Rambo: Last Blood [2019)

Here is the jewel in the crown of the Rambo franchise.

Truly.

This is the best Rambo film.

Just as Casino Royale (2006) is the best Bond film.

And it’s an appropriate reference…because Rambo: Last Blood is equal parts Sicario and Skyfall.

Sure, First Blood can never really be topped.

Hell, Rambo III is an amazing movie!

But to mix franchises again, Dr. No can never be topped.

And yet, every franchise has a best film.

And for Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo franchise, this is the one.

#AllEyesOnMaricopa

It’s all about the knife.

Variable.

Human trafficking.

Sex trafficking.

Slave labor.

Forced prostitution.

Kidnapping.

Stallone’s acting is amazing in this film.

He has honed his craft.

He is untouchable here.

Completely authentic.

A master of understatement.

Small movements.

Subtle intonations.

Interrogations.

Driver’s license.

I think they throw it back on him.

Such a taut film.

One detail only with slack.

A little bit of The Punisher.

All he needs is a hammer.

Green Beret.

Sadness of time invested.

Sadness of family lost.

Sadness of best friend gone.

The acting.

Scene with Paz Vega.

True, raw emotion.

Samuel Fuller would have respected.

And loved it.

Setting a trap.

Mother Of All Traps.

Decaffeinated?

Shocker.

Side of beef.

Memorial Day.

With General Flynn.

Michael Flynn.

May we prove to be worthy of their sacrifice.

My colonel may be long gone.

Reporting to flag officer.

You are watching a movie.

This film is a masterpiece.

-PD

The Spy Who Dumped Me [2018)

Texts.

Lessons.

Spying.

Why does our world persist?

Spy spoof in the mode of The Brothers Grimsby.

And while this film is nowhere near as good as Sacha Baron Cohen’s underrated triumph, it is still quite a good film.

There are some really great action sequences here which rival the Bond franchise.

Which brings up a point.

As there are very few Bond movies, these spoofs must be what the top talent do when they’re not making a legit Bond film.

Justin Theroux is good when he punches into a wall.

He’s also good at the jukebox.

But he’s not Mulholland Drive good.

More importantly, Mila Kunis apparently works at Trader Joe’s.

Which gets to tiki root strata.

And she’s Ukrainian.

Which is doubly or triply weird.

Interesting van work.

Like WarGames.

Biden.

Similar shootout to Tosca.

Great car sequence with Kunis and Kate McKinnon.

And the methed-up driver.

One of the highlights.

An actual “what if” of spy films invading on the real world.

More actual gagging.

The difficulty of hiding a thumb drive.

Suffused with Ukrainian connections.

Ivanna Sakhno is truly excellent in this film.

Funny as fuck…trying to find two dumb American girls in Europe.

Great scene through scope.

I’m really tired of seeing Gillian Anderson in these kind of roles.

What the fuck.

Johnny English Reborn (good film…bad role) and How To Lose Friends & Alienate People.

The bit with Snowden is pretty genius.

Ska!

McKinnon in Cirque du Soleil is a little retarded.

Scene in Tokyo also excessive (literally) and pointless (likewise).

But I really enjoyed this film.

Sam Heughan is decent.

The writing is good.

Good job by director Susanna Fogel.

 

-PD

Djam [2017)

What a deeply-moving film.

I would like to talk about Tony Gatlif, the director.

You might know him from Latcho Drom.

Or from the Asia Argento film Transylvania.

Let me assure you of one thing.

Djam (known as Journey from Greece in English) is MUCH BETTER than Transylvania.

Which brings me to the crux.

The star, Daphné Patakia (truly a star!), is MUCH MORE TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL than Asia Argento.

Mark my words.

This young lady is amazing!!!

Which is not to denigrate Asia Argento.

She’s a very good looking lady.

Her film Incompresa (which she directed) is amazing.

But Daphné Patakia is in another league altogether.

Simon Abkarian does a wonderful job here.

Maryne Cayon is indispensable.

But Daphné Patakia sends this film into orbit!

How can I describe it?

Rebetika.  Rebetiko.

Like “the blues”.

Daphné’s eyes.

Very much like:

djam1

Do you remember?

1984?

National Geographic?

Which brings us back to Greek-French.

Adèle Exarchopoulos.

Another fantastic actress.

Yes, Djam approaches the artistry of La Vie d’Adèle–Chapitres 1 & 2, but Djam is more special somehow to me.

Sure, there’s some nudity, but not much.

And we feel that this film might go the lesbian route, but instead it goes Lesbos.

It’s hard for me to overstate how important Daphné Patakia is to this film…and to film in general.

Very few actresses have done what she’s done.

It is, in truth, BEYOND our favorites in Hollywood:

-Thora Birch

-Saoirse Ronan

-Kat Dennings

Because it is done from left field.

And most related to these brilliant actresses:

-Anamaria Marinca

-Dorotheea Petre

and

-Julianne Côté

And less-so to:

-Adèle Exarchopoulos

-Pauline Étienne

One might even make a comparison to Moran Rosenblatt.

But I think the comparisons to Marinca and Petre are most apt.

Patakia is plumbing some serious depths in Djam.

And doing it with the joie de vivre of Anna Karina in Vivre sa vie.

One senses even a bit of Audrey Hepburn here.

That Funny Face bohemian dance routine.

But mixed with Anna Karina’s famous jukebox strut:

djam2.gif

New era.

Film clips.

Keep up.

Text can be extracted (if there’s anything worthwhile).

But images moving make it flow.

People want everything all at once.

But sadness can be healed.

When we care for the crazy.

God does not ignore our efforts.

And the world knows and recognizes mental illness.

Reach out a hand and console.

An essential film.

 

-PD

Terminal [2018)

Homage, or ripoff?

Pulp Fiction.

Vince (Dexter Fletcher).

A better actor than Travolta, perhaps.

But still…

The Usual Suspects.

Mike Myers stands in for Kevin Spacey.

But let’s talk about the upside.

This film started slow.

Boring.

Trite.

But it got better.

Indeed, it resurfaced and landed at mediocre.

Much better than I initially thought was possible.

Simon Pegg is a bit hamstrung here.

Shame, that.

Sin City.

The néo-noir is not very original.

But the color does it justice.

Better than hackneyed black and white.

Super-vivid black and white.

Here, more like Blade Runner (1982).

Margot Robbie is pretty good here.

And yet, the end is more ripoff.

Kill Bill.

Nurse.

Whistling.

Bernard Herrmann.

Standing in for Daryl Hannah.

I guess Margot Robbie is famous or something…

Harley Quinn.

Seems she is already typecast.

Self-parody.

Pigeonholed.

Quite a lot of QAnon here, what?

Q in a heart.

La Lapine Blanche (follow the white rabbit).

Lewis Carroll.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Bob Dylan.

Adele.

Down the rabbit hole.

A trail of crumbs.

Clues.

Mystery.

Theatrical.

Hard Candy.

End.

Skyfall.

Modigliani.

NSA.

Marionettes.

I’m usually bewitched by the broads, but it’s the gents who rule here.

And not the ones you’d think.

The best part of this film is the acting of Max Irons and Dexter Fletcher.

Fletcher is pithy.

Splenetic.

Irons is naive.

Real.

Sure, there is a plot twist, but the lobotomy is in extremely poor taste.

And another ripoff.

Spectre.

Myers is good.

Robbie is good.

Pegg is good.

 

-PD

Who Is America? [2018)

Who is #QAnon?

Or, more aptly, what is QAnon?

Is it a joke?

Is it a trick?

Is it a flypaper coup (as Wayne Madsen might call it)?

I don’t know.

But there is an essential point to consider:

  1.  A party/person in power cannot (by virtue of their ruling position) effect a coup
  2. In the event of a coup, is a “counter coup” then justified?
  3. Ottoman countercoup of 1909, 1960 Laotian counter-coup, Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66, 1966 Nigerian counter-coup, 1967 Greek counter-coup, 1971 Sudanese counter-coup…
  4. Notice the grouping.  How likely is it that Steve Pieczenik came to know of these countercoups during his PhD studies (international relations) at MIT?
  5. A simple search on Google of a specific term (“counter coup d’état”) will presently yield a very intriguing pair of videos featuring Dr. Pieczenik.
  6. Clinton silent coup of November 1, 2016.  Silent countercoup “through Julian Assange and WikiLeaks” effected the next day (11/2/16) by element of the American intelligence community.  Corruption.  Clinton Foundation.  Both coups initiated through the Internet.  “Second American Revolution”.  Forced Comey’s hand re:  Weiner investigation.
  7. https://youtu.be/LHN66mfgsKk
  8. If this video is to be understood in the context of other statements by Pieczenik, it appears that Donald Trump gained power by way of a (counter)-coup.
  9. Which is to say, the coup has already happened.  Yet another reason to embrace the counterintuitive truth that QANON IS NOT A COUP.
  10. Counterintuitive because QAnon indeed SEEMS like a coup.
  11.  Baudrillard.
  12. Debord.
  13. Who is America?
  14. Bernie is exasperated at Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr., PhD
  15. Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello and his conservative hosts both fancy Herman Miller chairs
  16. Rick Sherman does some “spirit cooking” art with his bodily fluids and excrement
  17. Erran Morad dupes some dense conservatives (but not Matt Gaetz*)
  18. Jason Spencer yells, “Nigger!  Nigger!  Nigger!  Nigger!!!” and thereby has his legislative career ended by Sacha Baron Cohen
  19. Corinne Olympios (!) stood no chance
  20. Dick Cheney
  21. redneck “dream mosque”
  22. Show becomes indistinguishable from political op with extremely mean-spirited character assassination of Judge Roy Moore
  23. Rohypnol in the guacamole at a quinceañera
  24. jokes about human trafficking…stacking girls 20 or 30-high in compartments aboard a luxury yacht (attributed to Bashar al-Assad)
  25. OMGWhizzBoyOMG! Finland hipster Shopkins
  26. Rick Sherman as DJ Solitary walking ground already tread by Matmos on A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure
  27. Lewandowski doesn’t fall for it
  28. OMG Antifa dig at black sheriff (implied to be a fascist) by way of inaccurate reference to 1930s Germany
  29. Truth reveals itself.  “Anti-fascists” were communists.  And “fascists” were anti-communist.  A worthwhile movement would be anti-totalitarian (irrespective of right/left paradigm)
  30. Rick Sherman:  chef
  31. #Pizzagate cover from SBC
  32. Infiltration of Antifa.
  33. O.J. hidden footage not really funny
  34. But series is worth watching.
  35. Sacha Baron Cohen is essential

-PD

Le Livre d’image [2018)

And so I’m back.

Sort of.

Maybe.

With Godard.

Can we go from back to front?

After having gone halfway from front to back?

More importantly:  WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?!?

I’m guessing JLG might relish such a reaction.

But really.

Le Livre d’image (The Image Book) is a thoroughly fucked-up film.

Music stops and starts.

Ok, standard Godard.

Images run and then go to black screen.

Again, standard Godard.

But something is further about this film.

Perhaps the most accessible touchstone would be the glitchy music of Radiohead circa Kid A and Hail to the Thief (to name my two favorites).

To wit:  Godard seems to be enjoying fucking with his audience.

Every possible convention of cinema is destroyed and frustrated by his anti-art approach.

It is Swiss.  It is dadaist (in a certain sense).

But it is stranger…

Which brings us to a crossroads.

Is Godard getting senile?

I mean, seriously:  is this the work of someone falling apart?

It may be.

There is an achingly-sad moment near the end when we hear that trademarked Godard narrative voice break up.

Coughing.

Too many cigars.

Almost 90 years old…

But there are other possibilities.

Indeed, The Image Book hearkens back to the Godard of his Dziga-Vertov years.

Extremely obtuse.

Painful cinema.

A cinema of cruelty (for Artaud).

We catch glimpses (literally) of Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

Yes.

There is a pessimism here.

But mostly a hard reality.

And yet, is it reality?

The Image Book is surreal…while being mostly in a stark cinematography.

A bit like Picasso’s Guernica.

But more boring.

Can I say that?

Boring.

When you’re 88 years old (like Godard), perhaps things move slower.

Perhaps you could call it “slow cinema”.

But it is FAST and boring.

Many cuts.

Many, many cuts.

Painstakingly (painstakingly?) spliced.

It seems.

Also seems random.

Aleatory.

I Ching.

John Cage.

But onto another aspect.

That of revision.

Revisiting.

The Image Book is to Godard’s oeuvre as Histoire(s) du cinéma is to film history as a whole.

Le Livre d’image could be said to be a sort of CliffsNotes to the work of Jean-Luc Godard.

But there’s just one catch.

You would need to know the oeuvre in its totality to really make much of this pithy summation.

So it is, in a sense, useless.

But it still speaks.

Galileo.

And yet it moves.

Godard is not dead.

Not yet.

And he should know that he will never die.

Not with the timeless body of work he has contributed to humanity.

And yet, that tobacco cough says otherwise.

To live in those lungs.

To feel the weight of mortality pressing down.

Le Livre d’image is a frustrating piece of work.

It has very little (almost none) of the lyrical poeticism that its predecessor Adieu au langage had.

Indeed, perhaps this is a purposeful “let down”.

Like Neil Young’s On The Beach or Lou Reed’s Berlin.

To extend the metaphor there, it is mostly like Metal Machine Music.

It is jarring.

Annoying.

It gets under your skin.

But it makes you think.

And perhaps that is the whole point.

Perhaps Godard is reaching for a new filmic language.

He may not be there yet, but he is reaching.

This is essential, cranky cinema.

The bleeding edge…

 

-PD

Sicario: Day of the Soldado [2018)

It’s been a long fucking time.

Because life is hard.

And I’ve been watching the same three Pink Panther movies over and over.

Just to get by.

But recently, God has brought me love.

Heavenly love.

An angel.

A girlfriend.

Yes.

Can you believe it?

Well, hardly neither can I.

So I should start by saying that I saw Sicario:  Day of the Soldado IN A MOVIE THEATER!

What a concept.

Yeah.

It’s been at least a couple of years since I ventured into the thrall of urban sprawl to freeze my tits off in a cinemaplex.

But God bless the Alamo Draft House.

It’s the little things that matter.

The Clint Eastwood “Don’t Do Crack” PSA.

The Mexican teen beat (?) videos.

All kinds of kooky pre-film festivities which whet the intellectual appetite and let you know that you are in a place which at least marginally cares.

-PD

Deepwater Horizon [2016)

This film has every reason to be horrible, but it’s not.

It’s actually quite a good piece of filmmaking.

It’s not cinema, but it’s the kind of stuff which resonates even with a crusty old jaded bloke like me.

BP.

That’s why I went.

As my few diehard readers know, I am a business student.

And Charles Ives was an insurance salesman.

Similar juxtaposition of temperament and métier.

It is my job to research.  To go to school.

I am infinitely lucky to have such an opportunity to retrain.

If you hear of a music theory factory, let me know.

But the men and women on the Deepwater Horizon rig were doing real work.

And so it is an honor to see these employees of Transocean conduct themselves with bravery and virtue on the big screen.

And BP.

What about BP?

We’ll be getting to that.

In 2010, I was still the drummer in a Cajun punk-rock band.

We played benefits in places like Venice, Louisiana.

I can personally attest to the fact that the media focus at the time (2010) was on the plight of shrimpers and marine life.

The focus was on the oil spill.

Sadly, the 11 Transocean employees who lost their lives in this textbook case for business ethics (lack thereof) were never given the memorial they deserved.

Until now.

Yes, this is a story of the deplorables.

Working on an oil rig.

Gulf of Mexico.

These are your Donald Trump voters.

And I am proudly among their number.

If you want to get the real story of class conflict in regards to the deplorables, try parsing this (mostly-good) socialist take on the situation.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-class-dynamics-in-the-rise-of-donald-trump-why-establishment-voices-stigmatize-the-white-working-class-as-racist-and-xenophobic/5549634

While I do not agree with all of the author’s conclusions, I think the “white working class” has been unjustly portrayed as deplorable by elitist, pseudo-leftists like Hillary Clinton.

Make no mistake (to use Obama’s favorite phrase):  Hillary Clinton is an extremely wealthy individual posing as a “people’s candidate”.

Her opposition (Donald Trump) does not adopt such Janus-faced dissimulation.  He largely admits to being a (gasp!) capitalist.

It would have been more exciting to see the extremes of the continuum represented by Trump and Bernie Sanders, but the infinitely-crooked Clinton stole the Democratic Party nomination from the genuinely-socialist Sanders.

However, Sanders immediately turned around and campaigned for Clinton.

Bernie, then, is the spineless, wet rag he always seemed to be.

But Trump hits back.  Hard!

And that is what the deplorables want.

There are many aggrieved parties in America.

Deepwater Horizon presents the case of craven, feckless British Petroleum executives who let the little people die.

Socialism is right to focus on workers.

Capitalism is right to focus on value-creation.

China (a real nightmare) just happens to have had a very large hand in funding this film.

Right?

Maybe not.

It seems, however, that there are a few names (and one Hong Kong company) missing from the Wikipedia rundown of Deepwater Horizon.

The company in question is TIK Film (or Films) of China.

As of 2015, Lionsgate had signed a $1.5 bil. cooperation deal with TIK’s parent company Hunan Television.

And so this brings up a point:  was Deepwater Horizon Chinese propaganda to further smear British Petroleum?  It’s a possibility worth considering.

In fact, there are a couple of associate producer credits (if I remember the description correctly) missing even from iMDB’s more extensive summation of the film’s business players.

The two Chinese executives (presumably) are clearly identified in the opening credits of Deepwater Horizon.  Unless you have a photographic memory, you’re not likely to find corroboration of this once you get home from the theater.

But maybe this angle is a diversion.

Certainly, the most important issue covered by this film is that 11 human beings with wives and children lost their lives ostensibly because a company put profit before people.

The film lays the blame primarily on two BP executives.

But all of the major oil and gas players are there including the pivotal case of Schlumberger.  One company suspiciously missing from the film is Halliburton.  Indeed, it doesn’t take very long to realize that this outfit was intimately involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Maybe Dick Cheney promised to donate his pacemaker to the CCP?

What about these players?

Transocean Ltd. of Switzerland (lovely).

Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea.

Indeed…the OptiCem cement modeling system of Halliburton is extremely germane to the issue of culpability for the deaths of these 11 workers.

And yet Halliburton managed to extricate itself completely from this cinematic muckraking.

What gives a company such power?

We likewise don’t hear about Anadarko Petroleum.

Or the Mitsui Group.

It certainly seems BP had a controlling interest in the Macondo Prospect well which blew out, but 35% of the ownership pie was not held by BP.

Our film portrays BP as playing an operational role in overriding the experience and wisdom of Transocean workers at the site.  It portrays BP executives as committing the cardinal sin of business ethics:  focusing on short-term profits over long-term safety.  Indeed, the film under review makes the case that BP executives prevented Schlumberger from performing due diligence in testing the concrete at the well in question.

The most disgusting part is that no one personally got in trouble.  That, indeed, is the most deplorable aspect of all.

 

-PD

 

Sicario [2015)

When you are watching a film or a TV show in which the main character is FBI or CIA, you are watching propaganda.

But some propaganda reaches a height of artfulness which cannot be denied.

Such propaganda, then, in some respects becomes its opposite.

Sicario is one such brilliant enigma.

The main visual motif of this film is Emily Blunt sweating.

That may sound like a rather unglamorous device, but it too has crossed over into its opposite.

Emily Blunt gives a performance which approaches perfection.

But she is not alone.

Benicio del Toro is icy.  Frosty, as they say.  Timeless.

What is the template for Sicario?

You might be surprised, but it reveals itself quite early on to be none other than The Silence of the Lambs.

You must see Sicario to understand this parallel.

Nothing in the previews intimates this definite relationship.

But what else do we get?

Torture is good.

Torture works.

This is where Josh Brolin comes in.

His previous turn as the title character in W. is essential to the code of Sicario.

I must credit director Denis Villeneuve.

For propaganda, this gets in some pretty stellar body shots at the expense of the CIA.

But it is all for show.

The message is that terrorism works.

Terrorism?

Yes, terror.

It only depends which side of the battle you’re on.

Brolin’s character is a “DoD advisor”.  [More on that in the film.]

It’s strategy.

Get the straggler to come back to the hive.

We’ve heard that trope for a long while.

Regardless, Brolin is the quintessential consequentialist.

The end justifies the means.

Emily Blunt is the conscience.  And as that she is magnificent.

But propaganda needs a hero (or heroine) to knock down.

Perhaps you remember the disheartening ending of 1984?

The book.

Orwell.

Winston Smith.

It is quite correct that whenever America declares a “war on” something, the smartest thing is to consider failure a foregone conclusion.

Here we have that old chestnut the “War on Drugs”.

There have been several other lackluster “War on(s)”.

The main offender is the War “on” Terror.

But director Villeneuve gives away the secret a little bit (as the best propaganda does).

From Medellín to Mena, Arkansas.

Maybe Phoenix is no accident either.

Remember Ken Williams?

Sicario shows the FBI getting royally fucked.

In game theory, we might call them (full-on “meta-“) good cop.

The whipping boys…the ostensible sack of shit which acts as a catch-all flypaper of blame…are our bad cops:  CIA.

It is, however, significant that Brolin operates under the aegis of “DoD advisor” insofar as the US military then becomes the butt (ass end) of flipped propaganda.

To wit, much of this film is code…not for the drug war, but for the geopolitical ransacking of the past 15 years.

It is a comment.

Not particularly clever.

But perhaps accurate.

That methods have bled over (no pun) from the hinterlands to the “homeland”.

My final caveat is this:

Sicario is an absolute masterpiece.

 

-PD

Brooklyn [2015)

I do believe my tear ducts are sore on account of this film.

Some writing will be meaningful, and some meaningless (depending on the audience).

Don’t you keep anything for yourself?

Very little…

Because I believe in the beauty of people…out there…in the vast world…the goodness of people…in heart and in soul.

It’s like Titanic without the shipwreck.

((lachrymal vases))

Ireland should be very proud of Saoirse Ronan.

And so should The Bronx.

From Howth and environs to Jerzy Kosiński’s 1982 masterpiece novel Pinball.

I have written a great deal about Saoirse in the past.

She is my favorite actress working in film.

[Thora Birch needs some gigs.  Kat Dennings needs to ditch 2 Broke Girls or CBS needs to enter the Hulu joint venture.  Anamaria Marinca and Dorotheea Petre need gigs.  Myriem Roussel:  where are you?  And finally Adèle Exarchopoulos:  you are on the right track!]

But Saoirse Ronan is unique among my favorite actresses for a variety of reasons.

Brooklyn gives her a chance to employ her Irish accent–to accentuate rather than mask it.

Quite frankly, this is a brilliant film!

John Crowley did a masterful job as director.

Emory Cohen is really good herein.

Julie Walters is hilarious!

Fiona Glascott is darn-near perfect.

But this whole thing is really about Saoirse Ronan.

John Crowley surrounded her with an older style of filmmaking.

It fits the story snugly.

Saoirse shines through like no other actress.

She is a ruby with the hardness of a diamond.

Etching her name into film history at the young age of 22.

Hollywood is not dead as long as she continues to get the starring roles she deserves.

 

-PD