Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Message
Author
User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#51 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:08 pm

I have no idea what your post means, what does semitic sound like? What is even semitic?

For one thing what we saw of her was most certainly supposed to be the authentic version of who she is.

Fans truly go to extraordinary lengths in attempts to rationalize poorly conceived ideas.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#52 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:14 pm

Read up!

And on what planet is the person that we saw in the 2nd part of the film the "authentic" version of anyone? Celeste is a character of her own creation - the fact that by that point she is living 24/7 as that persona doesn't make it "authentic" in the way you mean.

User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#53 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:39 pm

Wha? The performer and the backstage person are two different people.

The argument you can make here is the performer was her true identity, ie. 'authentic', but this wasn't really the story being told.

The person we saw off stage was intended to show what the pop star is like behind the mask, without all the people propping her up to go on stage.

Now if you want to claim that her off stage personality wasn't "authentic" or was "her own creation", I'd be very much interested in hearing you make that case because it was certainly nowhere to be found on the screen.

The only case you can make is "Celeste" was a character made for her — not as you suggest her own creation — and her struggle, her meltdowns stem from rebelling against that artificial creation in an effort to find her own identity.

As I wrote earlier you're projecting a lot of what you want the film to be about rather than what it actually was about.

And I knew what you meant, you're just way off base.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#54 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:56 pm

Sorry you didn't like the movie, Black Hat! I shouldn't have gotten involved.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#55 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:58 pm

Why are you being so belligerent? Nothing mfunk said is unreasonable or unintelligible. His point is that Celeste in her private life is as inauthentic as in her public life, or at least that her private self has become (deliberate or not) an extension of her public persona. Her emotional responses can be rawer, but she still puts on or continues to use personae when interacting with others. His point is that being a pop star has affected her ability to be authentic and open in any part of her life.

This may or may not be true, depending on the viewer. But it’s a valid interpretation worth exploring.

Also, by semitic accent, I assume he means an accent common among Jewish people, here one arising among Yiddish speaking communities in America (which would make it a Germanic accent, I guess, but who cares).

User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#56 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:17 pm

Certainly what mf wrote isn't unreasonable, but I just don't believe the film supports what he's saying much at all and when you start saying things like 'on what planet' as a defense it amounts to even less. For instance, we don't see anything about what went on during Celeste's rise to superstardom, the film jumps just as we get a taste of it, or her life as the popstar at the peak of their powers. What we see is the innocence, the 9/11 trauma and then cut to has been nostalgia artist. We're expected to fill in those considerable blanks on our own and I just think that's lazy, potentially manipulative as it caters to a certain type of fixed mindset. To MF it's the effect being a popstar has on the ego, but how do we know that? She's on the downswing when we see her again, maybe that's why her behavior is so boorish? Perhaps it's belligerent to insist mfunk wrestle with the broad claims he makes, but I think what him and others (I shouldn't single him out) have remarked about this film's brilliance warrant serious challenging.

And yeah the Jewish accent is pretty much pointless, but it wasn't the accent she had as a child either. She's from Staten Island which is predominantly Italian/Irish.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#57 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:25 pm

It's the Midsommar thread all over again - becoming a recurrent theme here that a film needs to show you everything or that viewers can't draw their own conclusions about what the director chooses to show.

You might want to watch the film again, though, if you really think Corbet left out anything about Celeste's rise to superstardom. It's literally what the entire film is about, every minute of its run-time after its opening credits is about her rise to and existence within superstardom. The final narration is about exactly what happened (real or imagined, the film leaves that up to interpretation) to grant her said superstardom. I don't consider it particularly belligerent to insist otherwise, but I do find it downright bizarre - and absolutely an argument in bad faith that makes engaging with the discussion any further sort of useless. To me, anyway. Anyone else can have at it.

User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#58 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:38 pm

It's unrelated to this topic, but to be clear Aster's film is light years ahead of this and my personal reaction to it was far more positive than my hostility to Vox Lux. It's ok to to disagree vehemently about a movie dude, life does go on and yeah he did leave it out, almost entirely. Approximately 15, maybe 20 years, unless you want to count the narration as sufficient.

As for my view being "bizarre", not that 'other people agreed with me" should matter, but since you think I'm practicing 'bad faith' (whatever that means) plenty of people shared my views on the film - Caramanica and the gang at NYT Popcast for example were downright laughing at Vox Lux.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#59 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:00 pm

You entirely missed my point on both fronts. And I'm aware that there are people who dislike the film.

Brianruns10
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:48 am

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#60 Post by Brianruns10 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:12 pm

Knowing how the film was originally conceived, as a 65mm lensed film starring Rooney Mara, and how things were pared down in terms of scope and expectations, I got the distinct impression that the film represents something of a compromised vision. The ambition was there, but it felt like it had been hamstrung by circumstance, one of those films that was conceived as far more ambitious, but ultimately becomes compromised when the budget is cut, and the lead role recast. I would've been fascinated to see what film would've been made had the initial vision been retained.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#61 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:25 pm

Mara is an impressive talent, and obviously a bigger budget could've helped with the 65mm part and making the stage show more believably tacky, but I wouldn't necessarily call recasting the film with an iconic, Oscar-winning actress in the lead a compromise

dda1996a
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#62 Post by dda1996a » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:33 pm

I don't know really, I found the first half to be on par with Haneke and Egoyan and Borderline Bros, only for the second half to be really disappointing not because of Portman, but mostly because the film leaves the cold detached and clinical first half for just a talkie "star is breaking down". Everything after the second shooting didn't work for me, and the final concert was down right bad IMO, even if I got the point

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#63 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:35 pm

I'm just glad people are talking about this movie. I'm just glad people are talking about this movie. I'm just glad people are talking about this movie.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#64 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:40 pm

I found the first half astonishing, and clearly made by someone who knew what he wanted and what he was doing, and the second half, comparatively, wildly disappointing. But I don't think it's a thematic stretch at all to assume that that's exactly what Corbet intended.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#65 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:53 pm

Did anybody else find the end credits sequence particularly unsettling?

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#66 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:59 pm

I'm with you, flyonthewall. It's startling and a little blood-curdling for me to sit through after the experience of watching the film itself.

I'm sure there's a listicle somewhere, but are there any other notable films (that otherwise feature music) that have no sound over the end credits?

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#67 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:34 pm

Could someone remind me what the end credits sequence is? I've entirely forgotten.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#68 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:37 pm

I didn't remember either but I gather from mfunk's post that there just wasn't a score accompanying it

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#69 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:46 pm

Text scrolls similarly to the opening credits, but it's over some lush imagery and there's indeed no sound whatsoever

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#70 Post by knives » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:24 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:58 pm
Also, by semitic accent, I assume he means an accent common among Jewish people, here one arising among Yiddish speaking communities in America (which would make it a Germanic accent, I guess, but who cares).
Probably Polish influenced as the Germanic Jews, called Yekker because of their distinctive jackets, have a radically different accent from the stereotypical American Jewish accent. Though that's not true across the board such as with the Marx Brothers who were French-Germanic Jews. Though befitting this conversation their accents were all made up for their stage characters and slowly spilled into their real life at least in Groucho's case.

User avatar
Reverend Drewcifer
Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:16 pm
Location: Cincinnati

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#71 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:09 pm

It's a Staten Island accent through and through. All other speculation is narishkeit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a-XrY6awNw

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#72 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:11 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:59 pm
I'm with you, flyonthewall. It's startling and a little blood-curdling for me to sit through after the experience of watching the film itself.

I'm sure there's a listicle somewhere, but are there any other notable films (that otherwise feature music) that have no sound over the end credits?
Less to do with the audio than the visuals. There is a really potent power in the horror of what's unknown and if that imagery is meant to correlate with any deal Celeste had with the devil, it wouldn't surprise me.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#73 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:48 pm

Since this didn't win the film club project, but garnered something like 20 votes, I'm hoping to start an informal film-club-type discussion here as well, especially with the amount of support behind it winning.

I guess I'll start with how I view the film, not as much internally to its narrative, but in terms of his effects on a viewer in this day and age in Western culture which is where I think it's aiming itself. I’ve been seriously debating for a while whether to consider this a horror film for the current list project. It definitely elicits an existential discomfort synonymous with horror a la demonlover, but seems rooted so deeply into reality that I’ve (until now) decided against it, even if the raw ‘reality’ piece actually makes it all more horrific!

The greatest strength of this film for me is how Corbet weaponizes ambiguity into the most peripheral outlook of our socially constructed world. It's the only film I can think of that holds a nihilistic worldview in one hand and leaves brief pockets of – not hope, or optimism, but passion? Desire? Energy? - for subjective meaning in art, in the other. However, even these classically opposing views are ambiguous... the film is not clearly nihilistic and waves its right to place such a worldview on our protagonist and post-9/11 subjectivity rather than objectivity; and regarding the alternative of making meaning out of life in art, well the people in the audience at Celeste’s concert at the end can be viewed across a spectrum of problematic as passive audiences distracting themselves from the problems of the world in idolization and art, all the way to as a strength in finding meaning and brief moments of pleasure, or even relief, in art.
SpoilerShow
A key to this last reading is that even Celeste’s family members who resent her are able to smile at her performance.


Corbet’s greatest strength is that he doesn’t pass judgment – for all the intense discomfort shoved down the audience’s throats this never feels didactic or manipulative - and doesn’t create an “either” situation to the above but is comfortable seeing the world as complex enough to hold conflicting worldviews together; philosophical nihilism and subjective meaning, art as unhealthy escapism and a healthy coping mechanism, Celeste’s mental health as abusive and self-destructive and validated as resilient in the face of trauma (both from personal tragedy and an overbearing world).
SpoilerShow
I already shared that my partner had a very intense reaction to this because of the way especially Portman’s Celeste was portrayed as a mother, narcissistic, severe self-conscious depression at her appearance and the hints at an eating disorder as an indirect consequence of a society that subliminally forces women into body image comparisons and self-destruction, etc. I think this is a film where we bring our own impressions of the pains of this world and can see a reflection in these characters and even just the mood of the film's milieu. I had never considered those more commonly gender-specific disturbances before, and yet took away a similarly overbearing discomfort from elements that struck a chord with my own vulnerabilities.
I don’t agree with some of the statements in this thread that this is a film that doesn’t know what it’s trying to be. It knows exactly what it is doing, but that objective is to pose questions that don’t have answers and sit back in that discomfort which is life, not to be obnoxious or superior or torturous, but to present the audience with the truths that exist in our current world today, a melting pot of everything we don’t want to face and the tools we have to bury them, and peels back the layers to expose them for what they are while not condemning or invalidating any experience or choice. Part of the reason I’m drawn to this work is that on a corporeal level this functions like The Young Pope does for me in the spiritual, both involving existential and psychological neurons shooting off like wildfire, but taking a vague esoteric experience and forcing the audience to navigate it based on their own contextual platforms and responding to their own subjective triggers. Corbet refuses to take a side, refuses to make this film a simplified experience for us in any way, and in presenting these many opposing philosophies, that by the laws we've been taught must not co-exist, Corbet proclaims the question that perhaps they do, perhaps they aren't mutually exclusive after all, and he thus forces the viewer to either accept and stew in the discomfort and become somewhat comfortable in that strange embrace or run for the hills because it's overwhelming to the point that the experience initiates an existential crisis of its own. Or, if we're lucky (or unlucky depending on the viewer), we get to experience both of these reactions and more.

I like what Conner Reed said in that article linked by lzx on the previous page that I quoted part of in a previous post, but this line sums it up well enough for me:
Conner Reed wrote:The big ask, then, is that we keep several truths in our heads at once. Vox Lux is not anti-pop music, no matter how monstrous it makes Celeste; it’s anti-single-mindedness.
Potential Discussion Question:
SpoilerShow
Another aspect of this film that I'm still wrapping my head around after three watches is the "deal with the devil" piece and Dafoe's narration at the end. This is finally what makes it earn its spot in the horror camp for me (perhaps I'm just looking for an excuse but considering this is horror for every reason Assayas's film is for me, I'm not going to discriminate). Does anybody have a good reading on this part of the film? Because at this moment in time I just see it as another 'possible truth' that remains in the unknown but by which perhaps Celeste has attached personal meaning. In other words, it's a piece of her subjective meaning amidst the nihilism that may or may not have driven her actions or paved the way for her internal narrative of her life. And if so, is this a healthy coping mechanism to simplify just a little piece of life by assigning tangible responsibility to a prayer, or is it her fatalist undoing by creating a core belief from guilt that has led to her making poor choices; or an excuse to self-destruct amidst hopeless post 9/11 America, or perhaps actually a cure as was its intent, or does Corbet reserve the right to say it's all of the above, and that it doesn't matter if it's true or not because all that matters is that subjective meaning anyways?

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#74 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:33 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:48 pm
The greatest strength of this film for me is how Corbet weaponizes ambiguity into the most peripheral outlook of our socially constructed world. It's the only film I can think of that holds a nihilistic worldview in one hand and leaves brief pockets of – not hope, or optimism, but passion? Desire? Energy? - for subjective meaning in art, in the other. However, even these classically opposing views are ambiguous... the film is not clearly nihilistic and waves its right to place such a worldview on our protagonist and post-9/11 subjectivity rather than objectivity; and regarding the alternative of making meaning out of life in art, well the people in the audience at Celeste’s concert at the end can be viewed across a spectrum of problematic as passive audiences distracting themselves from the problems of the world in idolization and art, all the way to as a strength in finding meaning and brief moments of pleasure, or even relief, in art.
I don't think it's nihilism, I really don't. I do think Corbet is looking at the audience at the end and asking the audience why they're supposed to consider the society they inhabit as enough for them. By no means is he saying that they shouldn't have an escape in the form of Celeste's music, but the key question there for me is: why should this be less an escape and more of an identity? Why shouldn't they feel utterly hopeless, especially because their idol has taken the form of such a flawed being? Almost all of the structures of modern society have failed in some way, and pop idolatry is no substitute for a feeling of community with one another, but instead we see an audience of people all staring at one point - and that point happens to be incredibly hollow and mediocre in every conceivable way. Does that mean they don't deserve to be entertained? Of course not. But it does not bode well for them, either. At some point distracting yourself from the problems of the world becomes putting your energies into something that can't fix those problems, and lets those problems grow. We've already seen some signs that this might be improving, but when Corbet wrote and made the film he must have been feeling this quite strongly, and there is an epidemic of loneliness and aimlessness in post-9/11 society that is less explosive than degenerative like a disease.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:48 pm
Potential Discussion Question:
SpoilerShow
Another aspect of this film that I'm still wrapping my head around after three watches is the "deal with the devil" piece and Dafoe's narration at the end. This is finally what makes it earn its spot in the horror camp for me (perhaps I'm just looking for an excuse but considering this is horror for every reason Assayas's film is for me, I'm not going to discriminate). Does anybody have a good reading on this part of the film? Because at this moment in time I just see it as another 'possible truth' that remains in the unknown but by which perhaps Celeste has attached personal meaning. In other words, it's a piece of her subjective meaning amidst the nihilism that may or may not have driven her actions or paved the way for her internal narrative of her life. And if so, is this a healthy coping mechanism to simplify just a little piece of life by assigning tangible responsibility to a prayer, or is it her fatalist undoing by creating a core belief from guilt that has led to her making poor choices; or an excuse to self-destruct amidst hopeless post 9/11 America, or perhaps actually a cure as was its intent, or does Corbet reserve the right to say it's all of the above, and that it doesn't matter if it's true or not because all that matters is that subjective meaning anyways?
SpoilerShow
Since it's a movie, I took it as literally as one could possibly take it. Celeste survived certain death and we are witnessing her purgatory. Perhaps Corbet is asking whether death and obscurity would have been preferable to the life she's had to lead since. No one can prepare themselves for the psychological and cosmological grind that is being someone who other people pin their own self worth and hopes and fears and disappointment on, and in a sense it's the sort of thing that only the devil could wish upon someone who isn't equipped to handle it. In a really beautiful way, Corbet asks some very difficult questions but lets both Celeste and her fans off the hook. They're both fucked for reasons outside of themselves or their own control.

Celeste and her fans remind me of these David Berman lyrics (as most anything does anymore), the film leaves me hoping that they find their way to the second verse:

A tale is told of a band of squirrels
Who lived in defiance of defeat
They woke up in a nightmare world
Of craven mediocrity

They said, "We're coming out of the black patch!
We're coming out of the pocket!
We're calling into question
Such virtue gone to seed!"

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#75 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:45 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:33 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:48 pm
The greatest strength of this film for me is how Corbet weaponizes ambiguity into the most peripheral outlook of our socially constructed world. It's the only film I can think of that holds a nihilistic worldview in one hand and leaves brief pockets of – not hope, or optimism, but passion? Desire? Energy? - for subjective meaning in art, in the other. However, even these classically opposing views are ambiguous... the film is not clearly nihilistic and waves its right to place such a worldview on our protagonist and post-9/11 subjectivity rather than objectivity; and regarding the alternative of making meaning out of life in art, well the people in the audience at Celeste’s concert at the end can be viewed across a spectrum of problematic as passive audiences distracting themselves from the problems of the world in idolization and art, all the way to as a strength in finding meaning and brief moments of pleasure, or even relief, in art.
I don't think it's nihilism, I really don't. I do think Corbet is looking at the audience at the end and asking the audience why they're supposed to consider the society they inhabit as enough for them. By no means is he saying that they shouldn't have an escape in the form of Celeste's music, but the key question there for me is: why should this be less an escape and more of an identity? Why shouldn't they feel utterly hopeless, especially because their idol has taken the form of such a flawed being? Almost all of the structures of modern society have failed in some way, and pop idolatry is no substitute for a feeling of community with one another, but instead we see an audience of people all staring at one point - and that point happens to be incredibly hollow and mediocre in every conceivable way. Does that mean they don't deserve to be entertained? Of course not. But it does not bode well for them, either. At some point distracting yourself from the problems of the world becomes putting your energies into something that can't fix those problems, and lets those problems grow. We've already seen some signs that this might be improving, but when Corbet wrote and made the film he must have been feeling this quite strongly, and there is an epidemic of loneliness and aimlessness in post-9/11 society that is less explosive than degenerative like a disease.
I don't think Corbet is arguing in any way for 'pure' nihilism either (well, I don't think he's arguing anything really) but I meant that he is presenting it as one extreme at the end of a spectrum that has extra dimensions by which he views the vague concepts of life and its meaning, especially considering the elements that multiply said dimensions when you have a history and culture that builds on itself through a lack of facing the problems and hiding from that discomfort. To your point, I think the audience you talk about is emblematic of such a state of the world as well through this history of suppression, and the result is a potential social apocalypse. But I also don't think he presents any opinion on where 'distracting oneself from the problem' should stop and where 'facing it' should begin, or blueprint onto 'how,' and instead just presents the world 'as is,' which is why the film succeeds so well because it moves from turning into a typical didactic message movie to a forced subjective assessment of asking ourselves questions that elicit only the most personal answers.
SpoilerShow
I think a key moment in the film is when Celeste is driving to the final show, sees the sunset and forces a memory by dragging her daughter from the car to the beach. Her intentions are so pure and in a respect- this is Celeste finding subjective meaning in life, and basking at a beauty in this world that one can not explain (obviously science can explain why the sun sets, but I mean, why is it so pretty and why does it affect us pleasurably). However, in contrast to the natural wonder of this moment, there is an artificiality: it's a forced, desperate attempt to have a 'moment,' Celeste is on drugs, literally artificially dosed with serotonin and dopamine levels. But the intent of the moment - that vulnerable pining for connection and meaning - is as authentic as it gets. This scene has all the complexity of human experience, layers of honesty coating lies which coat more raw honesty, truths and falsehoods; but really, like the nihilistic-meaningful spectrum, it lies somewhere in between and to the right, or left, or on another dimension than what we can articulate, and Corbet is humble enough to allow it to stay there.
mfunk9786 wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:33 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:48 pm
Potential Discussion Question:
SpoilerShow
Another aspect of this film that I'm still wrapping my head around after three watches is the "deal with the devil" piece and Dafoe's narration at the end. This is finally what makes it earn its spot in the horror camp for me (perhaps I'm just looking for an excuse but considering this is horror for every reason Assayas's film is for me, I'm not going to discriminate). Does anybody have a good reading on this part of the film? Because at this moment in time I just see it as another 'possible truth' that remains in the unknown but by which perhaps Celeste has attached personal meaning. In other words, it's a piece of her subjective meaning amidst the nihilism that may or may not have driven her actions or paved the way for her internal narrative of her life. And if so, is this a healthy coping mechanism to simplify just a little piece of life by assigning tangible responsibility to a prayer, or is it her fatalist undoing by creating a core belief from guilt that has led to her making poor choices; or an excuse to self-destruct amidst hopeless post 9/11 America, or perhaps actually a cure as was its intent, or does Corbet reserve the right to say it's all of the above, and that it doesn't matter if it's true or not because all that matters is that subjective meaning anyways?
SpoilerShow
Since it's a movie, I took it as literally as one could possibly take it. Celeste survived certain death and we are witnessing her purgatory. Perhaps Corbet is asking whether death and obscurity would have been preferable to the life she's had to lead since. No one can prepare themselves for the psychological and cosmological grind that is being someone who other people pin their own self worth and hopes and fears and disappointment on, and in a sense it's the sort of thing that only the devil could wish upon someone who isn't equipped to handle it. In a really beautiful way, Corbet asks some very difficult questions but lets both Celeste and her fans off the hook. They're both fucked for reasons outside of themselves or their own control.

Celeste and her fans remind me of these David Berman lyrics (as most anything does anymore), the film leaves me hoping that they find their way to the second verse:

A tale is told of a band of squirrels
Who lived in defiance of defeat
They woke up in a nightmare world
Of craven mediocrity

They said, "We're coming out of the black patch!
We're coming out of the pocket!
We're calling into question
Such virtue gone to seed!"
SpoilerShow
I really like that reading, although I had never really considered it as a form of purgatory, and I think your point about being let off the hook because the forces are outside of their control is a very important factor to consider in the film. Corbet may be drawing flawed characters who cause harm, hide from their problems, etc. but he places just as much responsibility on a constantly evolving society, and world, outside of our control. It's funny that he goes to lengths so as to include deities like the Devil because this really is a cosmic issue. Part of the existential horror of Corbet's post-9/11 world is one where people have realized in the most intense way how little control we really have over our lives. This isn't the "blame game" and Corbet could care less about who is responsible for what, but if there is a heart in this film, and I'd argue there is a huge one, it's where he does empathize with all of us who face such uncontrollable and unpredictable variables on a daily basis, whether terrorist attacks or subliminal messages through advertising, ideologies and social comparisons, and a struggle to secure an identity that feels comfortable in an uncomfortable world.

One of my old colleagues, a clinician in my field who I greatly respect, once said to me in response to the 'helicopter parents' we work with in the 'coddling generation' that she hypothesized that this intense anxiety in America, and perhaps even general Western cultures, was born from 9/11. There are a lot of working theories out there that the event (a case could be made for school shootings too) has affected basically every social space through a fear of the lack of control and predictability, and is probably altering our brains like trauma does through a strange historical collective trauma. I realize that's a bold and vague statement, but somewhere in there is, I believe, some truth about the anxiety in Corbet's vision in this film that I don't think is far off from how I see the world either.

Post Reply