Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 31, 2017

Pop Cinema: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 1:13 pm


Each year I review over 100 films with most of them being the kind that show up in art houses: leftist documentaries, foreign-language films, American indies and the like. In November, I start catching up with the films that major Hollywood studios are pushing for NYFCO awards such as “Moonlight”, “Brooklyn”, “Spotlight” and other high-minded products that are geared to college-educated, NY Times reading, PBS subscribers. It is what you might call the Merchant-Ivory trade.

But what I really love and rarely write about are the horror and action films that dominate the multiplexes, mainly because they are so crappy. For example, I can’t get enough of “Alien” type films where a plucky band of space travelers must fend off some deadly creature that is killing them off one by one. One such film titled “Life” opened this week and could only muster a 66 percent fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Generally, anything under 98 percent is usually enough to make me walk out on looking like the subject of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, so there was no point in spending $12 on a geezer ticket for a movie that the generally reliable Slant Magazine characterized: “If you ever find yourself in outer space and the only person talking any sense is Ryan Reynolds, locate the nearest escape hatch.”

Through pure serendipity, I saw five films recently that except for one might be of interest to CounterPunch readers. The four that made the cut are apolitical except for the one at the top of the list, but can at least function as escapist fare for that segment of the population that is burdened by angst over the President from Hell. If you’ve spent all week long passing out leaflets in the bitter cold (do activists do that nowadays?), you might as well treat yourself to a film in which the monsters are purely celluloid.

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Trailers for films under review:


  1. Culture industry junk from Proyect. Any other reasons not to be a Marxist?

    Comment by Lawrence — March 31, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

  2. So funny to see an anonymous troll with a fake email address dressing me down about my right to call myself a Marxist. For all I know, “Lawrence” is a Walter Mitty type who imagines himself giving speeches to thousands of workers about the need for proletarian revolution. As the New Yorker cartoon once put it, nobody can tell that you are a dog when you go on the Internet.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 31, 2017 @ 6:12 pm

  3. Lawrence, I am sure most working class people in the U.S. are avid fans of (and only watch) films by Luis Bunuel, Federico Fellini and Wim Wenders.

    I am equally sure that socialists and communists never ever watch any Hollywood movies, as they are supposed to stay pure and definitely stay way the hell away from haraam (non-Kosher) movies that sully the soul and render one into an agent of bourgeoisie.

    And before you get the idea to give me a lecture about ‘culture industry’, save your computer bytes; I’ve read Adorno.

    Comment by Reza — March 31, 2017 @ 10:42 pm

  4. I love you too Proyect. A la prochain review the Egmont Overture from Buddha pest.

    Comment by Lawrence — April 3, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

  5. Louis,
    I don’t know if you’ve done so already, but it would be interesting to see what you think about the 2016 Cohen Brothers movie Hail Caesar!, which is partly allegorical and depicts the Communist underground in Hollywood in the 1950’s.

    Let me know how you like the clip:

    Comment by Hal — April 6, 2017 @ 1:49 am

  6. I’ve seen dribs and drabs on cable TV. Awful.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 6, 2017 @ 1:52 am

  7. Another clip:

    Comment by Hal — April 6, 2017 @ 1:54 am

  8. “I’ve seen dribs and drabs on cable TV. Awful.”
    OK. I got the message.”

    Comment by Hal — April 6, 2017 @ 1:55 am

  9. Thanks.
    There is a funny moment when the actors are doing an interview and the interviewer asks Joe Silverman, who is featured on the box cover, why he got practically no part in the film except one line and a hand crank. They tell the interviewer that originally they had more of a part for Silverman but then they found out that he couldn’t act.

    Comment by Hal — April 6, 2017 @ 2:00 am

  10. I mean, in real life they told a reporter that Silverman’s role was deliberately minimized in Hail Caesar!

    Comment by Hal — April 6, 2017 @ 2:02 am

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