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

 

A View to a Kill [1985)

The opening disclaimer is odd.  Zorin…  One wonders whether the apologetics were in deference to Valerian Zorin.  In the West, the Soviet diplomat/statesman was best known for a stand-off with Adlai Stevenson at a UN Security Council meeting during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Surely the legal clarification wasn’t at the behest of a high Soviet official?  The question is important because it colors my reading of this film.  Something unique was afoot for this production.  At what point in the life of this film was the disclaimer created?  Valerian Zorin died the year after this film was released.

Is it significant that an MI6 agent dies in the carwash at a BP gas station?  Is it significant that a Chevron sign comes tumbling down to destruction in the San Francisco car chase?

One thing is certain:  the fact that villain Max Zorin is interested in horse breeding and horse racing is no accident.  Dr. Carl Mortner (played by Willoughby Gray) is a former Nazi scientist whom the Soviets picked up (à la Operation Paperclip).  His steroid experiments on pregnant women in concentration camps spawned our highly-intelligent, psychopathic antagonist in question.  One could draw many parallels…

But we must also remember that this is a movie.  In my estimation, it is the best Bond film up till this point with the possible exception of The Man with the Golden Gun.  What makes this film so special is indeed exactly what I have been skirting around:  its villain (Christopher Walken).

Yes, the theme by Duran Duran is great.  Yes, Grace Jones is fantastic.  But it is Walken who really provides the drama.  That the greatest of all Bond villains would have a particularly nasty scheme up his sleeve is only natural.  Eliminate the competition.  It is simple.  Cold, calculating, mechanical…and creative in its destruction.

Fiona Fullerton really filled out since her role as the title character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972).  She would have made an excellent Bond girl, but the honor goes to perhaps an even more worthy candidate:  Tanya Roberts.  The blue-eyed Roberts and the blue-eyed Roger Moore are almost like the thoroughbreds which play a minor role in this film.  Credit both actors with remaining human while still being among the beautiful people.  Both do an excellent job of giving depth to their characters.  This would, sadly, be the last Roger Moore production in the Eon series of Bond movies (barring a late comeback).

It may or may not be significant that Roberts’ character has the last name Sutton.  Considering the geopolitical intrigue at stake, one might consider the reference as to Anthony Sutton.  Dr. Sutton was a historian, economist, and writer on politics who researched and published on such fascinating topics as the Skull & Bones fraternity of Yale University, The Trilateral Commission, and the U.S. Federal Reserve System.  Of particular note are Sutton’s books on the relation of Wall Street to both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis.

Shedule, not skedjule.  With a simple pronunciation nuance, Walken exits the mine after killing his own workers with an Uzi (while laughing).  Surely such demented individuals don’t reach such important positions of power, do they?

Walken even laughs at his own death.  By attacking Moore with an axe, we are brought back to the archetypal depiction of insanity which Jack Nicholson so hideously characterized in Kubrick’s The Shining.

I won’t forgive myself without mentioning the significant contribution over the years of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny (this being her last film in the role).  And as a reward for having read this far, the secret to the disclaimer is Zoran Corporation (which strangely, strangely actually did specialize in making microchips…and! was located in Silicon Valley).  As a side-note, the aforementioned company derived its name from the Hebrew word for silicon (being strongly connected to the government of Israel, though incorporated in Delaware).

And I didn’t even get to snowboarding…or the game for Commodore 64 🙂

-PD