Daily Archives: December 3, 2017

No Stars: A Must-See [THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY]

From the Chicago Reader (March 9, 1990); revised in October 1995 for my collection Movies as Politics. — J.R.

ThePlotAgainstHarry

THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY *** (A must-see)

Directed and written by Michael Roemer

With Martin Priest, Ben Lang, Maxine Woods, Henry Nemo, Jacques Taylor, Jean Leslie, Ellen Herbert, and Sandra Kazan.


TPAH

I hate stars. There’s a part of our culture that devotes itself ceaselessly to producing, promoting, and consuming them, and a lot of people would have you believe that they rule our consciousness — our politics, our fantasies, our ideas, our conversation, our art and entertainment. But one of our best-kept and most precious secrets is that a great deal goes on in our culture and in our lives that has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with stars and everything to do with ordinary people.

Insofar as we can distinguish between illusion and reality — and the popularity of someone like Reagan suggests that we neither can nor want to very much — ordinary people, not stars, form the fabric of our daily existence; and most movies, simply by virtue of the fact that they have stars, ignore, deny, and impugn that fabric. An inordinate amount of energy in our society is devoted to proving that stars (Reagan or Bush, Cruise or Streep, Madonna or Jagger, Trump or Warhol, Spielberg or Sontag) are ordinary people just like you and me, when it might be more useful to prove that ordinary people — the people we live with — are the stars that actually belong in our constellations.… Read more »

Smart Weapons [TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY]

From the Chicago Reader (July 5, 1991). –J.R.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

** (Worth seeing)

Directed by James Cameron

Written by Cameron and William Wisher

With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Earl Boen, and Joe Morton.

As much a remake as a sequel, James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day begins, like The Terminator (1984), with a postnuclear Los Angeles in the year 2029, a world ruled by deadly machines where a few scattered remnants of humanity struggle to survive. Then the film leaps backward in time — not to 1984, when most of The Terminator took place, but to 1997, when the Terminator materializes in virtually the same mythic fashion, crouched naked like a Greek god, before rising and setting about finding the proper attire. This time he enters a bikers’ bar, where he quickly appropriates the clothes, boots, and bike of one tough customer and the shades of another, blithely smashing the skulls of whoever happens to get in his way.

The thrill and beauty of the Terminator, both as a character and as a concept — the ultimate Schwarzenegger role, against which all his other roles must be measured — resides in the excitement of witnessing a brutal, dispassionate machine, a weapon slicing impartially through metal, flesh, or bone en route to its unambiguous goal.… Read more »