Skip to main content

If a picture says a thousand words, then our eyes can see a thousand lies.

One by One
(2014)

(SPOILERS) This first came on my radar last year, loosely labelled as “the film that got Rik Mayall killed” (although he managed to shoot another first). And more particularly, noting its importance as a portent of current times. I didn’t bite until now, as I didn’t think it sounded much cop. And... It is certainly topical, I’ll give One by One that. Unfortunately, however, it falls into the great yawning trap awaiting all dramatised polemics: being both patronising and preachy. And not very dramatic. It’s very rare that such approaches do work – JFK (1991) is a rare exception – and the more problematic that Diane Jessie Miller’s film finds itself following a path that closely resembles the Christian conversion movie. Dion (Heather Wilson) is “born again” as a conspiracy believer – and more to the point, a believer in the population-reduction agenda – by means of induction by a small cadre of proselytisers to the cause headed by Mayall’s Ernest.

I’ve seen a few other reviews reference the quartet – quintet with Dion – as a cult, but they’re only a cult in as much converts to The Celestine Prophecy – which unsurprisingly gets a mention – bigging it up at Book Group are. Although, they admittedly share the self-righteousness that afflicts the religiously devout, waxing holier than thou about their new acolyte being “enslaved in a society unable to do anything but consume”. Of course, that’s widespread amongst the awake generally, a malaise requiring one to exclaim “I’ve been saying this from the start” – or in David Icke’s case, “for THIRTY years!” – at every opportunity. A pose guaranteed to put off anyone on the fence, let alone anyone disinclined to learn more and convinced you’re a loony anyway.

That said, Mayall’s a welcome restrained presence, avoiding a nutty or over-didactic performance. Which rather suggests the subject matter was close to his heart or – given the movie’s evidently ultra-low budget and limited resources – he had pals somewhere in the production. The insufferable smugness mostly comes from John (Duncan Wigman), constantly cracking an inanely knowing grin as Ernest explains some new titbit to gormless Dion.

Jeff is introduced as a character devoted to crude innuendos, but he soon drops this façade when his true self, that of a sensitive seeker, is revealed. He informs Dion that nobody owns their car, offers the lowdown on the 2012 Olympics logo, and “cleverly” confronts climate change protestors on their implicit support of population reduction (but, such is the messy characterisation, he’s also required to offer scepticism to more overtly spiritual leanings: “Jesus Christ, what are we, the fucking Waltons? Man up”).

Dion works with upbeat Lily (Katina Nare), prone to speaking in Celestine Prophecy/Conversations with God platitudes: “Everyone’s got a story to tell, and we’re all on the same path”. Her dad (Steven Macaulay, who doesn’t look nearly old enough) is also given to such sage pronouncements as “You don’t need money to live” before backtracking somewhat when put on the spot.

The problem here, besides the rudimentary nature, is that there’s nothing to hang the message on. Dion doesn’t know the real deal. Chum Lily dies. Dion gets with the programme via a crash-course montage of laptop research (“She’s got to do it herself” John tells Ernest, presumably in much the same way one has to ask Jesus into one’s life oneself). Dion ditches slimy police boyfriend Jeff (Sean Meyer). She then tries to wake Jeff, who reacts in the kind of incredibly daft fashion one might except from a daytime Aussie soap, waving a gun about (to be fair to him, this might be because he spent an entire night with a laptop microwaving his testicles). Fortuitously, that’s just when martial law is declared, with the result that he leads the charge in population reduction.

Utopia dealt with many of themes mooted here, and whether or not Dennis Kelly’s piece was expressly designed as predictive programming – as a Channel 4 commission, it was implicitly sanctioned, even if did get cancelled – the reason it succeeded was that it found a storyline in which to weave its conspiratorial musings (I say succeeded guardedly, as I was much less impressed with its second run). For the most part, Miller frequently has only the rather lumpen speechifying. Which leads one to wonder whether a documentary narrated by Mayall might have better served the mission (of course then we wouldn’t have encountered the galvanising force of Lily’s tragic demise. It might also have highlighted that, however accurate the film’s gist is – and it is, accurate – there’s not really that much in the way of bona fide evidence that doesn’t involve inference and extrapolation).

Nevertheless, if the execution leaves a lot to be desired, One by One still makes for an interesting document in terms of best guesses at the agenda’s path to fruition, currently in full effect from the Gates-keeper himself, the proud product of a line of eugenicists. Presumably, Miller is basing her 500-million figure on the Georgia Guidestones (which is closer to 7% of the population than 5% on 2014 figures, but who’s counting). There’s a concern here, though. Miller may be right to puncture the climate-change agenda (little Greta’s handlers would be irate, were they one of the ten people to have seen Miller’s movie), but she’s taking as gospel many of the same facts promoted by those she denounces as liars.

Are we really even sure the world’s population is seven-eight billion? Can we be certain ice ages occur as part of natural climate change (maybe Miller would have jumped aboard the mudflood wave if she’d made this a few years later)? Can we know the Guidestones and not deagle.com represent the true face of the depopulators? Or neither? And how far does this predictive programming go? Back to material suggesting “Greys” are a devolved, sterile future tense of humanity? Further, to Rudolf Steiner’s warnings of the same (which manage to avoid telling us how this will come to pass)?

At one point, Ernest offers his opinion “…I believe that this planet can support two billion humans perfectly comfortably”, adding that it’s a question of space: “Almost seven billion humans use too many resources. This leads to a very uncertain future for us all” and “Soon we will have depleted the resources so much, that life can’t be sustained, and then everything will die”. Which sounds a little like Miller buys into overpopulation as an issue, even as she denounces the elite’s means of dealing with it. Which is curious. I’d suggest the last thing on the Elite/NWO order mind is a Thanos-like concern for preserving an imperilled planet, but delving into Satanic agendas appears to be beyond Miller’s remit. Besides which, Buckminster Fuller – who knew a thing or two – was of the view that the Earth could support ten times its current population; it isn’t a matter of insufficient resources, but of how those resources are allocated.

Elsewhere, Miller leaves the question open but is clearly leading the audience in the right direction when a character finds herself “wondering if global warming and climate change is just another way of making us live in fear”, before extending that to the Cold War and nuclear testing. Ernest brings the War on Terror into the conversation as he explains the fall of the Twin Towers (“Play building blocks with me”) feeding fear of terrorist attacks and so fuelling the acceptance of such police-state measures as chips in passports, ID cards and pervasive CCTV (“They’re using this orchestrated ruse to convince the public to accept Big Brother type controls”).

As to the method, she casts her net wide, since “There are a mass of ways they can introduced population slaughter”. These range from “being frog-marched away from our homes in a martial-law type of way” (on the grounds of climate change), to invoking internment camps (see Canada’s leaked plan for 2021), to “The armed forces are going to kill us. What they’re trained to do”, to using “fear to fuel racism”, and “We’ll do the job for them”. Then there are “Staged events, bioengineered diseases, vaccines” (in fairness to the diseases part, few outside of GNM were really questioning virus theory prior to March 2020).

Ernest doubles down: “It could come in vaccines. Not this generation. The next… Prevention and cure for cancer. Or having babies”. Which is one of the prevailing – and reasonable – assumptions behind the guise of an entirely humanitarian mass-vaccination programme. Of course, the other is that this programme carries a feast of other functions beyond the usual cocktail of nasty ingredients, that it’s designed to alter our DNA and switch on/off our immune system at will (Miller covers this with Ernest’s realisation that simple sterility wouldn’t be enough: “You’re right. They’d never wait two generations!”). Most astutely, Miller suggests “This global holocaust will probably come out from under the banner of the United Nations”.

One might argue Miller’s protracted discussions don’t take things far enough, that focussing on depopulation represents only the tip of the iceberg, that the explanations given aren’t nearly compelling enough unless you are already in the know, and by emphasising just that element she is buying into the fear her characters are decrying. The Celestine Prophecy-style oneness rather goes out the window once the focus is on our mortal coils, or the shuffling off thereof. Nevertheless, Miller gets five out of five for good intentions. As far as inserting her content into a successful storytelling, though, One by One is a bust.

Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

I can’t be the worst. What about that hotdog one?

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) (SPOILERS) It would have been a merciful release, had the title card “ The End ”, flashing on screen a little before the ninety-minute mark, not been a false dawn. True, I would still have been unable to swab the bloody dildoes fight from my mind, but at least Everything Everywhere All at Once would have been short. Indeed, by the actual end I was put in mind of a line spoken by co-star James Wong in one of his most indelible roles: “ Now this really pisses me off to no end ”. Or to put it another way, Everything Everywhere All at Once rubbed me up the wrong which way quite a lot of most of the time.

We’ve got the best ball and chain in the world. Your ass.

Wedlock (1991) (SPOILERS) The futuristic prison movie seemed possessed of a particular cachet around this time, quite possibly sparked by the grisly possibilities of hi-tech disincentives to escape. On that front, HBO TV movie Wedlock more than delivers its FX money shot. Elsewhere, it’s less sure of itself, rather fumbling when it exchanges prison tropes for fugitives-on-the-run ones.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

So, you’re telling me that NASA is going to kill the President of the United States with an earthquake?

Conspiracy Theory (1997) (SPOILERS) Mel Gibson’s official rehabilitation occurred with the announcement of 2016’s Oscar nominations, when Hacksaw Ridge garnered six nods, including Mel as director. Obviously, many refuse to be persuaded that there’s any legitimate atonement for the things someone says. They probably weren’t even convinced by Mel’s appearance in Daddy’s Home 2 , an act of abject obeisance if ever there was one. In other circles, though, Gibbo, or Mad Mel, is venerated as a saviour unsullied by the depraved Hollywood machine, one of the brave few who would not allow them to take his freedom. Or at least, his values. Of course, that’s frequently based on alleged comments he made, ones it’s highly likely he didn’t. But doesn’t that rather appeal to the premise of his 23-year-old star vehicle Conspiracy Theory , in which “ A good conspiracy theory is an unproveable one ”?

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

He doesn’t want to lead you. He just wants you to follow.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) (SPOILERS) The general failing of the prequel concept is a fairly self-evident one; it’s spurred by the desire to cash in, rather than to tell a story. This is why so few prequels, in any form, are worth the viewer/reader/listener’s time, in and of themselves. At best, they tend to be something of a well-rehearsed fait accompli. In the movie medium, even when there is material that withstands closer inspection (the Star Wars prequels; The Hobbit , if you like), the execution ends up botched. With Fantastic Beasts , there was never a whiff of such lofty purpose, and each subsequent sequel to the first prequel has succeeded only in drawing attention to its prosaic function: keeping franchise flag flying, even at half-mast. Hence Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore , belatedly arriving after twice the envisaged gap between instalments and course-correcting none of the problems present in The Crimes of Grindelwald .

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.