Monday, March 13, 2017

The year's first absolute must-see makes its CineFamily debut in L.A. -- Adam Curtis' HYPERNORMALISATION


Anyone who has watched British documentarian Adam Curtis' films, including The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares, will not want to miss his latest effort: the mind-bending, mind-boggling HYPERNORMALISATION. Why? Because it will allow you to see and understand with utter clarity how and why the world has come to the disastrous point at which it now stands. Why, for instance, do our politicians either ignore or downplay (and certainly do very little about) climate change and instead devote their time and effort to ensuring the continued power of the financial industry and major corporations? Interestingly enough Curtis' documentary does not make this particular connection, though he makes plenty of others. Once you've seen his film, however, you will make them, too.

Curtis -- the filmmaker is shown at right -- states his thesis almost immediately: We have arrived to the woebegone and crazy state we now inhabit thanks to our politicians, who early and resolutely refused to engage with the growing complexities of the modern world and instead withdrew into the cocoon of a much simpler world, which was and is make-believe. They have now found the means to confuse the populace between fact and fiction and are using this to produce a consistent state of destabilized perception in order to manage and control us. And we're letting them.

If you have any doubt as to the veracity of this thesis, simply think of Russia under Putin, and now the USA under Trump, and what has happened to facts (or alternative facts, as certain Trumpists would call them) as we used to (or currently) know them. A correct thesis is one thing -- and the movie has it in spades -- but it is in the history provided by Mr. Curtis that HyperNormalisation truly shines. This man has a gift for revealing history, understanding it, and then making connections from what he has found. You may disagree with some of these connections, but it will be difficult, I think, to easily discount them, as so many of these are fact-based.

Curtis' film posits that 1975 was a landmark year in two locales: New York City (when the city was going bankrupt: Remember that famous newspaper headline, FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD?) and Damascus, Syria. That was when the banks first took control of New York, and that trend has only continued and grown since then. In Syria, President Hafez al-Assad faces off against Henry Kissinger, the results of which have only grow worse and less reality-based down the decades.

Soon enough, in Russia, the Communist dream collapses, as the country turns to pretense (according to Curtis, it was a Soviet writer who first coined the term HyperNormalisation), while here in the U.S. Ronald Reagan preaches god and American Exceptionalism, as a sheeplike public follows happily along. Soon we have the birth of suicide bombing (an idea that had no place in Islamic religion prior to this), the realization and continued spread of financial markets controlling governments, and then the creation of cyberspace and banking technology's almost immediate connection to and use of this new venue.

Computer utopians like John Perry Barlow versus the early hackers (whom we should thank for their prescient warnings); Muammar Gaddafi (below), who went -- thanks to the US refusal to engage with reality -- from hero to terrorist to savior back to terrorist and thanks to Reagan's attacking Libya rather than the actual culprit, Syria, we got a preview of Bush's despicable Iraq-War response to 9/11; and those wonderful UFO stories (ah, anything that might prevent our politicians from having to deal with the complexities of the real world).

It's all here, as well as a look at Jane Fonda's career, political activist to workout coach; Larry Fink, Black Rock and Aladdin; the computer therapist, Eliza; Donald Trump (again and again: his connection to a gifted Japanese gambler and the Yakuza's slice-and-dice proclivities were new to me); Pan-Am's Lockerbie bombing and America's deliberately incorrect finger-pointing; the financial crisis, Occupy, and Arab Spring -- they're all here and connected in a manner you may or may not have imagined. (The filmmaker also uses clips from famous movies  -- from Dr. Strangelove to Carrie -- in ways you will not have seen previously.)

Then finally we're back to Syria again, to come fully to terms with what 1975 has wrought, and to our new President-elect -- a man to whom truth and fact have little importance or use. I notice that the excellent movie site, MUBI, has HyperNormalisation listed under two categories: documentary and horror. Perfect. By electing politicians this venal and stupid, then following them along sheep-like, we've made it clear that humanity, in all its hypocrisy and stupidity, does not deserve to -- nor very likely will it -- survive. Future generations (if there are any), or maybe some alien life form, trying to figure out how we managed our own demise, will have much of the evidence they need right here.

HyperNormalisation, originally shown on British television and running a long but consistently urgent and compelling two hours and forty minutes, makes its Los Angeles theatrical debut this coming Friday thru Sunday, March 17-19, as that indispensable venue The CineFamily presents In the Zone: A Weekend with Adam Curtis, during which Mr. Curtis will appear in person for Q&A's and will be introducing his new film, as well as acting as host for some of his favorite movies. Click here for the full program. If you don't live in L.A, however, just how might you experience this must-see? Once The CineFamily weekend's festivities have ended, I'll try to find another way for you to view the documentary, and I'll give you an update within one week. 

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