Three Films for Thinkers

This time of year, when the sun seemingly just up and abandons the earth (or so it seems to me), when the days are excruciatingly short, and the nights long, dark and cold, indoor entertainment is critical. Many of us are using our little or big boxes to bring us some kind of relief from all this dreadful darkness. Because I don’t like sports, (no not even on the big slim LD screens and not even in high-def), and because everything else on the television is regurgitated, recycled, resuscitated, brain-cell murdering un- reality crap, I turn to Netflix for salvation.

Just like there are hundreds of cable channels (all with not a damn thing on them, to the tune of at least a hundred dollars a month) there are hundreds, no make that thousands, of films out there just waiting to be streamed directly to me.

Now most of these films are, sadly, just regurgitated, recycled, resuscitated, brain-cell murdering un-reality Hollywood crap.  The Blues Travelers said it best: bad plays, where the heroes are right and nobody thinks or expects too much.  And that’s a shame, because I like to think.

I know that at this point it is downright unpatriotic. (It really is.) Soon, I fear that this will be bordering on treason, but I like to think. I’m sorry America, sorry to both the red and blue states and Fox news and MSNBC and the Koch Brothers and all other corporate sociopath/psychopaths that would like nothing better than for every single American house negro to abandon this old and ridiculous practice of actually using their God-given neurons. But it’s true, I like to think.

There is something really cool about the practice of thinking. It can take you to so many wondrous and unexpected places, and, and here is the killer, it doesn’t cost you a penny! Thinking is, get this,totally free! It is a way to get something for nothing, which is why the corporate sociopath/psychopath types hate it so much. They want to charge for everything…the water you drink, the very air you breath…and certainly the thoughts you think. As with almost all other corporate products, the quality, of course, must be watered, dumbed, filtered down to such a degraded and deteriorated state that you get sick from it. Two birds one stone, Corporate World gets richer while you get less and less and then, when it’s almost all over, your imminent death spells out big profits for Big Pharm that will most definitely lay claim to the rest of your sick pathetic little American life. And you would realize all of this if you ever really stopped to think about it, as I do. So thinking…is not cool. Not no more! Thinking is for idiots! And Slavery is freedom! Yep it is beyond 1984 and 2012; and it’s all a Catch 22 and then some.

But wait! We’ve got algorithms! Algorithms are quite the new and amazing corporate mind-control invention! Even I’m a fan! And that’s because Netflix, (yet another corporate sociopath) via some kind of mathematical calculation has figured out that I like to think! (Oh my…is this dangerous…do you think they might report me to the authorities?) Well, I’ll worry about that later. As for now, in this darkness, I say, bless their little corporate sociopath hearts, because they always recommend the most clever films for me…for thinkers only,  American idiots need not apply.
[image error] And I am so grateful because it’s rare, incredibly rare I think, to come across a story that hasn’t been told. Take the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.  Apparently, a huge percentage of the westernized female world lost their every-loving minds over a clever retelling of your basic vampire mythology. (What the f*ck is up with women and the damn Vampire mythology?????)  Creepy old rich dead dude (literally or figuratively), takes young virginal type and sucks her dry until she is literally dead. He ravishes her…she knows she is in danger, but she just can’t help her self because …she, she, she, she wants to be ravished!
Bee-yatch Pulease. Aren’t we tired of this same, sad sorry story?
[Why does it keep popping up? (Albeit in various forms over the last two thousand years.) It is so, so tired. Can’t we Joss Whedon, Buffy it up a bit at least? Yay, yay, I say to girl power!  If I need back up, send me Angel!  Bad vamp, gone good. He’s my man.
If being ravished is your ultimate fantasy, it is out there for the having.  We have a multibillion dollar global sex-slave industry validating the reality of that sicko fantasy…why women? Why?
It’s the popularity of all of these same old tired stories that make discoveries of new ones so delightful.  Maybe there are no new stories. Maybe all that’s left are clever versions and twists on the same tired old ones. But whenever I come across something that even has the appearance of novelty, I do so get inspired.  If you are like me, have I got quite the find for you!

Netflix has alerted me to the fact that I like stories that tell us the truth about the sad, state of affairs of our crumbling American Dream. Why? I don’t know. I guess for me, I have this incredible need to runteldat. Either, I’m going to do it, or someone else has to. We can’t just simply sit on the sidelines and let our American Dreams die right before our eyes, can we? We have to do something, don’t we? At the very least we can runtelday, can’t we?
  I’m here to tell you, I don’t know…I just don’t know.
God Bless America (2011), The Penitent Man (2010), and The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009) are three of my recently viewed Netflix films that dance around this concept in delightfully and frightfully clever new ways.
In God Bless America, the storytelling makes it painfully clear that most Americans are seemingly fine with sitting on the sidelines and watching our world fall apart…we are so distracted by all of the American Idiots on American Idol, that we can’t be bothered with menial and tedious tasks like thinking. Nothing is sacred anymore…and we are hardly a civilization either, and even the mentally challenged are in on the scheming and plotting for fifteen ridiculous minutes of fame at all costs and any price.
This is why divorced, fired, bad-addled brain, middle-aged protagonist Frank has absolutely no choice other than to go on a killing spree with perfectly normal and well-adjusted suburban teen Roxy. (Well, she does have a wee bit of ADD.) They start brutally murdering MTV reality teen stars, Rush Limbaugh types…and anyone who is basically…just…well rude! It is hysterical! It really is…and yes I do realize the irony of murdering someone for rudeness; what could be more rude than that? But does this make any less sense than anything else that is going on in our American society these days? No, and that is the beauty of our American insanity….I’m sorry, but I just can’t resist runtelling dat.
But, in a way, even this story, though quite unusual and oddly funny, is tired and in bad taste. Why is this always the answer in America? These people are getting on my nerves so, I’ll just kill, kill, kill, kill them. That’s the answer. That is always the ultimate American answer?The gun-selling scene in this film was so pathetically, pathologically and supremely American.
Why is this country so violent? Why is it so violent, that when one of my students did a random survey in my classroom asking, how many of his fellow students owned guns, over half of the class raised their hands? Why is it so violent that my own sister owns a pink gun? A pink gun? Really!?!?!?!
Why is it so violent that, even though guns cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, people are willing to pay those insane kinds of prices? Really? Really? Why is it so violent, that every single time some poor misguided soul steps into a school and starts killing all the kids in sight, the NRA just keeps coming up with more reasons to sell even larger quantities of guns? Why is it so violent that in a film called, God Bless America, protagonist Frank blows a six-month old baby to bits as his mother holds him up as a shield, and that is actually (you’re just gonna have to trust me on this) funny. (Oh, don’t judge me! I realize how awful this sounds, but that is just the point. You’d have to see the scene to get the humor. It is a black comedy after all.)  But seriously, what does this film really say about America? God Bless America is like Bowling for Columbine on crack! I mean imagine that…Bowling for Columbineon crack!?!?!?! Are there no lows to which we won’t stoop?

I don’t own a gun, nor do I bother to think too much about those who do. Although, I can honestly see both sides of the issue and sit very squarely on the middle of the damn fence, I really don’t feel like I have a whole lot to say on the topic of guns or controlling them except…what the f*ck? Why is this country so violent? I’ll tell you why, because the violence makes corporate world tons of money $$$$$$.

Watching God Bless America, I  laughed to keep from crying. It is basically the heart of American darkness…told in such a comedic fashion…and you gotta admit that is hard to pull off. It is, we have met the enemy and it is us, but in such an outrageous and ridiculous manner that we can almost accept ourselves as our own enemy…okay, but then what?  

Well, next comes chaos and the total destruction of the entire world, which is the premise of The Penitent Man. What would bring about such a situation? Well according the penitent man, just knowing too much. And indeed, doesn’t it seem like that is exactly what is happening right now? We know so much these days. We have so much information, so many books, so many TV shows, so many films, so many choices, so many options (paper or plastic?), so many messages and so much data that we are literally drowning in it. We are losing all sense of real meaning. We know everything and believe in nothing, other than our own selfish interests and that my friend is when it all falls down. Now this film isn’t necessarily a social commentary on America, the story could be taking place in almost any industrialized westernized nation…but the point is, the world is completely destroyed, because people stopped believing in anything at all, because they knew too much. Sound familiar?

Finally, we have The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, with Jewish, Evangelical Christian, Muslim, Hari Krishna protagonist Dory the Datameister! The title of this film is ridiculous, right? I mean who would want to watch something so ridiculously entitled.  I say YOU, if you like to think! Oh my God, this film is HYSTERICAL!!!! As my husband watched me watching this, he complained that I was having my own personal giggle-fest; and I was! It was such a funny film! Unbelievable! And I can’t even begin to tell you what it is about. This is the best I can do: It’s about these nuclear, new age LSD type cookies and the janitors who eat them! It is pure insanity.

But it’s also more than that, as top reviewer Larry 411 on IMBD review boards explained:

I attended a screening of “The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle” at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival. It’s rare to find a film that’s truly original while remaining accessible…entertainment usually dictates convention. That’s what Hollywood is good at. So to be able to marry the two, to create a film that is both unique as well as satisfying on a mass audience level, is quite daunting. “The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle” meets that challenge.

Besides being hysterical, Lil Diz is a biting social commentary on the state of our corporately controlled America… profits at any cost, the levels to which corporate world will stoop to keep exploiting Americans, who I affectionately refer to as the house negroes of the corporate world’s vast global plantations. Yes we are slaves, even though most of us don’t know it. Some of us are even the stereo-typical step-it-and-fetch-it, yessah massah, yessah boss, sort of slaves. And I am especially referring to the Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter types because for a little bit of money they will sell their brothers and sisters down the river…their brothers and sisters being all of humanity.

As for me and Kimya Dawson, we are more of the spook-who-sat-by-the-door kind of slaves. I mean Kimya said it best in Viva la Persistence:

Here’s a simple dissertation on a complex situation
Money and intimidation and mass graves
make strong foundations
For the giant corporations
that own all the TV stations
Telling us to take vacations
to their big theme park plantations
Rather than to hearts of nations
Where we might meet people on the street who say
“I don’t want my MTV cause it brought viva to its knees”
And mom and pop are begging,
“Please, globalization’s killing me”

Yep. That about sums it up. But, as the question is raised in The Penitent Man, what happens after that? Once you destroy the entire world for your own personal gain…do you rein supreme then, over hell? And where is the fun in that? Hell is hell.  It doesn’t matter how rich you are, it’s a helluva unpleasant place for all.

Back to The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, which also raises the question, which we all have in the back of our minds (come on you know you do) what happens when we destroy our world, huh? What happens then? But it does so in such a clever, unique and entertaining way, there is not one second that you ever feel like you are being preached at (if you are an American Idiot who hates being preached at, or being exposed to anything  even remotely intelligent.) The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle is Three Stooges comedy meets Revenge of the Nerds triumph meets Erin Brockovich corporate corruption whistle blower type antics, meets Message in a Bottle what the f*ck people!?!?!?!? What the f*ck!?!?!?!
I’m sorry. (Watch Little Dizzle and you will totally get this.)

Initially, I thought I wanted my Hollywood Erin Brocko ending. You know the one where the janitors get their day in court! And there is justice! And they made millions kind of ending. But, I didn’t get it.Little Dizzle refused to stoop to that formulaic low, and for that I was actually, and even pleasantly, surprised. Because sadly, there are no easy answers; and money certainly can’t solve the issue of the birth of a new species of blue florescent intestinal fawna, now can it?

This is one of the best films that I have seen in a long, long, long time. Go Little Dizzle!