188 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
War Porn
13 February 2016
The problem with Beasts Of No Nation is a problem familiar with all depictions of Africa - the absence of any kind of context.

Things happen for no reason, allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks with previous propaganda, making the viewer believe that their previous misconceptions have now been confirmed.

Beasts Of No Nation was made by Cary Joji Fukunaga, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow. The Rockefellers own among the world's largest extractive industry corporations owners/founders - ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, United Fruit/Chiquita, and many more. A similar family started Royal Dutch Shell, which exploits the people of Nigeria for their oil.

Which brings me to the decontextualization - this story is set 'in a fictional African country', however the writer of the book is a Nigerian national. If the Idris Alba character would have been working for someone, it would have been Shell, maybe Anglo-Ashanti Gold, or his direct superiors would have been working on their behalf.

This is lost in the war porn, as it always is. Because Beasts Of No Nation is just one in a long line of 'mood setting' rather than informative movies about Africa, all of which are funded by the same extractive industry corporations and the families that own them.

Blood Diamonds was made on behalf of the Kimberley Process, which tried to restrict diamond exports from Zimbabwe and the Congo DRC. It was driven by Nicky Oppenheimer of Anglo-American De Beers, the world's diamond monopolist in the 20th century, and even today the world's biggest diamond miner with 40% of global diamonds mined and traded.

The Interpreter, with Nicole Kidman, another movie 'set in a fictional African country', however clearly based on Zimbabwe, where De Beers covets the huge Chiadzwa and Marange diamond fields, which could supply 20% of the world's diamond supply and crash the world's diamond price. Mugabe And The White African is in a similar vein, trying to demonize the government of Zimbabwe, while extolling the virtues of Rhodesia.

Then of course there was the propaganda of Eve Ensler, trying to hyper-focus the destruction of Eastern DRC by the Rwandan government's M-23, into 'the Vagina Monologues'. Again, leaving the actual culprits out of the picture, and focusing on mercenaries/soldiers and war porn instead.

De Beers lost 117,000 hectares of land in the land redistribution of 2000, and they want it back. And if that means portraying Africans as psychotic 'Beasts Of No Nation', well that's what they've been doing for over 100 years.
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President Mugabe And The Last Rhodesians
22 February 2011
The Big Lie of this documentary, is that Whites are a minority in Zimbabwe; that they own a minority of the land (2%), and that they are therefore 'singled out by Mugabe' because of their race. That 'Mugabe' wants to create a country free of all Whites. This is the Big Lie at the center of this propaganda piece.

The Truth: Ben Freeth and Mike Campbell are die hard Rhodesians. That is what they mean with 'White African' - Rhodesians. And these two Rhodesians are trying to resist the redistribution of their 12,000 hectare estate called Mount Carmel.

This estate, with it's 500 'workers' is repeatedly referred to as a 'farm'. The average EU farm is 90 hectares. The average white commercial farm was 2,500 hectares. Before land reform, which saw the 1% of the population who were classified white under colonialism and UDI, own 47% of the country. That is what land redistribution addressed.

The Campbell and Freeth estate is much bigger than that - 12,000 hectares. Under the Fast Track land reform program, land is redistributed in 50 hectare (A1) and 250 hectare (A2) farms. Many whites have acted like Zimbabweans, not Rhodesians, and have taken a 250 or so (more in low rainfall areas) farm.

This documentary is about the preservation of privilege, not 'human rights'.
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As A Remake It Stands On It's Own
21 December 2010
Compared to the usual repetitive dreck you see nowadays, this is actually pretty original, because it was based on a very deep, gritty, 1985 BBC TV miniseries, which starred Bob Peck, Joanne Whalley (now Whalley-Kilmer), and Joe Don Baker.

Having seen the original, which I would like to remember as one of the most televisional experiences in my life, everything about the movie remake is rushed and inauthentic. "Edge Of Darkness" was not just a revenge movie, but a TV series that wove together very different themes - detective procedural, ghost story, environmentalism, spiritualism, nuclear energy, Northern Ireland, Thatcherism). It was just a very rich experience, played by very accomplished actors.

The original boyfriend was played by Tim McInnerney (who was also in the Kate Bush music video for "This Woman's World", and Blackadder).

I had exactly the same feeling when watching Red Dragon after having seen Manhunter in the 1980s/1990s.

But if you want to see this and enjoy it, don't ever see the original first.
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A Long Tradition
24 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is actually a pretty good movie if you set your expectations low and haven't watched decades of horror movies - or the kiss of death to the horror movie genres - The X-Files and The Ghost Whisperer.

Having said - the villain is really evil, the special effects are very good. Maybe some people need it, but in a horror movie, the Hollywood happy ending seemed out of place and tagged on (literally).

They handle the 'Get Out Now!' moment Eddy Murphy used to joke about in the 1980s pretty pretty well.

What is great is to see Elias Koteas and Virginia Madsen reunited - they collaborated before on the angels and demons horror movie called The Prophecy. If you want to see a classic horror movie - see that one too. And Elias Koteas certainly aged a lot in 16 years - more than Virginia Madsen has. (Maybe some testosterone pills, a hair implant and a few hours at the gym are in order. Really, he used to look great. IMDb has his age at only 49, he looks in his late sixties in this.)
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Untraceable (2008)
Se7en Without The Algebra
18 January 2009
This is a pretty horrible movie, bereft of any kind of creativity or story telling. We just move from gruesome murder to gruesome murder.

What is worse is the subtext. The idea that the world is full of sinister nerds, and that the surveillance society will come to the rescue is reactionary. Also, innocent, curious surfers are 'accomplices' to online crime?

Then there is the acting. The supposedly cute grandmother (I hate cute adults - how patronizing) looks so out of it and demented, I wouldn't let her watch a goldfish, let alone a child. Is that Mary Beth Hurt?

The leading men are less than inspiring. The makers wanted to create a 'modern' thriller by concocting a crime (snuff movies) and connecting them with online websites. The fact that there are still no known snuff movies, and the fact that government officials engaged in entrapment are portrayed as the good guys bothers me.

Badly written, reactionary, stay away.
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The Eye (2008)
Nice Chiller
2 January 2009
This is a very good movie, with plenty of chills and a good plot. The problem may be that we have been watching years of The Ghost Whisperer, Medium, the X-Files and The Mothman Prophecies (Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Debra Messing).

The problem with television today is that there are such high standards of writing and production, that it almost makes movies irrelevant.

So if you are an impressionable mid-teen, this might be just new enough to you to be enjoyable. If not, mid-way you are saying "But what do the ghosts want from Jessica?". Anyway, the scares are pretty good, Jessica Alba is delectable. However, Allessandro Nivola must be the most unsympathetic and uncharismatic leading man in a long time.
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Very Interesting Prequel
10 March 2008
Hannibal Rising is a pretty good movie. If I was 15 years old today, meaning I had never seen Manhunter, or even Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal or Red Dragon, I would say that this is a very decent horror movie come character study.

If I have a few issues with it, they would be the following.

Not enough of Hannibal's personality and his interaction with his sister, which was made the his motivating factor from Hannibal onward, were delved into as deeply as in the book. Hannibal's almost autistic focus on his senses, or his creation of memory palaces was not delved into at all, which is a shame. It needn't have lasted more than a minute, but it would have revealed a lot about the psychology that writer Thomas Harris created.

Then, shooting the movie in England, when every low budget action movie heads straight for Eastern Europe, makes no sense. They could have achieved a much greater sense of authenticity if they had shot in the Baltics, and used Eastern European actors. The English accents of the actors immediately transport you back to the Hammer House Of Horror productions.

Then, there was the mask, which he wasn't outfitted with until his transport in Silence Of The Lambs.

On the plus side, there is the wonderful Gong Li, who has no problem portraying very strong female characters. Lady Murasaki seems as tough and, in her own way, twisted as Hannibal. She has the best line in the movie. When presented with a butcher's head and the police approach, she replies - "Quickly Hannibal, they will call it murder".

Overall, if you are relatively unaware of the great movies that were Manhunter and Silence Of The Lambs, this is a pretty good movie when standing on it's own.
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8MM 2 (2005 Video)
8mm 0.2
23 April 2007
This movie has nothing to do with the sanctimonious sleaze-pot, starring Nicholas Cage. At the time, I thought the movie was pretty bad, however, this is infinitely worse.

The actresses are cute, and as an 'erotic thriller', it is passable, but it has nothing to do with the 'Heart Of Darkness' theme that the original 8mm barely pulled off.

Add to that, that this movie is shot somewhere in Eastern Europe (cheap locations, low wages, etc.) and this is bottom of the barrel. Nothing bad about Eastern Europe, which is beautiful and I'm sure there are great people living there too, however, after the slew of Steven Seagal low budgeters, these particular locations are like a red flag for this video fan. Now if they actually involved the location into the storyline, instead of just using them as a backdrop...
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The Punisher (2004)
Not The Punisher
15 April 2007
As a one time reader of the Punisher: Warzone series and Punisher: Survival, I have to say I started the movie off slightly disappointed.

This punisher, although defined, isn't nearly massive enough for the 'real' Frank Castle. I think this role was made for bodybuilder Mike Matarazzo, who would be absolutely perfect in it. But I digress.

The second problem is that this Frank Castle is not nearly nuts enough. He was crazier than the original Rambo (First Blood), who was pretty unstable himself.

Third, the details were off. In The Punisher, Frank's little nuclear family was killed in Central Park, not at some extended family get together in Puerto Rico.

I also thought that Thomas Jane didn't have the intensity or gravitas for the role. I like Rebecca Romijn Stamos.

The minor characters were put in to supply comic relief. I don't think comic relief was needed, if the directors had taken a darker, more Gothic approach to the story. I would have liked to see more of Frank's mental instability. More Se7en meets Batman.

I thought it was interesting to see Will Patton outside of his bookish, intellectual performance on "The Agency".
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Red Eye (2005)
Class, no breeding
10 December 2006
Wes Craven is at it again. This is a very by the books 'thriller', which has unfortunately been made obsolete by the TV series "24". Jack Bauer deals with this sort of thing three or four times per episode, while it takes Craven an entire movie to get to the finish. Fortunately, the running time is old-fashioned too, at 85 minutes, instead of the modern standard of two hours.

The leads are both gorgeous, in their own way. However, the writing makes them both insufferable. Cillian Murphy at least has the benefit of being the bad guy, which makes him less obnoxious than our 'heroine', who is such a stuck up sorority girl that I couldn't feel any more empathy with her than any of the female contestants of The Apprentice. If she'd been killed anywhere along the proceedings, I wouldn't have cared less. Oh wait a minute, she isn't an a-hole, she's 'spunky', just like her aunt Henrietta.

So how does Craven fill in the scenery in between? We are treated to some kind of version of American class warfare. Unfortunately, the 'aristocracy' are middle management, sole proprietors (a hit-man) and retirees, while the working class come proletariat is, well... people who still work for a living. Which is odd, because I thought that work was something admirable, not something to be looked down upon. I guess it is work without money that is to be looked down upon. Craven sort of weasels out of that one in the end with the little 'rebellion' by the Goldie Hawn like character. Also, apparently 'Cosmo' as a drink is 'too common', according to Murphy.

How stuck up can the middle class be? Who cares. Apparently class is expressed in fake smiles, shallowness, conceit and being demonstratively stuck up. Obviously, it is nothing like courtesy or consideration. 'My bad'.

However, the movie is tight, and it doesn't get distracted into any unrelated threads, which is why the running time under ninety minutes.
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