Come and See

Drive-ins. Today Google’s opening page honors Drive-in’s 79th anniversary with a bubble-gum pink ‘Admit One’ ticket see-sawing in front of a sign that reads oogle. Last night by coincidence, I saw one of the most unforgettable films of my viewing life.

The power of film! I am still reeling from an unconventional movie made in 1985 called “Come and See.” Not since my younger brother and teenage me saw Jaws at a Galveston drive-in (double-billed with Capone) and next day had to build courage to step into the Gulf, has a film disturbed me so.

I gave the film a chance because 1) It was on the AFI top 250 list and I never heard of it, 2) The filmmaker tells the story of a young boy. Ever since Mark Twain and Harper Lee, I’m a fan of stories told from a child’s point of view about adult experiences. Come and See is a startling tell.

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After a vile runt of a boy shouts invectives to his tall likable friend, the camera rolls with two excited Russian boys as they search for a forgotten  battlefield. They pull up war gear and rifles deep from the sands of an overrun Russian position of the unstoppable German invasion of 1941. The runt dons found Nazi battle gear, imitating a meanness that he believes will suit the German occupiers he later meets. The eldest boy carries home a Russian rifle to  join the Partisans. He charms away his little twin sisters and anxious mother to run off a meet them. The Partisans reject the hopeful lad along with their favorite pretty girl mascot. Sending the innocents home from their forest camp, the Partisans head for the front. The boy and girl share disappointment of their rejection. The next day, left alone, they enjoy an idyllic time until the look to the sky. Strange parachutes open, the SS descend, and the boy and girl face their helpless fate together.

At first it is uncomfortable to see actors and actresses emote deadpan, full frame, directly into the lens. But the director  does not want you to be comfortable with the subject – and focuses us on this – one extermination of over six hundred villages in Belorussia. The focal length is short, making the actress cross-eyed, adding a sense of idiocy to her naivety of the world.

You can forgive the film for some too-long takes because the pacing sets you up for a final thirty minute run which is perhaps the most breathtaking, non-stop war scene ever filmed.  The uniforms and obscure gear are entirely authentic of 1943. Some of the scenes are genius – a flash that we see with the girl that would mean everything to the boy as they are fleeing. After some courage, she utters the image in short words. The rolling camera has more juice than the napalm & helicopter Ride-of-the-Valkyries vertical assault in Apocalypse Now!, or the terror of the Omaha Beach landing in Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers.  The camera rolls and floats with the endless victory of cruelty, shear madness, and horror that a few actors actually experienced in the invasion of their homeland in World War Two.

There are few predictable moments. Sometimes you get stuck in a scene with a Quentin Tarantino cruelty we must endure.  At other moments there is a Fellini-esque vitality of raw moments that I have never seen in a Hollywood depiction of war. There is no stand-out villain Nazi like Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, the entire mixed-German platoon wheels an invisible zeal of distinct beer house characters – except they are dead sober, being at war for years. The film is a marvelous intertwining of direction (Elem Klimov), writing (Ales Adamovich), and cinematography (Alexei Rodionov). The actors may have been over their heads, for how can a boy credibly act, react, and emote such witness. The unsettling soundtrack and original music complete the film’s psychological pacing. I admire a film shown from a young boy’s point of view that avoids the easy way out of first person narrative overdubs. Raw images, raw acting all the way. This is a cinema experience no US teenager will ever experience from a car seat. And that is unfortunate, not because this is one of the early heroic uses of a steadicam when they weighed 100 pounds, but because you walk away feeling in your gut the horror of something that really happened to us, the human race.

On rereading John Ciardi’s translation of The Inferno or, Dante in a minute.

A nut gets lost in the woods. Buddy sees him.

Buddy says, “Hey! Sign says, ‘No trespassing. Hopeless Abandoned Waste Dump.'”

Doesn’t stop them.

-Heck of a waste dump, did you get a whiff. B.O. What were we thinking?

Lookie. That is one hell of a toilet, Dan. Gotta admire it. Nine shades of brown.

-Jesus that’s nasty.

Put your head in it.

-You shit’n me? Goddamn, it stinks.

What did you expect? It’s a waste dump. Didn’t you read the sign?

-God almighty! Whole place smells like ass! Light a match for Chrissake! Let’s get outta here!

Look. Up in the air. It is Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart opens tomorrow night. Getting to know Amelia is a media journey. Didn’t think much of her initially. Then Joni Mitchell sings Amelia, a 70’s haunting address to the pilot. But driving to work this morning listening to XM,  I got to know Amelia Earhart better. It set me right up for the day.  The broadcast is at the On Point radio site. The program mixes great newsreels, the biographer for the movie, WWII pilot Maggie Gee, interesting call-ins with Tom Ashbrook’s winning recap and high ground moderation of the discourse. Amelia kept her name when marrying, hearing Amelia’s matrimonial letter on the air was sensational.

You must know again my reluctancy to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means so much to me.

In our life together I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly.

I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage.

I must extract a cruel promise, and that is you will let me go in a year if we find no happiness together.

There are whole generations who still don’t believe that men and women both benefit if women are more adventurous, independent and well educated. Amelia’s purpose. I am hoping the best for Hilary Swank’s interpretation. Great Show Mr. Ashbrook.

PS: Saw the movie. The plane goes down.

Reading the Messages – A FOX doubletake

Remember in the 2008 election how so many American popular artists denied Republican candidates from using their material? Few artists are willing to mix with the ever-growing meaner Republican messaging. Where are the Republican artists ? On Fox Entertainment. It appears that FOX is coordinating the delegitimizing of Obama through a clever messaging campaign. It is almost a conspiracy. Even actor Tim Roth is totting Republican story lines. Perhaps his agent is not reading the script as FOX conjures forth a singular message of white males to “take individual action” against the system.
Clearly Fox News fans the Limbaugh hate message with O’Reilley, Beck, and the milder Hannity.  Then I read British Market chain Waitrose is pulling programming not only from Fox News, but from the entire Fox Network. Less income for shows like “24”, “House”, and “Lie to Me”.  Advertisers do not want buyers of their products to see corporate association with the unchecked “art messaging” of the entertainment network. The writers for FOX are now writing stories and constructing dialog, coded at having the individual white male kill individuals of black authority.
To Wit : This week (Oct 5-9 2009) on television.
Article 1: On “House”, a white staff doctor successfully infects and kills a powerful black dictator (masterfully played by James Earl Jones). The doctor has little information to go on yet judges this man’s life and future with handwringing certainty. On ER I don’t know how many times an obvious criminal was saved on the operating table by conflicted doctors who would commiserate with their staff. The Fox style is – no need to consult – just do what you think is right in your prejudiced mind – even if it murder. Kill that great political black leader.  You can do it, and your supervisors will look the other way because “you believe it is right” making irrelevant the Hippocratic oath.
Article 2: In the FOX program “Lie To Me” the climax is a large white male (the size an demeanor of Rush Limbaugh) taking the law into his own hands by murdering an attorney who represents the truthful views of his daughter about his love-making with a Black athlete. Usually the script writers show how their miracle Truth squad is able to head this off (they and the audience have all the evidence this will happen), but no – they want the FOX TV viewing audience to be satisfied with a single white man’s justice. The writers’ go on to give the line to the (ignorant?) Tim Roth watching the apprehended murderer of this great attorney loved by Tim’s wife,  “He looks at peace”. Rather than the more truthful observation, “How a father’s murder is not of his victim, but of his daughter’s relationship.”
FOX is in the programming business, the airtime and the audience. The artists of Fox are now but an artful distance from their uncivil news agency. Fortunately, the smart advertisers are not willing to subsidize the reach of this messaging.

Remember in the 2008 election how so many American popular artists denied Republican candidates from using their material? Few artists are willing to mix with the ever-growing meaner Republican messaging. Where are the Republican artists ? On Fox Entertainment. It appears that FOX is coordinating the delegitimizing of Obama through a clever messaging campaign. It is almost a conspiracy. Even actor Tim Roth is totting Republican story lines. Perhaps his agent is not reading the script as FOX conjures forth a singular message of white males to “take individual action” against the system.

Clearly FOX News fans the Limbaugh hate flame with O’Reilley, Beck, and the milder Hannity.  Then I read British Market chain Waitrose is pulling programming not only from Fox News, but from the entire Fox Network. Less income for shows like “24”, “House”, and “Lie to Me”.  I can see why an unchecked Glen Beck is awful, but the shows too? Then I thought about why advertisers do not want buyers of their products to see corporate association with the deep “art messaging” of the network. The writers for FOX are now writing stories and constructing dialog, coded at having the individual white male kill individuals of black authority.

To Wit : This week (Oct 5-9 2009) on television.

Article 1: On “House”, after much ado, a white staff doctor successfully infects and kills a powerful black dictator (masterfully played by James Earl Jones). The doctor, with little information to go on,  judges this man’s life and future with handwringing certainty. But most artists don’t lead the audience this way. On ER I don’t know how many times an obvious criminal was saved on the operating table by conflicted doctors who would commiserate with their staff. The Fox style is – no need to consult – just do what you think is right in your prejudiced mind – even a doctor can murder. (but no abortions please).  Kill that great political black leader.  You can do it, and your supervisors will look the other way because “you believe it is right”.  An doctor’s will to power is greater than even the Hippocratic oath.

Article 2: The climax of the  FOX program “Lie To Me” is when a barrel-chested white man – the diameter of Rush Limbaugh – shoots dead an attorney who represents the truthful views of the murderer’s daughter about love-making with a Black athlete.  Usually a writing staff shows their miracle actors have decoded evil intent and head it off – in the nick of time. Instead they story “satisfies” the FOX TV viewing audience who get to see the white man get even with a system by killing a person who with an internal turmoil rightly defends a black man. The writers can’t stop here, they give a line to the (ignorant?) Tim Roth who watches the apprehended murderer of a great attorney loved by Tim’s wife say only. “He looks at peace” as the police presses the criminal head down into the squad car. The more truthful observation, “He has murdered not only a great law keeper, but his daughter’s relationship. What a monstrous race we have become.”

FOX is certainly in the programming business, of both news and entertainment. Programming used to refer to the blocking of time, but clearly it is about programming the shape of people’s opinions. The artists of Fox should strike to keep their art and dignity like those artists in 2008. Fortunately, the smart advertisers are not willing to subsidize the reach of this kind of messaging. It doesn’t make cents.

The Thinker, The Decider, The Doer

small_yellow“Our enemies never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” – said by “I’m a war president. I have war on my mind”. Looking truer than ever. IPOD poster material now. And a performance artist begs you to kick George in the Ass. Looking beyond the daily Huffpo headlines for a considered weekly dose of copyrighted truth – Le Show from Harry Shear.

SUPERTARGET in Iraq

Target stores in Baghdad?

SuperTarget in Iraq

The artist Trek Kelly made images of soldiers in Target uniforms.  The link lost, unable to find these images on the “The Google”, I invoke the graphic above.  I see the  target images are restored. Are search engines revising things so “The Bush” can revise “The Internet” per the 1984 recipe of the ruling party’s ability to revise the past. No record of any other evidence is available.