Twin Peaks “The One-Armed Man”[1990)

Sometimes we spend more time searching for what to watch than

watching that upon which we decide.

It’s an old phenomenon.

“57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” Bruce Springsteen was singing in 1982.

And so by the confluence of circumstances these days

I am bringing you more musings on the greatest TV series ever.

I think it’s safe to say.

I’ve approached a few other television programs.

TV is not my natural interest.

The medium tends towards the antithesis of my love.

For cinema.

So I sat down.  More or less.

I rummaged a bit.  Upon the Hulu trash heap.

No deep cuts tonight.

Straight to a standby.

Because now Orlando has a special agent in charge.

A government operation always has the killer wrapped up by midday.

With a bow around him.

And his wallet on his chest…open to show his photo ID.

I’m assuming.

None of that proves anything.

Either way.

What’s at issue is a trend.  A government which operates as a serial killer.

For the sake of survival we avoid (at all costs) the news outlets which have led us so far astray in the past.

These unrepentant charlatans continue their mockingbird mimesis.

I’ve seen good Americans question because something is not quite right.

Not much has moved along.

Same old song and dance.

The essence of code.

To be talking about two things at once.

Key would reveal what those two things are.

[Making code-breaking possible.]

Cipher and code.

A long-term project.

Professionals.

Acting honorably.

Priceless propaganda.

The real story…

is not pretty.

America wants the truth.

From Rosser Reeves (hard sell) to soft sell to no-sell.

That is the future.

Anti-marketing.

Perception management will be a reservist function.

There will be no marketing of ideas.

Until that time (a goal, not a calendar date), closer and closer to brute truth.

That the greatest crime would be for a federal employee to leads his or her countrymen astray.

That such activity should cease cold turkey and news anchors be caught like deer in headlights before blank Tele-Promp-Ters.

No directly line from Langley, no news.

A very valuable oversimplification.

And we have the honorable men and women in the FBI who come through Quantico.

The LGBT culmination will feature a J. Edgar Hoover auto-icon (à la Jeremy Bentham) dressed in drag.

And the message will be clear:  no more obfuscation.

That at least one agency (the FBI) has a vested interest in bringing criminal elements within the CIA and DoD to justice.

This is the only route which saves the FBI.

The same for every agency.  The U.S. government (across the board) has zero credibility (at home and abroad).

It can work.

Who will be the first to rebuild the country?

Comey?  He shares the same birthday with me.

But it might take a madman like Trump to throw the moneychangers out of the temple.

[poor choice of metaphor…on several levels]

Trump still thinks it’s Islamic terror.  Trump needs to visit a decent bookstore.

Get some books which the State Dept. calls disinformation (those are the good ones) and go to work.

Get the country back on track.

9/11 makes sense only as a largely inside job.

The assets or operatives employed may have left trails to incriminate (blackmail) future targets (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.).

Their domestic movements were picked up by Able Danger.

Translation:  DoD (rightly) doesn’t trust CIA.

But let’s give the Agency its due.

Dirty deeds, done for no more than the risk-free rate.

NSA just sits back and giggles.

Could take down any of these punks.

So that everyday the transmission of fraudulent information passed on as news is hell on Earth.

Skills is one thing.

Brazen is another.

Too close to the fire.

Emotional intensity.

Not a disorder.

 

-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