Sunday, 31 August 2008


This is in reference to a new indie American film-making movement, shot on DV cameras, with natural sound. As I shot my film The Arubian Nostalgic that way, of course I'm interested in this development.

I have seen three films so far, The Duplass Brother's The Puffy Chair, Aaron Katz's Dance Party USA and Joe Swanberg's Lol. Its one of those movements that works film to film, until you hear its a movement. Then you think its just no-budget indie. How is it different from what's been going on since the 1960's? To be honest its not that different. DV instead of super 8. Its young so far so no-one has O.D'd (that I know of), no director has stabbed an actress in a bizarre love declaration (if anything tied to mumblecore ever reads this, hint hint). None of the interesting things that the 1970's maniacs were up to (my favourite Schrader proposing to two different women at the same time). So to conclude on this area, private life scandals are letting the side down a little.

But the films are pleasingly neurotic. The Puffy Chair and Dance Party USA, while having a few slow bits that most indie films typically display, are excellent. They truly have awkward bastards at their centre. Dance Party USA has a teenage guy who sleeps with lots of girls, who had sex with a 14 year old girl who was sleeping at the time (he's relieved to find out she never remembers it). It's not a plot heavy film, is more about conversations getting slowly off-key, human interaction having dark undertones that are not viewed as entirely unhealthy, as it addresses darker aspects working within the average human. While the characters are capable of doing horrible things, making comments that are obnoxious, the film seems to view these aspects of character as a true portrait of human beings, as something to be worked with. It's a quietly optimistic film within unsentimental terms. The good thing also is that once the film gets going, the conversations, while never always expressive, are fascinating to follow, always going for odd looks, have psychological stutters as character beats, so the film always feels to be intriguing. Film also has some terrific shots of people wandering around.

The Puffy Chair is also about inexpression, although its more structured towards plot. Its about two brothers and one of the brother's girlfriend going to collect a puffy chair that resembles one the brother's father once had. The brother with the girlfriend is a bit of a dick really. He causes problems by being cheap, has violent tendencies once pushed to a degree, cannot express himself very well, to a childish extent when dealing with simple emotions, is self-pitying and crude. Says dude a lot (never a good sign, check for syphilis). The other brother is a bit of a flake who gets married for a night then walks away, gives a lot of new age ramblings. He does very irrational things through-out, is likely a cause of agony within the family due to the fact he simply will not grow up. Essentially, in a horror movie, he'd be the first one murdered brutally. The girlfriend is a bit self-delusional, romantic, is in some ways the least fleshed out as she isn't as unpleasant as the two brothers. Its got that distance that some male directors have when they have a female protagonist, that they don't want to be called a misogynist. Despite this, she and her boyfriend have some pretty good fights that are far more interesting and honest than you normally get in film, is about their frustrations with what the other isn't. It's a very good film despite this flaw. The reason I bring it up is that it separate a good film from something that could have really been wonderful. The film flows in interesting ways while sticking to the point of three people on a journey, has a nicely downbeat ending.

Lol is the problem film as it has lots of dysfunctional males and sentimental females (in the same let's not be misogynist fear vein) but is a lot less interesting. Its all about technology and how that distances us from emotions but is basically its not got interest with characters. The point is made then remade that technology can take over people, make them flat and disconnected. The characters meander through scenes that have obvious conclusions and very little analysis. There is a character who makes odd music sounds, with on-line girlfriends all over the country, that is interesting but he is seen but never developed to the depth that could have done something new. He's taken to the point you'd expect in a indie film. There's a character played by the director (Swanberg) who is annoying throughout, without ever being interesting. Again does everything you'd expect. I read a lot was improvised and you sense that. There's no pleasure that a proper written scene could give you, yet the film is visually dull so no-one wanders through intriguing landscape, have interesting interaction, even awkward talks, even focused sub-textual purpose. Problem with the film is it's the indie version of watching an action movie where you know the cliches, which are played out to rote. There is little life to it, being far the dullest of the three. It's watchable but that's about it.

So to conclude, mumblecore is showing signs of life, is less sentimental than the indie films we've had the last ten years. Now its a case of keeping it up and not getting into the coke and whores (unless the DV camera is turned on and pointing in the right direction of course)

Friday, 29 August 2008

Why edit a film when the director is already dead?

This is going to be to the point. I am a massive fan of Peckinpah's Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid. It's a beautiful, haunted, near-masterpiece, a film made up of mood and little moments, building mood and carefully moving from moment to moment, building a world where every action has some sort of meaning, even if it is not obvious.

This version of the film is what we call the director's first cut, of the turner cut, as it was shown by Turner classics first. The theatrical release version was hacked about and hated by the director. The director's first cut is the version now viewed as the real cut, the best version available that was supervised by the director personally, was shown by the director as the version closest to his original vision.

Now some Peckinpah experts, focused by Paul Seydor, think the film might not have been what was completely intended, as it was never fine cut and completed by the director to his instructions before death. Which makes sense. But that turner cut is what is still the best we have, supervised by Peckinpah.

Now Seydor has worked a reconstruction, putting scenes back, paring scenes down from the turner cut. Now there are two problems here. First of all, his recut, which was re-mastered while the turner cut was not, is far worse creatively than the turner cut. It has a pre-credit sequence that was actually the credit sequence in the turner cut, but with shots moved around, freeze-frames for credits deleted, which ruins the pace and the beauty of what Peckinpah did, which was about the death of Patt Garrett. Now its a clumsily edited bit of brutality, lacking any real grace. Then it has a dialogue scene between the central characters from the turner cut that he cuts the end off, losing a very important reaction from Billy The Kid. Then he has a title sequence. Then the film begins. Peckinpah in the turner cut, had the credits within action, in a way reminiscent of the beginning of The Wild Bunch, and got on with the story. Seydor also cuts an important end scene, returning to the death of Pat Garret, following his murder of Billy The Kid, which has emotional closure, and is rather beautiful. Without it, the ending is slightly lesser emotionally. Seydor also adds a scene Peckinpah never had in any cut, with Garrett and his wife, which kills the pace and doesn't tell you anything about the world you do not know. The entire recut takes out beautiful little moments that Peckinpah made, details and accumulative mood, and adds very little. You never get the sense this editor, despite writing a book on Peckinpah, recognises why Pat Garrett is a beautiful film. It's because the film takes its time, that its beauty is in the wistful, what could have been, thoughts on why a character is damned. So Seydor, a professional editor, bungles important areas of editing, such as pace, mood, story clarity, little character details, for what he calls pacing it up a little, to end on strong points. It's an atrocity.

Now to the main point. All he has are theories on what Peckinpah would have done. Its not like he had detailed notes, like the Touch Of Evil restoration had. All he had are theories. Why have the go to do this to the work of a dead man, suggest this is what would have been the cut. Its a horrific action, something which should be frowned upon. Essentially it's a filmic atrocity that should never have occurred.

So I'm sticking to my Turner classic version of this great film, with its weak images, sound that goes all over the place. It's not perfect but its a real film. Not like the abject failure of the new cut.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Having watched the Watchmen trailer a few times, finding it to be awful, a grungy cover band version of visuals gutted from a terrific story, working with weightless dull effects taken from images that had touching, simple, wonderous sci-fi beauty on the page, I reread the Alan Moore graphic novel.

From reading Watchmen again I don't think a film of this, on an insane budget, can be successful with the layers involved within the tale. Watchman is essentially a complex arthouse set-up, has stories within stories, that leaves the ending in a very ambiguous moral mess. It could be adapted by Antonioni, with its stories floating into one other to show theme in mood rather than narrative drive, ambiguous, lost characters floating through a world they once understood, that crumbles as they try to walk within it, feeling absurd about the costumes and attitudes they once embraced. Its great moments are meditations on time, of people reading, thinking while alone, much of the beauty in the internal monologues that will be lost in the macho-ness of so many dulled images suggested in the trailer. So much of the twisted sexuality in the situation, expressed in bright visuals, looks lost within the mainstreamed idea of lots of leather and dark photography, (some costumes look very Joel Schumacher batman, a horrible element to add) the romances involved within the bizarre repression within character seeming to be ignored as too disturbing. This is also a story that has age as a concern, is against the ideas of people looking like models, many characters being old, are people who were once great but are now left to rot. Characters have middle-age spreads, cannot perform.

It's a story not made for the guy who directed the appallingly stupid 300, a film which had good actors acting like models. Nothing in these images shown suggest that these are losers touchingly out of date, that they have costumes and attitudes that are seen in various contexts, many of which are absurd. The villain has a strange, hopeful plan that is also insanely violent, requires a lot of time to set-up in mood, as do most events in the story. If rushed they become plot. This story, like a lot of art, does not rely on plot, is weak in that area, is more concerned with the meaning of various types of inner monologues and outer landscapes, how they interact and create meaning.

The ambiguity of the end is so adult that there's no way it'll be faced at the level intended, even if the film simply follows plot beats. My guess is that it'll stick to the same plot as the source, roughen it up, change the meaning. A lot of people will fall for it if its competent as a thriller as the central focus is so solid, of superheroes over time. But the trailers and images released have gotten so much wrong, have gone for dark pulp rather than a beautiful take on twisted fifties nostalgia gone to eighties Reaganism, that I see subtle betrayal. Yet the footage has been embraced, making me wonder if those who read the original story are so into stupid pulp brutality that they're forgetting the the watchmen story is a lefty attack on this very thoughtlessness. It just seems, from what I've seen so far, like so many other adaptations, to be a waste of what could be.

Hopefully I'm wrong.

On the plus side, I have been enjoying the great Futurama films. Now this is classy stuff. Both films, Bender's Big Score and Beast With A Billion Backs, are hilarious, both have terrific odd moments of sci-fi concepts and visuals, are far more imaginative than most self-serious sci-fi. At the moment I slightly prefer Beast but its close. Bender Big Score has a better plot and a greater, more moving ending but Beast is funnier for me, has more interesting odd character bits, plus has a lot of Kif and Zap Brannigan, which will always give it an edge. So that can cheer me up when I look at Watchman and wonder why? Just think of Bender saying Hasta La Vista Meatbag.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Silent Light & Polanski's Oliver Twist

Silent Light by Carlos Reygadas is a wonderful, beautiful film with only one major flaw, an over-reaching influence from an even more wonderful, even more beautiful film, Dreyer's Ordet. Ordet is the story of life, death and madness in an isolated farm, with the influence of religion spreading through the community as tragedy affects a family. Silent Light is the story of a farm-based family affected by a husband's infidelity. Throughout the film there is a subtle influence of Ordet, in the sense of farms, subtle use of religion, influence in imagery, but its never a problem, being used as a genuine influence rather than a crutch. Until the last five minutes where the film steals a famous section from Ordet, even though it has nothing to do with the story being told. I won't state what the steal is here but its such a blatant, destructive act that the fact that its played well doesn't help, as it kills the film, and your hold on the characters and mood.

Before that we have a film made up of many slow, subtle shots, all of them beautiful in different ways. We get to see the characters in life, the farmer, his wife and his mistress, slowly working on three people in the middle of a problem with no villains, everyone tortured by the complexity of confused feeling, changing needs and lusts, of responsibilities in life bringing decent people to breaking point. The film illuminates people trying to survive in life, using slow shots to suggest lives and clumsy interaction, people in normal life with hints of torment, giving subtle reaction suggesting inner life. At certain moments the film breaks out, focuses on one character in isolation, using landscape, lust and despair on a person's face over a few minutes in single focus to show character and situation. For two hours, with the simplest narrative, this is enough as people slowly give depth and emotion, as well as to give the knowledge that there is no way out. But the end has a lack of narrative or emotional resolution, refuses to suggest complexity. It simply ends by being a film allusion that backs away from what has been built, and is a horrible mistake. While it is forgivable after so much great work, it does lower respect for the film-maker, as lazy homage is the only way the director can finish the story. For the greater moments it's still a must-see of course. Watching Ordet too long before it is inadvisable.

Polanski's Oliver Twist is a terrific telling of Dicken's tale.. Following the amazing The Pianist, Polanski is all about the cruelty of life during Dicken's time, where survival warps those who manage, where there is little pity. Oliver Twist in this version is simply a character who eventually has a few bits of luck that allows him to escape poverty, while all others are left either dead or still begging in the street. Despite the bleakness of the world its a terrific entertainment. The story is clear and worked out within the world established, always using the quickly established details of environment to create complex worlds that allows the story to move on without letting any section drag. It also has terrific actors, all playing their parts low-key and very dangerous, as they are people who are living in small worlds but cannot understand much beyond their environment. They constantly make mistakes or misunderstand in ways that leads to tragedy. Fagin is simply a scrounger who ruins lives but is a coward who doesn't know better. The artful dodger is a ruined child, not a wonderful thief. Bill Sykes is a petty thief who simply doesn't have a clue and destroys everybody. It's a world where everyone kicks the person one rung below, save a few kind people who eventually rescue Oliver. It's a wonderful, unsentimental and complicated film.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Cutter's Way

Just a brief comment on this film. Watched it today. It is a wonderful character study that takes its time, heading towards a sense of quiet desperation within the underclasses.

The story is of repercussions left by a teenage girl's dead body found in a dumpster. A womanising waster played by Jeff Bridges finds the body and may have seen the killer. He is hauled in by the police yet not charged with anything. He mentions to his Vietnam vet friend Cutter, played by an excellent John Heard, that he thinks that the killer was an industrialist with a shady past. Cutter is bitter about society, has an haunted alcoholic wife, played by Lisa Eichhorn, who Bridges has an interest in.

While most films would take this situation and go for a twisty thriller, this film turns the situation into a character study, most of it taking place in Cutter's home. Bridges is the central character, a man who never acts, always walks away from human connection. He's a failure in life, is studied a lot throughout the film within inaction, is forced into varying minor-key reactions by Cutter and Cutter's wife. Cutter wants to blackmail the industrialist, use the payment as proof of guilt then turn the guy over to the police. He wants revenge on the type of man who begins wars from a distance, is never infected by pain. The wife wants to back away, is drifting from life. The human contacts in this trio, of friendships, betrayal of expectations, of self-hatred, of how these affect the wider world, is the focus of the film. The film subtly drifts into tragedy, Bridges finally acting well after its a time he could be of use. The film suggests by the end he would never be of use, that his friends are damned even without the killing.

This is an amazing late seventies film. It should be far more famous than it is. The acting through-out is terrific by all involved, the directing by Ivan Passer very subtle and unforced but has wonderfully distinct images and moments. There is a haunting Jack Nietzsche score that is a Badlands companion almost. It is a beautiful film about drained lives.

Hellboy 2

Hellboy 2 is kind of difficult to write about in an interesting way. For myself, it is easily the best entertainment film released over the past few months, of the blockbusters. Therefore I shall be brief on it as I'm pretty much thinking one thing. That was genius.

Hellboy 2 is better than the original film. It's a Ray Harryhausen-type of movie, with lots of old-school monsters, with fights between weird looking types. It even has room for its villain doing some Errol-Flynn moves. It is made the way movies should be, is what Raiders Of the Lost Ark and Temple Of Doom were, someone good making a film they want to see, throwing in their obsessions all over the place. The creatures are all incredibly imaginative, have great personalities, backgrounds, pathos. The creatures all seem to have a past and stories outside the central narrative. Yet the story is simple. moves from a-b-c without pretence, has a good villain with a point of view and a vicious streak, who will butcher millions to get his way. It continually has throw-away bits of genius that many directors would keep on-screen for half their movie, is epic yet keeps its focus at ground level. I'm not getting specific on the creatures as seeing them appear is part of the enjoyment. Along with speed racer, another financial under-performer, this is one of he more imaginative films in recent years. My complaints are so minor that they barely count. In this film Ron Perlman is a god.

Also watched The Dark Knight again. Was more impressed with the film this time, less critical of flaws, simply watching it as an entertainment, where it works well. Some of the shots were very nicely done (especially burning fire truck and the sequence following), there was a terrific build-up of mood in the film (yet those background city shots and staging still felt off) But certain areas still rankled, although they didn't bug me as much this time. Batman still seemed to be a bit thick. It felt that he was always getting help, always needed the work of others, which seems weak in an action hero (I like Batman to have a brain and independence, to work daring actions for himself, rather than having a gadget master and cops giving him a lot of info). Bale was still not as messed and neurotic, the way batman needs to be, nor does he feel truly damned and self-tortured, which again is Batman. (for me only Michael Keaton managed to get this, plus he did all his own detecting, just to show my obvious grudges). Some of the dialogue still felt like they were stating themes although there was more oddities in behaviour in the delivery than I noticed first time around. Still the end section felt wrong (and not just the awful acting on the boats). I can't quite get Batman taking the rap for Harvey Dent murders. The plot says that if Dent is seen as a killer then all his work is undone. Yet the film has the joker killing so many people. Couldn't they blame him or a few of his thugs for the Dent killings (even the end attack on Gordon's family by Dent could be explained as Joker thugs who got away, as no-one saw anything). After so many dead, who would really notice or care about more. And suggesting batman has gone rogue killer would depress people as much as Dent going nuts. So the end sacrifice for me just isn't set-up to be the only possible way out, in the situation so the conclusion feels like there's Batman not thinking it through. (again, boy does this one make blunders) But the final confrontation between Bats, Gordon and two-face is terrific, when Dent gets sadistic on the Gordon family and goes for an intimate type of revenge. Its always great when a villain really goes too far.

To sum it up, it's no Hellboy 2 and Bale is no Ron Perlman. But it'll do.
(Dark Knight also echoes Batman Returns a lot, with crazy industrialists, a madman organising terrorist acts on the city (while running for mayor), conflicted central villain who has odd ties to Bats, Batman being turned on by the city he protects. But its not as good)

This may seems a little odd in writing about comic book movies but I picked up a copy of Cutter's Way, an excellent film made by Ivan passer, which stars Jeff Bridges and John Heard. A stunning film which i saw years ago and am looking forward to rewatching.

See you next time. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Deduce You Swine

Deduce You Swine is the Dalton Trebeck children's movie gone wrong. It is fairly early in his direct to DVD era, following his Japan Trilogy: Into Death Us We Kill, Respect For The Mad Buddhist Death (his blood-drenched masterpiece of this era) and A Father's Tale (his warmest film).

Deduce You Swine is set on a farm, which Mr Trebeck, an ex-marine ruined by Oliver North, now runs with his family. Trebeck in this film has a family, a dog, a cat, many other animals, that he talks to in that very smooth, very polite manner. Have you ever seen an action star saying thank you to a pig. If you want to, this film is for you.

The film is directed by Byron Von Tress, a Canadian who started at the same time as David Cronenberg, who made nature films and documentaries before going ultra-right-wing in the nineties and going for action films with apparent social messages, always with a suggestion that if a few capitalists go wrong, most of them are alright. Heart-warming stuff.

The first ten to fifteen minutes of this film is all about the pleasures of farming and family. As this is a thriller, as in all of Mr Trebeck's works, things of course go wrong. Turns out some lying scum want the land for redevelopment. Not the most original plan but it lays the groundwork for a brutal action scene in which Mr Trebeck fights it out with some ex-army guys in the woods, at night. How a scummy land-grabber could afford these guys is ignored. Who cares. Its the best action scene of the film by a mile, topped off when Mr Trebeck is knocked out, dragged back to his farm, has his spine shot through, with threats on his family if he does not sign. He signs. Unfortunately the villains are not played by Trebeck regulars. They area dull bunch through-out. the director seems to think he should make them naturalistic.

Cut forward a year to see blood red images of butchered cattle, in a long tracking shot, camera moving to see a road being built. Yes, this was meant to be a film to broaden Mr Trebeck's range but the director ignored that idea, went for any shot that could show full gore.

We move to town. Mr Trebeck is working as a lawyer's assistant, training to take the bar himself. He wants to make a difference. He works for Gabriel Van Dyke, who plays a lawyer, who's cases appear off-screen always. The next twenty-minutes take place building their characters, showing them with their families, in the community. There is a genuine attempt to build a community in this section. We also see that Trebeck has rebuilt his family, is working against the land-grabbers through the law.

Then the murder plot begins. School-children return home to find their mother's murdered. It's a continuing problem in the community. The police have no ideas and are terrified. Van Dyke and Trebeck investigate, talk to children who have lost their parents, investigate evidence. Slowly they find the killer's MO. It is tied to the scummy land-grabbers but not in the way that is expected. The killer is someone they once employed, who has gone crazy, that they are attempting to track and kill. Why they didn't make it one of the scum is a bit odd, as its confusing when it should be direct, essentially casting an extra as the uber-villain. This guy did hold Trebeck down as he was being shot. Anyway, the motivation is tied to his affection for the Virgin Mary. And purity. It's not really explained.

Dalton faces down the people who ruined his life, refuses to cut a deal with them for his silence, publishes his findings. The killer gets mad. He has turned some kidnapped mothers mad through army chemicals that he stole while in service, is disgusted by their new multiple personality identities but uses them anyway. Sets them loose on Mr Trebeck's family, which is butchered by this vicious lesbian cult dressed as Easter Bunnies. This must have been added during the shoot. Could not have been part of the original plan to expand Mr Trebeck's audience.

Trebeck breaks down for a scene, then another, and another, drinks like he is in the beginning of Apocalypse Now, gets focused, goes to the mall to get some equipment for payback. Trebeck then goes through a suspense scene in the mall, as the scum who ruined him send hired killers at him. Really stupid hired killers who act like bad security cops, get identified, follow Trebeck for about five minutes then get killed. Trebeck has a gun, shoots them as they try to come close, they always somehow near enough for him to take them out at the legs, fall close enough for him to kill them by ripping out throats or such-like. It's a pretty awful sequence, which keeps repeating the same gag ad nauseum, Trebeck having the same angry expressing through-out. Lots of wheel-chair sounds and similar location shot again and again, sequence almost a pulp remake of Wollen's Wavelength.

Dalton then kidnaps one of the scum's wife and daughter, uses them as bait for the psycho and his women. In a very odd finale, the scum land-types and the killer and his women find the location individually, are burnt by acid them tied up by Dalton and Van Dyke in a very long and sadistic sequence. One of the main land-types is last to location, like a coward, is trapped as the location is burnt to the ground. Everyone are horrendously murdered in the fire, including the bait, who could likely testify so have to die.

The coda has Trebeck passing the bar. Van Dyke and Trebeck look around their town, the children playing, seemed determined to protect them. Also suggest they have made some money, are now prosperous.

This is a very odd film that shows signs of much re-writing. There is an insane amount of shots of either children being happy, playing or close-ups of physical torture, which suggests that someone in the production had recently become a parent. The film was meant to start a series, which has not occurred. It was meant to star a different, more thoughtful actor, which didn't occur. It had the last half-rewritten during production, suggesting that people gave up after seeing so many shots of kids and community, wanted some action yet ignored the script as most of the wheelchair action takes forever due to the lead being in a wheelchair. The wheelchair makes the action clumsy always. So its a mixed but very bizarre offering. Very much a cult film.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Redacted is probably the most notorious of the recent Iraq films in that it won the Golden Lion in Venice, got director Brian DePalma accused of being a traitor, and had a fight between DePalama and his own financier over the producer's censoring of images.

Of the recent Iraq films I've only seen Jarhead and Battle In Habitha. It's not a dramatic subject that has much variation and to be honest I would rather read an article about it than view most of the films based on the situation. The trouble I have in regard to most military films is that its a tight genre structure that has little variation. Its can be training, it can be the war, it can be the aftermath. Generally there is a total abdication of putting in realistic politics. There are generic views on honour, there's crazy types, there's a voice-over telling you what the soldier has learned, how they became wiser. It can seem to have less to do with an adult world than the typical slasher film, as it becomes about the cliche.

Unless there's a point of view. Of war films I have seen, I could rate Paths Of Glory, Full Metal Jacket. The Thin Red Line, The Big Red One and Apocalypse Now as excellent or classic. The Kubrick films had a marvellous distance to the events, showing the suggestion of political maneuvering between men, between soldiers and their superiors, between men and their enemies. Its calmly focused but never cold. The Thin Red Line and Apocalypse Now try to work on the meaning of war, the need for war within man, as man as animals, caged, confused, questioning killers. The Big Red One is the great war film in trying to survive the war, from the point of view of a foot soldier, studying the prejudices and absurdities that affect the soldiers from that one point of view.

There are other good films on war, such as Hell In the Pacific, Platoon, Casualties of War. To me these films have great moments but have either pretensions that get in the way, characters a tad too simplistic or a too straight-forward a narrative. But then again, I rate them very highly.

Of the Iraq films, Battle For Habitha seems to be dullest and most obvious, while Jarhead is entertaining and odd, in that it focuses on waiting for the war to start, but never quite gets under the surface enough, has actors giving actorly performances rather than carefully suggesting character.

Redacted is the weirdest of the bunch. It takes the same idea as battle For Habitha, about Americans murdering an Iraqi family in retaliation for one of their own being killed, but is far more satirical about the soldiers, of what they are doing. Its very against the war politically, suggesting a ruinous plan for greed, that destroys Iraq and the soldiers placed there. It is extremely cynical about the subsequent politics of rebuilding, portrays the troops as morons with guns, suggests that the army and America in general do not have the guts to face up to what some of their men do in this insane situation. The film shows the fiction in any logic to action, where the soldiers have no idea who is enemy or friend, are in a war that makes no political sense, are slowly going insane, losing context. The soldiers simply do not care in regards to their surroundings, are part of the problem.

To express this interestingly, the film is also a satire on the media of the war, is a fake documentary to begin with, so plays with cliches of war documentaries, of cliches of the soldier on screen, has knowingly pretentious music. The dislocation becomes very stated in these moments.

Redacted also satirizes how intelligent film-makers on subjects are on subjects they may be exploiting for quick genre thrills, how they shirk responsibility on investigating a situation, have no real ideas on what they film. The character shooting the footage used for the film is an obvious moron, someone trying to get into film school on a military scholarship, who shoots images yet has no idea on how to contextualise. That point in the film, repeated in different situations, is that people are too cynical, detached or tired to read the basic common sense of situations, to view others as people with rights, see them as standing cliches to be swotted aside. The point of view of genre, of honour that is always suggested, is mercilessly satirised, showing that all it can be is willful ignorance.

Most, if not all, of the characters in the film talk in cliches, have very little reference how to show emotion beyond what they have seen, act either in filmic or social cliches, are people without imagination to rise beyond prescribed notions of behaviour. This becomes the point of view of the film, as people keep talking yet make less sense, the worlds having less meaning due to abundant cliche, or the visuals they have seen having no verbal contexts that they can express to deal with them. How to connect what is seen and how to express an opinion on it has become a complete, exasperating failure. They commit atrocities due to feelings built upon ignorance and lack of options, not due to a genuine feeling of loss for a fallen comrade.

The film is also very cynical about the idea of justice. No-one truly receives justice, whether it be the Iraqi victims nor soldiers trapped in an insane situation. The army simply doesn't care and will lie to protect its soldiers. The attack/rape scene that is the centre of the film is very reminiscent of that Be Black Baby scene in DePalma's Hi Mom, a situation made horrible by implication and a sense of real evil that's difficult to escape.

Redacted is strange in that the film works better when viewed on the computer, as its medium is based on the internet, is told through blog and images posted on the net, is a parody of the way people on the internet express themselves in talk and body language, where everything is a show and yet means very little. On a larger screen, performances are a little broad, a little off, as net images would upsized. On a computer screen it makes far more sense as a representation of the new net world and how we express ourselves in hyperbole on the net. Everything was pitched as focused when on a computer screen as they really had that people talking to the cameras, acting to it, trying too hard to seem intelligent while saying stupid jokes and talking cliches without knowing it, as many would to a video camera or phone. Its simply about the medium that's been used. It still works on a larger screen but not as well as in its natural element. I would recommend watching it on a computer.

So that's Redacted. A complicated film. I'm not sure how it rates on the war film scale. I think it's very good but will need more viewings I think.

I Spite Your Father, Sir (Brief Appreciation)

I have mentioned I Spite Your Father Sir a few times already, in the scripted "Dalton Trebeck Routine", which Mr Trebeck would sometimes do to the disgust of others, and in my appreciation of the sidekicks. But this is a strange film that needs special spotlight.

Directed by five foot one, reputed ex-gun-runner and terrorist Alain De Silva, this was a strange mix of very serious, seventies influenced hand-held direction and a bizarre script by Trebeck mainstay James Dennis, Trebeck himself and John Seeder (writer of the first two of that great cop series Killer Dave, before falling away to expensive flops, an under-rated directorial debut that failed, and a series of drug arrests and alleged ties to pimping of trans-gendered prostitutes )

Starting with a strange scene, not properly filmed yet so bizarre, where dogs give birth to babies via vomiting. The fact that its hard to tell what's going on, save that it takes place in a brightly-lit LA warehouse, making the effects look cheap, doesn't distract from the obvious weirdness. Obviously now all of this type of genetic foolish-ness is in China, where it belongs. (This young writer hopes that the Chinese grow some minotaurs.)

Following a dull credit sequence it is now five years later. Mr Trebeck is running security at the White House, teaching interns self- defence and how to kill a terrorist with simple to hand elements. (despite his comments in his scripted routine, Mr Trebeck is not an intern himself. I think that counts as a joke). We have a five minute training routine here, in a White House whose walls shake. Its a lot of fun, Mr Trebeck showing modesty as he teaches a comely young lass how to break a spine. Then the Van Dyke appears, as the president himself (the only time Van Dyke played an authority role, being very stiff when asked questions where he gives opinions). Some character scenes appear for a time, start to drag then the action begins. The director, in commentary, says he was influenced by French Connection 2 (yes, in this film Mr Trebeck channels Gene Hackaman. And does a fine job of it.)

The mutant kids attack at night, giving us a twenty minute sequence, where the interns are taken out one by one, where security teams are massacred, where children behave unspeakably to adults. While the stalking sequences are a bit repetitive, the pay-offs are great, if likely added later. Twenty-somethings get macheted, pumped full of lead, decapitated, burnt alive. Security men are shot-gunned to death. The mutant children age oddly, some almost like newborns, others almost ten. To be honest the acting for them, and the interns, is pretty awful. You have to imagine a better film usually. The mastermind appears. This is obviously Mr Wheatley, giving a very strange performance. He talks of women with hair made of rats. Talks of machines made of wood, of burning water. Its meant to be eccentric, to suggest someone mad enough to make these children but suggests that he is high and hasn't read the script. But it's still the highlight of the film.

Mr Trebeck eventually appears again, after being off-stage for a long time, with the comely young intern and the president. They wander around the ruins, were presumably hiding but Mr Trebeck suggests they were activating security to have the White House surrounded. Doesn't sound very convincing as an excuse. You can't help but picture Mr Trebeck whimpering like a coward somewhere. As a fan that's hard to take.

Eventually Mr Trebeck and Wheatley have a square-off, the children attacking also, Van Dyke saving the young intern and hides. Mr Trebeck fascinates the killer children and is tied up.

At this point Jared James shows up, gives a brief phoned in performance as the guy leading the security outside, yet unsure what to do. He appears through-out the second half, is dull, given nothing to do, has no bearing on the outcome. He pads the film's brief running time.

Inside the White House, Mr Trebeck sees that Wheatley has the president's family under guard, gives a plan to release information to enemies, to where to find chemicals to attack the US by creating more mutations. Somehow he has to use information from the White House yet he has never needed their aid in the first place to create these monsters. So why did he not just give them direct to the terrorists? Why show off with the mutants? Its a plot device that makes no sense. Even if there are deleted scenes suggesting that Wheatley was ex-military using US technology against them it would likely still not make total sense.

Next we have Dalton talking to the killer children, a twenty minute scene where he bonds with the "monsters" gives some Buddhist wisdom, says such things as "look at the view", "always ask why you are here" and "be modest, don't expect the world to love you". It actually takes them down a little, making Wheatley go nuts, starts spouting about hair rats and such-like.

Mr Trebeck uses this time to escape (its shot dark so I can't quite work out how he managed to do this), finds Van Dyke and intern. Van Dyke is injured, falls asleep. What follows is the most disturbing scene in the film, a love scene between Mr Trebeck and the intern literally young enough to be his daughter. She shows way too much flesh for it simply to be romantic and you'll likely feel dirty after seeing the event. Mr Trebeck looks confused and embarrassed throughout. After this Van Dyke wakes, gets hold of a chainsaw, goes after his family.

Film reaches its conclusion with Van Dyke and intern fighting and killing many monsters with chainsaws and guns. Mr Trebeck stands in the centre of the room, sadly shakes his head through-out. Eventually the monsters get the idea and stop attacking. The family is saved and Mr Trebeck faces down Wheatley.

Wheatley has his own people to protect him, who Mr Trebeck and the monsters destroy, before Mr Trebeck and Wheatley engaging in a five minute brutal show-down, one of the best ever done on such a budget, the one moment where the director and writers are in the same film. The fighters literally tear one another apart before Mr Trebeck wins and titles suddenly appear. No mention is made of what happens to the monsters, to the now murderous president, to the comely young intern and Mr Trebeck. It is left to you imagination and is a tad unsatisfying.

So there you have it. I Spite Your Father, Sir is one of the odder late films of Mr Trebeck. It is worth a look for its cultish scenes, even is its a bit paceless. But still far superior to most of the muck contaminating our screens today.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Tomorrow I Renege Appreciation

Tomorrow I Renege, along with the at times sublime circus-based film, I Fear None, was a late career rejoinder for dead action hero Dalton Trebeck.

I Fear None, which has gotten many a late appreciation, mainly due to the sudden fame of the auteurist darling Shaun Decassey, director that recent interminable foreign-language Oscar nominated, near-silent begging Buddhist bore The Sadness Of Oliver Sedare. This was a film worked following a failed suicide attempt on the set of I Fear None, after many a strange event during that filming. Yet while odd, with its many zombie images, the somnambulist Mr Trebeck images being excellent, I find it a tad pretentious. Tomorrow I Renege, from exiled junkie genius Warwick Jehane, really goes for all the pared down existential delights that Trebeck, with the right material, could muster.

Coming on like Speed meets Le Samurai, beginning with a brutal shoot-em-up through an airport terminal , Trebeck on one side, the sublime and also late Mr Dirk Michael Wheatley on the other, two men running to the side and firing at each other ungodly amounts of bullets. Men, women, children, old people all caught in the cross-fire, brutally gunned down, either between Trebeck and Wheatly or are in the background. Further madness ensues as Trebeck decides to hunt down Wheatley, which propels the rest of this marvellous, blood-soaked epic. Trebeck pummels Wheatley family members, dogs cats, little sister, transgendered grandfather in both Paris and LA, has emotive, very violent cat and mouse games, civilians garroted and sliced up by the dozen for making wrong turns, before Dalton seemingly kills his prey. This is half an hour in folks. Next jump two years, Trebeck undercover in Columbia, a heroin shipper with lots of gold around his neck, killing an innocent family at the start to prove his worth to a latino scumbag, an overweight Gabriel Van Dyke, portraying Jerry Perperson, best bud to our hero, his link to the outside world. Obviously Wheatley ain't dead, starts his own cat and mouse murderathon through undercover and stationed agents protecting Trebeck, Trebeck hitting back hard with vicious murders of his own, against his target's enemies, starting a drug war while he tracks down grinning crazy-eyed psycho Wheatley. Van Dyke escapes much escapes before being literally blown to pieces, as this middle section ends with a Scarface can s**k my d**k blowupathon, mega-massacre, which has flying midgets, kung fu fights on flying doors, hitmen with new-born babies strapped onto body as they shoots at Dalton, yelling wouldn‘t shoot a baby would you. Damn right he would. Dalton barely makes it out, disappears from his own people, getting ready for payback. Wheatley has stolen steals tons of drugs, disappears after making the target attack Trebeck at his own home base, is tracked to small-town America, leading to a stalking scene in a mall that leaves many dead, before Dalton tracks Wheatley through a forest, literally talking Wheatley apart limb from limb. Things could have gotten dodgy with the revelation that Dalton had stolen Wheatley's identity, smashed his face up years before, and Wheatley was in fact the agent but it all makes perfect sense in the context.

The plot synopsis tells you all you have to know about this sublime film. What does I Fear None have on this. Just some nice shots and zombie animals. Its good but not great. This if a film far more worthy of your time and a great example of the powerful emotions stirred by the late Dalton Trebeck and Dirk Michael Wheatley, not to mention the MIA genius Warwick Jehane. Come back sir. Cinema misses you.

Dalton Trebeck Obit (Personal Note)

The late Dalton Trebeck had many co-stars in his many on-screen yarns. Yet throughout the years, before his unfortunate demise, none more thrilled the heartbeat of the true fan than these names;

Gabriel Van Dyke - Retired.

Dirk Michael Wheatley - Shot In The Face.

Jared James- Independent Spirit Award, 1996.

Mr Van Dyke, the daintily tubby sidekick, (who knew a fat man could juggle), bringer of mirth, star of those delightful, short-lived spin-off shows, (such as Supertank and Spacemen Hunts New Planets (a macho homage to Space 1999, the two-year later spin-off to Spaceman Hunts!!)). He found lasting cinematic affection, playing many lovable, loyal CIA sidekicks for Mr Trebeck, always playing a man who always seemed to know Mr Trebeck from childhood, which many a soft-hearted fan wish were true. Who can forget him telling the wheelchair afflicted Mr Trebeck that his entire family was butchered by a vicious lesbian cult dressed as Easter Bunnies in Deduce You Swine, nor the sublime chainsaw rescue of his family from corporate scum and crazy child-monsters in I Spite Your Father, Sir. (Bulgarian location is said to be suspiciously similar to modern CCA headquarters.)
Mr Van Dyke has entered private life, now runs a series of successful restaurants.

Mr Wheatley, a colossus of self-funded Buddha tours, where he would rant then scream at his audience, a man who could transform any villain to be a threat to the director (more than once has he threatened castration). A man who once yelled drink my piss live at the Oscars (Best Adapted Screenplay, 1997, when he was seen to be a promising talent). A man who let cocaine- afflicted bulls loose on a certain independent film event. A man who ruined his brother's wedding by hiring geriatric strippers. A man whose last film was called Shot In The Face, a killer midget event that has unfortunate story parallels to Mr Trebeck's I Spite Your Father, Sir. This is a man who has been said to have faked his own death. A man who played many sublime villains for Mr Trebeck, the volcanic chemistry and trust leading to many a violent showdown. What a man.
(Note. I am starting my own fansite for the late Mr Wheatley, with a special emphasis on his nature films, especially the sublime Mr Peru)

Mr James, star of many a mainstream indie film of budgets less than twenty-five grand (in his later years at least). Starting a career playing sexually-active or molested priests and intelligent yet doomed man-boys (Indie Spirit Award 1996- A Rope For All Men), his career fell away in a wave of ill-starred indie films that extended his range to playing lawyers badly, and dull side-kick roles to sexually repressed leading men who hugged him a lot. Forever being called boy, never truly a man, his roles with Mr Trebeck, starting when Mr Trebeck was a star, moving to direct to DVD, always had sublime comedy and emotional undertone, as they fought through many a Bulgarian hell-hole. A two- year peak (2003-2004) finished with a falling out with Mr Trebeck. They never spoke again, Mr James moving to low-budget parts, ranging from aging male prostitutes to young farmers saving their farms in Canada, all played by with ridiculous hair implant that obscured his face. Just be a man and go bald. Let's be fair, he was never as good as he was in Mr Trebeck's films. The late Mr Wheatley, and his contempt for Mr James. in print and in films, gave this young cineaste many a delighted smirk.

Throughout the next few weeks, this modest little blogspot site will replay some of the cinematic delights that Mr Trebeck and his comrades gave to us. We will start oh so very soon with the pulp masterpiece Tomorrow I Renege.

Dalton Trebeck (1952-2008)
Cause of Death- Cutting off facial skin with a machete before gutting own throat with butcher knife, in own Hollywood mansion, directly in front of wife of many years. (On a personal note, I don't think Mr Hemingway would have had the guts to go out like this. What a man.)

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Look Up It's Dalton Trebeck

Dalton Trebeck, late forties, sort of trim but sagging slightly, sits, looking around at audience.

Midgets spitting acid. Dogs that vomit children by the
truckload. Old gents eyeballing and killing the young.
Those are the plots.

Dalton talks monotone, the kind of man who has said blood bank to many a jobbing actor playing victim.

Have you seen my movies? In The Dream Of Goya.
I played a professor of ancient religions in that one.
Many confused young men trying to stab me. Used
one of Christ’s cross-nails to redeem us. Was a Catholic
thing. Tomorrow I Renege. I played a covert individual
there. Fighting AI super-computer gone independent.
Lots of interesting musings about man, nature, duality
and individuality, and the true order of the world. I Spite
Your Father, Sir. That was the dogs vomiting newborns flick.
Well, pre-act. First act I was in the White House, as a intern,
undercover protection for the President. I have to negotiate
with the problem children, who will grow to be our future.
They kill a lot of people but I show them the Buddhist way.
Communication through fighting, a world turned painfully
confused by selfishness and fear. A lot of interesting ideas,
about humanity, where we are going, how we evolve as a
collective. Director has promise. Midgets spitting acid?
Circus freak flick. I am on run from CIA. Hide out in a
circus. Turn assassin into freaks, let their inner nature evolve.
Ended up fighting modern world, back from the dead, a spirit,
with an army of zombie elephants. Didn’t quite work but had
some interesting, upsetting images. (PAUSE) I’m a jobbing
actor. I can’t choose the parts. A lot of them I have no interest
in. I try not to look bored but… I still try. I have a contract for
a few films a year. Still useful. Used to be big. You would
have seen my films that didn’t go straight… one that were
on the big screen. Early 90’s. Fighting terrorists. They were
good. Had nice fights. I was appropriately lean, like a beast
on the hunt for good eating.

Dalton is silent. Pained in a way that suggests constipation.

I had gadgets. Big guns. Knuckle dusters. Household appliances
used with imagination. Once we had exploding condoms. That
was amusing. Now I have obvious stunt doubles. You can tell
its not me. It’s embarrassing. Just awful. And I read the websites
doing parodies. Like that bastard… I don’t direct them. I can’t get
good people. Writers, directors. Its just me and some drunk in his
thirties, early forties, moaning about titles like Sleep Deadly 4:
I Want Your Wife, talking about how he doesn’t spend enough time
with his children. And big-titted actresses that are all teeth. Day-
players given prominent villain acting roles that stretch them
to yell, hey you m-f. Come and get some. I’m from Canada.
Ex-sports stars, not exactly twinkle-toes in emoting, that I
painfully share disgustingly bereft dialogue with. I’m disgusted
with myself. Shall I tell you about my marriage now? Would
you like that? Or a story. What about the story of my marriage?
Don’t worry. It’s quite a yarn.
It all began in smoggy LA. The smog choked small children and
policemen alike, making them crawl along the streets like vacant
basketball players, ten years after the peak, with too much sauce,
too much vomit and just not enough shame. LA has a deadly summer.
And along came my second film at number one, a leftie-revenge flick discussing the ways that the CIA corrupts your soul. The hacks I worked with later did not appreciate the ambivalence I have about that type of thing.
So I’m cock of the hoop, swinging from deal to deal. But to be honest, I don’t cater to the women there. Nice smiles, open, but you wonder, you know, no-one’s that open. So you get paranoid, drunk, end up in many a hotel room at three in the morning calling the maid mamma.
Or some of the people you have to deal with to get ahead. They you can’t escape, ever. They’re crazy. They say to you…. They say…
How do you react to what they say, the crap and lies. I was just in
this to be an actor. So I’m kind of trapped. Some say repressed.
So I’m polite enough to them, watching, smiling, wondering what
to do. And the women keep coming at me like clones. And I’m
divorced already, but I have issues. I actually think I’m a pretty
good feminist, for a man. I’ve read...
So here I am, apparently doing well, now in trouble. So how do I
meet my wife. Well my son needs a nanny.
My son, well, he was ten, twelve. It was someone to look after him.
Me. Mainly him. Someone who can organise. So that’s how I met her.

Dalton looks a little shy.

It was that duality, was she looking after him, me, was I using him to get someone to look after me, that she pointed out. Had to at least like her for that. Should she point out that she was actually watching the kid, so I would feel concern for him. Or see concern. He’s a nice kid but we have little in common. Interested in law, money.
Where’s the soul in… Anyway, she didn’t even like my movies.
So, you know, wasn’t trying to make me like her. After she was
hired, never showed much judgement to my actions. Very warm.
Saw me as flawed. I liked that. Nothing said anything about any
I remember the first kiss. I looked at her like a shy teenager, then
gave her a kiss. She responded in a very warm way, very emotional.
I relaxed. I loved kissing her. There was never any cynicism when
I kissed her. Never felt it the way I did with others.
Always helped me when I was confused, told me to keep things
simple. Not in a cruel way, like you are simple. No, just, keep
story to point. Don’t meander. She liked to read a lot.
If she ever thought I was having an affair, never did, once I did.
That was scary. I did it out of anger, see what it felt like, to hurt
her, lie to her, lie warmly then go sleep with someone else.
The anger and obscenities that came from her mouth, the hurt
she showed. Never did that again, out of shame. It was odd,
unnerving, to hear her say the things she said. Unnatural. She
forgave me. I was strange, angry at that time.
She told me that some people would feel like locking me up.
It was oddly kind, under the circumstances. I don’t know why.
I would have been judgemental. I was once a basket-case.
My wife always looks at me, as if I’m about to go strange.
Something happened once. It was odd, on a shoot. Recent circus
freak film, shot in Bulgaria. Acid midget film. Had a great paper
headline joke: Circus worker saves bear from small child.
I went for a walk. Nodded hello to the locals. They are lovely
people. So I’m walking in broad daylight, and I look down, at
a bridge, looking down at the water, where I see two ghosts
floating and fucking. Excited they looked, floating like a log
down a stream. I swear. They had no shame. Just ignored me.
I looked around yet no-one seemed to see it.

Dalton pauses for apparent effect.

It got worse. One day I was on the set, learning my line, again
in daylight, when I saw ghosts on the set, ghosts of men, women
and children, tearing each others to bits. I know that sounds a bit
weak but these guys were tearing into one another like starving
rabid dogs. All over the set, without pity. all looking sane for a
second before they started ripping bits off one another. No sense to it. People would kill then be killed, women eating their own children.
They looked like… seemed solid, seemed to bleed. I was alone,
looking like I was a man going mad. Then the cast and crew started
to see it. They started screaming, vomiting. Someone turned the
camera on and caught it. Contract said we had to go back and finish the film.

Dalton looks chilled at the memory.

I saw red blood dominating the river later, the drained dead bodies standing up, walking, as if going home. Again families. I saw them on the streets the next day, looking entirely normal. Saying hello to me, having a nice day. Of course I responded politely. Then you see them every day, wondering how to respond to them. Then you go back to LA, wonder how to respond to those people. You see, you wonder, who can you trust. You learn to rely on what you are doing, the people you are creating, to be real. And they are created half-heartedly. So you wonder who to trust, what makes them them, if they worth your trust. If you are worth their trust. it’s a difficult situation. That feeling has been growing for years, feeding into my films, as I care less, the characters and situations more like ghosts, no gristle to keep me focused. Save my wife, and I sometimes feel unsure there. She seems to be too nice. A director once told me I wanted to be an actor out of a need for bored attention, even though I had zero interest in real acting, was half-hearted actor at best. That’s why I am so stiff at it. Wasn’t just lack of training. That I just wanted people to seem to be looking at me, not really looking. Because that would require them saying things to me I wouldn’t like. So learning to fight is a good way to get at safe attention. He was an intelligent young man. Bitter as a politician.
I’m Dalton Trebeck. I was in movies your parents liked. And now I’m in the land of the dead.

Friday, 1 August 2008

America and the torture scenes

Actually, its more 24 and how right-wing is it really.

I'm kind of curious if, because 24's reliance on being a military show, has ties to military, seems to be very right-wing to me. As a Brit, anything that's not squeamish on the military instantly feels to be right-wing. I'm not sure if some of it is cultural, in how America has shown itself as a country (the country always feels very militaristic and unthinking, no matter who is in charge).

As an outsider, there is always a sense in America that it doesn't feel its actions, that there's a repression to actual cause and effect (in the same way Britain has the rap on repression over sexual matters, although America likely has that too, to some degree). There seems to be this blankness in many cultural expressions, that everything has to lead to a joke or a moment of clarity, everything tied to the needs of an individual or one side of an argument.

In 24 the terrorists (or a view of don't torture someone) are always horribly written. I don't know if the writers mean this politically or not but simply they cannot write nor imagine the other's point of view. This leads to an atmosphere within the show of aggression towards imagination, curiosity, that even if the writers are not what a non-American feels as being right-wing, it feels that they are thoughtless, are the cliched terrified types that the rest of the world fears. There's no balance in so much of the fiction. Everything is pulpy and based on fear, imaginings simply on base emotions never expressed with clarity beyond anger. Most of the romance scenes are awful, selfish, always sub-literate in expressing basic human needs, is hopelessly immature. Is this how America, below the hyped media , experience life and the world? If so, this feels psychotic and very worrying.

Essentially, the crafting failures, something spread to many American shows, and what it suggests about American character, lead to many outside America to think America is based as being right-wing morons. Thus 24 always feels like right-wing trash, even though I'm not sure if that's always the intent with some of the sub-plots, and kinda like the show. Yet I am a left-wing Brit. I'm oddly fascinated by its weirdness because at least with 24 its weirdness is so obvious, within its structure. It is a sort of odd, crazy unself-conscious art piece.

Yet Battlestar Galactica has an even more militaristic set-up (and has saluting) and I would never call that right-wing. Mainly because a lot of it is about dysfunctionality and how that ties into sacrifice, feelings of honour or betrayal. It's a show about the mess that is left behind by any decision, where the military is a lot of the time the savior but also the antagonist. The torture in Galactica put 24 to shame, as it shows complex humans within these situations, leaving a mess that can never be solved. Most things are like this in Galactica while 24 always insists on things being solved to some degree, until the next action set-piece, which is rarely emotionally tied to events earlier in the show. Galactica actually feels much more of a progressive, mature show, seems to be the product of a far more mature culture. Yet it has awful ratings, with cult-level in viewers. so where does that leave us?

With a very immature society reflected in immature representation in subject matter.

(by the way, 24 season 6, which I watched, was fun but not great. pulpy as hell)