Films

Two-bite movies, Part III: “The Parallax View” and “Lakeview Terrace”

Few people have been lucky enough to avoid the ads for The International, directed by Tom Tykwer (of Run Lola Run fame). The International is about a bank that tries to kill people. I can’t think of something that I would be less afraid of. Considering their brilliant performing in creating a financial catastrophe, I assume an actual plan by a large bank to kill me would look something like this:

  • The bank announces plans to place a ten-thousand-dollar bounty on my head, which covers the logistical, equipment, and prison risk costs of anyone who wants to knock off a blogger.
  • The bank sells millions in assassination futures, which pay off whether when I am assassinated.
  • As such policies are risky, paying off only with a successful assassination, investment banks then sell billions in assassination derivatives, which change in value along with the change in assassination futures.
  • Hedge funds then get into the action, issuing trillions in second- and third-order derivatives, which pay off depending on changes in values in the first- and second-order derivatives.
  • Noticing that they’re stodgy ‘just put a bounty on his head’ has merely made them millions, instead of trillions, the banks then buy up many of these derivatives, game the financial risk analysis market to bundle whatever third-order derivatives the banks are able to buy from the hedge funds as AAA-rated securities, and resell them to insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, and investors all over the world.
  • Along the way, Congress will pass the Community Rearmorment Act, establish Freddie Assassin and Assassin Mac, allow individuals to deduct the interest from their handgun and shotgun purchases, and prohibit banks from not loaning to would-be assassins based on race, geography, or other sensitive variables.
  • The entire house of cards collapses, entire countries are wiped out, and I’m still here.

Thus,, instead of watching The International, my wife and I watched The Parallax View and Lakeview Terrace. The first of these, 1974’s The Parallax View with Warren Beaty, involves a company that’s actually good at assassinations.

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The film is close to being a true horror. The beginning and entry scenes are mirror-images of each other, but the plot generally increases the weirdness by turns, leading to a conclusion that is hopeless, fatalistic, and deeply closed that is visually very similar to a beginning that promises mystery, excitement, and intrigue. Parallax is very much a product of the 1970s, where the yearning of naive youth for a “change” candidate meets an iron wall of death.

Sadly, The Parallax View is ruined by two irrelevant subplots that try to turn the film into an action movie. Sequences that are out-of-plot, out-of-character, and simply out-of-sense have Warren Beaty (a recovering alcoholic reporter) going mano-a-mano with corrupt cops, and later to stop a plane bombing that he knows about through the magic of genre plot devices. A film with the uses deep focus to present both visual and cognitive parallax effects if ruined, in the same way, the Godfather series is ruined by Godfather, Part III.

If The Parallax View is a movie of the 1970s, Lakeview Terrace is housing bubble drama of the 2000s. “A house is the best investment there is,” one character says. “The value only goes up,” responds another.

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Lakeview Terrace is the story about two families, both of which live in the exurbs of Los Angeles. The first, with Samuel L. Jackson as a single father, bought their land decades ago. Jackson’s character is a “real America” version of Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, a patrol cop whose cultural conservatism, emphasis on law-and-order and authoritarian parenting are matched only by his disposal of miscegenation. Jackson’s gregariousness, The Wire-style pragmatism, and protectiveness of his kids are returned by the liberal views of his new, Utne Reader -reading, neighbors. But the viewer’s sympathy toward Jackson is turned on its head when Jackson’s anti-race-mixing bigotry gradually accelerates into increasingly heinous violence against property.

But as The Parallax View is ruined by two irrelevant subplots, Lakeview Terrace is ruined by its tacked-on ending. I suspect another ending was originally written if not even filmed, as a much more logical conclusion is foreshadowed through the film. Jackson becomes a Hollywood villain, his neighbor comes a Hollywood hero, and the foreshadowed ending never actually happens. The social background of Lakeview Terrace — which has a surprisingly well-developed theme of black anti-white racism (if not anti-woman sexism) — helps build a thought-provoking better than Babel, if not Crash. But this only stays true if you close your eyes and hum “Lalala! This is not happening!” for the last ten minutes, all while reconstructing the intended ending from the foreshadowing clues you noticed throughout the film.

If the common theme of Godfellas and My Blue Heaven was the story of Henry Hill, and the common theme of Throne of Blood and Ran was Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare, the common theme of The Parallax View and Lakeview Terrace are actually films ruined by Hollywoodization.

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5 thoughts on “Two-bite movies, Part III: “The Parallax View” and “Lakeview Terrace”
  1. I love 70’s political thrillers. I assume you have seen “Three Days of the Condor.” You should try to find “The Conversation” and then watch it back to back with “Enemy of the State.”

    I like “Parallax View” but agree it is flawed for just the reasons you lay out (I do like the bar fight scene when the guy jumps through the glass). The beginning and the ending make the movie though.

  2. The plot of “The International” reminded me of a Captain America/Red Skull plot line I read when I was 7 or 8 years old. Some Euro bank was a front for the terrorist organization A.I.M. and the Red Skull muscled his way in.

    That said, Clive Owen is a good enough actor I would tolerate it on cable if I wanted background noise while taking notes.

  3. Banks are totally harmless. They’re taking a PR beating in the news when it was Congress, lead by the national black congress, who fought against more regulation for FM and FM. They called it a “political lynching” because an African American was in charge of oversight for FM and FM. Of course, no one is holding the national black congress even remotely responsible, nor is anyone investigating the community reinvestment act’s role in the mortgage meltdown.

    Meanwhile the big bad banks are supposed to be so powerful and we don’t even hear a peep about what I explained above. The GOP isn’t saying much about this as well? This silence is a little too silent?

    I pretty sure the power structure is trying to keep a lid on real reason for the housing crash becuase it may lead to further instability. Since they can’t turn back the clock, the GOP elites figure there’s no reason to start agitating on this point while the country is in the middle of a recession.

    The elites understand that people are sick and suspicious of diversity and becoming tired of political correctness. If it came out that the main reason for the mortgage meltdown was more diversity and “civil rights” crap, the population would lose more and more faith in where the country is headed. So the elites figure its better to cover this up and lie, than talk about the truth. What we need to look for is if they make the same mistakes again?

    Of course, the financial sector does deserve some blame. Didn’t the people who packaged the mortgage securities know they these mortgages were going to fail? After securities are sold, don’t the buyers of these securities know what they’re made of?

    If the government makes the same mistakes in forcing banks to give mortgages to high-risk borrowers I really won’t be surprised. If the finical sector buys these securities again (and repackages them) then I would appreciate your support in my attempt at placing Political Correctness in the DSM-IV.

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