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Nick Olson

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  1. Yes, this is right. A bit more American and a bit more contemporary was the natural progression Volume 3 was going to take if it was going to maintain the series trajectory of different directors/topics. Well, I suppose this is loosely true--to some degree dependent on one's definitions of "Masters" and "faith and spirituality."
  2. Much rejoicing for me this afternoon. Now if they'll only put it on Netflix sooner!
  3. Nick Olson


    I don't think that's always the case, though. Because the Doctrine of the Incarnation isn't just about Christ, it's about the fact that we are incarnated in physical form, this implies things about the goodness and/or necessity of physical being. When the Gnostics would attack the Incarnation, they were attacking ideas about the physical created order more than attacking anything about Platonic ideas. If there is such a thing as a progressive belief that anything (or just even most things) can be made virtual, that having something like a healthy human relationship can be reduced to the virtual online world, then I'd argue that such a belief would be Gnostic, and would be an attack (even if an unintentional one) on the Doctrine of the Incarnation. Agree. This was my line of thinking when I was talking embodiment earlier in the thread.
  4. Not that I'm really a "major player" but FWIW: I didn't vote. Not out of indifference--I honestly lost track of when the voting was due and by the time I did, I ran out of time to get it done....
  5. Also, will there be a process by which the write-ups are given that isn't simply first-come, first-serve on the basis of whoever happens to be on the board when the results are published?
  6. I regret not nominating (seconding?) Sherlock, Jr.
  7. Nick Olson


    But, see, that doesn't contradict my reading at all. Good. I'm glad that it doesn't, Steven. I do see this. Right. I can see that it isn't. Agree about Cronenberg, Mike. I will reiterate one thing: I think the futuristic "comfortable with how technology has evolved" aspect in early scenes has a something's-not-quite-right strangeness about it. And I maintain that the Mara dinner scene subverts idea that the film, and the setting within the film, are comfortably post-embodiment or post-(real)presence. Theodore is worried what people will think, which suggests that it's not a normative thing to do.
  8. Nick Olson


    Josh Larsen has a couple of lines that probably better get at what I was saying in my initial response: "Her is no grim, anti-tech dystopia, but neither does it bow before the throne of invention. The movie understands that as much as technology may enhance our lives, it won’t be able to save us – or our relationships."
  9. Nick Olson


    Steven: Quick response to your initial "blunt" responses (have to get to class)...I wasn't saying that you were asking for an uncomplicated pile-on and because you didn't get it, you didn't like the movie, though I can definitely see that I wasn't clear on that point. Mostly, I had in mind the countless think pieces we've seen on the internet in the last few years that, individually and collectively, don't say "technology is the devil" (of course they don't and most people wouldn't), but create a narrative/ongoing conversation about technology that, in some circles, often feels exclusively critical. So I think, in part, Jonze wanted to sell us on this relationship happening and even being (in a limited way) meaningful or helpful--but the limitations are finally the point and the last scene colors those limitations in a way that leans humanist and recalls the moments I've mentioned. I don't think you can say that the film sets up an exact 1:1 relationship between Phoenix/Mara and Phoenix/AI (though the parallels you cite are definitely there), because the last scene/moment in the film is a meaningful, (perhaps mildly subversive) aftermath to the "f*ck it, lets be with technology" bent that precedes the final scene. I can't stress enough that despite the stuff about Mara/Coppola, I think Jonze sets up the character, though flawed, as a voice of reason. I don't think Amy's understanding acceptance "undermines" Mara's scene. But perhaps a second viewing at some point will confirm your reading for me. I should say that since seeing it, I've been thinking about the film in precisely these terms, and often questioning whether or not the film is strong enough as a humanist critique. I've landed in the camp which says that ultimately the clues lean that way. But I don't mean to suggest that it's not highly debatable.
  10. Nick Olson


    I think there are quite a few hints that it's ultimately leaning humanist; it's just not an uncomplicated pile-on in a couple of ways. I think it's unwilling to say "technology = evil" and I think it has a "transhumanist" bent (I'd make distinctions between this and "posthumanist") that, to my eyes, ultimately comes down to the question of wanting to overcome human weakness/ugliness, but not out of disdain for humanness itself. The "double date" scene, the surrogate scene, the way that for much of the film Theodore is filmed as keeping within himself to the ignorance of the larger world (and the way this contrasts with the very final shot), the persistent shots in the first half of the film in which "the lonely crowd" is all the more accelerated in the future, the fact of where he works and what he does at work, the scene when Rooney Mara tells it like it is (and how this scene is distinguished in tone/look from the rest of the film). All of this points to a trajectory that, to me, at least leans humanist. I could see its attempts to complicate not working for people (not 100% sure it works for me), but "what will we ultimately have to offer them" doesn't seem to me to be qualitative of the film's set up or conclusion. If you'll allow the pun, the film is not only about sighs for real interface (humanist) but smoother interface (transhumanist), and that's why the computer is an enticement to Theodore: human relationships (human beings) are often so messy and seemingly hopeless. So 1. this new technology is a functional comment about wanting to overcome this problem even while 2. in the end it's not a functional answer.
  11. I don't think the film "claims" to do anything. If the moral dimension of satire was limited to the presence of counter-balancing characters, I might agree. If Coach Taylor (clear eyes...!) is the only means by which Scorsese has of "adding" (by which the reviewer means something like countering or subverting) to Belfort's perspective, then yeah "satire" is a fig leaf. But it's not.
  12. It is? He has? Um ... even allowing for it as a rhetorical flourish and not playing Catholicker-than-thou terminology game ... that makes no sense. Scorsese has never not been an astringent moralist. And if he isn't here, then he never has been. Strong agreement.
  13. This is all really helpful, Darren, and gives me some good things to think about. I suspect we might part ways as to the usefulness/helpfulness of Scorsese's film, or more to the point, of narrative itself. I'd love to have a conversation with you at some point about this in particular: "I don't know if it's fair to say that I turned from being an ideological critic to a formalist so much as I eventually gave up on narrative as the best point of access to ideology." I'd love to hear more about this personal transition of yours--what, exactly, it means for you and how you arrived to it. Perhaps our paths will eventually cross at a festival or something. The example from SB that you cite--the intermittent, slow-mo shots of kids on the beach--as an extra-narrative moment which is a sharp contrast to the more standard-narrative mode in which Scorsese's film is operating makes a lot of sense.
  14. What I hear being said is that Scorsese's film has an organizational structure that facilitates something like a "moral center," but Korine's formal approach is such that you wouldn't detect a "moral center" as you would in Scorsese's film. (I could be pulling this out of thin air). If that's the case (and it would make sense to me), I suppose my question is, per Korine's formal approach, what are the signals of critique that stand out to you all?
  15. Made possible by the highly publicized notion that the first act of the film is not far removed from what these girls get up to on a regular basis, including the little echo chamber of singing Britney Spears songs in harmony. The thing I find fascinating about Spring Breakers is Korine is actually doing less than it seems to accomplish his formal goals. Trying to find a moral center in Korine's films seems to verge on a category mistake. Darren (Anders, too?), I'm not sure I follow what you're getting at precisely with "Scorsese's classicism"... Mike, when you get the chance could you talk more about what you're getting at with the second and third sentences I have quoted here? This is a helpful conversation and I want to make sure I'm following it well.
  16. More later perhaps (heading to bed). For now: I'm still not sure I detect a "reveling in ugliness" qua critique in SB like I do in WOLF, which means that I'm not so much calling out Korine's sincerity about a moral position so much as I'm questioning whether or not a moral position is evident in the film in the way that it is in Scorsese's. That said, I'd love to hear you flesh out that second paragraph a bit more. But most importantly: NIGHT MOVES is near the top of my want-to-see list, so I'm glad to read your last comment, Darren.
  17. You're way out ahead of me in terms of reading all that a film is doing formally, Darren. So I'll say that up front. Have you written about Spring Breakers extensively? Here's what I mean mostly by what I said above. If someone asked me what Scorsese thought of his subject or whether or not WOLF has a moral center, I think I could provide a really compelling, layered answer to that question in the affirmative. If someone asked me what I think Korine thinks of Spring Break culture based on his film alone, I don't know that I have an answer one way or the other. I haven't stopped thinking about many aspects of Scorsese's film--and most of the formal choices I notice actually play into the answer I would provide; the most SPRING BREAKERS left me with was Franco's one-liners/performance and the Britney Spears "video" (one of my favorite scenes of the year, fwiw). I think I could write the perspective of SB being satirically interesting, but I'd at least feel like one of those writers ascribing something to a film that's not definitely there. That doesn't mean that I'm not missing something about Spring Breakers or that "therefore" WOLF is better or "therefore" if you like SB, you have a morality problem (hopefully I don't need to explicitly state this, but so as to avoid online communication traps). All of this is to say that I agree much of this comes down to taste (and I know exactly what you mean about feeling at a remove from a director's world), but I'm not sure if I'd agree with the first part of your first sentence. I'd need to be convinced that Korine is making a similar statement (and I'd like to be!)...
  18. I am really interested in this issue of films that supposedly attempt making a point via audience participation in indulgence. On the whole, I'm highly suspicious of it when I hear it as a critical line of defense. This year we have Spring Breakers, The Wolf of Wall Street, and I think some have argued for Pain and Gain fitting in this category of "but over-the-top indulgence is the point! Isn't it subversive?!" I'll share that I struggled to discern a "there" there with Spring Breakers (I haven't seen Pain and Gain, but I have my doubts), while I think Wolf, despite operating in this vein of audience manipulation, is clearly a morally-infused satire. I think much of the chatter about this (including the Scorsese snippets above) comes when we make a distinction between "moral" and "moralizing." Scorsese doesn't spell it out for us, but his righteous indignation is evident to me nonetheless. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure "righteous" and "evil" are relevant to Spring Breakers. Perhaps for some that's not a problem. I've said elsewhere that, for the most part, the sex in Wolf isn't all that sexy. When I've qualified it, I've had in mind the scene Darren mentions.
  19. And--notably--Brody has WOLF tied for his #1 spot with TO THE WONDER. And the one time he commented on a Facebook post of mine was when it had to do with Kierkegaard's THIS PRESENT AGE. Make of that what you will (not much to make of it, really). Either way--Brody is an interesting fellow, and one of my favorite critics. His piece about WONDER and light is brilliant, imo. It's the kind of piece that was able to increase my estimation of the film it concerned.
  20. Victor, you're dead on about Belfort as an unreliable narrator in the film...and it makes the REAL Belfort appearance in the end of the film all the more sly, doesn't it??
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