Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dope on a rope

"Your initial disclaimer before talking about PIRANHA pretty much told me all I needed to know about why you had such a dismal time."

Yeah, I know. I guess I'm trying to understand grindhouse/exploitation horror and why it offers anyone any pleasure at all. I just don't get it.

"Part of my enjoyment (as messed up as this is) was to see what happens when a bunch of Jersey Shore “hedonists” got eaten by killer fish. I savored every death and I‘m willing to live with the consequences. Call me immature. Call me immoral. I probably deserve it. At least I’m not a liar."

That's the main reason I love what we do here. None of us are "putting on airs." I'll never question the veracity of your response to a movie.

Still, I think that you missed something in Piranha. The just desserts that our party people receive never goes far enough. I think I might have enjoyed Piranha at least a bit if McQueen's character got ripped to pieces before the end. Everyone else gets what they deserve. We (as represented by our handsome onscreen surrogate) are essentially innocent and escape. We get to see and enjoy other people getting what they deserve. Our own transgressions remain unpunished. Sorry. That really gets on my nerves.

"As for DOGTOOH I simply don’t agree with your interpretation here. “Pop culture will save your soul?” Really? I didn’t get that at all. And honestly if that was the way you felt throughout the film I don’t blame you for hating."

Nope. That's not how I was feeling throughout the whole film. It's the conclusion I came to once it was all over. Throughout most of the film, I felt bored and indifferent at one sleazy shock comedy moment after another. SPOILERS AHEAD. The whole "pop culture will save your soul" interpretation has to do with the oldest daughter escaping her mental and physical prison after being exposed to Jaws, Rocky, and Flashdance. These Hollywood films give her the information and the strength she needs to rebel against the false system that has governed her life thus far. That she probably suffocates in a trunk is just one more sick punchline to end the film on.

"Inculcation seems like a strong word for passing important values and art from one generation to the next."

Maybe I shouldn't have used that word. I guess it does have negative connotations of forcefulness. The definition I had in mind was simply "to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions." For example, my girls know that Abbott and Costello are funny because we watch their movies repeatedly and they hear their father laugh uproariously over and over again, by repetition. That's the sort of inculcation that I was talking about as an inescapable part of parenting. Some children are inculcated in 6 hours of Nickolodeon a day. Frequent repetitions. It's an inescapable part of family life or of the life in which parents have abdicated responsibility to the television set and to the "experts" outside of the home.

Further, Lanthimos' film inculcates in the audience a distrust of family inculcation through its repeated (with variations) images of domestic perversion. It's inescapable. Some critics have said that Lanthimos avoids didacticism and is open to innumerable interpretations. I disagree. I pretty much think that there's nothing deep here. Everything is on the surface. I suppose that one could argue that Lanthimos never makes a moral judgment on the behavior of the parents. It's something we bring to the film. For all we know, Lanthimos is presenting the ideal society.

"I don’t get the home schooling interpretation either."

The film involves parents who are educating their children at home to prevent outside influences. What's not to get?

"If the director spouts off about home schooling or talks about how “pop culture will save our souls” then I’m with you buddy."

I've actually been reading interviews with the director since my last post. He doesn't use the same sort of arguments that I used in my post, but I don't think that my interpretation is that different than the director's own interpretation. The film started off as a reaction to Lanthimos' friends having children and how protective they became. He imagined a science fictional future in which families no longer existed and children were raised in other ways. He tried to imagine what a family rebelling against this would look like. Societal surrogates - good. Families protective of their children - bad.

"I’m not going to defend it. I don’t want to. I don’t care enough about it. I’ll never watch it again. I’ll probably ignore every film that director makes. I regret saying that I loved it. That was stupid. That was impulsive."

I've done the same thing before. Earlier this year, I told you that Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then was the best movie of the year so far. I'm still waffling over whether I like that movie or really, really hate it. Like you said about Dogtooth, there are a few moments/images that will stick with me whether I want them to or not and certainly that indicates some measure of success on part of the film/filmmaker.

And seriously, I don't even think that it's wrong to be impulsive. I kinda regret the way that I went to bat for Haneke's The Seventh Continent. I've spent way too much time defending Haneke when I really don't even like the man and only partially like his films. There's a part of me that is still moved by The Seventh Continent (which is how I imagine you still feel about Dogtooth), but it is ultimately an extremely negative film, allowing for no positive. In a way, that's what I admired about it, but really, the world doesn't need a Haneke or Lanthimos. It needs more funny fat men.

"I find it funny that you think the anecdote here is joy. I never thought the day would come when a Haneke fan inculcates to me about joy."

I'm over Haneke. Remind me of what I wrote about joy the next time I'm suckered by some arthouse wanker who wants to punish us for loving life.

In conclusion, I'm just glad that we interact with each other here. Having to defend Julien Donkey-Boy made me have to really examine why it is that that film resonates with me so deeply. I am trying to change your mind about Piranha and Dogtooth. That's what arguing is about. In the process of evaluating the films further, you'll either refine and clarify the reasons you have for loving/appreciating them or you'll come to your senses and admit that I'm right. :)

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