Film

True Detective Season 2: A reactionary tragedy

The following guest post is by RepCom1140

Last summer’s second season of True Detective was a disappointment to many. However, the ideology at the heart of this season’s story spoke to me as I happened to be witnessing a burgeoning ideological movement unfold on Twitter. What began as the elitist “neoreaction” was rapidly overshadowed by a populist “alt-right.” While absorbing bits and pieces of the purposes and beliefs of these people, I couldn’t help but see similarities between these Twitterers and the show. A year later, the alt-right having achieved a legitimacy of sorts through its feverish support of Donald Trump’s campaign for the US Presidency, I have to take a sober reassessment of the state of the American far-right.

For the protagonists of True Detective Season 2, society appears to be in steady decline, with death the only certainty in life. The nihilistic overtones and reluctant hope make it the frontrunner for reactionary show of the year. Far-right Twitter crosses paths with the show as most of the characters are obsessed about masculinity, women, and race, often hilariously so.

  • Vince Vaughn’s gangster Frank Semyon believes “A good woman mitigates our baser tendencies.”
  • Colin Farrell’s corrupt, down’n’out detective Ray Velcoro quips “I support feminism; mostly by having body image issues.”
  • While Ray’s father grouses about his past in the LAPD he tells his son today’s world is “No country for white men, boy.”
  • Frank one-ups this with a retort to a corrupt city official: “You don’t direct me. Khe Sahn motherf__ker.” “I’m Chinese.” “Well then go stand in front of a tank.”

Detective Paul Woodrugh’s mother is no different, advising her son to leave his pregnant Spanish girlfriend: “You’re a good looking white man. You get in shootouts. You could do anything you like.”

All of the main characters in the show are damaged in some way. Some try to correct their faults or overcome their demons, others simply embrace the darkness, and some never quite figure out what’s going on. One could pick a far-right Twitter account out of a hat and one of these characters would match up to the levels of fear, hatred, and insecurity the anonymous Pepe’s exhibit. Ray Velcoro is obsessed with the idea that he’s been “cucked” by a rapist and that his son may not be his own flesh and blood. That regrettable word doesn’t appear in the show but Ray is a perfect avatar for every deluded soul who thinks racial purity will somehow bring glory to a nation that was never “great.” After his marriage fell apart Ray’s method of dealing with his problems involves rock n roll, whiskey, cocaine, pull ups, beer, and tears – in that order. Though Ray projects a rugged demeanor his unrepentant self is not much different from the pasty would-be assassin (a dead ringer for those “nerd with a katana” image macros) who mumbles “I am the blade and the bullet” before attempting to kill the city’s corrupt police chief. This is all the more funny (or sad) considering the basement dwelling keyboard warriors rubbing digital shoulders with adherents to the “#HarambeMindset.”

An obsession about authenticity and masculinity plagues both Velcoro and Woodrugh. Ray’s father was the image of a tough guy cop who probably very liberal giving out wood shampoos or worse in the days when police could get away with anything. Woodrugh has Clint Eastwood as a father figure, and his assumed taciturn sulking does him no favors either. Sometimes it’s just absurd the things that bother them. Both men comment on different occasions about disliking their fellow detective Ani Bezzerides’ e-cigarette. Adopting an affectation of “manliness” or caring overmuch about your method of nicotine delivery does not make you a more virtuous person and just seems like wasted effort. Yet “authentic masculinity” is one of the fixations of the far-right that is constantly rearing its wimpy balding head.

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10 best films of 2015

  1. Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Turkey-France-Germany)

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The film deals with the life of 5 teenager Muslim sisters in conservative Turkish family who after having spent a moment in the beach with some boys were condemn to be prisoners of their own home. A film that shows the sensuality of the youth world in the Middle East is not something that one found everyday. Between the sisters it had been a development of a very special relationship base on complicity. The young girls are forced to became brides and each girl has different reaction. According to the credits the Turkish government has partly financed the film despite I don’t think that it fits the Turkish cultural nationalism of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his repressive government. Perhaps this film one of the most honest critics to the female treatment in Muslim countries. One of the most interesting aspects of film is that Turkey is supposed to be a more Western country and in theory more modern but his treatment of woman for a lot of families don’t change much with the supposedly more primitive Arab countries. A real subversive film of a  poetic beauty.

2. Tu Dors Nicole (Stéphane Lafleur, Canada)

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In a cinematic black and white with the particular Québécois accent this film was one of the surprises of the year. The plot is center between the relationship of two twenty something Nicole and Verónique that had nothing to do a summer. There is nothing deep about the story but is the charm that the girls bring to the film that made it almost surrealist. There is a teenage kid with an adult voice in love with Nicole that appear to put a quote of humor in film. The sound is well elaborated from the parent that go in roads with a whale sound to the Nicole’s brother rock band. The finale of the the film is weak part of this masterpiece.

3. The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle, USA)

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A marvelous documentary of the lives of the Angulo brothers that lived locked away away in a Lower East Side apartment. The only connection for them to the outside world are films which they even reenact. The family is afraid of the outside but these teenagers don’t. The film portray the brothers first contacts with the outside world with they. A history about how the limits of cinema and real life are more blurry that one could usually think. Since their vision of the world had been shaped by cinema, they had despite their early youth the vision of older directors and a commitment to create beauty. If Michel Foucault said that the goal in the life is to make a piece of art of it, for these kids is made a movie about that.

4. Heaven’s Know What (Ben Safdie & Joshua Safdie, USA)

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In a year where there had been a lot of films about the homeless, this small budget film which had by far the best. Most films about the homeless had require well known actors to get attention into these complex topic but these film was a blend between documentary and fiction since the main character Harley is portrayed by Arielle Holmes, a real life homeless. Arielle performance is simply magic for a film about a very hard topic. The history of the film is actually based on her real life, Harley and Ilya are couple of addict homeless in New York City.  Certainly not the kind of cinema that is made to be a blockbuster but the honest portray of homelessness made it one of the best indie films of the last time.

5. Beyond Clueless (Charlie Lyne, UK)

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A documentary about teenage movies. The film is a reflection about how cinema has portrayed with coming-of-age stories the youth. A truly sociological look to high school films. Center around American cinema the fact that in other cinematographies, coming-of-age films are rare, makes one wonder why is the fascination of America with its youth. Is America the eternal teenager that is tired of the Old Europe. Is he or she, the jock, the cheerleader or nerd, maybe America of is all of the above. Even in some other countries there had been some films about high school is very strange that they merge science fiction and horror, something quite common in America. The question will is if one day would America grow up.

6. Dope (Rick Famuyiwa, USA)

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The history of Malcolm a geek teenager and two of his friends in a black neighborhood. After founding a bag full of drugs they decide it to sell it in the deep web and they change the money they earn to Bitcoin. There is love, there are pop culture references and there is dream of Malcolm of getting into Harvard. A geek black comedy that is maybe inaugurating a new sub-genre.

7. Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve, France)

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A film about the underground electronic music scene in Paris with the one best soundtracks ever, the movie is a narrative tale of the life of these musicians from the love relationships to their addictions. Hansen-Løve is a young director that had been able to find her own voice, every film of her had a particular taste. These film is the first since her debut trilogy and is prove that she is one of the most promising filmmakers of this generation.

8. Appropriate Behaviour (Desiree Akhavan, USA)

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Described as the film Woody Allen would made if he was a lesbian Persian girl. The film follows Shirin portrayed by the  Akhavan herself as a hipster lesbian Persian-American girl living in New York City with dream of becoming a director. An autobiographical film that reflects on hipster culture but also on what it means being “ethnic” in the hipster scene. A truly charming film that put a Akhavan on the map both as a director and an actress.

9. Lost River (Ryan Gosling, USA)

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The directorial debut of Ryan Gosling was a truly surprise. One best cinematography works of the last time is shown on these film that in technical aspects is perfect. Is not easy to make films about ghost towns and Gosling has made it. The script is far from perfect but having actress like Christina Hendricks and Saiorse Ronan, good performances are secured.

10. Félix et Meira (Maxime Giroux, Canada)

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The film name the two principal characters a single middle age man and younger orthodox Jewish mother and wife. One amazing love story between two persons coming from two very different worlds. The Israeli actress that portrays Meira is Hadas Yaron, one of the most promising rising star of Israel.

Magicians of the Outer Right, Part Zwei – Power Plays

TRIGGER WARNING: There’s that bit in the beginning of the Book of Genesis about The Tree of Knowledge. The material below is all very well known and available to anyone with a browser. However, the weak of mind are strongly advised to cease and desist.

Ah, I see you’re still here. Very well:

My previous post on Magicians of the Outer Right was, admittedly, occult.

From Outside in’s links digest: “Mirror of obscurity.” Nick B. Steves roundup: “a rather cryptic post.” Some further explication was implied.

Steves also linked this:

The fact is Western culture has its own conception of power, a very naive construct that prevents us from noticing how things actually work. We seem to think people have ideas, and act because they believe those ideas, and power just comes out of the strength of those ideas. Call it faith in Christ, or Protestantism, or liberalism. Our conception of history is the history of ideas.

In the last 20 years or so, with the rise of the Web, this conception has been hyper-reinforced. I post my “Neoreactionary” arguments and evidence about how fundamental “right-wing” changes to society would result in peace, prosperity, less crime, happier children, more intelligence, less obesity and, in the long run, the breeding of unicorns that defecate gumdrops. Some SJW grrrl just out of Wellsley (or more likely, struggling to complete her Womyn’s Studies B.A. at a state university) posts that I’m a POS racist sexist LGBTIQ-phobe whose ideas would lead to death camps for everyone except white cismales. She argues that fundamental “left-wing” changes to society would result in equality, peace, equality, less crime, equal children and animals, equality of intelligence, social justice, racial justice, economic justice, sexual justice and, in the long run, Gaia defecating non-GMO unsalted manna that would feed the world and allow her to pay off her student loans.

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The hipsters and the Iran deal

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The Iran Deal was signed last week. It is supposed to be one of the signature accomplishments of the Obama administration, and I think as a non-interventionist the deal is positive for making the option of war less viable. It caused some predictable reactions, Ron Paul is for it and the neocons against it; but it has also generated some less predictable reactions like the opposition of Rand Paul, which could end any even remote possibility of winning the GOP nomination, and Jim Webb expressing his doubts, which could complicate his search for Democratic nomination. The most likely is that Senate Republicans wouldn’t be able to get enough votes to block the deal even if some Pro-Israel Democrats vote with them, although I think it would be more difficult than expected get the deal. But I think Obama has a secret weapon: the hipsters.

Iran is a country with a particular interesting film history, an emerging fashion industry and an exciting rock scene. For years the press and pundits were confused when trying to describe the hipsters as a particular political group. They had cataloged hipsters as progressives, conservatives, libertarians and everything in between. I don’t know how much the average hipster thinks of foreign policy, but I’m sure he should know more about Iran than the other Middle Eastern countries because of its celebrated culture.

But if that’s not enough last year two films by Iranian-American filmmakers hit the film festival circuit with success. A Girl Walks Alone at Night was black and white film of Iranian vampires in the desert of California; a story full of indie music, skates and love. Appropriate Behavior is a self-portrait comedy based on the life of actress and director Desiree Akhavan, the film was aptly described as a movie that Woody Allen would do if he was a bisexual Iranian girl. Both films were very different portraits of Iranian-Americans but both portrayed Iranian-Americans more as Americans than exotic foreigners, just like that it also seems that young Iranians love America.

It is true that the government of Iran is repressive, but the sanctions are worse for the civilian population than for the well-connected rulers. The Iranian youth had a lot in common with the American youth, and if it matters with the global hipster youth, if they want a revolution it is one in which they can dance, like Emma Goldman used to say. A hipster perspective on Iran sees that Muslim country as having more similarities to the West than even American allies like Saudi Arabia. How you can hate a country with such great art? If not impossible, one had only to learn to love peace. If culture can be vital to diplomacy one has to wonder why a deal like that was never reached before. Maybe this is a good start of the fall of the neocons and the rise of hipster approved realism.

‘American Sniper’ in Indian country

My review of the movie is up at TAC:

The New York Times review of “Lawrence of Arabia” from 1962 complains that we don’t really get to know the titular character, a fault Bosley Crowther blames on “the concept of telling the story of this self-tortured man against a background of action that has the characteristic of a mammoth Western film.”

“American Sniper” feels the same way, both in character and background. For most people, consideration of the similarities between Western expansion and America’s permanent presence in the Middle East starts and ends with how one feels about “cowboy president” jokes. But in less self-conscious times, no less than the venerable Robert Kaplan once referred to Little Bighorn as “the 9/11 of its day.”

Introducing The Sensorium of B.H. Obama

I suppose it’s a rarity for someone to get two posts in a row on here, but this is a fine reason to break rules. Cross-posted from FPR:

Pete Davis made his debut on this blog [ed — that blog] this week, with an essay on the poisonous politics of The West Wing. But he’s not just a writer or community reformer. Today he has released The Sensorium of B.H. Obama, written by Davis and Paul VanKoughnett. I had the pleasure of seeing it at a private screening last weekend, and even my right-wing companions enjoyed the heck out of it. For a short description, we’ll let the creators speak for themselves:

In the early months of 2015, a young United States President named Barack Obama made a fateful decision. Frustrated by the endless pressures of his thankless, dead-end, white-collar job, Obama delivered his State of the Union speech and disappeared– to America’s heartland – Lawrence, Kansas – where he began the great work of which he’d always dreamed. But with the lamestream media and the forces of Washington politics-as-usual hot on his tail, could this plucky POTUS deliver the change he believed in?

It’s a wonderfully original, creative movie with a heart of gold and a Joe Biden impersonator. Without further ado:

(Check out their production company here and here)