Thursday, January 24, 2019


Reluctantly I turned my Netflix subscription back on.  Curiosity will be the death of me yet.  Here's my report.

If you're really fond of films based on explosions, killing, and sand wars, but getting a little bored, here's a variation.  Overwhelming snow, flying in front of a huge blade.  Given the scene out my windows -- snow movies might be redundant.  I wondered whether it was smart to watch snow when it's actually here.  Would it trigger some of my near-obliteration experiences?

But the obsessive stubbornness of the main character -- who drives a snowplow in Norway is also fitting for a place in northern Montana where towards morning -- when the snowplows and 18-wheelers go through town in the dark a little too fast -- they enter my dreams as armoured vehicles enforcing the wishes of an insane president.  "In Order of Disappearance" is not political unless you begin to look below the surface, which is simple:  snow=cocaine=whiteness=driven obedience to code and a goal.  The hero is far more attractive than our "hit'em back harder" president.

I read that there is actually a genre called "red snow"mostly about winter battles according to Google, like Valley Forge and the Russians in WWII.  I suppose that the "Baker Massacre" and many others like it could be filmed as "red snow," since it was a practice to strike indigenous people in predawn winter.  Remember "The Thing" with James Arness as a sci-fi enraged carrot staggering through the blizzard?  It was filmed not far from here in Cut Bank, but it was an open winter so they had to truck in the snow.  I was more scared by "The Track of the Cat" based on the book by Walter Van Tilberg Clark and made into a vehicle for Robert Mitchum.

Spectacular snow plowing is the main feature of this film, a celebration of the industrial revolution against the phenomenon of deep and constant snow in order that people can travel.  The man who punches the road through is presumably an old New York cop, a vengeful and violent man.  The murder of his son drives him through an avenging chain of guilt until he finally comes to the last scene wherein everyone shoots everyone else.  There's not much fuss about the deaths -- more about punching people in the face until there's blood all over.  It's so stylized that even the characters have a laugh about it. Time passes until one really understands how schematic, surreal, and polemic the movie is.  The set decoration is a big clue.  I'm sure the Norwegians get it.  All the female characters leave early.

My view of the film had three layers of dialogue: the people actually speaking on the sound track, the added subtitles for American audiences, and the added subtitles on top of them that I added as a feature.  I don't speak Norwegian.  The two sub-titles varied according to how offensive the choice of equivalent language was.  They weren't really necessary to the plot, but interesting in terms of the cultural context beyond nation.

Counterpoint to the snow plow driver was the son of the main villain.  This earnest pre-adolescent blonde boy is also a cultural avatar, signifying innocence and questions.  The best scene in the film, IMHO, is the old cop stretched out on the bed with the boy he kidnapped because the kid asks for a bedtime story.  The only print available to read is a brochure for snow plows.  This pleases the boy and the two males share their admiration for big machines that fight nature.  And bad guys.

In a time when so many have had their resolve to persevere shaken by the enormity of punishment, this film is an endorsement of the worthiness of keeping on.  But the official police are almost incidental, which raises a lot of new questions.  Who enforces the law?

I was really on Netflix out of curiosity about the last series of "House of Cards."  It wasn't worth the effort.  One movie would have done it instead of the series.  The premises: that no one is ever brought to justice except maybe by karma, that the contracts of previous actors should be paid off by their final scenes before being killed, that most scenes should be arguments, and that being female or getting pregnant can be redemptive.
The plot also mentions global climate change but still thinks the atom bomb is more destructive.

I was intrigued by the set redesign of the Oval Office.  Now the colours are soft pastels and the fierce Western bronzes have been replaced by two French bronzes depicting half-dressed females, one with a bow and arrow and the other with wings.  I never did get the significance of the letter opener or even the will except as plot elements.

If Westerns are coming back, Netflix doesn't know it.  I think I'll sign off again.  The Aussie movies on are still more to my taste.  "Mystery Road" is more beautiful and has a more powerful female authority than "House of Cards."  They also know what autochthonous people look like and act like.  In fact, "Longmire" on Netflix has an Aussie actor for a hero.  I thought there was a new series of "Longmire", but it wasn't posted.

Today Netflix told me via email that I would like a bio of Ted Bundy.  They couldn't be more wrong.  Bundy is over.  But then, the movies are almost over as well. 

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