our man flint: libertarian

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Left to right: Dr. Krupov, played by Rhys Williams, Dr. Wu, played by Peter Brocco, and Dr. Schneider, played by Benson Fong.

In the quasi-spy spoof Our Man Flint (1966) a cadre of globalist villains called "Galaxy" attempts to use climate catastrophes to unite the world. The DVD commentary takes a libertarian slant on this. Alex on Film writes:

But what is it these nerds in lab coats want? Money? Power? Women? None of the above. No, they want to make a better world for everyone. They want to “organize the potential of all mankind” for good, putting an end to war, hunger, and poverty.
Our man Flint, however, is having none of it. The commentary has something I found very interesting to say about this, seeing how Flint’s rejection of this altruistic mission expresses: “the underlying theme of the movie . . . the rugged individualist versus the scientific collective . . . and that was what Coburn was most proud of . . . the idea that he could play, that he could represent the American spirit, the idea that you could constantly learn and strive and be your own person, and that’s how you kept progressing rather than a group of scientists who decided that this is what’s good for you.”
Well, I’m sure it would be wise not to trust this bunch of scientists. After all, those who won’t submit to their Utopian schemes are either sent off for reconditioning or, if unreclaimable, to the electrofragmentizer. But there’s also an air of the populist rejection of elites and anti-intellectualism embodied in Flint as well, for all his own ostentatious culture and learning.

The modern-day Drs. Krupov, Wu, and Schneider might be Klaus Schwab and The World Economic Forum, with their trans-humanist dreams of a techno-mediated global society. Stripped of high-flown rhetoric, their schemes boil down to corporate exploitation of the GPS-tracked, facially-recognized masses, authoritarianism with a science fiction face. Populist rejection of this isn't anti-intellectual, it's smart. Yet to The New York Times and other center-right organs, the people who oppose the so-called Great Reset are the crazies, not the planners.

One could take it a step further and note that climate (and biological) crises are the planned (or exploited) catalysts for world unification under Davos Man's enlightened scientific (or corporate) rule, making Our Man Flint quite prescient (or presciently crackpot, again, if you believe the Times).

It's important to distinguish mere flat-earth-ism from legitimate political concerns. As Thomas Pynchon and others have pointed out, the original Luddites didn't just "hate technology," they hated the way it was being used by the elite to disenfranchise them. Today, there are reasons besides disliking progress for opposing 5G, the war on cash, and social credit schemes cooked up by the men in lab coats.

(Photo via )

mars attacks in the '60s and '90s

Tim Burton made two good movies, Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Ed Wood, before becoming a Hollywood hack and MOMA-celebrated artiste.
(The Nightmare Before Christmas somehow also makes its way into the Burton canon, despite being one of Henry Selick's best films.)
A web magazine, Collider, argues that Burton's 1996 film Mars Attacks "deserves more respect," since it's a "gleefully chaotic masterpiece." It's certainly chaotic.
"Mars Attacks," the 1960s trading cards, were mean-spirited and one could almost call them subversive, for the year they came out (1962). Burton's movie captured the bad vibes, but the humor in Mars Attacks, the movie, is self-consciously "hilarious" and "over the top" (and therefore not that funny).
In the trading cards the Martians weren't "just a bunch of dickheads," as Collider describes them in Burton's movie.
They were the conventional H.G. Wells baddies, cruel and callous in their treatment of humans. Eventually mankind (or at least the US Air Force) bands together and gives them some payback by blowing up Mars.

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In Burton's film the usual small group of disadvantaged outsiders wins the day -- nothing subversive about that, it's the plot of every other Hollywood film. Subversive would be a group of US oligarchs in league with the Martians to provide a casus belli for "lockdowns" and other authoritarian interventions.
Even in 1962 the trading cards didn't lack precedent. Such shocking scenes of violence and mayhem abounded in the EC Comics of the 1950s, before the Comics Code clamped down.

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crushed

burning

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There is actual pathos in these scenes, as well as dark humor, unlike Mars Attacks, the movie, where gruesome deaths play purely for yucks. As Collider says, "Burton’s movie feels like it was thrown together by cynical maniacs," and that wasn't intended as a criticism.

images from "the internet"

screenshots for a new cold war

The Cold War of 1945-1989 was a bad movie, with commies hiding under every bed and nukes of Damocles hanging over every head. A bad time to be alive and a great time to have behind us, at least until Hillary Clinton, pouting because she lost an election, singlehandedly revived it.

The second James Bond film, From Russia with Love (not to be confused with Trailer Park Boys' grease film From Russia with the Love Bone), is a First Cold War entertainment. The white hats are spy Bond (Sean Connery) and Russian agent Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), the black hats are, among others, SPECTRE operatives Donald Grant (Robert Shaw) and Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya).

Alex on Film says this about Grant and Bond:

The line where Grant talks about Bond having to crawl and kiss his (Grant’s) foot isn’t in the book. Was it improvised? Bond is, of course, a gentleman agent (what he’s called in the trailer) and a snobbish member of the upper class. He’s on to Grant as soon as he orders the wrong wine at dinner. In the book though Grant is a psychopathic serial killer triggered by phases of the moon, not someone with much of a class consciousness. He’s only working for the Russians because they let him kill people...

Watching the movie again after many years got me imagining things from the viewpoint of the women. My comment on Alex on Film's post (with added screenshots) follows.

klebb2

Poor Rosa Klebb. She learned a valuable lesson here: Never send a “paranoid murderer” to do the work of a real spy. Instead of testing Grant’s muscle tone by sucker punching him,

klebb1

she should have been asking him if Chianti was really the best thing to drink with grilled sole.

grant

Then, after her plans were thwarted by Bond, a super agent whose superiority she failed to anticipate, she goes after him alone, relying on a maid costume and poison tipped dart to stop him.

klebb3

Also, while admiring Grant’s physique at the beginning, she should have been asking him if he had any class anxieties that might impair his judgment in a contest of wills with a real English (well, Scottish) gentleman. In the final Bond/Grant confrontation, Grant becomes rattled by Bond's savoir faire and loses the advantage.
And what will be Tatiana’s story here? A zealot for Mother Russia, pimped out by the woman-admiring Klebb, she loses her heart to the English agent...

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Promptly after the credits roll, the agent will dump her for his next paramour, and she'll end her days in a dreary MI5 decoding pool. Or will she use her extraordinary beauty to “land” another English gentleman? Or will she be exchanged back to Russia to be debriefed about SPECTRE, sadder but wiser, but unlike Klebb, still alive? We can only speculate.

Eraserhead: not a student film

One of the reasons I enjoy the Alex on Film blog is the author speaks his mind and doesn't pretend to be offering anything but his subjective take on movies.

But this is just going too far:

Eraserhead is a movie better experienced than talked about. I don’t think Lynch had any real statement in mind and people probably see in it what they want to see. I was mightily impressed by it thirty years ago, and while I came away from it this time with a lot of respect for what Lynch accomplished, on a shooting schedule that stretched over five years, I have to say it’s not a movie I enjoy as much today. It was student work, of the highest caliber but still student work, and it appealed to me as a student. But my imagination isn’t what it used to be.

Lynch may have begun the film as a student but five years later, keeping the same cast and crew together to film when time and budget allowed, he was an auteur. It's actually amazing how tight and focused Eraserhead is for having been shot over such a long time frame -- there's no loss of momentum at all. And one can see a more or less seamless jump forty years ahead to Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return, which might be an expansion and deepening of the same movie.

I didn't want to just flippantly troll Alex on Film for its flip dismissal of a fascinating film (seconded by a commenter) so I tried to say some nice things in defense:

On rewatching for the first time in decades I realized how much of a comedy it is. Even the weirdest bits have comic timing. When the monster baby breaks out in disgusting chicken pox, there’s a beat and Henry says with a concerned, fatherly tone, “oh you *are* sick.” Then another beat and he has placed a vaporizer next to the infant’s head. The dinner scene is a mad hatter’s tea party of “people behaving strangely for no reason” (as an Amazon reviewer once described an Argento film), carefully choreographed to provide tension and release. Even the feature you eloquently pointed out, “that within [the film’s] dream of dark and troubling things the dreamer only dreams of things more dark and troubling still,” has macabre humor.
As for the meaning, you can take a lot at face value. A man is going quietly crazy in a low rent urban apartment, with a failing marriage and a deformed child who he eventually kills. It’s a “post-industrial landscape,” a milieu that was barely identified in the mid-’70s and became commonplace as a description in the ’80s. Lynch arrived at this early on, indeed nailed it, based on pure artist’s intuition.
Also it’s hard for me to evaluate Eraserhead as a fragment of my own youth because Lynch never went away and I in effect grew up with him. The signature tropes of this movie (white noise, disgusting growths, people behaving strangely for no reason) continue in almost all of his subsequent creative endeavors. So I watch it now as the psychic blueprint for an amazing (and amazingly improbable) career.