Showing posts from January, 2015

From "American Sniper" to ... "Triumph of the Will"?

''American Sniper'' is a movie for those who enjoy feeling protected and safely individuated—disconnected from other people—rather than for those eager to lose themselves into a brotherhood. Chris Kyle is a sniper—his organs and privates are always covered as he lies on the ground to ''snipe.'' He becomes a famous sniper—his fellow troops don't see him so much as just one of them as a hero protector who guarantees them victory. His mission is not the same as everyone else's, as much as he might pretend that it is: while the rest of the troops take out the ordinaries, he is bound to face off against the great devil Mustafa, who picks off vulnerable soldiers like a death vulture pounced direct from the sky. He can personally handle some adulation—one soldier who hails him repeatedly as ''the hero'' before the rest of the troops, is dealt with with a plate of flung food, humbling the alert state of newly-drawn attention with the dr…

Clint Eastwood's comfort zone, in "American Sniper"

Clint Eastwood feels comfortable when men can rule the public sphere and women can be ushered into the domestic. He feels that the idea of male authority is so vulnerable right now, deemed so deservedly vulnerable, that if you pointed to any instance of it with praise carelessly, you might find yourself linked to something just about to be devoured into a hole where devil jezebels will take it to pieces for its rape-enabling vibe. So he makes a film set in the era of the 1950s—"Jersey Boys”—where ostensibly it's not "your" preference but just realistic to delineate the journey of a band where everyone in authority is a man, and where its not your revenge dream come true but just realistic to show the fate of the agitated woman who marries the leader of the band to become a housewife who bounces of walls into craziness. And when he makes his next film, he escapes North America entirely, and goes perhaps to the one place where we can make male control not seem a cons…

Parting ways, in Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

Ridley Scott is known for his strong female protagonists, but there is a feeling he nestles into this story of ancient lands because he thinks it's one where tested older male rulers have gotten women who might contest them, securely contained, and where if these men have had a long enough tenure over their boys, when power descends to them, the momentary dislocation incurred when power trades hands won't be sufficient for even an experienced female-at-court to take advantage of. Elder, governing "fathers" are like guardian sentinels that keep chaos at bay; but are meant to crumble down at a certain point where hopefully an even better erection of themselves can immediately step in to keep things generating, rather than succumbing to amend-making, and other things that mean retreat from "your" own business.
These fathers are strong, secure and kind, but not without damning flaws that should mean that at some point they need to exit the scene. Marcus Aureli…

The Perverse German Joy in Being Spared Being Jew

Gotz Aly makes the argument in "Why the Germans? Why the Jews?" that the reason Germans engaged in wholesale slaughtering Jews in the late 30s to early 40s, owed to envy. According to Gotz, Germans hated Jews because they were what they wanted to be: successful, intelligent, adaptive to change — thriving. I am hoping this doesn't quite seem right to you because it isn't the case. That is, it is true that Germans envied Jews ... but when they were doing the actual slaughtering they were divorced from this actually somewhat sane mindset — envy at least recognizes that what one should want are things which mean living more happily and freely — and had only the mindset of justified persecutors. That is, by that time they had ceased the mindset that no doubt was prevalent in the Weimar part of the 20s and 30s, and now saw in Jews, not properties to be envied, but vile properties they truly wanted as much distance from as possible.
Aly wants you to understand Germans in t…

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

One of the arduous things about watching Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was experiencing the intense parent-child tumult. Arwen gains independence from her father and pledges fidelity to her love for Aragorn above all else, but it involves her devolving into a frail state, becoming as fragile as all the rest of Middle Earth before Sauron's ascension and the elves' retreat. Faramir gains recognition from his impossibly stubborn father, the steward of Gondor, but not even after essentially throwing his life away in a hopeless battle and only after being mid-part cooked in a bonfire of his father's own contrivance. This is an older generation's sturm und dang; a break-through occurs — stern authority is breached — but it's so exhausting you have to hope that once it's been successfully had out that none of the parties involved ever re-acquire the stamina to re-stage it. "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" threatened a repe…