Redoubtable [2017)

Formidable.

Inspiring fear and respect.

Impressive.

Intense.

Capable.

That Swiss-Maoist asshole is my hero.

In many ways.

But which Godard?

If I were to say “late Godard” (and that would be my natural, truthful answer), Monsieur Godard would likely point out the merits of his early films…just to annoy me.

If I spoke lovingly of Vivre sa vie, he would probably proclaim that it is shit.

Jean-Luc Godard is a very complex individual.

And I can wholeheartedly identify with that.

A walking civil war.

This film never makes reference to Cahiers du cinéma.  

It doesn’t need to.

This film covers a period of time which Wikipedia classifies as Godard’s “revolutionary period”.

When did Godard stop writing for Cahiers?

He never stopped being a critic.

We know that.

And I see his point.

This is shit.

Because we want to invent new forms.

Breathless was like his “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.

Or his Bolero.

He couldn’t escape it.

Couldn’t lose it.

Must be nice.

But maybe not.

“Play the hits!”

Did politics ruin Jean-Luc Godard?

Sure.

But it was necessary.

It was his process of growing up.

His process of attaining wisdom.

Trial and error.

Formative years.

But not the last word.

I don’t agree with Godard’s politics.

Perhaps at some point in my youth I did.

But not very much.

Because I never really understood them.

I dabbled.

But I too am a revolutionary.

In these days.

After the 2020 election.

You may call me a reactionary.

I don’t care what you call me.

I think George Washington is cool.

I think the United States of America is worth saving.

And the American Revolution has recommenced.

Same goals as the founders had.

Love it or leave it.

Godard did not show up in 2010 to receive his honorary Academy Award.

Good for him.

Fuck Hollywood!

Give me the old stuff.

Hitchcock.

Howard Hawks.

Not this new crap.

Tripe.

Perhaps you see where me and Godard overlap?

Too rashes like a Venn diagram…with a particularly-irritated common ground.

The skin is red and peeling.

Weeping.

Scratching.

Itching.

I scratch my arms.

I’m running out of real estate on my body for these nicotine patches.

Yes.

You thought it was something more interesting?

More taboo?

No.

Where does the former President of Peru come in?

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Godard’s first cousin.

I too had cousins.

Who are as far off as Peru.

But always close in my heart.

Kuczynski is 82.

Godard will be 90 in one week.

I will be 44 when the Electoral College meets.

Anna Karina died on my birthday last year.

She was 79.

But this film doesn’t deal with the wonderful Ms. Karina.

No, this film deals with another stunning beauty:  Anne Wiazemsky.

Wiazemsky died three years ago.

The same year Redoubtable came out.

In the English-speaking world, we know it (ironically) as Godard Mon Amour.

Sounds more sophisticated to have the subtitled film with a more commercial FRENCH product label.

Redoubtable is too vague.

Godard Mon Amour sells itself.

[that’s what the advertising guys must have said]

Godard and Wiazemsky were married for 12 years.

Godard and Karina married for a mere 4.

I’ve never read Mauriac.

I have nothing against Catholics.

I adore Olivier Messiaen’s music.

So it bears mentioning that one of the smartest, most unique artists in the history of the world was a French Catholic [Messiaen].

Which is to say, believing in God does not make you boring.

I believe in God.

The same God.

The Christian God.

God who gave us Jesus.

God who gave us synesthesia.

Combat didn’t like La Chinoise.

De Gaulle withdrew from NATO.

Will Trump win?

De Gaulle supported sovereignty.

The European Union is the antithesis of what de Gaulle wanted.

De Gaulle criticized America’s war in Vietnam.

But that wasn’t enough for revolutionaries like Godard.

Too lukewarm.

De Gaulle wanted Québec to be free from Canada.

If you’ve ever been to Québec, you might see why.

It is unlike the rest of Canada.

Except for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

But not really.

Île de Chêne?

1755-1764.

Conservatism.

De Gaulle.

Biography.

Mauriac.

Wiazemsky.

Mauriac’s granddaughter.

Starring in a Maoist film directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

La Chinoise.

And then they married.

Godard was correct.

Au Hasard Balthazar is the antithesis of the Central Intelligence Agency.

But Godard never said that.

I did.

So Anne Wiazemsky wrote a book called Un An Après which was published in 2015.

She died two years later.

The same year her book was adapted for film as Redoubtable.

She died of breast cancer.

Less than a month after Redoubtable was released in France.

This film proves that Michel Hazanavicius is a very talented filmmaker.

It proves that he knows his Godard.

But it is flawed.

Aren’t all masterpieces?

Maybe not.

Is Redoubtable a masterpiece?

In some ways, yes.

In some ways, no.

It is probably most similar to Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock.

Both of them are films of “exorbitant privilege”.

Which is to say, a little out of touch with their subject matter.

Was Pablo Picasso ever called an asshole?

Not if we take Jonathan Richman at his word.

Art contains deeper layers of meaning.

Usually.

Unless you’re Warhol.

In which case, the meaning MAY be found closer to the surface.

Stravinsky liked this too.

Music has no meaning.

It is just tones.

Timbres.

Rhythms.

Harmonies.

Little dots on a page.

So we are told.

By Igor.

Jean-Luc Godard and Igor Stravinsky both embraced MANY different approaches to their craft over their long careers.

Because they loved their crafts.

They were addicted.

It was a compulsion.

And, for Godard, it remains so.

Godard married the girl who rejected Robert Bresson.

Do not underestimate the thrill of this.

The thrill of it all.

Bresson was a genius too.

But she was only 18 when Bresson made his advances.

Girls want to live.

Bresson was 65.

Bold.

Numbers can lie.

Godard and Wiazemsky were only together as man and wife for three years.

Though they were married for 12.

Three years was enough, apparently.

The divorce appears to have been more a formality.

Anna.

Anne.

Anne-Marie.

I spoke to Anne-Marie on the phone once.

In exceedingly-broken French.

She was saintly in her patience.

All I wished to convey, as I called Rolle (Switzerland) on my flip phone, was that Godard was my intellectual hero.  [it is true]  And that his LATE films mattered.  That they mattered THE MOST.  That he had created beauty.  That he had plumbed the depths.  I owed it to my master to deliver this message before I (or he) died (God forbid).

I was compelled.

Jean-Luc Godard is my favorite creator this side of heaven.

Even though I don’t agree with his politics.

Bob Dylan is neck-and-neck for this honor.

Dylan is, no doubt, my favorite musician to have ever lived.

Neck-and-neck with Roland Kirk (perhaps).

My favorite jazz artist.

My favorite instrumentalist.

It is never noted that Wiazemsky was in Les Gauloises bleues.

And Godard could be an asshole.

So can I.

So can Trump.

Trump is my ideological hero.

My political hero.

I DO agree with his political philosophy.

Wholeheartedly.

And yet, my favorite film director (auteur) remains Godard.

No one is even neck-and-neck with JLG for me.

Brakhage is a distant second.

Welles is formidable.

But they do not hit the mark like Jean-Luc.

Il seme dell’uomo.

Nothing suggestive there.

Global plague.

Marco Ferreri.

Marco Margine?

Shot-reverse shot.

And then I gave Jacques Demy’s grandson piano lessons.

Or Agnès Varda’s grandson.

Same difference.

More like organ lessons.

Booker T.

You should use Belmondo again.

Funny films.

We see Coutard’s hair early.

Politics entered soon.

Le Petit soldat.

Shadow war.

The perfection of Vivre sa vie.

The jaunty, carefree, playful anarchy of Breathless.

And a sadness tied to beauty.

Politics again with Les Carabiniers.

An attempt at commercialism with Contempt.

Equivalent to Nirvana’s In Utero album.

Big-budget negation.

Nihilism.

A thorough disdain for the Hollywood system.

And the “tradition of quality” in France.

But something deeper…and more bitter.

Bande à part more like Breathless.

A little like Vivre sa vie.

Dancing.

Pinball.

Billiards.

Cafe culture.

Down and out in Paris.

Life at the margin of society.

YOUTH!

Hazanavicius first really gets going with Une Femme mariée.

Stacy Martin in the nude.

Stunning.

Cinematography.

Grabbing the bedsheets.

Clutch.

Brace brace brace.

The resemblance to Charlotte Gainsbourg is striking.

A little Alphaville.

Someone who nibbles Godard’s neck.

The Samuel Fuller scene from Pierrot le fou turned into a fistfight.

Politics.

Don’t insult me!

A bit of Macha Méril in the hair.

And a bit more of Chantal Goya.

Getting shouted down by a situationist during the May ’68 occupation of the Sorbonne.  Lumped in with Coca-Cola.

Things go dark with insults.

Swiss-Maoist jerk.

On the blink.

“Ruby’s Arms”.

It hurts.

Made in U.S.A.

Two or Three Things I Know About Her.

Urbanism.

“You ruined my shot!”

Ciné-tracts.

Eating Chinese food.

A rather unfortunate outburst directed at a war hero.

And his wife.

These are the things we do.

When we’re young.

And stupid.

And fiery.

What is striking is the humor in Redoubtable.

The broken eyeglasses.

The slipping shoes.

And their replacement.

I must give credit to Louis Garrel.

He really does convey the mania and eccentricity of Godard.

While Stacy Martin is very good here, it is a shame that Hazanavicius chose to lovingly evoke every detail of Godard’s life…except Wiazemsky’s red hair.

 

-PD

Stieg Larssons Millennium: Del 1 [2010)

You thought we were done.

You’ve wasted so much ammunition.

Having fun yet?

Electoral College meeting date.

December 14.

Sandy Hook.

Harriet Vanger disappearance.

September 22.

Stieg Larsson’s death.

November 9.

Election day.

November 3.

Larsson dies before any of his novels are published?

Dies before the fantastic success of both the novels and subsequent films.

Heart attack at age 50 “after climbing the stairs at work”.

His grandfather had also died of a heart attack at age 50?

He was a smoker, they say.

Like Lisbeth Salander.

Search CIA heart attack gun.

Get this.

The Soviets developed first (ostensibly).

Just like MKUltra.

Not brainwashing, but “deprogramming” those POWs brainwashed during the Korean war.

Ostensibly.

And the Nazis were just “researching” when they conducted human experiments on Jews and other prisoners, right?

https://sofrep.com/news/watch-former-cia-employees-discuss-heart-attack-gun/

Per Oscarsson dies in house fire after appearing in the final Millennium Trilogy film.

December 31.

Wennerström.

Corrupt billionaire of fiction.

Stig Wennerström.

Actual Swedish Air Force colonel convicted of spying on behalf of the Soviets.

He was suspected by SÄPO (the Swedish equivalent of the FBI) of working for the Nazis as early as 1943.

From working with the Nazis (national socialism), he dovetailed into working for the Soviets (socialism/communism).

OPUS 240 Fascism comes from the Left!

Wennerström could have been executed by firing squad for treason because, after all, there was a war on (the Cold War).

War on Terrorism.

Was the end declared?

Instead, he was given a life sentence (which was later commuted to 20 years).

In 1972.

Think hippies.

What country do Bernie Sanders, AOC, et al. most want to copy?

Replicate their “democratic-socialist” utopia?

Sweden.

And I get it.

It is an alluring trick.

Sweden is a beautiful country.

The land is beautiful.

The women (with cans of General Snus in the back pockets of their tight bluejeans) are beautiful.

Even rednecks like me could be fooled.

Briefly.

By the façade.

The “Nordic model” countries (with their literal female models in tow).

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and (chiefly powering the Left’s zeitgeist) Sweden.

But Norway has a shit-ton of oil.

Oops.

But I see it.

Walk down the cobbled streets of a small Danish town and you too may be swayed by the seeming utopia.

America is not a Nordic country.

And as Nordic countries (particularly Sweden) attempt to mimic AMERICAN leftist policies (think immigration), they see their homogenous utopias ripped apart.

There are reasons certain forms of government work IN CERTAIN PLACES.

There are factors.

Variables.

America, at this point in its history, cannot whole-cloth adopt the Swedish system.

And any leftist with a brain knows this.

But it doesn’t prevent American leftists from dangling the Swedish carrot (fish?) in front of the noses of their moronic acolytes.

And, as alluded to earlier, it is meant to draw the weak-minded “across the aisle”.

“Come on over.  Everything will be just like Sweden.  Not the current Sweden, of course, but…you know:  the old Sweden.”

Two years after Wennerström’s life sentence was commuted to 20 years, he was paroled.

He had only been in custody for 10 years.

10 years for sharing 20,000 secret documents with the Soviets concerning Swedish air defenses, clandestine Swedish bases, etc.

This was the Swedish custom.

Serve half your sentence and get paroled.

Initial sentence could have been death [treason] (Cold War).

Actual sentence was life.

Sentence commuted to 20 years.

Cut in half (10 years) by parole.

That’s Sweden (in the early ’70s) and, perhaps, quintessential Swedish policy.

The “Nordic model”.

Lovely.

No justice, really.

No defense, really.

No state secrets, really.

No sovereignty, in actuality.

Bad trajectory.

About as robust a defense apparatus as an IKEA bed.

Which is to say.

Cheap.

Disposable.

Nice-looking.

Interesting that Sweden is not a part of NATO.

What if the big, bad Russians (who have 20,000 secret documents pertaining to radar, strategy, mobilization plans…) actually were to invade Sweden?

Those are old documents by now, of course.

But the Russians have a very easy sell to potential Swedish spies.

“Don’t worry.  There’s no declared war.  This isn’t the Cold War.  No treason. No firing squad.  If you get life in prison, it will probably be commuted to a paltry 20 years.  And you’ll be paroled after 10.  If you even get caught.”

Great deterrence, Sweden!

Back to the “Nordic model”…

Guess who ARE members of NATO?

Denmark, Iceland, and Norway.

Finland, right on Russia’s doorstep, are (like the Swedes) not members of NATO.

For more examples of Sweden’s liberal (lax) justice/prison apparatus, see the case of spy Stig Bergling.

Sentenced to life (like Wennerström).

Fled to Moscow during a conjugal visit (you can’t make this shit up!).

Voluntarily returned to Sweden seven years after his escape.

And was PAROLED three years later.

Again, this was DURING the Cold War.

Bergling’s arrest was a full 15 YEARS after Wennerström’s.

In other words, this was the next generation (same shitty policies) of spies being slapped on the wrist.

Bergling was parolled in 1997.

Ahh, that liberal paradise…Sweden.

Unlike Switzerland, it has no natural defenses (mountains) to guarantee its continued paradisal existence.

Need more?

Bertil Ströberg.

Swedish Air Force.

Convicted of spying for Poland [Soviet bloc] during the Cold War.

Sentenced to a mere six years in prison.

Paroled after three years.

Which brings us back to the brilliant (I mean it!) Swedish storyteller Stieg Larsson…himself a committed leftist (going so far as to train guerrillas in Eritrea in the firing or mortars).

What of Vanger?

VOLVO?

Volvokoncernen.

ASEA (the now-defunct General Swedish Electrical Company Limited) removed the swastika from their logo in 1933.

The company’s swastika logo had been used since the late-19th century.

Etymology

What if it’s a similar sound?

Fanger

In Swedish, “catches”.

Like in a cage?

Fanger.

In closely-related Danish, “prisoners”.

Like in cages?

What if a letter is missing?

Svanger.

In Swedish, “pregnant”.

Like, pregnant with meaning?

[svan, btw, means “swan” in Swedish]

Pregnant swan?

Like Leda of Greek mythology?

Zeus, in the form of a swan, raped Leda (a woman) who became pregnant and gave birth to “the most beautiful woman in the world”:  Helen of Troy.

And around whom does this mystery revolve?

The hauntingly-beautiful Henrietta (Helen?) Vanger.

Who had been been repeatedly raped by her father and brother.

[it is true that the Swedish equivalent of Helen would be Helena or Elin, but the initials match]

How did Larsson come to settle on this name Vanger?

Some have suggested Wagner.

Perhaps even Wegner.

Wenger?

Wolf, in Swedish, is “varg”.

Varger?

Vargar, in Swedish, is “wolves”.

Now we are getting somewhere.

But we must flesh out the story.

We are looking for three Swedish Nazi brothers.

I believe the fourth (the good guy) was invented by Larsson.

Three Swedish Nazis?

How about Birger, Gunnar, and Sigurd Furugård?

They founded the Swedish National Socialist Farmers’ and Workers’ Party in 1924.

It’s a good fit.

The good guy might just be IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad.

By “good”, I mean that he was a member of the Swedish SSS (Svensk Socialistisk Samling [National Socialist Workers’ Party…basically Swedish Nazis]) at age 17 and before that, at age 16, a member of the fascist New Swedish Movement WHO LATER DECLARED (in 1994) that his membership in the latter was the “greatest mistake” of his life.  His association with the SSS wasn’t publicly revealed until 2011 (at which time he made no further comment on having been a part of these types of groups).

So maybe Ingvar Kamprad wasn’t the good guy after all?

Did Larsson meld the Furugårds (Nazis) and Kamprad (a successful business man…and Nazi) into the amalgamation we know as the Vanger family?

https://web.archive.org/web/20120420065622/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/8720214/IKEA-founder-was-Nazi-recruiter.html

Kamprad, incidentally, is a variant of “comrade”.

Again, National SOCIALIST German Workers’ Party.

NAZIs.

So “far right” (says Wikipedia) that they were fucking socialists!?!

NAtionalsoZIalistische.

Socialist.

IKEA.

Sweden.

This is exactly what Pieczenik is talking about in the above video.

Fascism coming from the Left.

Kamprad started off with fascism (New Swedish Movement) and a year later went full-Nazi (National Socialist Workers’ Party).

Again, socialist.

You can’t take that word out of there.

And Antifa started as “anti-fascist” [against the Nazis, but FOR communism].

And they remain communist (leftist) and have devolved, ironically, into a fascist organization themselves (at least in America…where their tactics are indistinguishable from those of Hitler and Mussolini’s respective gangs [Sturmabteilung/SA/Braunhemden/Brownshirts & MVSM/Blackshirts/squadristi]).

BTW…IKEA was founded by a 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad.

Yes, that’s right:  he is confirmed in the above link to have been a member of the SSS [essentially the Swedish Nazi party] that very same year.

1943.

As for Lisbeth, look no further than the alleged Norwegian witch Lisbeth Nypan.

Salander.

Salamander.

Fire.

“blotches on its back”.

From mythology to the real life fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra).

Poisonous.

Europe.

Frigidity (able to extinguish fire).

But also “a product of fire”.

Newts.

Witchcraft.

Wizards and warlocks.

1966.

Disappearance of the Beaumont children (on Australia Day).

Church of Satan formed by Anton LaVey.

Moors murder trial.

Five children (between the ages of 10 and 17) murdered in and around Manchester between 1963 and 1965.  At least four were sexually assaulted.

Killer (Ian Brady) read Mein Kampf and books on Nazi atrocities.

Gertrude Baniszewski found guilty of murdering and torturing Sylvia Likens in Indianapolis.  Paroled in 1985 [American justice failure].

Charles Whitman kills 14 people with a sniper rifle from above the UT-Austin Tower (after killing his wife and mother).

September 22.

Lindwal railway incident.

Anna Karina born.

Nick Cave born.

Magda 30112.

Sara     32016.

BJ         32027.

LI         31208.

Mari    32018.

-PD

 

Murderers’ Row [1966)

Why do we watch bad movies?

Why do some films relax us?

What makes a flick watchable, yet vacuous [or vice versa]?

Panic in D.C.

World government as bogeyman.

Rightly so.

And sovereignty reasserts as to be valued.

Though we are still trying to get to the bottom of 9/11, we ask again:  is #QAnon real?

You only live thrice.

And solar terror.

Karl Malden plays the bad guy.

 

-PD

Chuck Norris vs Communism [2015)

Dear Ilinca Călugăreanu,

You have made a beautiful film.

Which the world needed to see.

And the title made me think it would be imperialist propaganda directed at North Korea.

But I could not have been more wrong.

Because Romania has touched my heart so many times.

And so I am glad to add another name to the list of auteurs.

Cristi Puiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, Cătălin Mitulescu, Cristian Mungiu…

And now Ilinca Călugăreanu.

Yes, it is only right that a young female director should bring us this story.

This documentary.

Ms. Călugăreanu, born in 1981.

Because this film is very much about the 1980s.

VHS.

Videocassettes.

And the situation in Romania.

Chuck Norris is merely a placeholder.

A meme which has undergone a certain détournement.

But there is no substitute for communism in this tale.

Perhaps, authoritarianism.

You see…

if you tell people to do one thing…and you’re really heavy-handed about it,

they will almost certainly do the opposite.

At some point.

And Ms. Călugăreanu’s very persuasive hypothesis is that videocassettes brought down the Ceaușescu regime.

And so there is very little way around this impasse without talking political economy.

First, let us address the very astute current Russian minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky.

The esteemed Mr. Medinsky has famously (?) called Netflix “U.S. government…mind control”.

Or at least that’s how The Washington Times (who needs the Post?) framed it.

But let’s investigate.

Let’s have Mr. Medinsky’s words and not just a CliffsNotes, elevator-pitch summation of them.

He says [translated],

“And, what, you thought these gigantic startups emerge by themselves? One schoolboy sat down, thought for a bit, and then billions of dollars rained down from above?”

That is pursuant to the funding which helped birth Netflix (and, presumably, other American companies with what Mr. Medinsky feels is a global, insidious reach).

He continues [translated],

“It turns out that that our ideological friends [the U.S. government] understand perfectly well that this is the art form that is the most important…”

Ahh, cinema…

And Vladimir Lenin himself knew it!

Mr. Medinsky then seems to evoke the Leonard Cohen of “Tower of Song” when he says [translated],

“They understand how to enter everyone’s homes by getting into every television with the help of Netflix…”

Leonard Cohen (God rest his soul) said it thus:

“Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor.”

Ah!

What a lyric!!

And that was in 1988!!!

So our director, Ilinca Călugăreanu, knows that of which she speaks.

Because the grip of Ceaușescu was beginning to slip.

But let’s give Mr. Medinsky one more say [translated],

“And through this television, [they get into] the heads of everyone on Earth. But [Russians] don’t grasp this.”

Ok.

Now why was Mr. Medinsky so upset?

Well, because Netflix undertook a vast expansion this past summer.

Indeed, the article from which I’m pirating these quotes (yes, translations are intellectual property) dates from June 23, 2016.

The same article notes pointedly that Netflix’s expansion into Russia, plus a vast number of new territories, means that the streaming service is now available in 190 countries worldwide.

Wait a minute…

How many countries are there, you might ask?  196.  Or 195.

Poor Taiwan, they just can’t catch a break.

So then you might say, well…what the fuck?!?

What countries is Netflix NOT in???

It appears those countries are China, North Korea, Syria, and…Crimea?

Suffice it to say, the international “community” is not unanimous in their appraisal of Crimean statehood.

Is it part of Russia?

Is it part of Ukraine?

What do the words Republic of Crimea even mean if its not an independent country?

Which brings up the specter of “frozen conflict zones”.

I’m guessing that Netflix might be unavailable in Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.

But I digress…

Because we are on to more specific matters.

There are at least two major ways in which Americans can view the Romanian communist period as it has been depicted in motion pictures.

First, Americans can sympathize with the repression of the Romanian people.

Any doubters should do a little digging on the PATRIOT Act.

Indeed, the psychosis of surveillance (which is mentioned in Chuck Norris vs Communism) could not field a more forbidding bogeyman than the National Security Agency.

And so, dear peoples of the world, would you feel more or less safe living in the same country in which the NSA is headquartered?

Exactly.

Second, Americans could extrapolate Ms. Călugăreanu’s hypothesis to mean that countries such as China will eventually implode as a result of the fulminating combination of repression and technology (even, perhaps, with a starring role for entertainment).

All of that is to say that movies COULD bring down China or North Korea or even Iran.

[Notice the non-Netflix countries…Syria is without, but apparently Iran does have the service.]

Which is to ultimately say, Mr. Medinsky’s fear is completely warranted.

What is at stake in Russia?

The fall of Putin.

A sea change in leadership.

And I will be quite frank.

There is no doubt that Netflix’s catalog is heavily biased towards globalist propaganda.

One of the most glaring areas is India.

I can’t tell you how many watery, transparent premises there are on Netflix which are some permutation of a young person rebelling against a repressive culture.

It’s almost like they’re churning these formulaic films out in a factory.

Boy marries girl from lower caste.  Mayhem follows.

Girl goes to human rights court.  Happily ever after…

Boy rebels against father’s traditional ways [read:  religion].

I mean, at a certain point it’s just pathetic.

But we must hand it to Netflix for some (SOME) of their selections.

Actually, I have found a good many gems on the site.

But it is a very biased (and historically-uninformed collection).

In general, history doesn’t exist for Netflix.

Unless that history is the Holocaust.

Then, of course, there are a plethora of scenarios to “inform” you about the Nazis.

Make no mistake (my best Obama voice), the Nazis were bad.

Really bad.

But do we need 10 fucking films about the Holocaust?

And if Schindler’s List is the zenith of the genre, God help us…

But I digress again…

Chuck Norris vs Communism is a very beautiful film.

It’s about rebellion.

It’s about the little things we do to assert our existence.

And in this case, it’s about a translator (a voiceover dubbing artist) who reached the hearts of innumerable Romanians.

Irina Nistor.

Whether it was Chuck Norris, or Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Sylvester Stallone, Irina’s voice made the dialogue come alive in Romanian.

But it was a subversive activity.

“Imperialist” films were not allowed in Romania.

But Romania was falling apart.

To take the interviewees of our documentary at their word, their lives sucked…without “video” night.

But we must be clear.

Everything (EVERYTHING) about this enterprise was illegal in Romania.

First, the videos had to be smuggled across the border.

Then they had to be copied and dubbed (voiceover).

Then they had to be distributed.

Then some brave schmucks took the risk of screening these films on their TV sets (for a few lei, of course).

But it was dangerous business.

Especially if you were the kingpin.

So it is then strange to meet this kingpin of video piracy face to face.

Zamfir.

Not the guy with the panpipes.

No, this was Teodor Zamfir.

Made a pretty penny.

But the fascinating thing (by Călugăreanu’s hypothesis) is that he completely changed Romanian culture.

The seeds of revolution were sown by Dirty Dancing, Last Tango in Paris, The King of Comedy

And especially by the action films.

Rocky, Rambo, Lone Wolf McQuade…

And so, if you want to piss off a communist (or socialist, or whatever they’re going by these days), you can go with the familiar tack,

“Didn’t they already try that?  Wasn’t it an immense failure?”

I don’t know.

But I don’t doubt the faces of those who lived through Ceaușescu.

No national cinema has been nearly as effective as the Romanian in communicating to the West just what life under communism was like.

And so Romania becomes our lens into the Soviet Union and its satellite states.

I know there are Russians who fondly remember communism.

Let’s be clear:  capitalism can also suck.

Change and upheaval can be deadly.

They say, “Watch the price of eggs” (to demonstrate how a free market dictates prices).

But we see a very similar discontent in the Middle East.

Is this democracy?

Fuck this!

Yes, America has made some mistakes.

And so we should watch everything with a critical eye.

Be your own critic.

Be like Emerson.

Be bold.

And then double back.

Waffle.

Live by palimpsest.

Because you are the ultimate philosopher.

For your life.

I can’t tell you.

And you can’t tell me.

We have to learn.

It must be the right time.

To receive a particular lesson.

I draw courage from Irina Margareta Nistor.

But most of all, I draw courage from the Romanian people.

Perhaps my country’s Hollywood crap (the stuff I took for granted) was just the stuff necessary in the dark times.

Entertainment.  Ass kicking.  Escape.

But the Romanian cinema of today inspires me beyond words.

And so let us remember, whether we are capitalists or socialists, the price paid by the people of Romania in December 1989.

Was it 1,100 people?

11,000 people?

110,000 people?

It’s troubling that nobody knows for sure.

But even if it was a thousand people.

They didn’t just get trampled by goats or run over by garbage trucks.

It wasn’t a bloodless revolution.

At least 1000 people.

They saw their moment.

They seized on a moment.

They capitalized on their opportunity.

There was something which impelled them not to just sit at home and listen.

I salute these brave souls who went out into the streets.

For a thousand people to have died, it seems rather inconceivable that there wasn’t an attempt made by the government to “restore order”.

That’s the line which can’t be crossed.

That’s when a government has lost its legitimacy.

Some stories are twisted.

And full-blown civil wars do erupt.

But it appears, in the end, that repression lost.

And repression, censorship, and heavy-handed tactics (whether adopted by socialists or capitalists) should, by historical lesson, be most strictly avoided.

It is human nature.

The people will not tolerate being treated like livestock.

And something as seemingly inconsequential as VHS tapes can tip the balance.

-PD