63 posts categorized "Political Satire"

October 31, 2023

HOUSE — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comNobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 surrealistic satire regarding the overwhelming aftermath of America’s atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a virtuosic fantasy horror movie unlike any other.

Of the atomic bombs’ 200,000 causalities, all of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s childhood friends were among the deceased.

Nobuhiko Obayashi was just eight years old at the time of the attacks. Clearly, he never lost sight of his pals, or his loss. Here, Obayashi throws a cinematic extravaganza party to celebrate the lost potential of a generation.

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Extreme teenage Japanese punk power pop! You bet.

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We’re way beyond “Rocky Horror” baby.

“House” takes the cake, the dining room table, the piano, and most certainly the title’s house of horrors that devours seven teenage girls via a very hungry piano.

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Chomp, chomp, chomp.

“House” shows Obayashi’s encyclopedic mastery of state-of-the-art filmmaking, from a deeply personal approach to meeting the sugary commercial demands of the film’s producers.

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This insanely ambitious movie puts George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to shame with pure inventiveness.

Obayashi received story ideas from his eleven-year-old daughter, Chigumi. A blood-spewing white cat piles on the film’s cartoonish tone of outrageous evil consuming every body that steps in its path.

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Nobuhiko Obayashi uses every filmic technique at his disposal, in order to transmogrify the grief, pain, and sense of incalculable loss that he and so many others experienced. What results is a cinematic phantasmagoria overflowing with humor, expressions of love, and deep-seeded fear of the unknown.

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Visually and viscerally stunning from start to finish, “House” is much more than a mere masterpiece.

Not Rated. 88 mins.

5 Stars THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA ColeSmithey.com
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Cozy Cole

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October 28, 2023

FIGHT CLUB — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

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ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comLA GRANDE BOUFFE (THE BIG FEAST)Screen Shot 2023-06-26 at 2.46.36 PMFor episode #64 Cole pulled out the big guns with FLYING DOG BREWERY'S DOUBLE DOG IPA to go along with our discussion of David Fincher's mind-blowing adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's classic if prescient novel of post-modern satire. Pull a chair up to the banquet table and join us for one hell of a feast for one hell of a movie! 

Bon appétit Bouffers!ColeSmithey.com

Fincher Does Palahniuk
Blood, Sweat, and Emotional Bankruptcy Follow    
By Cole Smithey

Colesmithey.comMisogynist, anti-capitalist, and class-conscious, novelist Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” takes a "Trainspotting" brand of glee in dismissing lifestyle mores and status quo materialist limitations of American social existence.

This black comedy plays like a boys-only video game where male audience members encouraged to kick over the machine that ate their quarters. For all of the controversy surrounding the movie for fear that young males will begin setting up fight clubs of their own all around the world, the theory is countered directly in the movie as Ed Norton’s nameless character comes to view his dimwitted, class-conscious Fight Club cohorts as complete morons. — These are people who, in Lou Reed's words, follow the first thing that comes along that allows them the right to be; you know it's called bad luck.

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Indeed the Fight Club cult that Norton sets up under the tutelage of his brutal disenfranchised alter ego/evil-twin, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), digresses into a flesh-chewing tombstone that gets dumped on the floor like so much bloody brain matter.

Fight Club' Review: Movie (1999) – The Hollywood Reporter

From David Fincher's hyper sci-fi juiced credit sequence — underscored by searing punk music — to its "Blade Runner"/"Mean Streets" ending, the visionary filmmaker pulls out every stop in his arsenal of cinematic tricks to deliver walloping visual blows. Fincher’s visual approach is aggressive, and packed to the surface with such a high sperm count that you can almost see the microscopic swimmers bursting to get free. There’s never a gesture, vocal quality, intention, or motivation from any character (with the exception of Meat Loaf's hormone challenged character Bob) that isn’t full-bore masculine.

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If that means that more than a few tons of fury are coming along for the ride, so be it.

In Palahniuk’s cold satire, if you’re a consumer then you’re a pussy. The post-modern author presses you to see through the culture of housewife-behavior where free time is spent imagining and buying things to complete your vacuous identity.

From the Vault: 'Fight Club'

A greater social repercussion from "Fight Club" would be a trend where American males ceased spending money and began hoarding every dime as if they were collecting names on a petition to embargo our snotty soul-crushing corporate run government.

Sleep Procrastination” Is Real, and You Probably Do It | Edward norton  fight club, Fight club, Edward norton

However heavily "Fight Club" relies on extraneous voice-over narration from Norton's unreliable character, the grist of the story lies in his need to follow something. Even as it becomes glaringly clear over the course of the movie that he's pulling his own strings, rather than acting on the suggestions of Pitt’s rock-star-perfect persona, it’s the human inclination to be lead that troubles us.

Fincher's FIGHT CLUB is a Punk Rock Hegel Dialectic – Father Son Holy Gore

Chuck Palahniuk seems to be saying that males have such a strong urge to follow another person’s lead that it’s only through pain that a man can fully realize his own responsibility to himself and to the world around him. It’s a coming-of-age stratagem that fits perfectly within Fincher’s previous films and taps into films like "Taxi Driver," "The Graduate," and "A Clockwork Orange."

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Like the insomniac Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver," Ed Norton gravitates to his true nature by exploring society in a heightened state of sleep-deprived accessibility. That Norton’s job as a car company recall analyst demands that he fly into different time zones in cities where he can buy all the same stuff, magnifies his disassociation to other people. Just when he’s finally is able to quell his insomnia by crying at support groups for people with terminal ailments, he becomes stalked by a woman named Marla (Bonham Carter). Marla shows up at every meeting he goes to, and her very presence mocks his ability to find refuge in fringe social enclaves. Jammed, embarrassed, and exasperated, Norton’s character makes a self-enabling breakthrough.

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By becoming free of all of his worldly possessions, and donning the badges of physical abuse, he attains a sainthood status that he can’t help but abuse by encouraging males around him to join his cult of social terrorists. The performances, direction, and themes are thickly woven in scratchy narrative wool, and David Fincher never lets you forget what the social loom looks like. "Fight Club" is Fincher's cinematic Hail-Mary pass that the audience desperately wants to catch.

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Rated R. 139 mins. 

5 Stars SF SHOCKTOBER!

Cozy Cole

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PAN'S LABYRINTH — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comGuillermo del Toro Relishes the Horrors of Childhood

ColeSmithey.comIn discussing the leftist political themes of "The Devil’s Backbone" and "Pan’s Labyrinth," gothic horror maestro Guillermo del Toro responds by condemning what is considered "normal" because "normal creates inadequacy immediately." The transplanted director from Mexico embraces abnormality and moral ambiguity in "Pan’s Labyrinth." It's a film he wrote and directed as a deeply personal treatise on the defense mechanisms of a child dealing with war and death. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a surreal and dark fairy tale about resistance and sacrifice from the point of view of a resourceful child.

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Ofelia (played with immeasurable grace by child actress Ivana Baquero) is uprooted with her ailing pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) during Franco's 1944 postwar Spain to go live with Ofelia’s stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) of Spain’s Civil Guard. Mother and daughter arrive at an abandoned rural mill that Vidal has converted into a military headquarters to oppose the local "maquis" freedom fighters. Ofelia momentarily escapes the farm’s oppressive ambience to explore an old garden labyrinth where she meets a peculiar faun (Doug Jones) who acts as a mentor. The strange creature assigns Ofelia three tasks to prove her royalty as a princess.

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Ofelia's dark fantasies of fairies and monsters are matched by the savage hostilities incited by Captain Vidal’s obsessive reign of power. The hideous but friendly faun gradually becomes beautiful as Ofelia fulfills his commands of obtaining a key from a repulsive toad, visiting a pale monster with eyeballs in the palms of his hands at a banquet from which she must not eat, and releasing the blood of an innocent. This is thought-provoking stuff that del Toro presents with fluid attention to detail. You couldn't hope for a more visually lush experience.

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After the film’s premiere in Cannes del Toro said, "In this movie, I think the fascist is more terrifying than any of the creatures Ofelia encounters in her fantasy. I feel that the more humanist point of view is the one that I like. I love "Beauty and the Beast" by Jean Cocteau. I love "Frankenstein" by James Whale. I like "Night of the Hunter."

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Taking into account del Toro's stated influences, you can see where each have an impact on the film he has crafted from every angle. Here we have gothic horror combined with fantasy in a purely original way that nevertheless breathes with a sense of tradition.

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"Pan’s Labyrinth" is set at the end of World War II when the Spanish resistance still had a fighting chance against Franco’s regime if allied support arrived in time. The movie works intriguingly opposite Steven Soderbergh’s "The Good German" as a phantasmagorical reflection of an underground reality seething beneath the scorched and bloody soldier-inhabited earth above.

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Guillermo del Toro is a bold creator of modern fairytales in the tradition of the Grimm Brothers, as mixed with a healthy sprinkling of Greek mythology. In planning his films, the director draws colorful drawings of the creatures he will bring to life, such as the mandrake root that Ofelia places in a bowl of milk-and-water beneath her mother’s bed to cure her sickness and protect her unborn child.

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As del Toro points out, "There is a mythology that you can grow a baby out of a mandrake." Mandrake is another name for ginseng, but del Toro proposes the plant was traditionally born under the gallows at the feet of hanging victims who spasmed as they died. "You had to look for it under a full moon with a black dog and wear protection on your ears because, when the dog digs for it, the mandrake screams and the dog dies. And if you don’t have protection, you die." The childhood desperation that permeates his dramatic sensibility is elevated by del Toro’s sincere devotion to imaginary belief systems rooted in cycles of nature.

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Del Toro says, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is an adult movie about being a kid. My favorite kid movies are "The 400 Blows," or "Au revoir, les enfants" by Louis Malle or "The Tin Drum." None of these are movies that I would play along with "Chicken Little" for my daughters, but they are movies, nevertheless, about childhood."

Add "Pan's Labyrinth" to that list.

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Rated R. 120 mins.

4 Stars ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

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