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past
  • 308271.1724

     

  • 308264.0810

     

  • 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. 

  • 308244.2209

    Strangely, almost nothing. Both propaganda by death are desperate yet well-planned attempts to lure the West into a multi-regional war. A first and second attempt to set off WWIII, acts of provocation very similar to the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand one hundred years ago this year. The progression here is from dispersed terror group guest to an Islamic state, to claimed state-level government, however fleeting on these geographic terms, it has a source. The question becomes, why be lead into the first? And was it a feint, was the invasion of Iraq a distraction from the true targets? Fundamentalism within Saudi Arabia, Militancy from Pakistan. Strange, no? We attack a country that enforces sexual equality and religious secularism, true it is a Sunni totalitarian state (Iraq) yet so is a Sunni kingdom with oppressive laws for women and a legal definition of witchcraft that sometimes ends in a death sentence. Diplomacy increases in complexity, are the coming wars symmetric? If not, admit them, assign the internal conflict a name. The east-west divide between Saudi Arabia and pre-invasion Iraq. Something like detente or lynch-pin.

    A recent incoherent op-ed by the distant architect of multiple military coups over democratically elected officials (including Pinochet over Allende), Kissinger now writes as if converted to the fantasy view of democracy of Bush 2, not the strern real politik he practiced when in office. The facts are: most world state borders of the 'developing world' are arbitrary, many designed for external colonial concerns, in the aftermath of war. To enforce most of them one needed enforcers, and that's what the West backed, not democratic or parlimentary systems. Each state, no matter its origins, needs a central bureaucratic authority. The fragmenting of power in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and now Libya caused their collapse since they lacked properly defined transitions to power. It's time to teach global realities. A bureaucracy comes before all other realities. If one is shattered, then the country may shatter. Colin Powell's mythic words to his President have come true: "If you break it, you own it." 

     

  • 308171.2324

  • 308157.2123

    This taut exercise in Blockbuster reductionism-revisionism is the best film of the summer. Actors and gestures of the golden age of blockbusters meet their younger generation in flip-mode. Aliens's Bill Paxton graduates from grunt to sarge (the squad seems cloned private by private from the Sulaco's), while usual leader-like Cruise enters cowardly, praying he'll just survive the day. Restaging Normandy starring Joan of Arc over and over even loads a perverse comment on the immutability of anniversaries by way of timelessness. Here everyday is D-day. Edge's Joan is Rita, a name copped from Groundhog Day inhabited by an actor from a recent looping film, Emily Blunt, who managed to avoid any loops in Looper. Here in Tomorrow she's a recent looper herself.  Although the filmmakers keep the plot as simple as possible, they let the overlap and gaps in the repeat let us fill in the blanks for much of the film. Certain mutations are seen on their first go around, others on the umpteenth, and that's how the weaving gets us, we don't know where we are in the loop numbers (and neither do the other actors). We're in Cruise's Private Cage's drama, whose keeping some kind of headcount, it's his 'film.' Unexplained arrivals are left just that, that's where the film's magic sits. When we piece together the logic, the audience guesses Cage can't succeed unless he goes off-the-grid: the humans (likewise us audience members at first) don't have the imagination to realize Cage's value vs. the alien Mimics inability to use the gift of their own being, and maybe the human adds the transporting, multiverse simultaneity. Maybe it's something about the infection: Cruise is bathed in mimic blood causing a human trigger, the dna, the cell life of his begins a repeating as a chain reaction of the poisonous meeting between both's composition, a 'broadcast' (remember, everyone who repeats is shown only in his proximity...his 'aura' is sustaining this new path). The resultant contrast, how Cage is treated on arrival at the first lair (far behind enemy lines, also involves a liquid, though it's Cage who chooses his, he drowns himself instead of allowing the Mimics to drain a slow death) contrasted against the hunt on him and her after stealing a choice weapon: Liman's stating pretty bluntly that innovation has enemies on both sides. Realizes the in-between is the only smart place to fight a war of time from.The Mimics feint their head honcho as a lure, it's their stopgap that Cage barely grasps the set-up in time. These touches like the Dam-lure verge on abstraction proving Liman's ability to slide underexplained phenomena into what seems to be a pretty straight story (despite the daily loop, the narrative pretends to be videogame simplistic). Creativity is about riding a particulary dangerous edge with unlimited outcomes. The best part is the cake-and-eat-it ending, which plays coldly impossible at first, but slowly worms around in the gray matter pushing a profoundly cinematic impact. The crescendo's Spielberg ape (from the very parallel War of the Worlds) is its funniest homage, you realize Cruise was meant to be reborn. It's some aura he's earned, and now it's more popular in export than stateside.

    When will the scourge of 3-D post-conversion be over? This film is FAR SUPERIOR in 2-D.

    Addendum: Somebody wrote and asked why Looper was never reviewed here...except in rare cases like Edge, overt time-travel flicks never seem to support their weight in ideas. For all the cleverness in Looper, each chess-move creates far more holes. Go to the basics in the story. If a young looper erases his escaped elderly version by dying (demo'd at the end), why create Old Seth's body-part subtraction game in the second act? Just kill him, right? You're not letting noseless Seth go off to finish out his life. But of course, that erases the film's choice gimmick of messaging-by-scar. Now take the ending at face value: if the 'Rainmaker' was so all-powerful, instead of his focused goal killing loopers in revenge, wouldn't he have just sent a team to head off his mom's death? Time is obviously mutable in the film's logic. The loopers that headline then become sub-plot players in a story centralized later on Mom-saving. The implications there are far more absurd than the play we're shown (and might have lead to a more adventurous film). But Johnson is wedded to his genre-stablizing version, with the self-Oedipal conflict posed by 12 Monkey's Willis vs. Young Joe strung out against a parody of Matrix-like 20th century crime tropes. Imagine a showdown using four timeframes converging instead of the three we're shown. That's the loop we should have seen breaking. A son that didn't need saving against a backdrop of two versions of the same person fighting for an identity, one of whom wanted to save that son. There's a far nuttier movie hiding in the dry logic of Looper. And beyond plot and structure, there's the retrograde females in the film: strippers, mothers, waitresses and idealized saviors. That's the residual effects of Lynch on the generation, a fifties view of gender stuck to millenial anxieties. This isn't Kubrick where women's roles are explored through male collapse, here they're ecclipsed. Johnson has the storytelling skills for the decade, he knows how to build ghastly tension, but his overall approach peels conservative, maybe even nostalgiac. And the trouble is it's both conscious: the time-travel expediency, and unconscious: the calcified gender roles. 

    rebuttals go to info@mstrmnd.com

  • 308153.2358

     

  • 308121.1410

    Muesum of the Moving Image's Mizoguchi retrospective has all the usual suspects, and the rarely seen, including Miyamoto Musashi, a stark 51 minute tale of the legendary ronin who invented two-sword combat. Banned from view by censors in 1944, Miyamoto's brutal confusions of justice (clarified in one stroke at the end) were underlined by emergent feminism that worried the leadership. It hinted women might be the next bearers of arms in a population rapidly depleting of men. The plot's best left to the film, but this short film directly follows the four times longer 47 Ronin, a massive hit in a war suffused country. Where 47 Ronin was restrained, court-intrigued, this is roadside violence. A must see despite the 16mm print. A real rarity.

    http://www.movingimage.us/visit/calendar/2014/05/10/detail/musashi-miyamoto

     

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miyamoto_Musashi

  • 30868.0001

     

  • 30866.1759