May 29, 2008

Rambo (2008): B+

If we critics fall victim to any one pitfall, it's that simplest of traps: judging a book by its cover. I first saw the career-defining First Blood earlier this year and was taken aback by its decidedly non-shoot 'em up story and execution, in much the same way that my then 9-year-old mind was completely blown away on first encounter with The Terminator, another classic film whose unique moral qualities and humane inquiries are routinely usurped by its popularity within - and subsequently caricatured pigeonholing by - pop movie culture. Of course, it's easy to become cynical without being deliberately so, and though I've yet to see either Rambo: First Blood Part II or Rambo III (is this the most inconsistently titled movie series of all time or what?), I wasn't exactly holding high expectations for the fourth entry, titled simply Rambo. Of course, the whole concept of expectations is something I'd like to banish from criticism, but to seriously attempt such would be to imitate Don Quixote raging against the windmills.

Consider, then, this newest entry in the Rambo franchise, also the latest in mainstream cinema's implicit responses to our current political moment; nearly all films reflect their times, though these troublesome ones seemingly encourage our artists to do so more explicitly. Stallone uses his iconic character here to explore the necessary evils of violence through a brutal pop lens, recalling his own role in fashioning 80's cinematic actioners and how those films have influenced not only subsequent works of the genre, but an entire generation of moviegoers weaned on them. Approaching his subject matter with a matter-of-fact, workman-like artistry, Stallone's Rambo purports nothing more than it shows, sweaty and bloody and matter-of-fact in both its ideas and attitudes. The rejected American soldier now resides in the jungles of Burma, where genocide is an everyday reality as entire villages of underdeveloped farmers are subjected to the vicious whims of a greedy military colonel. Audiences may snicker at Stallone's age but such befits the bone-wearing wisdom of his character's place in life, having long fought for justice with little to nothing in the way of long-lasting success. Worldly systems too great and vast to permanently disrupt are in place that only perpetuate violence against the innocent, and when a band of Christian missionaries looks to him for help in aiding the oppressed, he tells them matter of factly: "Live your life, cause you've got a good one." Rambo doesn't quite say that it's impossible to fix the world, but it knows in its bones that it takes more than a few rebels working together to do the trick.

I'm as bleeding heart as they come, but infuriating to me as well is the often-legitimate insinuation that all liberals are whiny tree huggers who'd rather turn tail than fight back in the midst of a terrorist attack. Though it goes without saying that Rambo isn't in the same ball park, league, or sport as Steven Spielberg's morally challenging Munich (which complicates the issue with the downward spiral of revenge), I'm glad to see a relatively mainstream film boldly and appropriately establishing the need for violence in a violent world, even if Stallone chooses not to delve into the widely-differing set of morals required when functioning in wartime versus diplomacy off the battlefield. Neoconservatives would have us think that there exist no worthwhile politics that can't be handled with shock and awe style carpet bombing, but equally important is the fact that sometimes there's no other choice but to shoot back. Threatened by a boatload of pirates eager to rape his lone female passenger after killing off the men, John Rambo shoots first Han Solo style, necessarily and unapologetically, kill or be killed. By the end of the film, even the whiny Christian who tells John that "taking a life is never right" has beaten a few thugs' skulls in with a stone. Rambo's emphasis on violence, then, isn't an exercise in wanton catharsis but an admission to unpleasant necessities - only a sick person would actually enjoy the onslaught of exploding heads and severed limbs as featured here, which are shot plain and ugly, without fanfare. First Blood remains the ultimate Rambo film because it asks us, what are our leaders doing to fix the situation while our brave men and women do what is asked of them? Even more so in a post-9/11 world, guns aren't a solution, merely a temporary fix. Eventually, they'll run out of ammo.

May 12, 2008

Youth Without Youth (2007): A

Though I lack much in experience, it seems wholly true to me that anyone truly, madly, deeply in love with film must know that it is not a medium one goes to for articulation of thought, but for expression of feelings - often indefinable (though we may try), and thus encapsulating the maddening difficulty of attempting to capture that which cannot be. As everything from plot-driven storytelling to the popular upsurge of documentaries would tell us, there is room enough for the relatively literate within the medium, but it remains at its core one of emotional equations, the feelings evoked as one image unfolds to the next with whatever sights and sounds they carry with them. And though I'm unavoidably biased in this specific case - a masterpiece from a master director, almost universally reviled by those long awaiting his return - the fact remains that reading most film criticism feels not so different from dispassionate market analysis more concerned with popularity and marketability than art and feeling. You want a story? Read the front page. I'm here for the picture show.

Francis Ford Coppola's experimental mood piece Youth Without Youth strikes these chords of intangibility in both form and content, it being literally "about" a man of brilliance attempting to finish his monumental life's work, while also reflecting the its creator's prolonged efforts to do the same. From Apocalypse Now to Bram Stoker's Dracula to now, Coppola has continually stretched the narrative form to its breaking points, churning through styles and methods with a vigor that can only be described as artistic initiative, strictly defiant of logic as it pries through the depths of our humanity. To submit to it is like flowing with some divine current, navigating the bowels of some heavenly palate (even the nightmarish hijinks of Apocalypse Now are guided by a deeply spiritual hand), and to do such is a choice we often make in that we either watch (detached, passive) or experience (navigate, explore) our movies. Tim Roth's Dominic Matei says that he continues his consumption of life during sleep. The dreamlike qualities of projected images allow us to do the same.

It would be easy to say that Youth Without Youth is many things at once, but bolder and truer to say that it is about everything and nothing, at all times. The burden of existence weighs down heavily on Coppola/Dominic, the cold montage opening the film an impressionistic collage of poor Yorick skulls, cryptic scrawling and time pieces set to the incessantly ticking mechanisms that serve to remind us of our imminent mortality. A stylistic throwback to classic 50's cinema as much as it is an operatic tragi-romance imbued with a kind of labyrinthine Lynchian madness, the film involves pseudo-science, religious overtones, split personalities, time travel devices, and Nazi-coveted superpowers, and that's just off the top of my head. Past romances, future possibilities, and the dogged desire to know where we come from all play into the experiences of Dominic, whose old-aged attempt at suicide is thwarted when he is struck by lightning, only to fully heal and become half his age in appearance.

Armond White calls the film a "brainy debacle" but I see no need for intellectualism here, and nor do I think that's what Coppola has us aiming for. Incidental to our friendship, I'm more in league with Keith Uhlich, who offers this: "Allow the constant play of words, ideas, images and sounds to wash over you in an aural/visual continuum and it becomes suddenly, brilliantly illuminating." Indeed, there is little logic to be found in the construction of Coppola's film, and nor does the architecture of the heart require stability in such ways as we tend to take for granted as being the only means available to us. Segueing from espionage thrills to a reclusive romance with super-spiritual overtones to an oblique meditation on death, Youth Without Youth requires us to abandon traditional cinematic devices in favor of base stimuli response, a language established by the frontal surrealism of the pre-credit opening sequence (how one reacts to this scene may very well determine the entire film to follow), and one rewarded endlessly in its multi-layered compositions and rhythms seemingly weathered by the sands of time. Overwhelmed by the vortex-like first viewing, I can't begin to expound on the rolling layers of profundity the film relishes in, from infinite sorrow to redemption and back again. It is the soul itself, born witness to.

May 10, 2008

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008): B-

A second Harold & Kumar should have been, by all means, that typical second film that proves backwards and stale in every way its predecessor proved surprisingly otherwise. Key, then, is this sequel's sly self-awareness, indicative in its actualized satire and constant need to one-up itself, as if countering its own semi-pointlessness and pedantic plotline. Picking up immediately after the semi open-ended conclusion of the original, part two starts the self-reflexive irony out thick with some flowery, Louis Armstrong-accompanied credits, its effectiveness not coming from the choice but by the protracted execution. The credits allow the subtitle Escape from Guantanamo Bay to appear separately, thus upsetting the "What a Wonderful World" context more subversively than an abrupt soundtrack change would have. Only halfway into establishing the next scene, then, does the film go lewd and crude, cutting to Kal Penn's fast food-inspired bouts of diarrhea, laying on the linguolabial trills and expectorated bodily fluids as thick physically as they are metaphorically. It is in such a way that the appropriately titled film is carried out, and it is similarly appropriate, then, that the subtitle refers not to a stated goal in this case, but (practically) a starting point.

A spur-of-the-moment trip to Amsterdam goes awry when the impatient Kumar decides to smoke on the flight there, confusing an old woman into thinking them terrorists - beard, turban and all. "Bong" sounds like "bomb", and in many similar acts of confusion does government agent Ron Fox (a perfectly hateable Rob Corddry) idiotically suppose our two heroes to be jihadists bent on the death of innocent civilians (in a moment of soul-crushingly spot-on mockery, Fox questions a subordinate's loyalty to America by asking him if he likes to see little Caucasian girls getting raped). White Castle so perfectly established its characters as a gadflyish presence in our society that it can only deviate to the routine of newly introduced characters, providing our protagonists with an inferred backstory beginning with Kumar's college love interest, who is now preparing to marry the same Republican big shot who linked Harold up with his unsatisfying job. Things go far more smoothly than that last sentence, though, and it isn't long before H&K escape the titular prison back to Florida, having just evaded the task of giving head only to find themselves at a "Bottomless" party (to change the pace from the more popular means of breast exposure). And then a very atypical backwoods trailer. And then at a Ku Klux rally. And so on, upward, until Neil Patrick Harris is back with a unicorn and Dubya tells of his love for New Jersey weed (and his fear of Dick Cheney).

Quite wisely, the movie doesn't even attempt to recapture the singularity of the original, and its go for broke, scattershot silliness isn't always as hilarious as it is incessantly amusing, skewering the persistently self-imposed ignorance of racial and cultural stereotypes with a revealing and scathing bite. Ron Fox constantly bemuses (he attempts to "torture" two Jews and a black man by pouring coins and grape soda out of a can in front of them, respectively), but it is the Commander in Chief that proves most hilarious, an imitation by James Adomian made all the more amusing so by the simple virtue of featuring the indelible image of Dubya passing a joint with two "terrorizers". Guantanamo Bay avoids the offensive negation of potentially trivializing its subject matter by keeping things, no matter how ridiculous, rooted in the long-term reality of its lead characters (future job/life prospects, the links of a long-term friendship), while also dishing out the laughs on the people responsible for such horrors (the War in Iraq, the titular location, etc.) rather than those unjustly suffering their consequences. As before, Harold and Kumar come out of it all a little wiser and no worse for wear. After two films of their joyous irresponsibility and hedonistic pleasures, I can say with confidence that I wouldn't want to live in a world without them.

Speed Racer (2008): A+

Speed Racer may very well give your brain diabetes, and I state that as compliment. Digital to the extreme, this adaptation of the popular 70's cartoon is sure to give detractors of the Star Wars prequels a whole new ball game to play at, as it doesn't so much utilize its glossy, computerized sheen as it fully embraces it - like a child with a new set of toys, exploring the seemingly endless possibilities at hand. The aesthetic worth of Speed Racer will only be truly ascertainable in retrospect, but for now it can be appreciated (if for nothing else) as a bold experiment in delirious pop art, an orgasm of exploding rainbows that defies all physical and visual conventions in its no-holds-barred extravagance. One example: when the less fortunate of the film's racing automobiles crash and explode, the plumes of flame and dust could be any one of the colors of the rainbow, as if Andy Warhol was back from the dead, psyched as ever. By comparison, 300 may as well have been directed by Lars Von Trier.

Plots and themes aside, the Wachowski Brothers have always been readily identifiable as a distinctly auteuristic presence. From the delectable sexuality of Bound through the flawed ambition of The Matrix sequels, theirs is a style keyed into what makes us human (even as it resides within special effects-driven spectacles and familiar genre trappings), evoking telling subtleties with their impeccable, almost Kubrickian framing schemes, positioning men and women, leaders and masses, the rulers and the ruled with and against each other, utilizing space in ways traditionally overlooking in supposed popcorn fare. Speed Racer may very well find them shunning more deliberately meaningful filmmaking in favor of youthful nostalgia; having never seen the original Speed Racer and caring too little to do so, I'm in no position to comment on whether or not this is just another commercial ploy to remind middle-aged ticket buyers of the Good Old Days. Nevertheless, such is a gimmick I think beneath these boys, who - for all of their shortcomings and bad decisions - have never given out to profitability when doing such would impede on the essence of their vision.

Speed Racer is, at its heart, a family film, even if it isn't inappropriate to recommend watching it on LSD. I can only wonder about the future bootlegs being sold at comic book conventions, pairing the film up with various Pink Floyd songs that somehow match up with its bonkers imagery. The storyline remains one modestly grounded in simple themes and virtues: of David versus Goliath, of remaining true to oneself, of being there for friends at the end of the day. Performers notwithstanding, you can expect the usual Wachowski-directed performances: overly mannered and deliberate but also awkward, flawed, and revealing (the casting of Keanu Reeves as Neo remains one of the most unlikely and brilliant marriages of talent - or, as some would say, lack thereof - and content, in recent cinema), deliberately shaped to fit within the peg holes carved out amidst the landscape of flashing sights and sounds.

Such technical stimuli require nothing short of a leap of faith in this case; hold on, hang tight, and try to not look outside the ride lest the contrasting speeds give you motion sickness. Speed Racer is batshit crazy, constantly refocusing, zooming, panning, cutting, swiping, spinning, and bullet-timing, the equivalent of letting 1,000 hummingbirds loose in a McDonald's ball pit with sugar water in constant supply. The viewer is perpetually in the position of being overwhelmed, and though that's a deliberate effect, there were times (in between the moments in which I attempted to recalibrate my senses) that I wished they'd held back the extravagant editing only just, so as to appreciate the spectacle a little less from the purported perspective the racers (truly, they take the catchphrase "Go, Speed Racer, go!" to the ultimate extreme) and more so from the cheering spectators. No matter how fast their gadget spins, however, it stays decidedly on track, not unlike its titular character, whipping around hairpin turns designed precisely for drivers who know how to drive while hydroplaning. In a just world, the editing work in Speed Racer would be championed instead of the idiot chaos that is The Bourne Ultimatum.

A review generally involves a discussion of the story and drama in the film, but you know the story here. You always have. That's the point, and Speed Racer delights in its archetypal strands of fathers and sons, sons and mothers, younger and older brothers, corrupt bad guys and sidekicks who always step in at the right moment. Christina Ricci, Emile Hirsch, John Goodman and Susan Sarandon all nail this storybook genre, although Paulie Litt is particularly special as Speed Racer's younger brother Spritle, quite possibly the most curmudgeony ten-year-old ever put on a movie screen (in the film's penultimate moment of what-the-fuck, candy-colored bliss, he and his pet chimpanzee Chim Chim race around an upscale car factory, jamming out to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird"). If the film's style is any limitation in the end, it's a deliberate one, as Speed Racer aspires not to reinvent, but to reinvigorate.

May 4, 2008

Notes on a Second Viewing: Iron Man

* Robert Downey, Jr. may very well give the best leading performance we've yet seen in a superhero movie (Eric Bana, Christopher Reeve and Christian Bale would also receive my nomination). The downside to his popularity, then, is the fact that the similarly excellent Jeff Bridges has been somewhat lost in the mix. Who would've thought that The Dude could play a fear-mongering, war-profiteering, prehistoric-like monster so well? Like Downey, the role succeeds because he underplays it so effortlessly, grounding the character in legitimate emotions that exist beyond the plot-based demands of genre mechanics.

* Originally, I felt that the silent romance between Downey and Paltrow "didn't work". On second viewing, the problem came down to a single scene, when Pepper Potts decides to "quit" in the midst of Stark's newfound risk taking. Rooted in nothing even remotely connected to legitimate character motivations, it's a phony device meant to generate tension, all the more apparent because the performers go through the motions of it so well, as if hurdling an unnecessary speed bump before commencing the third act. My apologies, then, to the performers, and my commendation to the numerous screenplay writers for almost hitting it out of the park. I sincerely hope that the imminent sequel achieves the greatness that I feel this film comes within arm's reach of.

* More so than before, I stand by my original reading of the film as an almost-literal account of America coming to terms with itself as a post-9/11 superpower. Like the oxygen destroyer in Godzilla, Iron Man understands weapons and technology as creations in need of accountability and how the only thing separating that technology from being used for good rather than evil is the willpower to do so. Obadiah is out for profit and Stark for justice, the former illustrating the apathy many people bear towards others that either live elsewhere in the world or that they don't know personally (not unlike a number of so-called "Christians" that I know...).

* Was that Stan Lee playing himself dressed up like Hugh Hefner? Awesome.

* Some - such as a recent, anonymous poster on this blog (an option that I have now removed, seeing as I believe anyone willing to speak here should also be willing to identify themselves) - may very well think that Marvel's recent multiplex contributions are somehow tarnishing all that is good and holy in film culture. To that I say: Please.

* The bonus scene after the end credits isn't exactly mind-blowing. If you didn't stick around for it the first time, don't worry: it can wait for DVD.

May 2, 2008

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004): B+

A somehow tastefully modernized version of "Also sprach Zarathustra" plays over the climactic scene of the appropriately titled Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, an effective touch given the manner in which this sleeper hit epitomizes stoner yearning for munchies as a miniature odyssey unto itself. Knowingly and effectively pedestrian in its visual style and focus (or rather, lack thereof) on continuity, Danny Leiner's film disregards detail work in favor of focusing on a singular narrative thread, a path from which it cannot veer no matter what distractions lie outside its stated primary objectives. Utilizing visually straightforward framing devices and unabashedly cheap special effects work (most apparent in its deliberately unpolished blue screen compositions), Harold and Kumar is not unlike its toked-out protagonists and their "White Castle or bust" attitude when it comes to their Friday night cravings, unwaveringly intent on getting the job done, even if a little messiness is unavoidable in the process.

Such is a quality that provides numerous Plan 9-esque laughs, such as when night transitions abruptly to daytime or when fake blood moves or disappears altogether from one shot to the next as our protagonists are attacked by an obviously fake, puppet raccoon. Realism and technical astuteness are small change compared to timing and carefully moderated physical gestures, and John Cho and Kal Penn's (Harold and Kumar, respectively) ability to underplay absurdity often comes within arm's reach of perfection (the latter's forehead alone is an immense comedic weapon, wielded here with silent ferocity). Effectively feigning pothead motivation, Harold and Kumar knows what it wants and will let no obstacle stand in its way; no moment may be more in tune with stoner rational than Kumar's decision not to return to his apartment for his cell phone, the thirty foot walk being "too far" a distance to go back. By containing their premise to such a small scale, screenwriters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg render the titular journey almost profound.

Less noted but equally (if not more so) important is the manner in which Harold and Kumar upends racial subjugation within the traditions of the raunchy American teen comedy, not only correcting the destructive stereotypes its protagonists have long occupied in such films but allowing their respective minority groups to finally claim their own, long deserved piece of the American dream, complete with illegal substances and poontang (when Kumar states that their journey to White Castle is about more than just the acquisition of hamburgers, he speaks for the film itself). The passive racism of many sex comedies was effectively skewered by the original preview, which billed the film as starring "that Asian guy from American Pie and that Indian guy from Van Wilder", literally restating what the majority of its viewers had muttered to themselves not moments beforehand. Harold and Kumar trades not into stereotypes, however, but delightful caricatures, sending up the absurdities of racism (such as when a precinct of white power policemen arrest and beat a black man soon as look at him) with both wit and gravitas.

Harold and Kumar juxtaposes this reductive sense of race to everyday (and not-so-everyday) experiences of American minorities, its many 420-inspired scenarios no worse for wear as its protagonists mount the obstacles imposed by the often insane and idiotic Caucasians around them. Road rage, declarations of arson, wild cheetahs, redneck orgies, hang gliding and Neil Patrick Harris all figure into the mix before the night is over, and though the humor is routinely evoked from subverted expectations that go well beyond reason, its most effective sequences - such as Harold's worst-case-scenario elevator encounter with the girl of his dreams - are those that keep the steams of anxiety bubbling throughout. Too bad, then, that Harold and Kumar sporadically finds itself slacking off, slipping into a lazy stoner groove when it should be rigorously imitating one instead, thus illustrating the worlds-apart difference between being stupid and acting stupid. Sometimes-maddening inconsistencies notwithstanding, however, the film has already established itself as a deserving modern classic, if only for being so bold as to describe Katie Holmes' breasts as being "the exact opposite" of the Holocaust.

Iron Man (2008): B+

Solid and funk-free, Iron Man lovingly tosses the American ego about like a cat with string, mixing things up just enough to remind us that, when we get down to what's really important, there isn't that much separating traditional red state muscle from blue state radicalism (among other factors, least of which are the deceivers and thieves among us). All within the space of a traditional nuts-and-bolts studio summer picture, that is - the area in which Jon Favreau's very-capable Marvel adaptation succeeds most broadly, its barely-hidden subtext deliberately de-politicized in favor of more a more universally guided moral compass.

As pop entertainment, Iron Man has equal parts brain, brawn, and balls, but what it doesn't want you to know is that it has an equally bleeding heart. Titular superhero creator and billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (not so much played as executed by a bullwhip-like Robert Downey, Jr.) finds himself held captive by nomadic troops in Afghanistan, intent on using him as their latest tool in the War on Terror. If you've seen the preview, you know he breaks out of this prison, suited up and armed to the teeth like a prehistoric Frankenstein monster. What could have easily been just another dumb exercise in "nuke 'em all" idiocy becomes complex, then, when an escaped Stark declares his weapons factory closed in favor of more effective weapons of peace. Nearly blown to bits by his own shrapnel, he recognizes the dubious nature of war, its morals, and its victims: when the weapon system of his futuristic superhero suit distinguishes, with ease, between a group of terrorists and the Afghan women and children they're holding hostage, he may well be the most kick-ass Boy Scout ever to grace the silver screen.

Fitting, then, that the titular superhero character was first created in the early 60's as an all-around good guy patriot defending the world (first against communists, then more widely against evil) while furthering the advances of technology. He is U.S. industrialism's mechanical heart, one well satisfied with his role as king but one first and foremost intent on equality and order. If the final scene is any indication, Iron Man acknowledges this without hesitation, in a way serving to correct the knee-jerk boot in your ass superiority that evoked so many anti-American feelings post-9/11. With a virtually neverending supply of quips at his disposal, Downey almost brilliantly conveys this humbled elitism with equal levels charm, ego, and admission, his incredible downplaying scoring most of the laughs and his many stumbles reminding us that even our biggest of heroes had their days off. There's always room for improvement.

So then, temporarily switching out of cultural commentator mode, how does Iron Man stack up in the "entertainment" department? If I say it's entertaining and attention-grabbing, that's enough to convince many people that, yes, it's what I'm expecting from the previews and I feel confident having already decided to pay $8-$11 for it this weekend; I humbly state, then, that I require more from a film than it merely passing the time without my noticing. Nevertheless, props are due for the how the accomplished CG gets its due time in the spotlight without cramping more cardinal elements from moving forward (unlike the horrendous would-be spectacle of X-Men: The Last Stand), and in many such ways does the film exhibit learned craft and intuition in acknowledging what is most important, and when. Iron Man is fine entertainment indeed, an almost perfectly structured machine only sporadically and minimally undone by adherence to dramatic form (Stark's relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow's assistant Miss Potts, though bubbling with romance, is a weak link), which it executes with precise - if a bit roughly-hewn - skill.

Even speaking in just those terms, it's one impressive in its exhibited respect for the audience; it doesn't attempt pontification, but nor was I inclined to feel like a toddler as I do during just about any Marc Forster film. Yet whether we view things through specific "political" terms (a habit I'm glad to be mostly out of) or a more broadly social lens (i.e. how does this relate to real people now/always?), it can be stated that all good films are genuinely about something - not just plot points of who stole what money when or will they guy get the girl back this time, but themes and ideas greater than their isolated instances. This has always been the buried life support of genre films, those that knew how to inject an at-first-glance simple story with loaded emotional signifiers and passively explicit morality tales. Personality extends, then, to the film's hardware, from the all-but-fetishized Iron Man suit to Stark's penchant for an active (in more ways than one) lifestyle, equal parts wish fulfillment and emotional illuminator.

It is here that Iron Man nestles comfortably, far from the lofty reaches of Assault on Precinct 13 (one of the greatest action films ever made) but similarly empowering in its self-reflection, re-articulating American angst as altruism gone astray. As with Die Hard's faux-terrorists, Iron Man wages not against the politically oppressed (thus avoiding ideological quagmires likely beyond the reach of its genre tropes) but the purely treacherous and selfish, a milkshake-drinking legion well dispersed throughout the lands, including our own. By acknowledging that fact, Iron Man hardly makes the troops look bad (to use a term made odious in its excessive and inappropriate usage) - it ditches the bad apples and gets things accomplished without fronting its vices in the process.