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Monday, March 20, 2006
  cinematic shit avalanche

We saw a movie for the first time ever this weekend. First time ever since November. In a theater. That time it was Walk the Line. This time it was CSA: Confederate States of America. One was good enough to win some amount of Oscars. One was good enough to not have any reason to exist whatsoever. If we were long-forgotten Arctic explorers just thawed out from suspended animation, or perhaps creatures from a world far beyond our comprehension, and CSA was the first movie we ever watched, we would probably want to kill the movies with our crazy alien death-rays and/or icepicks.

CSA is another nail in the coffin of the mockumentary. It's a satirical look at the history of an America in which the South won the civil war, which is not an inherently bad idea, or anything. Slavery was never abolished, we conquered South and Central America, we aligned with the Nazis during WWII, we Pearl Harbored Japan before they could do it to us, and now the American Empire is isolated from the rest of the world. Somehow the Cold War happened between us and Canada. Anyway, it's framed as a Ken Burns-style documentary, with frequent commercial breaks supplying the most blatant attempts at humor. Of course all the products advertised - Niggerhair Tobacco, Coon Chicken Inn, Darkie Toothpaste - were real products, in some cases still being manufactured and advertised up into the 1980's. So not only is the film something of a reminder that the Confederacy didn't exactly have morality and goodness watching their backs, but also that, even in the real and supposedly freedom-loving America, race relations have been all sorts of fucked since, like, forever.

And, okay, yeah, well, duh!

Or maybe not. The wife, who hated the film far more than I did, hadn't heard of any of the products before, and was slightly surprised by them. And it can be helpful to remind yourself every now and again that, yeah, shit really was fuckin' nuts for a long while, far more nutsier than the still-sorta-screwed today. But the whole message, and the way in which it was delivered, makes the film suitable more for high school underclassmen than the grown New England liberals it's being exhibited to. If you haven't realized that black-white relations in this country have been eternally fucked since day-minus-one by the time you're eighteen, something somewhere is horribly amiss.

But so, the movie is truly awful, regardless of its intent. Such heavy-handedness, and iron-willed, resolute ham-fistedness! Absolutely nothing is subtle about this film. Its humor basically bludgeons you down into a lump on the ground. And the production values are sub-high-school level. Seriously, Walton High School Video Productions could have made more professional looking fake advertisements back in 1992. The actors playing the talking heads in the body of the documentary are okay, but every other actor is awful. Combine that with the fact that Ken Burns parodies stopped being original and/or funny in like 1991, and you're left with a film so poorly conceived and contrived that it's really quite staggering. Seriously, avoid the hell out of this one, friends.
 

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Dark doesn't want to own her, but he can't let her have it both ways.

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