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.
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.
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.