7 posts categorized "Corporate Corruption"

March 01, 2009


Ooga Booga Booga
Hubbard's Sci-fi Fantasy Means Less Than Zero
by Cole Smithey

Battlefield_earth"Battlefield Earth," based on a crappy 1982 sci-fi novel by cult religion dipshit L. Ron Hubbard, is so inept and pathetic that it should forever end any questions about the validity of Hubbard’s manufactured religion of Scientology. This grade Z movie should likewise have the effect of insuring that none of its cast, crew, or director ever be allowed to work in cinema ever again.

Barry Pepper in Battlefield Earth | Battlefield earth, Sci fi films,  Battlefield

In spite of, Scientology member and Battlefield Earth actor and producer, John Travolta’s statements about there being "no connection between "Battlefield Earth" and Scientology," the correlation is unavoidable. Part of Scientology’s pitch is that, 75 million years ago, an evil ruler named "Xenn" implanted evil spirits (called Thetans) inside volcanoes on Earth, and that all humans are made up of these "Thetans," which can only be removed by spending lots of money on Scientology. Chortle.


In "Battlefield Earth," the year is A.D. 3000 and man is an endangered species enslaved by Klingon-styled aliens (called "Pyschlos") from the planet — you guessed it — Psychlo. Man has somehow devolved into a gloomy existence as dumb tribal cave dwellers, soon-to-be-led by dummy caveman number one, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper - Saving Private Ryan).


Psychlo Earth chief, Terl (John Travolta - Pulp Fiction) is especially mean and nasty because, aside from having long stinky dreadlocks, he has just been ordered by the Psychlo "home office" to remain in command on Earth for the rest of his life rather than return to his home planet as he had planned. Terl schemes for vengeance by having his "man-animal" slaves mine enough gold that he can buy his way into becoming ruler of Psychlo.

Battlefield Earth (2000) - Movie Review : Alternate Ending

Terl makes the fateful mistake of strapping Jonnie in front of a wisdom machine that lasers vast quantities of information into Jonnie’s little "man-animal" brain. Jonnie emerges from his Clockwork Orange crash course to impart geometry rules about triangles to his cohorts. With this important (sic) information, the man-animals outsmart their keepers by waltzing into Fort Knox and removing enough gold distract Terl, so they can blow everything up and win their freedom. You can practically hear Hubbard yukking it up to himself while he wrote this crap — "yeah, that’s a pretty good ideer."


There isn’t one good scene in the whole movie, much less a scene that actually moves the story forward in any way. It’s just a bunch on nonsensical sci-fi junk dialogue and atmosphere stuck indiscriminately together. It’s about as entertaining as watching a stagnate pond. The movie plays like a bad rip-off of Xena: Warrior Princess, but without any of the jokes or even it’s ironic continuity jumps. If director Roger Christian (Nostradamus, and assistant director on Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace) had been replaced by Blaxploitation master, Rudy Ray Moore (Dolomite: The Human Tornado), Battlefield Earth might of at least had a chance of realizing its inner googly moogly B-movie potential.


Rudy Ray Moore would have let Terl’s black assistant Ker (Forest Whitaker - The Crying Game) take over the whole story with lots of ha-ha villainous rapture and physical slap-stick super-action. Unfortunately, Christian can’t even make his mistakes look sincere. When a Psychlo bimbo with an 11 inch tongue walks into the same room with a different character after having just eluded to giving Terl some well-placed tongue in the previous scene, its just one more dumb continuity mistake to remind the audience of how slowly the clock is moving while they watch this torturous morass of a movie. If you thought Plan Nine From Outer Space was as bad as movies could get, think again.


Lafayette Ronald Hubbard said, "If you really want to enslave people, tell them that you’re going to give them total freedom." "Battlefield Earth" seems to be saying, if you really want to divert people, insult them with garbage. Both theories are terribly flawed, but the second one is easier to see through because in this day and age people can spot a bad movie quicker than they can spot corrupt religions.

Movie Review – Battlefield Earth

The only perk in "Battlefield Earth" is that, in this case, they are one and the same. Audiences will have the freedom to walk out of the theater on this movie, and I expect many who don’t read this review will exercise that right. I just hope they don’t forget to ask for a refund at the box-office.

Rated PG-13. 117 mins.

Zero Stars


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April 28, 2008


Standard_operating_procedureGetting to Know Our Captors
Errol Morris Connects the Pictures to Their Takers
By Cole Smithey

Documentarian Errol Morris effectively takes the viewer inside the atmosphere of psychological and physical abuse doled out by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib by connecting the hundreds of damning photos taken by soldiers to their context. And he doesn't stop there, but rather shows the judicially perceived differences between which abuses were considered criminal acts and which were determined to be merely acts of "standard operating procedure."

Movie Review: Standard Operating Procedure | LAist

With his signature use of slow-motion microscopic images and direct-to-camera interviews, Errol Morris spells out in no uncertain terms the extent of one of the biggest cover-ups in modern U.S. history. Morris correctly calls his investigative documentary a "nonfiction horror movie," but it is also an essential window into the depths of depravity that the Bush administration instilled in its lower ranks. You could very easily walk away from this film convinced that the fall of Western civilization is already upon us. Once again, Errol Morris confirms his status as the greatest documentarian working today.

Standard Operating Procedure | 2008 Tribeca Festival | Tribeca

Audiences familiar with the documentaries of Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line" and "The Fog of War" being his most famous) know how he methodically dissects subjects with a formulaic approach that benefits from his self-devised "Interrotron" camera that enables interviewees to speak directly to a video image of Morris instead of a camera lens.

Standard Operating Procedure - Reading The Pictures

Because some of the people he interviews are soldiers dubbed by the Bush Administration as "a few bad apples," there’s an immediate preconception that melts away as the accused describe their experiences. Where the media portrayed Lynndie England as a mentally challenged MP of limited education, we discover an articulate individual seething at circumstances carefully orchestrated by White House officials. Of the seven MPs implicated in the scandal (Sabrina Harman, Megan Ambuhl, Lynndie England, Charles Graner, Ivan Frederick, Jeremy Sivitz, and Jamal Davis), Morris interviews all except Graner and Frederick, who were in prison when the film was made.

Blog Archive » Standard Operating Procedure

Especially telling are letters that Sabrina Harman wrote home to her domestic partner Kelly, describing the prison’s bizarre atmosphere that led her to photographing the corpse of taxi driver al-Jamadi; an act of documentation that the Bush administration believed was more objectionable than al-Jamadi’s murder and subsequent attempted cover-up. Morris and his production team of consultants and designers went to great lengths to build a sound stage replica of Abu Ghraib’s puke green hallways and claustrophobic cells in order to create re-enacted scenes staged with actors. The sequences resonate with verite electricity that underscores Morris’ clinical treatment of facts.

FILM REVIEW: Standard Operating Procedure | www.splicetoday.com

There is no shortage of graphics and skillfully interwoven camera angles to divulge unique visual details that lend a organic understanding of the experience of both inmates and their captors. But it’s in its final moments that the film achieves a macro-micro significance as the sheer number of damning pictures receives a court-approved rating. An inmate handcuffed in a stress position with underwear pulled over his head is given an acceptable rating under the military’s "standard operating procedure," which also condones smearing prisoners with their own feces, or forcing them to masturbate.

Fort Bragg divided over Iraq abuse charges

It is as Hollywood’s torture porn films consciously acknowledge. Killing an enemy isn’t enough. The West demands that in the modern age victims must be sexually molested and humiliated into complete psychological submission before being exterminated. It’s hard to imagine what form of invulnerability such a decadent abuse of power will eventually incite. The Clash sang, "Know your rights." In this day and age, it seems more important to know your country’s wrongs.

Rated R. 117 mins.

5 Stars


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September 13, 2007


Michael_claytonThe Turning of the Tide
George Clooney Thriller Takes Aim at Corporate Malfeasance
By Cole Smithey

Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is a contracted back-of-the-house "fixer" at Kenner, Bach & Ledeen, one of Manhattan’s largest corporate law firms. He’s the guy sent out at midnight to the Westchester mansion of some rich bastard desperately looking for a way out of a hit-and-run car accident that left a pedestrian in an unknown state of physical harm. A recent divorce and a huge debt from a personal investment deal gone awry has left Michael consumed with repairing his own unraveled life. But this ethically equivocal character is cut from hickory, not pine. Michael is a doer, not a worrier.

Michael Clayton (2007) directed by Tony Gilroy • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd

"I’m not a miracle worker, I’m a janitor" is the line he uses to keep his self image in check. But there’s also a bit of the dreamer in Michael Clayton, and it’s a characteristic that saves his life during a harrowing scene that acts as a reference point for the story.

Great Scene: “Michael Clayton”. The gut-wrenching ending of the movie | by  Scott Myers | Go Into The Story

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy ("The Devil’s Advocate" and "The Bourne Supremacy") makes his directorial debut with the assistance of pedigreed producers and executive producers that include Sydney Pollack, George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh and Anthony Minghella. The list of Academy Award-nominated names set a cultivated tone for a scathing corporate thriller that emanates from the same narrative petri dish that spawned films like "The Parallax View" and "The China Syndrome." The point of view in "Michael Clayton" is appropriately more alienated than that of those dated films, but is nonetheless rooted in the reality of a corporation’s tendency to chew up and spit out humanity in the name of quarterly profit gains.

The Ace Black Movie Blog: Movie Review: Michael Clayton (2007)

Michael’s boss Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack) is on the brink of inking an out-of-court settlement with plaintiffs poisoned by a weed-killing product made by U/North, an agrichemical company that Bach’s firm represents. After six years of working around the clock to protect U/North, Kenner, Bach & Ledeen’s best litigator Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) suffers a nervous breakdown during a deposition. His freak out is the stuff of legend. Recorded for posterity on videotape, Arthur inexplicably disrobes in the conference room before running naked into the parking lot. It’s an act of self-sabotage that has U/North’s Machiavellian in-house counsel chief Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) looking at Michael to repair in the quickest way possible.

Michael Clayton {2007}. | Bideodromage

What Karen doesn’t yet fully comprehend is the extent of Michael’s friendship with Arthur, or Arthur’s recent discovery of a smoking gun memo from U/North exposing the corporation’s moral turpitude. Arthur’s ensuing epiphany and attempt to sabotage the U/North lawsuit he has worked so hard to build hits at a depth of self-realization rarely alluded to on screen, and Tom Wilkinson’s performance is nothing short of astounding. The British actor of such films as "In the Bedroom" and "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" was cast for his innate ability to balance pessimism and optimism through a prism of teetering sanity. It’s not a far stretch to suppose that Oscar season might include Wilkinson’s name in its list of nominees.

Michael Clayton (2007) - Filmaffinity

The high stakes of corporate warfare dictate that Karen orders full surveillance of Arthur’s phone, apartment and whereabouts. She doesn’t stop there. Tilda Swinton’s character represents a sexless ambitious female swimming in the shark-infested waters of the male-dominated corporate domain. We watch her prepare for a speech in her hotel bathroom mirror while putting on make-up. The translucently layered scene captures Swinton, the actor, plotting her delivery and Karen, practicing the subtlety of every word she will speak. In the next second we see Karen paraphrasing the rehearsed lines in a boardroom she commands with every syllable. It is the clarion voice of a gangster.

Michael Clayton - Plugged In

Tony Gilroy exhibits utter confidence in methodically laying out his characters’ motivations during the deceptively sedate first act. Seemingly open-ended narrative threads gradually come together in rubato time. Nothing is rushed. The narrative style breathes with a realism that can be misconstrued as overly complex, and yet there is nothing excessively elaborate. The filmmaker understands the droning tempo of careers spent in corporate law offices and the alternating speed with which do-or-die tasks can be dispatched. The authenticity he achieves points to experience he’s gained since finding the original inspiration for the film while doing research for writing "The Devil’s Advocate."

Michael Clayton 2007, directed by Tony Gilroy | Film review

"Michael Clayton" is an up-to-the-minute allegory about the devastating power and malicious intent of a corporation that conceals its unethical actions with television commercials featuring close-ups of verdant nature. The film is also a George Clooney vehicle in the vein of "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Syriana." Clooney’s commitment to creating a cinema of social responsibility carries with it an infectious passion and integrity. He has assembled an easily identifiable brand that hits a consistent watermark of reliable quality. George Clooney helps finance his vision with money from lowest common denominator movies like the "Oceans" franchise. It seems an ethical price to pay for films like "Michael Clayton" to be made.

Rated R. 119 mins.

4 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This 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 pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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