Image for post
Image for post

PROPHETIC (sic) ABOUT TRUMPIAN DYSTOPIA

FALL 2020 — SECOND WAVE — CONFINED ALIENATION

HORROR AND CLIMAX

AN OLDER REVIEW

VARIOUS TITLES OF THIS OLDER REVIEW

Welcome to the heretic sinkhole of the Mediterranean

Gosh! that devil is as sexy as a harmless har(p)lot

L’atout bipolaire des suprémacistes blancs : le DIABLE

Et dire que le diable doit faire peur !

AN OLDER REVIEW

VARIOUS TITLES OF THIS OLDER REVIEW

Get lost in the real phantasm of a fantasized life

Ne faites jamais confiance à un écrivain.

Deep and shallow, all at once.

AMAZON PRIME — ABSENTIA SEASON 1–2018

A very distant connection with the general theme of the US-federal government, or rather the military in this federal government is financing some research to produce the perfect soldiers who can kill without even feeling any emotion, be it pleasure, excitement or guilt. Killing is just in the spirit of this series the result of the accumulated suffering one has experienced in a situation of extreme dependence, like, in this case again, an orphanage.

Emily Byrne is one of these guinea-children but she manages to have her profile shifted from her file to the file of Logan Brandt (who is in present time reporter Laurie Colson, another cliché about journalists who follow their own desire for revenge) in this orphanage where a perverse doctor — who of course has an oriental name and is either a Chinese American or a Japanese American, and don’t you think this is innocent — who is conducting these researches and their experimentation on real live children.

The two tortured children in the orphanage, Charles Avallone and Logan Brandt, manage finally to kill the doctor and that will be the end of him and the orphanage. Officially the doctor disappeared. In fact, he was buried not too far away. But then it is difficult to know some details, but we assume Logan and Charles continued killing since five bodies were buried along with the doctor’s body.

But Charles ended badly in a psychiatric hospital and Logan found a new partner: Harlowe, and together they went on killing. Unluckily Harlow was caught and apparently, he paid with a long prison sentence, life without parole, to cover up Logan. They kidnapped the FBI agent who was running after them, Emily Byrne, and the series starts when six years later, after six years of systematic torturing, Harlow being in prison, Logan, now Laurie Colson, his girlfriend in a way, went on torturing Emily Byrne and keeping her prisoner for later use. And after six years she released her to complete her vengeance.

Her husband, Nick Durand remarried with Alice and they took care of the son of Emily and Nick, Flynn. The comeback of Emily Byrne makes things difficult and even complicated. But the girl-killer Logan or Laurie is organizing the release of Harlow and then she manages to kill Harlow and a couple more people so that Emily Byrne is the prime suspect. Emily then is forced to go AWOL and to work underground. But Logan-Laurie is very swift, and she is very close to the case. She is a journalist and as such has contacts with many police officers or detectives and Nick is one of them. She thus manages to have direct information by promising Nick she will write an exclusive story of Emily Byrne if she can get her to tell her side of the story.

Of course, the serial criminal this woman is will not win, but the details are for you to find them. We know quite early the criminal mind behind this story has to be a woman, and we also know the pattern of a criminal hiding in plain sight as a journalist, reporter, or whatever justifies his or her presence on crime scenes, but even so many other hypotheses are brought up with no success, of course, though the fact that Emily Byrne is a prime suspect all along is the easy way for the police to get even with facts when they do not even see the slightest candlelight in their mental night.

Enjoy the very swift-Speedy-Gonzales tempo and do not get inebriated by it. You are not supposed to drive under the influence of anything even if what you are driving is a sofa or a futon.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

AMAZON PRIME — ABSENTIA SEASON 2–2019

The second season is not what could have been expected. The rhythm is good. The melodrama is good. The haunting recollections of the six years in detention or custody in the hands of some deranged person organizing experiments to measure how a certain drug could multiply the power of the concerned subject submitted to the treatment are good. Once again, the production of a super-soldier who has no fright, who has super-powers, who has super-intelligence, etc., is banal and common in all storylines that have to do with that kind of plotting against everything that is normal, hence suspicious to these plotting minds. They would really sell their mothers and their children to any, laboratory for any kind of experiments provided that would increase their power and control over the world, meaning first of all people.

Emily manages to use brutal force to get anything she wants — she says she needs all that — from anyone whosoever. She does not even think there might be better ways to do it and to reach the truth she is looking for without using illegal methods. But she does not care one iota, and the reason is that she was submitted to six years of experimental treatment or processing and that left scars — it is called PTSS — in Emily’s mind. So, she gets close to finding the truth with a full confession — obtained under extreme duress — from Dr. Semo Oduwale who has been in connection, professionally since university, with Alice, the second wife of Nick Durand and the stepmother of Flynn Durand. But he is killed just before the confession revealed what he had done to Flynn.

Yet the FBI manages to get into the encrypted files of the doctor and they get his telephone records and it reveals that he had kept his connection — and collaboration — with Alice since university and that she is a real assistant to him. It also reveals the medical file of Flynn and all the testing and experiments performed on him by the doctor, with the agreement of Alice as long as Emily was “gone,” hence for six years. The question is then to know whether the doctor was the real brain, or who was the real brain, and it is clear the real brain is not the doctor because of the high-level protection and cover-up needed to keep such fundamentally “Pentagonic” or “CIAtistic” experiments secret.

So, when Emily and the FBI are getting too close to the truth, the person who may reveal something is executed with a single shot and we do have quite a few cases in this season, and the final salvo is quite generous, first of all, Dr. Semo Oduwale, then Alice and the series points at one person with the final ellipses, but it is the end of the season, so we can be sure there are going to be some new developments with the third season. But this person to whom the final scenes of the second season point, is arriving on time to process Alice’s death in the sole presence of Emily, though not with Emily’s own gun she had put away just the instant before. I guess the ellipse is false and we must remember that an ellipse is never straight, always cut up, and crooked. Guess who is waiting for Nick and Flynn when they come back from their trek in the mountains? That’s how you can make Jesus walk up onto his cross and then walk down from it in about three minutes on a cinema silver-screen.

That’s probably what is best in this series, the tempo and the twisted nature of the whole storyline which is nothing but a yarn of entangled wool wit knots all along each thread. Otherwise, we would not be satisfied with Moldavia playing the role of the foreign ex-Soviet interloper. Too small to be dangerous. They will have to come to some bigger fish to replace what is nothing but small fry.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Image for post
Image for post

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH — HOUSE ARREST — 2003

Two centuries of American history in two acts. Practically all the dramatic text uttered by actors is quotations of documents, interviews, articles authored by real people in history, starting with the Presidents presented in the play and then many other people, journalists, historians, politicians, etc., who said or wrote something on the concerned presidents or topics.

The trajectory is from Thomas Jefferson to William Jefferson Clinton, hence from Jefferson to Jefferson and from the mystery of Jefferson’s black slave mistress to the publicly discussed, impeached, and tried in the Senate Bill Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, the White House intern who became very famous because of this affair which was not an affair, just an evanescent horny episode perfectly exploited by Lewinsky for money and the Republican Party for political advantage, the next president who was to be the son of the previous president defeated by Bill Clinton himself. That’s what revenge is all about.

Between these two alpha and omega presidents, we have two other names of some importance. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, in the order used in the play, anti-chronological, anticlockwise in a way, going back in time.

F.D. Roosevelt brings in the type of relationship that exists between a president and the people in his time. Roosevelt opened up the White House to reporters and he, himself, used the radio with his famous column there, the celebrated Fireside Chats. It was also a time when the relationship with journalists was relaxed and intense, direct, and just cordial, even when critical. Along this line, the author hints at George H. Bush who invited journalists to play bowl at the bowling alley in the White House, and this direct relationship enabled the President to get the benefit of the doubt. And as for that Clinton never had it because he always kept the press and journalists within a rather formal and friendlily distant position, because FDR revealed, and after him all those who used television, that the President had/has become an actor, a plaything in a way, in the hands of the journalists that are going to manipulate him though if the President knows how to play the game he is the real manipulator, but of public opinion through the vain journalists who believe they are manipulating him.

That’s where Lincoln comes into the picture. Lincoln loved the theater and that cost him his life. He was assassinated by a certain Booth within a theater in Washington DC during a play. This assassination is brought up with a piece of writing of Lincoln himself about the dream he had some time before his real assassination. In this dream, he had a premonition of his own assassination and he apparently was bothered by it but did not take extra precautions in his public appearances. That was fatal to him.

FDR was thus the first president to use a modern medium to reach the people directly over the heads, pens, and voices of official journalists. The next innovator in this field will be Kennedy who will use television as his launching stage. He had understood how it worked: the audience must like you totally from the very start, by your tone, look, body language, etc. Kennedy appeared friendly and close. Nixon appeared austere and dry. We know the result: elected for sure but without the popular vote which raises questions. He would have been defeated in any other country that elects their presidents.

But Kennedy is essentially used as one of the three assassinations the author considers were necessary for Nixon to finally be elected in 1968. Three assassinations: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Francis Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, it took a few more, and first of all Malcolm X. But also, the riots or violent scuffles of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August 1968 and behind it, the full civil rights movement spearheaded by black militants of all affiliations and political colors. The rainbow was within the black movement at the time. Angela Davis soon later will speak of the need for a rainbow coalition. That was coming up with the hippie movement, with films, music, and all sorts of peace and love works of fiction that will bring just one year later Woodstock and after that a tremendous production from Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair to Fritz the Cat and Zabriskie Point. Nixon was elected as a reaction against the Vietnam war based among many voters on the desire to finish it fast, with the racist alternative of George Wallace, and in the wings, the nuclear or atomic alternative of Barry Goldwater was defeated in 1964. In 1969, I remember in North Carolina, after the invasion of Cambodia some of my colleagues at Dunn High School advocating the use of an atom bomb on Hanoi or Haiphong. Nixon was law and order inside, winning the war with its extension in Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos, and the guarantee — or promise — that nuclear weapons will not be used. Not “peace and love” but “peace and quiet.”

But this Nixon period reduced to that simple element of what is identified as the clowning touch of the presidential function leads us to what came next because the press had moved from credulousness (the president’s words were sacred), to skepticism (always take what the president says with a grain of salt, or maybe two), and to cynicism (the president only tells lies and in fact, they all tell lies. The Polygraph has become the machine of the century under Clinton, and sometime before. And that leads the public to believe that they all lie anyway, and the winners are those who manage to hide their lies from the polygraph, the lie-detecting machine. There is no presumption of innocence, as the author says with Bill Clinton in an interview. It is no longer justice for all. It is no longer Habeas Corpus. It has become: “you are guilty if you cannot prove the accusation against you is false if you cannot disprove the accusation against you. The accuser does not have to prove his point. You have to disprove his point. And Clinton won with “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”

And that brought at the end of the 20th century what is called “moral slippage.” What guides people, and politicians first, is not ethics or morality, the pursuit of good and responsible obligations, but a world upside down. “From robots imitating humans,” we have moved to the reverse “humans imitating robots.” We have totally lost all sense of humor, even black, particularly black, and we do not know what tolerance is anymore: all those who disagree with you are fake-news-mongers, enemies of the people, hoax-disseminators. The world is nothing but a big basket in which hundreds of spiders are locked up and each spider is one plotting theory. History is nothing but plotting all around, plots after plots.

Clinton developed the Information Highways and out life has become dominated, governed, possessed by Information and Communication Technology and the author is so right when she concludes: “We’re more and more into communicationS and less and less into communicationØ.” The former is a technology that gives the machine authority and power with Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. The latter is the in-person direct exchange of facts, data, and ideas between two or just a few people in one place at one time. Is a videoconference on Skype communicationØ or communicationS? Marshall McLuhan has written several volumes on the subject and you can be sure that Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Information & communicationS Technology are not the extension of our mind, but the extension of the mind of a narrow elite to control and dominate, in one word to manipulate the masses. But that is no opium, you know. You can step out of it in one minute and a half, 90 seconds, 6 times 15 seconds, etc. Maybe one day our school system will bring information-&-communications-literacy to children as soon as they can use a smartphone. But we will have to learn how to be smarter than our smartphones.

This play is thus a play about the progressive emergence of the maximum technological alienation of people, meaning their being alienated by the technology they use more and more, and that surrounds them all the time.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH — PIANO — 2004

This play is dealing with history, but this time in Cuba in 1898, and the play assumes the President of the USA is Theodore Roosevelt, aka Teddy Roosevelt, at the time, though he will only be president, the 26th President, from 1901 to 1909, supposedly the youngest President of the United States.

The play is covering the very period when Cuba got rid of the Spanish colonial power under which it was lingering. Cuba will be successful as for getting rid of the Spaniards, but they did not get rid of the US who replaced the Spaniards in no time with battleships in Havana and troops to protect American property, meaning the property of Americans, there. In fact, the end is very ambiguous, but you’ll have to discover it by yourself.

Three parties are face to face in a triadic conflict. First the Cubans with some rebels in some kind of insurrection against Spain, and some others who are the owners of the plantations and other economic activities but define themselves as Cubans. They don’t take part in the insurrection, but they try to be carried by the insurrectional wave, apparently not with much success.

The second party is Spain herself that sent troops to fight against the insurrection who apparently cannot be victorious. So unofficial actions, negotiations, and simple calculations are developed to more or less push the USA into the war against Spain since the ambition of the US, asserted as being Theodore Roosevelt’s own, is to kick Spain out of America, a vast widening of the Monroe Doctrine from Northern America, though without Canada, to the whole Americas, though still without Canada and France and England in Guyana and the West Indies. There was even an attempt to kick the Spaniards out of the Philippines in those strange times of the emergence of American imperialism, particularly after the Civil War and when Reconstruction was replaced by segregation, supposedly equal and definitely separate, hence and thus, thereto and therefrom, de facto unequal.

The third party is the Americans themselves, represented here by a certain Theodora, aka Teddy (an obvious allusion to the 26th President of the US), an American businesswoman, like many of her business colleagues, who only want to buy the plantations, the land, and the USA will send troops to protect American interests. Cuba had to wait for Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to finally erase this imperialistic dependence, and good for them, when we see what it costs Porto Rico to have remained in such an imperialistic dependence. These Americans are just called the baron-thieves.

The play makes the Cuban planters in the play — the plantation was initially the family property of Alicia, married to Eduardo — be related to the Spanish general sent to Cuba to crush the rebellion, Antonio Lopez y Vargas, who is the brother of Eduardo, the husband of the Plantation owner and the father of Carlito, an important stake and character in the play, though he will not have the final word he deserves.

The play considers several fundamental problems in the West Indies and South America or Mesoamerica. First of all the slaves in the past, going back to the grandfather and even the father of Alicia, not such a distant past, slaves everywhere in the fields, and in the house, and this slavery is clearly justified for Antonio because Africans are not quite human since they are for him related to apes. He couldn’t be truer, but all humans are descending from apes, not only colored ones. This racism is constant in Antonio but not so much absent in other characters. At the end of the last scene, a black enlisted US soldier takes an ex-slave or descendant of slaves, Susannah, into custody because connected to the insurrection, I guess because it is not clear. A black man arresting a black woman in 1898 is quite surprising because African Americans had been integrated into the margin of US armed forces during the Civil War, but only into the margin, and often, as said in the play, under the authority of white officers.

The second issue presented in the play is anti-colonial insurrections. Are the ”rebels” or “revolutionaries” supposed to get into an alliance with Americans, or are they supposed to get money for some kind of a deal, and then use that money to start businesses? Once again, not clear. Susanna is negotiating to bring Carlito back after he has been “kidnapped” with his full consent by the insurrection, represented here by Chan and his wife Han, both servants on the plantation, negotiating with Carlito’s mother, Alicia. She is also negotiating a lot of money from Antonio to manage the packing of Alicia’s belongings in order to leave and go back to Spain. Carlito will never be delivered before departure, and Antonio will tell Alicia a tall tale about his fate in the hands of American soldiers, and Alicia will become at least deranged, probably corrugated, and definitely insane. She will be “taken” back to Europe by Eduardo who will put her in some asylum in Austria with doctors to take care of her.

The best part is that Carlito was not killed by anyone. He was with the insurrection and is willing to remain with them to fight for some free Cuba, but he is more or less fooled into exchanging his plantation for his freedom by Teddy, but since Teddy has to flee in front of the Rebels who burn all that is in the hands of Americans, she loses the plantation and declares Carlito “her property” and takes him along with herself back to the USA. It was not easy for the son of an elite family in Cuba at the time to become a revolutionary fighting for the independence of the country and freedom for the people.

The title is referring to Alicia’s piano — and by extension to Carlito’s cello — that is a continuous element in the play with music played regularly, with a music teacher, Martine, who is a man because this name is masculine in Spanish, and some discussions with Antonio reveal him to be such a Spanish-oriented bigot that he refuses to eat any other food but Spanish food, to listen to any other music but Spanish music. He is engaged in a war against any contact with anything that is not Spanish. That national bigotry is a trend in American thinking and culture that has always been present and has been dominant now and then, certainly not a typical Spanish trait. Of course, Antonio is a rapist as for his relationships with women, and he rapes Han, the cook of the plantation, the wife of Chan and he considers that normal since they are servants: they have to justify their privileged position, and being raped is thus part of their social position if not definition or alienation. Antonio reduces that to finding a “home for his basest desires.” But these “basest desires” are for him to be satisfied at any time and with anyone he deems able to be that “home.”

Enjoy the play and don’t hesitate to draw what is being said on the stage to the present situation in the USA with Black Lives Matter and the killing of unarmed rather young black males by white policemen, both old and young. That is the revival of the quite common open explicit bias against young black males, and more generally against colored people. The author in 2004 could not have missed such parallels.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

HERBERT SELPIN — TITANIC — 1943/2004

Apart from being a Nazi anti-western-capitalism film, hence propaganda, the film shows several things well.

1- The vanity of these businessmen who start ventures without the guarantee that security will be total or close to total. Let us trust God Almighty who will protect us.

2- The selfishness of these entrepreneurs is amazing, and how did they, for some of them at least, manage to survive?

3- The captain was a fool who obeyed orders that — as a captain — he was not supposed to even receive or consider.

4- Most of the passengers were there for all sorts of motivations, none of them having to do with progress, particularly not the progress of humanity, only the economic advantages they expected to get even from third-class passengers.

5- There was no justice because the court was a maritime court and the culprit was not the civilian who gave the order, but the captain who followed the orders he received against all logic. So, justice per se has not been served so far.

Conclusion

It is difficult to see the advantages the Nazis could get from this film, apart from justifying to the wide German public the anti-capitalist discourse the regime broadcast day after day, but targeting first of all Anglo-Saxon capitalism as being inhuman, selfish, exploitative, highly anti-egalitarian, etc.

But Nazi Germany was also a capitalist country, exploitative, inhuman, selfish and highly anti-egalitarian, etc., even if they got paid holidays for workers before France who got them in 1936, though after the Soviet Union (the concept of paid vacation was not the same in the three cases here indicated).

The film manages to be spectacular without all the special effects we have today because of the creative acting of actors; the very dynamic editing; the creative camera and imaging management; the creative settings; and lights, plus the sound. The re-formatting of this old film has of course improved some aspects.

The film is worth seeing and the panic scenes are very convincing.

We could here think the film was started before the Soviet victory in Stalingrad in February 1943, but the film was probably made when the battle was raging, and it was raging for seven months, and it might have been devised before the battle started. The Nazis probably thought they were going to win this battle and that the film will help.

“The Battle of Stalingrad (July 17, 1942–February 2, 1943) was the successful Soviet defense of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Russia, USSR, during World War II. Russians consider it to be one of the greatest battles of their Great Patriotic War, and most historians consider it to be the greatest battle of the entire conflict. It stopped the German advance into the Soviet Union and marked the turning of the tide of war in favor of the Allies. (after https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Stalingrad)

The Germans, though, may have thought they had been stopped only in the Soviet Union. That would explain then the release of the film in Czechoslovakia, France, Finland, and Sweden. The data given by IMDb does not mention a release date for Germany under Hitler, hence in 1943, and that is surprising since it was released in some countries occupied by Germany. I may think the data is incomplete. But here it is. The release dates for the Soviet Union and Germany (in its different zones, knowing that up to 1961 the two sides of Berlin, West, and East, were not physically separated by any wall.

Image for post
Image for post

This mystery of incomplete data could be explained as follows in Wikipedia:

Titanic was to premiere in early 1943, but the theatre that was to house the answer print was bombed by Royal Air Force planes the night before. The film went on to have a respectable premiere in Paris in November 1943 “where it was surprisingly well-received by its audience”, and also played well in some other capital cities of Nazi-occupied Europe such as Prague. But Goebbels banned its playing in Germany altogether, stating that the German people — who were at that point going through almost nightly Allied bombing raids — were less than enthusiastic about seeing a film that portrayed mass death and panic. The Nazi leadership was also displeased with the manner in which the fictional character Petersen critiqued his superiors, which they regarded to be at odds with the Führerprinzip which demanded Germans unquestioningly obey the orders of their superiors. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_(1943_film))

Enjoy the film and the cultural archaeology that has to accompany it.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

JAMES WATKINS — DANIEL RATCLIFFE — THE WOMAN IN BLACK — 2012

Based on the story by Susan Hill, this film is not the first adaptation to the screen or screens. What is special about this one is of course the haunted house itself, an old manor house on some kind of an isolated small island that is connected to the mainland only at low tides when a causeway emerges from the water. A family drama took place in this house a long time ago. The husband and father, along with his wife and the mother of his child, witnessed the death of this child that had been entrusted to his aunt because of the health of the mother, Nathaniel, somewhere along the causeway, when the carriage carrying him to the house rode off the causeway and sank into the marshes. The child drowned and was never taken out of the mud. A cross was planted there. The sister of the mother was there at the time and the mother was locked up in her room. She then accused the sister and the father, her husband, of not having tried in any way to recuperate the drowned child to provide him with a proper burial. The mother died insane and haunted by her son’s death.

Modern times or rather semi-modern times came, and some lawyer in London is entrusted with sending an agent to estimate and manage the selling of the estate. He is Arthur Kipps. He is grieving and mourning the death of his wife Stella Kipps in childbirth and they have a son, Joseph Kipps, taken care of by a Nanny. His boss clearly tells him it is his last chance to remain in the law firm: he has to succeed. He is thus going there for a few days and the Nanny and his son will come for the weekend. They will come indeed but nothing will end as planned.

The house is really haunted and he discovers letters and documents showing how insane the situation and the family were, more insane probably than the mother herself, and we can even more or less imagine and think that the father and husband had an affair with his wife’s sister. The child is taken away from his mother and entrusted to the aunt who does not exactly serve the interest of the mother but rather her own. But this is clearly attached to this “island pattern” or “womb pattern” into which the house is cast, and the family along with the house. They are locked up in a deadly womb periodically, every twelve hours or so, linked to the body of the mainland by the umbilical cord, or funiculus umbilicalis in Latin, the only insane language we all speak in our nightmares. That makes the “island” the placenta in which the people live in the worst regressive situation imaginable.

The house itself is not haunted per se. It is not the house that is the ghost. But the house is the abode of the ghost of the mother and this mother haunts this house, mourning the death of her child forever and ever since the child’s body has not been recovered. That’s what Arthur Kipps understands very fast and he knows where the body must be. He is confronted to the hostility of the whole village on the mainland and can only be supported by one man, Mr. Bentley, who has a car and must be the only one in this fishing village that seems to be living in absolute seclusion, cut off from the rest of the world. It looks like a community deeply engaged in a severe case of inbreeding with some rampant endemic mental health problem since Mrs. Bentley is raising a pair of twins, in fact, twin dogs.

Arthur’s work in the house reveals the extension of the haunting and he is remarkably firm on his feet in front of such strange phenomena, and he finds out what happened to the son and decides to do something about it, to retrieve the body of the son and reunify him with his mother. That is heroic in many ways, to recuperate a body that lies at least six feet under the surface of a big pit of mud that could be quicksand, but he can do it with the help of Mr. Bentley and his car. Then together they unearth the mother coffin, open it, give the son’s body to the mother’s skeleton, and rebury the coffin. Reunited with her son, the mother should get out of the house, and the mother should stop haunting the house.

But the last scene, with the arrival at the railway station of the Nanny and the son Joseph, reveals another dimension of haunting ghosts. They get so attached to their haunting the living that they have to find a substitute when they can finally go. The substitute is an obvious target: Mrs. Stella Kipps, and she has to be reunited with her husband and her son. It all happens in the station of this haunted inbred village, and I would advise you to discover how bad ghosts can be, I mean dead people who consider they cannot accept to die if one or two other people who are not dead do not rejoin them in their new realm.

Never trust a dead person. They are the worst tyrants you can imagine because Death is the worst lover the dead can meet in their long journey to the other side. And when a dead person is in love with Death, they will do all they can to enlarge the circle of this happy multifarious, and infinite circle. Let the living forget about the dead as fast as they can.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Image for post
Image for post

TOM HARPER — THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH — 2014

The original story is completely shifted from a long time ago (around 1901) to 1941, London, during the Blitz. Orphaned children are moved out of the city to the countryside, and some nice local person in the village of the infamous Eel Marsh House must have thought that it was peaceful enough, vast enough, and abandoned enough to be overlooked by the Germans and their planes. Good intention bad idea. That person greets them when they arrive at the closest station. He must be some doctor of some type and we will meet absolutely no other local inhabitant.

At once everything goes wrong because despite what some might have thought that 40 years earlier the sacrifice of Arthur Kipps and Joseph Kipps was not enough to get the woman in black back to her grave. How immensely wrong were they! This time, the house is haunted by indistinct living dead, probably all children, but not sure, all the children that were killed or kidnapped to death in the previous episode forty years before and in the following decades.

And of course, the children start disappearing. But one has a special relationship with the house. Edward seems to know why they are here, and it was not only evacuation from London. It was some dark plan from some somber forces to bring them here to be the flesh-and-bone-fodder of ghosts. But Edward knows and he is able to let the others know particularly Eve, his teacher who is able, with the help of a failed RAF pilot demoted to being the general manager of a close-by fake airfield that serves as a decoy for the Germans to waste their bombs on fake planes made of plywood and cardboard, who was I saying, is able to see beyond the insecurity and the dark mystery, and thus to save the surviving children.

They managed to escape with the RAF pilot and in his jeep, and they found refuge in his underground shelter. And it ends the way it started, in confusion. This extension or sequel of the first good film is disappointing and sad. But of course, the film was cheap since the mansion was already there with all the furniture and decoration. A couple or a triad of cardboard and plywood planes was not exactly e monumental investment. You can forget about this one because you will certainly not get scared at all. Maybe puzzled, at most. It’s like a comedy hour in the midst of Hell when all the little and big devils have gone to some temple to pray for the apocalypse and the end of the world.

Have a snack and toilet pause instead, before entering more dangerous grounds.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

ROMAN POLANSKY — JOHNNY DEPP — THE NINTH GATE — 2000

This film is in a way a classic, though it brings together several trends that have been used and developed by other authors, directors, and producers. It is based on an old medieval book that has survived the burning of the author at the stake in three copies only. The book was authored by the man who was burned at the stake and a representative of Hell, of Satan himself who signed the illustrations as LCF, aka LuCiFer. But there are only three out of nine such illustrations signed by him in each copy and the altogether nine illustrations all have one LCF version. And there we come to the great classic of diabolical and black-magical literature that Dan Brown has illustrated in all possible shades of grey and even black.

The three copies are one in the USA, and the other two in Europe, one in Paris and the other somewhere in Spain and the dealer who sold the one presently in the US is in Italy or Spain, the Mediterranean sinkhole that led to all heresies and religious crusades. Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is hired by the owner of the US copy to find and examine the other two to identify which one is authentic. And we enter a thriller since finding the other two copies and getting access to them will be difficult and very dangerous. Strangely enough, Dean Corso will find out he is followed if not chased by two people, one dark-skinned man, aggressive and targeting him to get rid of him, and the other, a woman, trying to get the nine illustrations for her own sake, and she needs Dean Corso to reach them. She will save Dean, Corso’s life a couple of times.

When Dean Corso and his opportunistic and circumstantial ally have collected the nine illustrations, they discover Boris Balkan, the owner of the US copy had been following, taking no risks at all, and at this very last minute he recaptures his volume and the nine illustrations of the other two volumes in some ritualistically organized ceremony in some Saint-Martin chateau or mansion or castle, but of the post-medieval type in France, which is not in line with the genre of the book at stake here, and not to be burned. Boris Balkan (mind you, a US collector with a Russian first name and a Greek surname, what a triad!) is thus able to get rid of a devilish and satanic competitor, a woman actually, who wants to get access to hell through the US volume she stole from Dean Corso. Boris Balkan is thus able to gather the nine LCF illustrations and he can go to an old castle somewhere in Europe, actually, it does not matter where provided it is ancient and medieval, hence in ruins, where he lays out the nine LCF illustrations in an order that is not made clear as for its signification, and then he invokes Satan but it does not work because one of the nine illustrations is a fake, which Dean Corso discovers when he intervenes. Boris Balkan gets dead in a way or other and Dean Corso goes back, alone, without his female sidekick, to Italy or Spain, to the Mediterranean heretic sinkhole, to see Pablo & Pedro Ceniza, the two dealers who sold one copy to Boris Balkan. And by accident, the genuine ninth picture is discovered and the whole shebang can start all over again, but that will be for our next life on earth or in hell.

The scenes are spectacular, the cities, including Paris, are beautiful, the action is so dense, rapid, and hot that we get more than just plainly singed by it and it is all to no avail since the ninth gate to hell is not opened by the black magic straight out of the distorted minds of the Middle Ages because mostly they were Christian, all of them with no exception, full stop and period, and to have some diversity some people had to be satanic as if Satan and all the other devils existed for real. What has been called the Dark Ages were not dark at all. They were, in fact, luminous but with a religious ideological light that only existed in the illuminated minds of some monks, priests, and popes. The darkness of Satan, Lucifer, and Hell is nothing different. It is the religious and ideological darkness that only exists in the minds of some metaphysical necromancers or alchemists, generally called witches or wizards by the other side of the ideological coin which is neither silver, not gold, just plain at best bronze, at worst lead.

The question is, in fact, not about the story itself, but why do people today find some attraction and appeal in such diabolical stories? Why is hell a very potent and active dimension of modern life for some people on all sides of the ideological chessboard, and there are four sides as is well known since this chessboard is square. To reduce it to two sides only is vanity, infatuation on one side or the other of this bipolar reduction of the universe. And this binary subduction is the diabolical architecture of life for those who are binary minds. They know it is wrong, but they consider the other two sides as extremes and thus negligible and the wiser ones in this dual binary overview of things just would like to bring the two “basic” sides together into a bi-partisan deal, or into a union and transcendence of left and right, and this transcendence leads to some kind of supremacy for this union, and in the US at least, this supremacy meets with color and revives or stimulates a white supremacy tendency among politicians and people. In Europe, it is more complicated but such national or Christian or European or civilized supremacy finds its way into projects like Brexit and into any attempt to solve a problem with a referendum. And in Italy they saw many — some say five — stars after their referendum that sent the political establishment to hell for exactly fourteen months so that all the ministers in this period can apply for their retirement pension when they were ousted by parliament.

That’s the very deep fundamental craziness of modern humanity in the 21st century: to be different, to be a child of diversity, you have to renegade — as a transitive verb, it is a vast program of diversion, division, and dispersion — the establishment and to flirt with extremism, supremacist heresies, alliances of fire and water, hybridizations of the most estranged and unnatural entities like a democratic reference and the diabolization of the other side that opposes your ideas. Because the tendency in today’s western democracies is to diabolize, satanize, luciferize all those who oppose your own views, because you and you alone are pure, divine, real, and thus you and you alone deserve to have power and be elected, re-elected and if possible re-re-elected. You can expect the re-re-election of Trump in 2024, even though the constitution does not permit it. Who cares? Certainly not the devil or Lucifer, that fallen angel of light that has become the angel of darkness in the process. If you are not convinced, just go to Supernatural and ask the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, or Dean and Sam, to explain you the subtlety of this fiendish, heinous, hellish, wicked, demoniac, infernal, satanic, serpentine world, and the eight qualifiers are not opening onto Hell like the Ninth Gate, but onto the Apocalypse and the Second Coming and Doomsday and the Last Judgment, the four corners of the chessboard on which we have been playing our plotting and plot-scheming.

Enjoy this descent into the plotting of all plotters in the world who bring the Qanonplot onto the Qtiplot of our Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

A small film with a rather big budget traveling from New York to Spain (more or less not famous places) and to France, Paris of course. A film about the Devil or Satan or Lucifer had to be produced in the satanic year 1–999, just before the diabolical new millennium.

Apart from that, the plot is so light we could think it was bought as a premium in a barrel of washing powder. The only interesting element is the suspenseful editing that makes the film have a good rhythm. But the rhythm of the editing is not enough to make a good film.

Clichés upon clichés. The best ones are the baroness in a wheelchair with a “secretary” that looks like a prison warden and goes out in the morning to buy oranges. The younger desk clerk in a four-or-five-stars hotel in Paris who is authorizing a woman to go to the main character’s room because she claims to be his wife. The concierge will apologize later on but it will be too late. I guess this younger desk clerk had not gone through the proper vocational training.

The best cliché is the fact that the devil is a woman, white of course, and blonde of course again. She is s devilish person obviously since she can move around without any means of transportation except thin air. But she is the excuse for Polanski to put some female flesh on the screen. He is a lot more modest about male flesh. Why did he get Johnny Depp then? A fatso like Depardieu would have been just alright, and a lot more impressive.

Johnny Depp is underused indeed. He is static, unexpressive, cold like a slithering snake, badly dressed, and hardly human.

Well, enjoy it if you can. I guess with a good shot of vodka maybe. . .

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU

STEPHEN KING — DAVID KOEPP — JOHNNY DEPP — SECRET WINDOW — 2004

This film adaptation is too faithful to the short story by Stephen King. The cinema must show in images what has been written in the story. Words call for the imagination of the reader who has to add pictures to the sentences. The cinema must convince the spectator that he or she can enter the story and become part of it, a real witness of what is happening in front of our eyes.

The main character, Mort Rainey, a mystery story writer, gets separated from his wife with a lover or new partner on her side, and no one else on his side. Frustration and damnation. He thus, more or less, refuses to sign the papers for the divorce and she does not have the courage to go to court and get her divorce from a judge. True enough the reasons for the divorce would have to be explained and the judge would have to assess the mutual responsibilities to manage the possible post-divorce agreement and distribution of the assets of the now-divorced couple. She of course wants the bread and the butter and even the money collected by the milk lady for selling her butter, in her case the house, a share on the intellectual property and copyright of her ex-husband, particularly a share of the royalties, and a good alimony

Mort Rainey lives in a comfortable even luxurious cabin in the distant mountains, next to a small city where he runs his daily errands. But his solitude leads him to some kind of ranting and raving, and since he is a writer he invents a character who is entrusted with his vengeance or revenge on his wife and at the same time to make it appear in his guilty mind as the victimization of himself. For him, the character is real. And that is where the film is weak because we do not see the link between the inner feelings and emotions and frustrations of the main character that give rise and birth to the secondary character who is identified as a farmer of some religious puritan affiliation, in the way he dresses, speaks and refers to honesty and other cardinal virtues generally broken by deadly sins. This secondary character in the film is systematically shown as real and hence not as a character per se, in other words fictional.

Mort Rainey thus uses this fantasy to get rid of his lawyer and assistant who had negotiated the divorce agreement that goes against Mort Rainey’s immediate interests. Note the main objection from the wife is that Mort Rainey is unreachable when he is in the process of writing a story and since he is successful he is constantly writing stories, so that the wife is frustrated in her daily desire to be loved, to have company, to discuss important and trivial questions that have nothing to do with her husband’s characters and stories.

We don’t see the secondary character emerging from this context so that the burning of the family’s house that the wife wants to retain is not clearly traced to Mort Rainey. So that the reaction of the people in the village and the conclusion of the sheriff of the village are not supported by what we have experienced. The sheriff suggests that Mort Rainey from now on goes to a more distant city to do his business and to avoid coming to the village because the people think the same thing as he does: “We all know what you have done. We cannot prove it. But we do not want to have any contact with you because of it.”

It is a shame, as a matter of fact, because that kind of fictional and violent solution to our daily problems is common. We nearly all imagine how we could get rid of an opponent, a competitor, a challenger, though none of us have the imagination and the courage to fulfill the dream. It could have been a major film about daily life, and its daily frustrations, and their daily conflicts and rejections they may cause if we implemented what our sadistic or perverse imagination suggests.

Johnny Depp is good at what he is doing but he is not doing what he should have been directed to do, but that implied some opening of the story and the film on non-real elements that should be visible and discriminatable in the vision the film is, in the images the film brings together. We have to see the invisible to believe in it. We have to represent Satan to believe he/she/it exists. And the Lucifer living in the fictional mind of Mort Rainey is not clearly identified in the pictures. The challenger about a short story, John Shooter, is not visually identifiable as Lucifer.

Note the funny names of Mort Rainey (dead in some rainy day) and John Shooter (the John of the Apocalypse and the shooter in the story) are not represented as such in the visual image and editing of the film. Too bad because the short story is extremely powerful, especially with the hidden window in the loft of the cabin which is the secret window by which Mort Rainey’s imagination is able to go visit other fictional lands that are really made visible to us.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The theme is simple and quite common with Stephen King. He has often used it. A writer becomes suddenly due to some tension in his own life haunted by a doppelganger, his deeper self that he creates like a character in a story and the writer’s life becomes a story, a perfect story. The doppelganger does all the writer wants to do, wants him to do for him. It’s difficult to tell more without spoiling the story.

You will recognize Stephen King’s artful suspense when everything looks exactly like it is supposed to look and yet is just a surface that has nothing to do with reality but this reality is invisible because it is all inside and when the iceberg tips out of the water it is all so well done no one can see this tip of the iceberg, let alone the iceberg.

Johnny Depp is perfect for the job because he can be both extremely disrupted, corrugated, or just insane and at the same time, or just a second later, perfectly sane, charming, and adorable. He just needs to change glasses or change hats or change his smile because he always smiles from grinning to grimacing via all kinds of lovable smirks. All extremes seem natural to this man who can just shift from one to the other in less than one nanosecond.

But altogether and in the end what does this short story turned long feature tell us about the world and life? Not much really except that writers are always living in a crazy world of their own and no one can understand that. They are unbearable in real life. They can have some nice moments but most of the time they live in their phantasms. And you cannot enter their minds. Luckily, you can’t, and don’t tell me you would like to. All that leads to dirty divorce procedures and eventually suits. Before the divorce all that leads to having lovers and intimate friends, making the writer jealous, in a way to both escape him and provoke him out of his writer’s mind.

At the very same time when you are dealing with a real writer who has a genial doppelganger, both genie, and genius, the police will be helpless for at least some long, long time, because the police with all their crime scene investigation and their forensics cannot sort out the mind of an author who is not a serial killer and thus cannot be profiled. In fact, his crimes are the only way he has to be reborn in a new life and there will be no series in that bloody episode.

You should like it if you let yourself go into the story as if it were true, real, life incarnate. And Johnny Depp should be able to make you believe you have entered a completely true and real world. The phantasms are only the cherry on top of the pie and the ice cream for it to be à la mode.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU

Image for post
Image for post

Written by

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store