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Showing posts from August, 2020

IN FOR A PENCE?

It is possible to disagree with, or even recoil from, VP Pence's right-wing conservative political and social and religious beliefs, and still recognise that his recent conference speech was a remarkably powerful rhetorical exercise in firing up the new Republican pro-Trump base (down to its nasty transition pun); AND as clear a delineation between choices in any American election they've had since Reconstruction. 'Freedom vs. Control' may be an extreme version, capitalism vs. socialism also a slight exaggeration, but this is the final battle (for now) of the so-called 'Culture Wars' that have been brewing in the US since Nixon in 1968.It's the ultimate American struggle, between the angels of our better selves with a progressive liberal agenda, versus traditional, evangelical, broadly Constitutional literalists, who think America has always been great, needs little correction, and is exceptional in the eyes of God - basically FDR versus Bush Jr. slash Chen…

THE KILLERS HAVE A NEW ALBUM

Imploding The Mirage, as critics and reviewers will quickly inform you, is a title that refers to the famous Las Vegas casino's demolition, which made way for something arguably even snazzier, or more empty. Born in Vegas, that most artificial and symbolic of American places (famous for gambling, glitz, misadventure, criminal origins, and mass murders), The Killers - named after a Hemingway-based film noir, but following in the footsteps of numerous rock acts that have signalled their outlaw claims with similar names (Jerry Lee Lewis was called The Killer) - are a very American rock band. That their lead singer, Brandon Flowers, is famously a Mormon and allegedly a straight arrow, albeit flamboyant on stage, only adds to the resonant enigma - they are part of the myth of the American Dream, while in classic post-modern mode, nod to the artifice, albeit a non-nihilistic one with a God.Their inoffensive, hummable songs, mainly about broken hearts, yearning, broken lives, and hoping …

A RELIGIOSE BLOOD-SPATTERED NOIR SHOT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

David Ayer's LA-based gangster picture,The Tax Collector, just released, is a uniquely terrible film - and one that will be a cult classic in ten years.
Reviews rightly observe that the film is ultra-violent, and depicts Latino culture as one enmeshed in a criminal lifestyle, with Shia LaBeouf playing a particularly nihilistic enforcer; as such, it has been summarily dismissed as exploitative, and perhaps borderline racist. These are easy accusations, and miss the mark. It is a terrible film, but also, astonishingly bad, and therefore, most watchable, for any fan of B-movies and crime cinema. Firstly, let's address the all-Latinos-depicted-are-bad claim - not true. The main character, the Tax Collector for various gangs in LA, David, has many family members who are entirely good, decent people. The film is especially careful to establish a pecking-order, and many people in the community are preyed upon, ordinary citizens; moreover, even the murderous African American gang that w…