Monday, September 23, 2013

Prisoners


Prisoners

The movie begins with Hugh Jackman's character, Keller Dover, attending his son's successful kill of a deer. Just into the film, we're not quite sure what to prioritize, how much yet to ascribe any particular that strays into our sight, so we give the fact that the movie shows hunting to be about springing on an animal whose attention is preoccupied elsewhere, full due. Hunting means killing, and possibly in the process, terribly wounding an animal whose flank is to you. When Keller salutes his son for the effort, we're certainly willing to submerge this fact so it doesn't too much incriminate a father whose love for his son is real, but it's certainly not completely out of mind when Keller's best friend's oldest daughter asks his son if he is comfortable stalking deer. The son replies not with his experience but with what his father would say in retort: hunting is a way to keep nature in balance ... and besides, how soon are you about to turn away from innocent-cow-produced burgers? So, when we eventually find out that the person intent on hunting down children describes her efforts about as coldly, if for an inverse purpose--for her it's about disrupting God's plans, not tending them: nothing tees people off into madness than the disappearance of children--are we in mind to ascribe equivalence, even slightly? No, the movie isn't that sophisticated. They're not both addled on over onto the same suspect line, which might include everyone sufficiently besotted they're non-blanched at making insipid imprints on beautiful flesh, including the numerous-tattooed, somewhat sullen and snide detective, Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), but rather one doggedly good against one entirely evil. But likely unconscious to us, we've still in some way aligned them together: you've got to be able to turn hard on other's suffering if you mean to pursue larger goals. He ends up torturing a young man for days and days to get information he just knows he possesses, and it's the most abominable path in that it leads him to a point where no one--not even you, the movie-goer--has any sure faith in him anymore. He's all alone in a void where going on looks to be about either obliterating all awareness that he might actually have made an awry choice which resulted in his doing something damnable, useful only in satisfying a desire to feel efficacious and rage against a world with no choice but to suffer his bruising imprint; or maybe just, still holding onto his awareness that his victim had given him sure signs--the kinds of signs an experienced hunter recognizes instinctively in the gives of prey--that to get to the kids their location has to be broken out of him. What could have doomed him, what was dooming him, instead hefted him off into herodom ... he was right, and gets to the true child abductor--the aunt--first. Jail for his actions becomes, what, scratching him with a few negligible abrasions as he slowly stretches up into a human giant? Yes indeed; only that.

Taking her down fails, looking to be owing to his not being so good going after another hunter--he'd become excellent at some point, but remains at this point nonetheless a newbie at this. He prides himself in once again getting into her house, seemingly through another successful deception--he'd done a number on the detective previously, and seemingly also before the aunt, so surely he's already got good game with this skill, right?--not realizing this means getting him off the street and turning his vulnerable flank to actually pistol-armed her. And for a human being, who, like a deer, can be taken down by even one shot, this means the end of his efforts. But it still seems like an instance of first through the wall always gets hurt: with the follow-up pursuit by the detective, the aunt relents almost immediately, as if the game has got now to be up entire, hoping only for one last successful slay of a child, one last nasty rippling through of the human community to unsteady God, before becoming rendered a shot-through crumpled form requiring burial or cremation. 

The movie gives a great deal of give on who it's okay to be--for instance, the priest we first encounter as a drunken mess, had once taken upon himself to do in someone who had slain numerous children and would have slain more if he hadn't stepped in, even if this still made him someone who stores a bound corpse in his basement. But it's not so pleasant to true teddy-bear types. The father of the other abducted child, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), is a professional, wears fine sweaters, endeavours to play the trumpet, makes his basement into a friendly entertainment space, and he, unlike Keller, can't bear to keep what Keller is up to to himself. So while Keller, to keep the possibility of retrieving his child's location alive, lets himself be thought of as someone who deals with a crisis selfishly by escaping to a retreat and into alcohol, Franklin coughs it up pretty much immediately to his wife Nancy (Viola Davis). Keller finds this out by Nancy's banging on his door to accost him, with her husband behind her, sundered and shamed for betraying his friend's trust and relenting to his wife to handle things subsequently. The film figuratively castrates him once again, when his wife actually ends up agreeing with Keller, telling her husband to adopt Keller's ability to think on their children rather than take the "easy" way out, and absolve the long-tortured, mentally-disabled man any subsequent abuse.

It's not so easy on tortured, abducted kids, either. It's probably not so unpleasant to those like the Birch's girl, who succeeds in an escape not too far long into her capture, but those kept long enough in terrible conditions that they're going to show signs of crippling owing to it, sure aren't treated that well. Think Paul Dano's character Alex Jones, a victim of child-abduction, who we are repeatedly told hasn't any sadistic intentions towards children himself and is possessed of a ten-year-old's mental state and intelligence, and who is beat to near the point of death and then boxed in and subjected alternatively to blasts of intense heat and intense cold. Think David Dastmalchian's character Bob Taylor, who we learn too was an abducted child subjected to terrific abuse, and who too now though a bag of quirks remains nevertheless essentially harmless, and is beaten to a pulp by the detective before he does a quick steal of a gun and blows his own head off. The film does agonies of horror to these two, and then when it gets to the child-afflicter herself, it lets her off with but one easy bullet ... is it too much to say it was done out of respect? Abused children are urinals you can piss in yet again, just let it gush and gush all over them, while the abductor is a just-come-upon statue you're surely baiting the gods by taking down in any drawn out way.  

P.S. People have accused Chris Nolan's Dark Knight series as being misanthropic, and you'd have to wonder then what adjective they'd need to invent to adequately damn this film. Dastmalchian was a tormented, insane man in that film too we remember, and Batman scolded the DA intent on tormenting information out of him that he was raging on someone mentally sick--a schizophrenic--and that he wasn't going to get anywhere with this. Batman also said the thing that took him out of his despair of finding himself parentless, alone, and in a hell of self-accusation that was sure to render him insane, was a surprise moment of kindness--Inspector Gordon's putting his coat around him and talking to him in nurturance and sympathy. Dark Knight's philosophy applied to this film would have had the torture go nowhere, and for the breakthrough to have come from Nancy's effort to break with the program and show some trust in Alex, who'd known so little of it in life. I like this film, but you can bet I would have preferred to have seen this. It's the truth--kindness is the way to go, if we're really interested in making a better world rather than accosting ourselves for once having put purposeful posts up in that direction. And boy oh boy does the world need this reminder. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Family

The Family

When the mob family descends on their new locale, a quaint village in northern France, their identity is of American. The mobster's wife, Michelle Pfeiffer's character Maggie, enters into a local grocery and asks for peanut butter, descending upon her a crowd of locals dismaying American obesity. Certainly too, when the teen boy and girl in the family join the local school, they're the improvising, brass-balled Americans, whomever sets out to take advantage of them regrets their imposition near immediately. Later, however, it would seem that what they are mostly is Italian--Maggie is fierce in pitting her olive oil diet against the French obsession with cream, as if bulwarked by centuries of Italian lives and culture. They churn out burgers and Cokes for the locals, only to satisfy expectations--Americanism has become a red cape they float before onrushing french bulls they're cannily flanking and spotting out. I'm not quite sure how much fun it is to watch a pleb mob family reduce the French into imbeciles, but I suppose if you understand that what they're doing is impressing themselves upon new cushions so they are succumbed of some of their store presence to take on more of "you," I suppose you can at least get at the sanity of what they're wanting to do.


But what becomes interesting is how in their individual pursuits they find themselves extraneous to one another. The father goes from being a retired patrician mobster to become an excited cell terrorist, activated in his fervour to take down a corporation. The mother goes from sallying forth destruction to the arrogant French in piquant moments to finding her own insides blasted out, with a priest taking what she had revealed to him as ingredients to mix back a mirror as to how long a road of evil she's traveled. The daughter goes from teaching awkward, totally overmatched teenagers a lesson they'll never forget to taking on a polished young instructor, who'll show her that spunk and sass can be quickly subsumed if any inflection at all is given the life someone poised and learned is due to lead. The boy manipulates a whole school to his advantage, but becoming Zuckerberg to the school spanks him as to how top dog substitutes paltry happiness if it's not something he can adequately return home and show family. They've gone so far out in their own individual sports that gangsters arriving to kill them really serve as a welcome call back home. The French, who had temporarily been given some advantage, are once again relinquished all, as the gangsters dump however many they need into corpse status to show the power of this call; tailing along with it, a whole family back tightly together again. 

The episode packages up, and the family is off to fuss up some other European station for awhile. We take stock, and see them as a blotch of virus who are eating up small moth holes into a fine swatch of something precious we weren't really allowed to see, for it making their presence there beyond endurable. Exempting the boy--he is the lone one of the family who can strategize, delay, his revenge--they've each got major problems restraining themselves, which their CIA overlookers greatly assist them with. Fine. But if they needed a soothing, antique village with a lot of prop people to serve as a calming backdrop for this containment "therapy," it's too bad it couldn't be done entirely in simulation. 

Insidious 2

Insidious 2

I leave it to Insidious 2 to faithfully expound upon the most significant fact about evil--those doing it aren't themselves, but rather are possessed by alters driving them to take sadistic pleasure in murdering innocents. It's quite something, after seeing the damage the adult Parker Crane has done to women he's culled from local denizens--rotted bodies aligned in church rows--to finally be introduced to him as a young boy, and for him to be attributed about the same amount of empathy as the good boy in the film, Josh Lambert. They spy him in long braids and a girl's dress, combing his doll's hair. When he turns around, he actually warns them to get out of the room--he actually tries to help them! Later we see his mother descend upon him and make him feel as if his entire known universe will be squashed out if he doesn't obey her in all respects, and cast himself in the role of female full-time so to be fully owned by her and bear no resemblance to a husband she wants cast out of memory altogether. Later he would own his mother's look--eyes of convinced sadism, a wide smile supped on other people's powerlessness and pain--and it's clear he's in no way his own self anymore: his mother alter has simply taken him over.


There is nothing scarier for human beings than the look of our mothers when they themselves are possessed. I've seen it--at an age where I was old enough to have the resources not to feel the normally life-saving need to bury my awareness of it. She wandered into my room while I was still awake, with the complete scary visage of someone under possession, driven to seek out innocents to harm. But while it was true that I was in her home at the time owing to vulnerability, I wasn't so vulnerable not to take some delight in this kind of "photo capture" of the source of the fear that had dissuaded me away from whatever full kind of self-realization I might have been capable of--"you, kid, are owned by me; I will flush into you my emotions, and they will have their full play with you." Here was the source of the absolutely terrifying "eye ball" nightmare I used to have all the time as the kid, where my dreams would be going casually along their route, and then all of a sudden a boulder-sized eyeball would appear and advance upon me. Here is the source of that maybe still subliminally felt sense, that if I'm out enjoying life, adorning myself with possessions and accomplishments beyond what my mother would have thought me allotted--something uncomfortable to her--that all of a sudden out of the blue I might casually open up a door and see a terror of teeth about to have it out with me.

Actually, this might be an exaggeration ... it is possible that now I'm completely demon free. What I do with my independence might take my mother--in all respects--further and further away from me (which, trust me, is pretty damn scary as well; and is surely the source of my conjuring her up in my daydreams and my writing), but it may be I can't see any Joker face, twisted to take delight in pain, and not instantly see the helpless "Parker Crane" that was going to have no choice but to let this demon into him/herself, and own them whole in response to triggers of self-fulfillment and helplessness.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Butler


The Butler


The current generation of liberals have clearly reached expiry date when they find themselves—without knowing it, of course—actually favoring Uncle Toms, thereby becoming exactly those whom they in their better days would have been at lead in toppling. The current black situation is that the huge bulk of them are in the dispossessed 99%, with the vast majority, in the worst ghettos of this unlucky group. And liberals look at this group, and see a hopeless situation. They see people who have simply transmogrified, who, having their claim on bourgeois respectability taken from them, have over the last 30 years of taking sustenance from the sort of foul stuff you count as familiar when you're trying to makeshift an accommodating life for yourself in hell—with cock-fight UFC becoming your sport, sadomasochistic Fifty Shades your fiction, heavy whiskey drinking your milk, and hard-core porn and online-betting not even a poke that something has gone wrong—and now stand before them as a people anthropologically different, fixed forever in their degraded status, like brief fresh flesh to stagnant rotten meat. At the same time liberals have stopped believing past-times shared by all are really America's greatest cultural offering, and accoutered themselves in whatever way to make them feel that as if by DNA, every sprout of their lived lives must have behind it years of private-school teaching. The idea that you should want the 99% to be given a loud voice, and dominate American culture, is about as absurd as saying you want to bring down the walls staunching back a zombie hoard. You might assist them a little, agree to minimum wage increases and health care benefits, but you'll turn armaments against whomever would say it is insufficient to let them rest with administrations that still keep them compartmentalized and accountable.

It's not so much right to say that they remember your origins, either, who you were before. Rather, it's a bit as if for an agreed upon extended period of years, they stayed eyes-fixed to their New York Times, and looked up so they could see everything again with fresh eyes; and so so much of the democratic world that was built upon the belief that people are equal, and once had ample evidence for this belief, can look now, with this spread of loonies partaking so much of the population, simply absurd to them. They go to a liberal web site, and look down from the article to the comment section, and cannot believe that people had once thought it worth so much effort to place such a close bridge between writer and audience. They look at the grand numbers of people who can but don't vote, and actually hope they rest content in their apathy: if they all went out to the ballot box, they'd force the unpleasant acknowledgement that one person-one vote, is a fantastical, silly, dangerous proposition, when so many are only one-fifth as human as they themselves are. And they realize that their task is to argue for the reality of the number of unhumans loud enough, that the moral imperative becomes to take down the morays that have made it seem as if larger inclusion is a humane and necessary thing. So courageously they in unison pit their courageous resources, and the crowd of unknowns that hippies once thought you should know, for believing you could be spiritually pure regardless of how anonymous your situation or what-not anonymous no-place you're from, become trolls, unknowns, but dank killers, who from under bridges or out of dark corridors can be relied upon to stank up any good thing the civilized might be forging. And so eventually, pounding this lesson home—trolls! trolls! trolls!, progress begins to be made, and sites that were once open-access begin to require commenters to provide their full name with their posts, a seemingly small request, but really a final nail, considering that coinciding with this request is a society that has made newscast-main-story the fact that individuals caught saying the wrong thing can get 35 years, or a visit from the unimpressed, who've located your address, and who'll show how you can be turfed out of your job or kicked to shit with bats, in a startled, shocked, blink of an eye. And as to the public vote, you can't let it come to your actually denying people it: there's no way this wouldn't cause dissonance that would destroy even you. So what you do is make them feel so apart from a world that would give a shit about them, that in frustration they come to believe their only hope is through violence. And then you make violence, a decision to desist from the public conversation and just stage revolt, something that is goodness gone foul—something wildly excessive and spoiled, for it being completely unnecessary—and something you can destroy like something tolerated gone arrogant, like a weed proclaiming itself a latinized plant, in a truly terrific garden that shudders the thought. For which all, you'll need directors, traitors to the underclass that take your view and makes it incontestable. You'll need Uncle Toms  ... and so enter the butcher, or sorry, Lee Daniels's foul weapon, The Butler, so all that would disquiet the over-class can begin to rest the fuck in peace.

The Butler takes you through black history in America, from cotton-fields to today, and everything Daniels, a black man, shows you concerning black Americans is either exemplary or understandable ... exempting the Black Panther movement. At a time in history when black Americans were buoyed by the huge love and peacefulness of Martin Luther King, and who would eventually find others his equal to relate to and support—first Nelson Mandela, then (ostensibly) Obama—here, according to the film, is where even a very good and righteous population can go foul if it shorns patience for hate. The Black Panthers, we learn, though ostensibly about community service, were really just interested in taking out two of you for every one of them. Their way, is blood on the streets, payback, with anything good that could possibly come from this, really beside the point (the only point they're concerned with, is your head, on the end of a pike). And it is okay, regardless of your color, to hate them.

How do we know this? Because the person who exemplifies membership to the Panther movement that is true to it, rather than based on what it purportedly stands for, is the sole black villain in this film. She is the butler's eldest son's girlfriend, Carol Hammie, who looks down on her boyfriend's family, at just that point in the film when the butler's wife has ceased drinking and cheating on him for her realizing she just can't any longer do this to such a good man. The wife, Oprah Winfrey's Gloria Gaines, identifies Carol as low-life trash; and the occasion of correct naming, sparks momentum in the film to show up how foul she really is, demarcating how even her five-year-long love for her boyfriend was false. She's model gorgeous—the most beautiful woman in the film, by far—and the Black Panthers are fierce in their black attire, but they're lost souls tempting blacks to where chaos—no true love; all hate—reigns.

So you take a film like this where done by a black person, the one thing that a liberal crowd allowed itself to question regarding black empowerment is given huge leverage. When a dispossessed people begin to dress in spooky garb—in this film, Carol's aggressive afro doesn't really jive with her boyfriend's black leather—he still looks an affable Theo Huxtable—and is effectively in affronting Joker garb—and beget violence, then, effectively, the KKK has got company: one ranges more over Southern rural, and the other NorthEast urban, but it's all just more goons on the landscape. Once you've chosen this path, your life circumstances no longer applies, for no amount of previous suffered hate prevents you of your God-given ability to choose the path of love. And so as liberals free their homes of the presence of the dispossessed, by raising rents, and thereby effectively shipping them off to the outskirt ghettos; and in a sense free them from their presence on the way to work, with tax policies that attend to "your" drive but pay less and less attention to their public transport; and keep them seeming contained, at least, as they explore their preferred websites, by construing comment sections so they seem fetid marshes you screen out as you fix on your own haute-bourgeois/aristocratic compartments, at first the dispossessed do nothing as you enjoy how "scum" miraculously seems less present in your everyday life, but later manifest, in a terrible way—with a burnt-down luxury apartment building that had taken the place of something low-rent, scrawled with anarchist hate; with minimum-wage food chains looted across the country—after strikes had gone nowhere—with stolen burgers from them shoved up the arses of uptown gourmets; with private roads laced with fowl killed in oil spills, that leave morning drivers retching—these dispossessed are going to be received with nothing but a merciless hard crackdown—regardless of huge a high percentage of them are black, mentally-ill, and starving. If they had waited, their sufferings would eventually have been noticed—did you not see how the butler eventually had the support of a president to get his raise-hike?—but impertinently, impatiently, greedily, and unnecessarily, they chose the path of hate, and have become vermin. 

Crackdown is to be lead by the likes of Daniels as well. The Butler shows he's got all the right attributes. You don't want them too smart and sophisticated, and he's not. You don't want him thinking an aristocrat, an officer, is anything he can aspire to, but rather contented to himself as a gruff staff-sergeant, and he is. And you want him beguiled to "betters," as if they are gods, harsh as hell on any of the underclass who'd try and rival them, and he—to near a point that should make him look a bit ridiculously stupid to his betters—is. If you're showing cotton-field masters, it's okay to show them as brutal sadists, but if you can't show scenes of them and their black servants/slaves that doesn't spark something outside folk portrayal—all evil, and all innocence—narrative needs are determining what you are seeing in life. If you're showing students being prepped to suffer abuse by forcing other students to play the role of accosters, at a historical time when psychology was becoming famous for its prisoner/guard experiments, where students couldn't help but play their delegated roles for real, and for the Maslow experiments, where people told to shock a victim could find themselves apparently shocking them from pain into unconsciousness, and you do it just straight, then you're not post but pre-Kubrick, and are actually dialing back what we know of people and the world. If you show someone in close proximity to presidents, yet nothing shown looks different from what an ignorant person from afar would project as how these scenes would play, you're pretty much taking the accomplishment of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing back, and substituting something more dutiful to authority; more respectful of mystique and distance. And if you show every worn president but not the one who currently resides, you make it seem as if they were all leading up to the one so pure and beyond he's most accurately represented as a light that's effused itself over the social landscape, concentrated heavy beyond the door you're about to enter, and about to take you some place as rapturous as heaven. And if you show Jackie O as a natural aristocrat, a true princess, and her rival beauty—but of the dispossessed—as a snake villain, you're the Uncle Tom who's undertaken the tradition of D W Griffith. So fabulously unaware are you, that the lesson you think you know by heart, is one you impertinently cast aside to put a stake though the snake: "guess who's coming to dinner," isn't supposed to favor the traditional-minded family who's shocked by the strange black thing planted down at the dinner table before them, but shown up by him or her.  

And when we've lost that lesson, we no longer believe in democracy, but shown that though it might have taken three centuries to prove it, the whigs were wrong: gates need to be put in place to keep these tempering hordes from bucking up into a revolution.