One of the trippiest movies, ever…
One of the trippiest movies, ever…
Masking emotions and the study of emotional language, by Thomas Scheff.
This week’s DVD offerings included sexy lesbian noir thriller Passion, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. This feels like a film they don’t make anymore. DePalma is the product of a bygone era, and he’s also been hit-and-miss. Passion is mostly hit, as the drama escalates and the noir fetishism ramps up steadily from start to end.
What struck a chord with me was the surveillance aspect. Lives today are in jeopardy of exposure at every juncture. The story plays with this constant surveillance in several ways. The two main characters, Christine and Isabelle, work in advertising to sell more smartphones. They do so in a viral styled ad that covertly records strangers on the street, their behaviors captured and then exploited to sell more of the surveillance. The video enabled smart phones are a key factor and present throughout the plot.
Beyond embarrassment, pressure, psychological button pushing, there is the inevitable blackmail, something we’ve talked about vis a vis the NSA. Blackmail, the erosion of privacy, constant surveillance, we may have moved beyond the kitchy “post 9/11″ motif and well into the post-privacy environment, the post Snowden world. This makes the film relevant for its many tentacle connections to the age of Youtube and nosy neighbors, co-workers, private mercenary firms and intelligence agencies. The seething cauldron of exposed lives that cannot escape the surveillance cameras’ gaze boils here and simmers.
While Passion may not have lived up to its title, it does offer a journey that is relevant today. With DePalma’s grandiose camera setups and orchestra, the film feels like some classic old Hollywood cautionary tale of a future dystopia that turns out to be 2013.
There is a lesbian aspect to the characters, although I’m not quite sure if that was all that important to the story. The titillation and the eye candy of it all amounted only to bait the hook. The plot is a straight murder thriller, like many that have come before. A mindfuck moment occurs at the climax, and we aren’t certain what really happened, and that was interesting. It’s good to throw the audience off-kilter and even better with crooked Dutch angles and extreme Venetian blind shadows. So – it’s that kind of movie. Not great, not bad, but somewhere in the middle.
The writer devalues the entire finding by continually referring to hopeful narrative stories as “entertainment:” a loathsome, despicable word I refuse to stomach. I would rant about this false concept at length, but, anyway:
…in all three cases, led to three different positive emotional responses. Second, the results of this study suggest that underdog narratives not only provide viewers with models of hard work and determination, but that inducing hope may increase the likelihood that viewers will pursue their own goals.
What they’re describing are psychological changes in the audience: art, communication, the transfer of emotions and resonance, sticking power. Fuck “entertainment,” which is transitory distraction of no consequence (except to Mammon). Using the banal marketing speak of the culture renders useless their own area of research and expertise. It’s counter productive and helps no one.
Roger Ebert famously called Fight Club a “fascist movie,” but I don’t actually agree with this assessment.
“’Fight Club’ is the most frankly and cheerfully fascist big-star movie since ‘Death Wish,’ a celebration of violence in which the heroes write themselves a license to drink, smoke, screw and beat one another up.”
This is a comment on the style of parts of the narrative, not the substance, what I believe is truly behind the acting out. Fight Club does not promote fascism, and that seems like a very odd determination. What it does do is set up the natural conflict between order and chaos, society and anarchy. The stifling banality of consumerism strips modern man of his primal nature, but the more he is controlled and ordered, the greater the need to turn to barbarism, mindless violence, war. This dichotomy is behind Fight Club, and is expressed in several ways, not all of them crystal clear either.
The movie does meander in parts, losing steam here and there, jumping about in its direction, which can be frustrating. A lot of ideas are included, some which work better than others. There is also a fantasy element to confuse one even further.
A far from perfect film but even Ebert acknowledged that the intent of the narrative may diverge significantly from what some audience members may take from it. Can we see and absorb what we choose to from a film like this?
More likely to cheat, steal and recklessly endanger those in the way, but you probably knew that already.
Abu Ghraib defense team psychologist shows the “bad barrel” vs. the “bad apple” story.
This talk by Philip Zimbardo is one of the most important docs I’ve ever posted here. Zimbardo is the psychologist who designed and implemented the Stanford Prison Experiment. Talk includes the Millgram experiment and The Lucifer Effect.
He is s firm proponent of a culture of heroism, of having an antidote to evil systems. Very good talk, needed in the world right now.
“A moral commitment to other people.”