National Treasure [2004)

The funny thing about propaganda…

You don’t realize you’re under its sway…until you’re no longer under its sway ūüôā

Ahh…

Like that great song by the Stones.

Just what ARE those lyrics???

But never mind.

Let’s back to the point.

JUST WHAT KIND of propaganda would this be?

It is with every bone of logic in my body that I soberly assess National Treasure to be Masonic propaganda.

Watch it.

Prove me wrong.

Especially from the beginning.

Near the top of the film.

This is OVER THE TOP endorsement of Freemasonry AND of the Knights Templar.

Ok.

So what?

It’s STILL a good film.

A REALLY ENJOYABLE FILM!

And we’re gonna get down to the nuts and bolts of it…

But I just want to point out another thing which had previously escaped me about this flick.

Nicolas Cage is effectively channeling Alex Jones throughout the entirety of this motion picture.

The accent.

The posture.

The wardrobe.

THE MANNERISMS!

I can’t believe I never caught this!!!

So there you have it.

The protagonist (not at all an “anti-hero” in the context of this film) is a “conspiracy theorist”.

But!  BUT!!!

The protagonist also emanates from a clear lineage in thrall to Freemasonry.

You think I’m kidding?

Watch this flick and observe the clear propagandistic tone* re: George Washington and the rest of America’s “founding fathers”.

“At least nine…”

Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

But I fucking love this movie.

Let me get to a very important component right off:  Diane Kruger.

Though she seriously sullied her career by appearing in what might be the worst film ever made (Tarantino’s¬†Inglorious Basterds), Kruger is a goddess of IQ herein.

And her chemistry with Cage is palpable.

Not least, Justin Bartha makes this whole thing quasi-believable.

On its own merits,¬†National Treasure¬†“works”.

Bartha is a lot like Ben Whishaw in the recent Bond films.

A computer geek cast in a very sympathetic light.

And Jon Turteltaub made a pretty fucking great film here.

A lot like a 007 flick!

Witness Cage as he shucks his janitor uniform for a tux.

Straight out of the opening from Goldfinger.

But Benjamin Franklin Gates [Nicolas Cage] is more a “workingman’s” Bond.

A nut job.

A reader.

A NERD!

Yes.

Although Gates tries to use his “Submariner” as collateral to get his $100 bill back, we don’t really believe it.

We don’t for a second believe that Gates wears a Rolex.

Cage yes, Gates no.

Which is one of the ways this film goes off the rails.

For all of Cage’s acting prowess, he comes off more as a “star” than a true nerd.

Unfortunately, that is damaging for the narrative of this picture.

But all-in-all, National Treasure is a film I want to return to time and again.

The story seduces.

For God and country.

The Freemasonry stuff is a little weird.

[ok, a LOT weird]

But it makes us face the facts re: George Washington, et al.

And brings up a tangential and potentially-timely question:

“Is President Trump a Mason?”

I must admit:  I have seen Trump make this hand gesture ABOUT A MILLION FUCKING TIMES!

trumpMason

So what?

In fact…there is AT LEAST another possibility.

Is Trump’s ostentatious display of “Freemason” hand signals a PRETENSE?

In other words, is Trump PRETENDING to be a Freemason??

It’s possible.

But who the fuck really cares???

If George Washington was a Freemason (and he was), then that kinda serves as a cornerstone of expectations (to say the least).

I’m not a Freemason.

I could care less.

Fuck ’em.

But there is an important caveat.

Q:

Was the secrecy of Freemason lodges an essential aspect of communications security leading to victory in the American Revolution?

And what about the French Revolution??

Again, these possibilities seduce.

Suffice it to say, National Treasure can be a strangely enthralling work if viewed through the lens of theory on propaganda films as well as through the kaleidoscopic peephole of current events.

Something certainly seems afoot in the USA.

I am even reluctant to utter its name.

Mostly because I know not what it is.

This new era of the republic.

Trump as President.

Hard-pressed on all sides.

The winner, fair and square.

Elected by the rules of the country.

The Electoral College.

Which rewards the residual “statehood” of lands which chose to join the USA.

At any rate, things seem far from settled.

Indeed, there is a war going on in the United States.

And it is mostly being waged in the realm of “the spectacle”.

President Trump has an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the mass media AGAINST HIM.

It is almost comical ūüôā

I would liken it to rats having been driven from a burning ship.

Or termites running for cover during a house fire.

Something is off.

Clearly, the media “darling” (that repulsive shell of a human being, Hillary Clinton) did not ascend the throne.

And the owners of the corporate mass media continue to take her defeat VERY POORLY ūüôā

Indeed, Trump is positively “mature” compared to the childish response of the U.S mass media.

Which begs the question:  WHAT ARE THEY SO AFRAID OF???

And further: ¬†did an “outsider” REALLY win the White House 12 months ago?

Judging from media reaction, Trump must be a fucking Messiah.

And further judging from the bungling media info warfare, the psychological operations techniques being employed IN CONCERT by the U.S. mass media ARE HOPELESSLY DAFT ūüôā

Every time Jim Acosta tries to rip Trump, it just adds fuel to the #MAGA fire.

Every time the White House press corps comes off as a Mormon Tabernacle Choir of homogeneity (anti-Trump in tenor), the “deplorables” who voted Trump in are proven right.

To be quite frank, I would hate to be on the other side.

The U.S. Democratic Party appears to be trying to reinvent the wheel…AND FAILING BADLY ūüôā

But let us leave the chisel of disingenuous chiselers behind for the time being.

Merry Christmas.

May you know joy.

May the Lord Jesus Christ shine upon you today.

May that grace which surpasses all understanding soothe your heart and uplift your spirit.

May a twinkle of love float lightly into your life tonight.

And may it bloom into charity and generosity forevermore.

 

-PD

 

The grey suit in NXNW [1959/2017)

Maybe.

After many long years.

I finally got a decent suit.

But the pinnacle is still Cary Grant in North by Northwest.

Perhaps more important than Dorothy’s slippers.

The grey suit.

Gray?  Grey.

Because Archibald Leach (Grant’s real name) was from Bristol.

Now.

The debate rages on.

Was it Norton & Sons (Savile Row) or Quintino (Beverly Hills)?

And this is a very important matter.

Basis in fact.

Innocent lives are at stake here.

Vanity Fair (at least they employed Tosches for a time) contends it was a British suit.

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/03/behindthescenes200803

But The Independent counters that it was an American (Beverly Hills) tailor.

My first thought is always The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (novel 1955, film 1956).

1959.

Something in the air.

Advertising.

Madison.

Shopping.

5th.

Whatever you do, don’t buy a property at 666 5th Avenue.

Mr. Kushner made that mistake.

Can you change an address?

Can we inch the building over a bit?

666 1/2?

But finally, that eternal quote of Mike Ruppert:

“The CIA is Wall Street. ¬†Wall Street is the CIA.”

What could all this mean?

What could ANY of this mean?

It’s well-known.

But the real danger is Finnegans Wake.

Is it unpredictability?

The real danger is changing stripes.

Spots.

Markings.

Camouflage.

A mask.

My daily trousers are sweatpants.

And then we must bring in Erik Satie.

As dangerous (harmless) a man as ever lived.

The “Velvet Gentleman”.

Seven gray velvet suits.  All identical.  One for each day of the week.

A revolution in simplicity.

But there are many, many hours of piano music to wade through.

Through which.

It’s not just the¬†Gymnop√©dies.

Or even the Gnossiennes.

SS.

It’s a veritable Voynich manuscript of eccentricity.

Quixotic.

Mercurial.

Bizarre!

But with Magritte we got the grey bowler.

And Max Ernst: ¬†“The hat makes the man.”

But did he say it in English?

Not bloody likely!

And so rail-thin Cary Grant, almost certainly homosexual, looks stunning…dapper…a paragon of class in¬†North by¬†Northwest.

And it is a rare time where I (and many other men) say: ¬†“Wow…I want that business suit!”

Because I didn’t grow up rich.

And it took me till age 40 to get a passable sack.

Brooks Brothers was expensive.

Still is.

I’m low-rent.

High-brow.

A conundrum.

I don’t want to sell oil.

I’m a city boy.

They won’t take me on the farm.

So what am I?

Do I ride around on a horse?

Do I spit tobacco into a cuspidor?

[not anymore]

We must go away.  To come back.  And see for the first time.

What was Jia Zhangke talking about?

Or from?

The I Ching?

Or some Zen text?

Advertising.

Memetics.

Messaging.

COMMUNICATIONS

We are drawn to the suit.

The breezy ease with which Cary Grant negotiates New York sidewalk traffic.

Every remark quick.

Never at a loss for words.

And the characters all pay attention.

From Martin Landau to Eva Marie Saint:  menswear.

Three buttons.

[a detail I missed…too late]

Buttons on cuffs.

Cufflinks.

Two-piece.

The most remarkable aspect, though, might be the “grey suit with grey tie” effect.

I mean, “what the fuck”?!?

It is slightly “off”.

Not the color-matching.

That’s fine.

But the concept.

Or this hypothetical exchange:

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Gray.”

“Gray?”

“Yeah, I don’t know…I just like gray.”

“What about it do you like?”

“I don’t know…it’s sorta mysterious?”

“Ok…but, I mean, it seems sorta drab, don’t you think?”

“Well, I’m not in the market for a gray bikini…”

Ah!

There’s the gender.

Men.

Do men fancy grey?

Is it one of the colors they’ve been “given”?

And women.

Do they really fancy pink?

I suppose some diabolical seamstress has plotted the complementary colors of all the world’s hetero couples.

Grey and pink.

Pink and green.

Orange and blue.

Red and green.

Purple and yellow.

Ad absurdum.

All I can say is this.

I feel spectacular in my new gray suit.

I’m a little closer to Daniel Craig, though mostly in the Cary Grant body type.

Or, put differently, I’m an extremely-poor-man’s Daniel Craig ūüôā

I, too, would look scrawny next to James Bond.

Which segues nicely into the 007 franchise.

Suits…again.

Whether in Jamaica or parts unknown.

The sartorial fastidiousness would play a major role in framing Bond as “not just another guy”.

Taste.

An eye for detail.

Quality.

And personality, though understated.

The grey suit.

It the biggest weapon in my fashion arsenal (as of today).

And thus we turn towards commerce.

Another run, perhaps, of job searching.

Selling myself.

But at a certain point you just gotta say, “Fuck it!”

I’m a cool person.

I ain’t out to hurt nobody.

I read books.

Big fucking books.

About math and shit like that.

I’m a nerd to the nth power.

I know that.

And I’m fine with that.

Because I see the value in that.

So now I may have to bludgeon the HR receptors with a whole new level of qualifications.

Can I do it?

Can I be a lawyer?

Can I be a PhD?

[notably, perhaps, in advertising]

And beyond.

Because life has led me to this impasse.

We worry about bread on the table.

And some milk to stay healthy.

Heat in the winter.

Cooling in the summer.

Most of all…in all this mess of writing…I am thankful.

Thankful for a chance.  A chance to do the right things.

And thankful for family.  Thankful for time.

Thankful for intuition.

And thankful for failure.

Have your cake.  Or eat it.

Thank you, my friends…for your support.

I am happy today.  Hard day, as always.

And I pray the good happenings for each of you…in your lives…

-PD

Skyfall [2012)

If you wait too long, you lose the impression.

I was way behind on trying to support my compatriots.  It is not necessary to agree.  What I champion is freedom of expression.

And so we try to remember the mood…the efficacy of cinema in the hands of Sam Mendes.

Perhaps the first “real” director to approach the Bond franchise after having had success beforehand.

Mendes will always have a place in my heart for his deft touch directing Thora Birch in American Beauty.

Fortunately we can look forward to a second contribution in the forthcoming Bond film Spectre.

But for now we have this.

What of it?

I should dispense with self-congratulatory pomp at this time rather than let it distract me.

Yes, I have now seen all of the Bond films from Eon Productions.  You can access the reviews of all 23 pictures here on my site by clicking the Bond tab.

Now that we have that out of the way…

The first glaring bit of strategic signaling occurs when we learn that our MacGuffin is a hard drive.

Of course, it’s what’s on the hard drive which makes this worth mentioning.

NATO agents embedded in terrorist groups.

For anyone with a knowledge of Operation Gladio this brings up a troubling association.

To wit:  the possibility that the organizations are controlled by NATO for cynical purposes.

This was, and continues to be, a fundamental aspect of geopolitics.  False-flag terror.

Perhaps Mendes (or the writers of the film) knowingly left this bread crumb to add a quasi-credibility to what has often become a propagandistic series for the power elite.

Whatever the case may be, the opening sequence is generally good.

Let’s face it:¬† it’s getting harder and harder after 23 films to have James Bond do something novel.

His seeming demise before the credits roll make us think of that horribly daft episode from the Connery days:

You Only Live Twice.

Ralph Fiennes is unlikable from the start, but we learn why as the film progresses.

Mendes does a nice job of faking us out on several occasions.  We even suspect Bond as a terrorist briefly.

Another breadcrumb:¬† the depleted uranium bullet fragments from Bond’s shoulder.

With this we are brought back to that stain upon U.S. military operations over the past 15 years.

Keeping in mind the research of Doug Rokke, we might again be seeing an attempt by the Bond franchise to relate with an increasingly informed viewer base.

Think on your sins?

Well, all cinematic sins are forgiven once director Mendes has occasion to mold and shape the lights of high-rise Shanghai into a sci-fi backdrop for good old fashion ass kicking.

Modigliani.

We are meant to associate the extra-terrestrial eyes with Bérénice Marlohe.  Like the grey-eyed goddess Athena, we will later meet her in the shower (ohh-la-la!).

When all else fails in a film, have the location shift to Macau.

Indeed, the best dialogue comes between Daniel Craig and Mlle. Marlohe at the casino bar.  It reminds us of that fleeting bit of verbal mastery aboard the train in Casino Royale when Craig and Eva Green took turns sizing each other up.

Enter Javier Bardem.

Bardem is certainly among the most convincing villains in the entire Bond pantheon.  Something about that bleached-blond hair gives us a creepy feeling every time his character Raoul Silva is shown.

Bardem’s acting, particularly around the time of his character’s first appearance, is world-class.

Ben Whishaw does a fine job as the new Q (though we miss John Cleese and, of course, Desmond Llewelyn).

Credit Sam Mendes with a deft portrayal of the battle between old ways and new.

New is exemplified by the new Q:  cyber-reliance.

Old is exemplified by the crusty James Bond:  HUMINT.

This film almost telegraphs the Zeitgeist which would spawn Edward Snowden as global hero, but it casts such genius (>145 IQ) as the enemy in Bardem’s character.

[As a side note, I should like to add that Snowden’s story would have to be most ingenious cover ever if found to be inauthentic.¬† Such iron-clad credibility no doubt came at a steep price for the NSA (see PRISM).¬† Though farfetched, one never knows to what lengths the Western national security state will go next to try and salvage¬†its tenuous hold on global hegemony.¬† All things considered, his defection to the public side (in the interest of the general public) seems to be authentic and highly admirable.]

Skyfall becomes less successful when Bardem has Hannibal Lecter lighting cast upon him during the glass-cage treatment later in this film.  This is an unimaginative bit of filmmaking beneath the level of director Mendes.

As trivial as it may seem, Mendes later redeems himself with a simple shot of approaching figures reflected in the chrome of a side-view mirror.¬† ¬†It doesn’t hurt that the mirror in question is attached to an Aston Martin DB5.

Overall, the successes of this film should rightly be attributed to Sam Mendes.  That said, this is not a masterpiece.  It is a very good, yet flawed, film.

Here’s hoping Mendes knocks it out of the park with Spectre.¬† Cheerio!

-PD

Quantum of Solace [2008)

Early.¬† “Dame” Judi Dench. ¬†Threat of extraordinary rendition.¬† Not cool.

Doesn’t seem to bode well.¬† Are we about to be served a helping of steaming-shit propaganda?

No.  Not quite.  Thank heavens!

Earlier.¬† Another fucking car chase.¬† God damn it, if I wanted to watch Top Gear I’d have stayed home with a cup of PG Tips!

But by the grace of all that’s good and right in the world (hyperbole watch), Marc Forster has done the impossible:¬† a good (not great) follow-up to the best Bond film of all-time.

As of 2006.

Tagged banknotes.¬† D. B. Cooper.¬† An alias.¬† It was 1973 when this bizarre skyjacking took place in the Pacific Northwest.¬† The FBI had the forethought to make a microfilm photograph of all of the ransom money turned over to Mr. Cooper.¬† That’s a lot of photographs in a short amount of time, don’t you think?¬† 10,000 unmarked 20-dollar bills. L.¬† Federal Reserve.¬† San Francisco.¬† Series 1969-C.¬† In a matter of hours…10,000 individual photographs?

By 2008, we doubt such modes of tracking considerably less.  And so, by hook and crook, we end up in Haiti.  This is where we first meet Olga Kurylenko.  Bolivian Intelligence.

And then the subtle subplots come in waves.  We are shown the duplicity of the CIA.  To wit, a CIA which is deceiving its partners the MI6.

It is all so very applicable to the adventures of one Ms. Victoria Nuland.  But it goes all the way back (at least) to the ouster of one Mr. Mosaddegh in 1953.  Particularly, it extends to the present allegations of U.S. military (and contractors) raping children in Colombia.  It goes to the adventures of one Mr. George Soros.  It leads right up to the ridiculous pronouncement of Venezuela as a threat to American national security.

Nisman.  Nemtsov.  Shady activities to undermine democracy in Argentina and Brazil.  Warnings from Ecuador that American intelligence is attempting to overthrow any government which does not declare fealty to the United Corporations of America.

We will eventually get to Russia…or they will get to us.

São Paulo.  Veolia Environnement.  Suez Environnement.  Water.  Drought.

We tend to view very few world events as accidents anymore (knowing what we know about history).¬† It was 9/11 which taught us that things aren’t always what they seem.¬† And as we dug deeper into declassified documents, we realized how long this charade has been going on.¬† And now, with immensely powerful technology at their fingertips, the most unscrupulous world leaders are in a position to stage just about anything (with a little help from the military component of their industrial complex).

I must hand it to director Forster:  though the earpieces were brilliant, it was the strains of Tosca which made the mute shootout so artful.

Another soft undercurrent:¬† a Special Branch bodyguard protecting a member of an international crime syndicate.¬† No wonder the work of intelligence agencies is so difficult!¬† Politicians make deals with unsavory characters and thereby endanger the safety and futures of their citizens.¬† Oh, sure…we are made to believe that this is all in the process of pursuing the lesser of evils, but as Mary Parker Follett said, “Authority should go with knowledge…whether it is up the line or down.”¬† That means that in many cases, politicians should get out of the way of the NSA, CIA, MI6, etc.

It’s a shame Strawberry Fields couldn’t remain with us longer.¬† At least she gets a good trip in! Her death, however, is a rather unimaginative twist on Goldfinger.¬† Nice try, gents.

But all is forgiven because of the Mathis death which precedes this.  When seeing the old agent dead in a dumpster from a high, circumspect vantage point, we think of Bill Buckley in Beirut and even the strange death of John P. Wheeler III.  We think of the MITRE Corporation.  We wonder about all those filthy neocon roaches that have managed to keep their clawed positions in government (Nuland). But mostly we realize that death in a dumpster is the true romanticism of being a secret agent.  This is the disconnect between reality and fiction:  James Bond will never end up dead in a dumpster.  He is, actor by actor, immortal.  Or rather, his lifespan depends on the British-American power which persists.

If the Russians were to win, we might be seeing more Stierlitz films.  Though Vyacheslav Tikhonov and Georgiy Zhzhonov are gone, that spirit would procede.

In James Bond we have the remnants of the British Empire (and the American spoils of WWII known as Hollywood).

In Quantum of Solace we again find the trend which started at least as early as the excellent License to Kill (1989):  divine insubordination.  You do not have to obey an unjust order.  An unjust law is no law at all.  St. Thomas Aquinas (from St. Augustine).  Natural law.

Jeffrey Wright displays this admirably in his portrayal of CIA agent Felix Leiter.¬† And of course Daniel Craig as Bond…the epitome of insubordination.¬† Bond can get away with it because he is that talented.¬† Few are these mythical supermen.

Forster manages a touchingly real moment when Craig shields and comforts Kurylenko amid the flashback flames.¬† It reminds us of Bond’s humanity in the egg-shell poignant scene of Casino Royale when Craig joins Eva Green beneath the interminably therapeutic cascade of a distraught shower…sitting down, fully clothed…that distant, vacant look of fear in her eyes as she shivers.

And with this we congratulate the James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for stringing together these two films in such a genius manner.

We end in Kazan.  Not Elia Kazan.  May God spare us the dick-measuring contest of Minuteman III and Topol-M.

-PD

Casino Royale [2006)

This is the best Bond film.  As of 2006.  On my site, you will find reviews of the 20 preceding Bond movies.  The reviews were not written to lead up to this conclusion.  They were written to assess the series as a whole.  While I realize that said series has continued since 2006, I will address that extended life at a later time.  My previous reviews slowly culled the catalog down to three (and now four) films of unmatched greatness (in terms of this series):  The Man with the Golden Gun, A View to a Kill, License to Kill, and now the one which far exceeds even those three::  Casino Royale.

Why?¬† Because…Martin Campbell.¬† His effort on GoldenEye was just that…a good try.¬† His work here is timeless:¬† an auteur.

Why?¬† Because…the first time Bond and Vesper Lynd meet.¬† The best dialog in the entire history of Bond films.

Because…Eva Green is the most beautiful Bond girl in 44 years (which is to say, as of 2006, ever).

Because Bond falls in love…really.¬† Like no time since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

That speaks to the feminine ideal of Eva Green.

But let us delve deeper…into why “the bitch is dead”…

Yes, those are the words.

It is one of those rare times when I can refer back to the book with knowing alacrity.

By George W. Bush’s second term in office, the bitch was beginning to die.¬† The bitch in question?¬† Propaganda.

People are becoming too informed.

And so a film such as this only gains credibility by mentioning the 9/11 put options.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/9-11-attacks-criminal-foreknowledge-and-insider-trading-lead-directly-to-the-cia-s-highest-ranks/32323

Sure, there is propaganda…such as the child soldiers in Uganda, but it is tentative.¬† The sweeping generalizations of past Bond films had mercifully vanished.

Sure, there’s a lot of pish about terrorism, but it is at least somewhat tempered by reality.

This is all the nations of the world are asking of intelligence agencies as their first order of business:  just admit that you are a bunch of fucking scumbag assholes.

And so:  a concept even Donald Rumsfeld could probably appreciate.

A little concoction of my own:  may it live long and serve humanity as a judo virus.

To wit:  there is good evil and evil evil.

Even Dostoyevsky might get a kick out of this game.

Don’t get me wrong:¬† I am not playing your garden variety of “the end justifies the means”…

No, no…far from it.

With Daniel Craig’s first Bond appearance we see the most brilliant portrayal of good evil.

Evil is active.  Good is passive.

If my entire mission was to confuse you, I would do well to mention such in the course of my exegesis.

The drone strikes are extrajudicial.  Good evil is extra-Jesus.

Ah, my Venetian history crumbles into the canal.¬† Dear Henry VIII…

Let me pull myself from the stake…like John of Arc.

The first code is ELLIPSIS.¬† It is the fire in the guts of Louis-Ferdinand C√©line…the splitting of the literary atom.¬† Professor Y.

Good evil.

Fortunately there is no sportscaster to reveal just how ludicrous the plot devolution is…a Texas hold ’em tournament in Montenegro.

No.  It had to be, Beethoven.  No one plays baccarat anymore.  We need to put asses in seats.

Sure, it becomes complex.¬† Mathis is tased.¬† Bond is dazed.¬† Even perfect films have bad cuts…perhaps this game is making you perspire?

I noticed you changed your shirt…

They finally got it right.  Just the right combination of Titanic (1997) and Lars von Trier.

Good enough for a blockbuster.  It would never hold water at the arthouse.

And Martin Campbell’s great contribution?¬† Restraint.¬† Knowing when to yell “cut!”///

-PD

Die Another Day [2002)

CGI, like fake boobs, does not age well.¬† But let us back up to all of the ridiculous indoctrination which precedes the failed geekery of late in the film.¬† This James Bond movie has many reeducation moments, but they emanate not from the North Korean characters but rather the film’s shadow auteurs.¬† Let me demonstrate.

“North Korea bad.¬† England good.¬† England also known U.K.¬† [ooga booga]¬† America friend U.K.¬† North Korea torture.¬† America and U.K. not torture.¬† [ooga-booga]”

Yes, dear friends…Hollywood considers you a bunch of fucking chimps.¬† And when it comes to films with a lot of heavy weaponry, you can bet the transnational military-industrial complex had a large role to play in the production.

North Korea hacked¬†Sony?¬† Gimme a fucking break!¬† That was a self-inflicted publicity stunt.¬† The only problem is the collusion of intelligence services which are always tasked with finding the next suitable enemy.¬† The CIA, MI6, NSA, and every other alphabet agency in the Anglo-American “five eyes” network have become nothing more than glorified traffic cops…fulfilling their ticket quotas.

Why will the new world order fail?¬† Because they do not employ the best artists.¬† Sure, there are forgery artists on staff of these intel agencies, but not the artists needed to fool the world.¬† There are no Charlie Chaplins, no Orson Welles, no Pablo Picassos, no Igor Stravinskys…¬† And so the global elite circuitously churn out these propaganda films which age as fast as Cheez Whiz or Silly String. They count on audiences being stupid…both uneducated and willfully stupid (in combination).

Lee Tamahori actually does a worse job directing than Michael Apted did in the last half of the previous Bond film, though sadly the mise-en-scène is almost indistinguishable.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system (yay! free speech), let’s talk about what is salvageable.¬† Zao.¬† Diamond acne.¬† That’s pretty good.

Torture in the opening credits.¬† Very innovative (and true to the spirit of the first Bond novel Casino Royale).¬† Bond’s dereliction of duty (if it can be called that) echoes the wonderful message of License To Kill (1989), yet what follows is mostly hackneyed storytelling.

Halle Berry’s emergence from the ocean like the reincarnation of Ursula Andress circa 1962 seems to bode well, but it is simply a rare moment of excellence in a sea of shite.

Further indoctrination follows in that Berry is supposedly an NSA agent.¬† In all my years reading about the NSA (from James Bamford to Wayne Madsen), never have I encountered even a hint of the kind of agent she is purported to be.¬† This leads me to believe that the whole purpose was to make No Such Agency seem cool and acceptable knowing that the PATRIOT Act was now letting them eavesdrop the shit out of your lives.¬† They knew such a steamroller approach would eventually result in public backlash.¬† And it did.¬† NSA agent…¬† Gimme a fucking break…

And then of course there’s the nice little mention of Sierra Leone.¬† We’d be revisiting that country as “liberators” from a biowarfare agent called ebola before too long.

Yes, I know, dear reader:¬† these sound like the thoughts of a raving lunatic.¬† I urge you to investigate…really investigate.¬† Investigate to the point you are scared…and then investigate some more.¬† Can you afford it?¬† We dispossessed of the earth have nothing to lose.

I could talk about Madonna’s bad acting.¬† Actually, I like Madonna.¬† It’s just horrible fucking directing.¬† To the director’s credit, the scene seems pressured from above…like a goddamned product placement.

Graves ice palace looks like a cross between the Sydney Opera House and a frozen McDonald’s.¬† What a pathetic piece of set design.

Conversely, kudos to the thinkers behind the hypersonic wedding ring.

But these fucking car chases…it’s like Top Gear.¬† What a load of uncinematic crap!

It’s a pity Rosamund Pike had such a bollocks role.

This is just atrocious filmmaking.

-PD

To Have and Have Not [1944)

Was you ever stung by a dead bee?¬† Their sting can’t possibly be as piquant as 19-year-old Lauren Bacall in this classic.¬† Humphrey Bogart would agree.¬† It was Bacall’s first film and the beginning of a “beautiful friendship.”¬†¬†Their on-screen charisma here is both impossibly cute and sweltering (the latter due to Bacall’s sultry acting).

Walter Brennan can’t stop talking about dead bees (or stop talking¬†in general).¬† His performance is magnificent.¬† The sub-plot involving Brennan’s character Eddie and Bogart’s Capt. Morgan (rum, anyone?) is truly touching.¬† Bogart plays the tough-yet-compassionate friend to the old alcoholic Eddie.¬† It is an underdog story and we are glad to see someone looking after the unfortunate Eddie.¬† It is significant that the novel upon which this film is loosely based was written by Hemingway, yet Eddie seems to bear a slight resemblance to Lennie from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.¬† To round out the American literature lesson, William Faulkner is credited as one of the two screenwriters.

Of additional note (no pun intended) is the acting, singing, and playing of Hoagy Carmichael.  There are such fantastic musical moments herein.  One wonders whether Tom Waits was inspired by the songs from this film (and by Carmichael in general).  We must also remember that Ian Fleming envisioned 007 as looking like Carmichael.  His presence in this film adds immensely to the whole.

The direction of Howard Hawks is stunning, though deftly¬†“invisible.”¬† We believe the events are actually happening.¬† Though it is Hollywood through and through, there might be a case made for Hawks’ own neorealism at this time when Rossellini was about to release the seminal ¬†Roma citt√† aperta (the epitome of cinematic veritas).¬†

-PD

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service [1969)

Lazenby.

Not Connery.  Not Moore.

After the bloated disaster of You Only Live Twice, my expectations were not very high.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This is perhaps the best Bond movie up to this point in the series.  I know it is blasphemy to say so.  I love Connery.  I adore Moore.  The achievement in question is perhaps best attributed to the director (new to the series in this capacity):  Peter Hunt.

Telly Savalas is masterful as the cat-petting Blofeld.¬† He adds a depth to the character which was missing in the previous depiction by Donald Pleasence.¬† It is interesting to note the similarities of Blofeld’s allergy institute (a cover for brainwashing) to the CIA’s dirty program Project MKUltra which was headed by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb.¬† The ghastly “research” was administrated from 1953 onwards by Dr. Gottlieb.¬† Blofeld’s methods in this film bear a striking resemblance to those of MKUltra’s head experimenter Dr. Ewen Cameron.¬† The world can thank CIA agent William Francis Buckley (“Bill”, but not the one of which you’re probably thinking) for blowing the whistle on this dark, dark period in CIA misadventure.¬† Buckley observed the deplorable results in Montreal at McGill University.

But back to fun stuff ūüôā¬† High-speed chases!¬† The Bond series from Eon Productions redeems itself with a great ski chase down Piz Gloria (atop which is Blofeld’s “clinic”).¬† While not as epic as the underwater battle in Thunderball, it is much more entertaining that the autogyro sequence in You Only Live Twice.

I really must compliment Lazenby.  His was no easy task.  It was the right decision for him to not speak in an affected Scottish accent after Connery.  Lazenby could have been a great long-term Bond.  Thankfully he contributed this one fine performance to the annals.

Peter Hunt is to be equally (if not more so) congratulated.¬† This was a unique ending for a Bond movie.¬† It was handled deftly and had just the right amount of suspense to keep the incredulous at bay.¬† I’m speaking of course about 007 getting married.¬† You’ll have to see it for yourself to find out just how Eon Productions managed to finagle a continuance of the series after this “blow” to the womanizing lead character.¬† Of course, in today’s world marriage wouldn’t be a hindrance at all in a similar dramatic case.

This film is really an odd duck, but it should stand as an example for the series.¬† It is a bit humorous to hear John Barry give the famous 007 guitar line to a harpsichord in the opening credits.¬† The effect is similar to “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”¬† Louis Armstrong even sings a song especially recorded for this film!¬† He was near the end of his life and it is as touching as Billie Holiday’s album Lady In Satin.¬† Armstrong never recorded another song (dying two years later from a heart attack).

 

-PD