It has become safe to say that if an American movie bears the etiquette â€œpolitical thrillerâ€ this means that, it is in reality a Left Wing propaganda film. Missing which was directed by Constantine Costa Gavras in 1982, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek is a persuasive case in point.
We get a patriotic middle aged American businessman's station point on the 1973 Right Wing coup in Chile and how he and his daughter-in-law are desperately searching for his son, an â€œidealisticâ€ journalist, who went missing there. At first Jack Lemmon's character, Ed Horman suspects that his son and his daughter-in-law, played by Sissy Spacek, were involved in something or that his son did something to provoke his arrest but, as the movie unfolds, he becomes more and more suspicious of the American ambassador and his staff.
What is really missing in this so called political thriller, is a global overview that would show what the Right Wing coup was fighting against. Instead, we are intermittently exposed to scenes of political repression by the new regime, of the people of this South American country, as if to say that, the Right wing got up one day, and just decided to start killing people, for no apparent reason. There is also no information about what kind of articles Ed's son wrote, or what kind of newspaper he was writing for, only that it was considered to be Left Wing by the regime. There is absolutely no mention of the word Communist, from one end of the movie to the other, as if Communist terrorists and extremists did not even exist, in this part of the world.
John F. Kennedy opened the door to Communist infiltration, in Central and South America, when he decided to renege on promised air support to the Cuban expatriates, who tried to invade Cuba, in 1961 in order to take their country back from the Marxist tyrant Fidel Castro. This and his further deal with the Soviet Union to not plan an invasion of Cuba, in exchange for the withdrawal of the ICBMs by the Soviet Union from Cuba, provided the Communists with a permanent â€œaircraft carrierâ€ on the island of Cuba, from which to stage incursions into Central and South America.
A masterpiece of political propaganda and the mother of all conspiracy theories, which was almost immediately made into a two hour negative attack ad, against the Republican Party by the Left operating in Hollywood, in the middle of the Cold War was, of course, the book All The President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. In this political thriller, a jagged mountain is constructed, out of a gentle molehill. The actual purpose of this desperate Washington Post exercise was to assassinate a right-wing president's character, and hopefully bring him down, the reality of which is entirely twisted into innocuous investigative journalism, in the film version of the book. The esoteric elements of the Left hated the anti-Communist Richard M. Nixon, because of his role in bringing Whittaker Chambers' revelations about Communist infiltration into Franklin Delano Roosevelt's White House to light, in Chambers' book Witness, at the end of the 1940s, shortly before Nixon became Vice President, which ultimately lead to the famous Red Scare, in the 1950s.
Daniel Ellsberg illegally leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, in 1970, who in turn, illegally published them, in order to try to stoke resistance to the Vietnam War, in the court of public opinion. The so called “Watergate Scandal” was in reality, a media storm in a tea cup. If you strip away all the political hype, generated by the left-wing cheerleaders, in the media, you are left with an illegal but arguably justifiable entry, into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C., and Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office in California, in August of 1971, by some CIA agents, known as the “Plumbers” who were looking for evidence against Daniel Ellsberg, who had perfidiously released top secret Pentagon documents, an act of high treason, during president Nixon's first term. No one was hurt or killed, in this affair, which later turned into a feeding frenzy by the same left leaning American media that illegally published Ellsberg's Pentagon papers and hypocritical political theater, by the monotonous televised Senate Watergate Committee Hearings, cast to resemble the Nuremberg Trials. While all this was happening, in 1975, Pol Pot was busy murdering millions of innocent people, in the rice fields, in Cambodia which was known to many reporters, who either chose to remain silent about it, or were ignored by their employers, because they didn't want to show that Khmer rouge Marxism needed to use mass-murder, in order to keep it's captive population under constant repression.
This whole Watergate incident is the best proof for the left-wing bias and double standard, within the news and entertainment industry, in the United States, which is still alive and well, to this day. Nixon was doing the right thing, focusing on Vietnam and Cambodia, where the real crimes against humanity were actually unfolding, while the left-wing media only wanted to ignore this major story and concentrate on destroying a president, who had different political views than they had. What more proof does anyone need that the media puts their political agenda, before their desire to inform the public of real danger? All of this is of course not even mentioned, in the movie “All The President's Men”, which premiered in 1976 and used the good looking actors Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, to portray the not so good looking Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Credit must be given to the director Alan J. Pakula, for taking a pretty uneventful and boring story, and turning it into a suspenseful and entertaining piece of film making, even if the truth is only half-told and the suspense is the candy coating, for this pill.
The most salient scene in the movie comes near the end, to help provide the film with some semblance of a conclusion, when Redford's character, Woodward goes to meet Hal Holbrook's character, “Deep Throat”, in a menacingly dark parking garage. Here Deep Throat whispers the core conspiracy and that “Your lives are in danger” to a stupefied Woodward, who hadn't even come close to realizing the incredible complexity of involvement and culpability of the whole American intelligence community, in this cover-up. If the intelligence community and the Nixon administration were really so deep, dark and dangerous, as the film suggests then, why couldn't they break into a hotel and a psychiatrist's office, without getting caught and sent to prison? What do we learn from all this? That the President and the intelligence community were involved in gathering information and engaging in clandestine activities. Oh, how shocking! If this is really a surprise to you then, you might be horrified to learn that there was never any Deep Throat and that there may not even be a Santa Clause! This avatar Deep Throat was most likely an invention of Woodward's, to be able to deflect accusations of inaccuracy, away from himself, if he wanted to field a conjecture, that he couldn't verify with any real facts. This kind of thing is even demonstrated quite clearly, on several occasions in the film, when Woodward and Bernstein pretend to know something, when they are interviewing some one, in order to acquire a confirmation, from this unsuspecting victim of their confidence trickery, in a surprisingly candid display of their true journalistic style.
The music is the real star of this movie. Melodic intonation is really key to how the audience is supposed to feel about people who worked for president Nixon. This movie is all about suspense, atmosphere and emotion, not about historical facts or accuracy, though it feigns to be objective and professional, by the use of an academically disciplined corporate looking introductory credits design and theme music which is almost militaristic and patriotic, in character. The theme music is reminiscent of a sombre military funeral march, that sounds like it is being performed by a Marine Corps band. This is done to effectively obscure any hint of subversive intent. It takes on a mystical and foreboding aspect whenever Woodward and Bernstein may be on to something, such as in the Library of Congress, shot from the dome above, where the lens gradually zooms out, as a lower frequency heartbeat pummel delicately kicks in and gradually becomes louder and louder. We see more and more of the articulated concentric pattern, of the library floor furniture, which presumably is supposed to symbolize the reporters' growing perspective on Nixon's alleged ineffable web of intrigues.
This splendid example of political propaganda was also the political opposite of movies like The Green Berets (1968), starring John Wayne or The Killing Fields (1984), starring Sam Waterston, which wanted to warn the public, in the world and draw people's attention to the atrocities, which were being committed in Vietnam, at the hands of Communists and Marxists. The recurring theme in our media is that our intelligence community, FBI, the CIA and police are the bad guys, while investigative reporters are the good guys, who really care about our well-being. All The President's Men was an important installment in the ethos of Western society, which creates a conditioning that ridicules the views of the moral majority on the right, while giving a magnified voice to the tiny esoteric inner circle of the Marxist minority, on the left.
Our media has always maintained that America's involvement in Vietnam was wrong and historically irrelevant. After America's withdrawal from Vietnam and president Nixon's resignation, the Communists invaded South Vietnam and started the massacre of millions of people who had been identified, as not being willing to acquiesce in the Marxist ideology of the North. The Left in Hollywood and New York, had been cultivating the notion that only the right-wing has a monopoly on mass-murder, by continually putting all attention on Hitler and the Nazis, while censoring all references to the humanitarian atrocities committed by the Communists. One direct consequence of our left-wing media's campaign to persuade Americans and other Western countries to ridicule Conservatives and shun the war against the Communists, in Vietnam, was the genocide aftermath, in the Killing Fields in Cambodia.
This movie takes a unique approach to the subject of an alien invasion of Earth by the contrasting use of breath-taking perspectives and putting the station point or point of view, inside a group of marines who are charged with the evacuation of some civilians, who are stuck "behind enemy lines", so to speak. The suspense is a big part of this masterpiece of science fiction, which also boasts an interesting storyline. The special effects are jaw dropping and worth the price of admission, on their own.
The one flaw that this picture does have, in my humble opinion, is the jerky cinema verite or shoulder mounted camera, almost throughout the entire film. Don't sit too close to the screen or you might get nauseous.
The special effects are not on the level of Avatar, in this B movie but, it turns out to be a decent little nail-biter; not for the faint-hearted! What the film lacks in finesse in make-up and effects, it certainly makes up for in action and suspense. There is however, a pretty high dosage of violence and, perhpas a bit too much brutality but, it is a horror picture, so be warned. "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!" -Dante.
There is a reason why Hollywood movies are such a financial success. It is because they are made by private companies who give the audience what it wants. If the government were to make a movie, you would get a boring instructional tutorial on correct behavior or, some experimental “art” installation, on film, which would have to rely solely on pier pressure, to be able to generate any audience, at all. We have seen films like this produced by such losers as Werner Fassbinder, over in Germany, financed by the German government (ie. The German tax payer) and other, even less talented directors, such as David Cronenberg, whose films are all backed by the Canadian government's Telefilm Canada.
Cronenberg has been desperately trying to gain notoriety, as a film maker, since the 1970s, in such shocking movies as Shivers and Rabid, where he relied on provocative brutality and nudity to lure audiences. Unfortunately, Cronenberg doesn't even measure up to the level of a Wes Craven, who seems like a Beethoven of the motion picture arts scene, by comparison . The only thing that has been able to keep Cronenberg alive at all, is the Canadian tax payer.
The film eXistenZ is a let-down right from it's dreary beginning, in a mediocre school house meeting of computer game testers. The design of the game pod console tells you, you are watching another Cronenberg flop; “abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” The props are absolutely revolting and boring, at the same time, because they are lacking in any sort of imagination, whatsoever. One of the reasons one goes to see a science fiction movie, is the curiosity about future technology. This avenue of pleasure is killed off, right from the get-go!
If this film were directed by Paul Verhoven, it might have been able to be compared to an episode of Night Gallery or The Twilight Zone, it's theme or concept and plot are that limited. Even the actors, some of whom only make short appearances (probably as a favour to somebody), seem to know and are trying to rescue this sinking ship, with some fine performances, which don't offset the many reasons for avoiding this time-waster.
James Cameron knows how to entertain intelligent human beings! This is an extremely well crafted movie that criticizes economical expediency at the expense of the destruction of another people's culture. I had the feeling that one could read America's hunger for oil and invasion of Iraq, into the plot of this allegory. But beyond this political message, this is a delightful excursion into a sci-fi world that is painstakingly created by teams of talented artists. It is worth every penny. I can highly recommend this movie to you. The design of the vehicles alone, is worth the price of admission!
Americans should be embarrassed by this movie, because it can be seen by people who have grown up and lived under Communism, in the Eastern European countries, such as Latvia, Poland and East Germany. People were being exterminated on an industrial scale, in the Gulag, in the Soviet Union and China, where the exterminations, organ harvesting and forced labor continue, to this day. This film is worse than irresponsible, it is taking the focus off the real crimes against humanity and pointing the blame at the C.I.A., who is one of our only defenses against these tyrannical regimes.
In what seems to be a contrived re-writing of a true story, a high school teacher exacts revenge on an attractive young female student, whose affair with another teacher ended precipitously as this other teacher, loses his job over the incident. We of course, are not shown what really happened. One does, however get the distinct feeling that this movie is based on real events because the details are so realistic, like the scene where the protagonist high school teacher, Matthew Broderick is throwing items out of a refrigerator, and is observed by the janitor, from the hallway, just as one of the packages misses the garbage can and splashes onto the newly cleaned floor. Unaware that he was being observed from behind, Broderick continues to throw things out of the fridge, as the janitor quietly moves on, down the hall.
Reese Witherspoon is supposed to be the quintessential perfect girl living in a perfect world, whom we are presumably supposed to despise. The hatred and venom of the entire script and cast are directed precisely on her character, because she is interested in ethics and morality. This, of course, is a no no, in Hollywood. She is beautiful, gets high marks in all of her classes and wishes to run for student council president, because she wants to make sure that things run, down here in her school, as they do upstairs, in Heaven. Broderick's envy is palpable, as he can only watch, from his low-income life-style vantage point (he drives a Ford Fiesta) as Witherspoon enthusiastically begins to organize her campaign.
Now, how can the audience be made to be against this cute little blond girl, when she is so obviously interested only in doing the right thing? She has to be shown doing something bad, so, in the middle of the film, she tears down her opponents banners, in a school corridor. This is the sole act that can be exploited, by the author, in order to justify the hatred which is thrown at Witherspoon's character. In hindsight, it seems engineered, and not inspired by actual events. Not being able to pin the crime on Witherspoon, Broderick's character throws away some of her supporters votes and rigs the election, so that Witherspoon looses, although she did get the majority support, which she needed to win. Some of the students, who are involved with the election process and the principal, find out about Broderick's ruse and confront him in the principal's office, where the janitor is also present. Broderick is fired and Witherspoon is made president.
Near the end of the movie Witherspoon is seen meeting with a Republican representative, and getting in to his limousine, ostensibly suggesting that Witherspoon's character is an evil right wing person. This is a major no no in Hollywood; interested in morality, ethics AND a REPUBLICAN!! The Horror.
There are some funny moments in the film, despite it's subversive intentions, as Broderick's character is punished for his infidelities with his friend's wife, when he is stung in the right eye, by a wasp.
In Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet explores the subjective point of view of the perpetrators of a major felony or violent crime, a bank robbery which turned into a hostage taking incident, that actually took place in New York, in 1972 and uses it to furnish Al Pacino, with a stage set to showcase his stand-up comedy/cabaret talents. The script is designed to get laughs from the movie audience and portray the armed robbers, as cuddly misfits, who couldn't hurt a fly and who are, more or less, drawn into these circumstances, by the pressures of our cold and indifferent society.
The protagonist of the story is Sonny, the leader of the gang, played by Al Pacino, a homosexual who ostensibly hilariously, needs the money for his lover's sex change operation, who feels that he is "a woman trapped in a man's body". This line got the biggest laughs, from the movie going audiences, in the mid 1970s. In fact the whole script is really a series of one-liners that evoke laughter throughout the whole film, up to the shockingly serious ending, which is not funny, at all, when the FBI finally put a cruel end, to this enjoyable party.
The police and law enforcement are portrayed as over-weight incompetent party-poopers, by such luminaries as Charles Durning, also the over-weight corrupt cop, in the Sting, whom the audience watching the movie, as well as the audience behind the police barricades, are conditioned to ridicule, as this circus side-show develops. The bank facade becomes the stage for Al Pacino to make fun of the police, chanting political phrases of defiance, which gets the street crowd cheering for Al Pacino, and sets the viewers up, for Pacino's emotional "Attica" chant, which also got big laughs, from the movie audiences.
The "Establishment" are the bad guys and the robbers are the good guys, who are suddenly and horrifically dealt with, in the surprise ending, that seems to be designed to illustrate the cruelty of our law enforcement community. In reality of course, a hostage taking incident is a terrifying experience that no one enjoys, and armed bank robberies are usually extremely violent crimes. This reality is trivialized and the victims are shown to be on Al Pacino's side, in several instances, which also get hearty laughter responses from the movie audience. Although the film is very well crafted, and entertaining, it is a profound piece of subversive propaganda, coming from a director who, at least, doesn't even deny that he is a passionate Communist.