Tag Archives: Class

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: No War but Class War

The original Planet of the Apes films (numbering five in all) took on various issues of its day, famously nuclear war (the ending to the original Planet of the Apes) and racism.  Some have alleged that the recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes discards the original franchise’s penchant for political parable, utilizing weak tropes instead – a re-hashing of Frankenstein, and the ethics of animal cruelty.  What most seem to miss, however, is the theme of anti-establishment class warfare.

Continue reading

DVD Tuesday: Kes (1970)

Kes, a British film from 1970 about a boy and the kestrel he befriends, is available for the first time in the US on DVD and Bluray today, courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Their restoration and re-release ressurrects a film that always ranks highly on British film polls, certainly with good reason. Kes  is a British film with a focus on rebellious, disaffected, and even angry youth, and the turmoil of the lower classes. But it sets itself apart from the genre it works within by the sublime beauty that director Ken Loach (Wind That Shakes the Barley) offers us. He gives us an oppressive world, filled with despair and alienation, but with the unrelenting hope for freedom, and the refusal to fall prey to those who push you down. Continue reading

White collar workers feel the pain in “The Company Men”

A cadre of white collar workers making at least $160,000 a year lose their jobs to corporate downsizing to inflate the company’s stock price.  As the wealth disparity continues to divide the U.S. into binary classes (super rich or flat poor), a film that expects audiences to empathize with such characters should sink faster than a lead zeppelin.  Yet the film is able to dodge this pitfall to yield a decent drama. Continue reading

“Lucky” documents lottery winners, but not much else

“What would you buy if you had a million dollars?”  This is the type of hypothetical fantasizing we’ve all indulged in as children, but what if you actually won that million dollars?

Lucky follows the rare people who have won the lottery, varying from 5.5 to 22 million dollars in winnings.  The effects of fame and fortune are disclosed by the winners in interview format.  Some find it a curse they’re happy to spend until they’re again broke; others help their families or migrate to wealthier locales to fit in.

The general idea behind the film is immediately an attractive one: how do one of our fellow proles cope with becoming a part of the elite?  In a brief interview with a lottery player, he explains that he gambles so, “I can actually be free.”   Right there is a golden opportunity to explore our definition of “free” in a country that heralds itself as the uber-democracy and how capitalism and wealth play into that concept.

But director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound, Rocket Science)  doesn’t follow these breadcrumbs.  When former friends of lottery winners Kristine and Steve’s tell us they are envious of their bump up the class ladder, the film fails to dig in and ask why.  Why are we envious of the wealthy?  What does it mean to us to have money, to yearn for it?  Instead of providing an insightful document on the U.S.’s religion of greenbacks, it takes hunger for cash for granted.

Sure, we meet the guy who keeps a lid on his expenditures, except the stay cats he feeds every night and the stripper friends he visits; we even see the literal ruin of a man due to the cash (his siblings hired a hit man so they could acquire the wealth).  But Lucky doesn’t get the pick axe to the heart (so to speak) and leaves an aftertaste just slightly better than the Inside Edition clips it uses.

When a Vietnamese lottery winner’s wife stops the interview when it becomes too emotional, it stands in metaphorically for the film overall.  It could go deeper, but maybe it hurts too much.