Fargo [1996)

America is getting crazy.

Perhaps we’ve always been crazy.

But it seems like people are flipping out for a multitude of reasons.

Life is unpredictable.

We can only plan so much.

And then random events impress themselves upon us.

In America we had pre-election stress.

Very immense.

And now we have post-election stress.

Perhaps one half of the country was more stressed before, and the other half is more stressed now.

But the side which is stressed now (the losing side) is really pissed off.

And they are baiting.  With night crawlers.

And racing.  With illogic.

It’s a sort of contagion one must be removed from often in order just to survive.

This tension, as it turns out, is aptly symbolized by the film Fargo.

I have never reviewed a Coen brothers film on here till now.

And this is a good one.

I hesitate to call it great.

It’s a little too self-conscious to be great.

But it is a compelling watch nonetheless.

Our director is Joel Coen.  Ethan was producing.

1987.

A tangled web woven by a rather mundane fellow named Jerry Lundegaard.

Up in the Scandinavian north of the USA.

A piece of shit towing a piece of shit.

Fargo, North Dakota.

It’s a sad story.

But funny in its idiosyncrasies.

The everyday life of the Dakotas.

Minnesota.  Iota.

It’s edgy.

Murders.

But in steps the marvelous Frances McDormand.

Such a humanizing presence here.

To draw out “funny-looking”…just “funny-looking”…other than being uncircumcised?

Steve Park is excellent as Mike Yanagita…with a Minnesota accent.

We don’t think of these things as possible.

Down here in Texas.

Like getting cut shaving.

Ouch.

And then a Paul Bunyan axe.

But the bizarre calmness of William H. Macy might take the cake.

Calm until the very end.

Perhaps we would call it bourgeois denial.

And so perhaps panic is natural.

When we see a complete lack of panic replaced by the Nile.

“Funny-looking” comes back.

In several feet of snow.

It might get cold tomorrow (!)…front blowing in.

One socked foot.  Like a periscope.

The sweetest thing is the romance between McDormand and John Carroll Lynch.

At the buffet.  Smorgasbord.  The Swedish meatballs.  Watching TV in bed.

Every night.

And waking up together, every morning.

It is quaint.

It is America.

It is the electoral college.

You have 50 states to which you must appeal.  Convincingly.

Buscemi is pretty priceless.

Foulmouthed small-time criminal…in over his head pretty quick.

Peter Stormare, as it turns out, is actually Swedish.

And taciturn.

And of course we can’t forget the brief candles of José Feliciano.

Not a masterpiece, but strangely compelling.

 

-PD

Nóż w wodzie [1962)

I wanted to not like this film.

For some reason.

Because it wasn’t my first love.

That would be Popiół i diament.

But Knife in the Water is as good a place as any to start.

Poland.

Quite frankly, this film blew my socks off.

Nóż w wodzie is a strange little masterpiece.

Truly.

On this day when Paris burns.

Appropriate.

That we get to a Parisian director named Roman Polański.

Yes, this film is like the day.

Today.

Yesterday.

All along we are afraid that someone is going to kill someone.

We suspect the vagrant.  The migrant.

But we find out that the real asshole is the yachtsman.

That shouldn’t have been hard to guess, but for some it takes a moment.

I first suspected the yachtsman thanks to Thierry Meyssan.

A couple of his books.

9/11:  The Big Lie.  And another called Pentagate.

These were among the first books to take aim at the fraudulent War on Terror by questioning the foundational event which birthed the current pall hovering over humanity.

“…an attack on humanity,” President Obama?  No.  YOU are an affront to humanity.  With your sullied Peace Prize.

Only fitting…considering Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.

Et allors…a Frenchman showed the way.

Meyssan.

The U.S. State Department branded his books as anti-American black propaganda.

In other words, they were claiming that the books stemmed from a foreign government’s attempt at geopolitical destabilization.

And you would know, State Department…because that is your specialty.

And so, as always, in the midst of my more adrift reviews the question arises as to the pertinence of my diatribe to said filmic document under consideration.

Nóż w wodzie is a political statement.  The bourgeois couple out for a day of leisurely sailing as pitted against the nature-boy tramp.

Salt in the wounds vs. salt of the earth.

I will leave it up to the reader to connect certain unspoken dots.

But, frankly, the spectacle I saw on 24-hour-news television tonight screamed false-flag terror to me.

What do I know?

I’m merely a boy with a rucksack and a couple of black radishes.

Far be it from me to discern real from fake.

As Guy Debord said (and I paraphrase), “Reality erupts within the spectacle.”

C’est-à-dire, it is very likely that many innocent people lost their lives tonight in Paris.

Therefore, the equation would be:  real death amidst fake terror.

It is the narrative which is fake.

Playing cui bono pretty quickly gets us from Islamic terrorists (who do not stand to benefit) to Western intelligence agencies (including possibly Israel) who very much stand to gain from tonight’s deadly shenanigans.

It is sad.

We don’t want it to be true.

You didn’t really cheat on me with the wanderer, did you?

And yet, the yachtsman’s wife is mostly innocent.

Sometimes it takes a miracle to realize that our lives suck.  Our life sucks.  We are living a sham.

That is the miracle which the yachtsman’s wife finds in a stolen kiss.

A moment of tenderness.  A reminder of what real life was like.

But Roman Polanski succeeds most of all (with the help of writer Jerzy Skolimowski) in showing us that we’re all guilty as hell.

Yeah.

That’s about right.

I’m no saint.

We’re no saints.

And so false-flag terror mostly annoys us at this point.

Every time an incident “erupts” we’re not sure whether anyone died whatsoever (to begin with).

As I said, things look very grave indeed tonight in Paris.

We mourn those 100 or so young people who died at Le Bataclan…sacrificed on the altar of war profits.

It is truly Satanic (if such things exist).

A very dark ritual which terrorizes the planet.

And so the only hope for the suspect intelligence agencies is to present us with the heads of their masters.

Call them the New World Order.  Call them SPECTRE.

Just call them and notify them that you will no longer be their whipping boys.

No doubt, the majority of intelligence agency employees are good, decent people.

That is why they should put their butts on the line to end this endless War on Terror charade.

Yesterday was all about sufficiently shocking the masses so as to regain control of the inhumane war against Syria from the leveling presence of Russia.

We know the equation.

Putin will never call out 9/11 as false-flag terror because he does the same thing to his people.

Just like Nóż w wodzie.  No one is really innocent here (myself included).  We’re all just trying to show off.  And on the world stage, it is truly a deadly game.

The NWO (let’s call them) seemingly has but one trick in their bag:  false-flag terrorism.  15 years of the same tune.  A one-trick pony.

And how do we know this?  Because of Operation Gladio.  Because of revelations gleaned over the years.

The CIA is tasked with this kind of stuff.  Doesn’t mean they get a whole lot of enjoyment out of it.

No, dear friends…I can’t give you the exact names–the exact chain of command, but someone can.

And maybe they are reading this and on the fence regarding their messy role in destabilizing the world.

But let’s be simple.

I can give you the name Jolanta Umecka.  What a beauty!  With her kitty-cat glasses.  Early-60s.  1950s.  The lagging fashion of the Eastern Bloc.

It’s not much.

I can give you a film review.  I can put myself out on the line as the village idiot.

It is both the least and the most I can do.

I may be mistaken about everything.

Like Thoreau, I will admit when I was in error.  In strong words.  Tomorrow.  Just as strong as those I used today.

Dear friends.  What a pity that these proxy games must go on.

We are above such machinations.

There is great art to be appreciated.

Great art teaches the way.

Great art like Nóż w wodzie.

-PD

Tout va bien [1972)

This might be the most important film ever made.

You can’t start like that.

This whole “internal monolog” gets boring…

Illiterate Joyce fanatic.

After fucking around for four years, Godard and Gorin (like Marx and Engels) finally got the funding needed to deal a deathblow to bourgeois capitalism.  Bourgeois?  Monopoly.  Monopoly?

I feel film review coming on…itching like a well-known wool blanket.

Jane Fonda is devastatingly good in this.

Yves Montand nails it.

Godard and Gorin fling a manifesto at the world.  Hollywood has failed miserably in mustering a riposte.

Over 40 years ago.

Who speaks for Hollywood?

And who speaks for not Hollywood?

A state of mind more than a place.

New forms for new content.

Not Hollywood.

You know Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis.

We get a hilarious choking performance from Vittorio Caprioli.

It’s not a thing to hide…the fact that one is marked for death.

But hidden it is.

A loudmouthed agitator who learned to unlearn.  Through books.

A conundrum.  No, there is no stopping being an intellectual.

If you don’t know the Dziga-Vertov Group’s work, you won’t realize that Tout va bien is actually reflective.

It is a perfect gentle art bomb.

No box office data.

Not what we meant anyway.

Must be a pain in the ass to parse these “reviews” on behalf of the control freaks.

A good psychologist would tell you to buy a mirror.  Buy some time.  Reflect.

But there are no good psychs…seems.

No, surely there are.

A lot (two words) of professions seem glutted with criminals.

And the psychs are there to define criminality.

Judges by the benison of nepotism.

By which we mean judges.  [new subject]

By this time they broke the fourth wall so efficiently and effortlessly.  With Jane Fonda.

The wrong woman.

Diegesis or die a Jesus?

Opacity of performance?

I think what they mean is, by being weird it causes the audience to ask, “Why are they being weird?”

Who cares.

Too beautiful to end there.

The most important.  Perhaps.

Can’t this motherfucker complete a goddamned sentence?

New forms for new content. (2)

Seriously, the boss has to piss!

And is that the cock from Persona?

Cock.  I never would’ve said it that way.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

She told me.

Double-spacing was an antiquated technique.  Something about a journalism degree.  I tried.

Obviously, people are watching.

Route me out of the main stream.  Rout.

I know my true brothers and sisters, but they remain invisible.

Little signals over the ether and we take the helm.

Rub your jade.

Yes.  Look look look.

Doesn’t matter.  They want you to know that clearly.

The movies where the hero is a shitbag who finally does the right thing at the end…and utters one last dying quotable.

Karate for life.  For instance.

Capitalize the first noun, and then shut the fuck up.  It’s just a title.

What’s in a goddamned name?

Shaky sphere at the globe.  On the shore.  Of a ditch.

The borr(o)wed.  Borr()wed.

Barred.

If there’s a right way to write about film, this ain’t it.

Unremitting self-referential showmanship.

Serves to defuse…de fuse.

Someday.  Someday.  A couple of holy grails will roll down the hill.

Goddamn.

-PD

Masked and Anonymous [2003)

Some years ago, San Antonio (my hometown) had a cheeky ad “campaign” which struck a little too close to home…which is to say, it was perfect.

Our neighbors to the north in Austin (my home of some 15 years) have cashed in on a perceived eccentricity which that college metropolis embodies (to a greater or lesser extent):  Keep Austin Weird.

San Antonio’s riposte?  Keep San Antonio Lame.

I shit you not.

And, thus, tonight…Bob Dylan in the Alamo City…and a dream come true for me…sort of.  It took 17 years from when the album Time Out of Mind really convinced me of the man’s continued genius.  Seventeen years.  The amount of time it took Joyce to write Finnegans Wake.  At my pace it will take me as long to read Finnegans Wake.  But I digress…

It was poverty.  I was a musician.  Bob Dylan is/was/always will be my favorite living musician.  I could never afford the exorbitant ticket prices.  Tonight, luck was on my side…sort of.

The hoi polloi at tonight’s concert at the Majestic Theater disgusted me to an extreme degree.  People 30 to 45 minutes late…standing in front of me.  The incessant in and out of thirsty “fans” headed to the bar or shitter.  And to top it off, a brother/sister duo behind me who wouldn’t shut the fuck up.  Their never-ending running commentary finally snapped my patience as I turned around exasperated with a “I give up” look followed by the international pirate sign for throat-slitting.  Sure, I felt bad about it afterwards…but goddamn, I am shocked by the sporting event etiquette which greeted the true poet laureate of the United States to my fair (foul) city.

And so, Masked and Anonymous…

I rewatched it earlier today.  Such a fabulous film.  One of a kind.  Timeless.  There are no words for the cutting dissertation of Bob Dylan in his pseudonym screenwriter persona Sergei Petrov.  Larry Charles tags along as “Rene Fontaine” (cowriter) and as the cinematic auteur in charge of mise-en-scène.

I can’t really sum up how much Bob Dylan (as singer Jack Fate in this film) means to me.  That’s why it pissed me off so much as people filed out early from tonight’s concert to beat the rush…as if the Spurs were down 10 with 30 seconds remaining.  The bourgeois mass which sullied my night epitomize the artless throng which runs San Antone.  Don’t be fooled by the River Walk.  There is no life here.  Looking for the zombie apocalypse?  I can personally vouch that S.A. is chock-full of walking dead.

It is a prison.  And only a shrill voice can pierce the malaise.

In so many ways, Masked and Anonymous is a prescient film.  The flag.  North American Union.  The Midas-Judas Building.  Dr. Benway:  Psychiatrist.  And John Goodman as a thinly-veiled Albert Grossman:  Uncle Sweetheart.

Yes, the music industry is fucked.  It is a wonder that Bob Dylan gets out there every night and slogs it out.  In some ways, he is analogous to our Tim Duncan here in San Antonio (yes, our one pro sports team is truly the sole saving grace of this shithole…because they have class and are not obnoxious prima donnas).

Let’s give due to those vets who acted for the minimum recompense here:

Jeff Bridges as a slippery rock journalist.

Bruce Dern in a pithy role (powerfully acted) as Bridges’ editor.

Jessica Lange as a smoldering TV producer.

Penélope Cruz (so goddamned good in this) as a paranoid yet feather-light religious zealot.

Luke Wilson as Jack Fate’s old roadie.  [Side note:  I once walked up to Wilson in a Whole Foods and told him how much I appreciated his performance in this.  As I was wearing a white, polyester suit in the dead of Texas summer, it goes without saying that I probably shocked the shit out of poor Mr. Wilson.  He was, however, a good sport about the whole thing.]

Cheech Marin in 30 seconds (?) of pure genius…especially paired with the droll acting of Dylan.

Ed Harris as…Emmett Miller???

The list goes on and on…Chris Penn, Giovanni Ribisi (great segment on the bus), Christian Slater, Val Kilmer (slithy toves), Angela Bassett…

Of special note is Mickey Rourke as a bizarre mashup of George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales.

Somewhere between the positively fuck street of “Pay In Blood,” the agony of “Long and Wasted Years,” and the exiled ecstasy of “Autumn Leaves” Bob Dylan managed to transcend tonight at the Majestic.  Maybe he was channeling his old buddy Doug Sahm.  Nothing but a beer joint with a cloud machine.

-PD