Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Wind That Shakes The Barley: Revisiting a Contemporary Classic

So I couldn't sleep and was perusing the Instants for something to watch that I'd already seen and didn't have to really pay attention to and have the sandman sleep me away. Boy did I make a mistake. I had seen The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) when it first came out, was very impressed and then sort of forgot about it. Big mistake. It's one of those quiet lightning films. Very much a historical epic, and told so matter-of-factly and with such bravado, directed by the absolutely brilliant Ken Loach, The Wind is up to par with cinematic classics like Schindler's List (1993). 
Director Ken Loach on set. 
Ken Loach could very well be the best English filmmaker of our time. And I say this with great difficulty because I am a huuuuuuuuge Mike Leigh aficionado, I can't sing his praises enough, and yet Loach always seems to have that subdued fire that elevates a film from interesting to unforgettable. Here's the irony. It's a film about Ireland's struggle for independence and it's directed by a British guy. Not Neil Jordan, not Jim Sheridan, a dyed in the wool Brit, and it couldn't be more visceral and more honest. That being said, Loach has been around for quite a while, slowly permeating his cinematic style. They should have a makeshift word called 'Loachesque' because his aesthetic is as unique to a filmmaker as someone like Fellini. British directors like Steve McQueen are trying to somehow imitate it, but nothing can quite compare to the rawness and the guts that Loach brings to his cinema. 
The birth of the IRA
Back to the film. It's 1920, and the Irish uprising is boiling under the surface, particularly in the small provincial towns where men and women are terrorized constantly by the Black and Tans. A 17 year old kid is brutally beaten to death because he wouldn't say his name in English only in Gaelic, which ignites a guerilla spirit in the towns people including two brothers Teddy and Damien O'Donovan (Pádraic Delaney and Cillian Murphy respectively). They decide to become militant and now there's no turning back. It's full on guerilla warfare, and it's absolutely brutal. Now you might think you know about the struggles in Ireland because you listened to a Cranberries CD and watched that Michael Collins film back in the day, but Ken Loach shows you how it ALL went down, and he leaves no stone unturned. There are scenes that are downright painful to watch, and you know what? They should be. It's a piece of history that needs dramatization, and no film does it better. 
There are many films about the IRA, none quite so honestly reflect its infancy and the dedication it took for these Davids to defeat the Goliath of the British Empire to win the Republic back for themselves. 
There is literally no break for the audience, which I usually hate, because Lars Von Trier does that and I tend to find that selfish. If you make a film like Dancer in the Dark (2001) at the end of which every audience member is contemplating different ways to kill themselves then you didn't make the film for your audience did ya? But I find the relentlessness of this film to serve a greater purpose. It brings the violence, the pathos, and the eventual redemption to that much higher of a cinematic plane. Basically it makes it stick. And though the film is sans happy ending (I mean why should it have one?) It's about the IRA not Norma Rae (hey that rhymed), there is a sense of relief the audience receives in the end because they all now feel that they've lived through a painstaking two-hour history lesson and now they actually know some shit. 
Damien (Murphy) faces the firing squad while his brother who has betrayed him, Teddy (Delaney) pleads with him to give up names of his resistance movement which he ultimately refuses to do. 
Some films are meant to entertain, and some are meant to educate usually the latter we group into the documentary pile. But with Ken Loach's guidance and his cinematic realism the likes of which we haven't seen since probably Rossellini, there seems to be very little difference between what actually happened in the hills of Cork, Ireland almost a century ago and how we see it dramatized for filmic purposes. There is absolutely no suspension of disbelief here, and that is very much intentional. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2006, it deserved it, it's on Instant it's been there forever, if you haven't seen it, first of all, shame on you, second of all go do it! 

Trailer below: 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Immigrant Bores...Weinstein Company was Right

Marion Cotillard as the down-on-her-luck immigrant in limbo, Eva.

Never thought I'd utter those words. Harvey Weinstein still strikes fear in the heart of everyone who's ever worked in Hollywood, or fucking heard of the movies. But here's the thing. With Jeremy Renner's new film Kill the Messenger (2014) coming out, he's been talking into a lot of microphones about how the release of his previous film; The Immigrant was 'frustrating' because the Weinstein company kept it on the down low, despite it making the rounds at Cannes, and other reputable film festivals with critics actually comparing it to the work of Elia Kazan...was it though?
The three principles all have new movies, big ones, slated to be released this year. Marion Cotillard has the gritty emotional drama Two Days, One Night (2014) which had its US Premiere at the New York Film Festival about a woman who is at risk of being fired from her job if her co-workers unanimously decide on a raise, the ever-confusing but undeniably talented Joaquin Phoenix has the long-awaited and highly-anticipated Paul Thomas Anderson epic Inherent Vice (2014) based on the incendiary Thomas Pynchon novel, while Renner has the aforementioned Kill the Messenger (2014) which looks halfway decent and is marketed as Renner's best performance since The Hurt Locker (2010) ...we'll see. 
Jeremy Renner as Orlando the Magician who steals Eva's heart and does a lot of Houdini-esue illusions. Really reminds me of a Turn-of-the-Century GOB Bluth...magic DOES exist!
I just hope that The Immigrant was a misnomer in all of their careers because it was more dull than paint drying. It had a very interesting premise; a young Polish woman who's sister gets stuck on Ellis Island during the Great Migration at the turn of the century so she turns to a life of prostitution on Manhattan's Lower East Side in order to raise money to have her sister released so they could start a new life in the land of the free. Joaquin plays her pimp/father figure/predatory but lovable mentor and Renner plays his cousin who's a low-level magician with a kind heart and a boner for Eva (Cotillard). 
For actors of this caliber, all of which have been nominated for Academy Awards, (Cotillard won for La Vie en Rose) I was not expecting such subdued, banal performances. It's as if the Absinthe the characters drink throughout the film was real and they were always 10 feet under water. 

A lot of this film is two talking heads being stressed about things and talking about money. We get it. Maybe throw us some existential crisis about the irony of the American dream...or is that too advanced?
With a low budget as this film had, there is opportunity to make it dreamlike, surreal, and whimsical, but what we have a case of here is more on production design not enough on performance and story. The story is highly predictable, and rather pathetic. Poor Marion who has always played strong women who have had to overcome unsurmountable odds totally fails in her weepy, pity party performance. And Joaquin can barely talk. Maybe he was trying to channel Brando, but literally, I had to watch this with subtitles. Renner actually gives the most heartfelt performance there is but that's really really not saying much. I totally understand why the Weinstein Company's decision to give this understated watered-down version of Kazan's America, America (1963) a limited release because they didn't want to deal with the inevitable drop in returns because it is a snoozefest, despite having really excellent material to work with. It's now streaming on Netflix Instant, and people involved should be thankful for that. Watch it if you must. If you have to take a nap half way through, that's totally understandable. Trailer below:

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Evolution of Jennifer Aniston's Hair on Friends

Ok well, everyone from Buzzfeed to the goddamn New York Times is paying tribute to FRIENDS considering today marks the 20th yes, 20th anniversary of the airing of the 1st episode after which, TV was never the same again...feel ancient yet?
I remember we fell in love with so many things, and incorporated them into our culture, style, and lexicon, but perhaps none was more significant than that of Jennifer Aniston's hair...later to be known as 'The Rachel'. A few things to preface this. Thing 1: The Rachel didn't actually come into popularity until Season 2, when it was properly blow-dried and quaffed for the show. Thing 2: The Rachel was actually an accident because Jennifer (being broke at the time) asked her friend to cut her hair with a razor for the show. Don't you just love those? Thing 3: The Rachel was just one look, but whatever happened to Jen's hair (which was a lot) she was able to rock it. So here we go, a celebration of Jen's beautiful locks throughout 10 Seasons of FRIENDS!

This is actually how Jen wore her hair throughout most of the 1st season, very little is done to it, and because the show was on a shoestring budget (if you can believe it) the character of Rachel Green was written as someone (whom though spoiled) was very 'dressed down and casual' as you can tell by her very 90's casual wardrobe. 
Now this is where 'The Rachel' comes into being and turns into its own character. I remember I got one too and the stylist totally cut it wrong and mine looked like shit because at 10 I couldn't properly use a blow-dryer. Seriously, I can't even tell you how many of my friends went through the same thing. All it is is blow-dried layers. And yet none of us could get it quite as cute as it was on Jen.
This is Season 3 Rachel, and probably the hairstyle I dislike the most. It's not awful, she just outgrew the Rachel, kept the layers and dyed her hair auburn, a color which does not look too good on her. Keeping with her casual roots, and a style that frames her face, but it was more or less...blah.
By season 5, some drastic changes can be seen in darling Rachel. Jen had shed a considerable amount of weight and dyed her hair way more to the blonde side of things (both good moves) and had grown out her quaf even more so that now she didn't have any layers and the locks just fell off the wayside. It's actually how I've worn my hair for years now. 
As you can see, not much changed in Season 6, but a lot of viewers wondered how the hell she was able to grow her hair that long in that short period of time. Well, they were extensions she decided to keep from her role in Rock Star (1999) And they looked pretty damn good.
And by Season 7, good gawd! She chopped it all off! And returned more so to the Rachel than she'd been in years, and you know what even with a little pixie-bob kinda thing going on she looked fabulous, though she called it a 'big mistake'.
In Season 8, Rachel get's pregnant, and her hair grows out a bit, it reminds me of the times her hair was boring and you know whatever...but as ever, she rocked it. 
By season 10, when Rachel was working for Ralph Lauren, and a fashionista, the writers had to not only give her a wardrobe but a hairstyle that matched her now elevated tastes. So They went full on sandy blonde with the color, and put some streaks in there as well, and also (Gasp!) gave her bangs, and in my opinion, it's an awesome look. These days she's even blonder, so come on, it's true people...Blondes have more fun!

Below: A very funny clip and in my opinion one of the hottest looks Jen's had.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Great Balls of Fire: Bring Tennessee Williams Back From the Dead

The man, the myth...
Maybe it's just me, but being on social media as much as I am, I've started to notice some kind of weird trend. Everyone seems to be quoting or alluding to the late great playwright and I'm sure it's some kind of bizarre coincidence but it really got me thinking. The last time we saw a revival of perhaps arguably the greatest American playwright's work was over 2 years ago with 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' with miss no-press-is-bad-press pretentious cunthole Scarlet Johansson as Maggie the Cat. 
Yes, there was a revival of his most famous and world-changing play; A Streetcar Named Desire (in my opinion the greatest American play of all time), but no one saw it and the revival stank. 
There's also s re-boot of 'The Glass Menagerie' with Zachary Quino (I shit you not) but I'm not even going to go there. I really think the problem is that people don't understand the work of Tennessee Williams anymore. With all of the BS the millenial generation has thrust upon us, his work seems somehow dated and archaic. To which I reply; that's some shit to the bull. Yes, all of his place take place in the deep Delta south, yes all of his plays deal with homosexuality and the ambivalence that stems from it, yes all of his plays are melodramatic and violent, but what the hell man? We could you some homosexual ambivalence and melodramatic violence in our personality annihilating existences. 
In a culture where public figures (particularly women) are on a constant quest towards self-destruction like Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian, wouldn't it be better to instead take a page from Blanche Dubois' book? Now there's a person who truly loses everything, and there's a person actually worth crying for. At least stop casting young up-and-comers to emote in some of the most emotionally difficult material ever written. 

ScarJo in a promotional poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2012)
Here's someone who paid perfect homage to the scribe; Woody Allen. With his film Blue Jasmine (2013), everyone instantly knew that it was a take on 'A Streetcar Named Desire', by plot, character, and well...everything in between. This is nothing new of Allen, he did this with many a film. Match Point (2005) was a reboot of his earlier film Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Love and Death (1975) was an homage to all things Ingmar Bergman and Dostoyevsky, so on and so forth. But the difference with Woody is, he's bright. And he really gets the material.

The parallels between Jasmine and Blanche were too great to miss. 
He knew absolutely how to adapt a play that is let's admit it, somewhat dated, and make it completely new and compelling, and couldn't have cast it better, and the Academy will back me up on that. Hashtag suck it. 

The film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) with a very young Brando (whom let's face it owned that fucking role) and Vivien Leigh who...did the same with hers. 
I say it's time to bring Tennessee to the masses once again, not just in the rickety seats of Broadway theaters, but everywhere. I know that's a blanket statement, but just try it. Incorporate it into your lexicon, you'll be surprised at how much smarter if not a tad pretentious you sound. I remember on an episode of Bravo's Southern Charm (please kill me) one of the men uses 'The Glass Menagerie 'as a metaphor for a girl he lost in his youth, and everyone is giggling to themselves because he's using the metaphor totally wrong. But hey at least, he alluded to it. That being said, he IS Southern, they probably know a lot more Tennessee Williams allusions than the rest of us, and there's nothing wrong with that. So as I said, there's more and more of him popping up. And that's always a good thing. When I first discovered him at 19, I consistently and consecutively read every single one of his plays and some I still know by heart. So if you haven't, get on that. It still sizzles with sex, mendacity, deceit, sensuality, and that pungent smell of magnolia in the Summer twilight. 

Stuff below...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Anaconda Don't Want None Unless it's Nicki Minaj

Like any of us could pull off that outfit at the gym.
A new video gem by Miss Weird USA, Nicki Minaj went viral the other day breaking the earlier Vevo record held by Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball, getting 19.6 million viewers within the first 24 hours of being posted. And when I mean viral, this might be the first video to actually give you a virus.
It samples that classic anthem of the early 90's that was everyone's guiltiest pleasure; Baby Got Back by the best-named rapper in the biznax; Sir Mix-a-Lot. Now, knowing the musical stylings of Nicki Minaj, hearing this song, I knew it wasn't just going to be a lame remix of the undertrack. She does take it to a whole other level, and when the video 'popped' up on the youtubes, every man in America had to hall ass to the Apple Store for new keyboards.
Not only the song, but the video harkens back to the good ol' days of bizarre novelty rap and over the top nail-on-the-head videos that came with it; as in Sir-Mix-Alot bustin' rhymes on a giant ass and bananas colliding with peaches. Oh how subtle, Sir knight.
All of that stuff is still there, but ever the envelope pusher, Nicki stepped it up a notch and a half. Unlike her pudgy somewhat repulsive predecessor, Nicki has a body that was built by 13 year old boys in a laboratory. You see her in any outfit you're like daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.
Boy toy named Troy, used to live in Detroit...
So why not sample a song about big butts when you've got the most curvaceous one in fem-town? All the double entendres are there, but you mix in Nicki in a jungle theme like she just walked out of Britney Spears' VMA I'm a Slave for You performance, sweaty and lucious, you've got yourself a winner. Oh and btdubs. THAT'S WHAT I CALL TWERKING.
Oh and who makes a cameo in the whole thing? Labelmate Drake who's job it is to sit in a chair while Nicki dances all up on him like no-one's business and not get an erection. I'm not sure that mission accomplished.
And she cooks! (or performs colonoscopies) 
It's hard for me to believe that people like Nicki exist sometimes. Not only is she extremely talented and creative, but my gawd. That body is so fierce I feel like I have to watch her videos through a hole in a plate. You go girl, I am on board with all of your future endeavors. Thanks for saving us from the plight of boring music and overly emotional music videos (talking to you, Miley) and reminding us what fun feels like.

And now, for your viewing pleasure...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Best and Worst Dressed at the Emmy's Don't Expect Any Sympathy People

This year was so polarizing I mean the list should be called the fabulous, and the ones going into the ninth circle of hell. Let's Start with WORST shall we? As always, in no particular order. 10 and 10 here we go.

Anna Chlumsky in Zac Posen. What the hell seriously? Why is this dress so ill-fitted and reminds me of a nun's habit? Anna and Zac I am disappointed.
Kaley Cuoco in Monique Lhullier. Monique is an absolute favorite of mine, her Bridal collection is to die for in fact a very lucky friend of mine just made a purchase there for her upcoming nuptials (am I jealous, of course!) Anyway! This happens to look like prom night at Coachella. 
Kate Mara in J. Mendel. J. Mendel is so hard to fuck up on the red carpet. He is basically the go-to when you don't know who to wear. I can't believe Kate is this misguided. That dress is suffering from multiple personality disorder. 
Katherine Heigl in John Hayles. First of all...who? Second of all. I had no idea Katherine Heigl was 62 years old. Beige satin, really???
Kerry Washington in Prada. I have tears in my eyes putting her on this list. Kerry has one of the best bodies in Hollywood, but this homage to Orange is the New Black made her look about 5 sizes bigger than she actually is, and that weird sequin booty short thing sticking out of the slit is just ridiculous. Get it together, Olivia Pope. 
Louise Roe in (again) Monique Lhullier. Leave her dresses for the wedding and stop wearing them on the red carpet. Bunched-up skirts NEVER win mmmkay?
Michelle Dockery usually stuns on the red carpet with that fair skin, perfectly arched eye-brows, and a body that just won't quit, but what't his poorly-fitted, horrible color schemed, foldy Rosie Assoulin dress that washes her right out? She looks like Employee of the Month at American Airlines.
And yet another stunning British actress who needs to fire her stylist. How do you possibly fuck up dressing Natalie Dormer. Apparently when you put her in this weird duo-mermaid gown from 5 seasons ago by J. Mendel (AGAIN!) it's actually not that hard. Was it off the rack?
Mayim Bialik in i don't know the designer, but I'm assuming Laura Ashley or Lilly Pulitzer threw up all over her. She wanted to look 'hot and holy' I'm sorry to tell you Mayim, but you're neither.

And let's end the Worst list with the dress that made us all reach for a red hot poker to stick right into our eyeballs. What. The. Holy. Fuck. I just don't even have the words, and if I did, I think this blog would have to be taken down, because if I clean up what I have to say about this, it wouldn't even make sense. Just profanity, profanity, profanity and profanity. Lena Dunham I hate you, and you look horrible. When not even Giambattista Valli can help you, lay down honey, you're dead. 

OOOOOF. That felt good. Ok now, for a change of pace, here are the BEST!

The girls from OITNB must really love Christian Siriano, but let's face it Samira Wiley looks great in anything, even a tan jumpsuit. 
Sarah Hyland is acting extremely mature for her age in this very interesting crop top and ball-gown skirt by (again) Christian Siriano. He's definitely winning this season. 
Amy Poehler in Don O'Neill. A barely heard of designer made this 42 year old mother of two beat out most 20-something's on the red carpet. Who said that funny women can't be stunning?
One of my personal favorites of the night, the stunning Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier. This woman has fabulous taste. Another funny girl who proves she can turn serious heads wherever she goes. Masters of Sex FTW!

January Jones usually royally fucks up every red carpet she sets foot on, but she stunned in this Prabal Gurung red number. With so many reds on the red carpet, this one was definitely the no-contest winner, and Prabal Gurung, being the next it-boy in haute-couture did not disappoint. 

And now for my favorite look of the night, on anyone else it would have tanked faster than the Titanic, but ol' 40-something Julie Roberts proves that she can still rock a pair of Louboutins and an Elie Saab on that show off those crazy legs of hers. You go girl.
Lucy Lui in Zac Posen. Now Zac darling makes most best and worst dressed this year, though it's hard for me to imagine dressing a woman poorly, but this one he hit out of the park. I'm loving the off-white and it's the perfect shape on someone like Lucy. But where's her 'fucking Birkin?'
Let's here it for those OITNB hotties that outside of their beige jumpsuits stun on the red carpet. But still surprised people are wearing Christian Siriano. Doesn't matter, Uzo Aduba is ridiculous, what a pleasant surprise. 
Julianna Marguilies was fabulous in this Narciso Rodriguez number which I have to admit I haven't seen on the red carpet since the late 90's. Also, this is kind of a shout out to my girl Dominique who works on The Good Wife. I still can't believe Julie hasn't won an Emmy since she was on ER, again putting a bunch of 20-something's to shame.

Everyone's favorite blonde-girl inmate at Litchfield prison, Taylor Schilling doesn't have to try hard to look amaze-balls. But with a little help from my personal favorite designer, Zuhair Murad, this look goes a long way.

Friday, July 18, 2014

It’s Been a Year Since Spring Breakers and What Have We Learned?

Ok I jest it’s actually been a year and a few months, but still, since the cataclysmic world-altering event that was James Franco’s grillz first hit American theaters and mainstream America finally knew who Harmony Korine was. But has the earth appropriately shattered? And with the talks of a Spring Breakers 2 already abuzz on the internet, will our perception of the best thing that ever happened to the 21st century be ruined?
Anyway, back to life lessons.
Point #1: Now everyone not just Silicon Valley hipsters know who Megan Ellison is, as more than just the eccentric daughter of Larry Ellison. Suck it, Silicon Valley?
Point #2: The Disney channel is not just one giant black hole of mind-numbing content and jail-bait and can actually produce genuine talent. I know, I was shocked too when I found myself saying the following; Selena Gomez can act, ya’ll.

Point #3: St. Petersburg, Florida is a toilet.

Point #4: Where did Gucci Mane’s ridiculous face tattoo disappear to? Was it ever there in the first place?

Point #5: Rachel Korine is married to Harmony Korine, you guys

And finally, let’s wrap things up with the man that encompasses the most important life-lessons of all, Mr. James Edward Franco of the Palo Alto Franco’s is a Renaissance man.
Let's face it folks, and fellow Columbia students who saw him walking the circumference of Dodge Hall smoking two cigarettes in his mouth, fiddling with his smart phone and then falling asleep in class. Maybe he had just shut off that part of the brain that actually does stuff so he could meditate on further projects...Like perhaps reading the script of Spring Breakers in that labyrinthine craziness that is his mind. Anyway, no one would give you any kind of argument if you say that James Franco completely stole Spring Breakers for himself, so much so, that he could stand head and shoulders next to his directors like they both contributed equally to the outcome. Most of Alien's dialogue, mannerism, and general debauchery was ad-libbed and conceived by Franco himself (case and point the sucking a gun like a dick scene as well as the infamous 'Look at my shyyyit' speech). Alien is truly one of the greatest anti-heroes in contemporary cinema.

But lets please give credit where credit is due. This film is the brainchild, and the labor of love of longtime contraversial director Harmony Korine. But let me back up. There are two kinds of iconoclasts in the film world, ones who do it in the face of art to break rules in order to make their own artistic artistic statement which almost always comes of preachy and pretentious, and then you have a real iconoclast like Korine; 

He breaks the rules because it's in his bloody nature. It is completely impossible for him to make a film that is not completely his, and just his aesthetic and talent are so out of bounds of anything, they force him through his art and process to not only break the so-called rules, but not to give a shit when they are. He's a real whistle-blower, devoid of pretension and personal gain or loss. He just wants to make a film damn it, it's really that simple. And when he does, it's pandemonium. Critics are ripping their hair out deciding whether to like it or pan it knowing that when a Korine film comes out, you better be en pointe considering no one likes to be the unpopular voice in that cannon, not even Armond White. But the one thing that's sure is that whether achieving any kind of indie box office success, the film culminates with instant cult status, and films haven't done that since the 70's...or Verhoeven. The wild success of Spring Breakers (2013) is just proof of how multi-faceted Korine has always been. Not only can he make a quirky bizarre indie cult hit a la Vincent Gallo, but he can make it a huge commercial success considering its modest budget and also make it the film du-jour of not only snooty New York intellectuals but right down to your average, run of the mill, dumb it down teenagers. He had us all saying 'Look at my Shyiit!' He has impacted not only as a film industry but society as a whole with his free wheelin', devil-may-care attitude and proletariat filmmaking approach that shakes us, provokes us, and ultimately makes us deeply admire his spirit, and an aesthetic that danes not to take itself seriously at all and yet still maintain a serious impact with its precedence. I smell honorary Oscar.

Fun stuff below

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Enough Already! (A Prayer for a Better World)

It’s beyond difficult for me to write about the tragedy at UC Santa Barbara and that is why I’ve avoided it for so long. My mother, on the other hand, could not stop talking about it. When I first heard about it, I am ashamed to admit I was rather blazé. Considering that there’s a school shooting in this godforsaken country an average of twice a year, and after the immeasurable tragedy at Sandy Hook in December of 2012, I thought, along with many others that it could not possibly get any worse. In fact, I was at a point of giving up on society, and not in a superficial pseudo-philosophical Dostoyevsky kind of way, in a profound way that blackened my heart. I was too young to fully understand the gravity of 9/11 even though I completely absorbed the ramifications and the profound changes it had on our nation as a whole, but when I was 28 and was sitting in my cubicle with a co-worker running towards me asking me to tune the TV in the lobby to CNN because of a school shooting, and then watching as our entire office of over 200 people crowded around it, listening to sniffles and cries from the girls, and exclamations of disbelief from the men, I was changed forever.
What kind of world are we actually living in when something like this happens? I don’t want to compare it to something like shellshock after two of the greatest wars in human history that both took place in the 20th century, but I felt like a soldier who had spent years in the trenches and upon being furloughed had no idea how to assimilate back into culture once again because to me, there was nothing left of value and goodness to care about or fight for. We could march in the streets protesting the 2nd amendment, ring our fists in the air and demand change from the administration and then go home and eat our dinner with our family. And that’s the true horror of it all. We bare witness to atrocities everyday in our lives. Atrocities that could have been prevented. And we say ‘oh how horrible!’ and then go on about our day, thinking that one day there will be change, one day we’ll hit our bottom, but after Sandy Hook I realized there is no bottom. It’s an endless spiral into the abyss to where we as a species have no means of rescuing ourselves from apathy, selfishness, and discontentment.
So when Elliot Rodger rampaged through the dorms, sorority houses, and campuses of UC Santa Barbara, I had almost expected it, but what I didn’t realize was the absolute abhorrent nature of his act. There are certain atrocities we as reasonable people will never fully understand, but Rodger made sure that he gave us a play-by-play account of exactly why he was going to do what he did, like it even mattered. In his tapes, he actually feels that he is not only justified but a martyr for his cause. It took me right back to an incendiary incident that captivated the heart of the nation back in the 1920’s that most of us never lived through but we had definitely heard of.
In 1923 two young and rich lovers, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in Chicago kidnapped the son of a family friend and brutally murdered him after luring him into a park. They did so for no other reason than they thought they could. They, like Rodger believed themselves to be the reincarnations of the Nietzschean Superman, in which laws, morals, and ethical codes no longer apply. The superman lives by only his own rules because he is an ‘enlightened’ being, a being of absolute power who exists on a plain above the rest of humanity. If they were indeed Supermen then the notion of being caught for this senseless crime never entered their minds. The crime was in itself a means of proving to themselves and each other that they were indeed what they claimed to be. Alas, they were not. Both were arrested and sentenced to death. The trial is infamous in that the best defense attorney in America at the time, Clarence Darrow (who famously defended John Scopes during the ‘Scopes Monkey Trial’ and won) decided to defend Leopold and Loeb pro-bono and rather than enter a plea of not-guilty for which they would have definitely been hanged, he submitted pleas of no contest, not even by reason of insanity, instead arguing that capital punishment in this case was unconstitutional and won. Loeb was killed in prison, and Leopold died after being paroled in the 70’s.
But unlike Leopold and Loeb, had Rodger survived his murderous rampage, no attorney would take his case for a billion dollars.  With his half-baked manifestos and Youtube rants, he proved to be nothing more than a deranged lunatic with delusions of grandeur, and a deeply dangerous inferiority complex, not to mention the worst manifestation of sexual frustration.
The question becomes not that which we keep asking ourselves; which is ‘how do we prevent this from happening?’ because it will continue to happen. I’m sorry to say that, but we fight and fight for change and yet nothing really changes. As evolved as we think we are, nothing really changes. In truth, as John Locke or Emanuel Kant would have put it, and to a greater extent Machiavelli; is that we as human beings are born with a darkness in our soul. We are conditioned to put ourselves first, to thrive in our selfishness, and drunk with the idea of being better than the person next to us. It is very likely that Rodger took that idea of being ‘supreme’ just like Nietzsche hypothesized and took it to atrocious and unimaginable conclusions. What is supremacy anyway, and what is entitlement? Entitlement, like respect is earned. And therein lies the sexual divide.
He skewed his entitlement towards a particular psychosexual conceptualization that Freud would have a field day with. As a woman, it’s hard not to be completely sickened by the rants and raves of such a subhuman mass-murderer believing that his actions are to be blamed on women at large considering the few he came in contact with never paid attention to him like it’s our fault as a species. What we have to remember is that there is no one to blame but the perpetrator. Another paramount thing to remember is that when a cataclysmic event that changes and reshapes our culture as we know it forever, the way towards ramification and rectification of it is not to superficially find superficial things here and there that we think we can fix, because there will always be people like Elliot Rodger. There will always be those who’s mentality is so perverted and skewed that are capable of afflicting the worst atrocities on the human race. What we can do is take a long hard look at the progress or lack-there-of that we’ve made because as much as we say ‘never again’ there will be an again, it will just be under different circumstances. If history has taught us anything it’s that. Every murderer, subhuman monster, and deranged lunatic will always affect our culture, and we as victims will try our best to cope with the damage done. We need no longer to be victims. All that can really be done individually is to take responsibility for our actions and hope that we set an example for the next generation based on empathy, brotherhood, and affection so that future generations learn from that and hopefully utilize those aspects that make us actual supreme beings in our ability to give love rather than inflict hate. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

My McConaissance has had a resurgence….Fuck

McConaughottie as Palmer Joss in Contact (1997)

Alright alright alright, I thought we were past this. He won his Oscar for Dallas Buyer’s Club (2014) where he played a skeletal cowboy suffering from AIDS opposite Jared Leto who also won, and to whom I had ALWAYS been attracted. Matthew basically stayed under my radar. He had a Southern twang that just didn’t agree with me, and I was never a fan of True Detective because I don’t fancy myself a pretentious ass who knows more about philosophy than I actually do, also I’m a girl c’mon. Last year, after the Cumberbitch fog had lifted, the McConaissance was in full swing, he not only dominated the headlines for his virtuoso film work, but for his TV work, where he basically plays that same guy we see in every tv show, and did something all actors do to get noticed…they get ugly. For Dallas Buyer’s he lost close to 45 lbs. As Tiny Fey called it ‘or what actresses call being in a movie.’ 
As the completely emaciated Rob Woodruff, a role that won him the Academy Award. Suck on that, Christian Bale.
As for True Detective he gave himself a ridiculous fu-manchu mustache, and a celebutante-inspired messy and loose ponytail. I would have said to go whole hog and grown a mullet and knocked out a couple of his front teeth, but that might have been a bit much. And through it all, every woman in America was getting to throw her panties at the tv and started to pretend she cares about The King in Yellow.

Rustin, the man, the myth, the chain smoker.
So yesterday, Sunday, the day that I don’t move at all except to extend my hand for the remote, SyFy decided to play a cruel joke on me. They decided to air back-to-back blocks of the film Contact (1997), you remember that one serious film McConaughey before he was typecast a slightly goofy stoner with endless barrels of Southern charm? He plays some kind of ‘scientist’ whose title they clearly made up for the film, because there’s no such job in astronomy…I think it’s like a spiritual analyst of extra-terrestrial phenomena...whatever. 

44 and CUUUUUT! Don't ever change, McConaughey.
Anyway, he falls in love with renegade astronomy maverick Jodie Foster who's character just won’t roll over and die damn it, which is I guess a good thing because she starts to pick up a bizarre noise on her ginormous headphones that are linked to about a football field full of giant satellites. But anyway, that’s like the plot and everything, but what’s really worth it about the film is watching a clean-shaven McConaughey play it straight as a PhD astrophysicist. I mean I’ve never seen an actor stretch so much, where else has he done anything remotely like that in his acting career or otherwise. I love how we have to buy him as smart and then just a year later he’s arrested in Texas for playing the bongos naked and stoned. Atta boy. That’s the McConaughey we all know and love. Don’t ever stop being ridiculous Matty. We’re laughing with you not at you, also I sent you massage oil a few weeks ago, did you get it? Because it doesn’t seem like you’ve been using it.