@Matt- you lost me at dialectical (sorry! I could never get my head around Marx) but I know what you mean about “life is essentially unhappy” being a theme of L’Aventura- Perhaps I made my point too strongly (seems to happen a lot to me) . I’ll put it this way- There is a religious shadow that overhangs both that film and La Dolce Vita which I find very interesting. It seems to me that there is a subconscious catholic guilt involved.
I recognized this same trend recently in WANDERLUST—I remember being disappointed that the film chose to arrive at such a conventional observation.
“sorry! I could never get my head around Marx”
No worries. I can’t even get my head around the number of things I can’t get my head around. Dialetical materialism is basically just the idea that human beings cause history through active consciousness. That we create the conditions we live under.
“There is a religious shadow that overhangs both that film and La Dolce Vita”
It’s a bit different in La Dolce Vita in that Fellini explicitly uses Catholic imagery (the whole thing starts out with Jesus flying through the city . . . and you get the ruins of an ancient Roman aqueduct there in the shot, too), but even there it seems a lot of it is used as ironic counterpoint to Marcello and modern Rome of the late ’50s, where beautiful new commercial surfaces had been built to hide the ruins and poverty of postwar Italy. So to me that suggest specific unhappiness due to specific historical conditions rather than a generalized post-religious despair.
Oh, and also, about this, " I would add The Kids Are All Right to list of conservative liberal films. They used the exiling of the selfish sexual male as the prerequisite to the happy ending", wouldn’t having one of the moms go off and form a hetero couple have been the more reactionary/conservative position? And it would seems to be an especially ideologically precarious won in that Cholodenko is herself a lesbian who has a baby conceived with the help of artificial insemination from an anonymous donor?
@Matt About Kids are All Right- Imagine it had been this story- Juliane Moore is in a long term relationship with Mark Ruffalo. Their sex life is passionless drudgery. Enter Annette Bening, a lesbian who was the surrogate mother of the the couple’s two children (bare with me) We watch Annette Bening have a passionate sexual affair where Julliane Moore is more of the instigator and seems to be fulfilling pent up appetites. Meanwhile Annette Bening is befriending the children and the children respond. Then Mark Ruffalo discovers this affair, demands that it end and tells Annette Bening to get her own family and to essentially “grow up.” Then the story ends with various scenes of happiness by the family. I think you would agree that story would be considered a conservative warning against the destructive nature of sexuality unrestrained by monogomy or the danger of indulging sexual appetites. That is the structure of the actual film’s argument- with the novelty being the lesbian couple represents family. The libidinous male is considered the scapegoat (which has been standard fare in western culture for a while) I am not saying the film is conservative only, but that it is a conservative / liberal film- a category Jirin suggested in the OP. . (I don’t consider the word “conservative” to be a negative, by the way) In the grand sweep of history, I understand that this film was trying to make a liberal statement by making a “conservative values” case for a life-style once considered radical (and still considereed radical by some), but the conservative element of the film is there (por moi)
Well, to say that gay people embrace “family values” – monogamous coupledom with a nuclear family model and marriage at the core isn’t exactly a “conservative” position because it’s including people who had been excluded from what others had (unless it was similarly “conservative” when women got the right to vote or black people got civil rights?). Of course, some gay people do not believe that their relationships need to be patterned on traditional heterosexual relationships. Anyway, I think it just goes to show the silliness of this idea of “conservative liberalism”.
Sure, Two, I get that part of it. I just think it’s a good example, as Ari has said, of the limits of the concept that is being imposed on this sort of film.
Politically speaking, it can’t be conservative, because Jules’s social positions of gay marriage (domestic partner?)/same-sex parent are not traditional social institutions . . . even if staying with your partner and children is in a literal sense “conservative” in that, in a personal sense, one is maintaining a continuity with one’s own past.
Re: “a complex individual rather than a cliche.”
Proceed with caution, Santino, when you post those kind of unassailable, common sense remarks,
especially in the context of politics.
It flies in the face of orthodoxy, and makes it difficult to pigeon-hole everyone.
For example, go check out the weeping and gnashing of teeth in MOVIES ABOUT MARXISM,
where a discouraging word about Marxism has a few folks taking it personally.
Not much room for the complex individual in their world.
@ Matt and Ari – Perhaps you are right and “conservative liberal” is a"silly" term. I saw it as a term that would help distinguish it politically from other films along the spectrum. For example, one could distinguish the ethic The Kids Are All Right celebrates from the ethic(?) in a film such as Belle de Jour. The Kids… does not seem to be a film about liberty to me, but more a film about declaring a “new normal” and defending it with “old fashioned” or “upper middle class” values, whereas something like Belle du Jour seems to be a celebration of liberty regardless of consequences… I see The Kids Are All Right as slightly to the left of the Cosby Show and way way to the right of Godard’s Weekend – am I lost in a subjective echo chamber?
“Not much room for the complex individual in their world.”
In other words…
“Pot, meet kettle.”
I see someone was upset they were no longer able to defend their poorly realized ideology…
“am I lost in a subjective echo chamber?”
No, I think you are right with the distinction you’re making here – but it’s the difference between a revolutionary and truly rebellious politics (Bunuel and Godard) and one that is reformist and working within the system both aesthetically, economically, politically, and thematically (Hollywood liberalism, aka The Kids Are All Right).
Like clockwork, Wu Yong. Or else I’m being stalked. Maybe both.
But you may wish to revise your erroneous assessment. I wasn’t defending anything; I was on the attack.
I thought the structure of my remarks made that obvious.
The pot-kettle business is off base as well, considering that I had not much good to say about capitalism either.
(Surely that makes me slightly more complex than, say, a reactionary defender of Marxism.)
I’m in a permanent state of eye-roll regarding Marxist zealots, and I just can’t help myself.
If you aren’t a zealot, whence cometh the petty hostility?
Lemonglow, you do have an odd habit of projecting hostility onto others while in the midst of expressing hostility towards others.
(and I have no hostility towards you. You have fine taste in film and make frequently lucid comments about cinema. Your politics, on the other hand, are bitter and reactionary. And you come off way too haughty about them. If that makes you a complex individual, so be it).
@Ari …..“Reformist” great word. I’ll accept that as apt.
You make it so easy.
“I see someone was upset they were no longer able to defend their poorly realized ideology…”
That “on the attack” comment is absurd. You were the first to discuss the political implications of the films in question (whereas everyone else was just mentioning films up to that point), continued to discuss politics instead of films when everyone else ignored you and then left when you realized no one was listening.
If that’s “on the attack from zealots” then I desperately fear what you do when someone actually challenges your incredibly shallow worldview.
That stalker comment is out of bounds, too. Go check it out. I commented on this thread and the “Movies About Marxism” thread before you.
If anyone’s stalking anyone else…
The idea that someone’s political views can fit into these neat little boxes called “conservatism” and “liberalism” is quite funny, especially coming from a cinephile who should know how complex human beings are.
Jesus, Wu Yong. Are you going without sleep?
I plainly stated “I was on the attack.”
That sentence means that I was the attack-ER, not the attack-EE.
That’s also what I mean when I say I was not defending anything.
I was attacking what I see as the absurd and indefensible aspects of Marxism and the zealotry
of its most ardent proponents.
Indeed I was talking politics. So were others.
The point I was making here is that some folks were taking it personally.
I can’t believe I’m having to break this down into raw sentence structure, unless you are just putting me on by pretending to suffer a massive reading comprehension problem.
In which case, you got me.
Re: “left when no one was listening.”
I like that.
It works as a marvelously appropriate description of modern day Marxism:
The Left, when no one was listening.
You write that and claim everyone else was taking it personally?
“You make it so easy.
‘I see someone was upset they were no longer able to defend their poorly realized ideology…’”
Posible explanations for the above non sequitur:
1. Someone has hijacked your account and they are putting us on.
2. You are doing a BRILLIANT job of putting me on all by your lonesome.
3. Someone has hijacked the entire site.
4. There is a language barrier (is English your first language?).
5. I’m REAL high right now.
If anyone can help me out here, then, as Jeremy Piven likes to say, “That would be, you know, great.”
“something like Belle du Jour seems to be a celebration of liberty regardless of consequences”
Except that it seems likely that everything that happens in Belle happens within Séverine’s imagination.
The problem I have with talking about films like Kids in terms like “freedom” is that doing so is predicated on the idea that people in committed, monogamous relationship are all somehow “trapped” in them, and that somehow the proper antidote for “conservative liberalism” would be sort of a Relationship Escape from Alcatraz plot where the only authentic response is for one to start digging with spoons the moment any old co-conspirator comes along .
“start digging with spoons the moment any old co-conspirator comes along”
Nice. By the way, that whole thing about “trapped in a relationship” and seeking freedom from same on the grounds of, well, FREEDOM, (maybe defined as a kind of self-actualization) started getting traction in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Did you ever see the original SWEET NOVEMBER? That’s not an ideal example, for reasons concerning the plot, but that picture and many others that deal with guys and gals committing to making no commitment were seen as the hip new sophisticated way to think of relationships.
From the wiki :
“Broader criticism from within humanistic psychology of the concept of self-actualization includes the danger that ‘emphasis on the actualizing tendency…can lead to a highly positive view of the human being but one which is strangely non-relational’. According to Fritz Perls there is also the risk of confusing “self-actualizing and self-image actualizing…the curse of the ideal.” By conflating “the virtue of self-actualization and the reality of self-actualization,” the latter becomes merely another measuring rod for the “topdog”. . . Barry Stevens remarks: “Abe Maslow was unhappy with what happened with many people when they read what he wrote about ‘self-actualizing people’. What they did with it was very strange. I have received a fair number of letters saying ‘I am a self-actualized person’. Maslow said that he must have left something out. Fritz (Perls) put it in. He saw that most people actualized a self-concept. This is not self-actualizing.”
@Matt- on Kids and freedom. I am not of the FREEDOM = ALWAYS GOOD school of thought. I’m a conservative liberal. (ha ha hah ) no, but seriously folks- I was watching a doc on Sartre and the problem of freedom and “other people” . Once two people get together to do anything isn’t there a sacrifice of the kind of total freedom that Sartre was going on about? (which is what made him a jerk to be around) I don’t think sacrifice is bad but I think it is …. sacrifice.
on Belle I am not 100% sold on that interpretation.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re right of course . . .“hell is other people” and all that. Though that getting into “strangely non-relational” territory to me.
Here’s the most profound (conservative liberal) statement ever made on the problem (and I’m only half joking when I write that):