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  • 307133.2224

    Not a new body but an old corpse given new life, MAD MAX:Fury Road is the transfused return to the fierce blast of Road Warrior days. While the swagger of Mel is reborn in Charlize Theron to lesser effect (she's a better shot), New Max Hardy creates another character separate from the Gibson cocktail of blunt gamey charm, his new embodiment revels in self-hypnosis. Gone is the gambler who smirked when given one more chance to survive (though only he sees the way out, to the audience he's finished, old Max reveled in nihilistic pride). He only seemed suicidal. Hardy instead looks intimidated when he has to read lines, though he's mastered the physical aspects fine. His one chance at redemption is smashed when he bungles telling Theron's Furiosa his name. He mumbles it like he's in love, but he's really more concerned she'll die. (Yes, movies are made pantheonic or not at these little moments of discovery). The only time he apes Mel well is when he sets out in a blue mist to confront a hotrod on tank tracks following them. And that bit of Mad Max is left offscreen, as if we, steeped in the Mel Max of yore have to imagine a leather clad Gibson trapping the machine and slaughtering its occupants. It's the summer of 1982 all over again except off camera, and only for a moment. The thing to remember is all that madness in Road Warrior's 1982 kinetic highway slaughter was done-in camera, trapped by celluloid. Here, what's really there and what isn't is arbitrary, decided not all by pre-planning, but by Miller's choices and the limits imposed by rendering cash. 

    Miller, for all his digital knowhow, still has the mind born in the optics of filmstock. The movie's gripping qualities come from his coarse, non-digital panache with tighter lenses that toggle the mayhem inside the cabs and their adjacent threats. It's throwback disarray that had to be solved on the KEM, then the AVID and now the render. Not letting go of his shooting style gives the audience a taste of what kinematics was. He's in there somewhere between the lavish 3-D effects he's labored over and the blunt kinetics he shot on location. First conceived as an animated film, Fury Road drifted into live-action probably out of budgetary necessity. That's where the flashes of inspiration come from, from Miller's new anime mad-man side. The photographic stuff is pulpier, like a bright graphic novel. It has a flatness the landscape effects don't. It's at these moments you forget you're looking at binary bits up there (see above, the war rig annoited by light); you can almost sense the chemistry once tasted by eyesight. A must see... anyway, and only in 3-D.

  • 307129.2133

    Seymour Hersh's detailed autopsy of the official tale of the death of Bin Laden, if true, dissolves the common view: a brilliant piece of detective work aided by torture - capped by adernaline soaked early morning gunmen. Instead in Hersh's account there are no stacks of hard drives and techies, just a few diaries. No courier to lead them back to the compound. All that hardnosed analysis and groundwork was an illusion in the CIA's myth. In his telling, there wasn't even a risk for the Blackhawks crossing the border from Afghanistan. UBL's sale was approved by Pakistan Intelligence and given wide berth, including team passage across radar monitored areas. In Abbattobad, Bin Laden was carefully watched, and wasn't allowed to lead any underground. The city is, after all, the intelligence community's second residential city. And now, it seems preposterous to think the mastermind of Al-Queda would hole up in a military elite locale like Abbattobad: in Hersh's narration, the city gave him up. On the night of the raid, the neighborhood Bin Laden resided in had its power shut off, surrounded by families tied to the inteligence and military academies. Obviously Bin Laden would never have chosen to be here. Nor was he even a moving target. According to Hersh, Bin Laden was no longer spry, but a man in bad shape healthwise. The strangest of all is that Bin Laden was sold by a walk-in to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, and that his presence, though never verified visually, was easily proven from DNA samples by a team of American investigators housed in-country for the op. Price for the intel? 25 million reward fee and the op's cost. And a cover story was planned, pinning Bin Laden to the Hindu Kush mountains. Scheduled to emerge the week after. Problem? The copter crashed, and was potentially ruinous to the cover story. So Obama rolled the dice and got reelected. 

    With Hersh's story more than likely plausible, running through Zero Dark-Thirty means living inside a CIA fantasy version of it. One concocted, even triangulated through two ex-SEAL accounts of the raid. The weirdest part would be the alternate version that comes out about now, if the Blackhawk had never bonked. Hersh would be denouncing a far more effective story, set in a remote, empty area of mountains, and telling us about UBL's Abbatobad compound, which would sound ludicrous and absurd. And at that point, it would be long erased by bulldozer.

    Here the myth is far less believable. And makes us wonder, how did we even start believing the story of a master terrorist, hiding in plain sight, never viewed.

    footnote: The guards surrounding Bin Laden were ISI (Pakistani), and were there 24/7. They were told once they heard the roters coming to split. Bin Laden was left unarmed for the raid. 

     

  • 307128.1211

    As a mythology, the Marvel Universe is theraputic. It's here to help us (the U.S.) process the aftermath of 9-11 and the subsequent wars we sought vengeance through. Nobody really misses the point with a group of security obsessed, tight-wearing superheroes proclaiming themselves "Avengers." What are they avenging?

    In mythology, murder and destruction are taboos made sacred by the sacrifices of the protagonist: with the primary scarifice being isolation. Nolan's Batman is the only comic book character in motion who enacts this violence as ritual. He is a loner by nature and though he's rescued by sleight of hand by the end of Rises, we believe he dies alone.  The Marvel Universe, however, has its lead serial Iron Man announce his identity as a mission statement. These heroes aren't going to hide, nor will they brood too much. M.U. insists on blending 1950s values of family (Guardians and Avengers, Parkers vs. the Osbornes) and sex-roles with taboo carnage and death so that none of the outcomes can be read as sacred. Instead a false family is born, a criminal family not unlike other families that practice violence in myth (like the Corleones). They are somewhat empty tales, usually ignoring the psychic role violence plays, and so they erase the sensations of collective responsibilities from audience minds. Why are they here suddenly, and why are they so successful? The films are essentially mental degaussers that absolve resposibilities for the carnage we've turned loose on the world under the guise of liberating dictatorships in the past 15 years. We are the empire, share this moniker with the other world powers. We practice warfare without sanction, kill chosen by drone. And we seem to be unaware of how this is perceived on the world-stage. And the Marvel Universe might help us to remain blind to our self image. Certainly the last Avengers was a 'world-stage' battle.

    Time for new mythologies before it's too late.

    Some back-up: Damien Straker's Ultron review http://www.impulsegamer.com/avengers-age-of-ultron-3d-film-review/

     

     

  • 3079.1838

    Edward Snowden is revealed as the leaker of the N.S.A.'s convulsive and monumental data collection capabilities. Hearing him wax about Web 1.0 buys the whole enchilada in the gambit. Listening into a brief analytical speech about how metadata is spawned between the linking of your transportation ticketing to your credit/debit card gives everyone a ground level view into the software's mortar. Our 'freedom' vs. what's never really mentioned: an attempt to built an A.I. for oraculation and prediction purposes, dominantly in the service of a vast military network. One that attempts to head off minute miltary events, while far greater populations die from disease, starvation, you name it. Billions if not trillions spent to create the ultimate totalitarian listening service inside a democracy. And that leads to a basic question: can governments really continue to grow if they're paradoxical Januses? Statistically, this is the real prequel Terminator film (it fits the Matrix too), and Snowden is the first John Connor/Neo archetype, instead here he's fighting a ghost of a machine that can't materialize as yet, it its place is The State.  He can live in redoubt, somewhat safe from the drone capabilities of U.S. forces. He's deadly serious, possessing a will to match world leaders. The direction is restrained. A must see.

  • 308359.0917

    Manucher Ghorbanifar was an arms trader during the heady days of the Reagan administration. The Executive Branch fiasco known as "Iran-Contra" was led by men who devised a new import-export system for dangerous times: the exportation of U.S. arms (proxied by Israel) to Iran and the importation of hostages (proxied by Iran) from Lebanon to the U.S. A scheme so elaborate it was bound to collapse, exposed by a dissident within the Iranian ultraconservatives who despised the two-faced nature of the realpolitik. Manucher was both duplicitous, failing every lie detector test the CIA gave him, and indispensible, rehired after every failed test to continue his shady work. Was he an Israeli agent or an unaligned profiteer, history has been unable to solve the puzzle of Manucher...

  • 308312.2216

     In one area above all, the failure to improve is especially egregious: education. Schools are, on the whole, little better than they were three decades ago; test scores have barely budged since the famous “A Nation at Risk” report came out, in the early nineteen-eighties. This isn’t for lack of trying, exactly. We now spend far more per pupil than we once did. We’ve shrunk class sizes, implemented national standards, and amped up testing. We’ve increased competition by allowing charter schools. And some schools have made it a little easier to remove ineffective teachers. None of these changes have made much of a difference.

    suroweiki on the new yorker

  • 308255.2158

     

    This helical book, struggles and always succeeds in contrasting the perceptions of 2001 with our later cautious distance. As many events as possible are demythified one by one. A psychic process of flipping the sacred and relabeling it profane.  It reads far more like Kafka than any Kafka book, showcasing freely talking suspects who are then put into torture conditions who then tell their torturers everything they want to believe, and then some. Non-existent ties to Iraq are suddenly strong connections to Al Queda, a non Al-Queda security person (with little allegiance to Bin Laden) later pretends to personify a jihadist. A suspect thought to be the number three man in the group's hierarchy is discovered, after lengthy hospitalization and subsequent waterboarding, to be a mentally ill, delusional travel-agent for terrorists with little operational knowledge. A judge rules the Marine base at Guantanamo as beyond the legal reach of the US on a technicality, allowing the government to perpetually hold suspects. A man in Guantanamo so old the guards name him "Santa Claus Queda." The book exposes our chaotic and lackluster ability to see clearly in times of great stress. Of multiple pivots that hinged world diplomacy together, the US blew away many that connected east and west, isolating itself, largely from the reactions to Bin Laden's planned strikes. Like a drunken, paranoid thrown off by a bottle hurled at it from a crowd, the US is punching in the dark. Here's the manic proof. An FBI Agent almost jokes that he's trying to prevent "an airplane being flown into the World Trade Center." In his custody is Zacaraious Moussaoui who asked to simulate 747 flying without ever having flown a plane.  A microbiologist, sent an FBI questionaire to help identify possible anthrax suspects, fingers USAMARID pathogen scientist Bruce Ivins. A former stalker of hers, whom she suspects defaced the sidewalk with her sorority letters, Ivins happened to call her weeks after the anthrax events after having not spoken in 13 years. The FBI dismiss her suspicion, because: "Ivins was the researcher they'd brought all their evidence to." The PENTTBOM and anthrax cases might have been the most preventable and solveable events in a system of merely normal detective work. Beyond the detective work are the judges, who skirt precedent after precedent. Spine chilling laxness is viewed in the corridors of power, where information is used purely in the service of warmongering, rather than pieces of evidence that required confirmation. A will to believe in 'evil' conjures our own mask of evil.

    A must read in these very times; get a grip, and group us against only the atrocities, not the unilateral mistakes all superpowers make. 

  • 308235.0450

     

  • 308213.0809

    About ten minutes into Guardians of the Galaxy, I began to get the queasy feeling I'd seen Chris Pratt before. Some anonymous feeling of deja vu (never watched an ounce of Parks and Recreation). And then it hit me, he's the generic SEAL #2 from ZD30... whoa. And then the whole melange made sense...Marvel is a memory remix studio, it makes a 'future' (really a present) ONLY from memories. It doesn't invent the new psyche, a way of mashing things to craft something 'new,' merely rehashes anything it can get its hands on to propel the audience 'forward.' Which is really a backwards for us. Wisecrack references, purple haze, one-hit wonders, colored skin on Zoe Saldana, this flick is just a greatest hits from our web surfing memories, framed out by a frat boy phantasy phasing out as poster art. A drunk party so lethargically plotted, it slid from set-piece to set-piece on some regulated beat structure from the deified producers in their abstract control towers.

    Fortunately these two can finish the job of putting the body into the cooler>

    Andrew O'Heir's Salon review  http://www.salon.com/2014/07/30/guardians_of_the_galaxy_marvels_goofy_exhausting_and_faintly_fascist_new_franchise/

    Damian Stryker's breathtaking takedown of the Marvel conditioning that's going on in theaters everywhere,

    http://www.impulsegamer.com/guardians-of-the-galaxy-3d-film-review/

  • 308177.0746