Who’s Minding the Store? [1963)

Here’s a great movie.

And a great chance to take stock.

To assess.

Work.

And money.

I got engaged.

Recently.

Yay me!

It’s a very big thing.

I’ve never been engaged before.

But today I’m scared.

Because I’m poor.

Money fluctuates.

And I worry I won’t be able to provide for my love the way I would want.

Kinda like Jerry Lewis in this film.

A schmuck.

Hard-working, but still entry-level.

That’s me.

Whaddle-it-be, man?

And yet, I’m rich in love.

I love.

And my love loves me.

This I know.

And so.

I will take that knowledge forth.

My love doesn’t love me for my money.

Because I haven’t got much.

But what if I had less?

And what if what if???

Money troubles.

Many bad things happen in money troubles.

But I am just over-excited.

I tip too much.

I go a little overboard.

If I could only write like Mozart…

But I do.

In my own way.

These strains you haven’t heard in a long while.

Because they have been buried.

We have to suffer.

And so I suffer now in this moment.

Fear.

Oh, the ignominy!

Of picking up trash.

Of licking the boots of bourgeoisie.

Those who fancy themselves to be above their position.

Like me.

Fair enough.

To kiss ass.

With a master’s degree.

Obviously I’m in the wrong line of work.

But I press on.

Dumb, but steady.

Trying to be honest.

Trying to make an honest living.

Learning hard lessons.

If someone would abandon me for over-loving, then to hell with them.

YOLO.

YOLT.

JOLT.

That thunderbolt looms large.

I am flawed.

Pressed on all sides.

Said Saint Paul.

Like the Star Wars trash compactor.

So I make this a prayer.

Knowing my love believes in God.

I pray to you, Lord, that you will give me a chance.

That you will help me with my mistakes.

That you will not make others suffer because of my ignorance.

I pray, Lord, that you will put opportunities before me.

And that you will help me to be a better person.

I am not used to all of this.

Can I pull it back and win?

It is to God that I pray.

Beg, knowing I am blessed.

Blessed simply by the same grace which is available to every man and woman.

All creations of God.

I ask God help with my health.

My peace of mind.

Please help with my striving to be healthy.

Please give me strength and grace to overcome the obstacles now before me.

And I ask you, Lord, to give me guidance in my career.

In work.

How to spend my time.

Where to spend it.

And how to spend my money.

How to save it.

Give me wisdom, dear Lord.

I have nerves.

But I am an artist.

And God is my parachute.

Do not tempt the Lord your God.

Who helps those who help themselves.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Jesus.

God’s got this.

 

-PD

Annie [1982)

Woof!

Yesterday was a rough day for me.

Yeah, nicotine withdrawal.

Ugh…

Maybe the roughest 24 hours of my life.

They say nicotine is more addictive than heroin.

I can neither confirm nor deny that.

But after a day like yesterday, I was ready for tomorrow.

And, to quote Stereolab, “tomorrow is already here”.

So when I saw this little gem on Netflix, I thought, “This is the perfect kinda movie I need tonight.  Something light.  Not too spicy.”

But as the classics of naïveté always do, this one reduced me to a sobbing snot factory.

[sorry for the vividness]

Back in the day (you know, the day), it didn’t matter to me who directed a movie.

[Auteur?

Is that like a really smart person?

Oh, no…that’s savant.]

But then I got into all this movie business.

And it started to matter.

Because certain directors consistently turned out magic…even when they were all-but-thwarted by external sources.

[and sometimes internal sources]

So it bears repeating that Annie was directed by THE John Huston.

[kinda like THE Ohio State University]

Apparently, Sony Pictures’ subsidiary Colombia Pictures thought in 2014 that Annie would be a good film to remake.

You know?

Because it’s just a musical, right?

And there had only been one other adaption of it (the one under review)…and that had been directed by some guy…Houston, or something…

So, yeah…let’s get Will Gluck (WHO?!?) and it’ll all be groovy, baby…yeah.

Well, I’m not here to pass judgment on a film I’ve never seen (Annie from 2014).

I’m just here to say, when you start fooling with perfection (like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory [1971]), then you’re probably in trouble.

Tim Burton got a pass (just barely) with his Charlie…

But I pity the Will Gluck,

ok…let’s discuss–

Why Remaking Annie Would Be A Wholly Unenviable Task.

Because John Huston started his directing career in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon (!)…

Key Largo…The African Queen…

Yeah, those were his.

You know, Huston is not high in my list of favorite directors.

[maybe because I’m a moron]

But this film, Annie, which he made five years before he died, is really remarkable.

But who the hell am I, right?

I’m just a no-name in San Antonio, Texas.

AH!

San Antone…

Never felt so good!

Yes, the villain of our film, Carol Burnett, hails from my hometown.

It’s not often we can say that.

Lucille LeSueur (sorry, erm…Joan Crawford).

Pola Negri later in life (Apolonia Chalupec).

Yeah, that’s about it.

And Wings.

That’s San Antonio.

[as far as cinema goes]

But I’m here to tell you, John Huston’s Annie is really special!

Even Jay-Z digs these tunes (apparently).

[couldn’t care less]

Which is to say, sampling?  Cool.

Covering?  An entire film???

Again, I pity the fool…

Because Annie is an ass-kicker.

Yeah.

You’re gonna abuse animals?

Watch out.

Annie’s got some punches–some moves!

[and that’s before her karate lesson with Roger Minami]

{not to be confused with Mini Me}

Yeah…The Asp!

And Punjab!

[who was also in Live and Let Die (1973)]

Yeah, nothing Punjabi about Geoffrey Holder.

But that’s alright 🙂

These were the Reagan years.

And Annie is a not-so-gentle nudge for Republicans to embrace their warmer sides.

[Albert Finney rolling his eyes at the George Washington painting is priceless!]

So yeah…Annie is basically a good kid.

The best!

An animal lover.

A big heart.

Courage.

An encourager.

[As Punjab says, “Buddha (?!?) says, ‘A child without courage is like a night without stars.'”]

Yeah, and Ann Reinking sees that joy in Annie.

I mean, this film has it all!

Bolsheviks!  Rockettes!  Greta Garbo!

Yes, there’s a film within a film.

And I think Edgar Poe would approve…with his glass half-full of brandy (and the other half absinthe).

Judging by Garbo, the year is 1936.

Tough year to be out of work.

And a good year to have some juniper berry syrup.

And a bathtub.

Yeah, Albert Finney knew the art of the deal.

Hardball.

[not the tripe on MSNBC]

The concept.

Aileen Quinn is really fantastic in this film.

Following Daddy Warbucks around.

Like on a Monopoly board.

Hands behind the back.

And Daddy’s gotta sell some fighter-bombers…and BUY, BUY copper!

Albert Finney is driving the economy.

Pushing the leading indicators.

And Annie is honest.

And a little honesty goes a long way.

And in sets fakery.

Looking for some dupes.

Yeah, you can only fool a Warbucks so long.

Nose upturned.

From Liverpool, mind you!

Bootstraps!  Horatio Alger crap!!!

And it ain’t crap.

Positive thinking.

Tomorrow.

I guess you gotta be willing to give it up.

The ultimate test of faith.

Where is your heart?

In steps FDR.

Infamy.

Who can know?

Why we fight?

So it’s up to us orphans to run down 5th Avenue.

If we have something to say.

Jailbreak!

These little G-Men (G-Women, in this case) are citizen journalists.

Town criers!

Extra!  Extra!  Read about the fakery!!!

Because time is of the essence.

And you gotta keep climbing even though you can see the steps run out.

God bless the parents of this world.

Those who want to give their kids a warm bed.

And sweet dreams.

Penny on the dollar for your fireworks!

You can even ride the elephant 🙂

-PD

Yang Tidak Dibicarakan Ketika Membicarakan Cinta [2013)

By the grace of God I bring you this film review tonight.

Last night I was not feeling well enough to write.

And so I am happy to give you my first review of an Indonesian film.

It is a wonderful piece of cinema and is available on Netflix in the U.S. currently as What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love.

I will just say this.

Any film which includes a character sneezing his glass eye out of his head is ok by me.

Which is to say, this is a pretty strange film.

But it is not strange in an uptight, contrived, David Lynch sort of way.

Perhaps it is the basic situation which makes this film quixotic.

The bulk of the “action” takes place at a “special” school (as it is called in the subtitles).

The beautiful young people at this school all struggle with visual impairment.

There is, however, one very important character who is sighted yet cannot hear.

[We will get to him in due time]

When I tried to watch this film last night, I was not feeling very well (as mentioned previously).

And so in my debilitating moments of bubbling, dull panic I was trying to first situate this film culturally.

There was some blurb about a Dutch film fund.

And the real bit of text at the head of the film which threw me off the scent:  a reference to the Busan film fund.

Knowing Busan, I figured, “Great!  I am watching a South Korean film.”

I felt somewhat comfortable marginally knowing the cinema tradition in which I had just entered.

But as I saw women and young girls in Muslim garb, I began to question.

Indeed, even on tonight’s complete viewing, it was only 3/4 of the way through the film that I realized I was watching an Indonesian production.

Call me stupid.

Fine.

But this is not a cinema (nor a language) with which I have any experience.

It was only when I saw Jakarta on the side of a bus that I felt fairly confident where the story had been set.

So yes, this is an Indonesian film in Indonesian (or dare I say Malay).

The scope and breadth of this language is not altogether clear to me, but it seems that Indonesian is a “register” (in linguistic terms) of Malay.

Being the dunce that I am, “register” seems an awful lot like “dialect”, but I’m sure most linguists would roundly dismiss this generalization.

Perhaps “jargon” is a better synonym for “register”.

In any case, Malay (of one type or another) is spoken by about 290 million people worldwide.

But we will stick to the term Indonesian (as per the language).

Our whole film is in that language (except for one line in Javanese).

Javanese, unlike Indonesian, is not a form of Malay.

It is quite distinct.

But on to the movie!

First we must pay our respects to the highly-talented director:  Mouly Surya.

Based on a cursory search, this would be Mr. Surya (Mouly being far more common as a male name).

Ah…but thank God for research!

Our director, in fact, is MS. Surya.

She is a 36-year-old native of Jakarta.

But really, male or female, this is an obvious work of cinematic art.

What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love isn’t perfect, but it’s frighteningly close.

Which isn’t to say it’s frightening.

It’s not.

But it’s a film which sneaks up on you.

Cineastes may be familiar with the term “slow cinema” which has been bandied about here and there especially in recent years.

There may be some of that here…like when the character Diana combs her hair exactly 100 times.

[I was sure she was going to stop at 88…that number being good luck in Southeast Asian cultures]

Indeed, we are with the character for a seemingly interminable session of hair-brushing at her “boudoir”.

However, that is one of the few times where the “slow cinema” idea has our film run astray temporarily.

Other uses of the technique (an extreme of Deleuze’s “time-image”?) are quite effective and evoke the loneliness of sightless life.

Granted, no two lives are the same.

But the Indonesia pictured in our film is not an economic wonderland.

Quite the opposite.

It is a rather humble school in which students have very basic accommodations.

And as is so often the case, economic struggles exacerbate and compound coexisting problems.

But don’t get me wrong:  it appears that the students portrayed actually have it very lucky in the context of their nation (all things considered).

Arguably the star of the film is Karina Salim.

Her situation is one of ballet lessons…and a doting mother.

That said, her roommate has a family which is struggling economically.

It is a strange juxtaposition.

But let’s focus on Ms. Salim.

Her acting is really fantastic.

Whether she is blind in real life, I know not.

But her portrayal of the character Diana is in the great tradition of pathos which touched on the works of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

The French adjective pathétique.

In English, we (if I may speak for us English speakers) tend to regard pathétique as descriptive of poetic pathos.

Deep expression.

And that is exactly what Karina Salim exhibits in her delicate acting throughout this film.

Her character, Diana, is right on the cusp of womanhood.

And in a very moving set of sequences, we see her quietly preparing her underwear for the week.

The moment of her first menstruation is a cause for secret celebration.

Indeed, she shares this ascent to adulthood with only her mother…on a joyous little phone call which we overhear.

Which brings us to culture.

We almost feel embarrassed knowing this intimate detail of character Diana’s life.

But American films are so much more explicit in so many ways.

Perhaps we are shocked because the reality of womanhood is rarely addressed in Hollywood movies.

And so we see that Hollywood still has taboos.

In this age in which anything goes, honest depiction of mundane-yet-visceral life realities (such as menstruation) are all but absent (save from a film like Carrie [1976]).

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this particular kind of honesty about femininity onscreen.

But what the hell do I know?  I’m a dude.

So let’s back to the film.

While Ayushita is very good as Diana’s roommate, it is really Nicholas Saputra who is the other star of this film.

His character is a deaf punk rocker.

[Let that one sink in for a second]

Every day he has a different shirt.

The Sex Pistols.  Led Zeppelin (?!?).  The Clash.  Joan Jett.

He definitely has the best hairstyle in the film.

[A strange zig-zag bleach job which I’ve never seen previously]

His character Edo is a social engineer par excellence.

Yes, there is some trickery in this film.

But it is not malicious.

Or if it begins as malicious, it is transformed into something quite beautiful.

[think Amélie]

But here’s where things get really strange.

There is really no decorous way of putting this, but there are a few characters in this film which pop up from time to time…AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE!

There is a rather tasteless meme going back generations that all Chinese people look the same to a Westerner.

[And, perhaps, all Brits (for instance) look the same to a Chinese person]

But, again, there are some characters in this film which seem to be playing out some subplot which escaped me completely.

Indeed, I have so rarely seen anything like it that I can only associate my confusion with that felt by so many in relation to the surreal Howard Hawks narrative in The Big Sleep.

Granted, in our film this is a very minor element.

But it is still disorienting.

Was there some series of edits which mangled this film?

Can I really not tell one Indonesian person from another?

I don’t know.

You’ll have to see it for yourself.

And explain to me exactly what is going on.

For instance, does the blind character Andhika somehow learn how to drive a Vespa around town?

And is he cheating on Diana?

Or is Diana cheating on herself?

Are there two Dianas?

Again, a few scenes completely lost me.

But they do not ruin the general continuity of this film.

If anything, they add a mercurial charm to the whole affair.

And so I wholeheartedly recommend this film which portrays a side of life on which many of us are completely uninformed.

Visual impairment.  Braille.  Hearing impairment.  The difficulty of asking a clerk at 7-Eleven, “what kind of cigarettes do girls buy” in sign language.

And there is beauty in this world.

The appreciation for just a glimmer of sight (however blurry).

And yet, the difficulty of EVERY SINGLE TASK.

Most of all, this is a love story.

Two love stories (at least).

[not counting the extraneous players which pop up here and there]

But it is a very, VERY unique love story.

For me, it is an incredibly moving film because of the acting of Karina Salim and also Anggun Priambodo (who plays Andhika).

So take an adventure to Jakarta.  Capital of Indonesia.  World’s fourth-most-populous country.

While Indonesia is approximately 87% Muslim, this film portrays a diversity of religious devotion.

Indeed, while one student prays, another listens to a radio play (as one would have heard in the days of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce on The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes [1939-1946]).

Indeed, this scene of overlap…with religion in the background (the praying student) and learning in the foreground (listening to a lesson?  or just a bit of entertainment for the girls who live at this school?) is one of the most fascinating from a visual and cultural perspective.

I cannot pretend to know what is going on in all of the footage.

And so an expert on education for the visually impaired in Indonesia would perhaps be able to elucidate some of the more esoteric aspects of this film.

In the meantime, enjoy!

-PD

Trump vs. Clinton, October 9 [2016)

The United States continues to hold its breath.

And while doing so, it is worth revisiting the second Presidential debate of less than a month ago.

The “moderators” were the woeful Martha Raddatz and the downright evil (remember James Tracy!) Anderson Cooper.

These two jokers made fools of themselves.

But let’s assess this “town hall” shootout.

When Cooper said, “…the night really belongs to the people in this room…,” what he really meant was himself, Raddatz, and Hillary Clinton.

Screw everybody else.

And that attitude has come back to bite the mass media in the butt…big time!

Clinton says, “…I can promise you I will work with every American. I want to be the president for all Americans regardless of your political beliefs, what you look like, your religion.”

That must be the “public” position.  As we have seen from WikiLeaks, her “private” opinion (or at least that of her “staffers”) is one of complete contempt.

Young people are “fucking dumb”.

Latinos are “needy”.

Trump supporters are “deplorable”.

Black people are “super predators”.

But PUBLICLY, she says “stronger together.”

Blah-frickity-blah blah blah.

Nothing this lady says is the truth.

And (to cinema) she is A HORRIBLE ACTOR!

That’s what convinced me.

I have watched enough people on film to get a feeling about when someone is lying.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, Hillary Clinton says is disingenuous.

Transparently so!

“I want us to heal our country and bring it together.”

She also wants to (and did) have Democratic Party operatives start violence (as provocateurs) at a Trump rally in Chicago (as per Project Veritas proof).

It’s not likely that that was an isolated incident.

Trump kicks off the truth.

“We have to bring back respect to law enforcement.”

Amen!

But also, “…fixing and making our inner cities better.”

It takes money.  Yes.  And jobs.  Companies hire.  If they can hire.

Clinton’s plan is the globalist plan.  Ship jobs overseas and wait for new, better “service” jobs to magically appear.  It’s a pipedream.  Actually, it’s a scam.  THE scam.  Clinton’s program could be called Make America Poor Again.  She might have a law degree (likely gotten only so she could personally BREAK the law more efficiently), but she doesn’t know shit about business.  All she knows is “currying favor”.  Her immense wealth was not earned.  There was no hard work.  She most accurately represents a never-ending cycle of nepotism.  Not so with Trump.

But Anderson Cooper wanted to get right to slamming Trump.  And so Mr. Cooper, fully “in the tank” for Clinton, pressed:  “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

Hey Anderson!  Do you understood that you almost single-handedly caused Dr. James Tracy to lose his job?  Do you understand it was mostly because you shirked your duty as a journalist to investigate the Sandy Hook hoax?  Do you understand that?  Do you understand that your criminal deception of the American people (under the aegis of gun control) was psychological terrorism?  Do you understand that, when it comes out you were fully aware it was a hoax, your career will be over?  Do you understand that?

They say Trump doesn’t apologize.  Personally, I’ve never heard Hillary Clinton give an apology about Benghazi.  Her “apology” was, “…what difference does it make?”  Now remember, that was concerning her culpability in the DEATHS of four Americans in Libya.  But you want an apology from Trump?  You get one (and an honest one):

“Yes, I am very embarrassed by it and I hate it…”

That’s about his sexual bragging which was caught on tape.  Nobody died.  But he owned up.  He was “embarrassed by it” and showed genuine remorse for his own lapse in judgment.  About something that happened 11 YEARS AGO!

But Anderson Cooper presses…and presses…and presses.

And that’s why Americans hate the press.

Because they don’t “press” on the important things.

Like Sandy Hook.  Or 9/11.  They just press buttons…and they have their buttons pressed (these “journalists”)…because they are part of the corrupt system which runs the United States.

They are shitty, soulless propagandists.

Trump:  “we have to build up the wealth of our nation”.

Whether the Adam Smith reference was purposeful or not, this is a real businessperson.  Unlike Clinton, he didn’t just go to cocktail parties and solicit donations.  He wasn’t selling access, he was selling real estate.  Big fucking difference!

Hillary has been getting rich as a “civil servant”.

And now her dream was so close in her sights.  The ultimate seat of power.  The US Presidency.  I really believe, however, that she sought the office merely for personal reasons.  A power trip?  Yes.  But a very sinister one.  She just wanted to be back in the Oval Office cackling about how she had tricked the American people with her “stronger together” bullshit.

Clinton claims, “…he has also targeted immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs, Muslims and so many others.”

Did she really say that?!?  Because we have the PROOF that her campaign HATES EVERYBODY…including those demographic groups in that sentence!!!

But Clinton just can’t leave well-enough alone.  Like the parrot she is, she twitters out the tired, haggard, liberal eyewash:  “…America already is great…”.

Oh really?  Well, fine!  Why don’t you just step down then, “Madame” Secretary (and go back to whatever brothel you came from)?  Yes.  Indeed.  Why run at all???  If America is already great…  Fine.  Yes.  Obama has done a great job.  So you would just lend us that counterintuitively-grating NPR steadiness for another four years–that calm, soothing nonsense, but transformed into “leadership”.  Great.  Sounds wonderful.

“…we are great because we are good.”  Sure…  Wait!  Did Hillary Clinton just try to occupy the moral high ground?  On live, national television???  Good God, what a hypocrite!

At this point it’s appropriate to quote Mr. Trump at length…as he absolutely TORPEDOES Secretary Clinton:

“It’s just words, folks. It’s just words. These words, I have been hearing for many years. I heard them when they were running for the Senate in New York where Hillary was going to bring back jobs to upstate New York and she failed. I’ve heard them where Hillary is constantly talking about the inner cities of our country which are a disaster education-wise, job-wise, safety-wise, in every way possible. I’m going to help the African-Americans, I’m going to help the Latinos, hispanics. I am going to help the inner cities. She has done a terrible job for the African-Americans. She wants their vote and she does nothing.”

This.  This is what Americans have been waiting for.  Someone with a spine to call out, on national television, the fakery of the ruling political establishment.  It was a beautiful thing to hear.

The crap-journalist Raddatz says, “I want to get to audience questions,” but then she presses…presses…brings the narrative back to the lame, inconsequential Trump tape.  Which is to say, she didn’t want to get to questions at all!

Raddatz:  “This tape is generating intense interest. In just 48 hours it has become the single most talked about story of the entire 2016 election on Facebook with millions and millions of people discussing it on the social network.”

At this point, a third (and real) moderator would have told Raddatz to shut the hell up.  But it was one-on-three.  Trump against the world!  Or rather, Trump against the political establishment…and FOR the world!  Clinton wants a no-fly zone over Syria.  Like the one she imposed over Libya.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has accurately said, “That would mean war…with Russia.”  AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HILLARY AND HER CABAL WANT!  They are fucking maniacs!  No way should she or any of them EVER get anywhere NEAR the White House again!!!

Trump strikes back:  “If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words and his was action.”

Little debate about that.

Further:  “His words, what he has done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that has been so abusive to women.”

Yes, folks…that’s the Clintons.  Trump would get into the specifics…about how Hillary got a rapist off.  Madame Secretary defended a client (as a lawyer), the rapist, and then later laughed about it.  THAT is the lady taking the moral high ground.  Appalling…

Raddatz: “Please hold the applause.”

Yes, little lapdog Raddatz had to calm the crowd…BECAUSE THEY WERE APPLAUDING TRUMP!

Hillary’s strategy was not working.  All those opposition research dollars, and Trump was defeating it with moxie…and honesty.  I’m sorry.  I messed up.  But the lady across from me is a conniving scoundrel and she has NO leg on which to stand!

Hillary SAYS that she abides by that paragon of virtue Michelle Obama’s words, “When they go low, you go high.,” but the truth is more like, “When they go low, we go lower.”

The transcript indicates there was “[Applause]” at this point, but it was either so weak or Martha Raddatz was so biased as to not make the same little preachy intercession she had made moments earlier.

But I will leave you with the deathblow which occurred not long afterwards.

Clinton:  “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

Trump:  “Because you would be in jail.”

Goddamn, that’s beautiful!

 

-PD