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Illuminations

by Brandon Viera

Created 02/23/14

Edit List

These films get at why things are so bad for most of us.

  • The donkey will always be whatever is missing from a society, in our case, the habit of resistance to hardened
    neoliberal social life.

  • What the free market is doing to sex, the environment and well-being. Plus that yellow smoke is an object lesson
    in "special effects".

  • Discipline and punish. She's got an inability to stay settled long. Bi-polar? Sure. In another social setting,
    she may have been a great dancer or theoretical physicist. Instead, her husband, limited, pressured, loving,
    ships her off to the nuthouse to save her. Burn the village, to save the village. The war keeps coming home.

  • The progenitor of podcasting. No better invitation to imagine ourselves beyond capitalism, Andre talks and talks
    and talks about collective attempts to smash the self into an openly receptive form worthy of the company
    of others.

  • Perpetually used and abused, Cabiria, a hooker with a gold-plated heart, is at her lowest when suddenly,
    surrounded by music and people, she breaks into a smile. It is whatever life is.

  • No progress for this pilgrim just freezing to death in a ditch. She could have "made something of herself"
    and found a job and "settled down". Because those are our choices.

  • Film_307w_naked_w160

    4. (tie)
    Naked

    Mike Leigh

    Johnny is a dead end. But he's our dead end. The dead end of generations of working class struggle
    giving way to the neoliberal 'freedom to consume'. A tragedy of the burden of insight without solidarity.

  • A needle to the hot air balloon of market triumphalism. This explodes management koans like
    "always be selling" and shows the terrible physical and emotional toll of dissembling to close.

  • Perceptions, sudden events and an unyielding class structure open trapdoors for you to drop through
    and each fall lands you closer to the street, until you're Oharu, without the dignity or restraint.

  • Interpassivity reigns. We waste our lives watching and waiting and Malick suggests acting without
    shared ideals is worse.

  • The security apparatus may make you marry a Nazi, if its expedient, and he may try to poison you to death,
    when all you really want is Cary Grant, and who can blame you?

  • Big pharma exacerbates customary ambition, making daddy flip Oedipus, until nobody is safe.
    Mason's perverse paternal shadow on the wall is the most subversive image in 50s cinema.

  • Crumb-new-film-still_w160

    5. (tie)
    Crumb

    Terry Zwigoff

    Nerd glasses everywhere. Geek chic. Genuine outsiders are borderline cases barely holding it together.
    Outsiders are never fashionable. They touch your kids inappropriately. They ruin the mood every time.

  • Surpassing bleak times means hollowing yourself out until the house explodes.

  • Imagine the surveillance State believes you have something it wants and sends in the goons!

  • Monsters aren't subjective. They exist. On the screen, in the hills, in government, in boardrooms,
    striding towards us to take what we have, rights, comfort, a future. Monsters exist.

  • Claudia Cardinale's laughter is the shock of the new.

  • That urge to show social life as it is has waned with the supposed collapse of social alternatives
    to capitalism and the quality of entertainment has suffered.
    And Veronica Lake. And inmates in tears.

  • The killing frenzy that closes this film is so long and disorientating, so inhuman, pointless,
    and draining, that it redeems action cinema as a call to dialogue over violence.
    The alternative is insanity.

  • Terrifying. An old woman bashes in her own teeth to ruin her health to fit in, by dying,
    which is what every medical insurer wants you to do, too...

  • So quotable, so foxy, such fun. But everything happens because of the violence of Empire:
    violent rituals, violent sports and violent personalities.
    This is what life in Rome was like. With better drugs and music.

  • Suggests fascists are enabled by repression and injustice. Look around.

  • The first great movie romance of the "knowledge economy". Class difference is a matter of sensibility.
    One is a worker, practical, conventional, "down to earth" and the other is an artist driven by ideas,
    talk and prestige. Love suspends all that...for a while.

  • The dominant class assesses people and things (and the relationship between them)
    through a lens of ownership. Why does she want to belong to me and do I even want her?
    The film's lovely summery ambivalence makes the relentless calculus of possession
    shine through.

  • The roots of working class distraction commodified, these days, into Simon Callow's
    debasing text-to-vote spectacles to the selfsame end: lifeless conformism.

  • Follow the dress from mafia sweatshop to the body of Scarlett Johansson
    for the low down on "globalisation" in this scary post-industrial update of the Godfather.

11 comments

  • By Emma
    February 26, 2014
    05:19 PM

    Is it just me, or is this list reminiscent of stoned college students passing a joint around while discussing Marx?
    Reply
    • By Andrew_Boone
      February 27, 2014
      07:05 AM

      To me, it's kind of reminiscent of a person who has ideas and shares them. I can live with that.
    • By AndySunshine
      March 05, 2014
      09:24 AM

      Yea I dig this list. Doesn't matter if there was a joint involved or not. Still an interesting look at some really great films.
  • By a4stir
    March 13, 2014
    12:09 AM

    Socialist paranoid schizophrenic off his meds. Ever heard of a run-on sentence?
    Reply
  • By Brandon Viera
    March 15, 2014
    04:44 AM

    I'm threatened. Oh I know I'll lash out then invoke grammar...that'll show him.
    Reply
  • By JustinDW
    March 28, 2014
    06:31 PM

    Great list. You have made me want to watch all the ones I have not yet seen and re-watch the ones I have. I like the run-on sentence mode of self-expression. Stream-of-consciousness delivery is often the most honest.
    Reply
  • By soph
    April 11, 2014
    04:38 AM

    I actually love the dry humour in this.
    Reply
  • By Peter Luisi-Mills
    April 21, 2014
    05:11 PM

    Good list, Brandon. Sorry about the two trolls here--can't believe people take the time to snark at someone for expressing their personal opinions about what they like. Ridiculous.
    Reply
  • By futurestar
    April 22, 2014
    11:49 PM

    All the elements of any good list but kept to just 10 or a dozen I would drop out: Blue Is The Warmest Color, Crumb, Vagabond, La Collectionneuse, My Dinner With Andre, The Leopard, Lacombe, Lucien, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Dazed & Confused, The Ballad of Narayama, Bigger Than Life, Salesman, Sullivan's Travels, and Sword of Doom. They are all worthy films just a lot to pile under consideration of 10 or 12 now. NBD.
    Reply
  • By SantaKory
    February 06, 2016
    11:39 PM

    I am not a robot.
    Reply
  • By SantaKory
    February 06, 2016
    11:40 PM

    I am not a robot.
    Reply