The Parable of Gandhi and the Aircraft Carrier

This is something I want to post as a parable on my blog as well, The situation you have in india is this: Imagine a small fishing village that didn’t do more than say 20 Lacs a year of fish catching , but fed everyone in it and people were not **happy** but they were fed and the kids played on the beach happily and the communities occasionally indulged in communal riots…and all was hunky dory otherwise.

Now an aircraft carier comes to the sea outside this village. not to do war, but for..just some shore time….rest , restock supplies….There’s no indication whether it will stay forever, but it has many men, plenty of people coming ashore and doing interactions with the locals.

Can you imagine all the changed dynamics? every one will be selling fish at highly upped prices, the new power structure will include the ship’s crew , with whom every businessman will imagine great relationships. everyone will a salable sister will be seriously putting a price on his sister’s Saree, and combing her hair….and so on. the village will imagine that good times are finally here. Hindus, muslims, will forget their differences and stop rioting and start selling sisters.

Now imagine two alternate outcomes. One. the carrier has to go awa, leaving the village fll of…….prostitutes….or two, the Superpower is asked to occupy the place . Now the village is full of prostitutes FOR A LIFETIME!

Have a nice day

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Editorial: Obama’s Security State

Addendum: (after Obama’s charlie rose interview on the 17th)

the only assurance that will get you out of the shithouse is ALL NSA PROGRAMS SPYING ON THE AMERICANPEOPLE ARE SHUT DOWN. THERE ARE NO BROAD FISA COURT WARRANTS OTHER THAN INDIVIDUAL SEARCHES. ALL PATTERNED SEARCHES ARE DONE UNDER NON FISA COURT SUPERVISION. WE WILL NOT BOMB CIVILIANS ANYWHERE EVER UNLESS WE DECLARE WAR WITH CONGRESS APPROVAL.

Short of this youre still a dictator that oversaw the end of American democracy.

The original blog post

 

Long ago , the people of America put up two phalluses sticking out into the skyline of manhattan. some muslim techies in Germany decided that the twin towers were too inviting a target. With some unspecified logistical support from a Saudi expatriate living in Texan Pakistan, they flew airplanes into America’s erect penis, thus giving the US the biggest KLPD (khade lund pe dhakka….kick to the erect penis) since a whole lot of vietnamese farmers threw the ocean superpower out of their paddy fields.

This made many people very very angry. not only did the American people suddenly stop believing in evolution from this, they also gave the monkey in charge draconian powers to do as he will with the broken gate of their gated community.

Bush, like any good scammers worth his sault immediately gave 40 billion dollars each to the security companies that were staffed by his team : (Chaney, Rumsfeld,  Blackwater, Halliburton)  and gave away cash like a drunken sailor to American capital interests (Tax breaks, Medicare part D) , and then proceeded to finance this by invading iraq and pretending that the world owed him free lunch.  The Saudis and the Japanese, who had paid for the earlier invasion of iraq under daddy, would only do it now if the price of oil was kept at over 110 dollars a barrel of crude for a long time. When that felt like giving bin laden money to the yanks, the administration closed ranks, consolidated power and turned colonialist.

Powerful people reasoned that America needs to get value for all its foolishly spent defense dollars (about 5-6 trillion since 2000) Someone had to pay a price. In this process, , first America turned the Big NATO  countries into 18th century style colonial powers. France , Britain Italy, all started colonial domination and exploitation of their former north african and asian colonies again. The US monetarily squeezed India, South Korea, Japan and China into investing in US currency, which it was , by now heavily deficit financing for all the F22s and Battleship carrier groups…and missile shields it was building…

.The Secret state was growing into a full fascist military industrial complex that rivalled Nazi Germany’s and Soviet secret police  of Stalin. Bush had already suspended the rule of law by setting up Guantanamo bay for people snatched off the street in places like Philadelphia as well as in foreign places like Pakistan. Now his fascist-secret police handlers moved fast to bring their secret security state under some form of mock legality. They set up secret courts under the Patriot act(which was a defacto suspension of judicial oversight ) and called it a FISA court. They then forced the FISA court to give them Blanket authority to do wide spread spying in the name of National Security. one hundred and eighty years of jurisprudence established under CJ John marshall and jealously protected to keep the court system relevant was thrown out the window by these courts which made things like probable cause and the fourth amendment irrelevant. The appointment of far right justices (CJ John Roberts has been far MORE CENTRIST than his reputation, but Alito and Scalia have been true to their reputation, and Thomas has worked with them) that passed ridiculous judgements such as citizens united has made the court sit out this suspension of the US constitution by the executive branch).

American Democracy was ALREADY suspended before Obama became president. The constitution has been gutted, people in power can do whatever they want, The US had started functioning as a fascist secret state where the MOST POWERFUL people behaved like a crime cartel, using micromanagement and fear to preserve and grow their wealth. The US FED , by instituting the carry trade regime led this charge.

Obama’s world.

So when it recently came out that Obama was heading an administration that happily inherited bush’s every bad habit, there’s no wonder that polls show a spike in bush’s popularity. People think Obama made it worse.

Did Obama make it worse? superficial signs indicate that this is certainly so. If you found a secret police spying on everyone when you took over a communist state (say for instance Hungary) the measure of whether you are the new tinpot dictator or if youre the guy that headed a revolution to OVERTHROW a dictatorship is in how you handle the secret police apparatus.

If you (Obama)  joyously dive in and use the propaganda machine to lie, the secret prison system to imprison innocent people, spy on an entire nation’s email and phone calls (sure you listen in…record ….sniff and do everything the secret police used to do in stalinist russia….no point denying it!) then it very much looks like it walks and talks like a goose step.

YOU , sir are a Fascist. no matter how cute your family looks in your propaganda pictures.

Are we beyond return?

The world has gone past the point of no return many times. even a genocide is  not a point of no return for life. we survived the extinction of dinosaurs, so on a big existential level, I am sure we can survive America becoming a fascist state where everyone’s every “move ” is watched. My (your ) emails are tracked. your ideas are theirs to use or throw away. people become rich from obeying government diktat. Most people will just evolve to accept that America is no longer a democracy (happened to France after its socialist revolution in the 1700’s. … they had napoleon, who the french still call great, even if he grabbed power)

See the issue here is, a secret state is like a parent that sexually fondles his daughters. There is no point justifying it by saying “But fondling is not Sex” . And there’s no point COLLABORATING with it because its only a matter of time you are collaborators in a crime you never signed up for.

Acceptable face

So when people elected Obama , and reelected him, it was not because they wanted an acceptable face on the terrorist state, It was because they wanted someone to clean house. It wasn’t because they wanted the morning after pill or legal pot (although that helps live down Obama and his fascist state’s overreaches) , it was to DISMANTLE the apparatus that had grabbed power. We find our boy collaborating with the whites only club instead of breaking up the segregated club.

Snowden

So please do not make this about Snowden and his pole dancing girlfriend. He may be the devil incarnate and Jabba the Hutt for all I care. the issue is about how we elected a community organiser who was corrupted into fascist because the attractions were too great.

and you can take your immigration bill and shove it up your ass.

Post script: The obama millitary industrial empire, it seems has not learnt from America’s mistakes. Subsequent to this leak from snowden, they first tried to paint HIM as a evil villain “operating from china (through a Guardian and a Washington post reporter, who are, doubtless chinese spies too) , then decided that “everyone supporting such leaks were traitors” after minimizing the program first as collecting “trash from a trash bin” and then solemnly looking into television cameras and swearing  “the NSA ONLY goes into records(of all our lives) through searches that have to have a fisa court warrant” (hahaha) and finally giving up and attacking syria to give the american public a diversion. Youre behaving GUILTY AS SIN, General congo (which is my new name for OBAMA).

This TED talk is an excellent illustration of the dangers posed by the NSA sping program on American civilians.

http://on.ted.com/DSuarez

we used to know democracy…now they hunted it down to extinction. Condolences.

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The Act of killing (2012, Dir :Joshua Oppenheimer produced: Werner herzog)

Preamble : I originally heard of the Joshua Oppenheimer documentary when it came out at the Berlinale last year, and subsequently a website (NOOOO torrents ! I swear!) offered it on a free download for a short while. I didn’t review it because like the thousands of movies I watch on the small screen , I don’t usually review films which I think are not topical  or contemporary mass market presentations by the local marketing machine…IOW, I don’t review a film I might get hold of after it’s Sundance exhibition, but when fox movies releases it to (even limited) screens , I think its the time to start a conversation(often its just to bring awareness to the film ). I think maybe my job is done correctly , thus.

How to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and impress people

Filmmaking has many motivations. Watching films  have many motivations too. When I see a killing spree I might do it for voyeuristic reasons , for entertainment , to take me and my woman friend to a date, to be well informed and sound cultured. When people refuse to mirror reality in films, I will often pretend that the blatantly manipulative version of reality IS indeed reality, and the people I have heard of  in real life behaved like the fake entertainment version of historical stories(Lincoln, Django, Zero Dark Thirty)  told by hacks who really, are only doing it to fill 3 hour real estate rental space in AMC theaters.

The power of images , however, is so compelling that when you see a story that could easily BE real, while denial is the first sentiment I feel, (Surely this is a fake, even if its a brilliant concept) it is followed …slowly by a dull anger at myself for being such an impotent goldfish in a bowl , watching the family clean and  eat fish for dinner.

The dead don’t remember.

The Act of killing is the recreation  of killing perpetrated in the Indonesian genocide by THE GUY WHO DONE THE KILLING.(History is written by the winners , the Indonesian says, So I shall write a history where my killings are looked at like a happy ending in a movie with singing and dancing girls proclaiming peace).

The film tries to treat murder like a chinese (move) wire fu stunt. Gen. Congo is certainly of the impression that that is how history should see it. As the General and the militia (still constituted, and headed by the same people that carried out the killing in the old day) trolls the slums for actors to recreate the killings HE committed fifty years ago, you see a remarkable lack of awareness of the past among the poor. Here, the poor do not remember history. Only the murderers do.

The secret to WRITING history by the winners is the REMEMBERING and the dead don’t have memories.

The General Casts himself as a victim.

A Narrative reclaimed

SO the filmmaker and the general plan out how he can clinically reclaim the glorious heroics of the maligned 1965 purge. The general is very frank. the initial set of killings were bloody because they used knives. Then he devised a metal gavotte that was efficient and bloodless. How many did he kill(the general estimates, about 100,000 by his own hand. “who knows” he says.)

To do justice to his memory, General Congo’s recreations of his killing communists are interspersed with some shots of the present, where the right-wing muslim militia is shown in its present form patriotic, forward looking (rallies full of half naked smiling dancing women) and very determined to kil the enemy within… and half , dream sequences, where one of the leaders of the militia is dressed as a representation of his patriotic motherland – A transgender brightly costumed lady in an opiate dream, who drives the hero to greater heights.

With a little prompting , and a lot of makeup and costume, The general recreates his murders, sometimes after torture to a suspected communist, whom he has made to confess, and sometimes as whole villages of adult communists child communists male communists and female communists are lined up for further examination and eventual killing ( if they are 12 years old …oh…delicious. his friend exclaims remembering the girls he raped) . remembering is therapy.

OUR Armed forces : Protecting us from Communists since 1935.

The general is shown gently caring for a duck with broken feet at his home with his grandchildren. Heroes are sensitive people. He is shown being honored for his work by the people. …by the generals(who are still in power) and by the businessmen of the “new ” Indonesia, who need him now , more than ever , as the ranks of poor grows again like lice on an urchin’s head (how can you fuck a child prostitute with lice on her head?) . His killing is meaningful. it changed history. He is just like the greatest killers in the world statin pol pot….America, John Wayne….

And a hero has tragic regrets for his actions. The film shows him , after celebrating his win, his family and his public adulation, vomiting at the scene of his murders.

Hope General Congo feels better.

Peace in heaven for the dead and peace on earth for the living.

(A Historical note on the Indonesian genocide:  The Indonesian Anti communist purge of 1965 was estimated  by American historians to have killed between 500,000 and a million Indonesians,  historians on the other side say the number is easily four times that much. This was part of an American Navy inspired coup in Indonesia which brough Suharto into power. Between 1965 and 68 Suharto is estimated to have killed , in his coup thousands of communists, communist sympathizers(US intelligence provided targeted names to the junta) , wiped out villages where people were suspected of being communists, non muslims, foreigners or just anybody Suharto’s gangs took a fancy to. They were encouraged to do this by Suharto’s military , which drew its power from the US military which had residual assets from its nearby wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. every “communist” death was cheered in Washington as if  it was a victory against the soviet union. Most of the actors are still alive in Indonesia and the US, and have or have ended flourishing carrers in the military/the pentagon ,and are still active in geo politics.)

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The East ( Zal Batmanglij Brit Marling produced by Ridley Scott & Tony Scott. 2013)

I have of late been struck by the number of films are so easy to laugh at but which are nevertheless really awesome ideas as movies. I wonder if it is because I have grown more cynical and am giggling at what i see as transparent attempts by the studio system(which let’s get real , is a few rich guys)  to inspire stories that are completely antithetical to the said system , in a vain attempt to look as if all points of view are spoken for in the big media industrial propaganda machine produce… or Maybe the big bosses are smoking crack …and are ACTUALLY under the illusion they have the beating heart of small indies……or maybe they are doing it for their kids. With The East (2013) I am going with the latter theory.

As an idea , The East is a genuinely deep (in the hippie sense) film. Corporate lawyer/spy infiltrates cult and gets drawn into the actual debate. Works. What’s not to like? There are echoes of history, when the FBI infiltrated hippies in central california and sometimes destroyed peaceful kids living an existence roughly comparable to the fabled lives of tween TV stars in Hollywood today (sex, coke, lots of groupie nudity, lots of time outdoors unwashed and without no adult supervision in sight). For another, the story seems topical because it compares an imaginary version of real America against a caricature of the washington based US domestic spy machine. Plenty can come out of such a story right? do we have another Costas Gravas here?

While the east is as hard hitting as whitebread turkey sandwiches , the film’s issues aren’t really that everyone in it is pretty white and genteel , even the black people are , it is that it comes off as a massive jerkoff session of a few studio bosses, trying to cope with their daughters’ sudden attraction to environmentalism and the occupy movement.

So we have a caricature of a Vermont cult (which itself is a caricature of “what those poo’ kids do in their community dorms, playin’ spin the bottle an’ havin sex an taking communal baths , washing one another’s dirty diseased bodies….lovingly….) which dreams up acts of terrorism which would make osama  belch mustard gas from under the sea, and a surprisingly inept private investigation agency headed by a really old Patricia Clarkson (when revolution comes, her dresses are what cause the people’s rage), and then suddenly everybody is raiding everybody else, don’t our DARLINGS look WONDERFUL in those bedsheet togas ? I’m glad we had this sleepover.

The pity here is somewhere deep inside there’s a real story  which might have been of real people, if only we could disregard the boston bombers for the distraction they were. It might have easily been the story of an overprepared over armed state prepared…no…itching to do violence against its own people because industrial capitalism has become the art of castrating individuals . It might have been a meditation on the principles enunciated by someone in a past era that withdrew with horror from a civilization he percieved as evil saying  “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”.

HD Thoreau

The giggle worthy screenplay instead has hillarious sendups of “what we imagine they are like” scenes of the poor and the cultishly Vermont leftie .. They shit in the woods , they bathe in the lake and wash one another’s naked bodies. they play spin the bottle the police raid them once in a while. they dumpster dive for food (as a principle, the film tells us with a straight face) IOW they are just like US when we do crack …except they have…Yeast..

The East : E for effort.

I see white people!

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Nair, 2012-3) : The Six compromises of Mira Nair.

“If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget the Iron Chains” – ll cool J/ Brad Paisley  “Accidental racist”

Nair’s Reluctant Fundamentalist is very easy to make fun of (It does for Geopolitics what Kama sutra did for sex…..etc) but IMO the lesson that needs learning for every expatriate Indian not watching this  is no less important ,if probably likely lost as a whistle in the southern California  wind.

You take a stand and stick with it. It’s gotta be an honest stand and has got to be well thought out and clearly spelt out. You gotta tell the Big  bully where to get off, and what’s “ out of bounds”. You do it emotionally and show real consequences or else you end up with …..The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The filming of the Mohsin Hamid novel has had a precarious road to production and took a couple of years, even if Mira Nair is one of India’s best known expat filmmakers. (I blame the Euro crisis  ).

I have decided that, instead of reviewing the ambitious sweep of intentions of the film, about a Pakistani alpha male whose relationship with wall street sours into mistrust, I will instead, list out Ms Nair’s six bourgeois compromises that add up into cinema killing mediocrity. I blame the Hollywood studio system for this .

The Six Compromises of Mira Nair:

Compromise 1 Its NOT about Terrorism. (because that would disturb the nice Lahore housewife/matron watching HBO)  Sure,  Muslims  from Lahore are all milk  and human kindness, even if they are Muslim fundamentalists that are angrily agitating about how much they hate America and Americans , but when you want to make a movie about a dude meeting a shadowy Pakistani dude  in a seedy Lahore cafe full of glowering  extremist types, you do NOT go all fuzzy and build back story for the chaiwallah. You make everybody menacing  until you can let the (fuzzy teddy bear) details emerge.

Compromise 2:  You can’t make an angry leftist novel into a sufi message of love. The reluctant fundamentalist  references the ideological war declared by wall street  on erstwhile leftism and  its global  assets, as motivation for the protagonist,in the book,  Chengez, walking away from his highly paid consulting position.  Mira Nair observed that she had replaced Neruda’s Chile in the novel  with a Sufi “cultured” Istanbul. Listen I understand bibi back home would rather visit  the tasselated ex-harems of Istanbul , and not Pinochet (even today)  bullet riddled Santiago, but did Mira realize she was ripping out the innards of a living novel and  preserving it in historical formaldehyde?

Compromise 3: Making it all about the wedding. We get it ok?  Pakistanis  get married and those weddings are full of culture and food. But revisiting your greatest hits in the middle of a terrorist drama  may feel to YOU , Ms Nair, like you want good things to happen to young Pakistani men, but to US, it feels like a cop out on the scale of a dadimaa’s response to everything is  to feed everyone.

Compromise 4:I’m not going to “Kate Hudson is fat and there’s no chemistry”….but Kate Hudson is fat and the sex scenes are embarrassing. I have seen  homemade porn that looked better. Mira there’s more things guys know to do than merely clutch (an overweight) white girl around her stomach and breathe on her neck. What’s the compromise here? I think she’s talking to Pakistani women in all these sex scenes, without being clear that she is doing so. It feels vaguely like the “reluctant fundamentalist” has no autonomy, needing to go from one Freudian Madonna to another. If THAT is why Czengez is not a terrorist (cuz he’s such a mama’s boy! ) it’s a stretch. In any case , the man could easily have been a secure lover and still have a sense of vulnerability. James bond has been pedaling that for AGES and still gets away with it.

Compromise 5: Not having a coherent message. The film does not trace a historical timeline among its chosen cities(New York, Lahore and Istanbul).  It does not want to define the Americans as anything mre than a reactionary overwhelming force for retribution in  Pakistan, It does not want to hold up a mirror to Pakistani bourgeois, in creating the vacuum that allowed everyone to  become fundamentalists, and it makes well meaning noises about how “good people are good” and “others shouldn’t misunderstand them” as terrorists.  News for you Mira, THE MIDDLE CLASS CAN HANDLE EXTREMISM AND VIOLENCE IN FILM. They have to negotiate bollywood’s stridency, Lollywood’s ham-handed messaging and Hollywood’s crafty propaganda.  As filmmaker you have a choice to make your analysis historical, and intellectual, or to entertain with a thriller…or you must be honest to the novel’s intentions. You can’t fall between the cracks in ALL these respects.

Compromise 6:  It’s the Geopolitics, Stupid! Lady you’re a filmmaker well respected in Europe, and who has made a few highly distributed films inside the Hollywood studio system, you can’t bury your head in the sand and pretend that even MAKING the film is NOT about geopolitics If you do, you have ALREADY given Constantinople away to the Christian hoards. Of course Samuel Huntington exists (specially in the context of the current crusades) Of course a “film about a Pakistani protagonist “ will not get financing in Europe or the US because it doesn’t fit the propaganda goals of the relevant commercial interests. Noam Chomsky’s filters are keeping you out. Just because you pretended this was not so, your job is no easier. So …I don’t know maybe you should have grown a pair and SPOKEN about what we don’t discuss in drawing rooms. Fundamentalism and who , precisely is responsible for it.

Mira Nair hasn’t lost it. The people  all round (studios, financiers, Bollywood, Hollywood, audience….) seem to think they know better. The perils of crowd sourcing your taste (as Mira seems to have done here, )  is that  you allow for confusion and diffusion of your already diffuse ideas, and it reflects in the vision of the reluctant filmmaker.

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The Company You keep: Sundance, Kid. (Redford 2013)

I wrote “As a Legacy movie,”The Company you keep” is pretty much Robert Redford’s masterpiece. A worthy follow on to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid , and All the president’s men,” and I stared at it for two hours before falling asleep.

I didn’t fall asleep .

Words came to me all night and I was afraid the glorious insightful meaningful words would stop.Richly textured deeply significant meanings opened up one argument at a time and I was in a fever .It simply wouldn’t stop. if I have down here one third of all that I dreamed about , I will feel worthy of having sat in a theater and experienced depth of true cinematic genius.

THIS is why we make films.

Experience

As the film progresses, our throat is lumpy, not with manipulative emotionality, but with a recurring reaffirming. “This” our mind tells …. “This! This This!” . The experience that unfolds is more philosophical inquiry than drama. (there IS plenty of drama, but for those who dare go there, there are rich rewards in its philosophy).

It has been a while since I saw a movie that was made to ASK questions and lay out existential justifications that change way look at our same old world, not because we learnt something new –  just that one thought all this was extinct, this idealism, and had long since,started acting out on our dogmatic slumber.

THIS is not just any or ordinary movie.

Weather Underground

Are a near legendary group of leftist radicals that, in sixties went underground after a bank robbery they were carrying out went horribly wrong and they killed a security guard at bank. They have been on FBI’s most wanted list ever since, a fact that overlooks their contribution to leftist idealism as law behaves like an amoral and clinical ass with a long memory. Recently, as one of them was “discovered ” living a suburban mom lifestyle in upstate new york, interest in this underground organization was renewed in US , and fictionalized account here is based on a 2004 Neil Gordon novel structured like a 1970’s warner bros thriller about a man on run. Redford plays Jim Grant, a Jason bournesque character without superpowers (He could be introspectionman , I guess) who has to learn to invent identities as he moves from place to place in small town america (which is a well wrought character in film) . When Sharon Solarz (Susan sarandon) is arrested by FBI,  Grant is forced to go on lam, leaving his 8 year old daughter with his brother, and tracks down other people from the radical group who are now middle aged boomers in respectable occupations: one a college professor hiding his radicalism in plain sight, another a lumberjack in rural Wisconsin …and some rich in big sur from applying their sociopathy to good use in stock market…or running marijuana.

The film resolves around core beliefs of radicalism passing glowingly worshipful judgement of the idealism underlying it and pronouncing hagiography on all its protagonists, thus leaving weather underground as Redford found it.

In a world where films only seem to get made to “expose” feet of clay ( Dreamers, Barbarian invasions) , the vote of confidence is timely and well appreciated. leftism in film harkens back to American themes of radical revolution and activism, something we never see in film. American radicalism has a pragmatic edge that has changed world often. It also remembers some old enmities  American saboteurs and anarchists were the raison d itre for the FBI in 1920’s and 30’s.

Ethics

” The Company you Keep” is a socratic inquiry into ethics. The question posited is: In a world where state has lost it, what is ethical behavior for Man.  Without getting overly talky, the film sets out bite sized ethical dilemmas to each disciple .

What results is much more than an expiation of innocence. we see damning indictment of amoral state.

The state by being amoral has allowed itself to be a weapon , given that it has deadly force, for people that would act willfully in evil ways (genocide, repression, selective prosecutions of innocent to serve system which generates much evil). Faced with this, an ethical individual must act to protect his and himself . The choices he makes creates space in his ecosystem. While people make mistakes and shit happens, to everyone,  one’s personal history is created very verifyably , by and their actions AND their words take responsibility for why they have emerged way they are.

If we live like this, its enough and meaningful. If we die on our feet doing this, still have acted with virtue. The highest Socratic ideal.

Magnum opus.

Thus unfolds the magnum opus that adumbrates the halo( Sundance)  of Redford’s greatest films – Milagro bean field wars, All President’s men, Conspirator….Butch Cassidy and Sundance kid. Redford is able to successfully evoke mythology of first and idealism of President’s Men. He brings benefit of his 78 years to keep the film real and the eye that sees sees an america that could have been, can be  and is, all too fleeting.

The camera (Adriano Goldman: Sin nombre) is a master class in how to use colors and images in a story. Deeply introspective narrative. Bressonian in its depth . Almost religious in its conviction. (If religion is about human ethics, then film is deeply religious.)

The acting is nuanced and deep. Spectacular performances from Redford, Shia La boef, Susan Sarandon, Nick nolte, Chris cooper, Terrence Howard, Staley Tucci, Brit Marling (she’s spectacular) , Sam howard…..Everyone seems to understand that they are depicting living Gods.

If there is one film that answers John Wayne , Ronald Reagan brand of cowboy capitalism through a dose of realism, some of which is magic (specially those parts featuring children, whom we should teach well), it is this one. We come out believing that great things are possible, and that makes this an american film  of John Ford Frank Bozarge variety.

I didn’t go into this film expecting to worship it so.There are docu-dramas  about all manners of people.Where “The company you keep ” succeeds is in its John updike quality of describing a historic sweep of events filtered in lens of  idealism of the 60’s radicals. While we all like to admire people of sixties for their blind courage and sheer guts (and sex and drugs and rock and roll) most of us don’t know , in any detail, radical philosophy that fueled intelligent successful kids to dedicate lives full of meaning to the Idea. The  film constructs narrative for Barack Obama leftist.

Barack Obama and his leftists

The film also damns in a tongue in cheek way,the  LEADER of the Barack Obama leftists. It informs his minions: their leader is now the enemy (if we  HAVE done a deal with devil, we have to ACT, often, like devil). The play of words also indicates that “The company you keep ” Obama ‘s is FBI/CIA(there is a clinical efficient and ruthless black man heading manhunt for Jim Grant who doesn’t know or care just precisely whom  law enforcement “should” protect. The absolute way in which Grant is defined by his crime, in Redford’s view comes from the immoral and the amoral state apparatus thus. in this respect we could be living this story in Soviet union, Nazi Germany or any or totalitarian state, which film indicates , America ALREADY IS BECOME….except for our children.

Teach our children well

So Redford succeeds in this film by being able to separate idealism from the crowded souks of memory and regret…and mistakes people make, and presenting narrative for ready consumption, for whoever will go there. film can be “just a manhunt thriller” if  you don’t…which brings us to remembered history.

America remembers its history through lens of its most successful. often there is no meaning in high concept fast food  boutique burger place that is STILL making money, when there’s a Carl Jr open down road. Ceasar Chavez is remembered( black FBI Agent is named Cornelius, Chavez inspired leader of ” planet of Apes”) but only through lens of Dream Act.

How shall we, then teach history? It is unacceptable that the only way we can talk idealism to our children is by winning and becoming that which we despise.The  film does not address mistakes our children will make , or even mistakes we made from accepting narrative histories from our parents, but at least it makes an effort (A for effort) at philosophical reflectiveness. If it makes more people introspect over these matters I think Redford would have succeeded way beyond anybody’s wildest sci-fi imaginations.

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Vedala Ulagam (1948, full movie)

T R Mahalingam, Kamala Lakshman…etc.

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