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Sunday surprise: sending the body to a watery grave

Monday, February 16th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — I suppose this could be seen as my version of “kids these days just have no clue..” ]
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Since I mistakenly posted this week’s intended Sunday surprise, Afterlife this side of everlasting, on Saturday, I’m continuing my depthful exploration of the burial practices of warlords, gangsters and the like with this post.

SPEC DQ Kagemusha Magic City

When the daimyo Takeda Shingen dies in Kurosawa‘s great movie, Kagemusha, his followers are obliged to keep his death a secret for three years, to ensure clan Takeda’s continuing security. Their daimyo has, however, also instructed them that he wishes to be buried in full armor in Lake Suwa, and his corpse is therefore placed in a large urn covered in rich cloth, and taken out by boat into the mist that hovers over the lake (upper image, above).. the boat then returning to shore minus its precious cargo. The explanation is given that a offering of sake has been made to the god of the lake, and the kagemusha or daimyo’s double continues the pretence that his lord is still alive…

In the TV series Magic City, by contrast, the body of a minor gangster is first cut in pieces, then stuffed in an empty and rusty oil barrel which is welded shut, then dumped unceremoniously at sea (lower image); the oil drum is then shot repeatedly so it will sink, and left to do so — no offering to the gods, no requiem, and no luck, as the corpse and its barrel later turn up inauspiciously somewhere along Miami Beach.

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If we are to endure mobsters and warlords, need I say how much I would prefer them to work within the classical Japanese esthetic?

Ah, Religion: the trailer

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — on turning the other cheek once, or even twice, perhaps ]
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The Wall Street Journal has the story:

In a preview trailer for a new action movie, famed Indian spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan takes on sabre-wielding villains, splinters a log with his fist and rides a monster-wheeled motorcycle in a high-speed chase.

“Some call me a saint, some call me an angel, some call me guru and some call me God,” Mr. Insan intones in a voice-over. “If it is a sin to serve the country and the universe, then I will keep committing this sin until my last breath.”

Sample wisdom:

In another musical number, Mr. Insan, wearing tightfitting gold pants, red boots and an oversize red top riveted with gold stars, performs a patriotic song that he says he wrote himself, dedicated to his followers in the armed forces.

“We’ll live and die for the country,” Mr. Insan croons to a jubilant crowd in an amphitheater with a band playing behind him. “First, we’ll stop them with love, weapons of humanity. If they don’t stop, we will shoot them!”

That, btw, is Plan B: if love doesn’t work, try deadly force.

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Coming soon to a shrine-room near you!

Does anyone recognize these two screengrabs?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — horses among the armored vehicles — a quick request to any movie mavens out there ]
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horseman screengrab 1

horseman screengrab 2

They’re from the montage of war clips in the first minute of the recent IS video that ends with the burning of the Jordanian pilot. Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa have a piece on MSNBC titled Inside the symbols and psychology of the Islamic State in which they identify some of the other films from which clips were taken:

First, the video steals footage of a U.S. warship, the “Liberty Ship,” from the HBO mini-series “The Pacific,” which aired in 2010, and was created by the producers of “Band of Brothers” – actor Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg. Next come battle scenes from “Flags of Our Fathers,” the Clint Eastwood movie about America’s WWII victory on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. These are followed by a scene from ”Enemy at the Gates,” a 2001 film starring Jude Law as a Russian sniper fighting Nazi Germany in the Battle of Stalingrad.

— but Nomani tells me she’s been unable to identify the film from which the images above were taken. I had noticed the horseman image too, and also wonder..

So if any ZP reader can recognize the film of origin, please let us know.

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Nomani and Arafa’s piece contains some other useful pointers, most of them to Islamic references in the video, so you may want to go read that, too.

Sunday surprise: De Niro’s recommended reading

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — preferring Jarmusch’s Hagakure in Ghost Dog to Grovic’s Hesse and Sunzi in Bag Man ]
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In a film that the critics panned, Netflix offered, and I watched without much comprehension, Robert De Niro, playing the part of Dragna – “a dude who wears plaid jackets, thick glasses, and his grey hair in a swoopy high pompadour” who has assembled a motley team of killers in a seedy Bayou motel — educates John Cusack as his fav killer, Jack, by recommending he read certain books — notably Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game aka Magister Ludi:

De Niro goes Magister Ludi

De Niro goes Magister Ludi 2

Magister Ludi means Master of the Game.

Dragna apparently believes Hesse’s Game is best played by pitting assassins, here including cops, a “whore” and a dwarf as well as Jack, against one another in that seedy motel.. and is not altogether satisfied with the result, which shoots him shortly after he announces his own mastery of the game.

De Niro goes Magister Ludi 3

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Zenpundit regulars who lack my enthusiasm for Hesse’s Game — quite different in style and tone from the one writer-director David Grovic proposes in his film — may at least be gratified to see his other recommendation:

De Niro goes Sunzi

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I would have done better to re-watch Jim Jarmusch‘s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai with Forest Whitaker, with its extensive quotations from the Hagakure:

That’s what I’ll watch tonight.

DoubleQuote: Gen Sharif of Pakistan, Gen Devereaux in Siege

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — is this one of those times when life is imitating art, maybe? ]
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SPEC DQ Siege & Pakistan

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In the upper panel, we have the headline of an article from the Pakistani Express Tribune of January 2nd this year, along with their image of Army chief General Raheel Sharif who is quoted in the article as saying:

the establishment of special courts [is] not the desire of the army, but need of extraordinary times

Which keads inexorably to the lower panel, with its image and words of Bruce Willis as Gen Devereaux in the tour-de-force 1998 Edward Zwick movie, The Siege, written in large part by Lawrence Wright, soon after to be the author of The Looming Tower, still our most insightful account of Al-Qaeda and 9/11.

Devereaux continues, later in the same scene:

Make no mistake. We will hunt the enemy. We will find the enemy. And we will kill the enemy. And no card-carrying member of the ACLU is more dead set against it… than I am. Which is why I urge you… no, I implore you not to consider this option.

Okay, I know — similarity is not identity, any more than correlation is causation: but sometimes you just have to wonder.

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All this stems from reading Raza Rumi‘s piece Back in the Driver’s Seat today — highly recommended.


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