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Room 237 (2012)
What's the real goal of this provocative film? Read my review to find out.
Room 237 is a great example of what happens when a state, and even a system, is in a crisis. What this entire film comes down to is that director Stanley Kubrick left hidden messages in his later films, especially in The Shining (1980). This may be true because filmmakers sometimes do this in order to show to the public what they really think or feel. As knowledgeable people know, there's no real freedom of speech. Everything that's made in Hollywood, and in the West in general, contains propaganda. Everything is controlled by the ruling class. The problem with Room 237 is that it's also propaganda. It offers the opinions of several people. These people are said to be Kubrick enthusiasts, and they kind of narrate while we're shown footage from Kubrick's films. The problem with this is that we don't find out who these people are and what their intentions are. Even their faces aren't shown. Why are these people saying what they're saying? Room 237 doesn't tell us. So, it turns out that the goal of this film isn't to educate but to provoke. What we're told in Room 237 is highly questionable. A bit of it may be true, but we, the viewers, have no way of knowing. We don't have access to such information. One thing that's clear to me, however, is that Room 237 is propaganda made by people that serve a faction of the Anglo-American ruling class. Ordinary people often make the mistake of thinking that the ruling class of a country is united and is of one mind. The reality is that the ruling class is composed of factions, each with its own interests. They agree about some things, and they disagree about other things. These different factions try to rally ordinary people to their cause, to their interests, by releasing propaganda through films, books, music, news and any other medium. So, when, for example, election time comes, a faction wants people to vote for the candidate that it's supporting. Each faction would like to have their own man or woman in power. The factions especially begin to disagree and even fight when there's a crisis, like the capitalist economic depression that began in the West in 2008. Based on this, I can tell which faction is behind Room 237. For example, in the film, it's claimed that the Apollo moon landings were faked. At least the footage was faked. This is probably true, but why are we being told this? Is it because the filmmakers are nice? No, it's because they want to shake up the situation and discredit another, dominant, faction of the ruling class. Ordinary people don't have access to secret information about the Apollo program, and the only reason why, in the last few decades, we've been seeing reports about the moon landings being faked is because ruling class factions are disagreeing. So, in this film, we're told about the genocide of Native Americans, the Nazis and other things that we often hear about in the West, but with a spin that's a bit different. It's meant to provoke and make us question what we know. But a lot of what's said in Room 237 is lies. As I've already mentioned, the goal of Room 237 isn't to educate but to provoke. Right after we're told about the Nazis, we're told that Joseph Stalin allegedly starved 3 million people in Western Ukraine. This is not true. It's an obvious capitalist lie. And Stalin never said that the death of one man is a tragedy and that the death of millions is a statistic. It's just another capitalist lie. So, why are we getting these anti-communist lies in Room 237? It's because even the faction that got this film made doesn't want a real revolution, a communist revolution, to happen in the USA. I'm thinking that this faction is the same one that promotes so-called conservative propagandists like Alex Jones, Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart. Half the time these people talk about liberty and the free market, and the other half they dedicate to lying about communism, the Soviet Union, and especially Joseph Stalin. They push the interests of their faction of the ruling class, but they also don't want for a communist or a socialist revolution to happen, one that would sweep away the entire capitalist ruling class. This is the faction that wants to lower wages in the USA and to destroy the welfare state. Sure, some of these people may be against America's wars, but not because they're nice. They just want to rally as many dupes as possible to their cause, to their political candidates from the Republican Party.
Big-budget, studio-produced franchise films don't get any better than this.
This modern take on the Rocky story is a lot better than I expected. I was never a fan of Sylvester Stallone, and no one would disagree that he eventually drove the Rocky series into a swamp. Rocky (1976) is an excellent and influential film. Its legacy can be seen in the wonderful The Karate Kid (1984), also directed by John G. Avildsen. Rocky II (1979) is good, but largely a repeat of the first. Rocky III (1982) is competent, but commercial, and it showed that the 1980s have arrived. Rocky IV (1985) is all formula and all propaganda. Rocky V (1990) is the worst thing ever (just kidding). And, finally, Rocky Balboa (2006) is flawed but better than expected. So, it's clear that every successive film in the series became worse. But now, because of Creed, the series is back on top. Creed is easily the best in the series since Rocky II. Why is that? Well, it's because the director this time is Ryan Coogler, and Stallone is in a supporting role. Coogler came up with a workable idea for the film - let's make the main character the son of former world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, and let's make Rocky his trainer and mentor. It's an idea that, with Coogler's writing and direction, works surprisingly well. One can say that Creed has the same formula as every Rocky film, but, if the film is this well-made and uplifting, is that a problem? As for Stallone, he delivers one of his best performances ever. In fact, he upstages Michael B. Jordan, who plays Adonis Creed, in just about every scene that they have together. But Jordan isn't a disappointment. He has the good looks for a big budget Hollywood movie. More importantly, he breathes remarkable life into the title role, showing that Adonis is a cocksure, exuberant and loyal character. The only problem with Adonis is his relationship with his love interest Bianca (Tessa Thompson). This relationship is poorly developed and not entirely believable. Still, some of the scenes with Bianca are tender and candid. The fight scenes are, for the most part, exciting. They don't have the same punch as the fight scenes that Avildsen and Stallone filmed in Rocky and Rocky II, but they're well-done and they pay off. One of the problems is that Creed's opponent isn't presented well as someone who's tough and dangerous. Because of this, one doesn't get the feeling that Adonis has to overcome a big challenge. By the way, Coogler and cinematographer Maryse Alberti also did a good job filming in Philadelphia, showing a city in an economic depression. So, in my view, there are a few faults with the script and with characterization. Still, on the whole, Creed works very well. I definitely recommend it.
The Martian (2015)
The Martian focuses on the triumph of human ingenuity under duress.
Is The Martian science fiction or science fact? Well, it's set in the near future, in 2035, so it's not easy to call it science fiction, although it's technically science fiction. It's not entirely science fact either because some of the science on display in The Martian is questionable. What matters, however, is that the film is entertaining and memorable. There's no question that Ridley Scott is one of the best directors working in Hollywood. Prometheus (2012) marked his return to the science fiction genre, and now we have The Martian, which is even better. Prometheus is a visually impressive film that, unfortunately, has a confusing plot, poor characterization, and pacing issues. It was an attempt to repeat the formula of Alien (1979) and maybe even Aliens (1986), with mixed results. The Martian, on the other hand, isn't dark and confusing. It's straight-forward and upbeat. It centers around an astronaut (Matt Damon) who gets stranded on Mars and has to survive. His struggle to get in contact with NASA and to return home is what keeps the film running. I was surprised by how entertaining the film is. Firstly, the characters in The Martian make rational decisions. They're not a bunch of degenerates and fools who run around and get into trouble, like in Prometheus. And the performances from the cast are all solid. Leading man Matt Damon did good work playing Mark Watney, someone who's often funny and hardly ever depressed. Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor are in supporting roles. Secondly, the science that's on display in the film is interesting. Some of what is shown makes viewers think, and wonder what's going to happen. Viewers can actually learn a few things from the film. This is due to the fact that the film is based on Andy Weir's 2011 novel, which was adapted into a screenplay by Drew Goddard. And, of course, The Martian is visually impressive, something that's to be expected from a Ridley Scott film. Some of the scenes set on Mars are stunning. The designs of the suits and vehicles are excellent too. So, The Martian is definitely worth recommending. It's a great example of crowd-pleasing cinema.
A charming film with a winning performance by Keira Knightley.
Laggies is a lovely film that keeps viewers interested from beginning to end. It's actually very funny, something that I didn't expect. The pixie-ish British actress Keira Knightley provides a good, engaging performance as Megan, a 28-year-old who realizes that very little has changed in her life since high school. Knightley, playing the main character, is also the one who's the funniest in Laggies. She has a number of good scenes with Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays the 16-year-old Annika. However, all the actors, most of them famous names, provide strong performances, and this is what makes the film so likable. The versatile Sam Rockwell delivers again as Annika's father Craig. Rockwell's movie career goes back to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), but recently he's starred in must-see films like The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007), Moon (2009), Iron Man 2 (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011) and The Way, Way Back (2013). The story by author/screenwriter Andrea Seigel is a memorable one too, taking a look at a woman who's still mentally stuck in her teen years. In conclusion, Laggies is a commendable effort by director Lynn Shelton. It's an entertaining romantic comedy that I definitely recommend.
Gareth Edwards fails to do justice to the monster's legacy.
If you've seen the trailer for this Godzilla film you probably thought that it would be a more faithful yet serious take on Japan's most famous monster. In the trailer Godzilla looked like a real threat. It seemed frightening the way it was portrayed. In the film though this isn't the case. We're yet again in that summer movie territory where the trailer was more inspired than the film itself. Does The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) come to mind? I think that the big reason why many people were disappointed with this Godzilla film is its lack of originality. If you pause and look at what's happening you'll see that it's actually very similar to the 1998 Godzilla film directed by Roland Emmerich. Godzilla is portrayed as a monster with some intelligence. It becomes a sympathetic creature. The American military and navy get involved, something that we've seen many times in Hollywood films recently. And, to top it all off, there's more focus on the human characters than on Godzilla. In fact, much time passes before the Big G even makes an appearance. So, just as in the 1998 film, we're forced to watch a typical human drama before anything exciting happens. But at least the 1998 film was entertaining. And it was a film about Godzilla. This 2014 film is lacking both Godzilla and entertainment. It's a summer movie, so I expected to be entertained. Instead I was left wondering what happened when the film ended. It wasn't just me. Other people in the theater were criticizing it right after it ended. Director Gareth Edwards really didn't have enough experience to make a big budget summer movie. The monster fights lack excitement, the acting is wooden, and the clichéd script lacks intelligence. I don't think that Edwards is a bad filmmaker. I think that he's an inexperienced filmmaker. His 2010 low-budget feature Monsters is a technical triumph that showed some promise. Max Borenstein's lazy script and studio interference are the two things that really ruined this film in my opinion. In a monster movie one would at least expect some exciting action but this film fails even at that. In addition, it's obvious that Edwards took the Jaws (1975) approach of obscuring the creature for much of the film's running time. Jaws, however, features interesting human characters and terrific performances. It keeps on movin' when the big shark isn't around. The human characters and performances in Edwards' Godzilla are flat, resulting in a truly dull middle section. Only Bryan Cranston, playing Joe Brody, stands out. Cranston is definitely one of the best Hollywood actors working now. His performance alone made this film bearable at the beginning, but even then the story's shortcomings were already noticeable. I have to admit that I had doubts about this film. I usually read reviews on a certain website before I go to the cinema. This time I made the mistake of reading the early positive reviews on IMDb, so I didn't wait for the review on that favorite website of mine. As it turned out, that website was right yet again and this Godzilla film made for an unpleasant night at the cinema. Some Godzilla fans might like what Edwards did, but casual moviegoers should definitely not buy a ticket. Remember, as was the case with the 1998 film, there's no hiding that this is a Western production. It has none of the quirks and cultural aspects of the Japanese films.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
This deftly scripted and unusually affecting film is truly memorable.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past marks the end of an era. The cast that people got used to over the last 15 years makes its final appearance. It's a bit sad to see actors like Patrick Stewart (Professor X) and Ian McKellen (Magneto) go because they were so charismatic in their roles. In this film too they show their excellent acting abilities. It's actually nice to see familiar faces return. Halle Berry (Storm), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) took part in the action, while others returned to nicely conclude everything at the end. Days Of Future Past is a sequel to both The Last Stand (2006) and First Class (2011). The satisfying ending isn't the only thing that director Bryan Singer was thorough with. This sequel has been called the best X-Men film yet by some reviewers. My opinion is that First Class is the best X-Men film so far, but Days Of Future Past is just about as good. But let's not forget about X2 (2003), which is another worthy contender for the best X-Men film. I'm not someone who likes the X-Men films much. I think that none of them have been perfect so far. They all have something that prevents them from being great films or some of the best superhero films. They're first and foremost blockbusters that are meant to entertain. Some scenes in Days Of Future Past can be seen again and again, especially the spectacular opening sequence that introduces a nightmarish new threat. In terms of action Singer is at the top of his game here. The tone is softened after the incredibly grim introduction. Some may think this wise, but once Wolverine is in the past the film loses momentum, introduces characters that aren't very interesting, humor that isn't very funny, action that isn't very exciting, and details that aren't very clever. Some people may think that Magneto's connection to the JFK assassination was clever but, in my opinion, it was handled poorly by Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg. The film slows down noticeably in the middle. This minor problem is what prevents me from giving Days Of Future Past a very good rating. What happens at the end though is just as interesting and entertaining as what happens at the beginning. The action is terrific and John Ottman's good score is used to great effect. Days Of Future Past is a long film, with 131 minutes of running time. Still, considering its epic time-traveling story and its many characters I can say that Singer and Kinberg succeeded in making the film satisfying. Much of the cast can be applauded for their efforts. Stewart and McKellen, as I mentioned before, are excellent as usual in their roles. Hugh Jackman is as reliable as always as Wolverine. Many people forget that Jackman is a good actor. He proved it in films like The Fountain (2006) and Prisoners (2013) and even in schlock like Kate & Leopold (2001) and Van Helsing (2004). Jennifer Lawrence, playing Mystique, is fine in her role but nothing special in my opinion. When she's covered with blue paint she's not as menacing or as sexy as Rebecca Romijn was in the role. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy get to impress only at the end of the film. Before that there's really nothing to write about concerning their acting. They're clearly not as charismatic as they were in First Class. In fact, McAvoy simply annoyed me while he was doing his depressed Charles Xavier bit. His acting, thankfully, improved when Xavier tried to convince Mystique to abandon the course that she was on. The only other thing that I have to add about Days Of Future Past is that it doesn't contain as much establishment propaganda as First Class. In First Class it was just obvious. "Mutant and proud" was clearly a metaphor for "gay and proud." In case you didn't know, I'll mention that for the Anglo-American establishment pro-gay propaganda is very important. It's one of their tactics to reduce human population on the planet because they think that there's way too many people now. So being fine with homosexuality and not having children is what the ruling class wants for the lower classes. Globalization is another thing that's very important for the establishment. The story takes place in different countries and there's also an international cast involved. In Days Of Future Past, the Russians and the Chinese are mentioned as enemies that are more dangerous than the mutants. This also fits into the establishment line. Russia and China are the main enemies for the ruling class of Britain and the USA. North Korea gets most of the hate these days, but China and especially Russia aren't far behind. Other than what I've mentioned there's really nothing to complain about. The visual effects, especially the Sentinels, are mostly impressive and so are the designs. Days Of Future Past suffers because of the plethora of characters. Not all of the key players are given satisfying story arcs, but I still recommend this epic yet entertaining film.
A superior sequel that, at the very least, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its whizbang predecessor.
The Winter Soldier is another solid entry in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's just as good and, in my opinion, even better than The First Avenger (2011). It's become the norm now that Marvel Studios films are some of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year. All of them have been good. Some people who've seen the film in the theaters have said that The Winter Soldier is the best of the bunch. I think that The Avengers (2012) remains the best Marvel film so far, though The Winter Soldier comes close. One often remembers the exciting action scenes when praising this film. There's a number of action scenes, and all of them are quite memorable. The neat thing about them is that they're as realistic as possible. In my view the film is simply a technological thriller that's meant to be both modern and realistic. Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo gave this sequel a hi-tech sheen that's different from the steampunk visual approach of Joe Johnston for The First Avenger. The realism is largely due to Captain America himself and his comic book stories. He doesn't possess spectacular powers like the other avengers, so screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely constructed a plot that rotates around politics and characters. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow has her biggest role yet in this film and so does Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Actually, the entire film is about S.H.I.E.L.D. and what happens to it. Chris Evans' Steve Rogers plays an important part in what's going on, but it's still only a part. When it comes to Rogers it's mostly the continuation of his adjustment to the modern world. This, however, isn't really interesting because there's not much to it. It is the focus of the film's humor however. Unlike Iron Man 3 (2013) and Thor: The Dark World (2013), The Winter Soldier contains little comedy. It suffers as a result because the political intrigue is, for the most part, not that interesting (at least for me) for a summer blockbuster. Still, thanks to Robert Redford playing the part of Alexander Pierce, this is made bearable. Rogers goes through a believable struggle in the course of the film, and Evans manages to appear vulnerable despite Rogers' strength and skills. The introductions of Sebastian Stan as Winter Soldier and Anthony Mackie as Falcon are exciting bits that reinforce the film's themes of trust and friendship. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) and Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) will follow The Winter Soldier, yet it already feels like plenty has happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film is a fairly impressive feat. I can argue that the action and the characterization can be improved, but it's still a smart balance of story and action. Like the big majority of blockbusters of recent years it follows the movie formula of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). I also noticed parts of it that are influenced by Come And See (1985), which is one of my favorite films. The Winter Soldier already earned a lot of money at the box office. I'd recommend it but you've probably already seen it.
Noah is director Darren Aronofsky's best film to date.
If you go to see Noah don't expect just another old-fashioned Bible epic from Hollywood. The film's director is Darren Aronofsky, and this should tell you right away that Noah is complex, emotional and visually stunning. You can expect plenty of impressive visual effects, but this isn't what the film is about. It's first and foremost a character driven spectacle about Noah, his family, and people in general. Aronofsky got everything he could from the Bible story to philosophize about human nature. In addition, he expanded the story by including subplots that only improve the experience. Russell Crowe, playing Noah, leads the film admirably. Here he provides some of his best work. Noah changes in the course of the film. Crowe brings Noah to life by making him a character one can relate to. He ranges from compassionate to terrifying. Jennifer Connelly plays Noah's wife Naameh, and she gets to demonstrate how good of an actress she is. Aronofsky is known for getting good performances from actors. This skill is clearly on display in Noah. Connelly delivers the film's most impassioned, powerful speeches. Douglas Booth, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Leo McHugh Carroll play Noah's children. Their performances are good all around. It's Lerman though, playing Ham, who has to handle much of the drama. He provides Ham with some genuine torment and, surprisingly, makes Ham into a likable character despite his actions. Yet another famous name in the cast is Anthony Hopkins, who plays Noah's ancient, wise grandfather Methuselah. Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique give the film an otherworldly atmosphere. The Earth before the flood seems like an inhospitable alien world. Clint Mansell's music score for Noah is exceptional. It consists mostly of dreamy, elegiac, atmospheric pieces but when the action kicks in it becomes intense and brooding. What the viewer can expect from Noah is an absorbing and thought-provoking blockbuster. It may be based on a Bible story but Aronosfky delves into other themes, most notably environmentalism. I don't support environmentalism because of its elitist origins. Noah, however, is such a good film that I can easily overlook that. I definitely recommend it.
The Monuments Men (2014)
A war movie with an ensemble cast that suffers from poor pacing, direction and characterization.
From CFR member George Clooney comes the cartoonish The Monuments Men, a blatant piece of Anglo-American propaganda. It's a good thing that I got to see this film for free. Director Clooney and screenwriter Grant Heslov took a real World War II story and turned it into an average film with few redeeming factors. There are abundant war movie clichés and propaganda clichés here, like the American obsession with the value of every soldier's life, the constant mention of Jews and what they allegedly went through, and stereotypical portrayals of protagonists and antagonists alike. The film may be based on a true story but it's been changed so much that it has almost nothing in common with that story. Even the names of the main characters have been changed. Some of Hollywood's biggest names participated in the film but they're mostly just playing themselves. George Clooney, for example, isn't really playing George L. Stout. He's playing George Clooney. The propaganda is constant, so you're always reminded that all Americans and their British buddies are freedom-lovers. The filmmakers also wanted to squeeze in as much comedy as possible. The American characters come off as a group of bunglers who tell jokes every chance they get. The German characters too are played for laughs as often as possible, and there's hardly any menace to them. Strangely, the only characters that are portrayed with any seriousness are the Russians, and these allies of the Americans are the only ones who seem menacing here. My question is why were the Russians even included in this film? Was it just so they could see that flag left behind by the "freedom-loving" Americans? Talk about strange. The only information the film offers about the Russians is that 20 million Russians were killed during the war. Yes, but it would have been more worthwhile to mention that the Germans looted or destroyed plenty of Russian art too. For example, the historic city of St. Petersburg was heavily bombed by the Germans. Most palaces, houses and monuments weren't left standing there. So a lot of what can be seen in the city now was rebuilt after the war. It's obvious that The Monuments Men was made for propaganda purposes. It was a rushed job too. The filmmakers didn't take the story seriously. Therefore, the film is a big failure. The performances by the ensemble cast are muted. John Goodman, playing Walker Hancock, and Bill Murray, playing Robert K. Posey, are the ones who suffer most in this respect. They could have been replaced by unknown actors and it wouldn't have made a difference. The only part of the story that seems developed is the relationship between James Rorimer (Matt Damon) and Rose Valland (Cate Blanchett). Everything else seems half-baked, especially the humorous conflict between Posey and Lincoln Kirstein (Bob Balaban). There were times when Clooney demonstrated that he can be a very good director. However, The Monuments Men is flawed both as a history lesson and as a men-on-a-mission movie. I don't recommend it.
The filmmakers claim that the film is based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves And The Greatest Treasure Hunt In History by Robert M. Edsel. That may be true, but I think that they got the idea for making it from a Voice Of Russia interview. Check the link below.
Alex Jones is a British agent
Alex Jones is an agent of British intelligence whose mission is to create his own monopoly in the 9/11 truth movement and wreck it from the inside. He's discrediting calls for independence with his manipulations and obnoxious behavior. Sending in deceiving and ranting characters is one of the most common ploys by the British propaganda machine. He's misleading his listeners and filling their heads with deceptions and half-truths. He's leading them into the wilderness where they act like useless conspiracy theorists instead of doing anything against the British and the financiers. He's closely linked to the British and he surrounds himself with anti-American characters. He's opposing progress and anyone who stands up for the American state. He's fooling millions of people while the financiers and the City of London are wrecking the American economy and the American state. He's ranting against a "New World Order" while in practice fully supporting the plans of the London-based oligarchy. And he farts on air.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were killed by British special-forces. The CIA is a branch of British intelligence. Allen Dulles worked with the British for decades. After World War II the British captured key positions in the United States and launched an information war to continue dominating the world.