It's Been Real - Movies in 2010


Movies today are the novels of the 1920s.  Like books after World War I, people now turn to movies for a sign of the times.  Music has been flattened by a rabid imitation of the past; the publishing world operates no differently than the TV industry; and the Art world has been made undead by the zombies of Fashion. Movies, combining the virtues and vices of all these arts, are high-profile, moneymaking, and yield the greatest opportunity for the consciousness of artists and viewers, like mirror neurons, to commune.  Our central nervous system is sublimated by the new experience of a portrayed moving world.

One takes for granted that Hollywood makes a profit by investing in the work of some figures whom it is not an abuse of meaning to call "artists."  The publishing industry did the same with writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Theodore Dreiser, and in 1921, Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence was the #4 best-seller in America (and though this year North America's 4th highest grossing movie was Twilight: Eclipse, it did not win a Pulitzer).

We want our peers to recognize in us what they first might have recognized at the movies.  Songs we haven't heard in so long become much cooler in the theater set to some cool scene.  And our own social setting may even excel by setting forth the yea or nay of a movie as the means to articulate something about ourselves which we otherwise do not know how to.

No year of movies is without a resplendence of those "based on a true story," where events alleged to have happened are given the fictional treatment.  The audience wants what once occurred in the real world told in the language of moviemaking.  As the credits roll and the people leave the theater, one often hears enlightened viewers telling each other while brushing popcorn from their collar, "Hey Eddie, that really happened you know!"

But if the movie is "inspired by true events," like The Social Network (nominated for Best Adapted Script) or The Fighter (for Best Original) the movie may not have to reproduce those events with fanatic literal exactitude to effect what is true.  The faith in drama lies otherwise. Social Network takes Facebook as its premise, and Facebook is a technological device which lets people make their own reality of themselves.  The Fighter, as director David O. Russell has explained in interviews, is a "movie-within-a-movie."  As a critic quipped about I Love You Phillip Morris (2010, Glenn Ficarra & John Requa) "... a tale too bizarre to qualify as believable fiction. No problem: It's a true story — a freak opportunity."

The subject of what is a true story became headline news in the hubbub over the secret cyber-dump site WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, looking like he just walked out of Inception, postures himself a purveyor of “scientific journalism," which "allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true?”  Filmmakers do not have to be the extractors of classified government documents to get a true story, but only blurb that their movie is based on one.

We crave the bias of how we see things, which is why we can’t wait for Oscar time.  The Oscars like best impersonations. Jerry O'Connell's character, in Piranha 3-D (2010, Alexandre Aja) clearly imitates real-life creep Joe Francis, and the pleasure one gains by watching fanged fish chow his prick and balls off is based on what would be a real event.  A movie made in 3-D promotes its intention of recreating the real experience of space, but most 3-D movies are sci-fi fantasies that, as transom-jockey Michael Musto notes, offer "mind-blowing altered states for arrested children of all ages." In Pirana 3-D, the moral times are gauged like a Late Medieval tapestry where Nature has lured all the douchebags to one place, and then eats them. Then the good people start getting chowed too.  New meaning is given to the idea of being one of the The Expendables (2010, Sylvester Stallone).

Most theater-goers, like the characters in Soc Network, are "wired-in."  The psychic derangement of popular memory is where the comparison between The Social Network and Hot Tub Time Machine makes sense.

In Hot Tub Time Machine (2010, Steve Pink) the character Lou Dorchen (Rob Corddry) undergoes the harrows of time travel and revisits his dejected teenage years, when Lou still had the prospect of the future to assure him – as in the present, Lou has no future. 1986! K-Vall!  Lou relives the same humiliations at the hands of Chaz, a Commie-hating ski lodge prepster who one day will no doubt craft policy for Paul Wolfowitz, and is subjected again to the betrayal by his best friends, who are still deadbeats.

Lou breaks it down for the guys in a grand whiskey-swigging tirade, that one supports a bud no matter how much of a loser, even if it brings everybody else down.  Friends are not beholden to save each other by good sense, but sheer dude companionship.  Lou opts to stay in '86, and not go back to his depressing 40s.  He defies physics and embarks on the journey out of his mind, while his buddies head back in the Hot Tub to a new future.  In some concurrent fourth dimension Lou invents Lougle, the smash Internet search engine, and becomes a happy zillionaire.

In The Social Network, the Hot Tub is "the Facebook," a new technology of global communal consciousness that comes about by way of a similar betrayal of friendship.  Director David Fincher goes back in time to the early 21st century, so early that Autocorrect does not recognize the word "FaceBook" when Zuckerberg keypecks it on his blog.  But in the final scene, Zuck refreshes his Facebook page as if he would gladly jump into the Hot Tub Time Machine to make things different with his girlfriend in the first scene.  Sean Parker abuses the claim to friendship so important to Lou – Parker screws Eduardo the same way Lou feels his pals screwed him - and Napster Boy ends up in jail as a sex criminal.  Lou’s future son, fat nerd Jacob, believes he is witnessing a sex crime when he barges in on Lou boning snow bunny Kelly, Jacob's mom, at the moment of conception....

"I made it a point to try to visualize the things I was saying as though they had really happened....  and for me they were happening as I talked; it was hard to realize that they had not taken place in the actual world... they became part of a world, the believed world, the world of recorded events, of history."   - Deliverance, James Dickey (1970).

If a movie is based on real events, better opportunity to justify taking interpretive liberties with the material. Film is the pingback of reality, and one brings one experience to it, as both judge and spectator. In Fellini's Casanova (1977, Federico Fellini), screened this year at Anthology Film Archives' Anti-Biopic series, Casanova's infamous Memoirs are used as a source text, but Fellini does not base his movie on a true story - it is a true story, made with trashbag sea-storms and starring a louche Donald Sutherland. 

"Philosophy must not forget that it has always spoken its part in the most burlesque and melodramatic settings."
-"Gangland & Philosophy,"Attila Kotanyi (1960).

2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the greatest mob movie ever made, Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese), which is the definitive, orgiastic "book-on-film," and follows the pattern of time, date, place, costume, music, while never failing to exploit all of it.  Truth and art merge like the garlic sliced so thin it liquifies in the pan.  The mob is the ideal subject for movies "based on a true story," because wiseguys love to exaggerate fucked-up stories about themselves.
Marty Scorsese had a productive year, commencing 2010 with Shutter Island, where he depicts the harrows of imagination cured only by a doctor's lance through the brain.  Marty helmed the series opener of Boardwalk Empire, based on the 1920s Atlantic City boss Nucky Thompson, after the "real-life" Nucky Johnson - as if Mark Zuckerberg were called Mark Eisenberg to deflect the criticism of historical inaccuracy.  Marty also directed Public Speaking, an HBO doc about Fran Lebowitz, and about the style of New York personality that is going the way of smoking in bars, Howard Johnson's, and rent control. Fran is a fast and vast talker, and the stories of her life in the city, a New York that is bygone, are augmented by Scorsese with inter-cut footage of James Baldwin debating William F. Buckley and clips from Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese.  Like in Goodfellas, Fran blows alot of peoples' heads off.

Scorsese enters 2010 again as the "montage supervisor" for Elvis on Tour (1972, R. Abel, P. Adidge), remastered for DVD.  Elvis is shown premiering "Burning Love," so new that he apologizes to the crowd for having to read the lyrics off a sheet of paper.  Elvis on Tour is a tour of Elvis, and Scorsese's touch is felt in the seamless collage of the Elvis imprint on the shutterfly dreams of the pop world.  Three hours before a show, Elvis hangs out backstage in his messianic costume and breaks down gospel tunes with the Jordanaires, baring the gonzo moral South in him.

The same brotherly lighting strikes Timothy Carey in The World's Greatest Sinner (1962, Timothy Carey), which screened at Anthology Film Archives last fall.  Carey plays a Southern California inland suburb insurance salesman who decides to quit the business and become a God.  He performs mondo Christian stage shows in the middle-class suburbs of Hollywood.  Timothy Carey is a whipcrack ham-sandwich of an actor, and Anthology's 2010 retrospective also featured Cinema Justice (1972), a ten-minute scenario repurposed in between takes from some other movie (Tarzana by Steve Da Jarnatt), where Timothy Carey plays Timothy Carey, ranting in a crappy office, bantering and banging around like Zeus, an articulate hurl of the loud and strange human way, being himself. Cinema Justice must be off the factbook - IMDB has even missed its archival existence.

Movie audiences don't seem to miss the archival existence of actor Joaquin Phoenix, who appeared as a joshing version of Joaquin Phoenix in I'm Still Here (2010, Casey Affleck), which bombed.  If an appearance on David Letterman becomes your epochal geisty plot point, then you are still there, and not here. There is no shortage of true stories to inspire the hermeneutics of fame and personality in America, and I'm Still Here has its vernacular right, the app of the "As If."  And sometimes it is even that to have no point is the point - true nihilism is often entertaining (hence the Crank movies).  But Joaq's roleplaying alienates the character, the actor, and the moviewatcher, who might still be here and not turned the movie off yet because of a couple of hilarious rapping scenes in the first twenty minutes.  Joaq consults Ejo (Edward James Olmos), who intones Lt.   Castillo, advising that "life's a journey that goes round and round and the end is closest to the beginning."  Ejo's fauxhemian windbaggery might be what post-humanist Douglas Rushkoff calls a "spontaneous, emergent reality."  Rushkoff describes "the multiple dimensions" with which humans "can contend with having more than one perspective at a time."  The title of the movie nods off to Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, a similar syzygy of one character's consciousness, but though Joaq toured prisons playing music with Skeeter Jennings, he was never in The Traveling Wilburys.  Like Henry James says in his short story "The Great Good Place" (1900), "Every one was a little some one else."

Perhaps the most mindbending of films based on real events in 2010 was a TV commercial, Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010, Rupert Sanders).  In November, Activision released ads for its new One-Man Army video game.  Anyone who has turned on a TV since Thanksgiving has seen this commercial. Celebrities and no-name office workers are shown in civilian wear engaged in combat on a Third-World battlefield, blowing away terrorists and making bad-ass faces. Sports hot shot Kobe Bryant and slack-jawed late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel make no secret of the tasteless puppetry which Technopolis has made of them.  Why make war movies when you can hire Hollywood screenwriters to craft scenarios for hyperdimensional video games, free of real guns or real shattered spines? Cued by the Rolling Stones soundtrack, it must be mad sick to do battle like this. And if there is a soldier in all of us, there is also a comfort zone junky.

As part of the New York Film Festival's "Views From the Avant-Garde" at Walter Reade, screened Future So Bright (2010, Matt McCormick, Center For Land Use Interpretation), a short film which, as it evolves, becomes increasingly likely to have been tagged "based on a true story."  Told in three parts, the movie presents vivid tableaux of petrified American frontier settlements that give way to the numinous hulking shells of industrial expansion which in turn make way for the candycolored 1950s middle-class businesses of leisure.  An object history of the West that trails the barns of immigrant pioneers, factories of the War Boom work force, and roadside family resort-o-ramas that cropped up on new Federal highways, silent and panascopic.

Over the summer, Film Forum devoted a series to the avatar of interactive moviegoing, William Castle.  Castle’s original theater gimmicks, like "Emergo" and "psychedelorama," were reproduced under the direction of repertory film programmer Bert Goldman.  Before the opening credits of The Tingler, starring Vincent Price, Castle appears in an introductory preamble to warn the audience about Fear.  Castle is worried that, for some moviegoers, it might get too real.  "The Tingler is in the theater!”

.... Black Swan (2010, Darren Aronofsky) gave the Twilight fandom a quaint correlative of teenagey psychosis, where Mila Kunis goes down on Ms. Portman as Brad Pitt never did Ed Norton in Fight Club (1999, David Fincher) ....  and Cyrus (2010, The Duplass Brothers) had his own version of his own true story... The Runaways put Dakota Fanning on stage at the high school talent show as Cherie Currie, making transcendent reality to Bowie's "Lady Grinning Soul".... The Ghost Writer (2010, Roman Polanski) depicted a CIA conspiracy borne of reading books... There was no good things about All Good Things (2010, Andrew Jarecki), which turned ripe New York history into rancid soap opera... and The Other Guys (2010, Adam McKay) made pretty good comedy of the signs and signifiers of the Big Apple....

A Friv List: 
The Fighter
The Social Network
Cyrus 3-D
Hot Tub Time Machine
True Grit
Public Speaking
The Ghost Writer
Winter's Bone

Greenberg Zone
Future So Bright

The Fighter

(2010) David O. Russell. BAM.

Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is followed around by a documentary camera crew which Dicky believes is out to capture his pending comeback as a pro welterweight boxer.  It has been fifteen some-odd years since Dicky's big spotlight moment knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard in 1977.  Dicky hits the crack pipe and schpiels for the camera about the past big times, but gets distracted, “Yeah what was I saying?” and while Dicky figures it out, the doc filmmaker reminds the people in the room that this movie is about the effects of drug addiction, not a comeback story.

Viewership is continuously indulged by showing one thing as another.  As The Fighter opens, Mickey Ward is raking the pavement of downtown Lowell, Massachusetts.  Dicky’s jabs enter the frame like piston works, huffing and quick.  The movie camera then turns to the documentary camera - the brothers are being filmed being filmed.  "How You Like Me Now?" by The Heavy kicks in (which, like The Fighter, samples the past), and from the opening bell David O. Russell has the audience up against the ropes.

 On Charlie Rose, O. Russell drew attention to the “movie-within-a-movie” aspect of the story, as a play on both the audience and the characters.  O. Russell likes to throw his cast into the maelstrom, as when the sisters follow Ma Ward (Melissa Leo) in a mad predatoress frenzy to the house of their arch enemy, Mickey’s wife, Charlene (Amy Adams), who is foxy but no MTV girl.  Charlene's salty spitfire draws deep from the bruised brawn of Lowell, Mass, the "birthplace of the Industrial Revolution."  This history of the city - a booming 19th century textile superpower now neglected and afflicted - is summarized in the introduction to the movie-within-a-movie, which screens at the prison, and a gloating Dicky sits next to a stocky granite-browed psycho who looks like he used to hang out at Tool's Tattoos in The Expendables.

The crux of the movie is the Sanchez v. Ward fight, a sequence told by a series of removed perceptions.  Dicky is on the prison pay-phone and relayed the action from Ma Alice Ward back in Lowell, who watches the fight broadcast from Las Vegason on TV.  Dicky updates the fellow prisoners who crowd in clusters behind the jail bars, eager for any hint of entertainment.  These inmates are the movie audience, getting off on the degrees of reality filtered through a chain of voices, at a distance locked in time and space from the actual events, but raucously intimate.  Film quill-cruncher J. Hoberman indicates that, "Dicky may have been the subject of an HBO America Undercover doc (High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell), but... the whole family is living a reality show—their domestic drama played out in full view of friends and neighbors.”

The family has a habit of singing pop songs to each other when words would seem to degrade the bout of issues at hand.  Ma Alice Ward finds Dicky ashamedly jumping out the 2nd floor window, and as she ushers him into the car, the pariah calms her with a faulty acapella version of The Bee Gees "I Started A Joke," and after Ma joins in the chorus no more dialogue is needed.  As Dicky and Mickey emerge from the locker room into the arena for the climactic Neary v. Ward fight, they mumble the words to "Here I Go Again," the 80s classic by Whitesnake. The pugnacious soundtrack jumps between decades the same way the movie veers between between truth and fiction, from The Breeders to Traffic.

The Social Network

2010, David Fincher. BAM.

"He's wired in." 

At Harvard University, where buildings on campus stand 100 years older than America, new ideas are propelled into the world - usually by students who never graduate, like William S. Burroughs, or Mark Zuckerberg.  Zuckerberg is not an artist, nor is he a countercultural icon, but he is an alienated social misfit. He is hyper-intelligent in that he doesn't think before he speaks, though often his speech is bright and smartass - unless he is talking to girls. Like Erica, his girlfriend, tells him in the beginning, he isn't a nerd, but an asshole. And Zuck's face shrinks up like a squeezed lemon when the negative consequences of his actions confront him.
Soc Net begins with a conversation, and ends with the doubleclick, the refresh, of continuing that conversation. "Facebook" is borne of an old boys club.  At the dance for Jewish students, the only females are sexy Asians.  Eduardo says the idea is that they wanna get laid, but Zuckerberg amends that it's "to get a girlfriend." Eduardo ends up dating the groupie who blows him in the bathroom and then who later lights his apartment on fire, jealous because his relationship status is "single."  Much of the drama finds a source in the searing vindictiveness of post-teen males against females, and the females' willingness to be objectified as a way of empowerment.  Hotties show up by the busload at frat parties and striptease to Trent Reznor music.  Zuckerberg exploits this with his "Who's Hotter?" app, but all the girls are mortified when their reality is reduced to an algorithm of which they have no control.

The Winklevi are traditional Harvard men. They don't sue to settle a score, but prefer an allegiance to Harvard Law, like some blueblooded pointdexter out of 1920s comedy.  But when the Winklevi bring their case to the College president, Larry Summers, they find a seasoned powerbroker with little regard for the dictates and traditions of justice.  Summers had demonstrated a similar callous braggadocio as Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton in his involvement with deregulation of derivatives contracts.  As a result of the mortgage crisis, Wall Street turned to the U.S. government as do the Winklevi to Harvard Pres. Larry Summers.

The ads for the movie portray Zuckerberg as an activist and rebel distinct among the masses. But of course the movie is premised on his theft of others' ideas and money, as well as his awkwardness with chicks. Zuck dresses like a dirtbag - ubiquitous blue Adidas flipflops and Gap hooded sweatshirt, jammy bottoms which may or may not be jizz-stained.  Zuckerberg is a quick mind but not exactly innovative or problem-solving. His one sole invention is the program that allows dudes to vote Who's Hotter when presented with two random pics of campus co-eds. The cast is presented as characters based on real people, equally removed from as they are woven up in the reality of one's own Facebook page.  On the red carpet at the 2010 Golden Globes, Jesse Eisenberg explained that he has never met Mark Zuckerberg, but only played the character MZ as written by Aaron Sorkin, the scriptwriter.  Joe Pesci might have said the same thing about Tommy DeSimone in Goodfellas.

Suvival of the Dead

(2010) George A. Romero. Village East Cinemas.

A zombie tale out of an old book of dollar-bin local folklore, with two rival families living on the fantastical Plum Island off the shores of Delaware, the least exotic sounding place on the East Coast. The families inexplicably speak with Irish brogues, wearing rustic raiment, mercenary and bushwacking, like shark-hunter cowboys. The families are armed with heavy-duty gunnery, until the two patriarchs, Patrick O'Flynn and Seamus Muldoon, as zombies, duel at high moon. Based on a true island...

Fellini’s Casanova

(1976) Federico Fellini. Anthology Film Archives - Anti-Biopic series.

A picaresque dreamscapade through the debauched Scientific Revolution of Western Europe, beginning with a Venetian masquerade at the nighttime canal in which floats the gargantuan black head of Casanova. Our hero has affairs with humpbacks and aged Parisennes and a giantess in London.  As Casanova's journey deepens, the society is found to have devolved.  At a party in Germany, Casanova holds in his hand rare seeds which he himself has cultivated, they have a special regenerative property. But the Nordics are drunk and rampant, and a dim bully Fritz blows the seeds out of Casanova's hand....  Before lambasting his Italian dirtbag opponent in the public cum contest, Casanova explains that the true libertine is not just a sex maniac, but a scholar, an inventor, with knowledge of the movement of bodily fluids. It is all lost on the ginzo party-goers.

Casanova is ever more defiant of his own inventor's consequence, and as he ages his memory becomes one of popular legend as his living reality is the bad joke of an old man no one listens to, begging for supper in the village tavern. Casanova has made the rounds of his time and place with the vast enlightened passion for technic imagination as Jefferson assembling his bookshelf, and indeed Casanova ends up the sexless librarian to Count Waldstein.  Fellini is quoted in regards to the director's choice of Donald Sutherland, "a sperm-filled waxwork with the eyes of a masturbator.”

To verify the faithfulness of the movie to recorded events, take a dip into Casanova's Memoirs....

Wiley Cyrus

Cyrus & John(2010) Jay & Mark Duplass. Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The plight of Cyrus, the movie character, demonstrates a way of being which at the hinge of the first decade of the 2000s afflicts a mass community of males and females twenty years or so younger than the generation of John C. Reilly's character, John. Cyrus' type is boastful of independence and demands that their voice be recognized. Obsessed with the collective curating of memory and appalled by the changing force of life, Cyrus and his peers are but barnacled to childhood and the head-movie of fantasy kiddy times, comporting the first experience of melancholy as if they were the first human league ever to know it. The time and place of John's own nostalgiac happy-place is revealed when he interrupts a conversation with a flirty attractive woman to go belt out a mid-1980s Human League song in front of the whole party. The manipulated migration of frantic adolescence into stunted young adulthood, whiny and staunchly in defiance of self-reflection other than a false honesty to the identity of the past, is the plight of Cyrus.

The boy is a musician, but can only compose while eyeballing photoshopped pics of nature, as if performing for the audience of himself. Cyrus must complicate the creative process to give the illusion of complexity, as well as make demands of his willing mother, who is Cyrus’ bosomy production assistant. Cyrus is all set-up with his “seven pieces” of studio equipment - he is tethered to technology as a posture of making a mark on the world, of which he really has no clue. He has no problem finding an apartment on Craigs List, but has a big problem living in it.

Cyrus composing music

Cyrus cons order out of his life using his relationship with his mom, which is the most meaningful and truthful relationship in his life. Cyrus masquerades as a responsible being but is an emotional troglodyte. His edgy jokes backfire when John speaks to him as an adult in admitting that he did indeed sleep with Molly, after Cyrus makes a smug "don't fuck my mom" quip. Cyrus believes he is so smarter and wittier than everyone else, he doesn't need life experience, an unknowing victim of the soaked-out data stream. It makes sense that his CD is called "A Study of One and Two," since Cyrus has a hard time dealing with the world of others. It could be the tagline for the movie. Cyrus does not agree with John that it sounds like Steve Miller.

Cyrus opens by depicting the desperate circumstances of John, who, in his encounter with Cyrus, is not weak or hopeless or without a jaggedly winning struggle. After sabotaging John and Molly's relationship, Cyrus can only manipulate it back together, smart enough to know that they can’t resist each other. He is good at playing upon the weaknesses of others, in that it is Cyrus' own dense weaknesses which motivate him. When John calls Cyrus "an asshole," it is in the most grave and unself-conscious terms. As revealed by Village Voice squib-scrivener Michael Musto in regards to Twitter, if Cyrus had a million followers, he himself would follow zero.

Tony Manero

(2008) Pablo Larrain. DVD

American cultural artifacts may prove to evolve into objects of salvation when exported to emerging countries run by dictators.

Raul, 52 years old, is a jobless bum with thin jowls like unwashed bathroom walls. Raul lives with a woman, her mother and daughter, and their young styly activist gaypanion, Goyo. All three women vent themselves sexually upon Raul, though as a sexual being Raul is without potency.

Raul is violently obsessed with the 1977 disco movie Saturday Night Fever, which is playing at the local movie house. Raul can't dance, but he and his small dance troupe are going to put on a Saturday Night Fever show for the town locals, equally oppressed, and in order to do it right, Raul kills an old lady and sells her TV, and murders the junkyard keeper who upped the price of the glass bricks which Raul desires to use to illuminate the dance floor. But Raul, enthralled by the potential of the glass bricks, installs them in his bedroom and lights them up.

It is 1978 in a small city in Chile. Soldiers patrol the streets in jeeps. When Augusto Pinochet's goons come asking questions at the house of Raul's troupe, it is not because a movie projectionist was inexplicably murdered by Raul, his head bashed in during a screening of Grease, but because Goyo has been handing out subversive pamphlets against the regime.

Each week, a  local TV game-show program hosts a Pop Icon lookalike contest. The slick, hackneyed, airbrushed Hispanoid emcee is as complicit in the fascism as any torturer.  One week the lookalike is Chuck Norris, the American chop-socky bandana fatigues maverick. A bunch of hopeless South American Chuck Norris lookalikes show up to kick showbiz ass.  Another week the lookalike is Julio Iglesias. Where Chuck Norris is a blonde-bearded Wonder Bread patriot, Tony Manero is ethnic, dark, exotic, akin to the mixed Euro immigrant roots of Chileans (in a way that Julio Iglesias is not).

Brooklyn in 1977 was a rough place, but the death squads worked against, not for, the government. Raul is no subversive, rebel, ideologue nor dancer. He is a malignant third-world zero man. The U.S. may have exported La Fever, but it also exported the diplomatic training of political killing machines.

"Tony Manero," a working-class disco American icon, is a disconnected hero for Raul.  Raul is a purveyor of violence for his own selfish ends and he doesn't care about any of the people close to him. While the troupe is victimized by the death squad goons, Raul hides, then flees to the Tony Manero game-show contest.  But first he destroys Goyo's opportunity in the contest by taking a malnourished crap on Goyo's fancy white suit.

Like in Observe & Report (2009), Raul sublimates an utter fantasy of himself through violence, as a victim of raging times recycling rage. One hopes that Raul will win the contest, so that all the bloodshed at least will have had a sicko vindication. But Raul gets second place, and sits behind the winner and his pretty young wife, with their prize electric blender, on the public bus, with the eyes of a starved, crippled assassin.