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This movie... I really don't have much to say about it. This movie was a waste of my time, and will surely be a waste of yours. The title is unbelievably misleading, and doesn't portray Anarchism in any way, shape or form. I nearly cried with frustration at how horribly wrong the entire concept was. I encourage you to throw this movie away if you own it, for it's nothing but a piece of right-wing propaganda that honestly portrays nothing other than the classic American troublemaker, which any true anarchist is far from. The only reason it really made it as far as it did- that is to say, the only reason people actually watched it- is because for once we anarchists thought that we would see a movie that showed Anarchy in all of it's potential glory. Boy, were we wrong.
This film is very, very loosely connected with the book "The Anarchist
Cookbook," a collection of do-it-yourself explosives, weapons and other
violent tools which has since been disavowed by its author. Aside from
featuring the book, the movie has absolutely no connection to it.
The movie does connect to the life of college dropout Puck (Devon Gummersall), an intelligent anarchist who spends his days living in a commune of like-minded folks among them: Karla (Gina Philips), a man hating feminist, Johnny Red (John Savage) a peaceful old hippie and Double-D (Steve Van Wormer), Puck's dimwitted best friend. Aside from protesting "oppressive" government actions, everything is relatively calm on the commune as they wait for the revolution, that is until the appearance of Johnny Black (Dylan Bruno) a violent nihilist who dismisses their peaceful ways. Things start to spiral out of control as Johnny Black convinces the collective to take a more severe approach to anarchy.
For a movie about questioning conventions, the script is pretty conventional. In fact, it's wholly unoriginal. Puck starts out as a lethargic, idealistic layabout who after facing the folly of his lifestyle alters his flaws and somewhat adjusts to adult life. This exact story seems to be lifted from 1998's "SLC Punk!" and while "SLC" delivered scathing satire, "Cookbook" only gives an occasional wink to entrenched hypocrisies. Additionally the pace of the story is very schizophrenic with some scenes being unbearably slow and others whizzing by. Maddening director choices like this completely fumbles the central point. Once the film closes by condemning violence in all its forms, it feels like putting a bandaid on a tumor.
A movie that involves such a predictable character arch needs to be supplied with decent acting on the part of the lead, and though Devon Gummersall tries his best, he never seems to get his footing on the character. The supporting cast doesn't fair any better. Karla becomes obnoxious, John Savage seems to phone it in and the character of Double-D is nothing more than a caricature out of place with the presumably "developing characters".
Jordan Susman made a lukewarm entrance into the movie industry winning a second place prize in 1997 for his short film "Sitting in Limbo" at the Montreal Film Festival. "The Anarchist Cookbook," released five years later has shown little improvement. Some scenes seem to have been shot by different types of cameras and lighting for no stylistic reason other than clear budget restraints. The editing is sloppy and everything seems to just not mesh at all.
There is one bright light in the form of Dylan Bruno. Bruno manages to portray menace with such understated glee that he balances intelligence, cunning and meat-headed violence pretty well. Unfortunately even his character is a shadow of what could have been.
"The Anarchist Cookbook" is an ill-conceived mess. Neither funny or dramatically engrossing, it serves as a toothless and forgetful expose on a subculture that deserves more credit. Neither emotionally striking or politically resonant this film about anarchy simply lacks anarchistic spirit.
First things first: I know the anarchist cookbook. I grew up with the anarchist cookbook. And this film is definitely NOT based on the anarchist cookbook. I must admit, that threw me. But then again, any movie that begins w/ a quote from GW Bush throws me for a loop. Unlike the original cookbook that starts with a bang, this one is a slow burn. A good simmer. The story took a little while to start cooking (to continue with a lame metaphor), but when it did, I couldn't stop watching. Or laughing. Or scratching my head and thinking. But somehow it all makes sense in the end. Little details that appeared random at the time popped out of the woodwork towards the end to make it a cohesive whole. I see alot of indy movies (in fact, that's about all I see nowadays.) And this movie beat the pants off everything else I've seen so far this year. Having IMDB'ed the crew, I was surprised to see that they were on a movie like this. But judging by the talent on the screen, I wasn't surprised at all. A note on the movie's politix: No one comes away clean. Not anarchists, nihilists, realists, dreamers, repos or dems. And that's something I haven't seen in a long time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've been reading trough the comments on this movie, and i don't think that many people really got it... it was showing that anarchy and nihilism are not the same thing, they may have slightly similar goals, but they are definitely not the same thing! Johnny Black is a nihilist, and he turns the anarchists into his toys, he uses them and destroys something beautiful (SAM) when doing it. I'm not saying that johnny Red was right in all the things he did, but he had a better view of how to take down the man than Johnny black. but the one who really knows what he stands for is Puck, he is the hero in this story, in a certain way... he knows that Johnny black is leading them all a-stray. If you think after watching this that anarchy is about violence you are wrong, please re watch the movie up until Johnny black shows up. thats what its all about
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think this movie was totally worth seeing. It's shaped around one
character who's entire life is centered around fitting in. Then the
filmmakers take this concept of anarchy and throw this guy into the
middle of it. He wants to just fit in but "how far will he go?". The
story twists around his wanting to fit in and his conscience of what is
actually right and wrong. The characters are by no means Abercrombie
and Fitch, but more normal everyday looking people.
This movie has depth that some people might not be able to see...and even though sometimes it might get slow maybe they did it on purpose for you to reflect or so you can say yeah I'm not just watching another mindless movie.
Also this movie points at social issues like the 60's hippie movement. And how it's shaped us now, instead of hippies were anarchist. Or how were always trying to rebel against something. It's very interesting to see the "new age hippie" mixed in with the radical 60's hippies (who are now adults).
So if you don't want to see another mindless Hollywood carbon copy this is definitely an interesting movie to see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let's see, we have Anarchists, Nihilists, anti-government right-wingers, wealthy Republicans, Neo-Nazis, but no Democrats at all. Being a moderate Democrat which at times veers towards Centrism, I found this movie lacking a bit. While some scenes were smart, others came off as stupid, un-original, un-realistic and improvised. Puck lives with his friends in a Anarchist commune somewhere in Texas. These are Anarchist that resemble more flower children. One day, a Nihilist called Johnny Black shows up, offer everyone drugs and violence as a weapon and somehow becomes the leader. Later on, the Anrchist forge an alliance wit other anti-establishment groups such as Neo-Nazis. First of all, not all Anarchists are peace loving intellectuals. Many are upper-class spoiled brats that simply want to vandalize anything (Yes I know plenty of these, they do exist). Many do follow Anarchist theory but fail to realize it's utopianism. Johnny Red the early leader,constantly lionizes Sweden as an exemplary society but somehow Social Democrats are missing from the film's universe. Anarchists tend to be socially liberal and would NEVER form an alliance with Neo-Nazis. If Puck didn't agree with the system, he could of found ways to subvert it by integrating himself into alternative cultures and political movements (YES, lobbying does work). Other reviewers are correct in pointing out the similarities between this movie and SLC Punk and Trainspotting. Despite its plot's weakness, Anarchist Cookbook has a witty script and at moments stylish direction. Gina Phillips as the commune temptress, steals most of her scenes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Anarchist Cookbook is a well produced film. The style of the film
is excellent and it fits the subject matter well. All of the actors put
on a passable performance. And as another reviewer noted, the film made
mention of political things not often mentioned in a film of this kind.
Even though I enjoyed the film, I don't think it accomplished what the director intended too. Unless the director was trying to preach to the choir with this film, this film missed the mark. I can't imagine any real anarchist being convinced by this film and it has nothing to do with them being "close minded" or anything like that.
I you are to effectively argue against an anarchist, you need to show them WHY things are the way they are and WHY it needs to be done that way. You can't JUST say that this is the way it is and you have to go a long with it. The anarchists have arguments for why things shouldn't be. Anyone who is to challenge them needs to show why things have to be the way they are. Saying "JUST BECAUSE!" is not only predictable to an anarchist, it also isn't very convincing to anyone who doesn't all ready hold your view point.
Anyone who thinks the film defeats anarchists should definitely do a double take. Look at this page for instance, the anarchists are still standing and it's because of what I explained in the above paragraph. This is what this film does and that's why it fails.
Also, I'd like to note that people like Johnny Black are not exclusive to anarchism and nihilism. There is a Johnny Black in every political movement. Left and Right. Anyone could use violence to advance their political ambitions. It's a universal thing in politics.
To sum things up, the presentation of the film was good. Though, the film won't convince anyone to change their views and will only empower people who wouldn't agree with anarchism all ready.
Anarchist's Cookbook is better categorized as a coming of age teen movie
then drama or comedy. In fact, this movie is exactly like "SLC Punk"
with "Porn and Chicken". In the end, as with the other movies, I felt
the story was force fed and the ending was classic Hollywood ride off
the sunset finish with all lose ends tied up nicely. It's watch able,
once... but easily forgettable.
Most of my problems with the plot of the movie revolve around the "bad guy" Johnny Black character. He is presented as a nihilist who is on a mission to save the environment with guerilla activism. So really Johnny is not a nihilist, but a radical. This point alone makes most of the philosophical discussions that take place in the movie insulting to anyone who has bothered to look up the words nihilism and anarchy in the dictionary (they even do it for you). Another thing that bothered me about the movie is the typical good guy hero Puck. This is the same guy from every teen movie ever made; you can interchange them and not notice a difference. The narration throughout the movie was another bad point, I felt like I was watching growing pains. And I love how they stole the only emotionally meaningful moment in the film from SLC Punk. I could bitch for hours, but the bottom line is that this is an average teen movie. Not as original as SLC Punk and about as provocative as moldy meat. But if you have nothing else to do, it can't hurt to rent it once as long as you know what you're getting upfront: a s****y way to kill two hours.
What can I say about The Anarchist's Cookbook? As other reviewers of this
movie have noted, it is like a cross between Fight Club and SLC Punk. I also
felt a familiarity with 25th Hour and this film. The acting was good, and
even commendable in a few cases, but the movie in general was a let down.
I did not expect the movie to be based on the book, or even to have any references to it. I have read it myself ten years ago. However, I do not think that the Anarchist's Cookbook was the right title for the film. They should have called it something else, but I am no good at coming up with title names, so I will spare you my own lame version.
To be honest, I was expecting to see something like Fight Club, but with more indie characteristics. Instead, I got a dry witted impersonation of a few guys at my old high school that did nothing but skip class and smoke pot. It was full of stereotypes and proud arguments but held no meaning for me at all. I feel I could have used the time I spent more wisely doing something more constructive, like maybe relieving myself.
It is a funny movie though, as long as you are keeping in mind that this is only the director's second film and everyone has to start somewhere. Not everyone explodes in some prodigal genius; some have to learn the mistakes the hard way. I may recommend this movie to other indie lovers I know, but I would not watch it again. Rating: 4/10
The "Anarchists Cookbook"? I downloaded the real Anarchist Cookbook
from a BBS, bulletin board system (Pre-internet "websites") when I was
in my teens; and let me tell you one thing - there is nothing
anarchistic in this script, he rips off a "Chic-filet" style joint in
the beginning - like that takes a lack of authoritarian fear. Okay, so
I only watched the first nine minutes while making something to eat -
but it did the trick; I turned it off.
I don't even have the words. I don't claim to be an anarchist in any sense of the word. I just implore anyone out there looking into the "modern" anarchist lifestyle to fore go this piece of trash and pick up a little book known as "Days Of War, Nights Of Love" - it's the closest thing to a "cookbook" on the lifestyle anyone will ever need.
Essentially, it's like saying that "Empire Records" was an accurate representation of mid-90's sub-culture - though in its defense it had decent acting and a fairly believable script.
P.S. To all those who relate this to SLC punk - PLEASE!!! At least that was a period piece with relative social constructs.
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