All posts by Margaret Killjoy

Margaret Killjoy is a wayfaring author, editor, and photographer whose interests include ecology, gift economics, and the serial comma.

American Governors in the Zombie Apocalypse

Cover image: Juan Navarro

From: The Zombie Years

Image used with permission but without Juan having read or necessarily endorsing this piece.

It’s a week into the zombie apocalypse. Our plucky gang of heroes from all walks of life has holed themselves up in a sporting goods store at the edge of town.

Seven people, all worried about their friends and families. All worried about the end times.

They’re gathered together in the store’s office, nervously checking the security camera feed. The biggest herd of zombies seems to have drifted on, and there are only a handful of the living dead roaming the parking lot, plus nearly a hundred haunting the nearby grocery store. Our survivors are waiting for a few of their crew to return from scouting the department store on the other side of the parking lot.
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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

Mockingjay

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Screenplay by: Danny Strong and Peter Craig

Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Recommended? Sure

I’ve only read the first Hunger Games book. That either makes me the perfect reviewer for the movies, or maybe a woefully incompetent one. It does mean, however, that I’m taking the movies one at a time, because I don’t know what happens.

I know it makes me a bad anarchist to say this, but the worst thing about the third part of the Hunger Games is that there aren’t any hunger games. It’s just a movie about revolution instead. Considering that the hunger games are an awful thing and revolutions are something us anarchists are known for encouraging, this is a strange statement. But frankly, the battle royale under the omniscient gaze of an evil dictator made for good fiction.

Revolution can too, it turns out. I liked the movie, but it was decidedly less fun, and in so many ways less spectacular, than the first two. It was just, well, a completely different thing. Which is better than just making the same movie three times, I suppose, from a storytelling point of view. So I’ll forgive it.
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Land and Freedom (1995)

landandfreedom

Land and Freedom

Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Jim Allen

Recommended? Definitely.

Fucking Stalinists.

Fuck.

Fucking Stalinists are the worst.

Land and Freedom is an emotional tale of the Spanish Civil War, one that’s based loosely on George Orwell’s experiences as recounted in his book Homage to Catalonia. It follows a young unemployed communist from England who heads off to volunteer his life for the Spanish revolution, fighting at the Aragon front alongside the men and women of the POUM, a Marxist militia. There, despite poor training and poorer equipment, they liberate a village from fascists and hold the line.

The most important scene in the movie, twelve minutes long, is the argument in the liberated village whether to collectivize all of the land around the village immediately or to only collectivize the land of the Franco supporters at first. Everyone speaks passionately, everyone’s opinions are given weight and consideration by the filmmaker.
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The Anarchist Cookbook (2002)

anarchistcookbookposter

The Anarchist Cookbook
Directed and written by: Jordan Susman
Recommended? hahaha no

It’s a good thing most of the movies about us are absolute crap and no one watches them.

What if someone took everything awful about Fight Club (the machismo and misogyny, the too-easy political nihilism, the cliche masochistic bromance) and mixed it with everything awful about SLC Punk (the oversimplification of anarchism, the obvious fact that youth doesn’t last, the yay-for-selling-out ending), amplified it, and turned it into a movie?

You’d have The Anarchist Cookbook.

The Anarchist Cookbook is the worst movie about anarchists that has ever been made. Some movies misunderstand us (SLC Punk). Some movies vilify us (El Bosc). Some movies condescend to us (The East, No God, No Master). This movie intentionally warps our words and practices, alternately mocking us and reviling us.
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Slacker (1991)

Slacker

Slacker

Directed and written by: Richard Linklater

Recommended? Sure

Kevin Smith says that Slacker was the inspiration for his film Clerks. It shows. And more than that, it shows what happens time and time again in art and media: first, political radicals and engaged philosophers create new styles and genres; then, derivative work picks up the aesthetics and surface-level ephemera and leaves the core behind.
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The Anarchist’s Wife (2008)

la mujer del anarquista

The Anarchist’s Wife

Directed by: Peter Sehr, Marie Noëlle

Screenplay by: Marie Noëlle, Ray Loriga

Spanish title: La mujer del anarquista

Recommended? Yes

“Sing softly for love, sing loudly for freedom.”

Some of the best films use war and politics as backdrop to tell a story that isn’t about war. The Anarchist’s Wife is one such film.

I heard about this movie when it came out, but with a title like The Anarchist’s Wife, I wasn’t hopping up and down to go see it. Why is the film about the wife but she’s only known in relation to her husband? Why is he the anarchist and her just a wife?
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The East (2013)

The East

Director: Zal Batmanglij

Writers: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij

Recommended? Maybe

Among anarchists, my informal poll shows three responses to The East. Most people hate it. They feel it grossly, and perhaps dangerously, misrepresents us. Other people would prefer to ignore it—it’s a minor film, after all, and seems to have had no lasting effect on the broader culture, so lets just ignore it and hope it goes away. And then there’s the minority who, well, kind of love it, for all its flaws.

I’m in the latter camp.
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Army of Crime (2009)

Army of Crime

Director: Robert Guédiguian

Writers: Serge Le Péron, Robert Guédiguian, Gilles Taurand

French Title: “L’armée du crime”

Recommended? Yes

In Paris 1943, the Nazi occupation tried its hardest to maintain a veil of social peace. No, fuck that, let me be more specific: they tried to maintain actual social peace. And the French cops, being cops, tried their hardest alongside the occupiers.

Army of Crime is a film about criminals — heroic criminals fighting against a Nazi occupation, but criminals nonetheless. Army of Crime follows the Manouchian Group, a network of about fifty armed anti-fascist, communist, and/or Jewish immigrants who committed sabotage, murder, and bombings by the score. In real life, their round-up, trial, and execution — along with the Nazi propaganda efforts to label them as foreign devils — is referred to as the Affiche Rouge (red poster) affair. The propaganda efforts largely backfired: the 23 dead communists became martyrs. And the Allies liberated France soon after their deaths regardless.
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El Bosc (2012)

El Bosc

Director: Óscar Aibar

Writer: Albert Sánchez Piñol

Recommended? Well, we’re the bad guys in it, so… no.

Another fantasy movie set during the Spanish Civil War! I loved Pan’s Labyrinth! What can go wrong?

A lot, apparently.

El Bosc (translation from Catalan: The Forest) follows a small landowning family outside a tiny town in Spain during the war. The lead male is petit-bourgeois and a sexist ass and runs away from the fight into a portal into another world. His wife is, presumably, our protagonist, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lead character with so little agency: she just waits around while men are shitty to her. That’s basically all she does the whole movie.
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The 100 (seasons 1 – 2)

The 100

Creator: Jason Rothenberg

Based on books by: Kass Morgan

2014-2015, The CW

Recommended? Yup

You don’t come home from war.

You don’t get to kill people and stay the same person.

There’s this idea about war and brutality and struggle as a kind of thing the bourgeoisie can keep their hands clean of — or at least just dip into for short moments, like tourists on a war safari.

Maybe the clearest articulation of this problem I’ve ever seen is in “The Epic Pooh,” Michael Moorcock’s ruthless dismantling of The Lord of the Rings. In that essay, presents us the idea that the hobbits represent the middle- and upper-class of England, off to go have an adventure — in which they largely don’t have to do anything unpleasant like kill people since there are other people who can do that — and then return home safe and sound to the Shire. Despite being rather a fan of Middle Earth, I think this is pretty defensible as an interpretation of the text.
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