Trump vs. Biden, October 22 [2020)

Queens.

“Scranton”.

Hard-scrabble.

Come on, man!

Surprises happen.

Laptop from hell.

Biden is a one-trick pony in a party of well-meaning morons.

No President has ever been hated so much…

…by the establishment.

Ironic.

It took one of their own to bring them to their knees.

And now the establishment has come up with an exceptionally-pathetic excuse for a candidate:

Joe Biden.

Republicans tried to elect a showroom dummy once (recently).

Mitt Romney.

Had the looks.

What could go wrong?

He came off as cold.

Plastic.

And so all the genius, conniving minds of the Democrat Party have gotten behind the person they think can Trojan their specious ideas into the realm of policy.

It is quite obvious.

Joe Biden didn’t get a big enough shot in the ass of ginkgo biloba to really stay in the ring 12 rounds with Trump.

Joe needs to be mainlining that shit by now.

If Joe Biden ate nothing but onions and drank nothing but tea, his brain would still be like a hunk of Swiss cheese.

Trump, fresh off recovering from the plague of the century (once-in-a-100-years) was cogent and articulate.

Look around.

If every media outlet, every source of information, every sports star, every celebrity is against Trump, what does that make Trump?

Anti-establishment.

So, go ahead.

Vote for Joe.

Joe couldn’t last five minutes playing Tropico (much less five minutes actually running the USA).

And he will not be running the USA (if elected).

Swiss-cheese-brain Biden has actually bought and believed the syrupy propaganda of his own party.

Which makes sense.

Because his brain has become (and will rapidly accelerate towards being) childlike.

Which doesn’t excuse Biden of being a nakedly-corrupt politician par excellence.

Joe would bring the old gang back together.

Hillary would have a chance to get her pay-to-play Clinton Foundation back up and running.

Hell, why not make her Secretary of State again?

She will be emboldened to shred every law because, even though she got caught, she paid no price (except for the nosedive in Clinton Foundation contributions).

You would have “bonesmen” like Austan Goolsbee.

[a pale imitation of an actually-competent individual (Mnuchin)]

Hell, bring ’em all back.

Comey at FBI.

Brennan at CIA.

Lynch on the Supreme Court.

Bring back Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder.

Put Bernie’s great economic theories to work at the Department of Labor.

[another guy who would crap out at Tropico within minutes]

Because it’s all one big gang.

It’s all one big, compromised gang.

And it’s all about making money OFF the people (rather than making money FOR the people).

Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Maxine Waters…

“Liberals”.

Limousine liberals (as they say).

Their respective personal worth always MAGICALLY balloons in their years of “service” to the USA.

It doesn’t take a genius to make money that way.

It takes a scumbag.

Trump didn’t need the money.

Hell, he gives away his Presidential salary checks.

But there is something.

He is GOOD AT MAKING MONEY.

So, yeah…

He didn’t fight in Vietnam.

[it’s also quite likely he never disparaged the military]

“Anonymous sources”…

Joe Biden disparaged the military ON TAPE, but never a hardball question about that:

[6’10” —> “clap for that, you stupid bastards”]

on tape.

Joe Biden has a problem with being caught on tape.

Here bragging about getting a Ukrainian prosecutor fired (while using American taxpayer dollars as leverage).  Hmmm, why would he want a UKRAINIAN prosecutor (?!?) fired?  Why would he brag about it?  What was this prosecutor investigating?  Why would we interfere in the judicial system of the Ukraine (by way of Joe Biden)?  Seems like his son Hunter had some dealings in Ukraine.  Hmmm…  Could it be, that this prosecutor was investigating his son Hunter???

But Joe Biden also has, how can I put this tactfully, other “problems” on tape.  It’s not just the hair of women he is sniffing:

Wouldn’t be so bad (?) if it was an isolated incident.  Maybe it was taken out of context?

You don’t need to watch all 17 minutes of the above clip to get the gist.  Joe Biden takes liberties with children…knowingly…on C-SPAN, etc.  What does he do behind closed doors?  The footage we’ve seen is shocking enough.

Joe Biden makes women and children (particularly Chris Coons’ daughter) feel uncomfortable.  You can see it in the body language.  Biden whispers in their ears.  And the young Coons daughter pulls away from the kiss.  Cre-epy!

But in this debate (the final of the 2020 season), Donald Trump made Joe Biden feel uncomfortable…especially when Trump brought up the “laptop from hell”.  You could see it in Joe’s body language.  

“It’s all lies,” said Joe repeatedly throughout the two debates.

Pull his string:  “It’s all lies.”

“Come on, man!”

Sometimes it’s funny.

Like the moronic George W. Bush who was part and parcel of the cabal that brought down the Twin Towers.

Bush was funny.

But scary.

Because he was so dumb.

But Joe Biden is not so completely ravaged by senile dementia not to feel the fear at even the mention of “the laptop from hell”.

But let’s hit some key points.

Joe Biden cannot consistently get his train of thought from point A to point B.  Witness this gem:

“And I don’t look at this in terms of the way he does, blue states and red states. They’re all the United States. And look at the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus. They’re the red states, they’re the states in the Midwest, they’re the states in the upper Midwest. “

Trump knows his opponent is mentally-compromised.

But Trump also knows that his opponent is a textbook corrupt politician:

“Joe, you have raised a lot of money, tremendous amounts of money. And every time you raise money deals are made, Joe. I could raise so much more money. As President, and as somebody that knows most of those people, I could call the heads of Wall Street, the heads of every company in America. I would blow away every record. But I don’t want to do that because it puts me in a bad position.

Like with the kids, Joe just couldn’t help himself (even against the obvious preparation where his advisors explicitly told him to, under no circumstances, broach this topic) #LaptopFromHell:

“His own National Security Advisor told him that what is happening with his buddy… Well, I shouldn’t… Well, I will. His buddy Rudy Giuliani. He’s being used as a Russian pawn.”

Joe fucked up.  As Trump explains:

“Well, let me respond to the first part, as Joe answered. Joe got $3.5 million from Russia and it came through Putin, because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow and it was the mayor of Moscow’s wife. And you got $3.5 million. Your family got $3.5 million. And someday you’re going to have to explain, why did you get three and a half? I never got any money from Russia. I don’t get money from Russia.”

https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/23/hunter-biden-took-3-5-million-from-ex-moscow-mayors-wife/

#RosemontSeneca.

More booms:

“But now, with what came out today, it’s even worse. All of the emails, the emails, the horrible emails of the kind of money that you were raking in, you and your family. And Joe, you were vice-president when some of this was happening, and it should have never happened. And I think you owe an explanation to the American people. Why is it, somebody just had a news conference a little while ago who was essentially supposed to work with you and your family, but what he said was damning. And regardless of me, I think you have to clean it up and talk to the American people. Maybe you can do it right now.”

https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/email-reveals-how-hunter-biden-introduced-ukrainian-biz-man-to-dad/

Big tech scrambled to censor this ^ story.

But the follow-up story was far more damning:

https://nypost.com/2020/10/15/emails-reveal-how-hunter-biden-tried-to-cash-in-big-with-chinese-firm/

Big boom:

“…I don’t make money from China. You do. I don’t make money from Ukraine. You do. I don’t make money from Russia. You made $3.5 million, Joe, and your son gave you, they even have a statement that we have to give 10% to the big man. You’re the big man, I think. I don’t know, maybe you’re not, but you’re the big man, I think.”

#TheBigGuy.

AKA #TheBigMan.

Truth:

“I was put through a phony witch hunt for three years. It started before I even got elected. They spied of my campaign. No president should ever have to go through what I went through. Let me just say this, Mueller and 18 angry Democrats and FBI agents all over the place spent $48 million. They went through everything I had, including my tax returns, and they found absolutely no collusion and nothing wrong. $48 million. I guarantee you, if I spent $1 million on you, Joe, I could find plenty wrong because the kind of things that you’ve done and the kind of monies that your family has taken, I mean, your brother made money in Iraq…millions of dollars. Your other brother made a fortune, and it’s all through you, Joe. And they say you get some of it. And you do live very well, you have houses all over the place. You live very well.”

Fire when ready:

“His son didn’t have a job for a long time, was, sadly, no longer in the military service, I won’t get into that, and he didn’t have a job. As soon as he became vice-president, Burisma, not the best reputation in the world, I hear they paid him $183,000 a month, listen to this, $183,000, and they gave him a $3 million upfront payment, and he had no energy experience. That’s 100% dishonest.”

Trump did this same thing to Hillary.

Blew holes in her metaphorical hull.

Torpedoes.

“He is the vice-president of the United States and his son, his brother, and his other brother are getting rich. They’re like a vacuum cleaner. They’re sucking up money…”

Incoming:

“His son walked out with a billion and a half dollars from China to…after spending 10 minutes in office and being in Air Force Two. Number one. Number two, there’s a very strong email talking about your family wanting to make $10 million a year for introductions.”

Joe Biden does not understand international finance.

He does not understand the implications of Chinese currency devaluations.

He doesn’t even understand the mechanism.

Joe Biden is a (renovated) showroom dummy:

“My response is, look, there’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey. There’s a reason for it. He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family’s hurting badly. If you’re a middle-class family, you’re getting hurt badly right now. You’re sitting at the kitchen table this morning deciding, ‘Well, we can’t get new tires. They’re bald, because we have to wait another month or so.’ Or, ‘Are we going to be able to pay the mortgage?’ Or, ‘Who’s going to tell her she can’t go back to community college?’ They’re the decisions you’re making, and the middle-class families like I grew up in Scranton and Claymont, they’re in trouble. We should be talking about your families, but that’s the last thing he wants to talk about.”

Bill Clinton was persuasive when he was peddling this same shit.

Joe Biden isn’t.

And Trump calls it out:

“That is a typical statement.

[…]

That’s a typical political statement. Let’s get off this China thing, and then he looks, ‘The family around the table, everything.’ Just a typical politician when I see that. I’m not a typical politician.

[…]

That’s why I got elected. Let’s get off the subject of China. Let’s talk about sitting around the table. Come on, Joe. You could do better.”

Joe Biden’s message is hackneyed.

His delivery is maudlin.

His economic “plan” is planned economy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_economy

Lame.

Been tried.

Doesn’t work.

“Inefficient” would be too kind a descriptor.

It’s just not fair.

Joe Biden only has one “dollar word” left in his intellectual quiver:

“The public option is an option that says that if you in fact do not have the wherewithal, if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you automatically are enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies.”

Twice in the same sentence?!?

Come on, man!!

Joe’s (and the Democrats’) answer for everything is “bailout”…as Trump begins to delineate:

“The bill that was passed in the House was a bailout of badly run, high crime, Democrat, all run by Democrat cities and states. It was a way of getting a lot of money, billions and billions of dollars, to these guys. It was also a way of getting a lot of money from our people’s pockets to people that come into our country illegally. We were going to take care of everything for them. And I’d love to do that. I’d love to help them. But what that does, everybody all over the world will start pouring into our country. We can’t do it. This was a way of taking care of them. This was a way of spending on things that had nothing to do with COVID, as per your question. But it was really a big bailout for badly run Democrat cities and states.”

Joe wants a planned economy (like Uncle Joe Stalin had).  Price ceilings.  Price floors.  Arbitrary values for labor (a major factor in production).  It doesn’t work.

Trump defeats this backwards economic chestnut in one sentence:

“How are you helping your small businesses when you’re forcing wages?”

Watch the price of eggs.

That’s how you will see the free market (as opposed to a planned economy) assert itself.

Supply and demand.

As simple as that.

Don’t toy with it.

Don’t stifle it.

Let it create value.

For everyone.

It may be trite, but “a rising tide lifts all ships” (as it is said).

The stock market is equivalent to the vital signs of a medical patient.

Joe may or may not understand that.

Again, he seems to have bought the “black propaganda” (total disinformation) of his own party.

What little brain Joe has left has been thoroughly washed of all real-world, economic logic.

As good as Kristen Welker was (and she was quite good [compared to the atrociously-partisan Chris Wallace]), she is still part of a profession that, when it comes to Democrat interviewees, almost always shirks its duty:

“Who built the cages? I’d love you to ask him that. Who built the cages, Joe?”

The U.S. immigration system is broken (on purpose).  And Joe should know that.  But he still blithely opines otherwise.  Trump truth:

“And then you say they come back. Less than 1% of the people come back. We have to send ICE out and Border Patrol out to find them. We would say, ‘Come back in two years, three years. We’re going to give you a court case. You did Perry Mason. We’re going to give you a court case.’ When you say they come back, they don’t come back, Joe. They never come back. Only the really… I hate to say this, but those with the lowest IQ, they might come back, but there are very, very few.”

Sure.

Trump is rough around the edges.

But he is no bullshit.

And there are a few opinion leaders (Johnny Rotten) who understand and appreciate this.

Joe steps in it again:

“My daughter is a social worker and she’s written a lot about this. She has her graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in social work.”

This daughter?

https://www.infowars.com/posts/report-diary-of-joe-bidens-daughter-alleges-years-of-sexual-molestation/

Doesn’t take a fucking genius to see that Sleepy Joe is actually Creepy Joe.

MOAB:

“You know Joe, I ran because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job. If I thought you did a good job, I would’ve never run. I would’ve never run. I ran because of you. I’m looking at you now, you’re a politician, I ran because of you.”

And again (for good measure):

“If this stuff is true about Russia, Ukraine, China, other countries, Iraq. If this is true, then he’s a corrupt politician. So don’t give me the stuff about how you’re this innocent baby. Joe, they’re calling you a corrupt politician…They’re calling it the laptop from hell.”

Emphasis mine.

No cap:

“But, why didn’t he get it done? See, it’s all talk, no action with these politicians, why didn’t he get it? ‘That’s what I’m going to do when I become president.’ You were vice president along with Obama as your president, your leader, for eight years, why didn’t you get it done? You had eight years to get it done, now you’re saying you’re going to get it done because you’re all talking and no action, Joe.”

#AllTalkNoAction

Biden:  “I don’t know where he comes from.  I don’t know where he comes up with these numbers.”

Trump:  “Queens.”

-PD

 

青春残酷物語 [1960)

[CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH, (1960)]

Today was a bad day.

You would be shocked (dear readers) if I asserted the opposite.

No, there is no sugarcoating it.

But that’s ok. [Ah!]

Such anxiety.  Such fear.  Such trepidation.

Ah!  That wasn’t so bad.

But don’t breathe relief too soon.  [Sigh…]

We’re surrounded by morons.  Condescending illiterates.

A fistful of assholes.

Yes, that Japanese up there indeed does not read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Things fall apart.  Shit happens.  Sometimes, the shit hits the fan.

That is the story of Nagisa Oshima’s Cruel Story of Youth.

Seishun Zankoku Monogatari…that’s what it says.

Kinda like Ugetsu Mongatari (which I reviewed some time back).

物語

Epic.

And it is.  More or less.

The story of Mako and Kiyoshi.

No magical powers here.  This is like the Japanese version of À bout de souffle.

If we don’t understand French (and we don’t), then we really shouldn’t be fooling around with Japanese.

That is my 2 cents…me, and the royal we.

Inseparable.

Mako and Kiyoshi.

Will they survive this cruel world?

Perhaps they must be cruel themselves to survive it?

And perhaps only Kiyoshi (cool as Jean-Paul Belmondo) is cruel?

Mako is no Jean Seberg.

She might be a coquette, but she’s not une dégueulasse.

Our film followed on the heels of Godard’s Breathless by a mere four months.

And what about Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Breathless”?

It preceded Godard’s film by two years (1958).

Any one else out of breath???

How about those Japanese protestors?

They weren’t keen on the Anpo treaty.

[Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan]

Yeah, a mere 15 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki…and Japan was a beaten nation.

Doubly beaten.

Because they joined hands with their brethren (us) who had so recently vaporized them.

And so no wonder people were protesting.

But we don’t see protests in movies.

Not real protests.  Not anymore.

In fact, Japan does not even exist for the U.S. anymore.

Japan is like a house cat.

Domesticated.

Japan protests nothing.

Their economy slides with ours.

They are between a rock and a hard place.

Seemingly forever.

It is a geopolitical fault-line.

In the film we see South Koreans protesting.

This ended long ago (for us brainwashed viewers in the West).

Only the Chinese protest.

Tiananmen Square.  1989.

And CNN had a bird’s-eye view of tank man.

A bit too perfect.

But yes:  every nation protests.

Except the well-behaved Japanese and South Koreans.

But what about these recent tremors?

Okinawa.

As recently as February of this year.

Just what is going on?

Anpo is that famously robust treaty…in effect longer than anything since the Peace of Westphalia (1648).

I am reminded of my most erudite friend’s knowing focus on the war which these treaties (a series in 1648) ended.

Thirty years.

It was a bad day for Mako.  Rape.

The valiant rapist.

What?

It is like Dostoyevsky.

Stick around and the plot thickens.

Buked and scorned by Yuki (the sister).

Youth…how cruel it is to be taken.

And then our lovers reenact The Kid with no windows (but plenty of stones).

But I’m most sad for Horio.

It’s the old man in me.

Finally the reification gets to be too much for Mako.

And a tear rolls down her cheek.  In her sleep.

Busy signal.  Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Twenty years.

A cement mixer.

Is she?  No.  It can’t end like that!

“This ain’t prostitution…IT’S EXTORTION! (tortion)! (torsion)!”

They call them the diamond dogs.

Oshima with a shadow play.

Kiyoshi holds Mako in the foreground.

Aki implores Yuki in the background.

[And for subtitlers everywhere, please think before you use the phrase “for old time’s sake” in a Japanese film.]

In her polka dot dress with the leeks peeking from the grocery sack.

Blammo!

The futility of youth.

The grimy uncertainty…the shifting sands.

The idealism made to lick the city sidewalk.

The valiant rapist saint.

INRI.

Ecce homo.

And Mako, fragile, with a bloody cheek.

 

-PD

Planes, Trains and Automobiles [1987)

When I was a kid, this was a big family favorite.

It was one of those rare times when profanity got a pass.

That second time Steve Martin goes off…on Edie McClurg (the rental car lady).

But even funnier is the first time Martin pops off…in the Braidwood Motel in Wichita, Kansas…and John Candy just takes it.

Yes, there are some priceless moments in this film.

In some ways, this film defined an era.

Trading Places was an early-decade success (1983) for John Landis.

And then Walter Hill succeeded with a similar type of story, treated in his inimitable way, in 1985 (Brewster’s Millions).

But by 1987 the decade needed summation…and this particular genre which transcended classification needed a testament.

This is that film.

Funny enough, this was the same year the Coen brothers really started hitting ’em out of the park (Raising Arizona).  That film also is a veritable classic, but it is forward-looking.  It is almost like comedy in the hands of a David Lynch.

John Hughes was seemingly retrospective with Planes, Trains and Automobiles…like the J.S. Bach of the 1980s…summing up a decade of dirigist American comedy.

Hughes had a lot of career left to go in 1987, but this was a sort of highpoint…especially if considering only his directorial efforts.

Sure…Hughes was more counterculture earlier in the decade, but he wasn’t above putting his heart into a morality play like this one.

But to paint this film as a vanilla affair is not really accurate.

Consider Steve Martin’s yuppie character…a “marketing” professional on a business trip to New York from Chicago.

Martin’s character represents everything that was wrong with America in the 1980s.

Sadly, Neal Page (Martin) represents the problem which persists in America today.

Perhaps Isidore Isou’s famous class distinction fits here.

Neal Page, marketing professional, is an intern (as opposed to externe)…a cog in the wheel of production.

The Neal Pages of today would learn their marketing from an abomination such as Marian Burk Wood’s The Marketing Plan Handbook.

The Neal Pages of corporate America read a Wood phrase such as, “For the purposes of developing a marketing plan, advertising’s two basic decisions concern the message (what content will be communicated) and the media…,” without ever thinking Marshall McLuhan.

A savvy seller of used books might file The World is Flat in “Sociology” (in addition to the more strictly-applicable “Business”) in an effort to unload what must surely be one of the most overprinted books of recent memory.

But what bookseller ever thinks to place Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man (1964) in the “Business” section…or in the Marketing/Advertising “disciplines”?

Marketers, no doubt, would have a glib answer.

But marketers rarely know more than their insular, myopic areas of pseudo-specialty.

The “right” answer…the culturally literate answer…the answer Marian Burk Wood was either too dumb to include…or too convinced that her dumbed-down readers would not get…is McLuhan’s:

“…the medium is the message.”

The first sentence of the fucking book!

Chapter 1 (also, conveniently titled, The Medium Is The Message):

“In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message.”

But the character Neal Page wouldn’t have known that…and that’s why he gets “schooled” in business by the portly, genuine Del Griffith (John Candy).

Of course, Candy’s character wouldn’t have known this either…but at least he wouldn’t have been a venal, meretricious, entitled prick like Neal Page.

And so Neal Page didn’t really go the extra mile in business school…  He just took all the bullshit shoveled down his throat as gospel truth.

Therefore, Page wouldn’t have known this gem either…a parallel to McCluhan from just three years later (1967).

Again, the first fucking sentence of the book:

“The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.  All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”

Ok, so I gave him two sentences.  Those are the words of Guy Debord from his masterpiece La société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) [translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith].

Notice the similarities to McCluhan.

But, of course, Debord was referencing the big daddy of them all:

“The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’…”

Karl Marx.  Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (1867).  Translated by Ben Fowkes.

And so today’s marketing professionals are either brain-dead (thanks to authors like Wood) or craven cynics thanks to equally worthless authors such as Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller.

These last two have contributed a tome to the pseudo-discipline of “marketing” entitled A Framework for Marketing Management.

If anything has ever called for the revocation of tenure, it is the appalling lack of intellectual curiosity these two professors (from Northwestern and Dartmouth, respectively) show over the course of their overpriced bible for aspiring C-level automata.

Consider their statement, “…make low-profit customers more profitable or terminate them.”  Now do you see why America has problems?

And again, “Spend proportionately more effort on the most valuable customers.”

Thank God for the Del Griffiths of this world.

People are not statistics to be terminated.

God bless John Candy and John Hughes for poignantly reminding us of the only true value in life.

Relationships.

Not to be “leveraged”.

Just people.

Plain and simple.

As Del Griffith says, “What you see is what you get.”

Genuine.

THAT’S the marketing of the future!

And it can’t be contrived…

 

-PD

 

 

Monsieur Verdoux [1947)

Being unwanted is a powerful feeling.

A life devoted to a profession, and then (poof!)…

But aging is a powerful experience even when separated from an event of displacement.

Let me clarify:

Aging can make one vulnerable.

We are only all too aware that we aren’t as handsome or as beautiful as we once were.

We are made aware of this decline by way of “the spectacle” (to borrow an idea from Guy Debord).

Sure, we can read it in the glances of everyone we meet, but we must realize that those eyes have glanced upon the ideal.  Those eyes are connected to minds.  Those minds have been imprinted like microchips.

With what?  “The tyranny of good looks…” to quote the brilliant Marilyn Yalom.

The quote comes from her excellent volume How the French Invented Love (2012).  Yes, this nonfiction tome is only too relevant to the subject at hand:  Charlie Chaplin’s bizarre Monsieur Verdoux.

This one won’t have you laughing yourself into the aisle.  Not till the back nine (at the earliest).

Charles Chaplin was a rebel.  When it worked, the world loved him.  When it didn’t?  Ah-la-la…  No one can be completely spared the wrath of the public.

A quick glance at the ever-reliable Wikipedia [cough cough] tells us that Monsieur Verdoux fared better in Europe than in America.

Quickly perusing the section marked “Reception” we might come to the conclusion that audiences in the United States did not “get” this film.

So then did we merely have a cultural barrier (and its opposite) in operation as far as world reception?

I think not.  I think that Europe’s humor was forever changed by the World Wars.  Coming just two years after the second ended, this film was a litmus test.  What could be found funny in this cruel new world?

The entire world had lost its innocence.

And so the comedian was forced to make do with the sordid rubble.

It is not spoiling much to tell you that in this film Chaplin plays a serial killer.  The idea apparently originated with Orson Welles, but the treatment was no doubt a full Chaplin adaption.

Yes, it is shocking.  A bit.  Nowadays.  But then?!?  It must have been much more scandalous.

This was the first time Chaplin took to the screen in a feature film without relying to any extent upon the Little Tramp character.  It was a brave departure!

What I find most fascinating about this film is that the fictional Verdoux, like the real-life Hitler, was a vegetarian and animal lover.

Ah!  However…Verdoux was based on a real killer:  Henri Désiré Landru.

They share the same first name (and a rhyming last):

Henri Verdoux?

Henri Landru.

They also share a profession:  used furniture merchant.

It is not clear to me (without further research) whether the vegetarian/animal lover aspects were inventions of Chaplin or not.

I’m guessing they were.

In any case, they are effective reminders about the intricacy of human personalities.

Schindler’s List comes down to us as a hack film because it lacks life.  That is the message I get from reading Godard’s critique of Spielberg.  What is more, Godard seems to lament (mourn) the lack of video footage shot within German concentration camps during WWII.

Some have construed this as holocaust denial.

I don’t think that is the point.

However, Godard’s presentation of his argument brings with it a certain amount of skepticism.  Put simply, his question seems to be (in my own words), “How could the Germans be so technologically advanced (particularly in film and motion picture equipment) yet fail to shoot any footage within the camps?”

What comes down to us today is footage of said camps’ “liberations”…  Indeed, Hollywood directors were tasked with making propaganda of the hideous findings (George Stevens comes to mind) [not that they needed much help there].

And so why have I made this detour?  Simply to illustrate that the human brain is smarter than Hollywood assumes it is.

Spielberg is not a great director.  He’s merely a rich director.

Chaplin was a great director.  Monsieur Verdoux was largely a failure in the United States.

To come back to Guy Debord (and I paraphrase heavily in translation from the French), “Reality has been turned on its head…”

The spectacle reigns supreme.  Who cares if it’s true?  Even better than the real thing.  That is the message of Debord’s La Société du spectacle (published in 1967).  And that message is relevant to Monsieur Verdoux.

Perhaps it was the Letterists (of which Debord was a member)…perhaps it was the Situationists (of which Debord was the guiding light)…one of these groups boycotted Chaplin when he arrived in France.

Ah, I have found it.  Indeed.  1952.  It was the Letterists.  Their screed pamphlet called Chaplin a “con artist of sentiments”.  [translation by Len Bracken]

Indeed, that is just the role Chaplin took up five years previous in our film Monsieur Verdoux.  It is also part of the argument which Godard has made against Spielberg.

As much as I love Debord (one of my three favorite writers), I have to disagree with his early (pre-Situationist) position against Chaplin.  Godard would likely disagree with Debord and the Letterists on this matter as well (judging from the abundance of Chaplin films referenced in his magnum opus Histoire(s) du cinema).  But I must agree with Godard regarding Spielberg.  It does no honor to the memory of Holocaust victims nor survivors to give the sad event the “Hollywood touch”.

Godard has (along with most of humanity) been called anti-Semitic.  I don’t believe that to be the case regarding the most important director to have lived.  A single glance is not enough to absorb what Jean-Luc is saying in any of his films (not to mention writings or interviews).

Ah, but now I am far off-track.  I have left Verdoux in the dust.

But that is alright.

Perhaps the measure of a film’s greatness is how much it makes us think?

 

-PD

 

 

 

How I Live Now [2013)

I have a keen eye for bullshit.  But only in certain areas.

We all have our specialties.  We all have our areas of knowledge.

Just to be clear, this film is not bullshit.  This is quite a good film.

But there is an element of this film which is pure propaganda bollocks.

I’m very sensitive to propaganda.  Allergic, you might say.

On the one hand, I can sniff out a false-flag a mile off.

On the other, I make a habit of rewatching James Bond films.

No one is totally immune to propaganda.

It takes a deep understanding of the self to assess what is really going on.

Movies, music, literature, painting…all of these arts play on the emotions.

Artists are ALL emotionally intelligent insofar as their lexicon of emotional triggers is robust and bursting at the seams.

This does not mean that artists are well-adjusted.  Rather, the reality is often quite the contrary.

In this film, our heroine Saoirse Ronan is not at all well-adjusted.

Upon first seeing her arrive at the airport (our film’s first scene) we assume she might be some kind of pop star.

The reality is that she’s merely a spoiled brat from America who’s pilfered Devendra Banhart’s stylist.

Yes, Daisy (Ronan) has quite a look here.  She oozes “hip” from the outset.  She also oozes the angst of conflict.

An angry girl.  Never knew her mother.  Voices in her head.  On psychotropic medication.  Hypochondriac.

It is hard to confront this film without knowing that it is “post-apocalyptic” (such a buzzword in the less-talented cadres of Hollywood).

Being so informed, we notice as Daisy’s plane lands in scene #1 that Paris has been bombed.  It looks serious.

Daisy seemingly couldn’t care less.

And just where has she landed?  Somewhere in England or Great Britain.

And so off to the country to stay with cousins for the summer.  Not her usual routine.  First time to visit these relatives.

The story is powerful.  The story is lovely.  The acting is tremendous.

But slowly the bullshit creeps in and cannot be ignored.

And just what bullshit of propaganda has this film swallowed to then spit out at us?

Terrorism.  The oogly-boogly bogeyman of hidden hand terrorism.

It is all very unimaginative.  There is nothing here to indicate that the writers or directors have ever gotten their news from

anyplace other than the BBC or CNN.

Though they never say “Islamic terrorists,” the frightfully dumb premise is advanced with absolutely no critical thinking evident.

In other words, if this film was a religion, its Bible would be the 9/11 Commission Report (the layman’s title).

And so these terrorists with magical powers somehow invade an otherwise fine movie.

It is like the Red Scare.  The terrorists are everywhere.  They’re unstoppable.  Ha…

It is really sad when such hackneyed brainwashing passes for erudition.

And so, in some ways this film is no better than Fox News.  Sure, films are allowed to take poetic license and “play” on our fears.

But in our current world, the stakes are too high to sink millions of dollars into vehicles such as this which merely reinforce the lies of the fraudulent global war ON terror.

How many times must it be repeated that terror cannot be fought with more terror?

That is like aiming to eliminate the scourge of forest fires by burning the flames themselves.  Ludicrous.

But we do not simply refer to the error of approach.

The fundamental truth is that the war on terror is a charade.

There is big money to be made by blaming Islam for all the world’s evils.

And as Islamic countries are plundered we see the cowed world populace let their brothers and sisters in the Middle East be sacrificed for an inhuman system which needs total control to expand.

It really is, then, a joke to talk about free markets.

And so, to put it succinctly, we have many intelligence agencies to “thank” for our current imbroglio.

The American CIA must certainly take a bow.  The NSA likewise should be recognized for their part in the global reign of terror.

But let us not leave out Mossad.  Cui bono?

But really, it takes a village of intelligence agencies to raise the demonic child known as ISIS.  And so we must thank James Bond’s MI6.  We should likewise not leave out the Saudis and Pakistan’s ISI.

The artist formerly known as al-Qaeda (now rebranded as ISIS) has been very useful to the Western powers.

Russia and China had the opportunity to call bullshit long ago, but they squandered that moment.  And now the world really is closer to WWIII.

It is not easy to pay attention to a film which gives credence to fake terrorism.  Fake terror.  Synthetic terrorism.  False-flag terrorism.

But all is not lost.

Someone (perhaps director Kevin Macdonald) has at least read his Orwell.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, things go very badly for all involved when lies become truth.  When self-inflicted attacks precipitate martial law…

And so the British troops in this film are not portrayed in a propagandistic light.  Quite the contrary, they display the insolence of misplaced power.  Power upon which there are no checks…

The government troops in this film are paranoiacs with automatic weapons.  Sound familiar?  Yes.  We are told that such types are a menace to society (and they are).  Unfortunately, your tax dollars are paying their salaries.

But this is not about military bashing.  To extrapolate from the statements of NSA whistleblower Wiliam Binney, it’s only in the upper 15% where you see the real hardcore corruption.  What do we mean “corrupt”???

Those who would sell their own country out.  The moles in the FBI and CIA who allowed and facilitated (respectively) 9/11.  The high-ranking military and government officials who were likewise moles.  The highest level.

And so we have great sympathy for our military men and women knowing that their corrupt leaders (at the very top) have no real allegiance to country or fellow soldier.  There are exceptions, but consider the words of Binney.  The top 15%…that is where the real culprits are.  They are among the good leaders.

But this begs a question:  does one have to be a scumbag to advance to such echelons of power?  I’m afraid the answer may very well be a resounding “yes”…  And so, at the upper level of governments, intelligence agencies, militaries, etc. we are faced with finding the lesser of evils.  We would much prefer adulterers, drug addicts, etc. to psychopathic criminals.

I will be the first to admit that my diatribe is not really fair to this film.

This is quite an excellent film.  But artists cannot play with gelatinous archetypes like “terrorism” and expect a free pass.

There is glorious acting in this film (for Christ’s sake).

It pains me to write so much about the premise.

For fuck’s sake, don’t copy the fear-mongering of Fox News.  Those “journalists” will have their Nuremberg.  They will have no press passes.  They’ll be on the stand.

Don’t sully yourself in that stream.  Look at your box office.  $60,213.  Sixty-thousand measly dollars!  If you had put Ronan and George MacKay in a room together with no script they would have surpassed the trite constraints laid upon them (presumably) by Meg Rosoff’s novel. Dear Rosoff:  whatever paper you read, cancel the subscription.

-PD