Le Vent d’est [1970)

Film by Godard.

Dziga Vertov.

Group in Mozambique.

Marxist Western.

Cowboys and Indians.

Das Kapital.

No no.

I must be wrong.

Not Mozambique.

That was much later.

I was confused.

So this is just Italy.

But still.

Quite possibly the only Marxist Western ever made ūüôā

And, yes:  the Dziga Vertov Group.

With Jean-Pierre Gorin.

So here was the great filmmaker (Godard) subsuming himself in the communalism of group creation.

Like being in a rock band.

There might be a main songwriter (or two).

And there might be a lead vocalist.

But it is a group effort.

Rock bands are kinda like little democracies (in my experience).

So, does that mean that communism/socialism starts at its most cellular level as something resembling democracy?

It is an interesting thought.

Because Godard was most certainly a hardcore socialist at this point.

A communist.

A Maoist!

But we remember those strange counterintuitive phrases like “dictatorship of the people”.

In other words, Marxist-Leninist thought was promising popular representation SO POWERFUL that the PEOPLE became a META-DICTATOR.

But it all kinda turned out like Tom Cruise’s witchcraft ūüôā

A big bollocks burger in Eastern Europe.

And a Soviet Union that collapsed beneath its own weight.

But China soldiered on.

And juche (North Korea).

Notice that “zhoosh or tjuz” means to “smarten up” or “stylize” in that Cockney code language known as Polari.

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

And for my dear pizzagate researchers, you should be heartened by this further corroboration of James Alefantis’ sick mind:

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 11.20.10 PM

Why do I have a feeling about this?

Because of Bowie’s last album: ¬†Blackstar.

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 11.24.26 PM

But reinserting ourselves in history, it is rather obvious that communism soldiered on mostly in the East.

Let’s not forget Vietnam and Laos (both still communist to this day).

Thus, Wind from the East.

Yes, Peter Wollen, there’s definitely some Brecht in here.

Especially in that scene when a fucking horse finally shows up ūüôā

Not much of a Western without a horse.

So there is eventually one horse for Gian Maria Volontè.

Volentè, of course, really WAS in Westerns (about five years previous).

A couple of those great Sergio Leone “spaghetti Westerners” with Clint Eastwood: ¬†A Fistful of Dollars¬†and also¬†For a Few Dollars More.

So kudus to Godard, Gorin, and the whole Dziga Vertov Group for getting Volontè.

But really the star is the beautiful redhead Anne Wiazemsky, who passed away just nine days ago.

It is no wonder Godard fell in love with her.

As he had fallen for Anna Karina previously.

But Wiazemsky was a mind.

A beauty, but a total 180 from Karina.

Of course, neither marriage worked out.

But Wiazemsky is lovely in this film.

Indeed, she is one of the few breaths of air in the whole picture.

There are certainly some suffocating scenes.

The opening shot is interminable.

Slight movements.

But eventually things get rolling.

Sorta.

Wiazemsky is splashed with blood as she is repeatedly choked by Volontè.

A bizarre scene.

Also part of this amalgam was Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

I thought I was seeing Mozambique.

It colored everything I was watching.

I was looking out for poisonous snakes.

Godard would eventually make it to Mozambique…later in the 1970s…but I was merely confused.

I mean, here’s a film that until recently was available only as a Japanese DVD (with no English subtitles).

That is the version I watched.

I hear there is another release of this film recently with other of the Dziga Vertov work, but I am happy enough (for the time being) to have seen it as a Frenchman might have in 1970.

My French was tested.

Allors…

This is a rather experimental film.

Perhaps it is no great masterpiece.

But it teaches that we can go backwards or forwards through time by way of cinema.

Forwards with imagination, and backwards in reality.

We were already beyond this point, and yet we have been blessed to return.

To get one step closer.

To close a loop.

Solve a riddle.

Replace a missing stone.

It was a lot of work seeing this film.

That is love.

 

-PD

The Propaganda Game [2015)

Here is a perfect documentary.

It teeters for a second.

Early.

Because it shows two of the most vile, reprehensible propagandists in the world.

Susan Rice and Barack Obama.

But it lets them speak.

The film lets Rice and Obama make fools of themselves.

[and it doesn’t take these two idiots long]

Then we are immersed in a richness of inquiry which befits the home country of our director.

Spain.

But¬†√Ālvaro Longoria’s film is about a wholly different place.

North Korea.

I was lucky enough once to visit Mr. Longoria’s hometown of Santander.

Though I was not there long, I found it odd that we (me and my traveling companions) boarded our plane on the runway.

A Boeing 737, I believe it was.

So we are talking about perhaps 200 people.

On a runway in Spain.

With a little control tower.

I must admit.

The operation was not heartening.

But then again, I’ve taken a propeller plane from Sacramento to San Francisco.

The world likes to think of America as filthy rich.

But we still have propeller planes for some of our shorter routes.

Flying over San Francisco Bay in a propeller plane wasn’t exactly my idea of relaxation either.

But so then…what do we think of North Korea?

If we listen to people like Susan Rice and Barack Obama (neither of whom, categorically, can be trusted), then we are to shudder at the thought of the DPRK.

Well, our director Mr. Longoria has given the most fair, measured approach to a very controversial subject.

And his final product (the film) is so much the better for it.

To wit, Mr. Longoria does not presume to think for his viewers.

He lets you decide.

If you are looking for bias in this film, you will have to look pretty hard.

Perhaps, you will reason, Mr. Longoria is a Spanish leftist and therefore he gives North Korea the benefit of the doubt.

On the contrary, one might reason that the director is a very (VERY) savvy propagandist himself…and therefore, his documentary is largely an exercise in reverse psychology.

I must admit.

When I heard the voices of Rice and Obama, my internal monologue of opprobrium almost caused me to lose my lunch.

But I stuck with it.

And I’m so glad I did.

What is at issue in this film, and in the frozen conflict zone of which North Korea is half, is the discipline/technique/art of propaganda.

If you are very dumb (and I doubt you are, as you are reading this illustrious blog), you will believe everything you hear about North Korea.

You will believe CNN.

You will believe Martha Raddatz.

You will believe George Stephanopoulos.

To call these two “presstitutes” is really being too kind.

They make Rice and Obama look like saints.

Those of the Raddatz/Stephanopoulos ilk in the United States journalistic community are really worthless individuals.

Mostly because they have ceased to BE individuals.

They aren’t even drones.

They are more like little Lego pieces of poisonous honeycomb.

Inhuman.

But they’re not alone.

Throw in Diane Sawyer.

Actually (and I’ll throw the lefties a bone), throw in Bill O’Reilly.

All of these journalists are generally less than nothing when it comes to their global contributions.

And so it only makes the case of the DPRK stronger (for better or worse) when such née-individuals (including emasculated presstitutes) insult North Korea.

And so it is very clear that North Korea is the target of an immense amount of propaganda.

HOWEVER,

the DPRK seems itself to be quite prodigious in the art of manipulative communication.

Or, propaganda.

So our director lets the two sides go at it.

It’s almost like two Charlie Brown schoolteachers (Othmars both) having a verbal altercation.

The West: ¬†“Blah blah blah blah HUMAN RIGHTS blah!”

North Korea: ¬†“Blah blah blah blah IMPERIALISTS blah.”

We must credit North Korea with restraint.

The people.

Polite.

Keep in mind, this is a focus on the people.

What kind of people live in North Korea?

[well, Koreans…obviously]

Adults, children…male, female…

And so the cynic will cry “Potemkin village” very early on in this one.

But it is worth watching till the end.

Most intriguing is the figure Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez.

Here’s an idealist if ever there was one.

But that’s what we must remember about North Korea.

It is a country of extreme idealism.

Let me frame it with slightly different diction.

It is a country of immense idealism.

[ah…we even got some alliteration there!]

Mr. Cao is, or was, Spanish.

Now he is a North Korean.

He is a spokesman for the DPRK.

As we say here in the West, he’s “all in”.

He digs their chili.

He’s drinking the Kool-Aid.

We want some of whatever he’s smoking.

[you get the picture]

But I must say…

Mr. Cao is an extremely (immensely) articulate individual.

To hear him tell it (and he does so with genuine conviction), North Korea is the last bastion of communism.

China has sold out to market forces (capitalism).

The Soviet Union sold out Stalin (Cao actually makes this claim).

[and, he asserts, China sold out Mao]

Vietnam is now thoroughly capitalist.

[that might be a direct quote]

So does Mr. Cao have a point?

Well, perhaps he does.

But there are doubtless few self-respecting communists [more to this sentence after brackets] who would hold up North Korea as a beacon of socialist governance.

Communist, socialist, Trotskyist…

It all begins to run together for us heathen imperialists.

Ah!

There’s that other buzz word.

Imperialism.

Indeed, if you look at the U.S. military bases in South Korea and Japan (which this documentary illustrates as a sort of “ring of fire” [pun intended]), the imperialism charge is not without evidence.

But this is really the quintessence of what Nick Tosches calls “intellectual parlor games”.

Meaning, we could be here all day.

I’m at nearly a thousand words (and so are you, if you’re still with me) and I haven’t even begun to truly scratch the surface of the imbroglio that is the 38th parallel.

North latitude.

Simply put, the U.S. has a vested interest in creating and propagating propaganda about North Korea.

[which does not mean that all of the reportage is made-up…indeed, the best propaganda has a kernel or modicum of truth…sometimes even a heaping spoonful…North Korea certainly does not seem to have the whole “public relations” thing down yet]

And conversely, North Korea has a vested interest in creating and propagating (mostly for internal, domestic purposes) propaganda about the United States and capitalist economies in general.

[and granted…the United States has done some incredibly daft stuff…the likes of which could be spun into a thousand tales of horror for 10,000 years]

What really complicates matters are nuclear weapons.

North Korea, we are told, has twenty (OH MY GOD!  20!!!) nuclear weapons.

The United States has sixty-eight-hundred (6,800) nuclear warheads in various states of readiness.

I hate to sound like Ted Turner (and it’s sad when Mr. Turner becomes a voice of reason), but there seems to be a rather glaring discrepancy there.

Oh!

But one side is responsible (I’ll let you guess) and the other side is reckless (guess again).

Of course, nuclear weapons have never been used in war…except by the United States.

Twice.

And so every society has its propaganda.

I will never feel very good that my country nuked two Japanese cities.

Somewhere between approx. 125,000 and 250,000 Japanese people (at least half of them civilians) were vaporized and/or bombarded with lethal radiation by Fat Man and Little Boy.

I know that the U.S. Department of Defense (then known as the Department of War and Department of the Navy, respectively) isn’t selling Girl Scout cookies.

But Harry S. Truman’s “display” on live targets is a rather hard pill to swallow.

We are supposed to think statistically.

Think of how many lives we saved (by, counterintuitively, squelching perhaps a quarter million OTHER souls).

I guess maybe after six years of war, we were insane.

They say it only takes 100 days.

Of warfare.

Any man (or woman).

No matter how mentally strong.

Literally insane.

Beyond that point.

But we were talking about North Korea…

Mr. Longoria is more of a scientist than me.

Our director, Mr. Longoria.

He meditates on the problem.

He is not rash.

Granted, his access to the “hermit kingdom” compels him to be open-minded (if only for the duration of his stay [and in strictly “apparent” diplomacy]).

It seems evident to me that √Ālvaro Longoria is a very formidable filmmaker.

I wonder what he would have made of our recent American election?

[when Trump supporters learned to hate Hillary…and Hillary supporters learned to hate Trump]

In retrospect, the United States has just been the battlefield of an immense propaganda war.

The winner (for the time-being) was and is Donald Trump.

But the war was so ugly that things are still not back to “normal” in the USA.

Perhaps they never will be again.

And that is also the lesson of The Propaganda Game.

This substitutes for bullets when you cannot shoot.

When destruction is mutually-assured, colder, icier methods prevail.

Sneaking, surreptitious oozing of lies and falsehoods.

All’s fair in war and love, they say.

And “close enough” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

“They” say that too.

“They” say a lot of things.

Indeed, “they” are the most quotable group around.

Now, if we only knew who “they” were…

-PD

La Chinoise [1967)

Even geniuses make mistakes.¬† That’s how I thought I’d begin.¬† And then…viewing again.¬† It is like “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground.¬† Was Lou Reed, the songwriter, promoting the use of this drug in the song of the same name?¬† Not necessarily.¬† It boils down (no pun intended) to something I learned in economics:¬† positive vs. normative.

And so, we have a film by Jean-Luc Godard which is very difficult to sum up.¬† On the surface it is easy.¬† The Situationists called Godard a Swiss Maoist (a sort of double insult).¬† Even in that, they were only part right.¬† Yes, Godard today lives in Rolle…in the canton of Vaud:¬† Switzerland.¬† But he was born in Paris.¬† He didn’t move to Switzerland until he was four years old.¬† Of course, he would return to Paris for university (and eventually to make a name for himself as critic and director).¬† Actually, it was a back and forth:¬† la France, la Suisse, la France, la Suisse…like a tennis match.

Back to my point:¬† this film does not necessarily “prove” that Godard was a Maoist.¬† But was he?¬† And what would that mean?¬† Let’s investigate.

First, I should mention that I have read four books about Godard, one more which is a book-length interview, an additional collection of his writings, and finally an actual book by Godard which was published by Gallimard.  Of the first category, two were biographies (by Richard Brody and Colin MacCabe respectively).

In my opinion, a short review of Jean-Pierre Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group are needed.

First Gorin.  Wikipedia (in English) is typically terse when it comes to Jean-Pierre.  For our purposes, it is enough to say that Gorin is nowhere called a Maoist in this short entry.

Next…Dziga Vertov Group.¬† Again, no one is called a Maoist in this similarly curt Wiki reflection.¬† The closest thing is a non-hypertext mention of the film(s) British Sounds/See You at Mao.

This may seem like laziness on my part (and it is), but it is important to note that the “Dziga Vertov” period of Godard’s oeuvre is the most unknown (and, one might say, mysterious).¬† This would be roughly 1968-1972.

And so we are brought to the man at issue himself:  Mao.

What ideas are pertinent?¬† Anti-imperialism.¬† The Long March.¬† The People’s Republic of China.¬† The Great Leap Forward.¬† 45 million dead?¬† The Cultural Revolution.

One must wonder whether it is a coincidence that the Dziga Vertov Group disbanded the same year Nixon visited China:  1972.  Was this seen as weakness by Maoists?

Let’s recalculate:¬† 40 million dead?¬† 70 million?

Just as in the Holocaust, how much about China’s “dark side” was known outside of the country during Mao’s tenure?¬† For young idealists, the concept of radical revolution might have an appealing luster, but when deaths are counted in millions and tens-of-millions the appeal should (must!) become appalling.

What were the nature of these deaths?  Mao bragged about burying alive 46,000 scholars.  One thing is certain:  there is a persisting battle between those who seek to rehabilitate the tarnished image of Mao and those who perhaps feel that the extent of atrocities for which he was responsible has not yet fully been made evident to the world at large.

Mao is a strange figure…to whom just about every superlative and, equally, insult has been applied. Just as in a criminal investigation, we must scrutinize the sources and their authors with cui bono:¬† what do they stand to gain by promulgating such theories?

Were 3 million tortured to death during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962)?¬† If even one was tortured to death, isn’t that too many?

Yes.¬† We do not hold torturers and terrorists to be our heroes.¬† They forfeit our respect at that point…no matter how great their theories are.¬† It is solemnly inexcusable.

No, rather we uphold the nonviolent masters:  Gandhi and King.  Obama is no King (nor king).  The end does not justify the means.  We who torture lose our humanity.  We are only torturing ourselves.

And so even Nixon himself was a Maoist in a cynical, Machiavellian way.¬† Anything to counter what Reagan would later normatively call “the evil empire.”¬† Yes Mao, it is still the imperialists who are the true axis of evil in this young century.¬† But China is learning how to project its influence.¬† It would be wrong to call the China of today anti-imperialist.

Enough about Mao.¬† That is the freedom we have…at this late moment…to still express such a thought.

Godard’s dalliance with Maoism didn’t last long (in terms of his career as a whole).

Perhaps it was Dostoyevsky.¬† No doubt Paul Nizan.¬† Most importantly it was the ravishing Anne Wiazemsky.¬† Godard was doubtless smitten…you can tell by the camera’s loving gaze.¬† He would have gone to the end of the earth for her.¬† A revolutionary goddess!

Veronique Verkhovensky.¬† Her eyes are wild in their tranquility.¬† She is no paper tiger.¬† Juliet Berto is the brunette…Wiazemsky the redhead.¬† Such a beautiful revolutionary group!

Henri Shatov.  He endures the brunt of human stupidity here.  No, he cannot entice Juliet to abandon the radical cell as they dive headlong into terrorism.

Kirilov adds a dash of Peter Max color before his inevitable demise.

Will the Maoists in power continue to struggle on two fronts (ISIS and Ukraine) while fronting like sucker MCs?¬† Yeah, oops:¬† Nemtsov and Nisman worked for you…32 was 23 (if 6 was 9).

Francis Verkhovensky.¬† Like Jimmy Stewart in Rope.¬† Should we contact Arthur Lee or Althusser in regards to all those little red books of Aden Arabie?¬† I’m inclined to believe that Love is all you need.

-PD

Tomorrow Never Dies [1997)

“We won’t be signing off until the world ends. We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event . . . we’ll play ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ before we sign off.”¬† Ted Turner.¬† 1980.¬† Launch of CNN.

Ah, but let’s back up to 1973 when Rupert Murdoch bought the San Antonio Express-News.¬† Somehow this Aussie weaseled into the U.S. market with that acquisition (in my home town) and now his empire has spawned the most virulent threat to the world:¬† Fox News.

The news ticker began on 9/11/01 over at Fox and has continued till the present time.  Let me demonstrate:  fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fearfearfearfearfearfearfearfear ISIS ISIS ISIS ISIS ISIS ISIS ISISISISISISISISISISISISIISISIS Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran IranIranIranIranIranIranIranIran.

Well, one of these two men (Turner and Murdoch) said something wise back in 2006.¬† “They’re a sovereign state. We have 28,000. Why can’t they have 10? We don’t say anything about Israel ‚ÄĒ they’ve got 100 of them approximately ‚ÄĒ or India or Pakistan or Russia.”¬† [–Ted Turner]¬† Now that’s a statement I can get behind.

But let’s be honest:¬† the perceived enemy of Fox News on the national landscape (Democrats) have had their chance.¬† Obama lost my confidence when he failed to truly investigate 9/11.¬† Not only that, he “killed” bin Laden:¬† thereby solidifying the false narrative which has passed by our eyes each day like that doomsday ticker at the bottom of the screen.

And so we dig deeper:

Georgia Guidestones.¬† 1980.¬† “..until the world ends. We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event.”¬† Hmmm.¬† 1980.¬† Population reduction.¬† Let’s see:¬† 7 billion – 500 million= 6.5 billion.¬† Ok, so the Georgia Guidestones would seem to be advocating the death of about 92% of humanity.¬† So, let’s see:¬† there’s the 1%…and then the 7% they decide get to come along for the ride.

Wendi Deng.¬† Deng Wenge.¬† Wenge…hmmm.¬† Mao!¬† Cultural Revolution.¬† 1966-1976.¬† Purge.¬† Violent class struggle.¬† Youths of the Red Guards.¬† Of course Deng was born in 1968 so her name might be kinda akin to Deng Endl√∂sung or Deng Kristallnacht had she been born in late-1930s Germany.¬† Back to Mao…how many were fatally purged?¬† 30,000?¬† 100,000?¬† 400,000?¬† 750,000?¬† 1.5 million?¬† 3 million?

MBA.¬† Yale.¬† Los Angeles.¬† News Corp.¬† Hong Kong.¬† Rupert.¬† Tony Blair.¬† Hmmm…

Well, in any case:  Happy Birthday to Mr. Murdoch who turns 84 years young tomorrow.  Hi Rupert!

Tomorrow never dies.

Spottiswoode.  48 Hrs.  Walter Hill.

Holly Palance.  Jeremy Prokosch.  I always thought it was Jeremiah.

And my jeremiads…

Divorced 1997.¬† Check.¬† The omen…

Bruce Feirstein.¬† He dreamt up this outlandish (hardly) plot.¬† Political commentator on Fox News.¬† Vanity Fair contributor (say hi to Tosches for me).¬† Film producer in China.¬† Hmmm…

Ah, but the kicker is changing light bulbs on Newark Airport runways:¬† Feirstein’s high school job.¬† That really takes the cake.

Flight 93.¬† Cell phone calls from 40,700 feet in 2001 (NPR, June 17, 2004).¬† I’ve always hated NPR, but they make the case that much simpler.¬† In the words of astute observers:¬† strictly impossible.

The dialog in Tomorrow Never Dies is actually pretty good, but what can compare to the anonymous writing prowess found in such phrases as, “Hey! Hey! Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me.”¬† I mean, really:¬† that is some heady scriptwriting to give to a non-SAG actor like “Ziad Jarrah” or whichever of the fictitious bogeyman was purported to be speaking at the time.

Ah, but we are supposed to think of Robert Maxwell says Feirstein.¬† Yet, just like in Godard’s Made in U.S.A., we run into Donald E. Westlake.¬† Hmmm…

Significantly, villain Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce)¬†is made to utter the phrase “new world order.”¬† Indeed.

Opening the same day as Titanic.¬† Let’s see:¬† groundbreaking for The Pentagon?¬† September 11, 1941.¬† The CIA’s overthrow of Salvador Allende and his assassination?¬† September 11, 1973.

I am urged to see these as coincidences.

And Henry Gupta?  Are we to think of A.Q. Khan who was born in Bhopal?  And Enron?

Ah yes:  1974.  ISI.

“We have 28,000. Why can’t they have 10? We don’t say anything about Israel ‚ÄĒ they’ve got 100 of them approximately.”

I wish I had a Murdoch quote to balance this out.¬† I don’t think his 2006 fundraising for Hillary Clinton or his New York Post support for Obama would have quite the same effect, but it’s worth noting.¬† “Yeah. He is a rock star. It’s fantastic. I love what he is saying about education. I don’t think he will win Florida… but he will win in¬†Ohio and the election. I am anxious to meet him. I want to see if he will walk the walk.”¬† [Rupert Murdoch on whether he had anything to do with the Post’s pro-Obama push in 2008]

Rothschild.  Waterloo.  Niall Ferguson makes a valiant effort to rehabilitate Nathan, but is it true?  It seems there are at least some scruples at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

We’ve heard the concept…playing both sides against one another.¬† Indeed, funding both sides.¬† Hedging.¬† Divide and conquer.

It’s very important that the “right” weapons be found.¬† High stakes.¬† Fighting the Soviets.¬† Afghanistan.¬† Charlie Wilson’s War.¬† Maybe call this guy in Israel.¬† Fake it till you make it.¬† Make it to fake it.¬† Make it fake.

And so the James Bond franchise presciently taught the world about false flags back in 1997, but was anyone listening?

-PD