Monthly Archives: February 2017

Persecuted, Part 3

So, as John luckily drives away from his surveilled home, to do…whatever he wants to do now, we cut to a bit later that night, when the board of his ministry gets together to talk about the situation.  Now, I’m sure the filmmakers did not intend this to seem like an evil and clandestine meeting when they shot it in such low light, with the little table lamps illuminating the men from below to make them look slightly sinister…but that’s the effect.

HOWEVER, we see that one of the members of the board is Dean Stockwell.  So, for me, this movie has just become 3000% more awesome, because Dean Stockwell is one of my very favorite actors of all time.  I’ve loved him ever since I was a kid and watched him portray Admiral Al Calavicci on Quantum Leap.  But he’s awesome in anything, including when he’s playing the most evil of Cylons or when he’s running a home for wayward teenage girls who are going to sell their babies.

Anyway, he’s the voice of reason here, finding the whole meeting kinda pointless until they can hear John’s side of the story.  Which seems quite optimistic of him.  Slimy Brad Stine pulls a Trump, standing up and yammering on and saying nothing of substance, mildly implying John’s guilt.  Al looks displeased.

Then Slimy Brad Stine starts talking about the evil legislation, that he wants everyone in the room to sign.  Um, why???  Why would a board of ministers even need to sign some legislation that hasn’t even passed yet?

(Still, we learn a tiny bit more about the evil legislation: that it has “earmarks” for compliant ministers and “a very generous tax advantage package,” though I don’t see how a church can have a bigger tax advantage than the one they already have, which is: they don’t have to pay them.)

Meanwhile, John heads back to the scene of the crime.  I note again that this is the THIRD thing he chosen to do with his time, wad of bills, and car.  Before exiting said car, he pauses to read the Bible and have a cry.  Interestingly, he prays,

“If I have done this, if there is any iniquity in my hands, let my enemy pursue me and overtake me.”

IF?  That’s bizarre.  We have seen that John has a few flashes of what happened; that is, of the girl crawling all over him snapping pictures.  But I still can’t imagine there is anything that would suggest to John that he is in any way responsible for what happened.  He knows he stopped his car and saw a girl and was then knocked out, yes?  There’s nothing that implies that John might think he went on a bender that he doesn’t remember or anything. Odd.

Then, right there at the scene of the crime, he decides to go to sleep in his car.  Look, dude, when I suggested that, I didn’t suggest you do it AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME.

He has a dream (or something) where he wakes up shaking and calling for MonicaMelissa. She’s facing away from him, sitting in a chair, so I kinda think it’s either a flashback to when his daughter was just born, and/or to him coming off a bender.  I dunno, and I don’t think it really matters.

He wakes up, still at the scene of the crime, which includes a trailer with a bunch of stoned hippies living in it or something.  I dunno, I’m pretty square.

Still though, seems short-sighted of the villains to do their bad deed right in front of the hippies’ trailer home…

And I am vindicated when it turns out to be one of the hippies who recorded the whole incident.  Luther buys a copy of the recording off the hippie chick without batting an eye.

Then bizarrely, the FBI wants to have a talk with Slimy Brad Stine.  Then then, Senator X-Men has a meeting in his fancy house about the legislation, and the priest crashes it, posing as a different priest who was actually invited.  Whatever, I don’t see the point.

So John calls the priest, who I guess must also have given him a burner phone:

“I have it, Dad.  I’m going to the police.”

Wait, what???

DAD?????

This is the first I’ve heard of this!  What kind of crazy shit you trying to pull, movie?

The priest is John’s father?  The Catholic priest is RTC preacher John Luthor’s father???

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Holy weird fucked-up-ness, Batman!

*gaspgasp*

Okay, okay, I know some priests become priests later in life, even after raising families of their own.  Hell, I listened to a Catholic radio show one time where they were bemoaning the lack of men who want to join the priesthood these days, and were saying that some widowed older men join the priesthood.  Hell, they made it sound almost like a retirement option.  But I’m sorry, this is just WEIRD.

And the weirdness of the whole situation aside, why did John think it was safe to go to his dad after he became a fugitive?  If they had his own house and his wife under surveillance, wouldn’t they do the same for his father?

Ah well, guess not.

Anyway, Priest Dad actually advises John not to go to the police.  AGAIN.  Because “you’re in their way.”  They meet up, and Priest Dad shows John a really bad photo of Senator X-Men and the girl, and tells a convoluted and nonsensical story about the girl being adopted by some lady only three days ago.

Huh?  WHY?

Priest Dad also expositions that Senator X-Men is the Senate Majority Leader, which again raises the question of why the hell they need some TV preacher’s support to pass any legislation.  Priest Dad then ties it all to evil and persecution:

“…it’s what [Senator X-Men’s] a part of, the people he’s associated with, what SUMAC is trying to do, what this legislation is bound to do, the results. … You ask the people in this country, round here, about the persecution of Christians, most times people will just smile and say, ‘No such thing.  Not here, can’t happen.'”

Um, okay.  Look, dude, they’re not doing this to John because he’s RTC and they’re just mean ole atheists.  They’re doing it because they inexplicably need his support for their stupid bill.  It’s a plot device, not persecution.

Anyway, Priest Dad once again does not offer John sanctuary in his church, but instead has gotten him a hotel room (this despite the fact that ten seconds later he says, “the eyes of the world are on you.”)

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But before going to his hotel room, John finds and confronts Slimy Brad Stine.  He pulls a whole we’re-still-friends fakeout, giving him a note to give to MonicaMelissa.  All the note says is “Hotel Blue, 717 Central Ave 90125.”  Then John fucks off.

(Now, I don’t know if this is supposed to be a clue or what, but the Hotel Blue at 717 Central Ave. is actually a real place in New Mexico.  But the area code is wrong.  In fact, 90125 is a Yes album.  Whether this is a mistake, or a code between the couple will be interesting to see.)

Next we know, Senator X-Men is getting a late-night call from the President, who tells him a ridiculous yet folksy and threatening tale about when he was a lil boy down in the Deep South, son, and once kilt him a rattler with his bare dadgum hands.  This all leads to the revelation that the President is in on the whole John mess, or at least was aware of it.  The Prez then says he washes his hands of the whole thing, which it seems a bit late for.  Then again, we currently have an untouchable “president,” so what do I know?

John takes a refreshing dip in the hotel pool, because I guess he doesn’t have anything better to do with his time, while Priest Dad watches the recording of John being set up and the girl being murdered.  Priest Dad leaves a message on John’s phone, because “I think I’ve found something here.”  Of course, he doesn’t give any details, and a good thing too, because then there wouldn’t be any suspense created when two bad guys murder Priest Dad ten seconds later!!

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Okay, so this is your standard conspiracy movie he-was-killed-for-knowing-too-much bit, but this is a conspiracy that the conspirators are still trying to pull off.  So it seems pretty counterproductive to kill the victim’s own father.  That just makes John look victimized.  Why not just overpower the priest, take and destroy the recording, and let Priest Dad look like a raving loon who would say anything to save his son?

Slightly later that night, John bursts into Priest Dad’s room as though expecting something awful, though there is no reason he should.  This leads to John’s crisis of faith moment, where he rails at God (“Are you not true to your name?!“).

Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t last.

Until next time!

 

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Persecuted, Part 2

So I can tell this is going to be an interesting one right off the bat, because COMMENTS:

Gram Pol said:

“I hate to say it but I’m going to go easy on John for running away at the end. I mean, he did just suffer head trauma severe enough to render him unconscious for a good stretch of time.”

So this is a good point.  Having had a Grade III concussion myself, I give John credit for being able to run at all.  Granted, he only makes it a few hundred yards before collapsing again, and he does not stop when he hears sirens, which is still kinda odd.  I mean, as far as John knows, he is the victim of a strange sort of carjacking.  He has no reason to suspect that any kind of political plot or lies are involved.  So why not run right TO the police?  “Hey, I was knocked out and my car was stolen!”

Oh well.  So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for that, but not for what happens after.  John collapses again, and doesn’t wake until broad daylight the next morning.  (Meaning that the bad guys have had a good eight hours to get their story out there, but John doesn’t know that.)

Also, the cops who were rushing to the scene didn’t find him?  They didn’t think to sweep a perimeter of even a couple hundred yards?

Anyway, John wakes up and almost immediately finds a gas station.  The decrepit old pay phone outside is long gone, so he heads inside.  He asks to use the men’s room (not the phone???) and the attendant tells him it’s for paying customers only.  Nothing daunted, John proceeds to drink some soda from the machine (nice!) and splash some water on his face from the little bar sink.

And then he STILL doesn’t ask to use the phone!

Now, something weird starts to happen, and this is just such a good example of RTC movies not understanding how normal people think and talk.  The attendant, and several others, act as though John is a homeless guy.  Like, NO, man, you gotta pay to use the restroom.  Except John does not look at all like a homeless person right now.  He looks like a person who has been attacked or had an accident.  He’s wearing business clothes, only slightly rumpled, and has blood splattered down the side of his face.  Yet nobody seems the slightest bit concerned about this.

Then John ramps up his asshole rating by asking the attendant, “Don’t you know who I am?

Oh yeah, John, I guess TV preachers get all the free soda they want, but us regular peons can just BUY some, right?

No idea,” answers the attendant.  This stops John dead in his tracks.  Seriously, he looks deeply emotionally pained that this random woman doesn’t know him by sight.  So, he just heads out.  Again, WITHOUT ASKING TO USE THE PHONE.

Now, if this was any other movie, this would all be signs of John’s hubris, and we would be confident that by story’s end, he would have a bit more perspective.

But for now, John wanders onto the road, and IMMEDIATELY a van pulls up.  It has a SUMAC bumper sticker (the same SUMAC featured on the signs of some of the protesters from Part 1), and a bunch of religious symbols like you see on a COEXIST bumper sticker.  The driver, a woman with “Helping Hands,” also bizarrely thinks he’s homeless, and offers him water and doughnuts.  Seeing not one, but TWO crosses around her neck, I guess John assumes she’s one of the good ones, because her phone is deemed good enough for his precious self.  John calls his wife (not 911???), and Monica fills him in on what’s been happening: the police are at the house, his “relapse” involving drug possession and killing a young girl is all over the news, and Monica in fact cautions him against coming home, even though he has no wallet, no phone, and no car.

Um, okay?  WTH, movie?  As they said in The Fugitive, “running only makes you look guilty.”  And again, Richard Kimble had the very good excuse that he had already been convicted of the crime.  The crime here isn’t even ten hours old, so why not hoof it back home and get in a hospital, take a drug test, take a polygraph, do everything possible to prove your innocence and try to get the real killer(s)???

But instead they just hang up, and John doesn’t even say “I love you” or even “goodbye.”  Nice guy.

Meanwhile, Senator X-Men is playing the whole my-heart-goes-out-to-his-family-but-justice-must-be-served card like a pro.  And the Helping Hands lady, who I guess has nothing better to do, drops John off at a Catholic church (????), where he meets up with an old priest friend.

The priest friend of course believes in John’s innocence, and lets John in on the whole conspiracy business.  Okay, he actually has no idea who is doing this, only why:

“…by the grace of God, you were able to bring yourself up from the depths of degradation and form a wonderful ministry that has spoken the truth to millions of people.  Now, those who believe in nothing must bring you down…”

Let that be a lesson to all Christians.  Better your life, and atheists will try to ruin it.  Those MONSTERS!

Yeah, bet you never guessed that all this would be blamed on the god-free.

The priest, like John’s wife, convinces him not to turn himself in, because “I think you know how that will turn out.”

Yeah, those evil atheist cops and atheist lawyers and judges and atheist polygraphs!

So instead, they pick Plan B: “prove the truth.”

Wouldn’t a big part of proving the truth be showing your injuries from being attacked and framed, you idiot??!!?!

Nope, proving the truth begins with John taking a shower and washing away as much physical evidence as possible.  Then the priest gives him a wad of cash and a change of clothes and a car.  Thus equipped, John immediately sets off on his mission…

TO FIND A HOTEL!!!

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Seriously, movie?  SERIOUSLY???

Look, if John needs sleep so badly, sleep at the damned church.  Or if you have to go somewhere immediately (though it’s very clear he feels no pressing need to do so), then sleep in the damned car.  But don’t go to a hotel with the news of your fugitive-ness being broadcast on the lobby TV, try to bribe your way into a room, then act surprised when things go south.

Indeed, the young girl manning the front desk is immediately suspicious of this man with open wounds on his face, wearing sunglasses at night (so he can, so he can keep track of the visions in his eyes).  Like a good Christian, he tries to bribe her with a $100 bill.  She pulls the “just give me one minute to check something, sir,” and makes a call, but when she turns back…John has escaped.

What this really is, mind you, is a direct ripoff of the scene in North by Northwest where Roger Thornhill, also on the run from the police, is trying to secure a train ticket.  Except Roger really needed to get on a particular train, whereas John apparently just wants a comfier bed than the priest can provide (oh, wwwwww…).

And now John is out $100, whereas Roger not only didn’t waste any money on an attempted bribe, but managed to get on the train anyway.

Deciding that he hasn’t done quite enough stupid things that could easily get him caught, John then heads…TO HIS OWN FREAKING HOUSE.

GORRAMIT, MAN, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU???

Yeah, he goes to his own house, not even in disguise or anything.  The place his wife specifically told him not to go.  The place that he must know is being staked out by the cops, just in case the murderer would be so immensely stupid as to go to his own HOUSE when he is wanted for MURDER.

This is really just so we can see that Brad Stine is over there, opening a bottle of champagne (no, really), and trying to put the moves on Monica (who, for some reason, I keep wanting to call Melissa).  Now, he’s doing it in a very Christian, not-actually-touching-her way, but his intent is clear.  He acts all sympathetic and stuff, but, like a good Christian wife, MonicaMelissa says nothing…actually, she literally says nothing when Brad asks her point blank if she has had contact with John, letting him assume the negative.  So we know MonicaMelissa would fit in just fine in the Left Behind series.

Having thus seen Brad’s car in his driveway, and thus given himself one more thing to worry about, John drives away, cunningly turning his head to the side when he passes the cop car staked out at his own house.

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But apparently the cops are not brain scientists either, because they don’t notice the lone occupant of a car, driving very slowly down a suburban street and stopping in front of the very house they are watching.

This is too much stupid for one session.  Next time, John (might) begin his extremely time-sensitive investigation into the frame job.

Once he finds a nice, cozy bed, that is.

Persecuted: Part 1

Well, I’m heading into this one with a tad more trepidation than when I critiqued The Penniless Princess.

Can you imagine a glorious alternate reality, where I’m critiquing this in a happy time?  A time when we’re celebrating a milestone in our nation’s history, one long overdue, where we actually show our daughters that we don’t think less of them than our sons?

But no.  We live in Bizzarro World now.  A world where up is down, right is wrong, and a stupid, corrupt, pig-ignorant, pussy-grabbing, child-ogling, racist, classist, misogynist, petty, vindictive, narcissistic Putin-puppet is sitting in the White House in an ill-fitting suit, in a chair that he no doubt considers SAD because it is not gilded.

So now I’m going to watch a movie about how the RTCs have it soooooo hard in Washington, D.C.  They’re soooooo put upon.  This after they voted for this serial adulterer, this child-neglector, this materialistic opportunist who, you would THINK, is the antithesis of everthing they claim to stand for.

If there’s one silver lining to this clusterfuck (besides Alec Baldwin being able to do his perfect impression for the next couple of weeks or months or however long it takes for the GOP to find this thing not a useful enough idiot), it’s that the RTCs can never hold the moral high ground again.  They’re done.  You put a serial-cheating, child-neglecting, pussy-grabbing, stupid, corrupt, pig-ignorant, pussy-grabbing, child-ogling, petty, vindictive, narcissistic Putin-puppet in charge?  Well, you are now officially done with claiming that you stand for any kind of values or morals.

And when he ruins your life, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourselves.

Okay, rant over.  For the moment.

Okay, moment’s over.  Movie’s starting.

We open with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., about being willing to die for a cause.  Then we cut to the Jefferson memorial.  Yeah, because the ideals of King and Jefferson are soooooo in line with RTCs.  I mean, they know it was Jefferson who coined the phrase “wall of separation between church and state,” right?

And he also crossed out all references to miracles in his own Bible.

A rally is happening in the streets of Washington, with screaming people sporting signs for something called SUMAC, and featuring quotes like Gandhi’s “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.”

They’re protesting against preacher man John Luthor, who is being interviewed.  The interviewer expositions that Luthor has been hailed as “God’s ambassador,” but that some say that he is “intolerant” and “condescending.”

John explains it away thusly:

“I’m not a Republican…”

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“I’m not a Democrat, I don’t belong to any particular religious denomination.”

Of course you don’t, bud.  We want this movie to sell to all intolerant, condecending denominations.

He also describes himself as a former “abusive, alcoholic, gambling drug addict.”

Damn, son, that’s a lot of addictions to have at once.  You must’ve been a busy boy.

Of course, this is the typical “I was a horrible sinner saved by grace” stuff, and it’s pretty early to hit that, but whatevs.  The interviewer has nothing to say about John’s past history of abuse, but instead pops right to her next subject, the “Faith and Fairness Act,”

“…to publicly declare your religious beliefs in a way that permits equal time and respect to other systems of faith…”

That’s all we get so far on what this proposed legislation is actually about, meaning…we know basically nothing.  What are the details of this, and how would it affect John and his ministry or anybody else and their ministry…that is all fuzzy at this point.

(Yep, I decided to do this movie blind.  Because I have so much to say about every little scene.)

But despite the fuzziness for the audience, John is ready with his take on the legislation:

“Freedom is fragile and costly, and must be defended by work and by faith…and even by blood.”

Wow, John, that doesn’t sound vaguely threatening at all.  Jerk.

After the interview, John goes to a nighttime rally or whatever.  I mean, I guess whatever it is when it’s not Sunday and a preacher yaks at you and you have an opening act.

Said opening act is a lame and supremely unfunny stand-up-isa guy, who cracks wise about how “meticulous” John is, and how he had a sinful past involving “buying Communion wine in kegs.”  Har.

WAIT A MINUTE!!!  THAT’S FRIGGIN’ BRAD STINE!!!

Damn, no wonder I’m not amused.

Still, it seems Brad isn’t wrong about the whole “meticulous” thing, as we cut to John prepping backstage, obsessively repeating a prayer to be “pure, honest, clean,” and doing some stupid shadow boxing exercises.  He’s so deadly serious about this that we do get the impression that John is one of these intense kind of guys who is incapable of overcoming an addiction or a troubled past without CONTROLLING EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AROUND HIM WITH AN IRON GRIP.

Doesn’t exactly endear me to him, but then again, maybe we’re going to see some growth in John.  Maybe the persecutory events he’s about to go through will force him to loosen up a little.

As he’s in the middle of yet more pre-preaching praying, John is interrupted by Senator Evil Senator From The X-Men Movies, who wants John to say nice things about the Faith and Fairness Act.  This seems a tad unlikely, as Senator X-Men just saw John talk about the blood that might be needed to combat such a bill, but the senator really wants John’s good word, since he has such a big ministry.

Okay, we’re only a few minutes in, and already this is falling apart.  The very first thing we see in this movie is a demonstration AGAINST John and his ministry, so how does the senator think John’s support is necessary?  Hell, there appear to be plenty of people who HATE John and what he preaches, so why don’t you use that in your favor, Senator X-Men?  Talk about how John’s intolerant ministry is against freedom and equality!  Do I have to do everything for you?

John says no, citing the whole “there is only one way to Heaven” bit, and Senator X-Men alludes vaguely to some favors he has done for John in the past.  John shrugs this off (vaguely), and now it’s Senator X-Men’s turn to make a veiled threat, this time about running out of patience.  Undeterred, John kisses Senator X-Men (yes, really.  On the cheek) and heads out to preach.

Well, okay, he goes out to denounce the bill.  Seriously, Senator X-Men just asked him to support it, and John goes out and THIRTY SECONDS LATER talks smack about it.  That’s pretty rude, John.  I thought you just said that all you wanted to do was preach the Bible.

So Senator X-Men gives a go-ahead over the phone.  And out in the alley, a besuited dude gives a young black girl some pills.  She tosses them back, and they go inside and he takes a picture of her with John when he’s done preaching, since “she loves your show.”  Oh yeah, humorless TV preachers are always a hit with the under-18 demographic.

Driving home later, John thinks about a conversation with his wife and their little daughter.  He has to miss her recital because of a “super-important board meeting,” but it’s okay because…she gets to make him breakfast in bed?

Man, RTC families are weird.

John spies a young girl on the side of the road, signaling for help.  It is of course, the same girl from before, but John doesn’t notice.  He does, however, get out of the car and follow her, and is, of course, conked on the head by Besuited Guy and dragged away.

Okay, this plan sure banked heavily on John a) noticing the girl and b) getting out of the car and following her instead of, for example, staying in his car and calling 911.

They take his car and drive it around while the girl makes out with the unconscious John and takes pictures in the backseat.  Then they stop and Besuited Guy smacks the girl around to bruise her…and then kills her.  Meanwhile, John regains consciousness, stumbles out of the backseat, and makes a run for it.

And, to make sure there is no suspense whatsoever, we see that all this is recorded on the phone of a person hiding in the woods.

Okay, I get that they’re trying to do a Fugitive thing here, with John as the wrongly-accused man, fighting against the odds to prove his innocence, but…why run NOW?  Dr. Richard Kimble ran because he had already been convicted in a trial, and knew if he was caught, he would be sent right back to prison.  But John has no idea what’s going on yet.  All he knows is that he was ambushed and knocked unconscious.  And again, as far as he knows, there is only one other man there.  And they took the trouble to establish that John is an active guy who knows boxing.  So why wouldn’t he take down this guy, or at least run to the first phone he can find to call the police and figure this out?

But no, John runs…like a guilty man would.  And he only compounds his stupidity from here…

Next time.