Brian Cox plays very differently than Anthony Hopkins did, still seems to be vaguely British, and obviously likes to read; two very suspicious traits.[6]

    Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: But you haven’t threatened to take away my books yet!

    Dollarhyde’s Otherness is more intriguing. Played by Tom Noonan, he’s very White, nearly an albino, identified by a blond hair on his note to Lecktor and as a Caucasian on van permit at work. Yet his more striking characteristics seem to suggest a Negro villain. When we first meet him, he jumps up and towers over a White female co-worker; his absurd height, chrome dome, gangly limbs and powerful build suggest an NBA thug.[7] His obsession with sight, his outsized vampire dentures, and his disfigured lip all suggest stereotypical Negro features that set them apart from Whites — eyes, teeth, lips. Even the blind Reba knows there’s something different about him, and when she tries to compliment him on it, she sounds like Joe Biden complimenting Barack Obama:

    Reba: You know, you speak very well, although you avoid fricatives and sibilants.[8]

    Of course, another stereotype would require a serial killer to be White anyway (all those African massacres don’t count, I suppose) but Dollarhyde’s preferred method is nothing other than the White suburbanite’s great fear: home invasion.

    But then, it’s all the same in the dark:

    Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.

    It’s always great to find a film that, even in the ’80s, takes place in an implicit Whitopia. Things will be perfect again as soon as that pesky Tooth Fairy is taken out. As far as I can tell, there are only two Negro characters. One, who appears so briefly that I only noticed him on my most recent re-viewing, is a jogger that is mistaken for Dollarhyde when he runs into the trap Graham set for the Tooth Fairy.

    The Runner: [to the cops] What you movin’ in slow motion for, man? I’m being mugged.

    It’s played as comic relief; today, he’d be screaming “racial profiling” (Graham is a profiler, after all, but serial killers are White, so that’s OK) and the whole film would be about his struggle for justice.

    The other is some kind of police officer near the end, essentially a servant, whose job is just to relay information to the White Men in the plane overhead; significantly, neither he nor any other cop plays a role in capturing Dollarhyde, only Graham himself.[9]

    Anyway, I’m suggesting that our two bad guys, Lecktor and Dollarhyde, are examples of what Phil would likely become if someone like him were to find themselves in an endless loop.

    According to TV Tropes,

    No Endor Holocaust [6]: The movie glosses over two things. . . . 2: Given the suggested timespan there must have been days when he did incredibly cruel things to relieve his frustration, but those days aren’t shown. . . .   Ramis and his co-writer Danny Rubin have said they deliberately avoided one of the logical extremes that Phil could have done: create despair and kill people with no consequence. They decided to avoid the sadistic possibilities of the time loop. Presumably, the fact that even at his worst Phil has enough of a moral compass to avoid murder and overt sadism is one of the things that helps him on the road to redemption.

    If it sounds strange to think of Phil as Lecktor, that’s like because you’re thinking of Hopkins’ Count Dracula. As someone once said online, Cox’s Lecktor is the sort of ordinary guy who might sit down next to you on the bus, or the DMV, and engage you in a casual conversation that suddenly finds you in his basement, hogtied.

    [7]Cox’s most Murray-moment comes at the end of the scene where he makes a late night call to convince a temp to give him Graham’s home address — today’s hackers would call this “social engineering.” The look on his face, literally tongue in cheek, as he chews the gum whose foil wrapper enabled him to re-direct the call supposedly to his attorney, is pure Bill Murray, and miles away from Hopkins feasting on rare lamb chops.

    [8]And I’m glad to see that image has been chosen for the recent “Brian Cox-fest.”

    Both Phil and Lecktor are smug jackasses, who seem to have some kind of unearned omniscience. Lecktor, like Sherlock Holmes — or Dr. House — is supposedly so damn intelligent they can “deduce” just what you’re thinking or about to do. Although Phil was already a condescending jerk, we know that his thousands of repetitions of the same day have given him omniscience the easy — or perhaps the hard — way. In fact, if Groundhog Day had been filmed as originally planned, Phil would have appeared at first without back-story, leaving us to wonder how he was able to know everything that was going to happen.

    It’s Lecktor who will, unwillingly, provide Will — get it? — with the essential clue he’ll need to find  Dollarhyde. Will, as a profiler, is able to enter the mind of the likes of Lecktor or Dollarhyde, making him another Double of both. As such, we can see him as a Good Phil, while Lektor wants him to become a Bad Phil like Dollarhyde. To do so, he gives him the same counsel about the exchangeability of character we’ve already emphasized — as usual in movies, it’s the psychopaths who speak for Tradition:

    Will Graham: I’m sick of you, Lecktor. If you’ve got something to say, say it!

    Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: l want to help you, Will. You’d be more comfortable if you relaxed with yourself! We don’t invent our natures, they’re issued to us with our lungs and pancreas and everything else. Why fight it?

    Will Graham: Fight what?

    Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: Did you really feel depressed after you shot Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbes to death? I think you probably did. But it wasn’t the act that got to you. Didn’t you feel so bad, because killing him felt so good? And why shouldn’t it feel good? It must feel good to God. He does it all the time. God’s terrific! He dropped a church roof on 34 of his worshippers in Texas last Wednesday night, just as they were groveling through a hymn to his majesty. Don’t you think that felt good?

    Will Graham: Why does it feel good, Dr. Lecktor?

    Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: It feels good because God has power. If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is. God’s a champ. He always stays ahead. He got 140 Filipinos in one plane crash last year. Remember that earthquake in Italy last spring?

    Groundhog Day presents us with Good Phil, who after some initial shenanigans gets with the program as outlined by Rita (as we noted in Part One, the Sanskrit notion of rule or order) and worked to become a better person. Being a comedy, the screenwriters know they can only go so far; Phil can attempt to harm himself, but not others.

    Tasked with producing a “thriller,” Harris and Mann have a freer hand, and we can see the whole dialectic played out. Lektor is a Satanic figure who tempts Will into accepting his murderous impulses (which enable him to “profile” actual serial killers) and become as God is; Dollarhyde has already accepted this Faustian bargain.[10]

    Lecktor’s coded message, “inherit my mantle and surpass my achievements” is directed at Will as much as Dollarhyde. But Lecktor is a false Guru, who would trap Graham in the endless repetition of Samsara; the climax shows us Graham somehow summoning up the Will to resist, disrupting rather than joining the Tooth Fairy’s fantasy world.[11]

    Will Graham: I’m sick of you crazy sons of bitches, Lecktor

    While Phil/Murray looks even less like Dollarhyde than Lecktor, we’ll see that he has even more in common. Graham has previously imagined his way into Dollarhyde’s mind and intuited the reason for his crimes —

    Will Graham: You . . . rearrange the dead families into an audience. You think what you do makes you into something different. You’re becoming . . . What is it you’re becoming? The answer is in the way you use the mirrors. What do the mirrors make you dream?

    The parallel with TV weatherman Phil, whose automatic, couldn’t care less greeting is “Thanks for watching” should be clear.

    Graham is then able to “put it together” (using a clue his “sick of you” outburst goaded Lecktor into giving him):

    Will Graham: He dreams about being wanted and desired. So he changes people into beings who want and desire him.

    Jack Crawford: Changes?

    Will Graham: It’s a word. Killing and arranging the people to imitate it. And Lecktor told me something: “If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is.” You put it together, you get: If our boy imitates being wanted and desired enough times, he believes he will become one who is wanted and desired and accepted. It’ll all come true.

    I think this is clearly what Bad Phil would be doing, especially after a couple hundred or so repetitions; not change himself, but change other people. And if that seems too dark, remember, no one “really” dies, since the day repeats; Phil can’t even kill himself.

    Phil: I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.

    Rita: Oh, really?

    Phil: . . . and every morning I wake up without a scratch on me, not a dent in the fender . . . I am an immortal.

    Indeed, Phil has become as God is.

    But finally, how does he select his victims?

    Will Graham: Jack, all the women have a bloom on them. He didn’t win them in a lottery — he picked these women! There’s selection and design in his choices.

    As Graham obsessively replays the tapes made of families’ home movies[12] he suddenly intuits that the killer has already done the same thing:

    Will Graham: But he doesn’t take anything. He needs souvenirs from the houses, so he can relive the event. So he can see himself accepted over and over and over again.

    Crawford: Maybe he records it somehow. VTR’s, Polaroids, stills, what? — How do I know?

    Graham: And you know you need a bolt-cutter and every other Goddamn thing. Because everything with you is seeing, isn’t it? Your primary sensory intake that makes your dream live is seeing. Reflections. Mirrors. Images. . . . You’ve seen these films! Haven’t you, my man?

    Both families’ films were developed at the same lab, leading the FBI to  Dollarhyde.[13]

    In effect, Phil is in the same situation. Just as the repetitions allow him to develop Lecktor’s level of omniscience, so they serve the same function as Dollarhyde’s viewing the films and planning his invasions. The parallel, as Holmes would say, is exact.[14]

    The Phil/Rita and Dollarhyde/Reba doppling is most apparent in two scenes, or rather, two particular shots.

    [9]In Manhunter, Dollarhyde, who works in a photo processing plant and has just killed two entire families so as to get them to look at him, meets Reba, a blind woman who, unrepulsed by his unseen harelip, not only finds him “a sweet, thoughtful man” but initiates a night of lovemaking. In the morning, we have a shot from the ceiling, showing the two in bed, Reba asleep. As the camera glides lower, Dollarhyde places her hand over his mouth (hiding the harelip) and, in a remarkable bit of acting by Tom Noonan, we seem to see his entire face collapse into a kind of corpse or skull, as the realization sinks in that he has found redemption, but it is too late, his stupid “posing the victims” idea has doomed him already.[15]

    Will Graham: This started from an abused kid, a battered infant . . . My heart bleeds for him, as a child. . . . At the same time, as an adult, he’s irredeemable. He butchers whole families to pursue trivial fantasies. As an adult, someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks.

    There’s a remarkably similar shot in Groundhog Day, looking down on Phil as he wakes up yet again on February 2nd, and apparently hit’s the rock bottom of his despair.

    [10]

    But Phil, as we know, hasn’t murdered anyone, and Rita is still available. Phil breaks the cycle by changing himself — he stops obsessing with being seen (“Thanks for watching!”) and instead listens to Rita.[16] In the end, the Dollaryhyde/Reba shot is repeated, but as a happy ending.

    [11]Will, like Good Phil, resists Lecktor’s fatalism and chooses — wills — to save the families, not kill them — or at least not let them be killed.[17] He makes that decision in a very blunt way, at the very climax of the film, when, having reached Dollarhyde’s house, he sees him about to kill Reba. Here’s Mann’s original script [12]:

    GRAHAM (whispers in radio) It’s happening again, Jack . . .

    CUT TO:

    INT. DOLLARHYDE’S KITCHEN – DOLLARHYDE + REBA – NIGHT

    On the right we see Dollarhyde’s right arm with the aluminum shafts . . . Beyond them, THROUGH THE WINDOW we see Graham has stepped out from the tree line. He stands on the grass. He looks helpless. His gun hangs idly at his side.

    CLOSE: GRAHAM

    It’s his worst nightmare. About what he’s seeing:

    GRAHAM(low) … stop it.

    INT. DOLLARHME’S KITCHEN – DOLLARHYDE + BEYOND HIM 007 THE WINDOW: GRAHAM

    We and Graham see Dollarhyde’s arm arc back for an uppercutting thrust into Reba. Dollarhyde’s left hand clutching her dress, raises her two feet up the wall. And now Graham starts running forward. And his face is distorted and he’s shouting:

    GRAHAM (roars) STOP IT!!!

    Dollarhyde turns to the window in time to see:

    128.

    WINDOW + GRAHAM

    — his arms across his face and his body angled sideways

    — CRASHES through the glass.

    We see Graham with his arms hanging, helpless, in the open countryside, watching it “happen again” through the window of a rather Modernist house. Somehow, he musters the will to shout “Stop it,” run forward, and then crash through the window that separates him from Dollarhyde and Reba.

    At this point, I have to stop and go back to what I mentioned in a note earlier about the “controversy” over the music in the film. As Constant Readers will intuit, I just love the music, which is implicitly White, and those who profess to hate it are, to the extent that they have real opinions and are not just mouthing received wisdom, objectively anti-White.

    Anyway, a few minutes ago in the film, as Dollarhyde begins to stalk the blind Reba in his house, the music changed abruptly; like Mia in Pulp Fiction, Dollarhyde has punched a button on his ultra-modern sound system and cued up a golden oldie: Iron Butterfly’s “In-na-gadda-da-Vida.” Even most critics of the soundtrack will admit that choreographing the final showdown to that song is a crowning moment of awesome.

    Now, several subtle things are going on here. Up till now, the music has been “diagetic” as the professors say; it relates not to the world on screen but to the character’s inner worlds, and suggests to the viewers the feelings they themselves should have.[18] (In the same way, the much maligned “unnatural” Miami Vice palette throughout gives subtle cues to the viewer.[19]). And being White people of the ’80s, that music is White ’80s music.

    Blue good, Green bad

    [13]Thus, the music is telling us that we are not just in Dollarhyde’s house, which exists in our world, but in his head, as it were. Just as Dollarhyde is a creature of the past, what “They” have made of him, constantly reliving the past, so his mental space is revealed to us by the way he, like some demonic Boomer, is still listening to the music of the past.[20]

    Jack Crawford: You feel sorry for him.

    Will Graham: This started from an abused kid, a battered infant . . . My heart bleeds for him, as a child. Someone took a kid and manufactured a monster. At the same time, as an adult, he’s irredeemable. He butchers whole families to pursue trivial fantasies. As an adult, someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks. Does that sound like a contradiction to you, Jack? Does this kind of thinking make you uncomfortable?

    Of course, the music is shortened a bit, but more than that, it’s been extensively “remixed” as the kids say. Even at full length, it makes no sense in narrative time — Graham couldn’t possibly have flown from Atlanta to St. Louis, and driven out to Dollarhyde’s house, within one LP side, unless Dollarhyde had it on a loop, and just chased Reba around for the sadistic fun of it.

    [14]In addition to the time-distortions in the music, Mann filmed the climax with several cameras running at various speeds, “giving the final scene . . . an “off tempo,” “staccato” feel.”[21] Not only are Dollarhyde’s motions choreographed to the music,[22] but the herky-jerky motions, particularly at his death scene, suggest exactly the totally-determined, puppet on a string.

    The roles are reversed; now it is Dollarhyde whose weapon hangs from his limp arm.[23]

    Just as post-Traditional Western music has depended almost entirely on the simple use of modulation to build tension and then release it with the return to the home key, so George A. Martin (not, presumably, the Beatle’s producer) created a version of the Iron Butterfly jam which “build[s] tension towards the long-delayed return of the tonic bass riff, the exact moment when Graham literally bursts through the glass wall . . . into the red dragon’s metadiegetic realm.”[24]

    Graham, in other words, is outside Dollarhyde’s world of repetition; he can crash through the glass wall, like the Gnostic’s Alien God, and stop it. Dollarhyde, however, has become hopelessly entrapped in it; even Reba can‘t help.

    Presumably, Graham’s agonizing glimpses into Lecktor’s mind, coupled with Lecktor’s knife attack, has acted as a kind of initiation, which, as in the Traditional doctrine, is the only real way to “change” oneself — precisely by transcending this world and obtaining a new character, a new will — a new Will, a New Man.[25]

    Manhunter uses a somewhat clunky metaphor for Will’s supervening instinct to protect rather than destroy — before leaving his family, he builds a wire enclosure to protect newborn turtles; when he re-unites with them, he checks on the turtles, finds them doing fine, and mutters “most of them made it.” When Thomas Harris came to write the sequel, of course, he seems to have decided that lambs would make for a more snuggly symbol. But Groundhog Day finds a more amusing way to subvert the image. Phil seems to conflate the eponymous groundhog with both the Tooth Fairy and the cycle of repetition he, and Phil, are trapped in, and as he becomes “better” he tries to save the town — and himself — from the demonic groundhog:

    Phil: This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. (raising his voice) What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. (turns to the crowd) You’re hypocrites, all of you!

    A few cycles later, using Will’s exact words . . .

    Phil: Once again the eyes of the nation have turned here to this . . . (silly voice) tiny village in Western Pennsylvania, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah . . . (serious) There is no way . . . that this winter . . . is ever going to end, as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don’t see any other way out. He’s gotta be stopped. (beat) And I have to stop him.

    Will kills Dollarhyde to stop him, and save the families/turtles/lambs; Phil tries to kill the symbolic animal itself to end the cycle.

    Lecktor has been thwarted, his gospel of defeatism defeated[26] by a man of True Will, like the Green Lantern.[27] Or has he? The Gods of Repetition have a little surprise for us at the very end of Groundhog Day. TV’s Phil would be nothing without his . . . cameraman.

    People just don’t understand what is involved in this. This is an art form. You know, I think most people just think that I hold the camera and point it at stuff. There is a lot more to it than just that. Would you be at all interested in seeing the inside of the van?

    [15]He seems familiar. Where have we heard that unctuous tone?

    Lecktor: Would you like to leave me your home phone number?

    Wait a second — that’s Chris Elliot. Say, wasn’t he in . . . Manhunter?

    There’s no real reason for me to be in that movie other than the fact that it was, like, the height of my appearances on Letterman. . . . I was cast through a casting agent who’d seen some article on me, and had told Michael Mann, “Oh yeah, it would be cool to have him in this movie,” I guess. So I knew right from the start, “Oh, I really shouldn’t be in this.” In Manhunter, I was supposed to be an FBI forensic investigator. And I don’t know, I was 23 or 24 at the time, with a giant beard and long, stringy blonde hair—I just didn’t look the part.

    I remember when the movie premièred, I appear in the scene where everybody’s putting together the final information that leads to this killer, and the camera panned the table and cut to me, and there was this big blast of laughter from the audience that broke the whole tension of that scene. I can only imagine that Michael Mann was not happy about that.[28]

    Forensic investigator, giant beard, long stringy blonde hair, camera man, van. . . . Perhaps he was the one who wrote the FBI’s phony personal ad from Lecktor to the Tooth Fairy:

    Inherit my mantle and surpass my achievements.

    Notes

    1. See Mysteries of the Grail, pp. 9-10.

    2. See our “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1,” here [2].

    3. Hollywood legend has it that producer Dino De Laurentis demanded the name change since he was superstitious about ‘dragons’ after the failure of Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon. The failure of the latter was due less to its title than to the critical backlash against Cimino for his studio-killing mega-bomb Heaven’s Gate [16], as well as the race-realism of the movie itself, which was of course denounced as “Asian stereotyping.” Heaven’s Gate, on the other hand, is an absurd Leftist fantasy of noble Slavic immigrants to Wyoming (?) being mass-murdered by evil cattle barons (White, ’natch) that bears no resemble to any part of Earth’s known history; see Steve Sailer’s discussion here [17].

    4. Thus, an instance of the trope known as You Have 48 Hours [18]: “Since the Tooth Fairy “operates on a lunar cycle,” the FBI has until the next full moon to catch him before he kills again. They start out with two weeks, but end up taking it right down to the last minute before the killer claims another victim.” Of course, this parallels Phil’s repetition day.

    5. Ironically, Mann himself seems to be of Judaic extraction, with a pronounced negrophilic streak, leading him to produce vehicles for the likes of Jamie Foxx and Will Smith, including a Muhammad Ali bio-pic, the cockroach-superhero and miscegenation epic Hancock, NFL-worshiping Nike commercials, and even an ethnic-OK update of his own Miami Vice. It is speculated online that loyal tribesman Mann changed the spelling of “Lechter” and “Dolarhyde” because they were “too Jewish”; if so, that would make the Red Dragon re-make, by restoring both, more “ethnically insensitive.”

    6. The online controversy over Manhunter vs. Silence of the Lambs, or more recently the Red Dragon re-make, has two particularly stupid aspects. First, Cox vs. Hopkins. I’ll discuss Cox in a bit, but comparing the two is pointless because each takes place in very different films, and are played accordingly; you couldn’t switch them out without producing a jarring discontinuity. Manhunter is essentially a police procedural, a film noir version of Miami Vice. (In the same year, Mann, who was still executive producer of MV, produced an episode, “Shadow in the Dark [19],” that actually seems like a dry run for the film, with Don Johnson replacing William Peterson as Will Graham and Edward James Olmos replacing Dennis Farina as Crawford. So if Manhunter is Silence as a Miami Vice episode, “Shadow” is that Miami Vice episode squared; I haven’t tried a detailed comparison for fear of falling into a black hole.) The Hopkins films are grand opera or grand guignol, harkening back to Phantom of the Opera or Dracula. Thus, in reference to our discussion just now, Cox is in white prison uniform, in a white cell in a white prison/hospital (presumably Baltimore, but, in keeping with the New South theme actually filmed in some soulless postmodern art museum in Atlanta); Hopkins, by contrast, sits in a dank, subterranean cell, wearing grey against a palette of black and blood red.

    The second stupid controversy is the music; “It’s so outdated; it’s so ’80s!” Even Brian Cox can’t resist putting the boot in [20]: “The only thing I’m not mad about, when I look at it — though I saw it recently and I was a little bit more forgiving — but I was never a fan of ’80s music. So that always dates the film, for me, the score. Visually, I think the film’s a hundred per cent. Musically I think it’s 50 per cent.” We’ll look at the music in a bit, but really, since the film takes place in the ’80s, what music should it have — Grunge? Electo-pop? Tin Pan Alley? By contrast, Scarface’s disco soundtrack is arguably anachronistic, and the idea of replacing it with the kind of rap inspired by the film itself would be clever, if the actual “music” wasn’t so vile.

    7. According to the book, he would also have an NBA-worthy full body tattoo, the eponymous Red Dragon, but Mann wisely decided it “cheapened” his menacing look; the remake brings it back, with comical effect on the scrawny Brit Ralph Fiennes.

    8. A great example of Hollywood screenwriter bullshit: fricatives are sibilants, and Dollarhyde just delivered a line full of them.

    9. On the other hand, the actor will reappear as “Willie the Orderly” in the next three films, thus becoming the only actor to appear in all four Lecktor/Lechter films, although in two different roles.

    10. As with the music, we’ll see that Mann’s much abused “Miami Vice” color scheme is rigidly appropriate, with splashes of acid green in Lektor’s cell and Dollarhyde’s home to connect them with Lucifer’s emerald; see Evola, op. cit.

    11. Thus Lecktor resembles such false Männerbünde leaders as Melville’s Gnostic Ahab, as well as De Palma’s Al Capone, as we’ve seen in my review of The Untouchables (here [21] and in The Homo and the Negro). Capone, played there by Robert De Niro, was known as “Scarface” which links him to Dolarhyde; Scarface was in turn another gangster film directed by De Palma, starring Al Pacino, who would later make Mann’s Heat with De Niro.

    12. The pride with which the cop offers to transfer the home movies to “three quarter inch video tape” is almost as charmingly nostalgic as Graham’s gigantic “mobile phone.”

    13. If it’s still hard to see “funny” Murray as Dollarhyde, consider “funny” Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, where he is a lonely photo shop technician (again, technological nostalgia!) who develops (!) an unhealthy and ultimately violent obsession with a suburban family.

    14. “The Empty Room”

    15. As Gob and others would say on Arrested Development [22], “I’ve made a huge mistake.” Noonan’s performance seems as if it were a homage to the sometimes suppressed final shot of Psycho, where a skull seems to be superimposed on Anthony Perkins’ face; Norman of course has his own problems with spying on people and making things — birds, mothers — say put..

    16. One odd bit that the existence of Serial Killer Phil would explain is Phil winning an ice sculpture contest by executing a bust of Rita — with a chainsaw. “I know your face so well, I could have done it with my eyes closed.”

    17. Those who have felt that this, or my previous, film work have been a tad too obsessive are welcome to go to the “Can Analyze” blog and feast on his 99-part analysis [23] of the “hidden plot” of Manhunter. Hint: Lechtor is Hermes Trismegistus, and he is ultimately trying to get Will to murder his own family! Actually, it is rather odd that Will falls asleep on the plane while looking at photos of the slaughtered families — and dreams of his own.

    18. Wikipedia: “Manhunter‘s soundtrack ‘dominates the film,’ with music that is ‘explicitly diegetic the entire way.’ Steve Rybin has commented that the music is not intended to correlate with the intensity of the action portrayed alongside it, but rather to signify when the viewer should react with a ‘degree of aesthetic distance’ from the film, or be ‘suture[d] into the diegetic world’ more closely.” John Muir (!) suggests that this helps identify the character of Graham with the ‘goodness’ of the natural world, and Dollarhyde with the city, ‘where sickness thrives.’ This strongly stylized approach drew criticism from reviewers at first, but has since been seen as a hallmark of the film and viewed more positively.”

    19. Wikipedia: “Cinematographer Dante Spinotti [24] made strong use of colour tints in the film, using a cool ‘romantic blue’ tone to denote the scenes featuring Will Graham and his wife, and a more subversive green hue, with elements of purple or magenta, as a cue for the unsettling scenes in the film, mostly involving Dollarhyde. Petersen has stated that Mann wanted to create a visual aura to bring the audience into the film, so that the story would work on an interior and emotional level… ‘There is nothing in Manhunter … which is just a nice shot,’ says Spinotti. ‘[It] is all focused into conveying that particular atmosphere; whether it’s happiness, or delusion, or disillusion.’ This ‘manipulation of focus and editing’ has become a visual hallmark of the film.

    20. We saw this with the Boomers of The Big Chill: “Don’t you have any music from this century?” “There is no other music, not in this house.”

    21. Wikipeida, “Manhunter,” quoting cinematographer Dante Spinotti.

    22. “The music belongs only to the killer’s space, and its representation of his subjectivity is increased by the gradually ever more dance like quality of his actions, responding to the rhythm and line of the music.” http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Soundtrack-Representing-Music-Cinema/dp/0520250702/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382536085&sr=8-1&keywords=Beyond+the+Soundtrack%3A+Representing+Music+in+Cinema.#reader_0520250702 [25]

    23. “Can Analyze” seems to have been reading my previous discussion of the puppet meme:

    [UPDATE 4/21/13: Since the time of the last update to this post, various discoveries have been made while analyzing some of the other Lecter movies, as well as while analyzing A Space Odyssey, which suggest an alternate interpretation of Dollarhyde’s jerking motions to that given above [i.e., magic]: Dollarhyde’s motions are like those of a marionette, i.e., of a puppet operated from above by strings.

    24. Loc. cit.

    25. This ties in with Graham’s flight from Atlanta, which much have been a shamanic act, explaining the collapse of time that allows him to reach St. Louis within the time of an LP side; he arrives a Superior Man, able to shift time and crash through the glass wall — an inverted “glass ceiling” actually between the Upper and Lower Realms?

    26. Unfortunately, in true Hollywood style, he’ll be back, three more times, each one less necessary than the previous, even remaking this very film. Repetition seems to be the very essence of the Lecter saga.

    27. See my “Green Nazis in Space!” here [26]. In this film, however, green is associated with Dollarhyde’s scenes.

    28. “Random Roles” by Tasha Robinson [27] in The Onion AV Club, December 5, 2007, here [28].

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: January 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    George Cochran Lambdin, 1830–1896, "Girl Reading"

    730 words

    Editor’s Note:

    As with our December newsletter, I have been unable to distribute our January newsletter to our mailing list due to computer problems. Rather than delay it any longer, I have decided simply to publish it on our front page.

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    January was another month of record-breaking traffic at Counter-Currents/North American New Right.

    If you visited our website in January, you were one of 56,633 unique visitors (up from 49,845 in December). These visitors paid us 107,644 visits in January (up from 97,223 visits in December). The pages you viewed were among the 408,373 pages viewed in January (up from 337,881 in December).

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB

     

    2. Our Blog

    In January, we added 75 posts to the website, for a total of 1,465 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added over 500 new comments.

    3. January’s Top Twenty Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    • Trevor Lynch, review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, February 10, 2011: 6,108
    • Gregory Hood, review of Scarface, February 27, 2011: 4,359
    • Irmin Vinson, “Some Thoughts on Hitler,” April 20, 2011: 3,335
    • Jef Costello, “Fight Club as Holy Writ,” January 9, 2012: 3,151
    • Daniel W. Michaels, “Exposing Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe,” April 21, 2011, 2,673
    • Andrew Hamilton, “Porn and Race,” January 20, 2012: 2,640
    • Kevin MacDonald, Foreword to Irmin Vinson’s Some Thoughts on Hitler, January 19, 2012: 2,494
    • Counter-Currents Radio, Interview with Kevin MacDonald, January 24, 2012: 2,310
    • Announcement of Irmin Vinson’s Some Thoughts on Hitler & Other Essays, January 19, 2012: 2,232
    • Andrew Hamilton, “Whiteness, Blurring,” January, 13, 2012: 2,073
    • Jef Costello, “Dystopia is Now,” January 4, 2012: 2,025
    • Trevor Lynch, review of Pulp Fiction, June 29 and July 6, 2011: 1,914
    • Greg Johnson, Interview with James J. O’Meara, January 5, 2012: 1,884
    • Matt Parrott, “Piss on Them,” January 13, 2012: 1,801
    • William Pierce, “Destroying the Past,” February 3, 2011: 1,729
    • Greg Johnson, “The Scouring of the Shire,” January 3, 2012: 1,679
    • Andrew Hamilton, “White, White, White, . . . Nonwhite?: No Country for Old Men,” January, 6, 2012: 1,551
    • Matt Parrott, “Nothing but Newt,” January 23, 2012: 1,504
    • Greg Johnson, “Money for Nothing,” January 17, 2012: 1,402
    • Jef Costello, “Guys,” January 26, 2012: 1,356

    Trevor Lynch’s review of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remains our top article for the second consecutive month. Irmin Vinson on Hitler, Gregory Hood on Scarface, and Daniel Michaels on Stalin’s plan to conquer Europe remain some of our most popular essays. Jef Costello, Andrew Hamilton, and Greg Johnson each had 3 articles in our top 20. Matt Parrott and Trevor Lynch have two each.

    Five of our top 20 articles are about films: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Scarface, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, and No Country for Old Men. Hollywood and the television industry are the primary media of anti-white propaganda. Racially conscious analyses of movies and TV are thus highly effective at drawing traffic and combating enemy propaganda. (See Trevor Lynch, “Why I Write [2].”)

    4. Announcing Counter-Currents Radio

    On January 17, 2012, Mike Polignano and I launched Counter-Currents Radio, a weekly interview podcast. In addition to recordings of the interviews, we also make transcripts available. Our first three interviewees are Yoav Shamir, director of Defamation, Kevin MacDonald, author of The Culture of Critique, and Andy Nowicki, author of The Columbine Pilgrim and Under the Nihil. Podcasts go online every Tuesday evening. You can subscribe to them with iTunes.

    5. Where Our Readers Are: The top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
    3. Germany
    4. Canada
    5. Sweden
    6. Australia
    7. France
    8. Finland
    9. Poland
    10. Netherlands
    11. Norway
    12. Japan
    13. Russian Federation
    14. Mexico
    15. Italy
    16. Czech Republic
    17. Spain
    18. Brazil
    19. India
    20. Slovenia

    6. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

    1. New York City
    2. London
    3. San Francisco
    4. Sydney
    5. Vancouver, B.C.
    6. Stockholm
    7. Chicago
    8. Toronto
    9. Melbourne
    10. Philadelphia
    11. Washington, D.C.
    12. Atlanta
    13. Mexico City
    14. Seattle
    15. Berlin
    16. Dallas
    17. Winnipeg
    18. Edinburgh
    19. Montreal
    20. Los Angeles

    Nine of our top cities are in the United States. Four of them are in Canada. Two are in Australia. Four of our top 20 cities are on the West Coast of North America. Five of them are capital cities: Washington, D.C., London, Berlin, Stockholm, and Mexico City. Six if you count Edinburgh.

    * * *

    I want to thank our writers, donors, and proofreaders; our webmaster/Managing Editor; and above all, you, our readers for being part of a growing intellectual and spiritual community.

    Greg Johnson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: February 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    Jean-Honoré Fragonard, "Inspiration"

    1,212 words

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    If you visited our website in February, you were one of 53,345 unique visitors. These visitors paid us 99,607 visits. The pages you viewed were among the 376,288 pages viewed in February.

     

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB
    February 2012 53,345 99,607 376,288 411,915 14.43 GB

     

    In February, our traffic plateaued. Our daily averages were basically the same as January’s, but since February was two days shorter, the overall totals were slightly lower.

    2. Our Blog

    In February, we added 58 posts to the website, for a total of 1,523 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added over 500 new comments.

    3. February’s Top Twenty Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    • Trevor Lynch, review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, February 10, 2011: 4,987
    • Trevor Lynch, review of Pulp Fiction, June 29 and July 6, 2011: 4,273
    • Gregory Hood, review of Scarface, February 27, 2011: 4,082
    • Irmin Vinson, “Some Thoughts on Hitler,” April 20, 2011: 3,544
    • Black Invention Myths, “The Invention of Peanut Butter,” February 5, 2011: 3,178
    • Matt Parrott, “The Real Ron Paul Scandal,” February 7, 2012: 2,636
    • Matt Parrott, “It’s Game Over in America,” February 6, 2012: 2,561
    • Trainspotter, “The Case Against Ron Paul,” February 8, 2012: 2,026
    • William Pierce, “Destroying the Past,” February 3, 2011: 1,725
    • Greg Johnson, “Black History Month Resources,” February 1, 2012: 1,685
    • Kevin MacDonald, “Stalin’s Willing Executioners,” February 23, 2012: 1,655
    • Andrew Hamilton, “Overpopulation in Context,” February 17, 2012: 1,564
    • Greg Johnson, “Jews to Mormons: We’ll Tell You What to Think,” February 21, 2012: 1,444
    • Matt Parrott, “The Color of Capitalism,” February 13, 2012: 1,443
    • Andrew Hamilton, “Debunking another Lie: Lawrence H. Keeley’s War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage,” February 24, 2012: 1,426
    • Greg Johnson, “Rammstein’s ‘Amerika,'” February 22, 2012: 1,417
    • James J. O’Meara, “The Ugly Liberal,” February 20, 2012: 1,360
    • Counter-Currents Radio, “Mark Weber on the Jewish Question Today,” February 9, 2012: 1,354
    • William Pierce, “Lies for Profit: The Myth of Black History,” February 2, 2011: 1,275
    • Trevor Lynch, Review of Person of Interest, February 18, 2012: 1,219

    Trevor Lynch’s review of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remained our top article for the third consecutive month. Hollywood’s massive promotion of their remake has brought thousands of new readers to our site. Irmin Vinson on Hitler and Gregory Hood on Scarface remained among our most popular pieces. Four of our Black History Month pieces were in the top 20. Matt Parrott, Trevor Lynch, and Greg Johnson each had three pieces in our top 20. William Pierce and Andrew Hamilton each had two.

    Four of our top 20 articles are about films or TV shows: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, ScarfacePulp Fiction, and Person of Interest. Hollywood and the television industry are the primary media of anti-white propaganda. Racially conscious analyses of movies and TV are thus highly effective at drawing traffic and combating enemy propaganda. (See Trevor Lynch, “Why I Write [2].”)

    4. Where Our Readers Are: The top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
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    4. Sweden
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    5. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

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    4. Melbourne
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    7. Toronto
    8. Stockholm
    9. Berlin
    10. Atlanta
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    12. Vancouver, B.C.
    13. Winnipeg
    14. Dublin
    15. Philadelphia
    16. Manchester
    17. Athens
    18. Los Angeles
    19. Washington, D.C.
    20. Houston

    Nine of our top cities are in the United States. Four are on the West Coast of North America: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C.. Three are in Canada: Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Two are in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. Two are in England: London and Manchester. Six of them are national capitals: Washington, D.C., London, Berlin, Stockholm, Athens, and Dublin.

    6. Our Latest Books

    In February, we brought out two new books: Irmin Vinson’s Some Thoughts on Hitler and Other Essays [3] and Leo Yankevich’s Tikkun Olam and Other Poems [4]. In April we will bring out North American New Right, vol. 1 and Kerry Bolton’s long-awaited Artists of the Right.

    7. We Need Your Help

    Like all promoters of unpopular ideas, Counter-Currents depends upon the generosity of donors. The chart above indicates that we have made immense gains in a little more than a year and a half. We are reaching people, and we will reach more with your help. If you have been thinking about helping our efforts, please make a donation today.

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    That’s why we are so grateful to all of you who have been using Counter-Currents affiliate links to make your purchases at Amazon.com. These links are embedded in our articles, and there is a large one at the top of our right hand navigation bar.

    Each month, we receive about $200 in Amazon affiliate commissions. This is particularly impressive, given that only a small percentage of our readers are actually using these linksI would estimate fewer than 10% of the people on this newsletter list. (This is just a guess. Amazon.com protects your privacy even when you buy through an affiliate link.) If everyone reading this were to take part in this program, our support would grow considerably.

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    Greg Johnson
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    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Essential Films . . . & Others
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    Edward Hopper, New York Movie, 1939

    3,774 words

    Looking over Trevor Lynch’s list of his “Ten Favorite Films [2]” in his forthcoming collection, Son of Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies, it occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly put together such a list, even if I could decide on a criterion or two.

    I then remembered that Elmer O’Brien, S.J., in introducing his Essential Plotinus, faced a similar difficulty and suggested that there was an “essential” Plotinus as Coleridge had said there was an “essential’ poetry: “that to which with the greatest pleasure the reader returns.”[1] And I recalled that when I finally broke down and bought a DVD player, around 2005, I made a similar rule, to buy discs for movies that I was again and again stopping to watch if they showed up on my cable TV guide.

    With the thought that some Counter-Currents readers might find it somewhat diverting, I have put together a little list of such “essential” films, the ones that I constantly default to. Constant Readers will recognize a few, since they are the films whose Constant Viewing has inspired one or more essays here at Counter-Currents, which are linked below. 

    Casino [3] (Martin Scorsese) — Like Leone, Scorsese is a master of what I like to call bravura filmmaking (de Niro’s barroom entrance in Mean Streets, Ray Liotta’s Copacabana entrance, Henry Hill’s last day of freedom in Goodfellas, etc.); Welles’s movie studio as “the best train set a boy every got.” The usual bag of tricks are here: goofy but murderous gangsters, explanations of how the money is made, etc. On repeated viewings, it’s the story of Ace and Sharon Stone’s marriage. “I’ve found a new sponsor” is the epitaph for the New Liberated Woman of the ’70s. But all the critics saw was “another Goodfellas.” Even the pop music cues are here, but what’s memorable is Howard Shore’s score, channeling Samuel Barber, linking Videodrome to Lord of the Rings. You might think I’d choose Gangs of New York, but despite its merits I find I only return to the final time-lapse of downtown Manhattan, and for that I have Once Upon a Time in America.

    JFK [4] (Oliver Stone) — Love the re-creation of ’60s USA. Thematically, Stone sets out to rip the lid off the Kennedy Assassination, but was eventually sold on the least plausible theory — Jim Garrison’s Theory of Guilt by Geographical Proximity — making his film a covertly pro-Warren Commission psy-op.

    Along the way, though, Stone gives some of Hollywood’s best actors the chance to regale us with the most extreme political opinions you’ll ever hear on screen — “Lou Grant” isn’t so cuddly was he drinks to the death of “a bullshit President . . . That’s what happens when you let the niggers vote. They get together with the Jews and the Catholics . . . and elect an Irish bleeding heart . . . Here’s to the New Frontier. Camelot in smithereens.”

    I love Garrison’s idea of a covert squad of right-wing homosexual spooks running guns to Cuba and generally doing more for the cause of the Right than 50 years of “conservative” politicking, while Kevin Bacon steals the movie by channeling Francis Parker Yockey through a male hustler: “You a liberal, you don’t know shit ’cause you never been fucked in the ass. This ain’t about justice! No, this is about order! Who rules? Fascism is coming back!” As always, only the bad guys get to talk sense. I wonder if Yockey sounded like that in jail?

    Kiss Me Deadly [5] (Robert Aldrich) — An Angry Liberal attempt to rub out Mickey Spillane’s “sadistic fascist” Mike Hammer goes wildly astray and winds up being condemned by the Legion of Decency; as if American Sniper had been intended as an anti-war protest film. Blindingly over-exposed night views of ’50s Los Angeles, seemingly after a super-nova, all boiling acid and chrome. But nothing can outshine the satanic brilliance of Gaby Rogers, Husserl’s niece and Anne Frank’s playmate, as the most fatal femme fatale of all; her eyes are like jellied fire and burn through the screen long before she sets herself, and the film, ablaze with an ending (in the original or now restored version) stolen from Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster. “Kiss me, Mike. I want you to kiss me. Kiss me. The liar’s kiss that says I love you, and means something else.” Bang! (See my “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale [6],” reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others [7].)

    The Maltese Falcon [8] (John Huston) — Again, three versions, but only one worth seeing. The first is interesting as a pre-code film that ramps up the sleaziness of Sam Spade; the second tries to be a screwball comedy, starring forgotten matinee idol Warren Williams and Bette Davis, who quit the studio in disgust. Third time around, everything is perfect. Especially the finest ensemble cast ever. Mary Astor essentially plays herself, the 1940s Drew Barrymore. Bogart creates the template for modern Aryan manhood, while interacting with three modes of queer: loudmouthed but incompetent Elisha Cooke, Jr., the archetypal runt (“The cheaper the hood the gaudier the patter” sneers Spade); effeminate but surprisingly competent Peter Lorre (“I intend to search your offices.” “Go ahead, I won’t stop you.”); and Sidney Greenstreet’s wise elder (“I care for you as if you were my own son. But, well, you can always get another son, but there is only one Maltese Falcon.”) (See my “Humphrey Bogart: Man Among the Cockroaches [9],” reprinted in The Homo and the Negro [10].)

    Manhunter [11] (Michael Mann) — I like everything about this film that people don’t like. Yes, the music is “from the ’80s.” It takes place in the ’80s, what kind of music do you expect, ragtime? Not only time-appropriate, it sets up Mann’s brilliant use of the non-diagetic “In a Gadda Da Vida” to represent the Tooth Fairy’s consciousness, trapped in the endlessly repeating past. And, I happen to like ’80s music; what critics mean is “the last time white music was allowed on the radio.” (In today’s “culture,” music, like athletics, is off-limits to whites). In general, it supplies my diet of the ’80s without having to choose Scarface (for which the same idiots want a remake using rap music).

    As for Hopkins vs. Cox, the argument is moot, since they are in different film universes. Demme went for the easy Grand-Guignol approach, and so Hopkins is doing Phantom of the Opera (Boo!); Mann has chosen the actual but unreal world of Miami Vice, and so Cox is the smug, Bill Murray type guy who sits next to you on the train, strikes up a conversation about nothing, and the next thing you know you’re tied up in his basement.

    Speaking of Phantom of the Opera, Tom Doonan’s Tooth Fairy is the archetypal psycho (though ironically Lambs’  Ted Levine is one of Mann’s rep players; Demme also recasts a policeman from Manhunter as Barney the orderly, as if Hopkins needs to be surrounded by Mann’s actors).

    The shot of Doonan from above, holding Reba’s hand over his scarred mouth — where, in a remarkable bit of acting by Tom Noonan, directing by Michael Mann, cinematography by Dante (!) Spinotti (and yes, scoring by Shriekback’s The Big Hush), we seem to see his entire face collapse into a kind of corpse or skull (referencing the subliminal ending of Psycho), as the realization sinks in that he has found a fellow human, but it is too late, his stupid “killing and posing the victims to conjure up social acceptance” idea has doomed him already — is worth the whole Hopkins trilogy.

    (See my “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [12]” and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [13].”)

    North by Northwest [14] (Alfred Hitchcock) — The whole New York sequence is Mad Men [15] in real time. But overall, a time capsule of period when the rest of the country still existed; escaping a manhunt via train! (Ed Platt and that guy who spots Cary Grant at the station will later star in another train caper in Chicago film, the awful The Rebel Set). “George Caplan”’s itinerary of classy hotels: Philadelphia, “Dee-troit,” and even “Rapid City, South Dakota” (although James Mason does seem a little puzzled by it). Even the latter is home to Van Dam’s luxurious lair, a Bond villain hangout designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; Joseph Wiseman will shamelessly plagiarize Martin Landau’s ambiguously gay henchman for his own Dr. No.

    Once Upon a Time in America [16] (Sergio Leone) — Supposedly Leone was sick of Hollywood making movies about Italian gangsters, and decided to remake Godfather II from Hyman Roth’s perspective. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West suggest themselves as well, and if they were shorter I might try the same stunt as with my combo of Rope/Dial M, but I don’t really return to them for more than a few scenes in each.

    Like Ambersons, it was taken away and butchered by the studio, who re-edited it into chronological order (like Coppola’s “special edition” of the Godfather Saga), the awful result thereby proving the superiority of Leone’s Einsteinian storytelling; if you really can’t follow it, you’re too young to be going to movies by yourself.

    A meditation on the presence of the past in the present that needs no fancy “sci-fi” trappings. “All that we have left now are our memories.” We first see James Woods as a charred corpse in 1933, but his eventual reveal in the present (1966) is more heartbreaking than any Phantom of the Opera, rivalling Tom Doonan’s in Manhunter (even though we see it coming a mile away; and it’s not his fault the old-makeup is on a level with Kane’s), as is De Niro’s quiet decision to, for the first time in his life, not resort to violence, preferring to keep living with the memory of Max as a friend (“You see, I have a story too, Mr. Bailey. I had a friend once. A dear friend. I turned him in to save his life. He died. But he wanted it that way. Things went bad for my friend, and they went bad for me, too.”) rather than admit Max’s incredible betrayal (“I took away your whole life from you. I’ve been living in your place. I took everything. I took your money. I took your girl. All I left for you was years of grief over having killed me. Now, why don’t you shoot?” — seemingly referenced in Casino: “Why protect a friend who would betray you like that?”).

    Like Scarface, the intense violence earlier only serves to create the best “don’t do the crime” afterschool special ever. Again, a time when the flyover states mattered; Burt Young’s Detroit crime boss (related to “this old wreck from Detroit” in Casino?) delivers the film’s essence, right at the midpoint, when Woods and De Niro go astray: “Life is stranger than shit.” Oh, did I mention, Elizabeth McGovern and Jennifer Connelly?

    Rope [17] / Dial M for Murder [18] (Alfred Hitchcock) — a bit of a cheat, two Hitchcock movies that seem essentially the same, at least to me. Hitch claimed that during dry spells he’d buy a theatrical property just to film it, as is, all the work having been done by the playwright. Yes, I know that these are essentially filmed plays, and everything is “fake,” but these highly artificial productions have, precisely for that reason, the kind of flat, Technicolor hyper-reality that makes me think I’m actually living in the past [19].

    There was a time, some years back, when every late Saturday afternoon I’d make a pitcher of Martinis, open a pack of cigs, and drink and smoke along with the Happy Homicidal Homos of Rope, as the sun set on screen and in my apartment, which I calculated was directly across the East River from the diorama outside their penthouse.

    It’s the little things, as Vince Vega might say: notice how Ray Miland and Grace Kelly are supposed to be rich, but their apartment is almost empty, barely furnished — only a handful of the Right Things, and no electronic gadgets to clutter it up.

    In Rope, the rich WASP homo subtext (hidden crimes, tauntingly asking to be “found out,” etc.) is a blind for the real message: smarty-pants Jews (based on Leopold and Loeb) distort Aryan teacher’s version of Nietzsche. (“All fah-shist supermen were brainless fools, I’d hang any that were left . . . but you see, I’d hang them first for being stupid.”)

    Rather than “opening up” the play, Hitch uses gimmicks: one is filmed without cuts (sort of) while the other was originally released in 3D. The latter, Dial M, on repeated viewings, leads the viewer into speculating on how it could possibly be updated for a world of locked doors, electronic banking, and cellphones.

    The Fountainhead [20] (King Vidor) — 1940s black and white Hollywood studio sets are the perfect medium for Ayn Rand’s tale, which, considering her years working for the studios, perhaps provides the true origins of Objectivism. If only Rand had managed to get Clifton Webb as Ellsworth Toohey! As it is, the real star is the architecture, as is only appropriate, though my favorite design isn’t Roark’s: it’s Gayle Wynand’s office. If I built my dream house, that would be the living room.

    The Girl Hunters [21] (Mickey Spillane; yes, that Mickey Spillane) — Mickey Spillane hated the satirical approach taken in Kiss Me, Deadly, and decided to exact cinematic revenge, with the view as collateral damage. An unprecedented and unsurpassed conceit; as if Ayn Rand (a fan, I hear, of Spillane himself), unsatisfied with The Fountainhead, had put together financing for Atlas Shrugged and cast herself as John Galt; a much more interesting idea than the Atlas films that eventually emerged.

    Interiors shot in England, due to his financers being there (with a post-Carry On and pre-Bond Shirley Eaton), but the selling points are the early ’60s Manhattan shots — Mad Men in black and white.

    Spillane plays himself, straight and utterly un-ironic, and he’s actually pretty good, I think. Swanning around his favorite hangouts in a white trench coat (“. . . [imagine tailing somebody in a white trench coat. Trying to pass as a fag I guess] . . . — Naked Lunch), the compulsive taking on and off of which constitutes his stage business, it’s the ultimate Method performance.

    It’s especially amusing to see him interacting with apparently real friends, (including a long-forgotten newspaper columnist), who constantly remind him what a great guy he is, and how they hate the “commie punks” as much as they do. Mike Hammer’s climactic acts of “justice” are more literal but just as violent as the “ironic” violence of Kiss Me.

    Taxi Driver [22] (Martin Scorsese) — New York City — and thus, by implication, America — at the bottom of its trough; a modern Inferno seen through the guilty imaginations of Catholic director Scorsese and Calvinist screenwriter Paul Schrader (who’d go on to produce the heartland version, Hardcore). Only Bernard Herrmann could score the anti-North by Northwest. Featuring future alt-Right icon and Mel Gibson collaborator Jodi Foster.

    The Testament of Dr. Mabuse [23] (Fritz Lang) — Originally I thought M, but since acquiring the Criterion discs (again, two versions, German and French, to say nothing of the American dub) I spend more time here. Along with Manhunter (‘m’, manhunt, get it?) it fulfills my quota of Hannibal Lecter, since initial sequences of Mabuse, under imprisoned study but mute, are clearly the template for Silence of the Lambs; Jonathan Demme’s Grand-Guignol approach in particular is derived from prewar Euro horror. There’s even a proto-Starling among the students if you look closely (she’s the one with the monocle).

    Like Lecter, Mabuse is able to communicate with the outside world and even order up elaborate crimes, and does so by “getting into the head” of the head shrink (“You don’t want Hannibal Lecter in your head”). He does so literally in the posthumous transformation scene; where Mabuse goes beyond Lecter’s petty revenges is in the ensuing “Empire of Crime” speech: supposedly a “warning” about the National Socialists, the latter were happy to let audiences make the more natural inference that it referred to the chaos of the Weimar Republic.

    It remains the template for every bogey-man from Keyser Sosei to Osama bin Laden; and note how the wildly erratic USA has now been dubbed “The Empire of Chaos.” Unnecessarily slow and complex death traps for the hero to escape, check! And look for the Mercedes hood ornament-cam in the final chase, which Hitchcock deliberately references in North by Northwest.

    The Shining [24] (Stanley Kubrick) — Masterpiece of paranoiac-critical filmmaking. Dr. Strangelove is great but too painfully arch to view more than once every few years; besides, the refueling footage is recycled in The Starfighters, q.v. below). Like W. C. Fields, Kubrick knew that all attention would be on the kid, so pay attention to what happens around Danny: notice how the arrows on the carpet change direction, how his sandwich goes from whole to half-eaten to whole? The obsessive Kubrick is in control over everything in the frame, so there are no accidents. Many people assume it was filmed at a hotel, but it’s all a set in London, even the maze. Everything is planned. Listen to the ambient noise too (deliberately recorded): are those words of cabalistic significance being whispered at certain moments? “Schwaaaa.” Dopey Stephen King complained about the ending, but that’s what makes the film, metaphysically: Danny leaps sideways out of the maze; Jack runs round and round and eventually freezes (symbolically identical states of stasis), stuck in past time.

    The Skydivers (Coleman Francis) — Not an “ironic” choice; the more I watch the “Coleman Francis Trilogy” the more I suspect that, as with Ed Wood, professional “incompetence” allows a glorious serendipity to take place, à la Zen painting or surrealist poetry. And no one created a directorial emptiness like Coleman Francis: the anti-Kubrick. And like Zen, what you “let happen” may not be all hippie-happy. A somber masterpiece seemingly filmed in “Despair-vision,” possibly the saddest, bleakest film ever made; if Bergman had autism. Yet I find it oddly comforting. “I like coffee!”

    The Untouchables [25] (Brian De Palma) — Revenge of the Nerds, but with shamanism and the Männerbund. White ethnics unite to expel the invasive immigrant. (See my “‘God, I’m with a heathen.’ The Rebirth of the Männerbund in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables [26]” and “Of Costner, Corpses, & Conception: Mother’s Day Meditations on The Untouchables & The Big Chill [27],” both reprinted in The Homo and the Negro [10].)

    They Live! [28] (John Carpenter) — Another Liberal fantasy goes awry, birthing a potent new Rightist meme. And they wonder why they keep losing, even though they “control” the media! Meg Foster! For her alone, I might also have selected Masters of the Universe. Unlike Gaby, Meg’s eyes are clear, cold, alien ice blue, like a huskie from Pluto. Contrary to MST3k, this is the movie competing for the “Quiet Man Longest Fight” award. (See my “He Writes, You Read, They Live! [29]” reprinted in The Homo and the Negro [10].)

    Touch of Evil [30] (Orson Welles) — The sweet spot of Welles’ career; Kane is too gimmicky, The Magnificent Ambersons a fragment of what was, and I find his post-Hollywood “fugitive” productions too cheap and shoddy, barely a step above Ed Wood or even Coleman Francis (who also had problems with financing and post-production) for this American film-watcher to take seriously. Only Hitchcock could rival the sense that every shot is an innovation. Welles’ narrative art is so objective as to make almost anyone else’s pretense to such laughable; a die-hard commie-symp, Welles here creates the ultimate sympathetic cop/fascist in his own person. The existence of at least 5 versions makes it the ultimate “postmodern” masterpiece before the Europeans even thought up the word. (See my “Breaking Badge: Touch of Evil Through the Lens of Breaking Bad [31].”)

    Videodrome [32] (David Cronenberg) — James Woods again! Essaying the sleazeball he’d perfect in Casino. Urban Canada as I lived it; cold and blue, like Meg Foster’s eyes, perfect for TV reproduction. Uploading your consciousness to a cable network makes perfect sense when there’s 12 inches of snow outside and Debbie Harry is on the tube. Long live the New Flesh!

    . . . & Six Dishonorable Mentions

    Constant Readers also know that I loves me some badfilm. Some are so bad as to exert almost the same magnetic attraction to compulsive viewing as actual movies, so for the record, here are the ones I find myself drawn to probe over and over, like a broken tooth.

    The Beast of Yucca Flats [33] — Of interest only because Coleman Francis would go on to make The Skydivers and Red Zone Cuba. Otherwise, incredibly bad; literally, there’s nothing there, nothing at all, though Coleman would eventually perfect this as a directorial strategy.

    Manos, the Hands of Fate [34] — Nothing to add to this internet legend, except to warn those seeking it out that the non-MST version is not only a bit longer, but almost literally unwatchable.

    Monster a Go-Go [35] — Beyond general incompetence, aspiring Midwest auteur Bill Rebane ran out of money, then sold what he had to schlockmeister Herschel Gordon Lewis, who filmed new scenes years later, dropping characters whose “actors” were unavailable; the “twist” ending is that the movie just stops. Almost becomes postmodern enough to be interesting, but not quite. Oddly even the DVD is lousy, with a stupid commentary by “director” Rebane that blames his problems on “unions,” while Lewis also tries the “it’s supposed to be funny” cop-out.

    The Dead Talk Back [36] — Topping Bill Rebane, this one was actually finished by the writer/director/producer in 1957, but then sat on a shelf at the photo lab until 1993, when MST3k discovered it. Bad on every level — one shot includes the reflector front and center, the sort of goof even Ed Wood never made — and after a few viewings you suddenly realize the dead never talk back! Though some of the over-exposed street filming of ’50s Hollywood Blvd. accidentally rivals Kiss Me, Deadly.

    The Starfighters [37] — So, NATO doesn’t want to buy the ridiculously dangerous F-101 Starfighter (a.k.a. the Flying Brick or The Widowmaker)? Just make a movie to show how fun it is! To paraphrase Joe Bob Briggs (who’s in Casino, by the way), instead of having the actors fly jets, they had jet pilots act. Stars future congressman Bob “B-1” Dornan in what is retrospectively Mission Accomplished: The George W. Bush Story.

    The Wild World of Batwoman [38] — Even worse than it sounds. Unbelievably, unendurably bad. Atop everything else, a supposed “comedy,” making it 70 minutes of continual douche chills.

    Note

    1. The Essential Plotinus, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1975, v.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • A Prophecy for the Future of Europe
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]2,930 words

    The 2009 French film A Prophet, directed by Jacques Audiard, is one of the best prison/crime films (it contains elements of both) I have seen in a long time. In its gritty realism, it is a throwback to the greatest prison films of bygone eras. I’m thinking of classics like A Man Escaped, Escape from Alcatraz, Papillon, or even the 1985 Runaway Train.

    These disappeared after the Tarantino age was ushered in with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and after that, prison and crime films, with their slick, fast-paced cinematography, jumbled morality and glamorous characters, came to resemble long music videos more than dramas. (The 2004 British film Layer Cake is a prime example of this type of film.)

    A Prophet, however, shows criminals and prison life as I imagine they are really like: dirty, ugly and unpleasant, inhabited by people who have to be both brutal and cunning just to survive from one day to the next. In this sense, the film is a great success, and that alone would make it worth viewing. Many other people have sung its praises as well, and it won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

    There is another layer to A Prophet, however, and that is primarily what I would like to discuss here. It is also the story of the rise of a criminal mastermind from nothingness to absolute power, similar to the paradigm we’ve seen before in The Godfather films and Scarface. Mixed with this is a none-too-subtle parable about the position of immigrants in France, and, by extension, Europe, in both the present and the future.

    Alarm bells should immediately ring when Wikipedia quotes a French interview with director Audiard about the film in which he said that he was “creating icons, images for people who don’t have images in movies, like the Arabs in France,” even though he added to this that it “has nothing to do with [his] vision of society.” I’m sorry, Monsieur Audiard, but I don’t believe that you simply wanted to make a movie about Parisian criminals.

    My discussion requires that I give a quick summary of the film’s plot, so if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know the story before doing so, turn back now. The film begins as 19-year-old Arab Malik El Djebena is being thrown into a prison in Paris. The prison is run by two gangs of inmates: one consisting of the Muslims; and the other, which is much more successful and wealthy, run by Cesar Luciani, a Corsican crime boss who is still running his empire from inside the prison, along with his Corsican cohorts.

    Malik, weak and defenseless, is at first easy prey, and he is attacked and robbed by fellow Muslims shortly after his arrival. Typically, the Corsicans will have nothing to do with the Arabs, but an Arab prisoner arrives who they know intends to testify against them. Not having any allies in the Muslim section of the prison, they recruit Malik by offering to give him protection in exchange for murdering the witness.

    Malik carries out the assassination, and thereafter becomes a servant to the Corsicans, who protect him but treat him with contempt and hold him at a distance. At the same time, the other Muslims regard Malik as a traitor for working with them, and as a result he is kept safe but isolated.

    This situation continues for some time until most of the Corsicans are freed, leaving Cesar with only a handful of followers. After this he is forced to rely to a much greater extent on Malik, but gives him occasional, brutal reminders not to think that he can live without Cesar’s continued protection. Still, Malik’s life begins to improve considerably, and he is able to have many goods brought to his cell from the outside, including White prostitutes. Eventually, because of his good behavior in the eyes of the prison authorities, he is allowed to begin taking day-long leaves out of the prison, and Cesar uses him as a messenger to negotiate deals with his own bosses in Paris, becoming even more indispensable to him.

    Meanwhile, Malik finally befriends one of the Muslim prisoners, Ryad, who finishes his sentence and helps Malik, in spite of Cesar’s threats, to set up a hashish smuggling operation which begins to win Malik contacts among the Muslim inmates. We later learn that Ryad is dying of cancer, but he continues to help Malik to build his network in return for Malik’s promise that he will care for Ryad’s wife and family after he dies.

    Malik continues to become more and more important to Cesar’s operations, and simultaneously begins to win the respect of the Muslim gang leaders both inside and outside the prison, as they recognize that Malik occupies a unique position, being the only person to straddle both sides of the underworld. Things come to a climax when Cesar, suspecting that his Italian boss is plotting against him, asks Malik to arrange for the Don’s assassination during one of his leaves outside the prison.

    Malik agrees, and initially the Arabs and the Corsicans plan to carry out the attack together, but the two groups despise each other and cannot cooperate. On the day of the attack, Malik deserts the Corsicans, and he and Ryad successfully carry out the hit on their own. Knowing that the remaining Corsicans in the prison will now turn on each other, Malik deliberately returns from his leave late and is thrown into solitary confinement – for forty days and forty nights. By the time he emerges, all of the Corsicans apart from Cesar himself have either been killed or sent to other prisons.

    In the last part of the film, Malik is returned to the prison population, and we see him come out into the yard, which has traditionally been split between the Corsicans and the Muslims, only now, Cesar sits by himself. Malik is welcomed by the Muslims as their new leader, and he takes his place at the center of their group.

    Cesar signals for Malik to come and speak with him, but Malik ignores him. Getting desperate, Cesar finally attempts to cross over to the Muslim side, but some of them stop him and beat him up before he can reach Malik. Realizing he has lost, Cesar staggers back to his side of the yard.

    Shortly thereafter, Malik completes his sentence, and on the day he is released, he is met by Ryad’s wife and children. As he walks home with them, we see several vehicles pull up behind them, discreetly keeping their distance, and we realize that it is Malik’s new security detail. The film ends, the transfer of power now complete.

    The subtext of this story should be easy to read without much analysis. If we view the prison as a microcosm of Europe, Cesar and the Corsicans represent the White European establishment, while Malik and the other Muslims represent the disenfranchised immigrants. Malik suffers repeated humiliation at the hands of the Whites, and even does their dirty work, but he is really just biding his time. He slowly builds his power base, and after he gains their trust, he uses it against them, and manages to displace them in the prison that formerly belonged to them.

    There is even a giveaway line in the middle of the film, when Cesar remarks to Malik that at one time the Whites were in the majority in the prison, but that they are rapidly becoming outnumbered by the Muslims. Indeed, if present trends continue, the story of A Prophet is very likely going to be the story of Europe in the twenty-first century. Muslim immigrants will tolerate the system as long as they have to, but as soon as they have the strength and are in a position to do so, they will surely shove their hosts aside and suck whatever remains of Europe dry, leaving the descendants of the original inhabitants of Europe to simply watch and mourn while it happens – those who don’t switch sides, that is.

    As Greg Johnson has expressed it, the new masters of Islamic Europe will be like teenagers who steal a car: they’ll take it for a joy ride, drive it until it crashes, and then move on to the next car. Why? Because, fundamentally, it’s not theirs. Why should they be concerned with what happens to the culture of Homer, Goethe, and Baudelaire?

    While it is very possible that this tale was born from the imaginations of ethnomasochistic French liberals, I don’t find much in this parable with which to disagree. Whatever their motivations, the filmmakers have caught the essential truth of what is happening in Europe today.

    It is worth noting that one of the measures of Malik’s success is his screwing of White whores, and there is also a quick shot of a White woman embracing a Black man on a Paris street during one of Malik’s leaves. The ability of non-Whites to dominate White women through sex, thus robbing us of future progeny which we can call our own, is among the trophies of their success, as we’ve been seeing for a long time in our own country.

    And, interestingly, it is not any of the Muslims who deliver the death blow to the White power base in the prison. Rather, the Whites do themselves in, rather as we have seen continuously among the European nations over the past century. Non-Whites will just need to step in once the Whites have finished killing themselves off.

    Similarly, in the film, the process begins when Cesar admits an outsider to serve his own purposes, believing that he can keep him under control, just as the elites of the United States and Europe began to admit non-White immigrants in large numbers out of economic expediency and with little thought that the future might bring something altogether different from what they imagined. So, again, I challenge Audiard’s claim that his film has nothing to say about European society. Furthermore, this film could easily be remade in America with a Latino in the main role, and the message would remain the same.

    One criticism the film has received from some quarters is in its treatment of Islam, and in particular the references to Malik as a prophet. I myself, given the film’s title, had assumed that eventually, Malik was going to undergo some sort of religious awakening, but it never happens. At no point in the film does he evince any interest whatsoever in his Muslim heritage.

    We get occasional glimpses of more devout Muslim inmates in the background, and at one point Malik brings some of his hashish profits to a mosque (only because he didn’t think it was worth the risk to keep it himself, we learn). On another occasion, high on heroin, he sees another inmate spinning in the style of the whirling dervishes and chanting the names of Allah, and imitates him, working himself into ecstasy. But it never goes beyond this, and Malik’s actions could hardly be described as those of a good Muslim.

    Still, the film draws a number of deliberate parallels between Malik and the lives of the Prophets of Islam. Malik, we learn, is illiterate, just as Muhammad was. Malik is kept in solitary confinement for forty days and nights, just as Moses and Jesus had fasted and prayed for the same length of time in isolation before being granted divine revelations. Muhammad also received many revelations through dreams, and Malik himself has a dream of deer running across a road. When he is in a car driving through a forest with a Muslim gang leader, he recognizes the area from his dream and warns the driver seconds before he hits a deer, henceforth becoming known as “a prophet.”

    But if he’s not a religious leader, in what way is Malik a prophet? Is it really just a tasteless joke, as some critics have claimed?

    I would say no, and the reasons for this have to do with my own views on Muslim immigration into Europe, and not Muslim immigration into the United States, I hasten to add, which I do not view as a threat of the same order. Many Rightists conflate Muslim immigration into Europe and America as if they are the same thing, but the fact is, they are not. The truth is that Muslims in the United States comprise less than 1% of the population, while Hispanics account for over 16%, and they are coming into the country at a much faster rate, both legally and illegally, than Muslim immigrants are. This is beside the fact that the majority of Muslims in Europe are poor and uneducated, while Muslims generally come to the United States to receive education and enter the middle class. The situations are simply not comparable. So, personally, I think those who believe that we have to protect ourselves from shariah law before it overtakes America, and who are trying to pass legislation to this effect, are wasting their time. The threat of immigration to America is real, but comes from different sources.

    As a traditionalist, I respect Islam in its genuine forms, primarily Sufism, as a manifestation of the supreme, metaphysical truth. Unlike many of my political colleagues, my own problem with Muslim immigration has little to do with the religion itself, and I think A Prophet successfully illustrates my own thoughts on the matter.

    There are some traditionalists, particularly followers of the teachings of René Guénon or Frithjof Schuon who have converted to Islam themselves, who view Muslim immigration into Europe as a positive thing, since they believe that Europe, having lost its own sacred traditions, will be resacralized by being reintegrated into a spiritual culture, regardless of the fact that it is a foreign tradition.

    Even Ahmed Huber, the Swiss German banker who, rather like Malik, occupied a unique place where the worlds of Islamic fundamentalism and the European Right met, contended that, eventually, Muslim immigration into Europe would give rise to a unique form of “European Islam.” Muslim scholars, including the Scots convert Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi and the Swiss Egyptian Tariq Ramadan, have likewise predicted the rise of such a thing.

    On the surface, this might seem like a good idea, since it is undeniable that Europe is in desperate need of a return to spirituality. Unlike Guénon or Schuon, however, I believe that a religion has to be connected to one’s racial and cultural makeup, and the mere fact of a system of beliefs being associated with the Primordial Tradition is insufficient by itself. A “European” Islam would remain as inherently anti-European, no matter how many concessions it makes, as Christianity has always been, and surely its impact would be just as destructive as the last attempt to alter the spiritual foundations of our people was.

    However, even this is not the main issue for me. The fact is, as we see in A Prophet, the culture of the majority of Muslims in Europe is not the high-minded Sufi Islam of Martin Lings or Seyyed Hossein Nasr (two prominent contemporary traditionalists). Mostly, it does not even rise to the purely exoteric, black-and-white level of political Islamism.

    The culture of Muslims in Europe is a ghetto culture, a culture of the lowest form of materialism, which is the only thing that can emerge from generation after generation of poverty, ignorance, resentment, and petty violence, all the while being encouraged in this by their cheerleaders among the ethnomasochistic liberal elites. It is no more “Islamic” in the true sense than the culture of urban Blacks in America is reflective of African culture.

    There will be no restoration of spirituality or traditional values, European or Muslim. What I imagine would emerge from their triumph would be something like the city of Detroit over the past half-century, in which the underclass came to power only to set about stripping down and selling off anything of value with no thought for the future, quickly reducing the entire area into a depressing wasteland that is beyond recovery, and bearing only the faintest traces of having once been something better.

    This is the true prophecy that Malik offers us: a vision of the brutal rise of a criminal-minded underclass which is interested in nothing but its own survival and material enrichment, and one which will have little regard for the welfare of its former overlords. I do not blame immigrant populations for being this way. They come to the West to seek a better life, which is only natural, and it cannot be denied that their lives here have been rough and humiliating.

    However, we cannot let understanding of their plight to any degree lessen our resolve to protect what is rightfully ours. As John Michell once wrote, every people is given a space in which to realize itself. Europe, at least for the time being, still has its space, and the Muslims have theirs (apart from Palestine). There should be no shame in asserting ourselves, even though many of us, under the influence of negative and culture-destroying ideologies, have come to feel shame about it.

    Therefore it remains to be seen if Europe will actually resign itself to having reached the end of its natural life cycle, or if it still retains enough vitality to bring about a restoration of some sort. But the hour is getting late, and there is much to be done. And Malik and his cohorts are already dreaming of their prophecy with their eyes wide open.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents/North American New Right Newsletter: August 2012
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    Pieter Claesz, “Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill,” 1628

    1,168 words

    Dear Friends of Counter-Currents,

    There is a lot of news from Counter-Currents this month.

    1. Our Readership and Web Traffic

    Our web traffic steeply declined in August. Our unique visitors went from 52,306 to 41,616, a drop of 20%. Our visits went down from 108,340 to 96,314, a drop of 11%. Our pages viewed declined from 367,589 to 305,729, a drop of 16.8%.

    The focus of our site and the quality and quantity of our offerings have not changed. Indeed, we published more in August than in July. So we must look elsewhere for explanations.

    We know of two new factors that explain these drops. First and foremost, Google has altered the search rankings of a number of our most popular articles, pushing them off the first pages of results, which makes it less likely that people will read them. Other racialist sites have experienced similar dramatic changes in their Google rankings. We believe this is a deliberate attempt at ideological censorship. Second, we have learned that the French internet provider free.fr has begun to block our site. This is also deliberate ideological censorship.

    This is bad news, of course, because fewer people are hearing our message. Of course the majority of people who come through Google searches bug out of here very quickly. But some stay around long enough to learn something. We will have to work harder to attract their attention.

    But there is good news here too. First, this kind of censorship is an acknowledgement that we exist and are regarded as a threat to the powers that be. Second, traffic is beginning to climb again, so in the end, we have been just slowed down, not stopped.

    Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Viewed “Hits” Bandwidth
    June 2010 6,145 10,328 70,732 200,824 6.08 GB
    July 2010 9,387 17,329 119,254 348,172 10.01 GB
    August 2010 12,174 22,348 93,379 333,614 10.17 GB
    September 2010 17,063 34,510 147,051 580,550 16.39 GB
    October 2010 17,848 35,921 140,365 611,367 17.93 GB
    November 2010 26,054 48,336 171,833 915,553 26.39 GB
    December 2010 26,161 50,975 192,905 1,101,829 27.79 GB
    January 2011 28,583 60,005 198,249 1,736,067 34.06 GB
    February 2011 29,737 61,519 213,121 2,081,558 40.13 GB
    March 2011 29,768 62,077 220,053 2,485,001 52.21 GB
    April 2011 20,091 58,037 223,291 2,729,449 54.65 GB
    May 2011 36,596 78,103 274,841 1,334,472 47.59 GB
    June 2011 28,629 57,920 264,928 1,004,128 22.78 GB
    July 2011 30,186 66,093 416,309 1,952,047 71.23 GB
    August 2011 40,002 81,012 502,282 2,083,593 53.18 GB
    September 2011 45,427 88,782 422,902 481,909 11.67 GB
    October 2011 45,590 90,444 337,137 468,197 17.78 GB
    November 2011 44,445 88,824 330,664 339,521 14.22 GB
    December 2011 49,845 97,223 337,881 344,210 13.65 GB
    January 2012 56,633 107,644 408,373 433,736 21.38 GB
    February 2012 53,345 99,607 376,288 411,915 14.43 GB
    March 2012 55,572 106,029 441,170 475,719 16.36 GB
    April 2012 56,772 110,029 421,446 428,678 16.08 GB
    May 2012 56,323 111,533 400,243 404,483 15.70 GB
    June 2012 55,112 110,246 400,141 404,162 13.66 GB
    July 2012 52,304 108,340 367,589 373,470 12.52 GB
    August 2012 41,616 96,314 305,729 329,353 12.23 GB

     

    2. Our Webzine

    In August, we added 92 posts to the website, for a total of 1,993 posts since going online on June 11, 2010. We also added over 500 new comments.

    3. August’s Top 20 Articles (with date of publication and number of reads)

    1. Trevor Lynch, Review of The Dark Knight Rises [2], July 31, 2012: 3,979
    2. Matt Parrott, “Do Nothing [3],” August 7, 2012: 2,570
    3. Andrew Hamilton, “White Spree Killers [4],” August 10, 2012: 2,490
    4. Matt Parrott, “Tempest in a Sex Pot [5],” August 22, 2012: 2,289
    5. Greg Johnson, “Understanding the Sikh Temple Massacre [6],” August 7, 2012: 2,116
    6. Jef Costello, “You Must Change Your Life [7],” August 10, 2012: 2,074
    7. Andrew Hamilton, “Jews and Slavery [8],” August 24, 2012: 1,744
    8. Gregory Hood, “No Separate Peace [9],” August 23, 2012: 1,594
    9. Jef Costello, “Why I Live in the Past [10],” August 2, 2012: 1,557
    10. Ace of Swords, “To All Europeans [11],” August 16, 2012: 1,458
    11. Patrick LeBrun, “Who are the Sikhs? [12],” August 7, 2012: 1,455
    12. Mark Dyal, “Epistemology and the New Right [13],” August 21, 2012: 1,440
    13. Juleigh Howard-Hobson, “Woman Being [14],” July 31, 2012: 1,297
    14. Andrew Hamilton, “Anders Breivik’s Closing Statement [15],” July 6, 2012: 1,201
    15. Matt Parrott, “Epistemology, Race, and the Bazaar [16],” August 29, 2012: 1,181
    16. Patrick LeBrun, “Demographics and Jewish Destiny [17],” Part 1, August 9, 2012: 1,180
    17. Patrick LeBrun, “Demographics and Jewish Destiny [18],” Part 3, August 15, 2012: 1,138
    18. Greg Johnson, “The Costs and Benefits of Controversy [19],” August 10, 2012: 1,114
    19. Irmin Vinson, “Some Thoughts on Hitler [20],” April 20, 2011: 1,103
    20. Greg Johnson, “Dead Can Dance, Berkeley, August 12, 2012 [21],” August 13, 2012: 1,082

    One of the consequences of Google’s actions is that our perennial favorites, Daniel Michaels on Stalin’s plan to conquer Europe and Gregory Hood on Scarface, have been driven from our top 20 entirely (indeed, from our top 50). Another perennial favorite, Irmin Vinson on Hitler, has been driven down to number 19.

    Andrew Hamilton, Patrick LeBrun, Matt Parrott, and Greg Johnson each have three articles in our top 20. Jef Costello has two articles.

    Patrick LeBrun and Mark Dyal make their first appearances in our top 20. Congratulations, gentlemen! We look forward to your future writings.

    4. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Countries

    Our web statistics program gives us a country-by-country breakdown of our readership. Here are the top 20 countries:

    1. United States
    2. Great Britain
    3. Canada
    4. Sweden
    5. Germany
    6. Australia
    7. France
    8. Portugal
    9. Japan
    10. The Netherlands
    11. Finland
    12. China
    13. Brazil
    14. Poland
    15. Russian Federation
    16. Ireland
    17. Norway
    18. Mexico
    19. Czech Republic
    20. Switzerland

    5. Where Our Readers Are: The Top 20 Cities

    1. San Francisco
    2. London
    3. New York City
    4. Melbourne
    5. Stockholm
    6. Sydney
    7. Chicago
    8. Washington, D.C.
    9. Houston
    10. Philadelphia
    11. Seattle
    12. Los Angeles
    13. Mexico City
    14. Berlin
    15. Toronto
    16. Dublin
    17. Lisbon
    18. Winnipeg
    19. Vancouver, B.C.
    20. Helsinki

    Eight of our top 20 cities are in the United States.  Four are on the West Coast of North America: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C. Three are in Canada: Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Two are in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. Eight of them are national capitals: London, Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Mexico City, Washington, D.C., Dublin, and Helsinki.

    6. The Counter-Currents Radio Network

    By far the biggest news item is that Counter-Currents is launching our own podcasting network. We will give homes to several of the hosts from the Voice of Reason network, which has disappeared, and we will be developing new shows. New developments will be announced on our front page.

    7. Upcoming Book Projects

    These are the titles that are at one stage or another in the editorial process. Beyond the first three titles, these are in only the roughest chronological order. Everything has been pushed back a month in order to devote time to launching the C-C Radio Network.

    13. Kerry Bolton, Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, ed. Greg Johnson (September)
    14. James J. O’Meara, The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Literature, Politics, and Popular Culture (September)
    15. Juleigh Howard-Hobson, “I do not belong to the Baader-Meinhof group” and Other Poems
    16. Trevor Lynch, Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
    17. Savitri Devi, The Lightning and the Sun
    18. William Joyce, Twilight Over England, with an Introduction by Greg Johnson
    19. Francis Parker Yockey, The World in Flames and Other Essays, ed. Kerry Bolton
    20. Saint-Loup, Hitler or Judah? A Second Nuremberg Tribunal
    21. Derek Hawthorne, Above the Clouds: Arnold Fanck, Leni Riefenstahl, and the Metaphysics of Sex (on the German mountain films)
    22. Collin Cleary, L’appel aux dieux (French translation of Summoning the Gods)

    Counter-Currents has now taken over the Savitri Devi Archive’s Centennial Edition of Savitri Devi’s Works. The next volumes will be new editions of And Time Rolls On and The Lightning and the Sun. Other longer term projects include Anthony M. Ludovici’s Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, Julius Evola’s East and West: Essays in Comparative Philosophy, a new edition of Brooks Adams’ The Law of Civilization and Decay with an Introduction by Greg Johnson, and a collection of Alain de Benoist’s essays on Ernst Jünger.

    8. Our Summer Fundraiser

    On June 11, our second anniversary, Counter-Currents launched a new fundraising campaign. Our aim is to raise $25,000. For the latest update, click here [22]. If you have not yet contributed, now is a good time. Please visit our donation page here [23].

    * * *

    Once again, I want to thank our writers, donors, and proofreaders; our webmaster/Managing Editor; and above all, you, dear reader, for making Counter-Currents possible.

    Greg Johnson
    Editor-in-Chief
    Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd.
    & North American New Right

     

    ...
    (Review Source)

Christian Toto2
Hollywood In Toto



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Why ‘Carlito’s Way’ Is Superior to De Palma’s ‘Scarface’
    carlitos way brian de palma review

    In Brian De Palma’s “Carlito’s Way,” Al Pacino plays the “JP Morgan of the smack business.”

    Carlito Brigante has been a criminal for 25 years and has spent five years

    The post Why ‘Carlito’s Way’ Is Superior to De Palma’s ‘Scarface’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • De Palma’s ‘Domino’ Could Be His Worst … Ever
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    DOMINO de palma review

    Brian De Palma’s “Domino” begins in Copenhagen, and for no apparent reason, in the barely-distant future of “June 10, 2020.”

    An investigation between two cops, Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Lars

    The post De Palma’s ‘Domino’ Could Be His Worst … Ever appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

    ...
    (Review Source)

VJ Morton3
Right Wing Film Geek



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • Virginia Film Festival — part 1

    Virginia Film Festival — part 1

    These are some of the films I saw last weekend at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, with the theme this year of Money.

    THE COOLER (Wayne Kramer, USA, 2003, 6)

    Interesting for a while and often very enjoyable (Alec Baldwin gives his best performance since GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS), but the premise ultimately leaves the film with nowhere to go. William H. Macy plays a “cooler,” a jinx hired by a casino to go to tables where someone is on a winning streak and “cool” his luck. But then his losing streak and thus his livelihood is threatened by a woman, his long-lost son and fate (the best scene is the funny montage of people winning and Macy’s puppylike distress, it’s like a not-quite-so-brilliant version of his being interrogated by Francis McDormand in FARGO). So as a result, the film thinks it can get away with any ending — if luck is so pervasive, how can one complain? Well, I can. The ending was arbitrary. Period. And there’s something just *wrong* with the notion, to which the film’s themes inevitably push you, of seeing the Rat Pack as “old money.”

    FOOLISH WIVES (Erich Von Stroheim, USA, 1922, 9)

    In his odd way, though Stroheim was widely considered at the time pornographic, vile and obsessed with the low, he really was a great Victorian. A conflicted one, sure, but he saw virtue and purity in the gutter like a Dickens did. He was intolerantly insistent on honor, even (especially) among thieves or the aristocrats fallen so low that they have to team up with them. But who are still aristocrats with honor. There’s also pomo jokes on textuality (in 1922?!?!), involving a book called “Foolish Wives,” written by Erich Von Stroheim, introduced into the action twice. I saw this “Europeans swindle innocent Americans abroad” story, with the musical accompaniment including a live vocalist and words, in addition to live sound effects (one of them being someone getting paged and having their named yelled out loud). I’d only seen a silent film with a word-inclusive score twice before, with the Vision of Light PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC and the Giorgio Moroder METROPOLIS. I theoretically resist the notion, but frankly a great silent film really can’t be damaged by a score done in good faith, especially when the words are used as sparingly as here.

    SCARFACE (Brian De Palma, USA, 1983, 8)

    Finally saw this modern classic all the way through, and it’s a bit obvious in wearing its cinematic antecedents on its sleeves (De Palma, really?). Michelle Pfeiffer was wasted (in several senses), but Al Pacino gives one of the great operatic ham performances in recent film — “Say hello to my lee-tul friend” and all that. Though the plot as a whole, in typical De Palma fashion, is a bit obviously stitched together and episodic in a predictable way, SCARFACE overflows with great set pieces, again in typical De Palma fashion — the first meeting with the Miami crime boss, the low-key first meeting with the mother and sister, the nightclub assassination attempt on Pacino and all the buildup, the assassination bid on the Bolivian activist, sitting in the jacuzzi, immigration interrogation, and … well, practically everything in the movie.

    THE ITALIAN JOB (Peter Collinson, Britain, 1969, 7)
    THE ITALIAN JOB (F. Gary Gray, USA, 2003, 7)

    Which film you prefer will depend entirely on what you’re looking for. If you want a suspenseful heist movie, the American film is far superior. There are two very well set-up and walked-through heist sequences at the beginning and end. Marky Mark’s inability to act for anyone but PT Anderson doesn’t destroy the film and his heist team mates are all give flavorful performances (Ed Norton and Charlize Theron in particular). But if you want a comic shaggy-dog time-capsule movie, go for the British film. I have no idea how the original could play to Americans or anyone else who didn’t live in Britain in the late 60s and early 70s (personally: born in Glasgow, 1966), but I just having a high old time listening to football supporters songs, reliving the “up your arse, ya weedy Continentals” attitude, and seeing Michael Caine and Noel Coward basically play themselves (and Benny Hill the same; though there wasn’t enough of him).

     

    NAT TURNER: A TROUBLESOME PROPERTY (Charles Burnett, USA, 2003, 4)
    Interesting enough as a historical intro to the topic (I’d never read Nat Turner’s Confessions), but quickly turns into leaden pomo nonsense. If you think it’s some mighty insight on textuality and the “universe” that people who disagree with each other disagree about a text that bears on the matters about they disagree, you will lap this up. Otherwise, another good reason not to watch PBS.
    WHEN IT RAINS (Charles Burnett, USA, 1995, 4)
    As a 20-minute short with a plot (“community leader” tries to help eviction-threatened woman raise the money for her rent by asking for it on the streets) it’s less ambitious than Burnett’s feature-length film, with which it played. It’s an enjoyable 20 minutes on Community when it isn’t being an obvious, schematic 20 minues on Money.

    SOLDIER’S GIRL (Frank Pierson, USA, 2003, 3)

    Scheduled to run on Showtime as a docudrama about the murder of a homosexual soldier, this film, which should have been titled SOLDIER BOYS DON’T CRY, was shown to the festival because Pierson was presenting DOG DAY AFTERNOON (on which he was the scriptwriter). You see the similarities here to one of the threads in AFTERNOON — the secret crossdressing gay lover. Not exactly terrible — as usual in this kind of film, the actors are quite good when not delivering Significant Speeches, which is unfortunately all Andre Braugher gets to do. It’s just entirely what you’d expect — a transparent bid for An Issue Emmy. Pvt. Barry Winchell is despised upon his arrival at his unit, for no discernible reason, and the drill sergeant is mean to him until I thought I was watching St. Sebastian in cammies. His death at the hands of a fellow soldier whom he’d bested in a fight was intercut with his boyfriend’s Annie Lennox song at a transvestite beauty pageant (maybe the two events did occur simultaneously; but it *feels* like Scriptwriter Coincidence.) One funny moment in the Q-and-A: Pierson was describing the first sex scene between the two men and said he told Troy Garity (playing Winchell) that “you’ve forgotten this person is not a woman; you’ve fallen in love with the person, and then with the body.” Take it away, David.

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    (Review Source)
  • Top 10 of 1983
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    The best films to premiere worldwide in 1983, I Hath Spake.

    I'm not so obsessive as to keep changing years with IMDb. All years from 1986 back are what IMDb said at time I saw the film.

    1. The Right Stuff
    2. Pauline at the Beach
    3. The King of Comedy
    4. Tender Mercies
    5. A Christmas Story
    6. Trading Places
    7. The Makioka Sisters
    8. The Fourth Man
    9. Zelig
    10. Scarface
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Sundance 2019 Wrap-Up: 75 Movies in Brief
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The best, the worst, the most political, the biggest crowd-pleasers and more.
    ...
    (Review Source)

The Federalist Staff3
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself
    If politics flows downwards from culture, then it was only a matter of time before a politician mastered the role. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump cracked that code. Tony Soprano, Walter White, and Frank Underwood are just a few recent examples of the enormously popular characters who have, each in their own way, stood in for the role of the complicated bad guy who fascinates millions of Americans. Antiheroes have long found homes in Westerns, gangster movies, and crime dramas, such as Al Pacino’s portrayal of Miami drug kingpin Tony Montana in “Scarface.” Tony begins an epic decline and fall in the film with a nasty fight with his wife at an exclusive Miami country club. She publically humiliates him in front of a bunch of dumbstruck, WASPy, black-tie wearing, golf-playing white hairs by loudly accusing him of being a murderer, a drug dealer, and incapable of being a decent father. If Tony were a classic hero, this would have been the beginning of his moral reckoning and his search for repentance. But this is “Scarface,” and Tony is no hero, so he responds to his public exposure as a criminal in polite society by turning the mirror back on his audience and dressing them down: What you lookin’ at? You all a bunch of f—in’ a–holes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your f—in’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. A criminal’s longing to be accepted by rich people who aren’t criminals themselves isn’t a new theme. Nevertheless, considering that Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay, Tony’s rant is likely commentary about the hypocrisy of supposedly “respectable” people in cutthroat, capitalistic, Reagan-era America who are substantively no different than Tony is. All these well-to-do Miami types wouldn’t be caught dead associating with someone like Tony, even though they know full well that the cocaine business is making them all rich, and many of them probably abuse his product. Thus, from Tony’s perspective, what’s the point of being decent when the people who supposedly model “decency” have none of it themselves? Wouldn’t a sign of moral contrition to these people be a perverted mockery of moral contrition? Wouldn’t it be degrading even for Tony? Tony isn’t a hero or a villain: he’s an antihero. You probably won’t admit to rooting for him, but if you enjoyed watching him stick it to those (presumably) stuck-up hypocrites, then it’s likely that you did. He’s everything his wife said he was, sure, but at least he has the balls to be honest about it. Donald Trump, the Political Antihero Trump replicated this scene in his inaugural address Friday, a “declaration of war” against “the establishment” whose “victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.” He acted similarly in a jaw-dropping performance at the Al Smith Dinner just days before his election. With every hiss-inducing joke at Hillary Clinton’s expense was an unsubtle middle finger to everyone else in attendance. Consider his opening remarks: And a special hello to all of you in this room who have known and loved me for many, many years. It’s true. The politicians. They’ve had me to their homes. They’ve introduced me to their children. I’ve become their best friends in many instances. They’ve asked for my endorsement and they’ve always wanted my money. And even called me really a dear, dear friend. But then suddenly, decided when I ran for president as a Republican, that I’ve always been a no-good, rotten, disgusting scoundrel. And they totally forgot about me. In other words: even if I have been a no-good, rotten, disgusting scoundrel, what does that make you? At least I don’t pretend to be decent; you people, on the other hand, have the gall to pretend that you’re any better than I am. Let’s dispense with the fiction that you would have treated me with any less contempt if I had bothered to live up to any of your standards of decency in the first place, and acknowledge that they have nothing to do with decency per se, and everything to do with power. Your presumption of any moral superiority is a willful, bald-faced lie, and I’m going to keep calling you on that crap until it puts me in the White House. Many have argued that Trump is the product of political correctness (PC). This is true only in part. Rather, both PC and Trump’s response to it are fruits of the postmodernism that has long ascended to the heights of our culture: the nihilism in the common presumption that all truth is relative, morality is subjective, and therefore all of our individually preferred “narratives” that give our lives meaning are equally true and worthy of validation. Tony tellingly lectures his audience, “I always tell the truth, even when I lie.” His character was a man ahead of his time. Postmodernism: Trying to Do Good Is a Waste of Time Postmodernism is the source of the emphasis that our culture puts on authenticity, and the scorn it directs towards phoniness. After all, if the only one true thing in the world is that all truth and morality are relative, then anyone who pretends otherwise is either an idiot or a fraud. Hence the contemporary appeal of the antihero, and the disappearance of the traditional hero. Heroes who stand for traditionally good things in a world where everything supposedly “good” has long been discredited are corny Dudley Do-Rights who are at best too stupid to know better. Antiheroes, by contrast, ingratiate themselves with their audiences for their gritty realism and their candor, no matter how bad they are. Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall with his viewers and brings them along for his evil schemes; Walter White’s moment of redemption is his final admission to his wife that he sells meth because he likes to, and not to do right by his family; and Tony Soprano establishes a close bond with his daughter early on when he admits to her that he’s not actually a “waste management consultant.” In the postmodern world, there is no greater virtue then authenticity, and there is no greater vice than phoniness. Postmodernism is also the source of the assumptions underlying the glib jokes of late-night comedians who exhibit disdainful prejudice towards patriotism or religion, but show bitter judgment towards any form of perceived prejudice. It is the baseline for just about every plotline in funny shows about aimless, self-centered people like “Seinfeld,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “Archer.” It is hyper-prejudice against prejudice, or in the words of Evan Sayet, “a cult of non-discrimination.” In contrast to the many religions, systems of moral thought, and other ancient traditions that have distinguished every effort to better the human condition, postmodernism presumes that all of these endeavors are the cause of human failure. It therefore operates according to just one moral imperative: discredit anything that other people presume to stand for goodness, because the belief that anything is superior to anything else inevitably results in prejudice, interpersonal strife, and inequality. Thus, the Venus de Milo has no more aesthetic value than a crucifix in a jar full of urine; Beethoven’s symphonies are no more profound than the latest round of top 40 hits; all religions are fundamentally the same, and their “moderate” postmodern adherents are all comfortably represented on the “Coexist” bumper sticker. In a sense, it isn’t culture at all, but rather an anti-culture that measures success insofar as it deconstructs anything that other people value. Postmodernism Merely Hides Its Hypocritical Idealism Provided that the postmodern man believes in nothing and values nothing, one wouldn’t be unreasonable in concluding that he cares about nothing. But anyone who knows postmodern man also knows that nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather, the “cult of non-discrimination” is filled with bright-eyed idealism about making the world a better place, and in the cases where it challenges baseless prejudice, it does make the world a better place. Like other utopian visions that seek to remake human beings into something alien to their nature, however, it is incapable of compromise, and thus lends itself to hypocrisy and fanaticism. This hypocrisy is evident in the selective application of PC outrage. The disingenuousness of much “offense” taken is perhaps best exemplified by MSNBC, a self-appointed watchman against prejudice of all kinds in American life, repeatedly failing to live up to the very standards that it sets for others. The striking contrast of Melissa Harris Perry and other commentators mocking Mitt Romney’s family for adopting a black baby, then tearfully apologizing for it shortly thereafter, smacks of a person who isn’t so much contrite as she is ashamed: she and her colleagues weren’t really thinking when they made fun of the Romneys, and let their true sentiments show. How else could someone who unmasks the implicit racism in something so trivial as Darth Vader’s character make a mistake like that? It shows that all the righteous fury that these folks direct at other people for doing things just like this is an affectation: a contrived performance put on for other purposes. PC’s selectivity was on vivid display during one of the first protests that swept American colleges in late 2015. During a public demonstration at Claremont McKenna College in response to a private email from the school’s dean that allegedly implied non-white students don’t fit the school’s mold, students gathered to publicly discuss their own experiences dealing with racial prejudice in America. When a Chinese student took the bullhorn to talk about her own experience with discrimination at the hands of a group of black men, however, the protesters cringed and ushered her away. When she attempted to clarify her point, one protester turned the bullhorn on her: “you’re getting derailed, alright, you’re losing sight of the movement!” Evidently unbeknown to the Chinese student, broadening the discussion to her own experience was a distraction from the demonstration’s goal: intimidating the school’s administration into doing what the protesters wanted. For that she was forcibly silenced. The Only Thing Left to Postmoderns Is Power PC’s fakeness is only outdone by its fanaticism, which has grown with considerable intensity in recent years. Everything from Brendan Eich’s firing from Mozilla for donating to Proposition 8 in California, to the eruption of protests on college campuses over the offensiveness of Halloween costumes, to the controversy over state laws that restrict bathroom usage according to biology rather than gender identity, suggest that the postmodern “cult of nondiscrimination” only grows more desperate the more it succeeds. What gives? The power to shut others up by merely insinuating that they are a bigot is subtle, but its potency is difficult to overstate. The answer is that the postmodern man ultimately finds satisfaction in the only thing that is left for him: power. Moral superiority is an undeniable source of power over other people, and postmodernism’s moral imperative offers it cheaply to anyone who accepts its premises. The power to shut others up by merely insinuating that they are a bigot is subtle, but its potency is difficult to overstate. Consequently, even as American society becomes more diverse and accommodating, more people nevertheless see senseless discrimination everywhere. As they run out of traditions, institutions, and customs to deconstruct, however, the more diluted the power rooted in their outrage becomes. Hence the growth in moral hysteria over ever smaller and more trivial things. Until roughly 2014, PC was to many a harmless effort to make people more sensitive and polite. In the words of Charles C.W. Cooke, it was a church lady “tut tutting.” But between the Mozilla episode and the campus unrest, many quickly realized that baseless PC outrage against things done or said in private could get you fired, scuttle your career prospects, or even humble powerful institutions that fail to heed the demands of adolescents. It also became clear that its adherents had no intention of letting anyone or anything stand in their way. As soon as the PC outrage machine decides something is wrong with whatever you think, then it has no interest in your thoughts or reasoning: you must submit or remain silent. Just imagine trying to find middle ground with this protester at Yale University after she likely finds herself in a position of authority. Trump Turns Postmodernism On Itself All this raises an uncomfortable question for people who have no use for PC’s agenda, and who value the freedom to think for themselves. How do you respond to someone who is determined to smear you for your alleged bigotry regardless of what you think and why? How do you win an argument against someone who willfully changes the meaning of words, maintains that the truth is completely relative, and feels perfectly justified in accusing virtually anyone of the gravest moral failure? If our opponents are going to accuse us of being evil-minded bigots, regardless of what we say or think, then what’s the point in bothering to convince them otherwise? Enter the right-wing postmodern antihero. Unlike just about every other presidential candidate who ran on the Republican ticket, Trump grasps our postmodern culture intuitively, and put it to use with devastating effect. If our opponents are going to accuse us of being evil-minded bigots, regardless of what we say or think, then what’s the point in bothering to convince them otherwise? Let’s play by their own rules of relativism and subjectivity, dismiss their baseless accusations, and hammer them mercilessly where it hurts them the most: their hypocrisy. After all, if there is no virtue greater than authenticity, and no vice worse than phoniness, then the purveyors of contrived PC outrage are distinctively vulnerable. Protesting an accusation from the Left that you’re not a racist, sexist, etc. on its own terms is a recipe for failure. Recall what happened to Romney when he desperately tried to demonstrate otherwise with his “binders full of women.” Trump offered an alternative: rather than make a fact-based, reason-driven argument, let’s neutralize the charge by denying its very premises, and in so doing, deny the power of the accuser to render any judgment in the first place. Right after famously referring to the “rapists” Mexico was sending into the United States when he first announced his campaign, Trump responded to shocked critics by claiming that “Latinos love Trump and I love them.” Similarly, after the emergence of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, Trump claimed boldly to audible snickering that “nobody has more respect for women than I do.” Did anyone really take Trump’s rebuttals seriously? Obviously not. Still, his preposterous responses demonstrated that accusations of racism and sexism had no power over him, and in our postmodern culture, that alone is all that really matters. Counterpunch the Frauds Where It Hurts Most importantly of all, Trump understood that postmodern America loathes nothing more than a self-righteous fraud. Hence his reputation for “counterpunching” when confronted with breathless expressions of “offense.” Such was evident in his response to Clinton’s “penchant for sexism” remark by bringing up her husband’s history of sexual assault. Rather than doing what was expected and taking the high road, apologizing, and moving on, Trump opted to call his accusers out for the most certain fact that their professions of moral outrage are cynical power grab and nothing more. Trump opted to call his accusers out for the most certain fact that their professions of moral outrage are cynical power grab and nothing more. Indeed, Trump provoked PC outrage precisely for this reason. Like Tony Montana holding the mirror up to his slack-jawed country club audience, Trump pulled one delicious, gasp-inducing stunt after another. Perhaps the best example of Trump’s provoke and win strategy was his approach to immigration. Any proposal for restricting immigration, no matter how modest, will invariably meet charges of nativism and racism. So why fight it? Trump opted to meet the challenge by initially proposing something truly appalling: the deportation of tens of millions of people. When the predictable outrage machine kicked into high gear, he didn’t go into damage control as expected. Rather, he dismissed the accusations and let it ride. After Trump brushed off his hyperventilating critics who were frantically calling him a racist, fascist, and everything in between, their rage gradually abated because it didn’t have the desired effect. Now, all of Trump’s clarifications on the issue are on the table for consideration, seem reasonable by comparison, and any subsequent PC outburst against them will ring hollow. Like so, Trump tamed and harnessed the outrage machine over and over again: the Muslim ban, killing terrorists’ families, insulting John McCain for being a POW, all until it won him the Republican nomination. This Is How We Get Trump Democrats gleefully welcomed Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries with the expectation that they’d bury him in a pile of condescension for being a buffoon and scorn for being the next Hitler. Better yet, they figured that his astounding rise confirmed everything they had long assumed about half the country and were now free to say out loud: they are indeed a basket of irredeemable racist, sexist, homophobic deplorables. Mainstream Republicans would surely hop on board the progressive train rather than be associated with these creeps. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. None of this happened, of course. But why? Because what Trump’s enemies failed to grasp was that he wasn’t winning because of the crazy things he was saying, but because of the phony outrage and affected condescension it provoked. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. Trump kept playing the role of the antihero, and Clinton kept playing the role of the pearl-clutching fraud. So I’m a scoundrel because I don’t pay income taxes? Maybe so, but it also makes me smart, just like all the other billionaires who are backing your campaign. So I’m a sexist because you found a video of me bragging about how my superstar status enables me to grab women by the p—y? Maybe it does, but allow me to publically introduce four of the women who have accused your husband of everything from indecent exposure to rape. So I’m a greedy businessman who stiffs my contractors? Fine. You’re a corrupt politician who sells out our national interest to line your own pockets. Maybe everything they say about me is true, but at least I’m authentic, at least I’m real: you on the other hand, are a bloody, disgusting hypocrite. So say goodnight to the bad guy! Because this bad guy is now our president. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

John Nolte3
Daily Wire / Breitbart



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Countdown: The 165 Greatest American Movies Ever Made (66-90)
    Hud (1963) You don’t look out for yourself, the only helping hand you’ll ever get is when they lower the box. Another one of those roles Paul Newman could have easily won the Best Actor Oscar for. Here he plays one of the most despicable, amoral characters ever; a full-throated villain in the charismatic package of the perfect physical specimen that was the 38-year-old. Presented in stark, Oscar-winning widescreen black and white (gorgeously filmed by the legendary James Wong Howe), Hud is an unsparing morality tale that makes the audience just as complicit as the young man played by Brandon DeWilde. We too are at first charmed and fascinated by Hud; by his composure, his cool, his cynicism, the mistaken impression he is merely being his own man. Slowly, though, the facade is peeled away until the private hell we leave Hud to feels like justice. Oscars went to a never-sexier Patricia Neal, as the housekeeper torn apart by her attraction to Hud’s virility and potential, and the the fact that she has seen enough of life to know that his rotted core can only mean a life so miserable the sex will eventually not be worth it.  Melvyn Douglas
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • ‘American Made’ Review: Tom Cruise’s Bright, Bland, Shiny, Shallow, Anti-Reagan Lie
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    My favorite flick of the 1990s is Oliver Stone's JFK, so it is not as though the movie fan in me cares all that much about being told the truth. In the case of director Doug Liman's American Made, though, the truth might have been a whole lot more interesting.
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 'American Made' Review: Tom Cruise's Bright, Bland, Shiny, Shallow, Anti-Reagan Lie
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    My favorite flick of the 1990s is Oliver Stone's JFK, so it is not as though the movie fan in me cares all that much about being told the truth. In the case of director Doug Liman's American Made, though, the truth might have been a whole lot more interesting.
    ...
    (Review Source)

Jay Dyer2
Esoteric Hollywood



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ 𝐄𝐃𝐆𝐘 🔥 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐍𝐓 🔥 𝐖𝐀𝐑𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆 🔥 (𝐍𝐒𝐅𝐖?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • Mega-Interview: Jay on David...

    The Afternoon Commute’s Hoax Busters Call invited me back for a mega-interview. Topics covered in this podcast include: Brave New World, metaphysics, Huxley, The Organization Man, scientism, suppressed technology, David...

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • CULT CRIMES, MASS SHOOTINGS...
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Shawn Helton 21st Century Wire The 1994 cult film Natural Born Killers, is an examination of media manipulation, archetypal psychology and the violence embedded within American pop culture. Although it’s been more...

    ...
    (Review Source)

Soiled Sinema4
Soiled Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • Naked Tango
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)



    While Paul Schrader is, at least to some extent, a failed filmmaker in the sense that very few of his films have been monetarily successful and, more importantly, he oftentimes fails when it comes to translating his screenplays into fully realized films (indeed, it is no coincidence that he is best known for his screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver), his older and lesser known brother Leonard, who only managed to direct a single feature during his somewhat sad life, is indubitably an artistic failure that was never able to reach anywhere near his full artistic potential.  Although surely no masterpiece, Leonard's sole feature Naked Tango (1990) is undoubtedly a intriguing film worthy of reexamination and a cinematic work that reveals that the auteur had the potential to be just as subversive and innovative of a filmmaker as his much better known younger brother. Probably best remembered among cinephiles and film historians for penning the Academy Award nominated screenplay for the poof prison flick Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) directed by Argentine-born Brazilian Jew Héctor Babenco and based on a novel by Argentine novelist Manuel Puig (whose work played a crucial influence on Naked Tango), Leonard—a draft-dodger that spent most of his life living and working in Japan after fleeing there in a successful attempt to avoid the Vietnam War—is undoubtedly a depressing example of misspent intellect and artistic talent.

    To anyone that is familiar with the somewhat sleazy but highly entertaining book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (1998) by Peter Biskind, it is easy to understand why the elder Schrader, who died under dubious circumstances in 2006, is all but forgotten yet his younger brother Paul has managed to direct a new film every year or two ever since his debut feature Blue Collar (1978) about forty years ago. Indeed, as Paul, who managed to snag the sole credit for their first Hollywood collaboration—the screenplay for Sydney Pollack's somewhat uneven The Yakuza (1974)—confessed in the book, “I had always treated Leonard badly. Taking sole screenwriting credit on THE YAKUZA wasn’t very nice. Treating him as an employee wasn’t very nice. Throughout all that, he had one thing that I didn’t have, which was Japan. And then came MISHIMA, and I stole Japan from him.” Apparently, The Yakuza credit and Japan were not the only things that Paul stole from his brother, or as Biskind somewhat questionably argued, “Ironically, his best film as a director was his first, BLUE COLLAR, which he more or less disavowed. Says Leonard, ‘My brother finds BLUE COLLAR embarrassing. One reason is, he hadn’t yet developed his polish-jewel CAT PEOPLE style. The other is, he didn’t write it.’ Meaning, of course, that Leonard wrote it.” Of course, the brothers, who both spent their younger years fetishizing the virtues of suicide and even had a number of paternal uncles and cousins commit suicide, have a number of things in common, namely their obsession with sex and death and especially a seemingly seamless combination of the two.  Notably, nearly a decade before directing his first feature, Schrader acted as co-director of the unintentionally entertaining and unquestionably exploitative leftist agitprop doc The Killing of America (1982) co-directed by Sheldon Renan. More or less a glorified snuff film featuring various pieces of classic true crime stock-footage, the somewhat deluded documentary now seems like a sick piece of leftist moral posturing when compare to the director's uniquely unhinged sadomasochistic melodrama Naked Tango. Like many of his brother’s cinematic works, Leonard’s film wallows in sex and death, but also dance, which is ultimately depicted as the height of orgasmic embrace and an activity that is driven largely by sheer sexual magnetism. 




     Featuring suicide, rape, murder, prostitution, homosexuality, Jewish organized crime, flapper fetishism, abattoirs, oedipal gangsters, and a delightfully dichotomous combination of high and low kultur that manages to combine the Symbolist paintings of Teutonic maestro Frank von Stuck with the gritty film noir sleaze of Howard Hawks' pre-Code guido gangster classic Scarface (1932), Naked Tango is undoubtedly an ambitious failure of sorts, but it is also a preternaturally engulfing failure and arguably one of the most elegant ‘bad movies’ ever made. An unintentional experiment in high-camp excess that attempts to juggle elements of film noir and classic melodrama and pays homage to both the short career of Latin heartthrob Rudolph Valentino and and the surreal sadomasochism of late era Luis Buñuel (indeed, Fernando Rey does not star in the film as a cuckolded judge for no reason), Schrader’s film certainly deserves comparisons to a number of subversive arthouse ‘mad love’ themed films, including Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (1974), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s swansong Querelle (1982), and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990). In terms of its mongrelized cultural pedigree and dubious execution, the film also has much in common with the similarly flawed yet nonetheless underrated Orphic Belgian-Dutch-French co-production Mascara (1987) directed by Patrick Conrad and starring Charlotte Rampling and Michael Sarrazin. Undoubtedly, like Mascara, Naked Tango is what Manny Farber would have described as ‘termite art’ as a cinematic work that, for better or worse, attempts to exterminate pre-existing boundaries, exhibits undeniable artistic audaciousness, and wallows in economy of expression, among other things. In terms of being a somewhat arthouse-ish psychosexual thriller set in a culturally confused Buenos Aires, Argentina that makes various overt cinephiliac references to classic Hollywood movies, Schrader’s film also has some somewhat superficial similarities with the homoerotic Argentine-British film Apartment Zero (1988) starring Colin Firth and Hart Bochner. Despite its somewhat glaring artsy fartsy qualities, Schrader’s flick might be best summed up as a carefully culturally marinated combination of G. W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929), Dirty Dancing (1987), and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (1984), albeit sans any sort of tangible commercial appeal. 



     Aside from an extremely rare out-of-print VHS, Naked Tango has, somewhat curiously, never been released in the United States in any other home media format. Although just speculation, I can only assume that the film was at least partially buried by its mainstream Hollywood distributor due to its less than flattering depiction of Jews and Jewish history. Indeed, the film is based on the real-life Jewish organized group Zwi Migdal and their international trafficking of young Jewesses from the shtetls of Eastern Europe for sexual slavery during a relatively long period that began in the 1860s and did not end until 1939 after an ex-prostitute named Raquel Liberman started a campaign that ultimately led to their downfall. Somewhat shockingly, the film does not feature a single redeemable Judaic character and instead is full of grotesque Jewish caricatures, namely a cowardly and craven young pimp with an obscene Oedipus complex and his similarly malevolent money-grubbing madam mommy. Incidentally, the film was produced by Jewish producer David Weisman—a protégé of Otto Preminger—who previously produced Paul Morrissey less than philo-semitic mafia satire Spike of Bensonhurst (1988). Notably, Schrader and Weisman previously had a quite monetarily and critically fruitful collaboration with Kiss of the Spider Woman, which seems to be a little bit too polished when compared to the visceral elegance of Naked Tango. Of course, Schrader only acted as a screenwriter on the previous film, but it seems that Weisman somehow expected the first-time-auteur to recapture the same success, albeit with a less than semitically sensitive twist. Naturally, a film about Jewish sex slavery would not be complete without a voluptuous seductive Jewess like Mathilda May of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce (1985) fame and her supple Khazar milkers (while I typically find Jewesses to be innately grotesque, May is a half-breed and it seems her Swedish genes have done her well in both the titty and derriere department).

    It should also be noted that various mainstream film critics criticized Naked Tango when it was released due to its less than philo-semitic approach to depicting history.  For exampled, assumed chosenite Ralph Novak complained in his September 16, 1991 review for People magazine that, “Great emphasis is placed on Morales’s Jewishness, for no clear reason.”  Of course, Novak is either being willingly ignorant and/or he did not do his homework, as the film is based on a well-known real-life kosher crime syndicate.  Additionally, the Jewish pimp played by Esai Morales hardly seems like a Jewish caricature in terms of physical appearance and certainly does not resemble a cunning gremlin like infamous real-life mobster Meyer Lansky.  In short, Naked Tango is probably too aesthetically flattering when it comes to depicting Judaic pimps and gangsters.  It seems that film specialists and academics are also unaware that it exists, as it does not get a single reference in Russell Campbell's book Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema (2006), which has been marketed as being the definitive text on the representation of female prostitution in cinema history. Incidentally, the book, which covers everything from New German Cinema to retro Swedish pornography, does dedicate a number of pages to Taxi Driver, which of course Schrader's brother Paul is famous for penning.



     Admittedly, while I don’t know shit about any form of dancing or ballet, I do have a certain inexplicable fondness for a number of idiosyncratic dance and ballet flicks, including (but certainly not limited to), Max Reichmann’s experimental Das Blumenwunder (1926) aka Miracle of Flowers, Swiss auteur Daniel Schmid’s debut feature Heute nacht oder nie (1972) aka Tonight or Never, Ingmar Bergman's somewhat obscure avant-garde short De fördömda kvinnornas dans (1976) aka The Condemned Women Dance, the sod serial killer oriented Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men (1989) and other Physical Theatre Company DV8 production related films, Rosa von Praunheim’s bizarre neo-Expressionist Anita Berber biopic Anita: Tänze des Lasters (1987) aka Anita: Dances of Vice, and even total senseless trash like Lucio Fulci’s dance-giallo Murder Rock (1984) aka Slashdance and mercurial guido auteur Peter Del Monte’s abortive arthouse neo-fairytale Etoile (1988) aka Ballet starring a rather young and nubile Jennifer Connelly. Indeed, I also regard the ‘danse macabre’ scene in Belgian master auteur André Delvaux’s Un soir, un train (1968) aka One Night... A Train as being among one of the most startlingly haunting scenes in cinema history. While I personally find tango music to be rather aesthetically disagreeable, it is an innate and imperative ingredient in what is ultimately a mostly delectable, yet sometimes bittersweet, cinematic cuisine that manages to combine an eclectic collection of ingredients, including Jewish gangsters, cabaret, proto-fascist aesthetics, Expressionism, Franz von Stuck, Rudolph Valentino worship, flapper sluts, and the perils of elegant excess, among other things. An erotic arthouse flick disguised as a trashy quasi-musical with a somewhat hermetic period setting, Naked Tango is arguably a grand artistic failure but it also indubitably the dead serious expression of a sick failed artist’s wounded soul, thereupon making it a quite apt first (and last) feature for Schrader.   Indeed, while Schrader may have only been able to direct one feature film during his life, he at least has never directed anything as hopelessly embarrassing as the incoherent shabbos goy tier shoah shit show Adam Resurrected (2008) or the totally worthless Nicholas Cage vehicle The Dying of the Light (2014) like his younger brother.  Additionally, Mathilda May makes for a much more appealing prostitute than Richard Gere in Schrader's somewhat uneven Bressonian crime-romance American Gigolo (1980).



     While the film’s young and beauteous heroine Stephanie (Mathilda May) might be quite easy on the eyes, it is somewhat hard to sympathize with her plight as she is, quite simply, a spoiled little bitch that dares to wallow in self-pity because she made the obvious mistake of marrying an old fart simply because he was a rich and respected judge. Indeed, Stephanie socially cuckolds her husband Juez Torres (Fernando Rey)—a man that seems to genuinely care for his wife despite having nothing in common with her—at the beginning of the film while they are vacationing on a cruise by dancing with a handsome young waiter, who initially mistakes her spouse for her father. While her husband purports to be a legendary tango dancer and she herself loves to tango, Stephanie is clearly disgusted at the thought of any sort of physical contact with Juez; be it sexual or otherwise. When Juez dares to berate her for her rather obnoxious quasi-slutty public behavior by declaring, “Stop making a scene. You’re acting worse than a whore,” she throws a rather childish fit, storms out of the dance hall and then heads to the deck of a ship where she is somewhat shocked to witness a beautiful nubile young girl stripping off all of her clothes and then committing suicide by jumping overboard. Clearly not the sort of person to miss the opportunity to exploit a good tragedy, Stephanie immediately decides to fake her own death and trades places with the mysterious dead girl by stealing her clothes and then leaving her own items at the scene of the glorious suicidal plunge. Upon discovering the dead girl’s journal, Stephanie discovers that the deceased was a a Jewish mail-order bride from Poland and that she is traveling to Buenos Aires to wed a kosher chap. Unfortunately for Stephanie, her mysterious husband-to-be is actually a sly pimp and gangster named Zico Borenstein (Esai Morales) that runs a stylish whorehouse with his obscenely overbearing and equally morally bankrupt mother (Cipe Lincovsky).  In short, Stephanie unwittingly goes from riches-to-rags, though she ultimately also goes from being a dishonest whore that married for money to becoming an honest enslaved pussy-peddler that does not even get to keep the money that her she actually earned via whoredom.



     Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, Zico—a fairly young man whose counterfeit suaveness is only rivaled by his well hidden cowardice—acts like quite the prim and pristine gentleman and even provides Stephanie with a very expensive diamond ring. Although he intends to turn her into a servile sex slave that makes him cash with her gash, Zico also talks up the local neighborhood, even bragging in regard to his corrupt little ghetto, “You’re going to be very happy here. It’s so much better than the old country. We are very proud of our Jewish community. Before we go back, I’ll introduce you to our kosher butcher, the grocer, the banker, the doctor . . . everyone with money. I mean, everyone important. You’ll be surprised at how fast they make you feel at home.”  Notably, Stephanie makes no attempt to pretend she is Jewish and Zico does not seem to suspect that she is a duplicitous shiksa that has her own dubious agenda, thus somewhat ironically making them the perfect couple as far as deceptive behavior and morally bankruptcy are concerned. Also, somewhat ironically, it is ultimately a man that initially displays nil interest in fucking her that makes her feel the most comfortable in her own pearly pale skin. Of course, as woman that married an old fart that she has no physical or emotional chemistry with, Stephanie certainly sees it as beneath her to peddler her pussy at the behest of a kosher nostra gangster for a mere couple of shekels that she will not even be able to keep herself. Luckily, Stephanie will at least finally meet a mensch that eventually falls head over heels in love with her in his own preternatural yet highly flattering fashion, thus naturally reaffirming her regret in regard to getting stuck in a loveless marriage. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Naked Tango—a film where two somewhat unhinged weirdos with sadomasochistic tendencies discover the ecstatic highs and crushing lows of visceral mad love—does not have a happy ending, at least not in the conventional sense.  In short, the (anti)heroine discovers that raw passion always has a hefty price, even when you're a busty little bitch that could have virtually any man you want.



     When Stephanie first meets her great love ‘Cholo’ (Vincent D'Onofrio)—a pathologically cryptic yet hyper hip tango maestro that is high on his own idiosyncratic brand of swag—she is wielding two knives and is fully prepared to defend herself, as she has just stabbed her (pseudo)husband Zico and a grotesquely obese jeweler named Bertoni (played by famous Yiddish actor Zero Mostel’s fairly unknown son Josh Mostel). Indeed, on their wedding night, Zico attempted to consummate the marriage by forcing a completely unwitting Stephanie to smoke the lard ass jeweler’s seemingly ungodly awful choad. Of course, Stephanie, who had no idea that her husband was a pernicious pimp, naturally resisted and thus was forced to stab both Zico and Bertoni in the process. Proving to be the only man that can control Stephanie, Cholo literally grabs her by the pussy and the lifts her up in the air, though he is in for somewhat of a shock when he immediately develops a completely electric erotic attraction while she is attempting to stab him, as if he can immediately sense, like an ancient vampire, a fellow unhinged tango fanatic. Although practically worshiped by virtually every single woman (and even some men) in the area, Cholo loathes sex and seems to see tango dancing as a substitute that is much purer and authentic than actual coitus. Indeed, as a flaming fag hairdresser named Gastón (Patricio Bisso) states in regard to Cholo’s preternatural proclivities, “We’d all give our long lost cherries to sleep with him but he sleeps with horses. He’s never given any girl a second look.”  With Stephanie, Cholo gives her a whole lot more than a second look and he ultimately pays the greatest price for it.

    While Zico attempts to coerce Cholo into killing Stephanie since she is a witness-cum-perpetrator in the murder of the mafia-connected jeweler Bertoni and thus can get them in trouble with a ruthless outfit of Italian gangsters known as the ‘Black Hand,’ he cannot break his almost immediately self-destructive obsession with her and instead immediately proceeds to focus on transforming her into a sort of designer whore of his dreams. Indeed, after forcing her to get a dark black Louise Brooks-esque flapper hairdo and to take the exotic whore name ‘Alba,’ Cholo—a suave and romantic yet seemingly sociopathic sicko that commits violence and murder with a certain unrivaled finesse that is comparable to his tango moves—cannot stop his rather deleterious obsession with making love with Stephanie via tango. On top of refusing to shove his almost mythical member in her clearly warm and ready snatch, Cholo also curiously forces Stephanie to wear a blindfold while they dance. In fact, Cholo is such an obsessive lunatic that he also has his own personal three-person tango band that he also forces to wear blindfolds, as if these almost phantom-like elderly musicians, who act as a sort of Greek chorus for the film, are too lowly and aesthetically handicapped to appreciate his perversely penetrating phantasmagoric dance moves. 




     As a result of her role in the death of mob-connected lardo jeweler Bertoni, Stephanie’s life is threatened by both yid pimp Zico and the Black Hand mobsters, so it is a good thing that Cholo becomes absolutely infatuated with her.  Indeed, while best buds with Zico and an associate of sorts with the goombah gangsters of the Black Hand, Cholo does not have to think twice about going to war with both just to defend Stephanie. In fact, after saving her from some somewhat intellectually disadvantaged guido gangsters, Cholo declares to Stephanie, who he has personally rechristened ‘Alba,’ in an almost sinisterly sensual fashion, “I’m sorry. This won’t happen again. Don’t worry, Alba. I’d never let anyone else kill you.” Instead of killing Stephanie, Cholo forces her to do the tango blindfolded sans clothing. While Stephanie is also a tango fanatic of sorts, she much rather have Cholo’s cock and practically begs him for it repeatedly but, unfortunately for her, he sees sex as sickening.  A somewhat paradoxical chap that radiates a certain alluring degree of machismo and androgyny, Cholo is clearly the man of Stephanie's dreams, at least as far as sheer sex appeal is concerned.

    When Stephanie cries to Choko while lying naked in pimp Zico’s bed, “I don’t know what sex with you is,” he replies, “Yes, you do. All sex is the same. It just leaves you more sad. The beauty you’re born with does not count. The only thing that counts is the beauty you make.”  If Cholo was an intellectual, one can certainly imagine him saying something in the vein of Georges Bataille like, “Nudity is only death, and the most tender kisses have the after-taste of the rat.”  Incidentally, Stephanie's eventual premature death while involve her nudity.  As Stephanie learns, real beauty to Cholo is doing the tango in a blood-drenched abattoir while sticking a dagger under your lover’s throat. Of course, Stephanie never gives up on attempting to coerce Cholo into jumping her bones, which he eventually does after murdering some pathetic wop gangster. Needless to say, Cholo does not shy away from pounding Stephanie’s puss while her buxom bare ass is sitting on broken glass. In short, the fact that Jewish and guido gangsters are trying to kill them only adds more passion to Stephanie and Cholo’s quite literally lethally lurid love affair. Unfortunately, being a woman, Stephanie still has strong survival instincts and an insatiable thirst for material things, so she eventually betrays Cholo and goes back to her wealthy judge husband, but not before burning a building down and quite selfishly risking the lives of many innocent people in the process, thus underscoring her sense of quasi-sociopathic greed and self-worship. Naturally, Cholo refuses to let Stephanie go and she cannot deny her undying love for the twisted tango maestro, so it is not long before they are reunited.  Needless to say, the lovers are doomed.



     In the spirit of classic European ‘impossible love’ myths like Tristan and Iseult and Orpheus and Eurydice and film reworkings of such perennial stories like the Jean Cocteau-penned Vichy era classic L'Éternel retour (1943) aka The Eternal Return directed Jean Delannoy, Naked Tango naturally concludes in a tragically romantic fashion with the leads being completely destroyed because of their quite impossible forbidden love. Indeed, when Stephanie decides to once again betray her husband and choose Cholo over him, he finally loses his patience and opts to killer her in what can only be described as a crime of cuck passion. Of course, when the judge shoots Stephanie, Cholo immediately retaliates and does so by suavely and quite effortlessly throwing a knife through the old fart's swarthy decrepit Latin neck. In the end, the judge’s henchman—corrupt local Prussian-esque cops that shoot first and ask questions later—unleash a storm of bullets on Cholo and Stephanie as they quite literally take their last dance together. As a symbolic act of both true love and heroic defiance, Cholo uses his last couple moments alive to raise Stephanie lifeless body in the air as if he is trying to vain to send her off to heaven while his feet are just beginning to feel the warmth of the pits of hell.  As individuals that were clearly not built for marriage or kids that indubitably reached the zenith of their love for another, Stephanie and Cholo could not have left this world together in a more appropriate fashion.  Luckily, Cholo manages to execute Zico as revenge for his betrayal shortly before his own death.  Quite symbolically considering the neurotic maternal spirit of Ashkenazi Jewry, Zico's mother seems to be the only one that survives the blood bath and now she can keep all of the whorehouse money for herself instead of splitting it with her pimp son.



     As history certainly demonstrates from Samson’s harlot of Gaza to Heidi ‘Hollywood Madam’ Fleiss, Jews and prostitution go together like peas and carrots, yet Naked Tango is probably the only film that dares to take a fearless and less than politically incorrect approach to the subject. Notably, in her book Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany (1995), Maria Tatar noted in regard to the literary tradition of Jews and prostitution, “Jews came to be linked not only with the perpetrators of sexual murder, but with the victims as well. Like the prostitute, the Jew is seen to represent a serious threat to the moral, fiscal, and sexual economy of the social body. As Sander Gilman has pointed out, both prostitutes and Jews have been liked by what is seen to be a sexualized relation to capital—they have ‘but one interest, the conversion of sex into money or money into sex.’ Unable to find value in transcendent spiritual matters, their interests remain fixed on the material and financial. More important, prostitutes and Jews, because of their spiritual corruption, are considered carriers of sexually transmitted diseases, a view clearly articulated in Hitler’s MEIN KAMPF.” Ironically and somewhat cynically, the protagonists of the film, especially female lead Stephanie, are ultimately destroyed as a result of abandoning material consumption for visceral true love. Interestingly, the leads are ultimately victims of greed and treachery of a Jewish pimp in a film that, quite unintentionally, lends authority to Uncle Adolf's words, “Particularly with regard to syphilis, the attitude of those who guide the nation and the state can only be described as total capitulation […] The cause lies primarily in the prostitution of love […] This Jewification of the spiritual life and mammonization of the mating instinct will sooner or later destroy all of our descendants.” Of course, the protagonists die before they can even produce descendants despite their eventual abandoning of both literal and spiritual prostitution.  Indeed, were it not such a debauched film, Schrader's debut feature could be mistaken as an homage to the classic high-camp melodramas of National Socialist auteur Veit Harlan.  Naturally, the fact that it was directed by a lifelong leftist and draft-dodger that previously directed liberal anti-American agitprop makes Naked Tango seem like an all the more inexplicable cinematic work, so it is really no big surprise that has been tragically consigned to the celluloid dustbin of history.



    While Naked Tango certainly seems a little bit culturally mongrelized due to its glaring international cast and mostly pleasantly preternatural period setting that oftentimes more resembles Weimar Berlin than Buenos Aires in terms of aesthetic spirit, the film is indubitably deeply rooted in both cultural and social history and reflects Schrader's sagely understanding of art, cinema, and literature as indicated by the film's use aesthetic influences ranging from Manuel Puig to German Expressionism. Indeed, aside from being inspired by the real-life Jewish sex slavery outfit Zwi Migdal, the film follows in the tradition of certain forgotten Jewish art, or as explained at the Jewish Virtual Library, “Yiddish literature of the early 20th century contains a number of powerful portrayals of the social and personal costs of widespread prostitution including Sholem Asch’s GOD OF VENGEANCE and Perets Hirschbein’s MIRIAM. A 1908 performance of the latter in Buenos Aires led to a bloody public riot.” Of course, the almost gothic-like Jewish ghetto setting seems to be largely window dressing for Schrader’s eclectic aesthetic obsessions. After all, I doubt many Hebraic whorehouses have stained glass windows modeled after some of Franz von Stuck’s greatest paintings, including Die Sünde (1893) aka The Sin and Sphinx (1904).  Somewhat ironically considering the film's degenerate Jewish setting, von Stuck was apparently apparently Adolf Hitler's favorite painter.  Notably, when Aryan Christ Jung wrote in his book Symbols of Transformation (1956) in regard to von Stuck's paintings, “The mixture of anxiety and lust is perfectly expressed in the sultry atmosphere of these pictures,” he certainly could have also been describing Schrader's film.

    In a January 07, 1990 interview with John M. Wilson at the Los Angeles Times in regard to the production of the film, Schrader demonstrated he was personally obsessed with romance, arguing, “For me, the essence of romance, for all its high-octane fuel, is for romance to burn itself out. In the ashes of romance can grow a more mature, a different kind of love. The more chance you have to take romance all the way to the end, the more chance you have to be ready for the next phase. Most of us only have the courage to take it halfway.” Of course, the lovers in the film go all the way in terms of their love and pay the ultimate price for it, but as Schrader stated in the same interview, “Most romances keep the element of death hidden under the table. I wanted to put it square in the middle of the table.”



    It seems that Schrader, who apparently liked the emotional of security of knowing that he was always sleeping with a loaded weapon under his pillow and thus could kill himself at any time, was a somewhat tragic self-destructive individual who was a slave of the Todestrieb. While putting together Naked Tango in the editing room, Schrader even expressed a certain irrational excitement in regard to the artistic uncertainty of his film, stating, “This is why I love it—every choice, every step, every moment is crucial. I love to be in that position, where I can win or lose, because it means that what I'm doing counts.”  Judging simply by his statement, it makes one wonder whether or not Schrader was attempting to sabotage his own career by making a film about rather unsavory Jewish pimps and gangsters while working in the hyper Hebraic realm of Hollywood. Of course, despite his brother Paul ultimately directing the film, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)—a somewhat experimental biopic of the great Japanese novelist and neo-fascist Yukio Mishima—was ultimately Schrader's brainchild and an expression of his own romantic and self-destructive tendencies.  Knowing this, I can only assume that Leonard was the more subversive and intelligent of the two brothers, but sadly it seems he was an underachiever that was too antisocial and just plain mentally ill to establish a filmmaking career that was extensive as his own little bro.  It seems that Schrader was also somewhat lazy, as he spent the majority of his life as ‘script doctor’ which, to quote the failed auteur, allowed him to obtain, “big money for a short amount of work.”  Unfortunately, Naked Tango was ultimately such a huge failure that it is all but totally unknown in Schrader’s own homeland and currently unavailable in any home media format, though it seems to have developed some minor success in Europe and Argentina.

    Still, I doubt that Schrader would have ever been capable of developing any sort of big mainstream success.  Indeed, as a strange introverted intellectual that seemed to suffer posttraumatic success as a result of strict and totally movie-less Dutch Calvinist upbringing, the failed auteur probably did not relate to most people.  Additionally, I am not surprised that the man that directed Naked Tango also once candidly confessed, “I would be sitting alone in some room at three o'clock in the morning with a loaded gun, thinking about blowing my brains out.  It was not, ‘I'm having a bad day, I wanted to kill myself’; no, the desire, the need, felt as real as a fucking table. I want to do this, and I never want to do this. I'm three seconds away from it, and I'm three million years away from it. I felt the fever of two things inside me fighting. I was breaking out in a sweat, my temperature was going up from the intensity of it. Sometimes I would just stare at the wall, trying to quiet the heat down, but sometimes the heat kept building, and that's when I was looking for the gun. Triggered by something physical, like I couldn't sleep. I found out that if I stuck the barrel in my mouth, like some infant's pacifier, I could fall asleep. It worked for two or three weeks, and all of a sudden, it didn't work. I'd been sucking on an empty gun. I knew if I loaded the sonofabitch, I was gonna sleep tonight.” While Schrader was apparently not a fag since he was married to a Jap chick, somehow it seems fitting that his real-life, as demonstrated by the above quote, sometimes resembled a scene out of Jean Genet's sole film Un chant d'amour (1950) aka A Song of Love.



    -Ty E
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  • Glenn Frey, RIP / Does Immigration Lower Wages?
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    From The Atlantic: The Great Immigration-Data Debate Does the flow of new arrivals depress the wages of blue-collar American workers? It depends on how you measure. DAVID FRUM JAN 19, 2016 POLITICS … One of the most influential such modeling exercises was a paper published by the University of California’s David Card in 1990. Card studied the economy of Miami after an influx of 125,000 Cuban migrants between April and October 1980, the “Mariel boat lift.” Under American law, Cuban migrants become almost immediately eligible to work in the U.S. The result: In bare weeks, the greater Miami workforce jumped by 8 percent—and the stock of workers without a high-school diploma spiked a startling 20 percent. Yet—according to David Card—even this large and sudden supply shock had no negative effect on the wage trend for low-skilled workers. (Wages did decline, he finds, but no more for those workers he regarded as competing with Marielitos than for those he regards as not competing.) This finding, if true, carried enormous implications. The United States in the 1990s would experience a vast surge of very low-skilled migration, legal and illegal, from Mexico and Central America. Simple economic logic predicted that competition from these migrants should depress the wages of native-born Americans. Card reassured policymakers that simple logic was wrong: They could welcome the newcomers at no cost to the settled population. Here at last was the free lunch that Milton Friedman had so obstinately insisted could not exist. How was it possible that immigration could stand as the sole exception to the usual laws of supply and demand? Okay, but as I’ve been pointing out since 2006, Card made the assumption that the only thing different about Miami’s economy in 1980-1984 from his control group of American cities with similar economic growth to Miami in the late 1970s was the Mariel boat lift. But ceteris wasn’t paribus because Miami, unlike the rest of America in 1980-84, was suddenly being flooded with suitcases full of $100 bills in exchange for cocaine from Colombia. All else was definitely not equal. The Mariel boat lift happened to coincide very closely in time and place with the cocaine boom of 1980. I repetitiously argue that economists should be familiar with this famous episode in economic history from lurid pop culture artifacts, such as the current Netflix TV show Narcos, the 1983 movie Scarface, and the 1984 television drama Miami Vice. (Oliver Stone’s screenplay for Scarface even prophesied that Cuban criminals arriving in the Mariel boat lift would take over the Miami cocaine trade, although in retrospect that doesn’t seem to have happened to the extent imagined in the movie.) The death of the former member of the Eagles, Glenn Frey, at age 67, should be another reminder to economists. One of Frey’s solo hits was his 1984 song “Smuggler’s Blues,” a densely plotted saga about the Florida cocaine trade which was turned into this elaborate MTV video. I believe it also served as the inspiration for a Miami Vice episode guest-starring Frey. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Kyle Smith1
National Review



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • How 'Star Wars' was secretly George Lucas' Vietnam protest
    (”Scarface” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    george lucasstar wars When filmmaker George Lucas showed a rough cut of his third feature to his friends Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg in the spring of 1977, Spielberg thought it was going to be a huge hit. De Palma mocked it ruthlessly. “What is this Force s–t?” he asked. The director who had spilled a literal bucket of blood in “Carrie” the previous year, and would open many more arteries in “Scarface” a few years later, wanted to know, “Where’s the blood when they shoot people?” But De Palma worried that he’d hurt Lucas’ feelings, so to prove he was still supportive of his pal, he agreed to pitch in — and rewrite (along with Jay Cocks, the Time critic and screenwriter) the opening crawl that gives us the back story of the Empire and the rebels in “Star Wars”: “It is a period of civil war . . .” Even obsessives will likely find much that’s news to them in the new book “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise” (Basic Books), in which author and Mashable editor Chris Taylor delivers tasty nuggets worthy of being savored, like a human sacrifice being digested in the Great Pit of Carkoon, for a thousand of years. Taylor unveils, for instance, the origin of “wookiee” — the sound editor on Lucas’ debut “THX 1138” hired voice actor and DJ Terry McGovern, who brought along to the studio his fellow Army reservist Bill Wookey. Stoned, McGovern ad-libbed the line, “I think I just ran over a Wookey back there,” which Lucas didn’t use in the film but thought was hilarious. He wrote the word down in his notebook, changing the spelling. Director George Lucas stands next to a digital movie camera used to shoot “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” on the set of the film.APLucas also hired McGovern again: He’s the voice of the stormtrooper parroting Obi-Wan Kenobi to say, “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.” The gig earned McGovern $200. Bill Wookey, meanwhile, never met Lucas and had no clue he was going to play a part in film history until he happened to see “Star Wars,” at which point people started assuming he was the inspiration for Chewbacca: Wookey is a hairy, bearded man who stands 6 feet 3. R2-D2? When assembling the sound mix for Lucas’ “American Graffiti,” Walter Murch and Lucas worked with cans of tape identified as either reel (R) or dialogue (D) and were also numbered. When Murch called out, “I need R2, D2,” everyone on the set laughed. Lucas thought it was amusing and wrote it in his notebook. The book also considers “Star Wars” from cultural, historical and thematic points of view. Vietnam, it turns out, was a strong undercurrent in the thinking of Lucas (who was rejected for the draft because he was diabetic). Even before he made “Star Wars,” he wanted to make a documentary-style antiwar film on Vietnam that was to be called, in a title devised by his friend John Milius, “Apocalypse Now.” (The project passed on to another Lucas compadre, Francis Ford Coppola, who had given Lucas his first movie job working on the musical “Finian’s Rainbow.”) Mark Hamill in “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back”Everett Collection Lucas saw “Apocalypse,” “American Graffiti” (set in 1962) and “Star Wars” as a loosely linked thematic trilogy exploring the war in Southeast Asia, the prelapsarian glory before it and the fascistic Empire-ruled aftermath (“Star Wars” was originally set in the 33rd century). Back in a 1973 note on “Star Wars,” Lucas made clear which side he was rooting for in the Vietnam War: “A large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters.” Since space operas were typically associated with low-budget ’60s junk, “Star Wars” had a rough time finding a home. United Artists rejected it, then Universal had an option that expired in 10 days. The studio never even bothered to supply an answer, so Lucas took the project to Disney, which also said no before Fox said yes. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in 1983Everett CollectionAs karma, Disney never will, in fact, own the original “Star Wars”: Fox owns the rights to it forever, while the rights to the five sequels in 2020 go to Disney, which bought LucasFilm for $4 billion two years ago. One of the most amusing aspects of the book is when it reveals what a huge role serendipity played in “Star Wars.” Lucas initially ruled out Harrison Ford because he thought the audience would be distracted if any cast member from “American Graffiti” (in which Ford had a tiny part) turned up in his next one. Ford, unemployed, had returned to his trade, which was carpentry. One of his gigs was at the American Zoetrope offices, where Lucas was having casting meetings. Casting director Fred Roos wasn’t being passive-aggressive when he hired Ford for the carpentry job: The office, he said, simply needed a new door. Spotted by Lucas, Ford not only installed one, but stepped through another: into a galaxy far, far away. Imagine what a different set of films would have resulted if Lucas had gone with his second choice — Christopher Walken. Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogleFacebook MessengerWhatsAppEmailCopy ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

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