Recent Films 

Once upon a Time in the West

Solid, but forgettable.

First Tarantino movie that made me realize he's actually still a child. Not because of violence fantasies or lazy non-/racism or whathaveyou, but because he can't let anything in his movies have an emotional impact. Even when a character dies, he just makes you go “huh”, shrug, and carry on.

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Recent films 

Human Flow

Even lazier than vice news. I understand the circumstances of the creation might've been difficult, but what an insult. As Jackie Chan says: “Will you go into every theater and tell the audience how hard the shoot was?”

First man

Kinda mesmerizing, mood-based rather than story-driven. Ryan Gosling is so bland, but somehow his movies always end up being very enjoyable, and his "character" somehow remains interesting.

Das Ende der Wahrheit

Who would have thought the German film industry could produce a proper thriller? Quite nicely done. A bit outmoded in terms of plot - “Agent uncovers shady weapons deals with evil country, weapons industry and politics/spooks are conspiring, he wants to get the truth out” - but the pacing is good and the actors are performing well (for German standards).

It's got some good shots. The action and combat sequences were great, but the aftermath of the café bombing had the best one: An aerial shot of the city with a plethora of blue lights blinking in the near distance, an understated way to emphasize the state of emergency. The lakeside location was a good touch, and you immediately know it was in Bavaria because the onion-domed tower managed to squeeze into the shots. Another nice one: Behrens paying Lemke a visit in his flat. Lemke just wants his cigarettes, unperturbed by the threat of physical violence, and seems so happy to find them stashed on the ledge. Only when both men have calmed down does the exposition start - that's good pacing.

Scenes of military operations, drone footage, the intersection of the civilian, politics and military, high-ranking civilians involved in military operations - seems we as a society collectively have a hard-on for these things since Sicario. But then again, I also always think “Sicario did it better” with regards to the atmosphere of dread portrayed.

What I didn't like: How the characters were just thrown at the viewer in the briefing scene. You didn't really know who was who, and to the end I still was not clear about Rauhweiler's, Vossmeier's, Schilling's or Grünhagen's position, I thought they were all some medium-ranking underlings in the section. Only after the thing (no spoilers) happens to Grünhagen and did I realize he was the president of the BND, and it seems Rauhweiler was a hotshot on some government committee on weapons oversight with real influence.
Also, German films have a tendency to use disheveled appearance and lacking personal hygiene as a shorthand for toughness, and it's not working at all. Give your protagonist a proper shave at least.
Having Global Logistics be the mysterious cabal steering everything was lazy (and having it be only German seemed even lazier), but the reveal of it being just a cog in the global security machine worked well. Sadly, the resolution and Lemke’s explanations were rushed.

But all in all, very enjoyable. And finally a mature ending! Instead of the family-friendly “evildoers brought to justice”, some proper, believable devil’s advocating and then - revenge instead of “the truth”. That's grown-up cinema. Well done.

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Recent films 

Local Hero

Charming, but tame. Essentially a children's film from a story point of view. It's odd that until quite recently they were making almost only those… maybe cinema used to be more of a "family experience" back then?

Barbarians at the Gate

James Garner is incredibly charming. So much so that he makes you forget what a type that "Simple Newspaper Boy from Winnipeg" really was. That 80s infatuation with all things "business" really hasn't aged well either. Go watch Support your local Sheriff instead.

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Recent films 

The Guilty (Den skyldige)

Broken dirty cop with a heart of gold. Nice execution, I liked the limited space idea. The twist toward the end is great. Be careful with the dub, since the movie hangs on the voice actors.

Todos lo saben

On its own, a great movie. If you're familiar with the Farhadi formula, you wish he did try something different sometimes. But still, riveting.

Wackersdorf

Homeland cinema: Better than I expected. Not very educational, kinda small-minded.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Masterpiece.

BlacKkKlansman

I have the feeling it could have been more cohesive without studio influence. Mediocre. If you're not plugged into current Yankee politics, it will be even less interesting.

Hostiles

Meh

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effort

make effort sexy again

(Quote source: jamie loftus)

…the irony of my as of late low-effort reposting of twitter quotes is not lost on me

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American dreaming

It's incredible that one of the best things you can do in America, which is speed along Mulholland Drive late at night, is free

from Dan O'Sullivan

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Jill Lepore: Dystopian fiction’s lack of imagination

Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of [mass media manipulation], the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. Its only admonition is: Despair more. It appeals to both the left and the right, because, in the end, it requires so little by way of literary, political, or moral imagination, asking only that you enjoy the company of people whose fear of the future aligns comfortably with your own. Left or right, the radical pessimism of an unremitting dystopianism has itself contributed to the unravelling of the liberal state and the weakening of a commitment to political pluralism.

From A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction by Jill Lepore.

In a broader sense, there's nothing to be gained by despairing at the current situation, assigning blame, reacting instead of acting. Create, don’t disparage. Don’t get tangled up in petty debates, have a vision and convince people by laying the groundwork.

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What is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism is a kind of statecraft. It means organizing state policies by making them appear as if they are the consequences of depoliticized financial markets. It involves moving power from public institutions to private institutions, and allowing governance to happen through concentrated financial power. Actual open markets for goods and services tend to disappear in neoliberal societies. Financial markets flourish, real markets morph into mass distribution middlemen like Walmart or Amazon.

[…] [Greta Krippner’s] thesis is that the liberal democratic system was dismantled because it was too explicit about who was making choices. People would get mad at politicians when they didn't have, say, mortgage credit, or when the price of milk went up too high. The answer came to be neoliberalism, or creating a veil of financial markets to make all those decisions seem apolitical. […]

Neoliberalism is not faith in free markets. Neoliberalism is not free market capitalism. Neoliberalism is a specific form of statecraft that uses financial markets as a veil to disguise governing policies.

Matt Stoller trying to define the word everyone tends to project their hate onto.

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What else?

[Some dipshit] quits working and writes spammy blog shit for a living. Hackernews decides people don't like to work because all work is either meaningless or evil, but it's definitely everyone else's fault. Also the entire monetary system is worthless, we should envy the impoverished, capitalism will kill us all, and they all quit jobs they loved because someone was mean to them. The unanimous consensus: take a couple years off and just fuck around.

n-gate on 'cutting ties with the evil corporate world and pursuing your passion' types

Traveling, writing, photographing, ESL teaching etc. is just, to borrow the phrase, ‘fucking around’ and will not make a positive impact on the world. Do what makes you happy in your spare time and start shouldering some responsibility.

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Heavy rests the crown

Noam Chomsky about the powerful’s infatuation with Niebuhr:

The inescapable “taint of sin on all historical achievements,” the necessity to make “conscious choices of evil for the sake of good”—these are soothing doctrines for those preparing to “face the responsibilities of power,” or in plain English, to set forth on a life of crime, to “play hardball” in their efforts to “maintain this position of disparity” between our overwhelming wealth and the poverty of others, in George Kennan’s trenchant phrase as he urged in a secret document of 1948 that we put aside “idealistic slogans” and prepare “to deal in straight power concepts.” Herein lies the secret of Niebuhr’s enormous influence and success.

From Jeet Heer’s article on Niebuhr ideology