WarGames [1983)

Greetings, Professor Falken.

Today is my birthday.

41.

The age at which you “died”.

But you didn’t really die.

Is this real world or exercise?

Dawn Deskins wanted to know.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Joshua.

And the tree of life.

Klimt.

Seattle.

Starbucks.

Greetings, my friends.

It has been a long time.

Perhaps you thought I was dead.

Perhaps I thought I was dead.

And so this is a perfect movie with which to attempt a comeback.

“You can always come back/but you can’t come back all the way”

Bob Dylan said that.

To get her together.

I said that.

NORAD.

It was a rough day.

9/11/01

NEADS thought it was part of an exercise called Vigilant Guardian.

Michael Ruppert (may God rest his soul) documented the litany of war-games which were active on 9/11/01.

And Michael Ruppert wrote about this in a tome which should serve in some ways as a sort of bible for those wishing to know the truth about 9/11:  Crossing the Rubicon:  The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil.

Ruppert was wrong about some things.

“Peak oil”, for instance.

Perhaps my understanding is hopelessly daft, but it seems that hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) changed the geopolitical world immensely.

Just a few years ago, rather intelligent folks like Leonardo Maugeri (to name a typical example) were bemoaning the hydrocarbon “cliff” off of which we were about to leap.

Alas…

That has not been the case.

Maugeri’s book The Age of Oil:  The Mythology, History, and Future of the World’s Most Controversial Resource is wildly, spectacularly wrong.

Which also means that Dick Cheney and all those arch conspirators* were also wildly, spectacularly wrong about the importance of the Caspian Basin.

Let me put it to you this way:  if you really believe 19 blokes with box cutters brought the U.S. military machine to its knees, then I can’t help you.

As for me and my house (so to speak), we do not believe the box cutter theory.

And so we come to the DoD and fictional characters such as Stephen Falken.

And Albert Wohlstetter (not forgetting his ever-so-important-to-the-neocons wife Roberta).

And Steve Pieczenik.

So much has happened.

And so much is at a precipice.

“The Far East Strategy”.

Pshaw.

Tic-tac-toe.

It is my firm belief that 9/11 was some sort of engineered* conspiracy which involved boxcutters and Muslims in only the most tangential of ways.

But you will have to learn that parallel history.

If in fact you are interested.

And I shall show my enlightened, nonpartisan wisdom by recommending Trump-hater Webster Tarpley’s 9/11 Synthetic Terror:  Made in USA above all other books on the subject.

Indeed, I look forward to hopefully adding another Trump-hater (Wayne Madsen) book to my collection soon…one which discusses to what extent and in exactly what ways Saudi Arabia and Israel were involved in the 9/11 false-flag/stand-down.

Which brings us back to Pieczenik.

And the Wohlstetters.

But let us at least attempt to make passing reference to the film under consideration.

If you’ve never seen this movie from the beginning (a cold start), I highly recommend adding such footage to your filmic knowledge.

The silos.

Minot?

Somewhere.

The Great Plains.

Nuclear missiles.

Humans in the loop.

Physical keys.

Launch orders.

Wisdom.

As humans are removed, MAD (what, me worry?) becomes even more unequivocally assured.

You might remember WHOPPER’s (WOPR) cousin [Siemens System 4004] from Willy Wonka

wonka

It is somehow fitting that WarGames should make a Burger King allusion in 1983.

Indeed, this was the period of the very real (and ridiculous) “burger wars“.

But let’s get on with it…

Matthew Broderick plays basically the Bill Gates of this famous picture:

gates

I must say…this film deeply affected me as a kid.

Perhaps it was due to the wonderfully effervescent (what is she, a sparkling wine?!?) Ally Sheedy.

Sure…  There are a couple of moments of unbearable melodrama to make this movie slightly imperfect, but a kid doesn’t notice such things.

And so as a youth, I ate this film up.

Broderick and Sheedy as “partners in crime” (somewhat literally…).

It would be like some high school kid hacking into the USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) to play a “game”.

Is this real world or exercise?

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Which brings us back to the ubiquitous Baudrillard.

And, if you can bear it, Debord.

Simulation.

Spectacle.

Fake.

Radar inserts.

Etc.

GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR.

Big Gulp.

[g’uh?]

But let’s change tacks for a second.

TALENT SPOTTING.

Back in the Cold War days.

David Lightman would have been a prime target for recruitment by a foreign intelligence service (or so this film claims).

However, I would point out a plane which the passing analysis seems to miss:  industrious brilliance.

Disruptive innovation.

Recording the analog [?) signal of the infirmary door with a psychiatrist’s micro-tape recorder.

Removing the tap from a pay phone and using a pull tab to hotwire a call back home (in lieu of a quarter).

These are the assets of operators.

Whether CIA or early FBI, appreciation for unconventional skill sets has been a hallmark of organizations engaged in successful growth.

Put differently, David Lightman would have made a pretty great spook.

Indeed, his skill set might have been best utilized by the NSA (no such agency).

Back in the day.

Before the world changed.

On 9/11.

The average citizen had no idea about the National Security Agency back in the Bobby Ray Inman days (1977-1981).

par exemple…

Research.

Know your enemy.

Half the battle.

Mirror’s other half.

It’s not impossible.

To make a matrix.

Collation.

Big data.

Must be organized.

Delphic databases.

Few films capture this.

This anxiety of being ushered into an FBI van.

Picked up on the street.

Fresh out of the 7-11.

A unique take on “talent spotting”.

Almost an accidental spy.

Like the DIA buffoons seen here:

spies

These films are real.

And offer us hope.

About unconventional paths.

Former DIA head Gen. Flynn has an appreciation for this.

“…you magnificent bastard, I read your book!”

[or some of it]

Enter the jaded Richard Dawkins character.

Really a rather laborious (and dead-on) archetype.

The “science worshipper”.

Obsessed with mass extinction.

Really, Dr. Falken is very much a J. Robert Oppenheimer character.

Which is appropriate, seeing as how the subject under consideration is Global Thermonuclear War.

WarGames is a genuinely moving, inspired film.

But it stumbles in a few places.

Not least, at the end.

Both of them 🙂

Yes, like the slew of “disaster movies” (such as Deep Impact) which glutted picture houses at the end of the last century, WarGames hones in on a maudlin tessitura which is made ineffective by repeated use.

In plain English, this film has two endings.

And they are identical.

Thus, anticlimax.

And the aforementioned melodrama.

Yet for all its imperfections, WarGames is a masterpiece of sorts.

And so I salute director John Badham.

Truly an indispensable film.

 

-PD

Filmistaan [2013)

I consider it an auspicious sign that my survey of Indian cinema begins in earnest with the masterpiece Filmistaan.

Do not mistake this piece of cinema for a half-baked idea.

Do not even attempt to lower it by calling it a comedy.

And not least, do not think only of India.

I wanted to come up with a catchy pigeonhole.

Indian Subcontinent.

The Subcontinent.

But I have too much respect for the great traditions of Bollywood (and Lollywood) to do such a thing.

And so this is very much an Indian film.

India.

And it is very much a comedy.

So funny!

But it is touching in a way to which few films can ever aspire.

Filmistaan, like Roberto Benigni’s magnum opus La vita è bella, takes on a very serious subject with the best weapon of all:  humor.

But instead of the Holocaust, we get the Partition.

And yet, Filmistaan is not some laborious period piece.

[leave that to the artless Spielbergs]

No, our film addresses the tension between India and Pakistan in the most deft, feather-light manner imaginable.

And for this we have to thank a new auteur on the world stage:  Nitin Kakkar.

I say “new” because Mr. Kakkar has not been graced with the honor of his own Wikipedia page in English yet.

Well, he is wholly deserving of that honor (based on Filmistaan alone).

But Mr. Kakkar had to have magical actors to pull this off.

Luckily for him, he did!

Sharib Hashmi is undoubtedly the star of this picture.

His performance as Sunny goes from the highest highs of emotion to the lowest lows.

It is truly remarkable.

Mr. Hashmi is about one month older than me.

40 years old.

Perhaps that’s why I identified with his youthful optimism and passionate devotion to cinema.

But to understand our film, we must first locate Rajasthan on a map.

It is the biggest state in India.

It is northwest.

And it borders Pakistan.

To understand Rajasthan, we must comprehend the Thar Desert.

Most of the Thar Desert is in Rajasthan, but it extends somewhat into Pakistan.

These are all important details in understanding our film.

Rajasthan is arid.

Like the American Southwest, it’s a good place to get lost…or kidnapped.

But friends are to be found in the most unlikely places.

And the friendship of shared interest, such as two cinema devotees, knows no borders.

For Mr. Hashmi, the brilliance of his performance depends on the artful support he receives from fellow-actor Inaamulhaq.

But let’s examine the divide between India and Pakistan for a moment.

It is a fact that a man from Peshawar (if he speaks Urdu) can communicate with a man from Delhi (if he speaks Hindi).

Peshawar, of course, is in Pakistan.

Indeed, it’s so far into Pakistan that it’s almost in Afghanistan.

Delhi, of course, is in India.

It is in the north-central part of the country.

It is, further, not essential that the two talkers hypothesized above be men.

The salient detail is that Hindi and Urdu are essentially the same language (in their spoken forms).

This is vital to understanding Filmistaan.

But continuing, the two languages could not look more different once they are written down.

[Which is to say, the two hypothesized men might be at loggerheads were they forced to communicate with pen and paper]

Urdu looks similar to its written forebear Farsi (the language of Iran) [which is itself a descendent of Arabic script].

To put it quite simply, a neophyte like myself would probably have a difficult time telling the difference between Urdu, Persian (Farsi), and Arabic.

Hindi is in the wholly different Devanagari script.

You will not confuse written Urdu and Hindi.

It’s at least as obvious as Picasso to Pollock (if not Warhol to Rembrandt).

But enough analogies.

Why should you watch Filmistaan?

Well, for one…it’s currently on Netflix.

Yes, ever since I have joined the streaming service, I have ventured to be a more “worthwhile” film critic by giving you relatively-spoiler-free reviews of current titles to be found on the U.S. version of the site.

But that’s only the beginning.

Yes, there are wonderful performances from Kumud Mishra and Gopal Dutt (as well as a plethora of fine supporting actors).

But the real reason is that Filmistaan expresses the sublime.

The context is terrorism.

The context is border tension.

Indeed, on the Indian Subcontinent, the context is two nuclear states.

Pakistan and India.

But the context goes back.

To Jinnah and Nehru.

And the threads bind.

Cricket.  Cinema.  Music.

There is an excellent example in Filmistaan which illustrates the situation.

Dilip Kumar.

Now 94 years old.

Like my hypothetical man from earlier, born in Peshawar.

Then a part of “Pre-Independence India”.

Now a part of Pakistan.

Bordering Afghanistan.

In Filmistaan, Inaamulhaq knows him as Sir Yusuf.

Sunny knows him as Dilip.

Dilip Kumar was born Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar in 1922.

Sir Yusuf.

Dilip Kumar.

Same person.

It’s like the World Wars.

fenêtre in French

das Fenster in German

window.

/\

fenêtre /\ Fenster

But when you look through a window (or a border), everything can look backwards.

You’re so close, in reality.

But you’re reading the word as if in a mirror.

Nitin Kakkar directed a masterpiece with Filmistaan because he put his heart and soul into evoking peace.

There are no winners in a nuclear war.

And peace is a rare commodity on the world stage.

Geopolitics…

But we must reach out that hand.

And shake it.

I congratulate Nitin Kakkar and Sharib Hashmi for their dedication.

It is evident.

Though I speak neither Hindi nor Urdu, I was able to watch.

And understand.

I needed the subtitles.

But sublime emotions may be mutually intelligible across cultures.

What a film!

-PD

Trump vs. Clinton, September 26 [2016)

The naysayers will call it politainment, but that’s as uncreative and trite as trotting out “reactionary”.

And while there was indeed a tremendous amount of substance in this first US Presidential debate a month ago, it was solely from one side.

Lester Holt largely disgraced himself as another “presstitute” (not my coinage, but fitting).

Holt was the decidedly unmoderate moderator.

“The questions are mine and have not been shared with the commission or the campaigns.”

Yeah right.

“The audience here in the room has agreed to remain silent so that we can focus on what the candidates are saying.”

Fat chance.

You see, Americans don’t stay silent.

They/we might be wrong (the “ugly American” stereotype), but we/they are rarely silent.

Some observers around the world recognize this as the asset it is.

Others denigrate it as “squeaky wheel”/”loudest duck”.

There’s very little silence in this year’s election (except in the corporate mass media concerning Hillary Clinton’s litany of disqualifying activities).

“I am honored to have this role, but this evening belongs to the candidates and, just as important, to the American people.”

…but most of all, to the American “elite” (and their transparently biased media) who had already picked their anointed, sycophantic, warmongering, maniac of a candidate:  Hillary Clinton.

“There’s been a record six straight years of job growth…”

But at what rate, Lester?  Read the Wall Street Journal, fucking moron.

Excuse me.

What I meant to say was, the “record growth” is anemic in historical terms.

So the “record” aspect is merely academic.

It’s been stable as shit.  That is the most accurate characterization.

Then “Secretary” Clinton takes over:

“Today is my granddaughter’s second birthday…”

Oh really?!?  I didn’t know robots could reproduce!!

“First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”

…like her.

“That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.”

Her biggest export would be American jobs.  She’s got a bad case of cognitive dissonance from too much globalist Kool-Aid.

“I want us to invest in you.”

Whether that’s what she wants or not, it’s not what she’s planning to do.  So it’s immaterial what she “wants”.  Her intent is clear:  destroy her own country economically (if not literally in a nuclear war) by way of some twisted Robin Hood fantasy.  Sorry Hillary, we’re not in Jonestown.  Why don’t you drink your Kool-Aid first?

“…most of the new jobs will come from small business.”

Which will go OUT OF BUSINESS as a result of your idealist, rubbish policies.

“…equal pay for women’s work.”

Oh, you mean like never, ever having a job…like you?

Hey Hillary, your boss (the American people) called.  They want to know what the hell you were doing using a personal email server as the goddamned SECRETARY OF STATE???  And by the way, they want your work emails…because those are property of the company (the United States of America).  Oh…  You were writing emails about yoga on the job?  Ok, no problem.  But as you were being paid to write emails on “yoga”, we’d like to take a look at those emails.  You did, after all, produce “yoga” emails with our tax dollars.  Oh…  You destroyed the emails?  After being subpoenaed??  Hmmm…  That’s a problem.

[That must have been one hell of a “yoga” discussion.]

“We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share…”

Oh, excellent.  I guess we can start with freezing the assets of the Clinton Foundation.  Seems that some small group was getting very rich off of that scam.

“Donald, it’s good to be with you.”

First and last time she’d ever say that.

“I hope that I will be able to earn your vote on November 8th.””

You’ve never earned anything in your life.  You’ve been a carpetbagger from Arkansas to New York to Washington, D.C.  “Social climber” does not qualify as a métier.

Ok…that’s enough Clinton.  How about some truth?  Fire torpedo #1!

“That’s called business, by the way.”

Ah, business.  Value.  Creating value.

If you’ve read this far (and I’m sure there are very few who have), I’ve created value for you.  I’ve held your attention.  You could think I’m the dumbest motherfucker on the planet, but that feeling of condescension is worth your time.  Perhaps I’m entertaining.  That’s also value.  And, God forbid, I actually say something that rings true…  For anyone who agrees with me enough to delve so far into this specious blog post, I’ve created value.

“Secretary” Clinton creates NO value…in anything she does.

I don’t even take enjoyment in insulting her.  To insult her is my duty.  I don’t want this person leading my country for the next four years.  Hell no!

“And, Hillary, I’d just ask you this. You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years, you’ve been doing it, and now you’re just starting to think of solutions.”

Exactly.  Say what you want about Trump, but he hasn’t been dicking around as a government do-nothing during that time.  He’s created value.  You can denigrate the true worth of that value, but it does have a dollar value.  It’s like a stock price.  It is a market measurement.  You want your money back?  Fine.  Sell your one share of Google stock.  Yes, the broker will charge a fee.  No, holding one share is not recommended.  But it’s a market measurement.  The market value of Trump’s activities is indisputable.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t figure in obtuse Althusserian dimensions, but it’s a measurement (damn it!).

Hillary is much more comfortable hiding in the maze of government with her private server and hiding behind the nonprofit structure of the Clinton Foundation.  She creates no value.  She never has to prove what value she has created.  She knows that her social climbing has bought her immunity from accountability.

[BUT MAYBE NOT]

Hillary might have been thinking about bringing jobs back to America for the past 30 years, but she certainly hasn’t acted on those musings.

“Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.”

[giant sucking sound…alarums and excursions]

“But you have no plan.”

Of course she doesn’t.  Her plan is being prepared by a bunch of globalists.  All she has to do is stay on two legs and…  [whoops!]

“…you are going to regulate these businesses out of existence.”

And that is no accident.

“I’m going to cut taxes big league, and you’re going to raise taxes big league, end of story.”

Yeah, pretty much.

“She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don’t think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.”

Indeed, no matter the outcome of this election, Hillary Clinton is not going to go down in history as a master strategist.

“…you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do.”

Right again.  Pick up some Sun Tzu, Hillary.

“…the taxes are so onerous…”

Point Trump.

“…we have a president that can’t sit them around a table and get them to approve something.”

Yeah, that’s because he’s never had a job either.  “Amateur golfer” does not cut the mustard.

“And with a little leadership, you’d get it in here very quickly, and it could be put to use on the inner cities and lots of other things, and it would be beautiful.”

Value-creation works.  As a model.  As a measure.  What ISN’T sustainable is sucking the thriving countries dry in an effort to bring up the languishing ones.  There is a solution.  There is a deal.  A compromise.  But Hillary doesn’t have that spark of problem-solving genius.  All she knows is the college playbook from pseudo-intellectual, hippie-era Yale.

Ok, I’m even starting to bore myself.

There is not enough digital ink in my pot to finish penning this diatribe.

I think you get the point.

In cinema terms, this was an auteur (Trump) vs. a metteur-en-scène (Hillary).

Shot.  Reverse.  Shot.

 

-PD