Citizenfour [2014)

Four days till the US election.

OK, three.

But we must take a look at things as they seem.

And analyze what they might be.

I have always written about Edward Snowden glowingly.

But this film is an enigma.

If you know the history of film, you realize that certain filmmakers (particularly Robert Flaherty) presented staged events as if they were documentaries.

This is known as docufiction.

And if you have followed my take on the two US Presidential candidates (Johnson and Stein can suck it…though Stein has true credibility), you’ll know that my assessment of Trump and Clinton has been mainly through the lens of film.

What we (I) look for is credibility.

Having watched all three Presidential debates (in addition to extensive supplemental research), it has been a no-brainer to conclude that Hillary Clinton has ZERO credibility while Donald Trump has immense credibility.

The differentiation could not be more mark-ed.

[Docu-fiction]

But what about Edward Snowden?

Let me start off by saying that Mr. Snowden does not come off as a wholly believable whistleblower in this film.

Perhaps Laura Poitras’ inexperience as a filmmaker is to blame.

Perhaps it is indeed because Edward Snowden is no actor.

But Mr. Snowden is completely inscrutable and opaque in this documentary.

HOWEVER…

there is something about his ostensible North Carolina drawl which rings true.

And so there are two major possibilities…

  1. Edward Snowden is an extremely brave individual who succeeded in “defecting to the side of the public” (to paraphrase)
  2. Edward Snowden is a superspy

I had read of Snowden.  In studying what he had leaked, his credibility seemed beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Such a damaging agent could not possibly have been a Trojan horse operation (so I thought).

Indeed, the most believable part of this film is the last 10 minutes or so.

Sadly, my “copy” of the movie switched to a German overdub for this final segment.

Which is to say, I was more focused on images in the finale.

Every once in a while I was able to make out the beginning of a phrase from William Binney or Glenn Greenwald.

At all other times during this last portion, the German superimposed upon the English made the latter an almost palimpsest.

My German is that bad.

Entschuldigung.

But here are my reservations concerning hypothesis #1 (from above).

A).  Glenn Greenwald’s earliest interview after the leak was clearly shot with the skyline of Hong Kong in the background.  It is somewhat inconceivable that the NSA in conjunction with the CIA (and possibly the FBI or DIA) did not immediately follow Greenwald’s every move from that point forward (courtesy of operatives under the Hong Kong station chief of the CIA).

B).  Glenn Greenwald is a little too smooth to be believable (the same going for Snowden).  Greenwald’s sheer fluency in Portuguese (a bizarre choice for a second language) seems particularly suspect.  The credulous me wants to believe that Greenwald is simply brilliant.  The incredulous me sees Greenwald as just as much a CIA operative as Snowden.

Indeed, hypothesis #2 would be that Edward Snowden is in fact a CIA operative.  His complete calm at The Mira hotel in Hong Kong does not harmonize with a computer geek who just lifted the largest cache of the most top-secret files in world history.  Instead, his mannerisms almost all point to someone who has been hardened and trained at Camp Peary rather than someone who grew up so conveniently close to NSA headquarters.

Snowden is admittedly a former employee of the CIA.

But what could the purpose of such a Trojan horse exercise possibly be?

One strong possibility comes to mind.

As we learn in Dr. Strangelove, there’s no purpose in having a “doomsday machine” if the enemy doesn’t know about it.

In fact, we don’t even need cinema to illustrate this.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were demonstrations as much as they were mass-murder war crimes.

Weapons are “tested” often as much for the power of display as for the exercise of weapon efficacy.

But the world has always been a weird place.

And it is indeed possible that Edward Snowden is an idealistic, independent party in this affair.

The esteemed Dr. Steve Pieczenik (of whom I have spoken much recently) has lately called Snowden “no hero”.

I’m not exactly sure what he means by that.

Possibly Pieczenik knows the Snowden affair to positively be an intel operation.

Possibly Dr. Pieczenik (whom I respect deeply) merely sees Snowden as of no great bravery when compared to the men and women (both military and intelligence employees) who risk their lives on battlefields across the world…by direct order through the US chain of command.

But Dr. Pieczenik has also pointed out that some orders must be disobeyed.

That is part of the responsibility of defending the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic”.

So we have a very interesting case here.

And it directly parallels our current election choices.

What SEEMS to be?

What is patriotism?

At what point must standard operating procedures be put aside?

What constitutes peaceful protest?

Who among us has the duty and privilege to spearhead a countercoup?

I’ve often thought to myself that I would be a horrible NSA employee because I would have a framed picture of Snowden on my desk.

Suffice it to say, I’m sure that is strictly NOT ALLOWED.

But this film makes me doubt the Snowden story.

As a further instructive detail, why does Snowden (in this film) feel so confident in his ability to withstand torture (!) as a means of coercing from him his password(s)?

Again, that does not sound like a standard ability of an “infrastructure analyst”.

Snowden does not admit in this film to ever having been a field operative.

Indeed, it almost feels like Louisiana Story or Tabu:  A Story of the South Seas when Snowden drapes a red article of cloth over his head and torso to ostensibly prevent Greenwald and Poitras from visually seeing his keystrokes.

It is overly dramatic.

These are thoughts.

No doubt, someone knows much more than me about the truth in this strange tale.

And so the film is, in turns, shockingly brilliant and daftly mediocre.

In a strange way, it is just as suspect as James Bamford’s books on the NSA (which I have long suspected were really NSA propaganda pieces).

One of the keys to propaganda and social engineering is gaining the trust of your targets.

In a large-scale psychological operation, the entire world (more or less) is the target.

Back to cinema, we need look no further than Eva Marie Saint “shooting” Cary Grant in North by Northwest.

Yes, Body of Secrets (Bamford) was damaging to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US military in general (the revelation of Operation Northwoods) while also exposing Israel as a craven “ally” (the USS Liberty “incident”).

But if we are not careful, we are taken in by these juicy bits of “truth” (in all likelihood, very much true) on our way to accepting the whole book as an accurate exposé.

And this is what makes the world of intelligence so tricky.

Like a chess game in which you are blindsided by a brilliant move.

It takes years (perhaps decades) or an innate brilliance (perhaps both) to discern the organic from the synthetic in the shifting sands of this relativistic world of espionage.

I can only guess and gut.

 

-PD

9/11: Ten Years of Deception, Part 1 [2015)

I must praise the brave soul or souls at Hulu who made this documentary available through their video streaming service.

If there is a global conspiracy of greed at the most elite level of society, then those conspirators have yet to impress upon Hulu the lesson of what is arguably Juvenal’s most famous bit of thought.

America is becoming less and less restrained.

Continet.  Contains.  Contents itself with.  Restrains itself.

Who?  Se.  They.

Those who have shed their cares.  Effudit curas.  Shed cares.

Who?  Qui.  Those who.

Who what?

Dabat olim.  Once gave.

Once gave what?  A shit.

Idem populus.  The same people.

Ah!  People.  The people.

It is from Satura X.  The 10th Satire of Juvenal.  You might see it as Satvra.

Full.  Satur.

Lanx satura.  Full scale.

A full scale.  Full-scale.

It was the Toronto Hearings.  The International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001.

You’ll get a lot of stuff.

For instance, David Ray Griffin.

I have long appreciated his scholarship in the field of 9/11 research.

His books are part of my library.

You’ll also get the excellent Kevin Ryan (who lost his job at Underwriters Laboratories for questioning the fraudulent “science” of NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology]).  UL worked with NIST on their reports regarding the cause of collapse of the World Trade Center buildings (all three of them).  Ryan seems to have found any involvement in this unconscionable and thus spoke up.  Just like Dr. James Tracy (for his Sandy Hook research), Ryan’s job employment with UL was terminated.

You’ll meet hearing panelist Ferdinando Imposimato (honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy).

Imposimato was one of those who got to the bottom of Operation Gladio.

And so staged bombings have been with us awhile.

Mr. Imposimato uncovered the secrets of the “years of lead” in Italy.

The “strategy of tension”.

He uncovered that it was NATO intelligence (with a leading role played by the CIA).

Anything to keep the communists from coming to power.

So much so that the weapons caches of “stay behind networks” were put into service.  Italy bombed and terrorized its own people.  And blamed it on the Red Brigades.

To sway popular sentiment.

“Don’t vote for the communists!”

What a murderous, cynical solution to a phantom problem.

People cynically sacrificed to prevent some greater perceived threat.

And that’s exactly what 9/11 was.

That was the mechanism.

You will meet Richard Gage.  Founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

No quack.

A very articulate, serious person.

Same goes for Kevin Ryan.

Check their science.

Follow their logic.

Observe the duplicity of NIST and their politically-motivated fudging of numbers.

It is astounding!

You’ll meet Peter Dale Scott.

What an astute personality!  Former English teacher at UC-Berkeley.

Famous for research on “the deep state”.

You may not want to believe it, but sticking your head in the sand won’t make it go away.

You’ll meet Graeme MacQueen.  A Harvard Ph.D.

Serious voices.

Matthew Witt.  Professor at the University of La Verne.

People putting their reputations on the line.

Smart, studied people who have sensed (and proven to their own satisfaction through the scientific method) that 9/11 was something far different from that which was presented.

How does news become history?

Once something is reported as news, is it then history?

There are very serious questions surrounding 9/11.

I cannot name all of the figures in this documentary, but ponder these:

-Cynthia McKinney (one of the only trustworthy politicians to have emerged in recent memory)

-Lance deHaven-Smith (a Florida State professor whose contribution to this documentary is priceless)

-Jonathan Cole (whose questions get at the heart of the mythical 9/11 “state crime against democracy” [a term coined by deHaven-Smith])

-David Chandler (whose beard is as impressive as his mathematics qualifications)

I highly recommend this documentary to all who value what remains of liberty.  As the filmmakers make clear, many scourges of humanity can be traced back to the false narrative which followed quickly on the heels of the 9/11 events.

Judge for yourself whether the evidence presented supports the hypotheses of these researchers.  As is no doubt evident, I concur with most of their conclusions regarding this sad event.

 

-PD

Pickpocket [1959)

Writing about film makes you appreciate the film.

You think.

What will I say about this picture?

This succession of pictures.

Sounds.

And so silently you ponder the ways to express true genius.

And how lucky we are to witness true genius.

It’s true.

The Criterion Collection has brought us many films which otherwise might have been forgotten.

Film didn’t begin with The Godfather.

It doesn’t end with Citizen Kane.

And so we need to see the other stuff.

We need to hear voices from outside of America.

Hollywood is international, to be sure, yet everything which enters there leaves marked.

It is a sentiment which Godard expressed in his magnum opus Histoire(s) du cinema.

And this is the other stuff.

Robert Bresson.

You might only know Henri-Cartier Bresson.  Don’t stop there.

Robert Bresson was the master of taking non-actors and capturing their vitality on film.

Pickpocket does justice to Uruguay as much as did Isidore Ducasse (which is to say, completely).

Martin LaSalle, a young Urugayan-French actor in his film debut, plays the lead role here of the pickpocket Michel.

LaSalle’s eggshell acting is essential to this masterpiece.

Yet, it is director Bresson who brings the ballet of crime to life.

Yes, it is like Orson Wells doing his magic tricks in F for Fake (his magnum opus).

Indeed, everything has an art.  Even crime.

And as paper currency disappears from the industrialized world we see the migration of subway thieves to the ether in an attempt to pilfer Apple Pay “money”.

Yes, I’m afraid that soon everything will need quotes around it.

Perhaps I just don’t understand.

But, there is an art to everything.

Take accounting, for instance:  the most boring subject invented by human beings.

And yet, there is an “art” to it…I’m sure…somewhere…deep, deep down inside.

But Pickpocket is of a different era.

Perhaps computer hacking and financial calculator operations require a certain finger dexterity, but nothing like the prestidigitation which Bresson brings to life in this film.

It is a noiseless ballet of lifts, drops, catches, exchanges, etc.  Buttons flicked.  Buckles finessed in one motion.

It reminds me of the one true line in Goldfinger…perhaps the only genuinely cinematic moment in that film (though I love the other 99% pulp)…

Delivered by the title character, as played by Gert Fröbe, it goes a little something like this:

“Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor… except crime!”

Ahhh…the rolled Rrrrs of that final word.  Like H.W.’s brief year at Langley.  Like Kissinger at Iron Mountain.  Ah!  But here we run into a problem.

Hoaxes.  Like Sandy Hook.  Like Hani Hanjour.

And will Donald Trump have the balls to read a book?  Perhaps Webster Griffin Tarpley’s 9/11 Synthetic Terror:  Made in USA?

I doubt it.

Is Trump a provocateur or merely provocative?

Because if he shot his mouth off a little more pointedly he’d have my vote.

And I would stand with my immigrant brothers and sisters every day to see Dick Cheney take the stand.  Under oath.

And Philip Zelikow.  Under oath.

And Donald Rumsfeld.  Under oath.

And Larry Silverstein.  And Rudy Giuliani.  And Richard Myers.

Somebody else did it?  Then you got nothing to worry about.

Unravel unravel unravel.

Because Trump is wrong about immigration.

And Bernie Sanders is right about Snowden.

And I don’t like Trump or Sanders.

But Trump is the only one even tangentially touching on the real issue:  truth.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Off the rails. Film review.

C’est la vie.

Conspiracy.

Don’t mind me.

I will just go back to watching films.

Go back to sleep.

Nothing to see here.

-PD

The Lady Vanishes [1938)

Sigmund Froy.  Was it all just a dream?  The word conspiracy comes from a Latin root meaning, “to breathe together.”  A quick Google search might uncover a Warhol print from 1969 with essentially the same message (over a lithographed photo of the electric chair from Sing Sing).  The poster is a relic from an art auction and sale held Dec. 11th of that year in Chicago at the LoGuidice Gallery “for the Conspiracy Defense.”

This would refer to the Chicago Seven (including Abbie Hoffman).  [N.B.  They were otherwise known as the Chicago Eight until Bobby Seale’s trial was made separate.]  Charged with conspiracy, they were found not guilty of this crime.

Alfred Hitchcock was an expert in conspiracies at least as early as 1938.  If he had made no other films than The Lady Vanishes, he should have been remembered as fondly as Murnau, Lang and Dreyer.  This film is that good!

I didn’t think it so the first time I saw it.  I found it rather dull in fact.  But the talent is there.  This was Hitchcock’s last British film before moving to the U.S.

Margaret Lockwood really is lovely and talented in this strange tale.  The Gasthof Petrus which more or less serves as our beginning locale is filmed with such warmth.  It is really a nimble touch which conveyed this coziness in the fictional locale of Bandrika.  It must be somewhere near the Republic of Zubrowka.

Charters and Caldicott are an amazing caricature of British society.  The two cricket enthusiasts avoid getting involved in anything that would delay their return to the Test match in Manchester until they absolutely are forced to face the facts.

Dame May Whitty is really amazing as Miss Froy.  She was 73 when this movie was made.  What a remarkable achievement!

Michael Redgrave goes from being an obnoxious, seemingly-spoiled musicologist to the saving grace for Lockwood’s dizzied character.

The first death in the film seems rather comical.  A serenader’s song is cut short by strangulation.  We assume from the comic tone of the film that perhaps a Gasthof guest had had enough and went Herbert Lom on the poor fellow.  What we don’t find out till later is that the song was a code…and dear, sweet, innocent old Miss Froy a bona fide spy.

Hitchcock uses some interesting effects in a lovingly magical way reminiscent of the spirit which grew from Méliès’ earliest experimentations.  The effects come as Lockwood’s concussion takes effect aboard the train.  A flower pot intended to knock out Miss Froy instead had landed on Lockwood’s unsuspecting head.  She boards the train anyway, but soon passes out.

Froy.  It is a moment when silent film returns to have its vengeance.  The train whistle is piercing and Lockwood cannot understand the name of her new companion who has so sweetly looked after her since boarding.  The clever spy nonchalantly spells her name in the dust on the train’s window.  Froy.  It will remain till later in the film when it appears just long enough to refortify Lockwood’s belief that the dear old lady had indeed existed.  When the train, at that point, passes into a tunnel…we assume that a waiter in on the conspiracy hurriedly erases the trace.

Once tea is done, the two ladies retire to their cabin (which they share with a rogues gallery of ugly mugs).  Lockwood slips off to sleep.  When she awakens, her grandmotherly friend is gone.  All in the cabin maintain that there never was a little old English lady there.  Lockwood begins to think she’s going mad.  In fact, nearly the whole train is in on the conspiracy.

Human nature is explored in fascinating detail as we see the few people who could help instead choose not to.  They might, none of them, ever end a sentence with a preposition, but far be it from any to venture outside their cozy little selfish worlds to bear witness to someone’s mere existence.  And so Lockwood must go it alone until Redgrave takes up her cause and one becomes two.

A fake Miss Froy is boarded at the only stop.  She is not at all the type…more like a Yugoslavian weightlifter than the dainty Froy we’d known.  Lockwood doesn’t buy it.  As Lockwood and Redgrave dig for clues, they get a little too close to the truth when then find the old lady’s broken glasses in the baggage car.  A fight ensues with the supremely spooky magician (one of Lockwood’s car mates) Signor Doppo.  Dispensing with him after some trouble (a knife fight), they gradually become haggled by a certain Dr. Hartz.  Hartz, a truly ghoulish figure, doesn’t arouse the suspicion of the pair until it is too late.

Leave it to a nun in high heels to give away the game.  By the way, whatever happened to those nuns on the police scanner at Sandy Hook?

The nun turns out to be an indispensable help to the sleuthing couple by dint that she has patriotic reservations about killing a fellow English woman (Miss Froy).  She turns out to be saintly in spite of not being a nun.  On this train she is darn near a literal whistleblower.  She even refuses to spike the brandies which were to be Lockwood and Redgrave’s essential demise (immobilization).

Such great character actors all around…  Philip Leaver as the magician and the cricket chaps:  Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford.  The latter two (Charters and Caldicott) went on to appear together (as the same characters) in three more non-Hitchcock films including Carol Reed’s Night Train to Munich (1940).

In conclusion, this film is highly recommended…not just by me, but by the million Mexicans in the hall!

 

-PD