63 posts categorized "Political Satire"

October 27, 2023

STARSHIP TROOPERS — 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!

ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.com

Starship_troopersPaul Verhoeven's presciently cynical satire of American politics is loosely based on Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 science fiction novel which went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960.

The movie is equal parts comedy, war action, spectacle, and satirical commentary.

Verhoeven's outrageous sci-fi epic piles on layers of observations about the nature of militarization in a story about young-and-lovely high school graduates (equal opportunity for girls and boys) going off to war against an invading army of giant arachnid bugs from the planet of Kelndathu.

ColeSmithey.com

All this wasted beauty. 

In the film's near future, American society has fully integrated political indoctrination through a constant barrage of public media propaganda to effect its fascist motives.

ColeSmithey.com

In a world where "Service guarantees citizenship," even if the rich don't have the right to be citizens, every kid wants to do a great job for the Fatherland — and die! Oh, the glory of war. 

Starship-troopers

"Starship Troopers" is a canny war satire that outshines even Kubrick's great satire "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

The bugs, the bugs!

Rated R. 130 mins. 

5 Stars MR. CLEANCozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

October 23, 2023

THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION YOU'VE NEVER SEEN — 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!

ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.com

Pure Friedkin Evil
Friedkin's Masterpiece of Horror Gets Better    
by Cole Smithey

ColeSmithey.comOn the day after Christmas in 1973, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin followed up the tremendous success he enjoyed with "The French Connection" (1971), with the most daring horror film ever made; an adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel "The Exorcist."

Blatty, a devout Catholic, had been inspired by a 1949 Washington Post article entitled "Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held In Devil’s Grip," and carefully crafted his novel around the area in Georgetown where he attended Jesuitical Georgetown University.

ColeSmithey.com

Although the movie barely escaped an "X" rating by the MPAA ratings board, it was treated as an "X" movie in cities like Boston and Washington D.C. where children under 17 were not admitted into theaters showing the film.

ColeSmithey.com

Immediately after the movie was released, stories spread around the country about audience members walking out, vomiting, fainting, or suffering heart attacks. The Toronto Medical Post released an article about four women so traumatized by viewing it that they were confined to psychiatric care.

ColeSmithey.com

There was a rumor that two nuns in D.C. committed suicide because they felt ‘evil’ had entered their bodies when they watched the movie. In the U.K., leaflets were passed out in front of cinemas asserting, "We cannot stop you from seeing this film, but you should know that it bears the power of evil!" Even now, the movie is banned from being released on video in the U.K. because: "Showings of this film have resulted in severe emotional problems for a small but worrying number of adults."

ColeSmithey.com

By 1974, Blatty’s novel was on every bestseller list, and the movie was a blockbuster before the idea of "blockbusters" ever existed. It was a classically compelling American Gothic legend that set up an earth-shattering physical and religious battle between good and evil over the possessed body of a young girl named Regan MacNeil (unforgettably played by Linda Blair). Regan’s possessed entity was, and is, the closest vision of sheer evil to ever appear in fictive film. It was only fitting that the two exorcists attempting to save Regan’s life, by expelling the demon within her, offered up and ultimately sacrificed their lives. That the priests themselves were the real target of the demon’s malevolence, is the element most underscored by the newly restored version of "The Exorcist."

ColeSmithey.com

Many people were outraged that 12-year-old actress Linda Blair was allowed to make a film in which she spewed obscenities like a satanic sailor, and abused her genitalia with a crucifix before shoving her mother’s face into her blood-soaked crotch. But that was just the beginning of numerous terrible episodes of head-twisting, levitating, and bile-vomiting that attracted spectators in droves. Little did audiences realize that Friedkin had already severely pulled the reigns on the terrifying effects of the film by cutting out 11 minutes of [what he considered] "excess footage" to bring the film in just under two hours. William Blatty was furious over the cuts, believing that the movie had lost its moral center, and was upset that audiences might think that the demon had won in the end.

ColeSmithey.com

Judging from the hugely negative impact that Friedkin’s restrained version had during its initial release, the hot-shot director did himself, and society, a favor by taking out most of the newly restored footage. Finally, after 25-years of constant cajoling to replace the lost footage, Blatty’s appeal was answered when Friedkin agreed to re-examine the missing scenes and became inspired to rework much of the material back into the film. The most obvious addition is the inclusion of the much-discussed "spider-walk" scene, in which stunt woman Linda Hager descends the MacNeil stairway as the possessed Regan. She scurries upside down and backwards on all fours down the staircase in her nightgown. Between the modified sound effects of her hands and feet hitting the floor, and the tag shot that ends the sequence, the vision instills pure terror.

ColeSmithey.com

Aside from a newly enhanced soundtrack, near subliminal images of the demon’s altered face appear along with quick-cut hallucinations. While the device may seem heavy-handed to some audiences, the images expand the haunting aftereffects of the movie. It’s these half-seen images that recur in the viewer’s mind days later.

ColeSmithey.com

Friedkin’s signature gritty documentary quality is retained in all of its stark, natural beauty. The contrast of scenes shot in low light and overcast skies pitted against special effects lovingly nurtured by Marcel Vercoutere and make-up wizard Dick Smith, retain their burly qualities. Ever surprising too are the pitch-perfect performances of every actor in the movie. Ellen Burstyn gets more screen time as Regan’s atheist mother Chris, and her tough yet sympathetic character carries a well of emotional weight that anchors the story.

ColeSmithey.com

Significant is an added conversation between the two exorcists in which Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) explains to Father Karras (Jason Miller) that the reason this demon has chosen to consume the young girl is to rattle the faith of those around her. Regan is not the target of the evil, but merely the most effective device the demon can use to achieve its goal. The demon might not win by the terms that Father Merrin explains to Father Karras, but in the end there is no evidence that the evil that tortured Regan and those around her has been annihilated.

ColeSmithey.com

Overall, the newly restored scenes give the audience a much clearer understanding of Regan’s possession, and assign a stronger empathy to Father Karras as the film’s protagonist. As William Friedkin told Fangoria magazine, "the whole progression of the movie is a series of increasingly bizarre, cataclysmic incidents that become more and more outrageous and disturbing, but which remain unresolved until the final exorcism."

ColeSmithey.com

Indeed the supernatural incidents are resolved in the closing scenes of the movie, but the potential for evil to grip mortal humans is a ghost that lurks in the memories of every audience that sees "The Exorcist." Friedkin has also said that "you take away from the movie what you bring with you when you watch it." I went prepared to be scared, and woke up sleep-walking two nights in a row after I saw it. Isn’t that what horror movies are supposed to do?

ColeSmithey.com

(Warner Brothers) Rated R. 132 mins.

5 Stars SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

October 22, 2023

LA CEREMONIE — 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!

ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.com

 

ColeSmithey.comThe revolution comes from the inside in Claude Chabrol’s exquisite adaptation of Ruth Rendell’s 1977 leftist novel “A Judgement In Stone.”

Not since Luis Bunuel has any filmmaker come so daringly close to enunciating the ideological, ethical, and soulful rift between the bourgeoisie and the rest of us as Chabrol does in this fascinating, if darkly sensuous, picture. Lesbian fires ignite between two would-be murderess[s].

ColeSmithey.com

Rituals such as family dinners or private parties allow for characters to interact, impregnate, and divide. As with Bunuel’s films, food plays a significant part in these daily rites.

The story unfolds in the northwest coast of France where art gallery director Catherine Lelievres (Jacqueline Bisset) lives in French countryside splendor with her recent (opera-obsessed) husband Georges (Jean-Pierre Cassel) and his two teenage children (Melinda and Gilles) from a previous marriage.

ColeSmithey.com

Catherine hires Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) as her latest live-in maid to keep her lavish home tidy and cook the family meals. 

Sophie keeps secrets close to her chest. Her illiteracy means that she can't order the weekly groceries because she can't read the list. Help arrives in the magnetic tomboy form of Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert), a local postal clerk with a murderous past. Jeanne knows that Sophie was accused of murdering her handicapped dad but was let go due to a lack of proof. Threat of prison is a mutual experience since Jeanne was accused of killing her four-year-old daughter, but was found innocent. 

ColeSmithey.com

21st century audiences may be surprised to learn that there was such a thing as a “boy-bun” long before there was a “man-bun” as evidenced by Catherine’s adopted son Gilles (Valentin Merlet).

Addressing Gilles's freshly budding smoking habit, Catherine tells her adopted son, “It’s easier not to start than it is to quit.” Naturally, she offers him a cigarette later on when it suits her. She decrees that Gilles can only smoke in her presence. Careful social coding comes through in every sequence involving the family. Their limited (stereotype) attitudes clash against the intimate (female outlaw) romantic reality that Bonnaire and Huppert share. Their mutual attraction is real. 

ColeSmithey.com

Claude Chabrol deftly uses television as an implement of reality displacement that Sophie learns to use to deny demands that are placed on her, such as when Georges calls requesting that she retrieve a file from his desk. She becomes a robot to the TV in same way that audiences all over the world are. 

“La Ceremonie” is a film that is ahead of its time, just as much as it is of its time. Isabelle Huppert’s determined (read lesbian leftist activist) character speaks the film’s theme lines with sinewy authority.

Regarding Sophie’s discovery of Melinda’s (Virginie Ledoyen) pregnancy, Jeanne says, “It’s no problem for them [the Lelievres), anyway. Keep it or get rid of it, no problem.”

ColeSmithey.com

Indeed, Jeanne’s brief summation of Melinda’s dilemma coincides with the teenaged girl's blasé attitude in the face of her next day's scheduled abortion. Charming Melinda sits happily on the sofa with her snobby family watching a VHS-recorded opera. Virginie Ledoyen is the embodiment of privileged nubility. Incredible, and contemptible.  

Regardless of how much elites (in any country) attempt to buffer themselves from the lower classes, they must always remain at the workers' mercy in the form of service industry jobs. Poison comes in many forms.

ColeSmithey.com

Chabrol’s dream-team cast comes together in a once-in-a-lifetime event. I could wax poetic about Jean-Pierre Cassel, who delivers such a wonderfully bland rendition of veiled white supremacist viewpoints that you could blink and miss it. Jacqueline Bisset reaches microcosmic degrees of restrained emotion like you can’t believe.

Don’t get me started on cinematographer Bernard Zitzermann’s dynamic formalism that works like guitar in a jazz trio, playing against Monique Fardoulis’s snappy editing. This film is a flawless example of French Cinema. Look. There it is.

ColeSmithey.com

Not Rated. 112 mins.

5 StarsColeSmithey.com SHOCKTOBER! KITTIESCozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos

COLE SMITHEY’S MOVIE WEEK

COLE SMITHEY’S CLASSIC CINEMA

Throwback Thursday


Podcast Series