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Movie Review, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Directed by Martin McDonagh. 115 minutes
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There are supposed to be at least five stages of grief, but Mildred Hayes is stuck at number two — rage. She is out to get a certain transgressor and she’s willing to take on the town’s law enforcement — and the town itself! The plot is too good to spoil here, but let me make a couple of comments about the value of the movie.
There’s an art experience here that everybody can relate to. It involves the viewpoints of the good, the evil, the young, the old, the comfortable and the discomforted. My movie buddy and I picked the movie of course because of its star, Frances McDormand. Just as we expected, she is absolutely wonderful as Mildred Hayes. The surprise for us was how terrific the entire supporting cast was. Woody Harrelson was far better as a caring and sympathetic man than he usually is as a rough and tumble sardonic stereotype cowboy, even though he’s still, as he often is, a cop.
Best of all is the villain, well, sort of a villain, played by Sam Rockwell. We usually see Rockwell playing characters who are insane, but they are usually cleverly so. In “Three Billboards,” he’s not only insane but also cruel, chauvinistic, and stupid. The actor carries it off beautifully. His lowly character becomes, I think, the best example of the many examples that show what this fine movie is about — being fully human.
–Gene Lantz
I’m on http://knon.org/workers-beat every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, look at http://lilleskole.us 

Movie Review: “Suburbicon,” Directed by George Clooney, 105 minutes

It's a lot of movies

Matt Damon and Juliana Moore star in a movie that could have been named “Hunter for a Raisin in Pleasantville”

 

Kudos for the team who made “Suburbicon” for having four, count ’em, four union logos after the credits: Producers Guild, Sag-Aftra, Teamsters, and IATSE. That’s just one of the film’s many good features. We liked this movie.

In the next-to-last scene, I realized that it was a comedy. If I had known that all along, I’d have enjoyed it more because it’s really a pretty good comedy. The problem, and the probable reason that it is setting records for tickets not sold, is that the film makers also weren’t sure it was a comedy. It might have been a murder mystery, a civil rights drama, or a horror story. “Suburbicon” has elements that could be compared to some really great movies such as “Night of the Hunter,” “Raisin in the Sun,’ and “Pleasantville,” If you saw those movies and liked them, you’ll also like parts of “Suburbicon” — but you probably won’t enjoy the entirety as much unless you follow my advice: “Think of it as a comedy.”

The original script was from Joel and Ethan Coen. But the film’s credits show two other writers jumped in and added their alien ideas. That was unfortunate, because the Coen brothers have an unbroken string of smash hit comedies. I wanted to see this movie because I love George Clooney and admire the way he trades in his matinee-idol image for self-sacrificing humor. I also admire leading man Matt Damon for playing super hero secret agents one day, then sappy zoo-buying dads the next. He takes it even further this time. I also wanted to see the movie because I firmly believe that no one, no matter how hard they try, can poke enough fun at the 1950s in America. Even if it did nothing else, “Suburbicon” moves to the top of anti- sterile, racist, anti-communist, cold-war hysterical, 1950s movies!

The plot: Two pre-adolescent boys, one anglo and one Black, play a little baseball together in a perfect little all-white suburb in the late 1950s. Then there are mobs and murders right and left. Some of it fits right into whatever you may think of as the plot line, and some of them don’t. You’ll enjoy the movie as we did if you keep in mind “It’s a comedy!”

–Gene Lantz

I’m on http://knon.org/workers-beat every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. If you’re interested in what I really think, see http://lilleskole.us

Three hours after we went into the theater, we emerged dazed and questioning.

Movie Review: “Blade Runner 2049,” Directed by Denis Villeneuve, 163 minutes

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The last hour, or so it seemed, was the credits. The more the graphics arts in a movie, the longer the movie credits. My movie buddy always sits through to the final frame, because she wants to know if it was union-made or not. This one had three union logos at the end: Sag-Aftra, Teamsters, and IATSE.

Frankly, I loved every minute of it and would still be sitting there if it had gone on, but I suspect that this movie, like the 1982 Blade Runner, will undergo some cutting and re-cutting before they’re done. The original was one of the greatest accomplishments in movie sci-fi of all time. That’s not because of the incredible graphics. I suppose the incredible graphics award will go to one of those Transformer movies. It’s the way that all the elements of the movie, including music, backgrounds, special effects, acting, stunts — all of it — come together to produce a moody symphony.

Like the first movie, this one is basically a hard-boiled detective story set in a horrible future world dominated by corporations whose greed has left the planet barely inhabitable. Near-human android slaves (replicants) have all the jobs. There is no happiness in either group. There’s no sunshine anywhere at all. It’s as grim as if the Trump Administration had lasted until 2049.

I may have to see the film again, because I caught a number of tributes to other movies and other art forms, and there were probably a lot that I didn’t catch. And like all good sci-fi, there were some really great philosophical and moral questions raised by the replicant-killing Blade Runner, the not-so-bad replicants that he didn’t kill, the evil replicants that he did, and the even-more-evil corporation at the root of it all.

—Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio every Saturay at 9 AM Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, click here.

Movie review, “Churchill,” Directed by Jonathan Teplitzk, 110 minutes

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I can only think of one good reason to go and see the new biopic, “Churchill.” It’s an opportunity to see the great Miranda Richardson, who plays his wife.

The movie takes place in the last few days before June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded Normandy. Sir Winston is portrayed as a greatly flawed hero, but a hero all the same. It’s all dialogue with, it seems, millions of closeups of the old gentleman’s kindly and concerned face. The real Churchill looked exactly like a bulldog. Compassion is the last thing one would associate with him.

But in this movie, he tries to stop Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery from invading France out of his overwhelming compassion for young soldiers. The reason given is his sense of guilt over the massacre at Gallipoli during World War I. He has been blamed for that and it’s inferred in this movie.

To give credit where it is due, Sir Winston’s rhetoric helped inspire and organize the Britons through extreme duress. We still listen to his speeches, and one of them is the high point of this film effort. But that is no excuse for boring moviegoers for nearly two hours and presenting one of the least-admirable characters of British history as someone to love.

Far from compassion, Churchill burned with elitism and anti-semitism. He helped make anti-communism a world religion. Among the many world figures who allowed Hitler to gain enough power to threaten the entire world, Churchill is a standout. Hitler came to power in Germany because he was seen as the best way to overcome German communism, and Churchill was a co-thinker. Instead of stopping the fascists in Spain, or earlier or later, the “great powers” allowed him to build his great war machine in hopes that he would throw it against the Soviet Union first.

I find it impossible to associate Churchill with compassion for soldiers for one main reason: he advocated for war after World War II was over and done. It was Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech that popularized the cold war.

Try an internet search for “Churchill and anticommunism.” Here are a few of the things that pop up:

“…His deep early admiration of Benito Mussolini was rooted in his shrewd appreciation of what Mussolini had accomplished (or so he thought). In an Italy teetering on the brink of Leninist revolution, Il Duce had discovered the one formula that could counteract the Leninist appeal: hypernationalism with a social slant. Churchill lauded “Fascismo’s triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism,” claiming that “it proved the necessary antidote to the Communist poison.” From “Churchill Extols Fascismo for Italy” New York Times, January 21, 1927. Churchill even had admiring words for Hitler; as late as 1937, he wrote: “one may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.” James, “Churchill the Politician,” p. 118. On the conditions of the Fascist takeover in Italy, see Ralph Raico, “Mises on Fascism and Democracy,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 12, no 1 (Spring 1996): 1-27.  https://mises.org/library/rethinking-churchill

Churchill is credited with having begun the cold war:

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/05/winston-churchills-iron-curtain.html

He is credited with helping the Nazis take power outside Germany:  http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2015/01/winston-churchill-anti-communist-who.html

He is credited with sharing Hitler’s anti-semitism:

https://jodebloggs.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/winston-churchill-and-the-rise-of-bolshevism-1917-1927/

If you think I say outrageous things, you might check out my weekly radio show on KNON.org or 89.3FM in Dallas.  –Gene Lantz

 

Are we stuck with the Donald or can progress still happen in America?

me-copeguitar

Check out my new song: https://youtu.be/_MVyGYFCgz4

If you’ll sing along, here is the latest version:

We’re plowing for progress but we’ve hit a stump

We lost our Obama and got Donald Trump

He holds up our plowing, no goals can be reached

We’ll do so much better when he gets impeached

We’ll sing, So long Donald, it’s been good to know you

So long, it’s been good to know you

So long, it’s been good to know you

You’re going backward but we’re going on

And we’ve got to be moving along

The big man in Congress, his name is Paul Ryan

He don’t care who’s hurting, he don’t care who’s dying

He prisses and prances across Congress’ floor

But pretty soon he will dance out the door

We’ll sing, So long Ryan, it’s been good to know you

So long, it’s been good to know you

So long, it’s been good to know you

You’re going backward but we’re going on

And we’ve got to be moving along

They can’t stand the truth now, they’re just blowing smoke

The worst of the liars are both brothers Koch

Just sing this song now and please heed the call

We’ll get to work and get rid of them all

We’ll sing, So long Kochs, it’s been good to know you

So long, it’s been good to know you

So long, it’s been good to know you

You’re going backward but we’re going on

And we’ve got to be moving along

##################

I have an unshakable confidence that people will figure out what is going on and act responsibly. My argument is this:

  • I figured it out
  • I’m not so smart (I know, I’ve been tested)
  • Everybody else is at least as smart as I am
  • Therefore, everybody else will figure it out

I also think that we are suffocating in a capitalist-created culture. Even though we may not be the best singers or the most clever poets, we should treasure a culture that is our own. That’s why I’m always trying to get you to sing.

It’s also why I continue volunteering at KNON radio 89.3 FM and http://knon.org every Saturday at 9AM

–Gene Lantz

Yesterday, May 3, we celebrated Pete Seeger’s birthday at our house.

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With a few musically inclined friends, we sang and played some of Pete’s better-known hits.

Linda Coleman gave a short talk and conducted a discussion about Pete’s life. She was particularly incensed that he was blacklisted for so much of the time when the world needed him most. We hooked a computer up to the TV so we could watch Pete’s videos on YouTube.

Their Culture Is All Over Us, and All In Us

On my radio show, I often make the point that almost everything a person reads, or sees, or hears, in America was either written by the bosses or approved by them. They own almost all the movie studios, the TV channels, the book publishers, the music producers, etc. We can’t avoid their culture because it’s in the very air we breath, and, like their other pollution, it’s not good for us.

Their culture teaches us that we are helpless, that we can’t change anything, that things are the way they have always been, and, worst of all, their culture teaches us alienation from one another. “Life is a jungle,” they tell us constantly.

Pete Seeger, of course, contributed to a culture that uplifted us and brought us together. That’s why they were so eager to blacklist him.

You Can’t Escape Their Influence, But…

If we recognize their culture and we recognize our culture, and we learn the difference between them, we can cope. That’s why it’s important to celebrate Pete Seeger’s birthday, and a lot of other important birthdays and anniversaries.

By the way, Woody Guthrie was born July 14.

–Gene Lantz

I’m still on 89.3 FM in Dallas and http://knon.org all over the world, 9AM Central Time

 

Movie review: “Elle,” Directed by Paul Verhoeven, 130 minutes

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Disclaimer: I admit that I would probably buy a ticket to watch a movie about a a woman sitting on a couch watching TV, if the actress was Isabel Hupert. I’ve never seen her in anything I didn’t really enjoy.

In “Elle”Ms Hupert plays a middle-aged business woman who has always had to deal with monsters. Because she’s such a terrific actress, I was never quite certain whether she was one of the victims, one of the monsters, a bemused observer, or just somebody who really knows how to cope. Maybe all of it.

How Do You Cope?

In a large sense, we really are surrounded by monsters, just look at American politics for example, and we really do have to cope. How do you cope with monsters? Do you call the police? Do you buy a gun? Do you shrug it off? Do you join them? Perhaps you could start a pornographic video game company and make caricatures of them raping and murdering one another?

If I understood French, I’d probably be completely blown away by the nuances in this film. Even reading the subtitles, I was intrigued. Hupert is a mystery, and she reminds us that so are we all!

–Gene Lantz

Listen to “Workers Beat” at 9 CST every Saturday morning on 89.3FM and http://knon.org

If you want to know what I really think, look at my life’s lessons site