Movie of the Month - The Square (March 2018)

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Movie of the Month - The Square

March 2018


Went a little outside the...uh...box, for this month's choice, The Square, a sometimes absurd sometimes poignant film about contemporary art that won the Palme d'Or and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Oscars. And it has, in my opinion, one of the most riveting scenes of the decade. You'll know which one I mean when you see it.




The podcast is almost done (hopefully tomorrow), but it's shaping up to be a good one, and I wanted to get this thread up first, because there's so much more I want to say here than I was able to say there, and I suspect @neiba and @Slappydavis feel the same way.

What do you guys think?
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Done! Finished it a little quicker than expected. Some really great insights in this one, I think.


The best way to get it is to subscribe with iTunes. The next best ways are to just download it with this link (or add the podcast feed into your RSS reader). Or you can just listen right now with this embedded player:




So, our discussion on the Oscar podcast was a small spoiler there, about what to expect (which is why it didn't make it into the final cut), but the actual scene was so enthralling that it didn't end up taking much from it. In fact, it kinda convinced me to see the film soon, and then @neiba had it on his list of suggestions, so your comment ended up playing a big role in the film choice.



Some things about the film that I didn't get to bring up during the podcast:

The Kid

I was kind of shocked, while editing this podcast, to realize how little we discussed the child who confronts Christian. neiba mentions is a bit as one of three instances in which Christian must face something real. Perhaps we all decided this part spoke for itself, or that this description was adequate, but it's interesting that it's one of the most important storylines, and the thing that ends the film, but actually factored so little into our collective analysis. Probably because the thing the child was representing was represented in a lot of other places, so we ended up discussing the implications more than this specific character/story.

What bugged me during the film--though this was probably intentional--was how needless the escalation was. The situation was easily fixed: tell the kid what happened, say you're sorry for the unintended consequence, and offer to explain it to his parents so he won't be in trouble. But he couldn't even do that! This is a very straightforward conflict with a very straightforward solution, but he can't navigate it at all. Or, to compliment what neiba said throughout the podcast, he can't empathize with the child. If he could, he'd realize quite easily what the child really wanted/needed from him there, without being asked. Instead, he can't wrap his head around even when asked.


Philosophy

We talked a bit about how, in both philosophy and art, people sometimes use terminology to exclude others rather than to illuminate (successfully or not) abstract ideas, and that veered a little into how self-indulgent it can become. It reminded me of a Dave Barry quote who says that Philosophy class in college "involves sitting in a room and deciding there is no such thing as reality and then going to lunch."


The Prestige

Slappy says some cool stuff about the one artist (Oleg the monkey man) challenging the other (Dominic West's character) in a pack-alpha kinda way, showing him he's more dedicated to his craft. I ended up cutting part of my response about this, but I thought it worth mentioning here: it reminded me of The Prestige, which is almost entirely about that exact concept. The two magicians basically have a duel of attrition where they try to figure out which is more obsessed with the craft, where their discomfort, and even outright suffering, are in a sense a form of victory because their willingness to inflict it on themselves is treated as prima facie evidence of their dedication.



Oh, I almost forgot: the character's name, Christian, seems to have a lot of intent behind it.

Europe is often referred to as a "post-Christian" society. That is to say, not pagan or explicitly anti-theistic, but sort of falling away from its Christian traditions. I wouldn't have thought much of the name based on this alone, but it deals heavily in related themes, and at one point the kid specifically says:

"Are you Christian?"

Literally, ostensibly, he means "are you the man who wrote this note?" But the question works another way: "are you actually charitable and mindful of others?" Since some of the film's central themes are the disconnect from real problems and the inability to act on one's own conscience, I have to imagine that was phrased just so.



I won't dance. Don't ask me...

Philosophy

We talked a bit about how, in both philosophy and art, people sometimes use terminology to exclude others rather than to illuminate (successfully or not) abstract ideas, and that veered a little into how self-indulgent it can become.
I don't think it's on purpose. Philosophy, as every science, uses its own terminology, which has to be accurate. The same like medicine or physics.

It reminded me of a Dave Barry quote who says that Philosophy class in college "involves sitting in a room and deciding there is no such thing as reality and then going to lunch."
Do you remember the scene in the restaurant from Matrix?

It doesn't matter for brain, if something is real or not
One of the philosophical theory is, that people are only brains, closed in the jars and stymulating by electric impulses, like in this experiement, when the rats brains was stymulating to feel satiety. The rats died because of starvation.

BTW, great job guys



I don't think it's on purpose. Philosophy, as every science, uses its own terminology, which has to be accurate. The same like medicine or physics.
Calling philosophy a science and comparing it to medicine and physics made me bristle a bit. Maybe it shouldn't, I don't know



I won't dance. Don't ask me...
Calling philosophy a science and comparing it to medicine and physics made me bristle a bit. Maybe it shouldn't, I don't know
Maybe because it's very theoretical and medicine is practical, but Einstein discovered quantum theory during packing parcels at the post office.



Maybe because it's very theoretical and medicine is practical, but Einstein discovered quantum theory during packing parcels at the post office.
Yeah, I think your right.



Professional horse shoe straightener
Excellent stuff. It's a good film. 'That scene' is excruciating. One of the best of 2017 in my opinion. And I totally didn't pick up on the "Christian" thing. I haven't listened to the whole podcast yet but aim to do so asap.


My original mini review is here:

'The Square' (2017)


Ruben Ostlund is amazing at asking the audience what they would do in a situation. He presents moral dilemmas. The Square is an extraordinary piece of 'art cinema', in more ways than one. It's a metaphor for the decay of society, the inequality, the mistrust and the fear. This film is unsettling, uncomfortable, awkward and bizarre. It makes us think that perhaps society is becoming the way it is because of our vanity and social needyness. Some of the scenes in this film are as excruciating as they are jaw dropping. It also looks gorgeous and is meticulously framed. It is right up there with the best films of 2017.

8.5/10




Good call, Scarlett. And yeah, this is a really good example of a so-called "art film" that doesn't come with the usual negative trappings people tend to associate with that term. It is surreal and thoughtful and meditative, but not at the expense of, for lack of a better word, watchability. I think the wry, self-reflective nature of the film has something to do with it. It manages to feel like it's "in on" the difficult parts of the film, and sort of chuckling with you about some of the absurdities it depicts. It recognizes the inherently pitfalls in trying to talk about art and doesn't try to pretend it can't be funny.

Basically, it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, and that paradoxically makes it easier to seriously watch.



This was released last year, isn't it?
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My Favorite Films



Yes. Are you asking to determine which film by this name we're talking about?

If you're referring to the "March 2018" part of the title, that just refers to the "Movie of the Month" part.



Ah i see! I was thinking the thread was meant to be about a movie which is going to be/or released in March 2018.



movies can be okay...
Fantastic discussion. Well put, everyone. I just finished watching the movie myself.
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"A film has to be a dialogue, not a monologue ó a dialogue to provoke in the viewer his own thoughts, his own feelings. And if a film is a dialogue, then itís a good film; if itís not a dialogue, itís a bad film."
- Michael "Gloomy Old Fart" Haneke



woooooh! just rolling



Before this thread is annihilated just want to say that I particularly liked this one.

Stray thoughts from this podcast still come back to me.