Political content in this week’s new dvds: Pirate Radio, The Slammin’ Salmon, Tenderness, Final Storm, Defendor, Crazy on the Outside…
1. Pirate Radio (2009) [Rated R for language, and some sexual content including brief nudity.]
summary from imdb.com:
A period comedy about an illegal radio station in the North Sea in the 1960s.
starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Emma Thompson, January Jones
from Kyle Smith’s article: Libertarian Wonderland: “Pirate Radio”:
“Pirate Radio” takes place in 1966, when the BBC refused to broadcast much pop or rock — so a ship anchored just outside British territorial waters broadcast rock around the clock that half of Britain’s population (according to Curtis) listened to every week. The shipmates have established themselves a merry libertarian paradise beyond the reach of the law. Naturally, a nefarious cabinet minister (Kenneth Branagh, who is excellent) tries to find a way to illegalize the whole outfit. Curtis is a squishy liberal (witness his HBO movie “The Girl in the Cafe,” about solving world poverty through government action– not much chance of that, since lousy third world governing is the primary reason so many millions are poor) but he could not have made the case for freedom from government intrusion more delightfully.
from Kyle Smith’s review:
The boat is a libertarian wonderland in which an American deejay (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a wacky owner (Bill Nighy) and a dandified lothario (Rhys Ifans) frolic in peace, free of all government intrusion — until a buzz-cut Cabinet minister (a briskly hateful Kenneth Branagh, who trained for this part by playing a Nazi in HBO’s “Conspiracy”) tries to invent a reason to shut it down. [...]
Rock ‘n’ roll, to Curtis (who was a kid at the time), is all little kids jumping on beds, tired nurses on break, custodians at work and lots of people (this is his strangest tic) who listen on the toilet. He is taking the mickey out of rock’s view of itself as an esoteric taste for self-described rebels: Listening to rock is for everyone, even oldsters in sweater vests.
At the same time, though, broadcasting rock becomes a genuine act of rebellion, not just a pose of sullen alienation. The pirate radio broadcasts become actually illegal, the shipmates facing risk of prosecution and even death.
Very strong Romantic, antinomian worldview promoting the “Sexual Revolution” and loose morals of the 1960s, with some apparent revisionist history and a very strong politically correct, mocking attitude toward broadcast standards and a man who promotes them [...] disc jockeys flaunt obscenity standards, and morality is mocked in many ways.
Imagine government-controlled airwaves, with politicians deciding what music is deemed listenable. It sounds like Tipper Gore is in charge, but in fact we are talking about the British government in 1964. [...] There was an outbreak of rogue radio stations that were based on ships just outside of British waters. Apparently, when American youth culture was “turning on” and “dropping out,” millions of Brits were tuning in. In 1967, with the Marine Broadcasting Offenses Act, the British government made it a crime for any Brit to work on these ships. But this didn’t stop the rock movement for long. In the end, the creation of a BBC rock station can be seen as a victory for the pirate radio rebels. How nice for them. But as an American, I kept wondering why this movie had to be made in the first place. It’s not like British radio freed rock music. Back in the 1950s, Alan Freed took care of that over here./“Pirate Radio” is loosely based on the journey of the ship Caroline, which operated such a radio station in the North Sea during the more interesting and somewhat more romantic first half of the 1960s. If only this movie were half as interesting or romantic or funny or dramatic. Instead, we have a movie with a grand idea (artistic and social impulses that cannot be stifled by a government) but executed with no conviction.[...] In the end, “Pirate Radio” feels more like a 1970s TV movie about the cliché of rock than an authentic 1960s tribute to the power of libertarian ideals and anarchic rebellion. [...] Best line in the movie (spoken by the captain of the “Radio Rock” ship): “Governments loathe free people doing what they want.”
from Kurt Loder:
Imagine you’re a British teenager in the mid-1960s. The new breed of English rock is taking over the world. Across the pond in America, the Beatles, Kinks, Rolling Stones, Animals, Troggs and Yardbirds can all be heard around the clock on U.S. radio. Back at home, though, the government controls the airwaves, through the dowdy BBC, and the government has decided that no one needs to hear this unseemly music.
The new movie “Pirate Radio” trains a fond eye on the rebellion that this oppressive state of affairs spawned: an outbreak of rogue radio stations based on ships anchored just outside of British territorial waters. Radio Caroline was the first of these outfits to go on the air, in 1964, and it was soon joined by others — floating outposts playing music that people actually wanted to hear. Millions of listeners tuned in.
The pirates didn’t last long, though. In the summer of 1967, the government shut them down with the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, which made it a crime for any British subject to work on or supply their ships. But the outlaws won, in a way: Only weeks after they were crushed, the BBC started its own, rather pirate-like pop station, Radio 1. Mission accomplished, you might say. [...] and the movie grinds to a halt whenever Kenneth Branagh appears as a prissy government functionary obsessed with taking the pirates down. (With his prim mustache and sputtering pomposity, Branagh seems to be playing Peter Sellers in “I’m All Right Jack,” the old Boulting brothers comedy.)
from Rebecca Cusey:
The Ups: Some good music.
The Downs: Every time the Sexual Revolution, rebellion, and drug culture of the 60s is portrayed as brave and wonderful by Hollywood, I want to strangle someone with a tye-dye shirt.
Prime Minister: Now, there is one final matter to discuss. Pirate Radio. In whose department does this fall?
Sir Alistair: That would be me, Prime Minister.
Prime Minister: What’s the plan, Sir Alistair? They’re very popular. And they’re not actually breaking any law that we know of.
Sir Alistair: We’re going to shut them down within the year. They are a sewer of dirty and irresponsible commercialism and low morals.
Prime Minister: Indeed. Very well. I leave it in your capable hands.
The Count: Right, this was the deal. I asked all of you to demand of me to do a very foolish thing, and you sent in ideas in their millions. But one idea has defeated them all, so I’m proud to announce I will soon be the first person to say the “F” word on rock’n’roll radio in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. But my aim is not to offend, it is to entertain. But also, perhaps, to educate a little. Because if you shoot a bullet, someone dies. When you drop a bomb, many die. If you hit a woman, love dies. But if you say the “F” word, nothing actually happens. So here it comes. Especially for you, the “F” word. First though, this very fine piece of music.
Quentin: You can’t do this.
The Count: Why not? it’s just a word!
Quentin: Charming thought, but here’s the simple situation. The authorities already dislike us. If you do this they will hate us, and by hook or by crook, they’ll find a way to close us down.
The Count: They can’t close us down. We’re pirates. That’s why we’re sitting out here in the middle of the freaking ocean.
Quentin: Believe me, they will find a way. Governments loathe people being free. [...]
The Count: My dear comrades, I have some sad news. The powers that be have decreed that the “F” word is a word too far. But at least for now, even though our dreams of freedom have died a tragic death, The Hollies are still alive.
Sir Alistair: Now, I have told the Prime Minister that we will shut them down within 12 months.
Fredericks: As you will see, sir, they’re not in fact outside of the law at the moment, sir.
Sir Alistair: Then they soon will be, won’t they, Mr. [...] Fredericks. You see, that’s the whole point of being the government. If you don’t like something, you simply make up a new law that makes it illegal.
Sir Alistair: So, young man, how’s it going?
Dominic: Well, sir, I think I may have had a little breakthrough. The pirate stations only exist because they sell advertising.
Sir Alistair: Oh yes, you can listen to our pop music, but only if you also buy Findus Frozen Fish Fingers.
Dominic: Exactly. So what we can do immediately is make advertising on the stations illegal for British companies. We would cut off the boats’ cash with one fell swoop.
Sir Alistair: Brilliant.
Gavin Canavagh: Government plans to undermine us have failed spectacularly. In fact, a recent poll says that at an election, 93% of British people would vote for the pirates rather than the government.
Dominic: Just sign it, sir. And in three days, our heroic disc jockeys become dangerous criminals.
[peace symbol on shirt and a couple of peace signs]
2. The Slammin’ Salmon (2009) [Rated R for pervasive language and sexual references.]
summary from imdb.com:
The owner of a Miami restaurant indebted to the mob institutes a contest to see what waiter can earn the most money in one night.
starring: the Broken Lizard crew, plus: Will Forte, Michael Clarke Duncan, Olivia Munn, Jim Gaffigan, Vivica A. Fox, Morgan Fairchild, Lance Henriksen
Poli-Bits: nothing leftist… the only political references pop up during the ending credits outtakes… an actor says the following: “and I’m a Barack Obama”/”and I’m Osama bin Laden”/”and I’m Obama bin Laden”
3. Tenderness (2009) [Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content, and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A policeman (Crowe) works to figure out whether a violent teen (Foster) murdered his family.
starring: Russell Crowe, Laura Dern
Director John Polson’s friend Russell Crowe takes the unglam support role of a semi retired cop in this thriller adapted from a novel, in which a young man slips through the system – by dint of his youth – after brutally murdering his parents. Indeed, it may be a politically motivated story, in which the author wants to make a point about the weakness of the criminal system.
Hot on Eric’s trail is Lieutenant Cristofuoro (Russell Crowe), a dogged, unkempt cop unwilling to believe that the correctional system has corrected anything, and whom he believes will claim Laurie as his next victim.
Eric Poole (Foster) appears a fine, upstanding example of American youth with his old-fashioned manners and God-fearing ways. He even says grace before meals.
So it’s a bit of surprise when we learn that he battered his mother to a pulp and shot dead his father with a hunting bow when they discovered what he got up to in his spare time.
Deemed to be rehabilitated, he’s released from prison and brightly plans to takes up a college degree without even the benefit of a probation officer to check that’s he’s on the straight and narrow.
The only person who is convinced that he’s an unreconstructed psychopath with murder indelibly stamped on his mind is Lt Cristofuro (Crowe), a semi-retired police officer with a bedridden wife.
tv news reporter: “…confirming today the teen will be tried as an adult for the brutal murder of his parents. His case will be heard in Buffalo City Court, commencing later this month. By contrast, Eric Komenko committed the same crime at 15, but prosecuters chose not to try him as an adult in this case, citing high levels of the antidepressant Zoloxia found in his bloodstream as a mitigating factor. Komenko’s sentence, juvenile detention. He is expected to be released this coming Friday on his 18th birthday, his record expunged. Public questions about Komenko’s case remain, however. Victims’ rights groups are protesting his release, while members of Komenko’s Baptist congregation are supporting it.”
Eric: “Antidepressants messed with my chemistry. The state even testified to that.
Lieutenant Cristofuoro: I know. I was there.
Eric: Look, I did this evil thing. But I know I can put it behind me. That’s what expunged means. What do you want from me?
Cristofuoro: You’re a psychopath, Eric. You’re going to kill again. You know it, and I know it. And I want to prevent that from happening. And when I do, I want you to know it’s going to make me very happy. It’s the best thing for you. When you walk out of here, know I will be waiting for you. I got nothing else to do.”
Eric’s Aunt: Eric, you don’t have to pray. Or only if you want to. In this house, your spirituality is your own.
Eric: I do want to.
Lori: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chinese cop before. No, I don’t think I have. I’m Lori. Lori Cranston. My real name’s Lorelei, actually. But I hate that name. I don’t even know where my mom got it from. Have you ever seen a Chinese cop? I don’t think it’s racist to ask that.
[Jesus fish on Eric's car]
4. Final Storm (2009) [Rated R for some sexuality, violence and brief language.]
summary from wikipedia.org:
a biblical apocalypse thriller film. The plot concerns a mysterious character named Sylas (Luke Perry), who takes refuge from a storm in a farm owned by two characters, Tom (Steve Bacic) and Gillian (Lauren Holly).
directed by: Uwe Boll
starring: Luke Perry, Lauren Holly
an R-rated Biblical End Times movie that contains profanity/sex/nudity… the End Times content is more of a minor backdrop and it’s incorrect… but it contains several verses from The Book of Revelation…
Is the end of the world at hand? Where is everyone? Is it the rapture? Have they been left behind? If so, why them? Either way, what’s up with the handful of violent townspeople lurking about? Why is Luke Perry dressed like The Great Gatsby? So many questions that should be getting asked that don’t get asked because the script constantly downplays the bigger picture and has characters either not ask the pertinent questions at all or not until a much later more convenient time. Even when it comes to Silas, Tom and Gillian constantly pass up the appropriate follow-up question or insistence that he elaborate on certain statements he makes.
A pity the frustrating script keeps the otherwise solid cast playing dumb because there are instances of genuine intrigue that left me wondering where it was all headed and how it was going to resolve itself. What The Final Storm amounts to in the end is little more than a tepid Lifetime Network thriller about a rural family trapped with a potentially homicidal houseguest who may have his sights set on making the house and the wife his own set against the backdrop of biblical Armageddon with a final scene that will leave you speechless in ways only an Uwe Boll movie can.
a succession of snippets of dialogue from what sounds like a radio and/or tv broadcast during the opening credits:
sudden reversal of weather systems which began six months ago, continues to wreak havoc around the globe… we’re currently seeing snow and ice storms in much of the northern hemisphere and our satellites are showing random frequent hail storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes… with reports of thousands of communities isolated by washed-out highways… many boats have disappeared altogether… communication lines are down… there’s no count yet of the missing or dead… since the collapse of the financial markets, rioting and political instability are causing serious global repercussions… transportation and energy systems are severely damaged worldwide… food and water shortages sparked widespread violence… in central London today the streets teemed with angry crowds looting and attacking authority figures… as you can see here, outnumbered police resorted to trampling protesters… an 8.0 earthquake in [???] has caused a nuclear accident with radiation levels extremely high… and what shall be the sign of Thy Coming and of the End of the Age… Jesus said there’d be signs and that these signs would increase in frequency and in intensity as the earth hurdles toward annihilation… looters are clearing out what little is left with no new deliveries of food announced or expected… and the angel said: thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth… for her grapes are fully ripe… And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. I submit that this world is the field and that God has sent His Son Jesus to go out into the field and gather the grapes and collect the harvest…
Silas: Look at that…
Gillian: what is that?
Silas: a Blood Moon…
Gillian: Blood Moon? what does that mean?
Tom: And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal; and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth
[Bible shown on screen opened up to the following verses:]
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Silas: are you a religious man, Tom?
Tom: w’the hell you doing?
Silas: reading the Good Book… i couldn’t sleep…
Tom: what happened to your hand?
Silas: clumsy… you know, i like the Old Testament… all the swords and the bloodletting… I find the New Testament to be a little preachy… how about you?
Tom: i figure Revelations is more your speed…
Silas: it’s a fanciful Book to be sure, what with all of its beasts, dragons, and whores… which are all out there for those that have the eyes to see’em… but if you’re looking to go to sleep, i suggest St. Paul… the man does tend to ramble on…
Tom: you really think it’s the end of the world, don’t you?
Silas: think on it, Tom… how would the world end? fireworks? big explosion? no… it’s a whimper… and all we have to do is stack up the chairs and *blow sound* turn out the lights…
Tom: okay, so what now?
Silas: in the end, the Almighty’s just gonna reach down… and pinch out the stars… one by one… your heart is looking for answers, but your pride refuses to seek… i suggest you start right here… [...] you’re supposed to have faith…
Tom: faith? in what, your b###### stories?
Silas: you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, Tom… you should probably just go to sleep…
5. Defendor (2009) [Rated R for drug use and language throughout, violence and sexual content.]
summary from imdb.com:
A comedy centered around three characters: an everyday guy who comes to believe he’s a superhero, his psychiatrist, and the teenager he befriends.
starring: Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Sandra Oh, Kat Dennings, Clark Johnson, Michael Kelly
Poli-Bits: corrupt cops, vigilantism, sex slave trade, “guns are for cowards”
With everything established, the filmmakers come to a fork in the road. Instead of opting to take advantage of the humor inherent in the premise, or making any kind of meaningful statement about vigilantism or crime, “Defendor” tries to have it both ways. It goes on to depict a few hapless adventures, with Defendor accidentally attacking an undercover cop (Elias Koteas), who just so happens to be corrupt. He also befriends Kat (Kat Dennings), a drug-addicted prostitute with an open mind who accepts his illusion in a way nobody else ever has.[...] The police, and even the courts all try to stop the insanity, but Arthur always gets back into his Defendor lifestyle by plying his surprisingly effective escape tactics. Eventually his meddling goes past the point of no return, and the chance to make a real difference presents itself, though without an easy exit strategy. This is where “Defendor” gets serious and stays that way, in a vain attempt to grasp at some kind of theme about what it means to be a hero. “Defendor” is the feature debut of actor-turned-writer/director Peter Stebbings. Based on ideas from his Vancouver childhood where he observed the down-and-out characters who populated the city’s slums, “Defendor” may have been intended as a serious take on vigilante justice and the delusions of grandeur that can grow out of a cynical frustration with the system. Such was the case with last year’s delicious “Watchmen” or any number of similar stories, from “Batman” to “The Boondock Saints.”
At this point, all appearances indicate a humorous tongue in cheek superhero spoof, but wait for it: Defendor will soon reveal its darker alter ego. Arthur suffers from an undefined metal disability and was tragically abandoned by his mother. He was raised by a cold and indifferent grandfather, a WWII veteran who ingrained his patriotic sensibilities into the confused little boy with superhero comics as his only solace. Arthur’s honesty, frankness and goodness is his real secret weapon, endearing him to his boss Paul Carter (Michael Kelly) and the crack-smoking young prostitute Kat (Kat Dennings), who ultimately befriends and believes in him.
As Defendor, Arthur feels empowered to deal with the frustration of losing his mother to drugs and prostitution by lashing out against the vermin his grandfather called “the Captains of Industry.” Arthur is fearlessly determined to seek this evil mastermind out and bring him to justice. As luck would have it, there is such a lowlife at large, drug kingpin Vladimir Kristic (Alan C. Peterson), who is corrupting the city with his gang of “Biker” thugs. Defendor is a constant thorn in the side of one of his primary henchmen, bad cop and slimy pimp Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas), who finds himself no match for marbles, wasps or lime juice (“Please, God, not the lime juice!”) squirted directly in the eyes as a form of torture. Kat has escaped the angry Dooney and finds temporary solace in Arthur/Defendor’s secret hideout, a Public Works storage facility underneath a bridge. Initially Kat takes advantage of Arthur’s naïve trust in her, using his ATM card to fill her “bling” pipe daily, but soon comes to appreciate his goodness and discovers she can relate to his self-defense mechanism of donning an alter ego: he tapes a “D” on his chest to give him the courage to fight evil while she hides behind a wall of intoxicating fumes to avoid her reality.
Does this sound trite and maudlin? No worries, because Defendor is anything but. First-time director and screenwriter Peter Stebbings swings like a pendulum between dark comedy and drama with virtually no missteps and stays true to his characters, allowing them no entitlements for self-pity or victimhood. Arthur’s black-and-white world applies to all characters for the most part; when he explains to his court-appointed shrink Dr. Park (Sandra Oh) why it was appropriate to trash a pedophile’s dry cleaning business and throw the perp into a garbage can, she visibly struggles between the correct response in regards to right and wrong and congratulating him for taking matters in his own hands. In a society where the justice system has failed or is just too slow and reluctant to react, maybe we do need a vigilante warrior like Defendor to fight back because we’re afraid to.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, where Defendor premiered last September, Harrelson shies away from too close a comparison between his vigilante character and the actor’s own history of environmental, vegan, peace and marijuana activism.
“I believe in vigilantism as it relates to captains of industry,” he says, picking up on his character’s belief that a man called “Captain Industry” was responsible for the death of his mother. “We’ve got to take our ecology back. But I don’t really believe in the broad sense believe in vigilantism.”
He continues: “Is the message [of the film] to go out there and fight crime yourself? I don’t know if that should be the message. But it’s just about a guy who cares enough and is passionate enough about what he sees in society that he tries to do something. In that sense I think it’s a pretty hopeful message.”
The dark underside of the city is reflected in the shattered psyches of Stebbings’ heroes. From his youth, Poppington has heard how the “captains of industry” were destroying the good blue-collar workers of his hometown. Kat’s a punk when she isn’t turning tricks; naturally, she falls into line with the Defendor’s anarchical thinking. They both want to overturn a system that may be terrible but is also beyond their comprehension.
radio talk show host: There are a couple of options here. One, the cops in this town are incompetent. Two, they’re underfunded, and that’s a real possibility. And three, they’re crooked. How do you think this city got its nickname, “Hammertown”?
mother: what does this teach us, Jack?
son: next time have a gun. [...]
mother: no, it teaches us that fighting never solves anything.
Poppington: Be a man… [...] Guns are for cowards
Poppington as a child: When will I see Mommy again?
Poppington’s grandfather: You won’t. How many times do i have to say it? Could you hold that still, please, or I’ll bash you.
Grandfather: Drugs. The drugs did her in.
Poppington: I hate the drugs. I hate the people who do the drugs.
Grandfather: Hate the pushers, kid. They’re the bad guys.
Poppington: Who are the pushers?
Grandfather: The scum whose freedom I fought for. Captains of Industry.
6. Crazy on the Outside (2010) [Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A recently paroled ex-con who has trouble adjusting to the wacky normalcy of life outside of prison. He has spent the last three years behind bars after getting caught committing a crime and taking the rap for his much more dangerous pal.
directed by: Tim Allen
starring: Tim Allen, Julie Bowen, Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, Jeanne Tripplehorn, JK Simmons, Kelsey Grammer, Jon Gries
go here to check out the many leftist movies coming this weekend in NYC/LA…