Directed and written by: Richard Linklater
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.
Continue reading Slacker (1991)
The Anarchist’s Wife
Directed by: Peter Sehr, Marie Noëlle
Screenplay by: Marie Noëlle, Ray Loriga
Spanish title: La mujer del anarquista
“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?
Continue reading The Anarchist’s Wife (2008)
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Writers: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij
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.
Continue reading The East (2013)
Director: Robert Guédiguian
Writers: Serge Le Péron, Robert Guédiguian, Gilles Taurand
French Title: “L’armée du crime”
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.
Continue reading Army of Crime (2009)
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.
Continue reading El Bosc (2012)
Creator: Jason Rothenberg
Based on books by: Kass Morgan
2014-2015, The CW
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.
Continue reading The 100 (seasons 1 – 2)
update: This post was written before further it came to light that the “purge” ostensibly called for by high school students in Baltimore was likely a police fabrication. Those kids were, it appears, set up. The buses home from school were shut down, the mall was closed down, and they were surrounded by riot police before anything happened. Of course, this makes the whole even more creepily comparable to the film series.
Only two hours left before the purge. We’d better get inside. At the cafe, ominous music was playing, and as twilight set in outside, the crowd diminished and a nervous energy grew in those of us left. Or maybe that was just me.
According to the police and media (and they may have been right, I don’t know), this whole atmosphere of rebellion and resistance kicked off when a group of school-age kids put out a call for a “purge” at 3:30 at at a neighborhood mall. It was a reference to the film series The Purge (reviewed here with surprising favor on AnarchoGeek Review)… the Purge is the one night every year during which all crime is legal.
There’s so much to unpack in that. First, and perhaps foremost, what matters is that these kids decided, for themselves, that they were going to get away with crime. In this case, the crimes were almost exclusively mass assault on riot police and mass vandalism of police vehicles.
Continue reading The Purge: Baltimore
No God, No Master
Directed and Written by: Terry Green
Well, I didn’t have high hopes.
No God, No Master is a slightly-jumbled but intensely-earnest retelling of the Palmer Raids, Galleanist terror, and, tacked on, an abridged version of the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti.
Our protagonist detective is none other than William J. Flynn, who in real life was considered the US’s foremost expert on anarchists — from a repressing-us point of view — and headed the Bureau of Investigation after the events of the film.
Continue reading No God, No Master (2013)
Tarzan of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
1914, A. C. McClurg
Recommended? Not as such
Every time I sit down to write for the Anarcho-Geek Review, I think about how limiting it is to say “Recommended?” and then answer in the binary. But, I suppose, a reader comes to AGR wanting a recommendation from the point of view of “can an anarchist recommend this politically.” And with Tarzan, no, I cannot in good conscience recommend it. It’s a story of its time, with all the evil black men and damsels-in-distress that entails.
It’s a well-written, well-paced adventure and romance the likes of which we don’t see too often anymore. So what’s good (a little bit) and bad (a hell of a lot) about old Tarzan?
Continue reading Tarzan of the Apes
Directors: Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi
Writers: Irena Brignull & Adam Pava
Based on: Here Be Monsters!, a novel by Alan Snow
Finally, someone made a movie that does steampunk justice. The Boxtrolls is set in an alternate 19th century with mad inventors and giant robots and an aristocracy more concerned with tasting various types of cheeses than with caring for the poor, and the filmmakers didn’t just glue gears onto everything at random. More importantly, class relations are even more integral to the plot than the clanking machines of madmen.
It’s beautiful and stop-animated. It’s earnest, it’s cleverly-written, and it’s funny as hell without resorting to hidden sex jokes. Instead, the hidden aimed-at-adults jokes are fourth-wall-challenging references made by the henchmen who ponder the moral weight of their actions. Are they the good guys? Are they the bad guys? Despite having clearcut protagonists and antagonists, this film does a good job of examining the difference between good and evil actions versus good and evil people.
Continue reading The Boxtrolls (2014)