Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Movie Review – The Irishman

The Fat Man is a learned critic of cinema.  I welcome his contributions and hope to see him on a regular basis.

 

There are many ways to consider The Irishman, Scorsese’s’ latest, and hopefully last, gangster pic. We can try to at least mention them all but it may be best to see it as another allegorical mock epic. Almost the entirety of post-war US history not only acts as a backdrop to the film, but the movie suggests its main characters were central players in such events as the Kennedy assassination, the Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crises, perhaps even Watergate. The baby boomers can’t get over their all but irrelevant history of air conditioned atavism and faux passivism. They have no epic story to tell, so they are continually painting up their cowardice in the face of a minor war or their alternating deification and denunciation of their fallen non-hero, JFK.

It is no shame that Scorsese reveals himself as sentimental and self-deluding in The Irishman. Many great films begin with cherished delusions, like the tradition of the Ronin or the hooker-with- a-heart-of-gold. Marty and Paul Schrader did wonders with that last fantasy in Taxi Driver, with the whore/Madonna duo played by Cybil Shepard and Jodie Foster. The fact that poor Jodie was still prepubescent was just a cute detail, like attending college to avoid the draft and then going on to graduate studies to learn to justify it to the memory of the poor guys that got killed. But at least Taxi was, in its dysfunctional characters and their infantile motivations, funny. “He’s not a murderer, he’s a Sagittarius” (or was it an Aquarius), protests Jodie Foster’s character, Iris, to Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle for criticizing her pimp, Sport. That may be the funniest line to come out of Hollywood in the 1970’s.

 

I guess it’s time to address the details of The Irishman and justify all this scorn I’m heaping. Let’s start with funny. It’s not. The cheap laughs squeezed out by mocking the blue-collar naivety of the regular-guy-come-psychopath, Frank Sheeran, the movies protagonist played by De Niro, are so hackneyed they will make you squirm. The rest is humorless. How Scorsese managed to get one of the most naturally funny actors of the 1970’s and 80’s, Joe Pesci, to turn in a joyless performance will remain a mystery.

But, you may ask, why is funny so important. This is big stuff, Pacino, De Niro, Pesci, Keitel, the all-stars, it’s an epic, remember?

It’s true Scorsese swung for the fences on this one, as he did with The Aviator, The Age of Innocence and The Gangs of New York. You’d think he’d learn. Not satisfied with his one true contribution to American cinema, Raging Bull, a small movie perfectly drawn, he continues to balk at the big canvas. He can’t do it. All of his attempts, whether he juices them with amazing sets as in Gangs, or beautiful costumes like in Age, or a remarkable profile like Howard Hughes, fail for the same reason. He can’t tell that story. He can scare us and make us laugh, but he can’t move us. His work can be natural or abstract but never profound. He knows it, as all directors do that pile on the violence. They’re impotent so they pour on the blood.

And Scorsese, as usual, does pour on the blood. We make our way through Frank’s mournful decent from hard working family man to prolific serial killer. We are told the war was to blame where he was asked to unofficially execute German prisoners. His wonders why these prisoners were so compliant in digging their own graves. He asks himself maybe they thought they would get a break if they did a good job? It never occurs to him they were just taking more orders, the same process that dehumanized them in the camps and him.

The Irishman is quiet for a Scorsese movie, without any of the Eric Clapton that accompanied the mayhem in Goodfellars. A number of times, in the background score and in shots of empty rooms through partially open doors we see references to that most quiet of directors, Yasujiro Ozu. Ozu, who directed Tokyo Story, is of course admired by Scorsese but unlike the Italian neo realists that he loves, Ozu and his peaceful style is wholly unsuited to a gangster movie. It’s a clue of what Scorsese is trying to do. Make peace. It explains the unfunny Pesci performance and the banality of De Niro’s narration. Scorsese never had the hand to paint the kind of movie that his contemporaries Roman Polanski and Francis Ford Coppola did. He could never shoot a scene like Brando in his office listening to the undertaker or like John Huston and Jack Nicholson discussing broiled fish. So he made up for it with rotating camera’s in the ring and forensic dialog ripped from FBI files.

But in The Irishman he tries Ozu and we get a whispering Joe Pesci saying “I chose us” to De Niro at the movies end to explain Hoffa’s betrayal. And Hoffa was betrayed, by Scorsese, by Pacino, by everyone who might be interested in what he did build into his union. It must be a curse to try to do a film about the union boss. Nicholson’s Hoffa was terrible, but at least he wasn’t transformed by an aging Italian actor and his friend’s pathetic confession into a one-dimensional stooge. Nothing is examined, nothing explained, just gossip.

And that is the reason the Irishman is a terrible movie. You can’t attempt to depict the sweep of a generation without saying something about why it matters. But because his generation still lies about the meaning of Kennedys and Castro and war, Scorsese has to lie as well. And so he does for the three hours of The Irishman.

 

 

 

Taking Back the Momentum

Recently I got into a discussion with one of my on-line friends, Tyler (The Portly Politico) about whether the Dissident Right was correct when they said that the only path forward was dividing up the country between the Left and the Right.  Now this division could take several directions.  The one everyone always mentions is some kind of civil war with armies and battles.  But a more likely direction would be some kind of loosening of the ties between states and the federal government to the point where differences on legal and criminal matters end up making them essentially different countries but keeping the parts of the federal government that benefit everyone like the armed forces and interstate highways.

I stated that I thought that something like that was possible but was not necessarily what needed to be done to straighten out the mess we’re in.  What would make sense is for the redder states to start asserting themselves on policy issues where the federal government has been pushing their Leftist ideas on the states.  A good example would be the abortion laws that some of the southern states have recently passed.  Take a stand that you know the Left hates and make them squirm.  It’s not enough to pass good legislation.  You have weaponize your actions in the same way that the Left does.  Another fruitful avenue would be anti-discrimination laws that would allow an employee to take his employer to court for being forced to celebrate something like say, the rainbow coalition that goes against his religious beliefs.  Or if the company has openly used diversity as a cover to favor some candidates over others then they could bring this into a state court for adjudication.  There’s nothing that a corporation hates more than to have to pay out fines and then have surveillance done on them by government.

An easy one is to go after Leftists in red states.  Texas should immediately enact some laws that criminalize the abetting of an illegal alien presence in Texas and then jail all the city politicians in Austin who have made it a sanctuary city.  Basically, set up some traps and force them to either follow the illegal immigration laws or go to jail.

If you look at these ideas you can see that they are the mirror image of what the Left does to us in places like California.  They pass laws that take some recent court decision and use it as a club to beat any conservatives who happen to live under their jurisdiction.  Eventually the Supreme Court might find the law unconstitutional, but in the meantime, they’ve made life hell for their enemies.  That’s what our side needs to start doing.  Make them pay a price.  And with the Supreme Court nominally against them on a lot of these issues, they won’t have any recourse.

These types of actions have several good effects.  First off, morale; bad for theirs, good for ours.  Secondly, doing things that everyone said was impossible changes opinions, emboldens people who have already given up to give things another chance.  Who knows?  Maybe we can even flip the Dissident Right back to civic nationalism.  And lastly it gives you something to build on.  Other states will get the idea and join in.  Once you have enough momentum even the Supreme Court might get enough courage to reverse some imaginary constitutional right that a former court made up.

What it’s going to take is some governors and legislators in red states to start coordinating with a Republican President to let some of these types of actions go forward.  Sure, the Ninth Circuit Court will scream bloody murder but as long as it’s out side of their jurisdiction they can’t do anything concrete.  Hollywood will boycott the states.  Good, let them.  The states have to start learning to say no to blackmail.  This is the perfect time to start.  The economy is good and there are plenty of business opportunities that aren’t beholden to leftists.  So, if the Chamber of Commerce squawks the Governor can tell them to count their tax blessings that they aren’t in California.

Part of the problem all along is the Republican Presidents have never tried to rein in the Deep State.  They are enormously strong but so is the executive power of the presidency.  If it can be coordinated with the power that the state legislatures and governors have at their disposal, real progress can be made.  And once again we see that all this comes back to having a Republican president who actually is on our side.

 

Guest Contributor – War Pig – The Killer Shrews – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Killer Shrews: Schlock at its finest. Poor special effects, hackneyed plot and ham acting. They used hand puppets of the giant killer shrews for up-close shots. They looked like an oversize stuffed mouse with chopstick fangs glued in and black ping pong balls for eyes. For action sequences, they used coon hounds with carpet and fur attached to them and never shot them close up. The coon hound shrews supposedly ate the token Black man in the movie, which would be protested today.

 

The premise is that a Swedish scientist was working on the then threatened coming food apocalypse. He had a Hispanic servant (Alfredo de Soto; more racist tokenism), a cowardly assistant (played by Gunsmoke’s Festus, Ken Curtis, who was an investor in the film and also a fine western actor and amazingly good singer), a beautiful Swedish daughter (played by the attractive Swedish actress Ingrid Goude) and an American assistant scientist played by Gordon McLendon. They are on an isolated island somewhere in the Atlantic hurricane zone so they can be left alone, especially by federal inspectors. James Best (most famous for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrain on Dukes of Hazzard) plays the captain of the small motor ship bringing them supplies. With him is the faithful Black actor Judge Henry Dupree who is his first mate and apparently engineer, playing the character Rook.

 

A hurricane is approaching, so they have to anchor in the protected harbor and wait it out before unloading. The captain goes ashore to meet with the scientists while Rook runs extra anchors and has to tie the boat to a tree ashore. The captain is met by Ken Curtis’ character who is armed and takes him to the residence. There he is told what all is happening, that the experiment went astray and they accidentally created giant killer shrews who must eat their body weight daily to survive, that other animal food is running out, that the shrews are mostly nocturnal and that they will eat humans with gusto.

 

Poor Rook is chased and run up a tree by the coon hound shrews and the effects are so poor you can see the lines pulling the tree down supposedly under Rook’s impressive weight to his doom of being eaten alive. The shrews then surround the residence like the Little Big Horn and try to get in to eat the humans. They dig through the adobe walls and have to be shot or burned. One grazes the assistant scientist’s leg and they therefore find out that the shrews are also deadly venomous, as he dies shortly thereafter. The Hispanic servant also dies from a shrew bite. The shrews make a very distinctive noise that sounds something like “aaawk-ch-ch-ch!”. The shrews are also enthusiastically cannibalistic and will eat any form of meat, including each other, to quell their ravenous appetites.

 

The surviving humans decide they must escape and create a human-powered tank made of barrels roped together. Ken Curtis refuses as he is deathly afraid of the shrews and stays behind. Creeping in the tank the Captain, the Scientist and his lovely daughter make it, barely, to the water where the shrews, who cannot swim, leave them and go back to eat Ken Curtis who, instead of camping out on the roof and safe for a couple of days until the shrews turn on each other, stupidly tried to run off through the woods and he suffers Rook’s fate. As the shrews take him down he screams like a 12 year old girl with a spider on her face. The survivors swim to the motor launch and the Scientist declares; “In twenty-four hours there will be only one shrew left on the island, and he will die of starvation.”

 

This movie and it’s double feature The Giant Gila Monster made a surprising amount of money on the drive-in circuit. Although they were both low budget and schlocky even for 1959, I enjoyed the two movies at the drive-in. An amazing fact is that James Best reprises his role as the captain in the remake “Return of the Killer Shrews” in 2012, which was mostly a mockumentary of the original with even worse special effects and played for laughs. I am probably one of the very few people who have seen both movies. It is also a break of 53 years between the original and the sequel. Has to be some kind of record.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – SF&F Movie Review – EEGAH!

EEGAH!  (also known as; “EEGAH! The Name Written In Blood”)

A 1962 schlock sci-fi movie apparently shot on a budget in the double digits. It is notable for three things; first, being one of the 50 worst movies ever made. Second, introducing us to Richard Kiel who went on to star as the giant alien in the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”, and as the melancholy villain/henchman Jaws in the James Bond franchise. Lastly, it proudly introduced America to the dune buggy, a sort of hot rod with “tires filled with water for traction” meant to climb desert sand dunes. If you ever watched the cartoon Speed Buggy as a child, you’ll get the drift.

The comely Marilyn Manning plays the beautiful damsel and a forgettable Arch Hall, Jr as the hero with a DA haircut and a poorly recorded singing voice.

Kiel was the only decent actor in the lot and he played well considering what he was given to work with. I love the movie as I love all scholcky sci-fi movies, the worse, the better. Arch Hall, Sr drafted his son as the hero and himself played a part in the movie. Senior wrote it and headed the film company.

Poor EEGAH. He somehow survived in a cave from the caveman days to present, along with his mummified family. How he managed to live years in the area around Palm Springs without discovery is a mystery, but the movie glosses over all that. Fumes or something. He is in the road looking for roadkill and is almost hit by the comely heroine, who passes out at the sight of him and accidentally scares him off by honking the horn. An Easter egg is that there are sheep bleating in the background when EEGAH picks up a deer carcass and carries it off. She tells her father, a sort of amateur archaeologist or something, who goes out in a helicopter to be dropped off to look around. The chopper drops him off but that is the last we hear of the chopper. It breaks or something so the hero and heroine ride off in the new Dune Buggy to go look for dear old dad.

Dad is found, the hero sent off, and the heroine captured by the amorous caveman. She’s the best looking things he’s seen in 10,000 years and she smells good, too. The heroine tries to keep EEGAH interested enough in her so that he doesn’t kill them both, while at the same time keeping things from going too far. Pretty much like a date with a fratboy, I guess. She shaves her father for some unknown and inappropriate reason, then EEGAH wants a shave, too. So she shaves him while he tries to make zug-zug with her and eat the shaving cream at the same time. A hilarious scene for me.

At any rate, the hero returns from wherever, gets dad and daughter out of the cave, and there is the predictable chase scene with the three of them running away from EEGAH in the dune buggy back to Palm Springs in time for a pool party which allows the heroine to show off her bikini bod (and a rather good, one, too), then to change into a form fitting sheath dress for a later party. Poor EEGAH comes to town looking for his love and instead gets into a comical series of adventures with civilization which were apparently stolen straight from the caveman scenes in Dinosaurus, another sci-fi movie from two years earlier. Then he crashes the pool party, whips all the fratboys, tries to run off with his lady love like a good caveman will do although he carries her instead of dragging her off by the hair. But the cops arrive and that is the end of poor EEGAH as he finds out a good club and a 7’2” frame are no match for little metal pellets going 1100 feet per second.

This movie is so loaded with cheese that it’s really a comedy. Marilyn Manning has two other IMDB credits, one of which was the actually good Sadist. Pity, as Ms Manning was very easy on the eyes, especially in a bikini. She could have given me a shave any day, if I had shaved back in 1962. Cuter than Annette Funicello of the Beach Party movie franchise. Mr Kiel went on to do bit parts calling for a tall guy and also got some better roles. As mentioned, he was an alien in Twilight Zone and Jaws in the James Bond franchise. He also played the tall man in the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore. Overall, he has 82 credits on IMDB and had a successful career. Arch Hall Jr has a total of 9 IMDB credits, 6 of them his father’s films. He left acting to become a pilot. What happened to Marilyn Manning after her three movies is not known and I can find nothing really about her. She was a chiropractor’s receptionist in the same building as the film company for EEGAH! and was brought in because of her very good looks.

Overall, EEGAH! Is a hilarious send-up of sci-fi/horror movies. Like Plan 9 From Outer Space, it’s so bad, it’s good.

Tyler Over at the Portly Politico Has Added His Two Cents on Dissident Right and the Civic Nationalists

Tyler has a lot of good things to say about the topics we’ve both been seeing on the political stage.  Plus he says some good things about me, so how can I resist.

 

The State of the Right, Part II: Dissident Right and Civic Nationalists

Guest Contributor – TomD – 21APR2019 – Photo

Here’s a shot with a long lens of a roller coaster scene at a county fair.

 

Cell phones do a pretty good job for some shots but there are a lot of situations that are just beyond them. The shot below for instance was taken in an over 200′ long tunnel with one incandescent bulb in the foreground and the distant entry daylight backlit, that’s usually an impossible lighting situation.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – No Good Deed Ever Goes Unpunished!

This is what I posted over on the Washington Post. They had an article about the French billionaires pledging enough money to repair Notre Dame without touching a cent of public money, and how the advocates of the poor are now chastising them for their generosity.

 

“No good deed goes unpunished. If the wealthy had not assisted, they would be demonized. Now they have pledged the money, thereby saving taxpayers the expense, they are demonized for not ignoring Notre Dame and instead giving the money to the poor in France. Now even Brazilians mock them, for funding Notre Dame’s restoration and ignoring Brazil’s burned museum. Are there no wealthy in Brazil that they have to complain about France’s wealthy?

The poor always want all of it. As the song said: “tax the rich, feed the poor, until there are no, rich no more”.  The grasshoppers are always after the ants to give more and more to the lazy, crazy and incompetent. Charity is one thing, subsidizing and perpetuating misery is another.

San Francisco is generous with the poor. Their reward? The poor rush in, in great numbers, for the generosity and crap on the sidewalks at such a rate that they must have a web app to report feces for cleanup and for others to avoid. Public parks in San Francisco, once places for children and families and now taken over by the wretched, are filled with feces, garbage, the homeless and used needles. The homeless harass and threaten and attack people and you dare not allow children near the parks without an armed escort lest they be assaulted, raped and killed.

So I suppose we should allow all monuments and other great works to fall into disrepair and disappear. Instead we should give those resources to the poor to breed more and more poor until they consume it all.

Then what? Extinction?”