Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I can't figure out if I like Mindhunter or am just strangely enthralled by it. 

I've read most of John Douglas's books and consider him a national hero of sorts. The shift from S1 to S2 has been a bit jarring, reminding me of similar problems between S1 and S2 of Masters of Sex, another series based on groundbreaking academics that had trouble figuring out pace and how to balance a series arc with a season arc with an episode arc. I'm sort of afraid they''re turning Holden into Will Graham, and it makes me wonder (along with stuff about Tench's son) what parts of it are autobiographical and what parts fictional. (As with Masters of Sex or Dead Man Walking, I find changes to the historical record in such narratives to be problematic).

I am also trying to figure out if this is a David Fincher vehicle. Joe Penhall (show creator) wrote the screenplay for The Road, which I think has some tonal similarities. But filmcraft wise, it feels very Fincher. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

I can't figure out if I like Mindhunter or am just strangely enthralled by it. 

I resonate with this response—I watched both seasons with an eagerness to see how each episode played out, yet couldn't help but be frustrated by various problems (The disappearance of Hannah Gross after S1, Wendy's entire arc in S2, the pacing of the last three episodes in S2). Regarding Fincher, he directed seven of the episodes, but the grimy golden-hued aesthetic throughout the entire show certainly has his fingerprints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apropos of absolutely nothing, there is a scene in S2 where Holden is interviewing one of the Manson family and the killer relates a detail about Sharon Tate pleading with the family to take her with them and kill her after the baby is born that is so matter-of-factly heartbreaking that it tipped me over into outright loathing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the exact same reaction, Ken—I saw the Mindhunter scene after seeing OUATIH, and it only increased my dislike for that film. FWIW, the actor who portrays Manson in Mindhunter, Damon Herriman, is the same actor who portrays him in OUATIH.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/27/2019 at 10:01 AM, kenmorefield said:

Apropos of absolutely nothing, there is a scene in S2 where Holden is interviewing one of the Manson family and the killer relates a detail about Sharon Tate pleading with the family to take her with them and kill her after the baby is born that is so matter-of-factly heartbreaking that it tipped me over into outright loathing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  

Can you elaborate on this a bit, because that is not at all my response to that. I'm curious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Anders said:

Can you elaborate on this a bit, because that is not at all my response to that. I'm curious.

I'm not sure how to parse "my response to that." Do you mean your response to Mindhunter scene or your response to Once Upon a Time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/30/2019 at 8:18 PM, kenmorefield said:

I'm not sure how to parse "my response to that." Do you mean your response to Mindhunter scene or your response to Once Upon a Time?

I mean, my response to the pairing of the two scenes is inverse. As in, I don't track with how the scene in Mindhunter led to increasing your loathing of Once Upon a Time.... I guess I can infer from your comments elsewhere about films that play fast-and-loose with real-life stories why you disliked Once Upon a Time, even if I think that's not really what QT is doing here. Also, can you not at least see an impulse to making things right and give Sharon a happy ending in that film as motivated out of real feeling? 

 

I'm also uncomfortable with the moral judgement implied in your loathing, but I can deal with that. To be honest, I'm increasingly unsatisfied with the discourse around difficult and problematic art online (here or on social media) which ends up making me pull back further from these kinds of discussions.

Edited by Anders

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Anders said:

I mean, my response to the pairing of the two scenes is inverse. As in, I don't track with how the scene in Mindhunter led to increasing your loathing of Once Upon a Time.... I guess I can infer from your comments elsewhere about films that play fast-and-loose with real-life stories why you disliked Once Upon a Time, even if I think that's not really what QT is doing here. Also, can you not at least see an impulse to making things right and give Sharon a happy ending in that film as motivated out of real feeling? 

I can try, though the increasing dissatisfaction with discourse surrounding problematic art cuts both ways. I can concede that social media (including these sorts of forums) can create a moral or political atmosphere that retards a vigorous exchange of views, but in my experience it can also create a sort of hit-and-run dynamic where people are called upon to justify their takes/stances by others who withdraw from the conversation rather than engage in it. 

In my defense, I think I said "tipped me over into loathing" rather than "increasing [my] loathing." That's a petty, semantic distinction but not an unimportant one. My initial take on OUATIH was largely indifferent. (I said on Letterboxd: "Your mileage, as always, may vary. It's not a friendship killer in the sense that I am not offended if anyone likes this or wants to defend it, but that's so not a conversation I feel any need to take part in.") This was complicated by the fact that the person I saw the film with purported not to know that Sharon Tate was a real person (but did recognize Bruce Lee.) So I wondered if sufficient time had passed to treat Sharon Tate and Charles Manson the same way we might treat, say, Charles Lindbergh and Bruno Hauptman (The Airman & The Carpenter.) 

My central allergy is not necessarily to films that play fast-and-loose with real-life stories as films that graphically depict human suffering. That's pretty much all horror films and many action films as well. There are films that can depict physical suffering (rape, murder, torture) that do not minimize them and their traumatic effect, but even these I am wary of, because violence, more than even sex for me, reenacts that trauma. I experience the trauma (vicariously) rather than merely witness it. Certainly when that trauma is based on the experience of an actual human being rather than a fictional character, I often feel guilty about using it for entertainment purposes. I feel as though their experience has been co-opted, reconstituted. [Insert long and separate dialogue referencing Mamet's distinctions between "Art" and "Entertainment.") 

I have known people who have experienced trauma either of the kind that is depicted on screen or that was specifically depicted on screen. (My father, for example, experienced the sort of mock-executions that were depicted in Argo. My brother was murdered by the sort of petty criminal doing a banal robbery of a fast food restaurant that I can't help thinking about whenever I watch Pulp Fiction.) When I see such situations recreated, the difference between Art and Entertainment matters to me. And while I think QT capable of examining violence and recreating it for thoughtful, artistic purposes, I do think he does so less and less and gives himself over more and more to masturbatory uses of violence. Violence to entertain. Violence to feed fantasies. I don't see an impulse to make things right and give Sharon a happy ending so much as an impulse to imagine a world where his avatars are all powerful and dish out pre-emptive retribution that is pornographic (feeding an unhealthy fantasy) to the male ego in the same way that I said Left Behind was pornographic to certain types of evangelicals. 

My response to the scene in Mindhunter was very similar to my response to Newtown. In a cultural where we mythologize violence as a means of numbing ourselves to its horror, it is not so much the scope of the violence that gets behind our psychological and emotional defenses as the small, authenticating details. QT is good at myth-making, and that is not without value. But he is less successful at small, authenticating details that distinguish what happened to Sharon Tate from what happened to...say...Mary Kelly or Catherine Eddowes or Fredericka Bimmel. And that helps create a film world where people (or at least victims, i.e. women) are types rather than individuals. (Hence his insistence that Brad Pitt's character could beat up Bruce Lee...Bruce Lee is not a real person, he is just a representation of strength or combat ability and, hey, Brad Pitt was Achilles!)

I stress again that in my view QT's films are not without some merit. But his brand of mythmaking and social commentary works better for me in the broad storkes where he is starting with mythic characters (Django, The Bride) rather than when he is starting with actual people and mythologizing them. (That's why I wondered initially whether Tate was far enough in the past or a large enough figure that he was dealing with the "myth" of the person, like the mythic function of Hitler in Inqlorious Basterds.) 

Maybe I've just listened to Gareth Higgins hold forth one too many times on the myth of redemptive violence or something. But I feel like QT, at his worst, invites me to/tries to seduce me into taking pleasure in that which I know both from first hand experience and second hand witness to be horrific. Sometimes, especially early in his career, that tendency could prompt a certain amount of self-reflection in the viewer. I defend Pulp Fiction for that very reason. I do think it invites you/requires you to interrogate your own response, to ask, "Why am I taking pleasure in this?" But I don't see that turn/invitation in OUATIH or The Hateful Eight, which strike me more as Tarantino indulging his baser instincts to make wildly successful entertainment rather than harnessing them to make problematic but provocative art. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/26/2019 at 1:25 PM, kenmorefield said:

I am also trying to figure out if this is a David Fincher vehicle. Joe Penhall (show creator) wrote the screenplay for The Road, which I think has some tonal similarities. But filmcraft wise, it feels very Fincher. 

I believe that Penhall is acting as showrunner while Fincher is  executive producing (and director, in some cases). Season 2 had some nice work by Andrew Dominick, a presence I've missed on the big screen.

The show was filmed primarily where I live, so I have a hard time watching it and not thinking, "Oh, hey, that's my old workplace," or "Gee, Atlanta looks a lot like Ambridge." Still, I like the show. A lot, I think, though I sometimes have a hard time juxtaposing "like a lot" and "serial killers." As someone pointed out on Twitter, one thing that enthralls me about the show is that so much time seems to focus on people listening. I like that. Aside from a few weird choices, though, I think I liked season 2 a bit more than the first. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jason Panella said:

The show was filmed primarily where I live, so I have a hard time watching it and not thinking, "Oh, hey, that's my old workplace," or "Gee, Atlanta looks a lot like Ambridge." 

I went to school in Fredericksburg, which is just down the road from Quantico, so I understand that feeling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Either serial killers or major psychologist characters are normally deal-breakers for whether I'll like, let alone watch, a movie or TV series, since both are usually handled so badly.  Mindhunter is one of the few exceptions for me.  For the most part, it handles the violence respectfully and without sensationalism.  Likewise, I have no beef with the psychology aspect of the show, which feels quite authentic to me.

I felt like Season 2 was a mild letdown, suffering from more pacing issues, with dialogue missing some of the punch and dark humor of Season 1.  But it's engrossing, even if not in the pantheon of great TV series.

(And though Jonathan Groff is set up to be the scene-stealer, I adore Holt McCallany here; to me, he perfectly captures the aura of 1970s/1980s male, for whom work is prioritized over family - he easily could've been one of my friend's dads when I was a kid.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Andrew said:

 

(And though Jonathan Groff is set up to be the scene-stealer, I adore Holt McCallany here; to me, he perfectly captures the aura of 1970s/1980s male, for whom work is prioritized over family - he easily could've been one of my friend's dads when I was a kid.)

I am assuming Tench is the John Douglas character, and I appreciate McCallany (and the writers) for not channeling Scott Glenn (i.e. making him too wise at this point in his career). I actually think the series best moments are in S1 when he calls Holden a great FBI agent, showing he is able to separate his own disgust or disapproval at some of the tactics from his knowledge of the importance of the work itself. I keep looking for a little bit more from Tench of Douglas's having laid the groundwork academically, but the series appears to want to distribute that more evenly than does Douglas in his autobiography. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/12/2019 at 10:51 AM, Andrew said:

(And though Jonathan Groff is set up to be the scene-stealer, I adore Holt McCallany here; to me, he perfectly captures the aura of 1970s/1980s male, for whom work is prioritized over family - he easily could've been one of my friend's dads when I was a kid.)

McCallany is giving my favorite performance of the show. I 100% about the authenticity of the role (he reminds me of some of my friends' parents), and some of the choices Tench makes in the second season in regards to his family are simultaneously understandable and heartbreaking (like, I don't think I would know what to do with his situation if I were in his shoes). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Jason Panella said:

...some of the choices Tench makes in the second season in regards to his family are simultaneously understandable and heartbreaking (like, I don't think I would know what to do with his situation if I were in his shoes). 

Yep...it's easy to say I'd ask for a lower key desk job, but the excitement of a gig like his would be so intoxicating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...