Friday, March 24, 2017

Benicio del Toro as a Character in a Sergio Leone Film


Spoilers for the movie Sicario (2015) follows.

This post will be totally rewritten to be more of a spoiler.  Although the Sergio Leone idea is fine, I want to be more explicit about what makes this an interesting film about the intelligence community. 

If we were to have an "intelligence community movie film festival", the film Sicario (2015) directed by Denis Villeneuve would certainly be on the agenda.  Unlike so many other films that Hollywood makes on the subject, this film is not insanely inaccurate at all levels.  Yes, it is implausible now and then, but it does at least address a number of interesting issues in a way that probably does not cause giggles in working professionals in the field, at least not all the time. The screenwriters and director are clearly aware of at least some of the issues involved in the fantasies they describe and this is to their credit.  

It is my hope that you have seen this film before reading this post, although if you are like me, you really do not care most of the time.  Oddly enough in this film I read the synopsis on IMDB and it nearly completely missed the points that I emphasize below. So be warned, or dont be warned, whatever you wish.Ultimately I will lead up to why I find the del Toro character so appealing.

So some questions and my answers in italics.

1. What is the significance of the Josh Brolin characters' unconventional dress?  Because whoever he is, he is outside the culture of traditional law enforcement. Corporate culture is real, and law enforcement agencies have their own cultures whether FBI, Phoenix Homicide, DEA, etc.  It tells Kate (Emily Blunt) that this person, who is apparently in charge), is outside the normal system.

2. Why is Matt (Josh Brolin) so evasive in a charming way about who he works for?  Because contrary to popular belief, people who are covert in CIA do not advertise the fact.  As far as this group is concerned, Matt is a consultant who has been put in charge of a special team by the DOJ to "expand the scope of the investigation" and "dramatically overreact".  

3. Why does the Brolin character want the Emily Blunt character around at all but not her partner?

4. Why do various people in the film seem very concerned about certain formalities (rules of engagement, getting out of the car), but not about others, such as killing people in Mexico?

5. What is the Emily Blunt character so upset about during the "tunnel" operation?

6. What is the significance 2/3rds of the way through the film of the meeting between the Emily Blunt character, her partner, and two of her bosses in the FBI?

7. Why does the Josh Brolin character tell Kate not to go into the bank? Why are people so concerned about "rules of engagement"?

8. Why does the Josh Brolin character call Why is the Josh Brolin character call Alexjandro "his bird dog"?

9. Why all the mystery about Alexjandro ?

Now onto some stylistic issues involving the Benicio del Toro character and this film.  I wondered just why I found this character so appealing when, after all, without going into any detail here, he does some mighty nasty things. In thinking about this, it occurred to me that he fit a model that was not entirely expected and which may not have been intentional on the part of the filmmakers.

These characteristics include having a mysterious and tragic past, of being very good in a gunfight, of speaking very seldom and then cryptically.  He is very secretive about his motivations and his intents. He manages to convince us that while he is cruel, that he may have some worthwhile reasons for his cruelty. Although I am not an expert in such things, he seems very handsome. And of course this all takes place on the border between the US and Mexico and arguably during a time of war.

And while he is successful in some sense of the word, when the film is over he is walking away alone.

Of course the way I have described this, the answer is obvious.  He resembles, at least superficially, the Clint Eastwood character in Sergio Leone films.  Even if this analogy works for you, and it may not, as I have said before, it is not clear that this was the filmmaker's intent.

“Listen. Nothing will make sense to your American ears. And you will doubt everything that we do. But in the end, you will understand.”

Sicario (2015) on IMDB

Military Rules of Engagement on Wikipedia

Friday, March 17, 2017

Feminism and the Wonder Woman Armpit Issue


A great moment in cinematic history and criticism is taking place. This moment demonstrates the stupidity and the shallowness of the American civilization in all its glory.

In the middle of our little consitutional crisis, when the lives of millions, possibly hundreds of millions, of people in the world is at stake, with the end of the American republic all but certain, the failure of our elected representatives and governmental insitutions there for all to see, what do these shallow children worry about? What is at the very top of their list of things to complain about? What could motivate them to outrage?

Is it the destruction of the National Endowment for the Arts? No. Is it that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency has disavowed science? No. Is it the defunding of Planned Parenthood that is likely to result in the death of or the destruction of the life of thousands of poor women? No.

What then?

It is the burning question about whether or not Wonder Woman shaves her armpits in the third trailer for the Wonder Woman movie coming out in a few months. Were her armpits shaved in Photoshop, they wonder.

Perhaps the right is correct and we are raising a generation of stupid and shallow snowflakes after all. No one who lived through the 70s Feminist movement could help but shudder at this throwback to an earlier period of American radicalism.

I only hope that Wonder Woman's girdle squeezes these children until their heads pop with shame.

You may see this trailer here.

For a previous discussion of the Feminist issue of shaving, please see here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Behold.... This is Trump's America


From someone named Egriff commenting on an article in the Guardian about a discovery in Egypt.

I met a traveller from a Western land,
Who said—“A vast and broken wall of stone
Stands in the desert. . . . Near it, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
Behold – this is Trump’s America;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Trump being hauled out of the desert

You can find the article in The Guardian at the link below and Egriff in the comments.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Trump Dives Off Deep End with Obama Wiretap Accusations


[Updated 3/4/2017 Nothing is really understood about this matter at this point in time.  But I can correct one mistake in the following post.  It would be legal for Trump to talk about a classified investigation because the POTUS has the power to declassify such an investigation at any time. Therefore, in and of itself, these tweets are unlikely to be an impeachable offense for that reason.]

Trump has accused Obama of being a Richard Nixon and tapping his office. See the article at the Guardian here.

I think I know what this might be about, but it comes down to Trump either being a nut case or that he does not understand national security issues at all, or that he does not understand the difference between the Watergate Plumbers and the FBI acting with a warrant. You pick. Either of the three though means that he should be impeached and I am tired of waiting.

I suspect, and here I am speculating again, that when the FBI/CIA came to realize that Russia was working to destroy free elections in America through disinformation and fake news, and when the issue of contacts between Trump and Russia became a matter of national security, that it would be logical to listen in. After all, the Russians certainly were listening to everything Trump said on his cell phone or any other phone, you can be quite sure. So my guess is that the FBI got a warrant to listen in and see what they picked up. Does Trump not know the difference between the Nixon Plumbers and a national security investigation with a warrant? Probably not, he isnt too smart, he has no aptitude for these things, and he has no experience. He may also be a clinical narcissist and sociopath, at least that is what the available evidence suggests.

This also suggests that he has just leaked/disclosed information about an ongoing investigation which is, I think, a felony.

As posted on Facebook.