Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No Country for Old Men Review

I'm old. I'm going to be dead soon. Yup. That's all I got.

The McGuffin

The Bear just finished watching the film, No Country for Old Men (2007). If you haven't seen it, but might, there are SPOILERS here.

The Bear gives No Country for Old Men 2 Fish out of 5.  It's depressing. It will probably roll over your Cymbalta like a tank. It is well made, but hollow. Nothing matters. Blind chance rules over us. We are none of us in the movie we think we are. We are all stalked by the hitman with the bad haircut.

You may know that Alfred Hitchcock named the plot element that drives the storyline "the macguffin." It can be anything - a person, a thing - so long as the protagonist is after it. Frequently, it is not even that important.  No Country for Old Men makes the macguffin transparently inconsequential in the long run. It also defeats audience expectations by killing off nearly all the characters the audience cares about.

Yes the Bear knows it won academy awards. Why should the Bear care? Because Hollywood produces America's dreams. What does this film say?

The Plot is not the Story - It's About a Hopeless Old Dude Who Will Soon Be Dead

But who is the main character in the movie? Why, it's the guy who doesn't do anything much at all, and has very little screen time. The Bear doesn't even remember the name of his character, if he had one. The sheriff: Tommy Lee Jones. The guy with almost no lines, at the end of his career. He's not just looking forward to retirement. He's looking ahead to the end of his life without any consolation from religion.

At the end, the sheriff, now retired, explicitly describes his efforts at discovering God.  In words to this effect, he says he thought God would enter his life, somehow, but didn't. Doesn't sound to the Bear that the sheriff put much time and effort into finding God.

No Country for Old Men fools us into thinking it is about a big, rather standard adventure. Somebody stumbles onto a fortune, and wants to keep it. He turns out to be pretty resourceful, too: clearly a survivor. The hitman who stalks him is relentless and indestructible. He sometimes allows victims to call heads or tails before he kills them. A flip of the coin. Chance.

Only, the apparent protagonist dies off-screen, and we never so much as see his body in the morgue. Likewise his wife (sweet Kelly Macdonald). We only know she's dead because the hitman looks at the soles of his boots, presumably for blood. Woody Harrelson dies after maybe ten minutes screen time. Javier Bardem's homicidal weirdo with the bad haircut gets randomly T-boned at the end, and wanders off with a bone sticking out of his arm.  (Why didn't the Bear get any of these fascinating mad homicidal geniuses to represent? Pretty much a forgettable parade of mopes.)

Long before the end, you've forgotten about the money. The plot - weird homicidal hitman going around killing everybody - just sort of rolls along with a certain momentum until it slows and stops with maybe fifteen minutes of movie left. The evil guy is not brought to justice; the case isn't solved. It's all just futile.

And that's why, ultimately, the Bear didn't care much for it. He gets how a plot can essentially be the movie; or a skeleton to hang themes one; or even a lengthy misdirection while something else is going on.

Fair enough. But where is the inner story in No Country for Old Men? Tommy Lee Jones is a morose old man who recognizes his life is behind him. His life lessons don't really amount to much, since he has no spiritual life. He makes a glum joke or comment; he has an old man's shock at The Way Things Have Gone To Hell in a Hand basket. But even there, another old guy in a wheelchair tells him about a senseless Indian attack in 1909 that killed someone.

Sorry, Tommy, but you don't even get to have an especially bad period to have beat you down so badly. It has always been this way. He's just empty, looking ahead to only more emptiness. He's not sailing to Byzantium at all. He's merely shuffling off this mortal coil with a sour taste in his mouth.

Yeah, maybe for other people, but not for us.

The title is from Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium, which is nearly as depressing as the movie. Technically, it is a competently piece, but not Oscar-worthy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

We Don't Believe in that Crap Anymore

Readings Today

We're right behind you.
Sunday's reading is from Isaiah, 66:18-21. Here, Isaiah speaks of a dispersion of God's chosen to all nations, especially ones that have never heard of  God. Once they have fulfilled God's missionary designs, the faithful of the diaspora will be gathered to Jerusalem. It may be read as a type of the Church, as well.

And the Gospel is Luke 13:21-30.  Jesus is asked if many will be saved, and he challenges them with the narrow gate. The Gospel is pretty serious today. That narrow gate is a perfect image of salvation. Of the Church. Many aren't going to make it through. These people go to Hell.

So naturally, the homily was about American immigration policy, and not voting for "billionaire politicians who want to keep immigrants out."

Now, call the Bear crazy, but he doubts anyone ever went to Hell because of their opinion on immigration, or global warming, or fracking, or any of the garbage you see in those inane,  non-Catholic Pope Videos. 

But in the Bear's church, the homily was about immigration and not voting for Trump. But the Bear has everything finally figured out. Nearly any time a Catholic priest or prelate opens his yap, the Bear hears the same old song and dance. (As a former dancing Bear, the Bear has a sharp ear for familiar tunes. He heard the Bolsheviks singing it, too, when he was touring the hinterlands of Russia on a propaganda train.)

The Bear's Dream

[Dream transition effects from TV]

The Bear padded up to the priest on all fours (so as not to be too intimidating). The conversation went like this:

Bear: "Father, you missed a great opportunity to impress upon people that their salvation is pretty dicey and Hell is real. Your homily sucked. And am going to vote for Trump just because his election will make you and all your ancient V2 generation buddies have a stroke. Good riddance."

Father: " Salvation? Hell? Nobody believes in that crap anymore. I'm talking about real problems, here, on our planet."

Two other Priests: "Look at that Bear, Kitten. Kind of cute, but doesn't have a clue." "Oh, you're so right, my Dove. He is quite the bear, though. I think I'm falling in love."

Pope Francis: "Fracking is the most important issue the Church must address. The Bear's been telling these Medieval fairy tales for years. Why do you think we had our Turkish brothers and sisters Bearnap him? And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those darned Russian spetznas commandos. Whoops, I shouldn't have said that. My mouth has a mind of its own, you know. Nobody believes in that crap anymore."

[Dream transition effects from TV again]

A Repurposed, Non-Supernatural Church

Look, humans. Nobody in your Church believes in that crap anymore. Understand that. Only an institution that had ceased to take seriously the smallest teaching involving the supernatural would be constantly talking about worldly problems instead of getting souls into Heaven.

Nobody believes in that crap anymore. Souls. Heaven. Last Things.

So, the question is, if you're running the Catholic Church, and you don't believe in that crap anymore, how do you remain relevant? They have to say something in the homily, after all. Hell? Medieval superstition. Heaven? "Pie in the Sky When you Die." Miracles? Puh-lease. We don't believe in that crap anymore. So the Church has been repurposed. Reinvented. "Rebranded," in the words of former Vatican spokeswolf Fr. Rosica. No more fairy tales. Fracking. Immigration. Global warming.

The Church has  become a model UN for elderly gentlemen to play at fixing real or imaginary worldly problems because they don't believe in that crap anymore.

Of course priests and prelates don't want to believe in Hell. It's because they know they would be going there if it existed. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. Even after nailing his paw to the floor in front of his favorite pew, it sometimes still takes three tranq just darts to get through a homily.

Nobody believes in that crap anymore.

That will be the epitaph on the gravestone of the Church of Rome as we know it today.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

You Need to Know About This!

The Bear is always on the lookout for salmon. Honey, too. But mainly, he strives to bring you more, and better Bear. Granted, putting the final touches on what will undoubtedly be hailed as the greatest novel ever written by a Bear, has made his output here slightly erratic. 

But there's this new thing called "Twitter" the Bear found out about, and wants to share with his friends. Stick with the Bear and you'll always be on the bleeding edge of tech. "Tech" is what we "techies" call "technology."

Yes, yes, the Bear hears you. "Not yet another thing to eat my life." But it's really pretty cool. The old ephemeris here is pretty well-edited. Who knows what the Bear might blurt out in 140 characters?  And you'll know right away whenever the Bear posts one of his slip-shod polysyllabic articles.

So to follow the Bear just find the follow button in the wonderful right sidebar.

The Bear is sure his - grrrrr - "tweets" will be... well, pretty much random misfirings of the Bear's 450 gram ursine brain. That sounds entertaining, doesn't it?

Imagine the Bear with as many followers as Milo Yiannopoulos, but without the whole gay thing. We could rule the world.

In other news, the Bear's enemies - you know, the same ones that Bearnapped him - are circulating a very misleading picture. The Bear was making the rounds of the villages neighboring the Woodlands on his annual drive to help orphaned cubs. He can hardly be held responsible for the dress of the women he was soliciting, nor, of course, their gleeful reaction to a visit by the Bear himself. 

Of course, neither can he can be responsible for Red Death soliciting a kidney for the orphan cubs, either.

"Hello. Can you spare some salmon for the orphaned cubs?"

Friday, August 19, 2016

To Men of the West: "Yell Allahu Akbar and Cut Your Own Throats"

What's the DSM-5 Code for Islamism?

All apparent terrorist attacks by Muslims are now routinely attributed to some sort of vague mental health issues. And without any evidence, either. But it's the template for all stories now. Now, that's some fine journalism.

There is no such thing as Islamic Terrorism. Muslims pose absolutely zero threat to the West.

The real problem is homicidal maniacs with possible mental health issues. Sure, they all seem to be Muslim, but that has nothing to do with anything. Statistically, it will average out soon enough.

The Bear did a lot of murder cases. One thing he never got to fly was an insanity defense. These guys yelling "Allahu Akbar" as they hack or shoot people are never going to be found legally insane. They are planning and executing terrorist attacks according to instructions and inspiration of Muslim leaders. There's nothing insane about it. Evil, yes.

Oh, Dear. The Bear Once Again Isn't Feeling Very Sorry for Humans

Malignant Pansyism. The men of the West have it bad, and there's scarcely one in a thousand who does not have a fatal case. Once again the Bear is trying to generate some sympathy in himself for humans who don't defend their territory, don't pass on the ancient lore, and don't even breed. And now, it is becoming increasingly clear they they don't really even care if they live or die. ("But, Bear! I don't deserve to!" --- Bear: "You know something? You're not going to get an argument from me.")

Muslims Could Kill Two-Thirds of Western er, Men in a Day

Oh, sure, if they can draw breath without offending someone, they might let themselves live. But the Bear guarantees you this: Muslims are wasting their energy. If they make the [Red Death made me take out the perfect word in current internet usage for unmanly men] that the Bear sees inhabiting the cultural ruins of the West feel guilty enough about anything at all, they can tell them to do this:

"Kafir, you were insensitive about something today.  Take a knife, yell Allahu Akbar and cut your own throat." One would think, "Oh, no! I was homophobic!" Another would say, "Please forgive me, I was Islamophobic." Then there would be lots of, "I don't deserve to live. I caused Global Warming."

And you know something? They'll do it, too. Muslims could eliminate three quarters of Western males that way in one day. So, Men of the West! Throw your knives, your guns and your razor blades and rope into the rivers and seas! Foil the plot the Bear foresees!