Rightwing Film Geek

How French of her

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Before this year, the only actors to win an Academy Award for a performance in a foreign-language film¹ — Sophia Loren and Roberto Benigni — were Italians. Last week’s awards saw the first French performance to win an acting Oscar — Marion Cotillard for LA VIE EN ROSE. If these past few days indicate the character of French thespians, I hope there won’t ever be a second.

Marion Cotillard is a 9/11 (Un)Truther. (And that may not be her nuttiest bit of paranoia — she sure doesn’t believe “everything they tell” her about man landing on the moon, either).

plane.jpgHere is the interview in French. Here is the translation by the Times of London:

Marion Cotillard: I tend rather often to take the side of the conspiracy theory…. I’m not paranoid. It’s not paranoid because I think that they lie to us about an awful lot of things: Coluche, 9/11. You can see on the internet all the films of September 11 on the conspiracy theory. It’s fascinating, even addictive.
They show other towers of the same type that aeroplanes have run into and which burnt. There is a tower, in Spain I think, which burnt for 24 hours… It never collapsed. None of these towers collapse. But there (in New York), the thing collapses. Then afterwards you can talk about it for a long time. The towers of September 11 were stuffed with gold. And they were swallowing up cash because they were built, I gather, in 1973. And to re-cable all that, to modernise the technology and all of that, it was much more expensive to carry out the work than to destroy them. …. Did man ever walk on the moon ? I have seen a lot of documentaries on that and really, I wonder. In any case, I do not believe everything they tell me. That’s for sure.

To paraphrase Orwell, there are things that one doesn’t *answer.* No serious person expects actors to know their ass from a hole in the ground. And no serious person expects anything from the French, particularly une artiste, except America-hating terrorist-loving tripe, the nuttier the better. Kathy Shaidle has a line to dismiss the psychopaths at Du and Kos — “if Bush is Hitler, why aren’t you a lampshade?” In that same spirit, Marion, if the US government were as you think it is, killing 3,000 people on its own soil to save the cost of rewiring a couple of buildings, why hasn’t it rubbed you out for exposing this? If it were as evil as you seem to have no difficulty entertaining, it could even cover up its involvement in your murder. If you really, truly believed this, mon cherie, rather than stating it for the sake of posturing, you wouldn’t be filming in Chicago.

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March 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 17 Comments

Japan, be a state

Speaking of the delegitimization of force (in the name of passive-aggressive guiltmongering, the “force” of our time) China and South Korea are protesting visits to a shrine to Japan’s war dead by its prime minister and likely-designate. If I were Japanese, I’d give them the raspberry. This is no more that Bush (or Clinton) visiting Arlington National Cemetery. And this is not made different by matters of the justice of WW2 per se … love of country may be carried to excess, but hatred/shame/guilt of country leaves you with no country worth loving at all.

What the Chinese and Koreans want is for Japan to cultivate its national self-image and attitude toward history, in as “hatriotic” a fashion as possible, thank you very much. That’s unnatural — and not coincidentally, it also happens to be the narrative that China and Korea propagate for the purpose of their national “muthoi.” In other words, it’s imperialism by other means, remolding Japanese into thinking like good Chinese or Koreans.

My favorite quote in the Reuters story is from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. Keep in mind this is a regime that still considers Mao Tse-tung its founder, so see if you can avoid detecting the whiffs of the Little Red Book, both in rhetorical style and concepts:

Dealing with the history problem based on a correct view of history will be to the benefit of both the Japanese and Chinese peoples.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

America … fuck yeah

Another blow to my lifelong ambition to become a US Marine badass. Apparently too much fandom for TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (it made my Top 10 in 2004) will get you in hot water with the leatherneck brassnecks.

Last month, Cpl. Joshua Belile has been hounded by the Jihad enablers and assorted liars for “Hadji Girl,” a song which proves again (years after Salman Rushdie, and shortly after the Danish cartoons: available here) that Muslims have no sense of humor.

The song’s hook “Dirka, Dirka, Muhammad Jihad” is taken from the Trey Parker and Matt Stone film (which all by itself should indicate that this is comical), an unapologetically jingoistic film, with one of the greatest monologs (the first quote here) in movie history, not only a masterpiece of creative obscenity and extended metaphor, but a political philosophy akin to Chapter 17 of Machiavelli’s “The Prince.” It’s no surprise that it’s a hit with US troops and bunches the panties of the CAIRs of the world (I wrote it about the song/film here and here). Best excerpt:

It’s also clear to anyone who knows anything about the history of war songs and war stories that soldiers have always engaged in gallows humor and sick jokes, partly from “brutalization” (not a bad thing within limits, BTW; we want warriors to be “harder” than civilians) but also partly as a way of dealing with the constantly-made-imminent fact of the men’s own mortality. At the very start of Western civilization, Homer tells dry jokes about how some soldiers “have the black fog descend upon them,” including one sequence in THE ILIAD where he compares a Trojan being speared through the jaw to a fish trapped on a hook. Nor is this confined to soldiering; all professions have humor, within the stakes of that profession. I have never worked in a newsroom where you couldn’t get at least a knowing smirk with a reference to lines from Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” (“The boys in the newsroom got a running bet: / ‘Get the widow on the set / We need dirty laundry’.”) In a boxing movie called THE SETUP, all the “red corner” fighters share a single dressing room, and one guy who’s just won his fight is telling everyone else in graphic detail about how he worked over his opponent, mercilessly punishing his “soft” stomach and ribs. A green young lad getting ready for his first fight has to flee the room to throw up, causing the victorious fighter to ask in a puzzled manner: “what’s the matter with him.” Sick humor in a life-and-death situation is simply letting off steam; there have never been soldiers in any war who haven’t done exactly the same thing, only outside the glare of scrutiny by the Cambridge-Hollywood Axis.

But I was thinking that maybe Cpl. Belile should sing the song in the presence of Algerian badboy Zidane; I doubt THAT confrontation would end with a headbutt. And if Zidane can’t take trash talk on the pitch without (potentially, at least) costing his national team the frickin World Cup — well, maybe he should take McCloud’s advice and take his penchant for headbutts into the pro wrestling ring (we haven’t had a good French villain since the latter-day Andre the Giant).

July 11, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hate, Actually

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LOVE ACTUALLY (Richard Curtis, Britain, 2003, 2)

Why did I even bother to see LOVE ACTUALLY? Upbeat heartwarming chick-flick romances are not my favorite genre, but even if they were … good gawd, is this fat hunk of English toffee sweet. It is so relentless in its desire to be upbeat and happy and uplifting and “the feel-good film of the year” that I was reaching for the insulin. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to go out and kick a baby or strangle a puppy to de-treaclify your system. It’s like Ren & Stimpy’s “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song, only played straight.

LOVE ACTUALLY has about 10 romance-plot strands, brushing lightly off one another — Hugh Grant as Prime Minister, suppressing his hots for a staffer; Colin Firth falling for the Portuguese maid with whom he can’t speak; Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman as a married couple, with Rickman sorely tempted at work; Laura Linney unable to connect with the guy she has a crush on at work; Bill Nighy as an old star recording a Chrtistmas hit; a British loser goes to America because all the chicks are hot and love a British accent; two nude body doubles; a man has an unrequited crush on his best friend’s wife; Liam Neeson plays a stepfather whose 11-year-old son has his first crush shortly after his mother dies; meanwhile, Neeson pines for Claudia Schiffer. (I may be forgetting, or repressing, some others.)

If that sound like too much for a 130-minute movie, you’re absolutely right. Some pruning away was needed. The individual plots are completely underdeveloped (avg: half a sitcom episode each) and thus nothing gets a chance to surprise us. Every last frickin one of those threads end happily — OK with maybe one kinda exception. But that’s the one that doesn’t get tied up well at the end — making the film’s last 20 minutes a truly toxic piling on of one more coming-together, one more reconciliation, one more successful meeting. The fact that eight different plot strands are all being resolved happily one after another after another (and in two different public meetings) makes it seem even more relentless and grimaceworthy than it might otherwise.

lovelincoln.jpgIt’s bad enough that an engagement between two people who can hardly speak a common language is treated as a great triumph worthy of triumphal trumpets on the soundtrack, but having Liam Neeson get together with Claudia Schiffer is just Cruelty to Audiences. Even getting a kiss from an unavailable love is treated as cathartic (imagine Emilio Estevez driving away from the snow cabin in ST. ELMO’S FIRE for a sense of the emotional falseness of this movie). And when LOVE ACTUALLY has a church funeral, as dictated by The Hugh Grant Romance Template, it’s for someone we had never seen alive, so there’s no emotional investment (death is SUCH a downer; like the Director said in THE PRODUCERS: “The whole third act has got to go; they’re *losing* the war.”). But more than that, the dearly departed supposedly prepared a snapshot video of her life to “Bye-Bye Baby,” a piece of Bay City Rollers bubble gum. I didn’t imagine that even the Church of England was that liturgically advanced. The whole script is like MAGNOLIA as rewritten by Up With People and Norman Vincent Peale.

I can already hear the objections — “Victor, this is a romantic fantasy. It’s not meant to be realistic.” Except that LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE AND ACTUALLY EVEN MORE LOVE tells you the opposite right away. It begins with pictures of people hugging and a narrator telling us that “love actually is all around us” and says you see it most clearly at the arrival gate at Heathrow. And the film ends with several of the plot strands coalescing at that airport terminal, and then the film subtly goes from its characters hugging and smiling and to those “real people” doing the same, and then a greater and greater number fill the screen. This film could not be more explicit in telling us it is a slice of life, something real, and that is simply an evil lie. Unless one’s idea of a slice of life is for a British dork to show up at the first bar he finds in Milwaukee, be surrounded by four supermodel-lookers who insist he stay over at their place. But unfortunately they’re so poor they only have a single bed and cannot afford any nightclothes and so they have to sleep naked (I am exaggerating not at all … I was actually ready for the film to reveal “it’s all a dream” because it’s SO over-the-top that you can’t even take it seriously as a fantasy). But no. That is not a plot strand, it’s a beer commercial. Or a sketch on “The Man Show,” which at least knows it’s parodic. This film is what Pauline Kael called “the sugar-coated lie” that drove her into a frenzy of hate about THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I’m not saying every movie has to be Ingmar Bergman or GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS … but couldn’t LOVE ACTUALLY have at least a couple of endings that somehow suggest that life is not perfect.

Then there’s one scene, in which Grant upbraids a visiting American president (Billy Bob Thornton as a Bushclinton horndog-yokel) for selfishness and bullying, that reportedly produced (predictable) cheers at the Toronto Film Festival. Now leave aside the scene’s basic absurdity — two heads of govenment do not dress one another down at a public press conference — which tends to code it as fantasy, i.e. wish fulfillment. But what also justifies calling the scene purely anti-American (rather than anti-this-or-that American policy) is its terminal vagueness. No American policy is mentioned … not Iraq, steel tariffs, Kyoto, the Confederate flag, any number of The Usual Suspects … no, none, nothing — only airy platitudes about “standing up for our interests,” without any idea about what the filmmakers think those interests are. (Wouldn’t a president and a prime minister mention this or that policy beyond “we’ll do what we want”?) So this makes the scene the equivalent of a meaningless generic insult of a person, rather than saying, e.g. they’re lazy, stupid, dishonest — or any number of insults that specific referents. The scene is just the equivalent of “America is an asshole.” And that’s anti-Americanism as such.

November 25, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment