Sorry folks about my lack of productivity but due to a broken bone I have had limited ability to type without being in extreme pain. Where we left off with the Manypo family is that Teppi’s father is convinced that Teppi is in fact his half-brother because his father had an “encounter” with his wife. Some sort of paranoia has taken over the head of the Manypo family is going to be overtaken by Teppi.
Teppi as we know is trying to get the family’s steel factory financing for the modern blast furnace to bring Japan into the modern industrial age. Also remember that the father is believes that the Hanshin bank is the key to the wealth and power of the family and is trying to avoid being merged into a bigger bank. Employing a desperate strategy of the small bank swallowing the bigger bank he asks his son-in-law (a high ranking treasury official) to get confidential data on the bank President Manypo thinks he can take over. His son in law bribes one of his colleagues to get the information. Not coincidently it is the same bank Teppi is seeking to get a major part of his financing through.
It dawns on President Manypo that if he can get his target bank to finance a major portion of the furnace and his son Teppi fails, the bigger bank with have massive exposure and losses that would make them vulnerable to a takeover. So machinations begin to set up Teppi quest for a blast furnace to go bust.
Meanwhile, the younger members of the family are being set up for political marriages. The youngest son is resigned to his fate to marry out of political needs to rather than love. Teppi also runs into an old flame and finds out that, though he loves his wife and child, a woman he truly treasured (and still has feelings for) was told by the Manypo “butler” in no uncertain terms that there was no way she and Teppi could marry because she didn’t come from a good enough family. Teppi is furious and returns to the Manypo family compound to demand answers. He sees his mother running out of her bedroom. Confused his younger brother explains that while Teppi was studying abroad he discovered that his father and the “butler” were involved in sexual relationship giving this witch even more power. So hurt was his mother that she ran back to her family (and was promptly returned) then tried to take her own life. Teppi’s brother said he has known for years but never said anything out of fear or retaliation.
The next day Teppi openly tells this “butler” to get the hell out. The rest of the Manypo family see the conflict since they are about to leave for the arranged marriage meeting. Teppie confronts his father directly who sides with the butler saying she is “indispensable” for the continuation of the Manypo dynasty.
About the only good news for Teppi is that due to his father in law’s intervention is issued the permit to proceed with construction with the construction of the blast furnace but even this has its downside because his father’s bank intentionally cut his funding by ten percent. So he has to go beg other banks for remaining 2 billion yen.
I really wish I could find the English translation of this novel. The author has some serious insight into what money does to people—even family. So afraid of losing their wealth these elite families engage in behavior that is truly despicable. Their wealth gives them power to ignore the law and social conventions of acceptable and moral behavior. These truly warped people have the veneer respectability and are the envy of those without this wealth and privilege. Unlike the masses they get to have it both ways; that is, they can engage in deviant behavior but do not have to face any of the consequences that an everyman or woman would if they behaved the same way. Anyone but the elite would be in jail for the way these people behave.
It reminds me of the relatedly recent news story when the heiress to the Mars candy fortune crossed the center line in her Porsche and killed a family coming home from wedding. This old woman certainly has a driver but instead she killed a family and what happened to her? I believe she was charged with a misdemeanor. If you or I were behind the wheel of the car we would (and should) be in jail.
All this because of some fancy paper?
We interrupt this Musashi series to bring you SS’s maiden review: Keeping up with the Joneses
The Joneses focuses on a foursome whose job is to pose as a family in wealthy suburbia in order to sell, to their neighbors, their picture-perfect luxury lifestyle and the accoutrements it requires. This phony stealth “marketing unit” is led by veteran mom Kate (Demi Moore) and includes rookie dad Steve (David Duchovny), slutty daughter Jenn (Amber Heard), and milquetoast son Mick (Ben Hollingsworth), all of them employed by KC (Lauren Hutton) to push high-end products to the various demographic groups in which they mingle. They can’t tell anyone what they’re doing, of course. That would defeat the purpose. Instead, they must cultivate “friendships” with the people they’re subtly advertising to. They’re salespeople whose goal is to market themselves, and director Derrick Borte promotes this fantasy with enough electronics-and-dishware fetishism to slyly indict his audience’s own materialist hunger.
In their new ritzy enclave, the Joneses wow the locals and befriend a couple, Larry Symonds (Gary Cole of Office Space) and Summer (Glenne Headly), who desperately need to keep up with their new neighbors and become integral components of their community. Summer is a salesperson, too, the old-school kind who hosts parties to sell a line of beauty products. She’s not very good at it, but she’s so focused on it that she has no time for Larry, who adores her. Larry, following Steve’s lead — Steve and Kate seem so happy! — buys baubles for his wife. But take a closer look at the situation and you’ll start to see something ominous lurking just beneath the surface. It’s only when the Joneses are confronted with the unexpected suicide of Larry that they finally discover who they really are beneath the glossy veneer of consumerism.
Yet lonely and unhappy in their downtime, the false family is so obviously and tamely positioned as embodiments of American consumerism-run-amok and the sham joy derived from purchased things that the film quickly telegraphs the sermon to come. Come it does, via the type of predictable tragedy one can see a country club away, though not before Steve subtly convinces men to buy fancy golf gear, Kate covertly hawks frozen dinners and beauty care products, Jenn and Mick advertise perfume and videogames to the local teens, and an equally foreseeable subplot plays out involving Steve’s desire for a real nuclear family and Kate’s developing feelings for her fake hubby.
As a modern satire of the nouveau riche, The Joneses offers a reflective look at the status seeking upper middle class: their shallow pursuit of the latest gadgets, designer clothes and other goods and shows that although on the surface they may seem successful, they are no better off than the middle or lower class. They are living hand to mouth on a different scale. The only difference is the number zero on the bills going out every month. They fall prey to the same flaws of vanity narcissism and they have the same insecurities about who they are in life, like their neighbor who had all the trappings of wealth on the surface but in the end the self-destruction drove him to suicide. They are all trying to display their lack of real wealth but expensive cars and clothes. When it comes down to it, your real wealth is not what is in your bank account. Feeling wealthy is the cause of your demise, because no matter what you buy, the bill is in the mail and at some point it will come home to roost. Trying to keep up with the Joneses, you can charge $30,000 worth of clothes, but you will still never keep up with them. It says something about society: we have these multinational companies telling us “we designed jeans which cost $200 per pair” even though a pair of Levis cost $50 and the $200 pair does not use four times as much denim. They create an illusion and when the consumer buys it becomes real. It is all about status — you can get as much status as your wallet can afford or at least fake it and hope you make it.
Posted by JPFmovies on April 17, 2011 in Movie Reviews
Tags: advertising, Amber Heard, American life, beauty products, Ben Hollingsworth, commentary, consumerism, David Duchovny, Demi Moore, Glengarry Glen Ross, golf, lauren hutton, marketing, narcissism, nouveau riche, real wealth, sales, self-destruction, SS, suicide, The Joneses, vanity