The World’s End [2013)

Simon Pegg is a genius.

And so is Nick Frost.

So I must start secondly by saying, “Disregard my reviews of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

I didn’t get it.

The style.

You must read an auteur in their language.

If the language is unintelligible, you can’t read them.

Now I get it [marginally].

And I love it.

This film is a masterpiece.

A deeply-flawed masterpiece (in the grand scheme of things).

But these two blokes come shining through.

Pegg and Frost.

I first encountered them in the film Paul.

I really liked them.

That film is much less of the gore.

Not part of the “Cornetto trilogy” (yes, the ice-cream cone).

But I would encourage all who can to grab a box of Drumsticks (if Cornettos be not available) and delve into this oeuvre.

I almost didn’t make it through The World’s End.

I had almost had my fill of this “comedy horror”.

But the dialogue did it.

Specifically, the scene where Pegg get the “lamp” to fuck off.

Brilliant dialogue.

These films are just funny as fuck.

And the characters are lovable.

Pegg and Frost have a great chemistry.

You know, there have been several times in my life where I’ve encountered a creation that I at first hated, and then subsequently went on to love.

One was the first Grinderman album.

It was so hyped.

Overhyped.

There’s no way it could live up to the critical accolades that I had been smothered with before hearing it.

I made it a few tracks in and gave up.

Overrated.

Waste of money.

But then I came back to it.

Gave it a second chance.

And it blossomed.

It spoke to me.

And so I would like to thank Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (and director Edgar Wright) for making such enduring creations (though they be in the guise of vacuous shite).

It takes a lot of courage to foist upon the world something as bold as the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.

I am glad I “got it” before I chunked the whole thing in the dustbin.

Just barely.

 

-PD

For the Love of a Man [2015)

What a film!

Sometimes I end with that sentiment, but I want to make sure that you take away that message.

This fantastic documentary takes a look at the cult of personality surrounding the biggest star of Tamil cinema:  Rajinikanth.

To paraphrase from one of my favorite films (Genghis Blues), Rajinikanth is like Michael Jordan, Elvis, and John F. Kennedy rolled into one.

If you live in the state of Tamil Nadu.

India.

Yes, we recently touched on Rajasthan, but let’s find Tamil Nadu on a map.

Very southern tip of India.

On the east side.

And here’s where we find Chennai.

[Which seems to be pronounced Chin-ay]

And, of course, Chennai used to be called Madras.

Now that we are caught up on geography, let’s get back to this amazing figure known as Rajini (short for Rajinikanth).

If we are to compare him to other international cinema stars, we might look to Jean-Paul Belmondo.

That great lip-rubbing outlaw of À bout de souffle.

Definitely a smoker.

Smoking those thick-tar Boyards cigarettes.

[Or so I imagine]

And sunglasses.

Rajini must always have his sunglasses.

Cigarettes and sunglasses.

Sounds like a ZZ Top song.

But for Rajinikanth, you need a big, thick mustache.

And you need a certain finesse with those props (the smokes and the shades).

Like Michael Jackson in the “Smooth Criminal” video.

Yeah!

This is India, man!

There’s dancing in the films!

The stars dance!!

And sing!!!

[Of course, don’t tell the generations of voiceover singers that]

But it is well-known.

Mohammed Rafi.  Lata Mangeshkar.

But did Rafi ever sing in Tamil?  Not that I know of.

And Lata?  I have no idea.  But it wasn’t her main language.

So let’s take a step back here…

Tamil.

By “native speakers” (70 million), Tamil is the 20th most spoken language in the world.

That’s ahead of Turkish, Italian, and Thai (just to name a few).

By “total number of speakers” (74 million), Tamil is still the 20th most spoken language in the world.

That’s ahead of Korean, Turkish, and Vietnamese (to name just three).

But what about Tamil cinema?

I’m sure it goes without saying that this is my first venture into writing about this unique slice of the world pie.

Indeed, it’s my first time even really contemplating it to a serious degree.

But back to this Rajinikanth fellow…

He’s ostensibly been the biggest star in Tamil cinema…since the 1970s!

He debuted in 1975.

His first film was in Tamil.

In 1976, he was in four films (only one of which was in Tamil).

In 1977, he was in 15 (!) films (eight being in Tamil).

In 1978, he was in 21 (!!) films (16 in Tamil).

Funny enough, Rajinikanth was not born in Tamil Nadu.

No, rather, he was born in the state of Mysore.

However, this state no longer exists under that name.

And being born in the city of Bangalore (a.k.a. Bengaluru), Rajinikanth would have been born in what is now the state of Karnataka.

65% of Kannadigas (those who live in Karnataka) speak Kannada (not to be confused with Canada).

Oddly, Rajinikanth was born to a Marathi family.

As in, people who speak the Marathi language.

So how does he become the biggest star of the Tamil people?

He indeed spoke Marathi (and Kannada) as a child.

It was only when Rajinikanth came to the Madras Film Institute (well into life) that he finally learned Tamil.

He was 25 when he acted in his first film (a Tamil production).

But I must say, Rajinikanth is a very charismatic figure.

I never finished comparing him to other actors.

Part of me wants to say James Dean, but I think Bruce Lee might be even more apt.

Rajinikanth kicks butt.  But with style!

He has moxie!

And most importantly, he stands up for the little guys.

Having been a bus conductor himself, he has played roles such as that of an auto-rickshaw driver.

And by dint of his sheer magnetism (and an almost Soviet, Trotskyist atmosphere in Tamil Nadu), he has spawned a legion of fans who await his film premieres with what can only be compared to the manic thrall of Beatlemania.

His fans literally scream their lungs out on opening nights…so happy to see their hero in a new picture.

And Rajinikanth makes but one movie every three years now.

If all of this sounds remotely interesting to you, then you absolutely must see For the Love of a Man (which is currently on Netflix in the U.S.).

Director Rinku Kalsy proves herself worlds above many of her contemporaries with this penetrating documentary.

Producer Joyojeet Pal seems to have played a very “hands-on” role as well (as a researcher for this picture).

It’s not always clear where the action is occurring in our film, but it seems that some of it (at least) was filmed in Sholinghur (which is about 67 miles inland from the coastal Chennai).

Then again, we do catch one glimpse of the actual Rajinikanth in the film…and it is in front of his residence in Chennai.

Which is to say, For the Love of a Man is very much about fandom.

And it reminds me of my own devotion to my heroes:  Jean-Luc Godard, Mercury Rev, Bob Dylan…

So I very much identified with the cross-section of Tamil society surveyed in this documentary.

Their devotion to their “leader” is very touching.

Not least, Rajinikanth seems like a very spiritual and magnanimous person.

A really generous human being.

And THAT is what really cements the devotion of his fans.

Any film publication that ripped this movie (Hollywood Reporter) must not have its head on straight.

Anyone in Venice who pooh-poohed this film needs a good spanking.

For the Love of a Man is a masterpiece.

-PD

Slow Learners [2015)

Megyn Kelly and James Alefantis.

Last night.

The worst interview in the history of journalism.

But to know why it was so bad, you must know the context.

#pizzagate

Yes, this is a film review.

Bear with me.

I would like to delineate some slow learners.

First, a group of fake news outlets:

ABC News

Salon

The Washington Post

The New York Times

The New Yorker

Forbes

Mother Jones

Second, a group of censors and their surrogates:

Wikipedia

Twitter

Media Matters *

Snopes

This suffices to give us a good start.

If you don’t want a heaping pile of BS for news on the subject of pizzagate, try

https://voat.co/v/pizzagate

or (for a great general overview)

https://dcpizzagate.wordpress.com

.

The U.S. news media are particularly slow learners.

They assured us that Donald Trump had no chance of being elected President.

Now, they are assuring us that the pedophile ring which has been uncovered by Internet researchers has no chance of being true.

And so Megyn Kelly did a very disgusting thing when she had on a very suspect person (James Alefantis) and verbally genuflected to this man for an entire segment of her vapid “news” show.

If you have an eye for detail, you will have noticed that one of the censorship groups named above (Media Matters) had an asterisk beside it.

That’s became Mr. Alefantis was the lover of David Brock:  founder of Media Matters.

Now…

Why did I single out the aforementioned slow learners (fake news & censors) and not other offending entities such as the completely worthless CNN?

Because, the biggest censor of all (Google) is telling us (by way of their search results) that the above-mentioned entities are the most popular in relation to the search term “pizzagate”.

But let us step back a bit.

We who voted for Donald Trump did not believe the vast majority of American media which told us he had no shot at winning.

Indeed, the more savvy among us understood our ostensible roles as targets in a social engineering operation.

That operation (to get Hillary elected) did not work.

And those of us who have been at this for awhile also know that the media shirked its duty on 9/11, Sandy Hook, and many other events which were sold to us as something other than what they were.

And so now the U.S. news media thinks we are dumb enough to not see through their transparent effort to cover up for very legitimate questions about the child trafficking pedophile network at the heart of the pizzagate story.

Furthermore, the U.S. news media thinks it still has power to memory-hole a giant scandal by way of a pathetic puff piece (like the one Megyn Kelly did on James Alefantis).

Two words:  slow learners.

Which brings us to our film.

[ahhh…]

The slow learners in this film have a personal rather than systemic problem.

They are dorks.

They self-identify as such.

Adam Pally does a nice job as Jeff.

But the real star (in my opinion) is Sarah Burns as Anne.

These two numbnuts are high school teachers.

Well, actually, one is a guidance counselor and the other is a librarian.

But they work at the same high school.

It is a cute story directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce.

It is a unique movie.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a masterpiece, but it’s real (unlike Megyn Kelly and James Alefantis).

Our principal players start off as hopeless rejects in the game of romance.

They start off as friends.

But they morph into monsters.

Examples?

Ars Technica

NBC News

NPR

CNN (finally)

FOX News (can Megyn Kelly…pronto)

BBC

The Guardian

Politico

The Daily Beast

The Globe and Mail

Huffington Post

USA Today

Reddit

Those kinds of monsters.

Our protagonists (much like the pedo-protecting Reddit) proceed to censor their own lives.

They censor their old selves.

The world tells them they are not cool enough.

And so they blend in.

They don’t make trouble.

They buy the latest styles.

Pretty soon, there’s nothing left of their souls.

They become thoroughly bankrupt individuals.

As our film is a romantic comedy (albeit an extremely quirky one), I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to tell you that it has a happy ending.

But our parallel case (that of the fake news media and their censoring surrogates) may not have such a happy ending.

We’ve seen what was on James Alefantis’ Instagram account.

We know that Megyn Kelly’s softball questions were completely reprehensible considering what might be at stake.

And thus Slow Learners is a cautionary tale for the global news media.

The U.S. news media is the cutting edge of BS.

But the citizens have had enough.

We know about John Podesta (thanks to WikiLeaks).

We know about Tony Podesta (thanks to WikiLeaks).

We know about the code language in the WikiLeaks Podesta emails.

We know about Tamera Luzzatto.

We know about Obama and his $65,000 of “hot dogs and pizza” .

We know about "cheese pizza".

We know about "pasta".

We know about "dominos" (whatever the hell that encodes to).

We know it's a code.

We know about Comet Ping Pong (run by Mr. Alefantis).

We know about the pedophile symbols rampant on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C.

We know about Besta Pizza.

Maybe we got the wrong Andrew Kline (a mistake in one of my previous posts), but we are still researching.

Because we see the FBI doing nothing.

We see the news media covering up.

We know about Terasol Bistro and Artisan Gallery.

We know about Buck's Fishing and Camping.

Yes, jimmycomet, we know.

We know that Facebook, YouTube, and even 4chan are censoring.

This is unprecedented.

4chan!

We know about the Louise Bourgeois sculpture and its connection to Dahmer.

We know The Washington Post is pulling old, incriminating stories about Tony Podesta.

We know that WaPo's owner, Jeff Bezos, provides $600 million in cloud services to the CIA.

We know "the Russians did it" is BS.

We know about Biljana Djurdjevic.

We know about Kim Noble.

We know about Satanic ritual abuse.

[The Wikipedia article on that topic is truly comical in its assertion that every SRA case (seemingly) has been "proven" to be "fake".  Very convenient.]

We know about Marina Abramovic.

We know about Spirit Cooking.

We know about Lady Gaga. ['bout time for Bud Light to ditch her]

We know about "chickenlovers".

We know about #killroom.

Yes, little innocent Jimmy Alefantis commented on a very suspect looking freezer with "#murder".  Yes, little innocent Jimmy Alefantis that was on FOX News.  Because his establishment was supposedly terrorized by a man with a gun.

We know about false flags.

We know about crisis actors.

We know that real news (like the links I provided above) gets buried on Google when a zero casualty event is reported on by every mainstream news outlet in the country.

And we may be slow learners, but we are the ones who go to page 26 of the Google results to find something.

And if Google screws us (which they so often do), then we look elsewhere.

We are the dorks who read books.

And your story (Messrs. Alefantis, Podesta, and Podesta) does not add up.

I will end my litany here.

We are sick of fake news like what we saw from Megyn Kelly and James Alefantis tonight on FOX News.

And as BREXIT and the Trump victory have already proven, it is you [the news media] who are the true slow learners.

-PD

کلوزآپ ، نمای نزدیک‎‎ [1990)

[CLOSE-UP (1990)]

In the name of Allah…

We enter the courtroom of the world.

Cinema.

To be judged on our veracity.

But also to be judged for our passion.

Hossain Sabzian had passion.

Here.

And his story is so similar to mine.

Maybe you feel it too?

Dear cinema friend.

Because I will have to invent a new category for this movie.

Loneliness.

Hardship.

Woody Guthrie woe.

Hossain Sabzian plays himself in this story.

It is the truth.

At least as truthful as the novels of Henry Miller.

Real life.

کلوزآپ ، نمای نزدیک‎‎

The world is under the microscope.

How would Debord start his bible about the spectacle?

With that quote from Feuerbach.

A preface as preface.

From Das Wesen des Christentums.

It deserves to be repeated in its entirety.

“But certainly for THE PRESENT AGE, which PREFERS THE SIGN to the thing signified, the COPY to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence…ILLUSION ONLY IS SACRED, TRUTH PROFANE.  Nay, sacredness is be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that [*] the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness. [*]”

Those are my notes.

My copy.

My marginalia.

I could autograph it for you.

But the words are by Ludwig Feuerbach.

Having gone through translation from German to English by Donald Nicholson-Smith.

So what?

I haven’t even named the film yet.

Or the director.

Rather, I haven’t named the film in English.

Substance has been subjected to style.

Style has no translation.

Close-Up.

By Abbas Kiarostami.

One of the few geniuses in the world.

You will find on my site the review for طعم گيلاس

Who’s reading?

Taste of Cherry.

I thought that surely no film by this auteur could top that, but I was wrong.

The depth of Close-Up completely defies what I thought was possible with cinema.

It is a shock.

I am at a loss for words regarding how much this film affected me.

It is as beautiful as a bus stop.

As poor as a paper bag.

The roses from the leaf pile are a good start.

All over the world.

We play “kick the can”.

Don’t ever let people lie to you about Iran.

What is the truth?

The truth is that there is a genius there who speaks directly to my heart…like no other.

That genius is Abbas Kiarostami.

But we must mention Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

He is perfect.

It is unbelievable.

Do you know how I would feel to meet Jean-Luc Godard?

Hossain Sabzian knows.

To meet the person who gave us hope…who depicted our suffering.

Bicycleran.

بايسيكلران

Or the blessed marriage promised long ago.

We, are on the outside looking in.

Farsi mocks us.

With its beauty.

There is a lump in my throat like a piece of coal.

Do we really care about Oriana Fallaci?

Or rather Peter Bogdanovich?

Interesting that you should ask.

At first we see Haj Ali Reza Ahmadi annoyed, but later we see him as remarkably humane.

This is the Iranian legal system.

We are told it is a civil law system.

In the name of Allah.

How does a country produce such beauty?

Hossain Farazmand.

Everyone wants to be on TV.

It must be difficult to read my writing.

Who cares if you listen?

Now that IS a quote (or misquote).

Milton Babbitt.

Twelve-tone prose.

My beloved concision.

Fighting my windbag tendencies.

It is supposed to be funny.

Like Mauricio Kagel.  Or Francis Poulenc.  Or Conlon Nancarrow.

Must I mention Satie?

Yes, I must.

In the name of Hossain Sabzian.

détournement

Making the job of the DGSE almost impossible.

Ever since the Place de la Contrescarpe.

Les moineaux?  Chez Moineaux?

Trouble makers.

Like the glorious Kiarostami.

But he left us this document.

And he lives at the young age of 75.

Yet, the Situationist is Hossain Sabzian.

Like Arthur Cravan.

But more like Erik Satie.

Life?

Life is hard.

Is it like Film International?

Or like Massoud Mehrabi?

I don’t know.

But I know someone was on the same page mentally.

Because F for Fake (my second most favorite film of all time).

That is the language of cinephiles.

We’ve lost the sound.

Fifteen years ago.

-PD

The Circus [1928)

I never learned to write like anybody else.

I only learned my own way.

Maybe, you’d say, I never learned to write.

By writing we mean literary composition.  Style.  Manipulation of prose.

I suppose I rely more heavily on poetry.

But perhaps I’m not a poet.  In the strictest sense.

I learned to write like myself.  Thanks to film.

Each film is a mirror.

I learned to analyze my emotions and thoughts.

And because I loved the films I tried to convey their artfulness lovingly.

I don’t mean to intimate that I’m going away.  Just yet.

I don’t know.  Who knows?

I only mean to express this important realization.

As today I sat down to write a novel.

Tried many times before.  Unfinished projects.  Absurdly obsessive poetry.

But this time was different.

I sat down with literary tools.  MY literary tools.

I have developed my own style (for better or worse).

Developing a unique style of anything (but particularly writing) is a tightrope exercise.

For there are times within the modern novel that the novelist must become truly vulnerable.

We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

And why make this Chaplin film suffer the ignominy of being associated with my self-panegyric?

It just works out that way.

I’m a bum, he’s a bum.

A laughing stock.

A stock character.

But I have captured the world (if only for a second).

Modern life can seem hideous, but we wield power through art.

Set pen to paper like the greats before you and know the writer’s life.

The thinking life.

I am but a shabby philosopher.

The reason why I tack these emotions onto Chaplin’s The Circus is because of my affinity for the Little Tramp.

Nothing of Chaplin’s is as shockingly good (to my eyes) as Limelight, but The Circus certainly must rank among his most laugh-out-loud creations.

Perhaps you have seen stills from this film.

Perhaps you have noticed monkeys.

Yes, it is all very hilarious.

But the best is the tightrope as metaphor.

Some “cheat” with a net (no penalty).  Others cheat with a safety wire.

In life, we really don’t know when our crutch has been removed.

We don’t realize how ridiculous we look.

Our dependence upon a thing.

And when we outgrow it we don’t realize the momentous importance of those first few moments…in which we are flying free.

You might say that I am overthinking a rather straightforward slapstick farce, but I would advise you to ponder how The Circus ends.

There is more than a bit of sad clown.

Pensive.  Reflective.

The carnival has packed up and a little guy comes into focus as the dust dies down.

Wagons rolling…

Apparently Orson Welles didn’t think much of Chaplin as a director, but on the other hand Orson Welles never made me laugh.

That’s not nothing.

 

-PD