Vicky Osterweil on the muddled anti-politics of contemporary movies
April 21, 2024 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Image without metaphor in Dune 2: Because in 2024, I don't find it hard to believe that people are incredibly excited by the vision of an anti-colonial guerilla movement driven by Islamic faith defeating a massive and technologically dominant empire... I do find it hard to believe that more people in 2024 aren't outraged that Dune Part Two literally features a talking embryo.

Civil War, a piece of radical-centrist, middle brow bothsideism is not only sure to be the most successful film he has made, it is also by some margin the worst. But to my pleasant surprise, it's not a completely terrible and evil film. It is just a deeply mediocre one.

The literal deterministic storytelling of Dune or Barbie attempts to put the cat back in the bag, to soothe the audience by seemingly bold aesthetic vision while actually telling quite dull and lifeless stories that ask little of the imagination.
Major studio video game story-telling standards and IP/franchise cinema both contribute greatly to the kind of lore-focused psychologically-disinterested narrative style. The fascist destabilization of meaning, combined with the collapse and polarization of journalism and magazines, as well as AI's weakening of other forms of public information and data, may lead to a craving for clarity and simplicity. The click-driven discourse machine, which features video "explainers" for endings and emotional beats in every movie and tv show, no matter how obvious and clear, certainly adds to the Christopher Nolan effect. And the reduction of anti-racist and feminist struggles into "representation" has also created a tendency for people to describe the presence of women or people of color as progressive in and of itself, and has led to a defensive reflex in artists to try to outflank critique by wearing their politics on their sleeve.
posted by spamandkimchi (123 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm delighted by the silliness of these articles, ty
posted by Sebmojo at 2:01 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Have there been any recent movies you've found enjoyable, spamandkimchi?
posted by Selena777 at 2:12 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


From the comments, in which the author of tfa replies to some stuff:

Your other question is much more interesting! How does ideology reproduce itself? Why do films over and over again reproduce certain worldviews, despite the fact that they are made by hundreds or even thousands of people over and over again? In my opinion, this requires a massive cultural apparatus of film education, financing, marketing, taste production, power hierarchies and indeed class and labor struggles within studios and film sets about who gets to decide how meaning is made--an industrial scale mode of image, meaning and story production, such as Hollywood!

Reading this essay in combination with the recent piece about Hollywood undervaluing writers is… interesting. Previous reinventions of Hollywood have allowed new voices and ideologies in. Current ideologies seem to have a solid lock and there’s no alternatives in sight. I suspect that there will be an incredibly fallow period for movies/media coming up while we wait for the current crop of execs to leave.
posted by The River Ivel at 2:26 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Yesterday I might have read that Civil War thinkpiece, but having seen it last night, today I won't. I'm Team DirtyOldTown from our FanFare thread on this. I came out of it wondering what on earth people are thinking when they say that it lacks context or is centrist or "bothsideism". The context for the movie is the entire last decade—or two, or three—and anyone who can't guess the politics of the filmmakers isn't watching too hard.

Oh man, I couldn't help myself—I started reading the link and now I want to throw things. Garland has always been an impressive writer (for Danny Boyle he wrote The Beach, Sunshine and 28 Days Later) and a good director, too (of Annihiliation and Ex Machina, and I'll have to see Men now, not least because I love Rory Kinnear), and this is his best work. His best. See it in the cinema, for the soundscape if for nothing else (although the closing scenes are gutwrenching on the big screen too). If you come away not knowing exactly what the U.S. President represents, then you must not have seen the Jesse Plemons character doing what he did on behalf of the "right" kind of Americans.

How arrogant to write that "Garland clearly has no idea what fascism is": that someone who wrote and directed this movie over a period of years hasn't thought as deeply about politics as some blogger critic. The same blogger critic who says that this fictional president disbanding the FBI is the equivalent of "defunding the police", suggesting that she clearly has no idea which prospective president is most likely to do exactly that. The FBI is a potential threat to presidents in a way that riot cops on the streets aren't. And so he's disbanded it—so? What matters is what he's replaced it with.

As for "if the president really was a fascist then the insurgents would be heroic, or at least demonstrably on the right side of history. There is no such respect paid, and they are just as violent and bloodthirsty": it's pretty clear who's on the right side of history by the end. It's also clear that being violent and bloodthirsty goes with the territory of being in a fucking war. The "civil" in civil war doesn't refer to politeness. World War II was fought against the most unambiguously fascist of all fascists, and at the end of it the "good guys" had carpet bombed cities, and they'd nuked two hundred thousand people, and the people they'd liberated had strung one of Europe's most famous fascists up.

Garland is too good a writer to put flashing great neon signs throughout saying "good guys this side, bad guys that side", although it's pretty clear which side some of the characters lie on. One of the ways he's good is that he doesn't force exposition down our throats, but instead has people talking the way they do in real life: so when one of them mentions the "Antifa massacre", she doesn't immediately add "in which the police massacred Antifa protesters", because why would she need to. And yet some commentators have given this as evidence of bothsideism, of it being unclear whether Garland means Antifa were massacred or did the massacring. Think about the usual power dynamic and take a wild guess.
posted by rory at 2:28 PM on April 21 [50 favorites]


Are we certain this isn’t Armand White writing reviews under a pseudonym?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:42 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


But the other policy detail we learn about his tenure is that he disbanded the FBI – he defunded the police.
These seem like two completely different things. The police in some places are essentially a state-santioned lynch mob. The FBI is a bureaucratic counterweight (for better or worse) to the ideological instability of the executive. I haven't seen the movie, but it would not at all be a surprise or a contradiction (there or in reality) if the president disbanded the FBI and radically increased funding for local police.

Seems like a bit of a rhetorical stretch.
posted by klanawa at 3:03 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


I've watched several interviews with Garland and he wasn't making this film to score political points, he was trying to illustrate what war does to people and how they have to struggle in that setting with those pressures. He has stated several times that he didn't care WHY about the war, but more cared about the WHAT of the war.
posted by hippybear at 3:04 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Here's Jon Favreau from Pod Save America talking with Garland about the film. [35m] Why listen to this critic when this man is offering himself up with lengthy conversation about what he was doing making the movie?
posted by hippybear at 3:07 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


It is actually completely conceivable and arguably likely that, conditional on the low probability of there being a Civil War in the US in the next 50 years, Texas and California secede and ally against the federal government. They have the two largest GDP's of American States, and dominate both international trade and domestic manufacturing. They are naturally aligned on things like foreign trade, the SALT deduction and against redistribution between states. They have unique cultures that emphasize a distinct identity from the Eastern-Seaboard-dominated American heritage culture. They could come to see the rest of the country as a burden not worth supporting anymore, and could maintain supply lines and marshal foreign support on the strength of their import and export economies.

The fact that so many commentators see the political conflicts of today as so fundamental that they can't imagine a totally new fissure point emerging in the next decade that splits the country on different lines is an unintended boost to the film's central message that civil wars are disorienting, hellish, and often unexpected. The causes of the conflict immediately fade in importance as the opposing sides realize that whether or not you survive is more dependent on pedestrian matters like the route and timing you take to get supplies or whether you glimpse a sniper faster than he dials in your distance and bearing.
posted by hermanubis at 3:18 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


"Death of the author" and all but it's hard not to interpret the movie in light of the many things Garland has said like:
The real enemy the film targets—more so than any of the war’s factions or their real-world inspirations—is polarization. Here again, Garland has laid out his message explicitly. “Left and right are ideological arguments about how to run a state,” he said at SXSW. “You try one, and if that doesn’t work out, you vote it out, and you try again a different way. That’s a process. But we’ve made it into ‘good and bad.’ We made it into a moral issue, and it’s fucking idiotic, and incredibly dangerous.” He later clarified that social issues don’t factor at all into his understanding of the left and right, which is limited to the question of whether governments should have “low taxation to stimulate economic growth, or high taxation to help disadvantaged people via educational welfare.”
posted by Pyry at 3:43 PM on April 21 [18 favorites]


I think part of the problem is that "don't do this", when only one political party is largely in favor of dismantling democracy and has millions of voters who are downright eager for a civil war, comes off as bothsiderism. I.e., that people who vote for the Democratic party would be equally bad for fighting back against fascism as the fascists are for instituting it.
posted by tavella at 3:49 PM on April 21 [18 favorites]


There were talking embryos in the previous versions of Dune. It's not original or even all that interesting anymore.

Having seen all three Dunes, this one had the best effects, but I'm not sure that it was actually better. I recall that the Sci-Fi channel version (the one you can't watch anymore) was actually the one that impressed me the most, but it's been quite a while.

Anyway, if you watch Dune, you're probably into it and the talking embryo thing is just a thing in the story. And if you're not into Dune, you're probably not going to care one way or the other (it's just more of that sci-fi stupid stuff that all those nerds go on about).

So, yeah. No outrage to be had.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 4:00 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


They've removed the Sci-Fi channel Dune films? They were so much better than they had any real right to be!
posted by hippybear at 4:07 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


I'll have to sit on this critique (and perhaps watch Civil War (perhaps not)) to make an informed response. But one point seemed particularly arguable:

Everything is confusing and out of control, and during lockdowns, revolutionary upheaval, pandemic layoffs and fascist transformations we culturally reconsidered what our future might look like, what the world might have to be. It forced a deep introspection, a rethinking and reshaping of society and our daily lives.

I think, unfortunately, that these events have failed to force a deep introspection, at least here in the US. Politicians are still campaigning on, and being judged on, just how quickly they can return us to the status quo ante, because average people haven't yet reached stage 5 acceptance that the American post-9/11 period of flex and swagger is forever gone and buried. Recent societal upheaval has brought to an inflection point where the future is chaotic, and we as a society aren't thinking nearly enough about how to safely sand-walk through this desert.

Of course the Heritage Foundation, students of both Rahm Emanuel's maxim that "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste," and of God-Emperor Leto Atreides II's pronouncement that, "This is why I teach about tyranny in the best possible way—by example," already have a plan in place, and it's fucking scary. Not quite as scary as the look Chani shoots Paul in the throne room toward the end of Dune Part II, but in the ballpark.
posted by xigxag at 4:08 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


And honestly the embryo is only talking because Jessica is doing drugs while pregnant.
posted by hippybear at 4:09 PM on April 21 [24 favorites]


average people haven't yet reached stage 5 acceptance that the American post-9/11 period of flex and swagger is forever gone and buried

I'm not sure that Americans have yet come to a reckoning that 1 out of every 300 people in the country died of a disease in the past 4 years.
posted by hippybear at 4:10 PM on April 21 [33 favorites]


My politics are always, always going to be based on who wants me dead least. The Republicans are explicitly an existential threat, based on a million things from slashing the safety nets to pollution to bigotry and worshipping machine guns over humanity. Must be nice to pretend that taxes is the single issue divided the, yes, good from the bad
posted by Jacen at 4:17 PM on April 21 [21 favorites]


But the other policy detail we learn about his tenure is that he disbanded the FBI – he defunded the police.

Trump literally called for the disbanding of the DoJ and the FBI a year ago.

I mentioned this on fanfare. I think it's pretty obvious that Offerman's role was based on Trump.
posted by nushustu at 4:37 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I do find it hard to believe that more people in 2024 aren't outraged that Dune Part Two literally features a talking embryo.

Listen, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to follow our Founding Fathers and to govern our polity by the principles of the Orange Catholic Bible.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:40 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


The interview with Garland on Pod Save America makes to easy to imagine where accusations of bothsidesism come from -- he spends so much time emphasizing how he is a devoted centrist and how he has right wing friends. I honestly can't remember if I listened to the whole thing. I may have stopped because I was definitely getting sick of it.
posted by hoyland at 5:07 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


I read the first one (since I haven't seen Civil War, not feeling up to being harrowed on that particular topic right now). "Various things that annoy me dressed up into a unified aesthetic theory" is always a risky genre, but for someone complaining so loudly about how everything is too obvious, how did she miss that Dune isn't a triumphalist narrative? That the Fremen's victory under a fake religious messiah is supposed to be a loss for everyone except the Bene Gesserit? And that Alia is supposed to be an Abomination? Weird. It feels slightly petty to engage at that level of analysis, but she really does keep going on about how everything is so very obvious, nothing left to implication, no resonant metaphors allowed, and yet she didn't pick up on what I'd think it would be impossible to miss if you actually stayed awake during the second movie especially. Maybe she needed it to be more obvious still? (As one can see in the discussion of Dune on Mefi, the real thorny problem is, in fact, the multivalent metaphors and the modern-day resonances of, e.g., using language like jihad and Mahdi in depicting a fake religion used to manipulate a whole people.)
posted by praemunire at 5:27 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


The interview with Garland on Pod Save America makes to easy to imagine where accusations of bothsidesism come from -- he spends so much time emphasizing how he is a devoted centrist and how he has right wing friends.

Indeed, indeed. But I do think that there's some value in establishing a slight separation/askewness from contemporary politics if your point is, "hey, cosplay fuckos, a civil war is actually stupid and brutal and unglamorous and uncontrollable and you don't really want it." Which, in the end, still takes us back to contemporary politics, since only one side is currently fantasizing about such a thing. I'm just not sure (from his public statements) Garland has fully realized that.
posted by praemunire at 5:31 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


I mostly really liked the Villeneuve Dune movies and think the Dune essay is a a little silly (I have not seen "Civil War," because I don't think I'm emotionally ready). But I will give the author this: I 100% got in trouble with the friends I saw the movie with for getting giggly when Timothy Chalamet started doing what sounded like the Batman voice.
posted by thivaia at 5:45 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


"You try one, and if that doesn’t work out, you vote it out, and you try again a different way. That’s a process. But we’ve made it into ‘good and bad.’ We made it into a moral issue, and it’s fucking idiotic, and incredibly dangerous.”

This is breathtakingly nonsensical, a thing I am stupider for having read. Alex Garland seems, at best, like a political outsider to America who has a shaky grasp on the ostensible subject of his film. And to be honest, I have seen every one of his films to this point, found all of them disappointing, and yet! I will absolutely watch this movie as soon as I don't have to pay for it. What can I say? The guy makes intriguing movies. So what if I don't like them? That seems like a boorish consideration, really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:46 PM on April 21 [21 favorites]


What a sad, enervating means to engage with popular culture. The Vicky O piece is charmless, pointless, drab critique. I feel a little bad for folks who bring a humorless political point of view to every experience they have, and, in doing so, disregard what is actually happening in front of their eyes. But mostly I'm annoyed that if a film isn't perceived to have the right 'politics,' it cannot be considered any good.
posted by peterme at 5:57 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


This is anti-abortion propaganda of the nastiest kind.

I think it is actually, perhaps, "none of your choices for depicting a toddler containing millennia of ancestral memories are probably going to work very well" film-making of the most understandable kind.
posted by Pudding Yeti at 6:03 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


"But the other policy detail we learn about his tenure is that he disbanded the FBI – he defunded the police. He is some kind of feverish horseshoe-theory fantasy."

I can see how one could get there, but my allegory coprocessor read that as a Trumpian move to eliminate a pocket of the deep state, perhaps replacing it with an unnamed security apparatus more to his liking.

But by the next morning I had also told my allegory coprocessor to shut up, and that the Jacobin review had similarly gotten this movie badly wrong.
posted by Pudding Yeti at 6:11 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I mean most who encounter Alia in the books regard her as an abomination and as something that should not exist.

It's not anti-abortion propaganda. And anyone who thinks it is, is incapable of actual analysis of literature. It's like saying The Muppet Movie is pro frog leg restaurants.
posted by hippybear at 6:12 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


Still waiting to hear how I should feel about the star child . . .
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 6:15 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Dave Bowman?

I understand how you feel. You see, it's all very clear to me now. The whole thing. It's wonderful.
posted by hippybear at 6:17 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


will I dream of Electric Texas
posted by clavdivs at 6:39 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


special features conversation from the 2000 dune mini-series with John Harrison.

you feel the events of 9/11 or would the invents of 9/11 have changed interpretation the story.

hmm. can't give an easy answer to that dune resonates with so many issues that are more accessible now because of what happened on 9/11 but I don't think I would have changed the way I've that are more accessible now maybe because of what happened on 9/11 but I don't think that I would have changed the way I did it because of that I just think that the things that Herbert is talking about in the book are so much more a part of our everyday reality now they are less fictional back on the 60s competing globally a lot of surrogate powers that were related to them now we have basically one major and a lot of satellite powers that that float in and out of its orbit depending on what kind of the arrangements are going on also there is one commodity still oil which is so incredibly powerful in our global economy so the issues while not trying to stretch this point too much and I think you know One tends to do that one chance to justify one's work given the the climate that you live in but I really do think that Herbert's stories are much closer to the world we live in now so on a purely fictional level one it's really metaphorical level storytelling level he's dealing with a lot of things we're dealing with today fundamentalists thought imperial power continuing changes of political alignments.
well there certainly is that mad men in the desert and you could if you wanted to put yourself on the side of the carino family and of the empero, you would certainly look at Paula trades as Osama bin laden

posted by clavdivs at 7:16 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this! The Civil War review is way better than the comments here led me to believe.
posted by Balna Watya at 7:19 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


The author Vicky Osterweil also wrote the book In Defense of Looting, which I don't think any looter ever read. In Vicky's world, there really isn't such a thing as a movie, or entertainment, or a work of art, except as it relates to the revolution, which never comes, and its enemies, which are everywhere. All her pieces are the same.
posted by dmh at 7:33 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


at the end of it the "good guys" had carpet bombed cities, and they'd nuked two hundred thousand people, and the people they'd liberated had strung one of Europe's most famous fascists up.

one of these things is not like the others

He later clarified that social issues don’t factor at all into his understanding of the left and right, which is limited to the question of whether governments should have “low taxation to stimulate economic growth, or high taxation to help disadvantaged people via educational welfare.”

What the hell?
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:43 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


Why listen to this critic when this man is offering himself up with lengthy conversation about what he was doing making the movie?

I believe we should acknowledge the difference between what a director does in making a movie and what that director says when on the media circuit to convince audiences to go see his film.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:45 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Based on their evinced understanding of Dune, which I have seen, i don't think i trust their understanding of Civil War (which I haven't) far enough to throw it
posted by Sebmojo at 7:59 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that in the first essay there is an articulated critique that movies currently function as simplistic propaganda and not the complex, many layered cultural touch points they ‘might’ potentially be (in a utopia untouched by market forces, and or people ((( me I am talking about me!))) who just flippin’ loved Barbie.).

Then in the second essay, a movie that sounds like it is trying to be that, is told off for both-sideism??

Sometimes a critic is a critic because what they are good at is seeing the flaws in things.

Also what a heavy brush to paint with if Alia represents and anti abortion stance and not perhaps more realistically, Frank Herbert wanting another weird space royal in the mix who could operate outside time but also - most importantly - not need to be married off at the same time as Paul Atreides in the world he was building.

It’s just silly to know all these things about Malevich and nothing about dynastic storytelling, and then decide some kind of ghost baby from outside time is pro-life propaganda. That’s like saying Malevich was a front for ‘Big Triangle’.
posted by MirJoy at 8:02 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


I saw a tweet today that was all "dude who made a movie about a CIVIL WAR says you should VOTE MORE LOL" and, along with the tweet about how dogs are settler-colonialist, I think I'm having enough of the internet.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:31 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


It’s just silly to know all these things about Malevich

Aw, it's always good to know things about Malevich, though it looks like she missed his later-life venture into sentimental religious paintings of old people.
posted by praemunire at 8:54 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I’m in an argument with someone who really liked Civil War and their position is that this movie isn’t *for* us; it’s for people as rich or richer than Garland, who are the ones actually in a position to do something. I don’t think that’s an invalid point, but I still don’t like it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:06 PM on April 21


Yeah, that Dune essay... isn't very good.

The thesis seems to be that movies were halfway-decent and nuanced in the 2010s, but the pandemic, "the George Floyd Rebellion", and the Jan. 6 insurrection "fundamentally transformed our society", and now the Powers That Be, who control all movies, have flipped a switch and changed movies completely, because... uh... fascism.

This is, to say the least, a pretty weak and problematic theory. On top of that, she seems to misunderstand many elements of "Dune 2". I wonder if she ever read the book, or watched the Lynch film?

She's not wrong that many contemporary mainstream movies are mindnumbingly literal and lacking in depth or ambiguity, including Christopher Nolan's work. But as the first commenter on the article points out, this can also be said of many movies, and much art, from across history.

In short, the essay manifests the same problem it claims to diagnose: literalism, oversimplification, and a lack of nuance.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:24 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I suspect it has little bearing on the actual movie but Garland has done an amazing job making Civil War sound unappealing and himself a naive simpleton in ever single interview or media appearance he’s done for it.
posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


The interview with Garland on Pod Save America makes to easy to imagine where accusations of bothsidesism come from -- he spends so much time emphasizing how he is a devoted centrist and how he has right wing friends. I honestly can't remember if I listened to the whole thing. I may have stopped because I was definitely getting sick of it

Ditto. It was goofy pablum that felt so cloying and weird that it kind of put me off of going to see the movie, which I'd previously been enthusiastic to go watch.
posted by kensington314 at 9:57 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


In short, the essay manifests the same problem it claims to diagnose: literalism, oversimplification, and a lack of nuance.

I know, right?

Did I understand correctly, and she included "Everything, Everywhere, All At Once" in her critique of movies that are too literal and lack nuance?

The Dune essay read to me like someone who lacks the visual and cultural literacy to notice nuance and ambiguity, and has access to a limited set of tools to analyse their experience.

When your only tools are "is this narrative a comment on American politics [tick the following boxes pro/anti choice, pro/anti fascist]" then you're going to have a very narrow experience.
posted by Zumbador at 11:27 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


In short, the essay manifests the same problem it claims to diagnose: literalism, oversimplification, and a lack of nuance.

It was ironic on a level that, even more ironically, i don't believe she would be able to perceive
posted by Sebmojo at 1:27 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


The Dune critique minimizes Chani as merely representative while making sure we pay attention to the importance of the white and male characters. Chani's character or actress isn't even important enough to be named. Villeneuve might be too literal in ending the film with her glaring at the audience after she's warned us not to buy into Paul's bullshit for the entire film, but I guess you'd have to see her as significant to even notice that.
posted by betaray at 2:08 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I forced myself to read the entire Osterweil piece on Civil War (beyond the opening paragraphs I'd engaged with above) so that I couldn't be accused—by myself, mainly—of criticising something I hadn't even read. I kept track of some thoughts along the way...

Texas teaming up with California is, as hermanubis says above, not at all beyond the realm of possibility. Mefites often remind us that Not All Texans are like their politicians, and that its politics are the way they are in large part because of redistricting and other Republican shenanigans. If we're in the realm of civil war, it isn't impossible to imagine that breaking down and the two states as allies. This is all supposed to be set about twenty years from now (the "Antifa massacre" was when Dunst's character was the age of the young reporter), and we've witnessed much weirder geopolitical shifts over the last twenty years.

Osterweil accuses Garland of having "no idea what fascism is" and then cites his thanking of Helen Lewis in the credits as evidence, which is possibly actionable in UK courts, if Lewis could be bothered. I understand that Lewis is seen as a Bad Guy in trans circles because she has said, in essence, "trans women are women and trans men are men, but let's be cautious about bad actors taking advantage of access to women's refuges", which, sure, is an argument that one can take issue with, but it isn't evidence of being fascist: come on. She was deputy editor of the New Statesman for several years not that long ago. Accusing her of being fascist is the sort of 1980s student politics hyperbole that had so many shying away from the word for thirty years.

Then we have some decent points about the stance of the film being that of "war photojournalists and conflict reporters", the people who see the horrors of war up close and end up with PTSD as a result. And... yes? This is bad, why? Apparently because a lot of Americans have a shallow understanding of foreign conflicts, and so war reportage is an inadequate teacher. Why this invalidates a story about war reporters and their PTSD, I'm not sure.

Again we're reminded that the politics of the movie are "totally nonsensical", just to rub it in. Tell you what's nonsensical: a handful of hijackers crashing jumbo jets into the tallest building in New York. A grifter real-estate magnate turned reality TV star ending up as populist president of the US. Britain leaving the EU as the result of a knife-edge indicative vote in which the winners represented 37.5% of the electorate.

And comparing the "more powerful political resonance 45 years on" of Dawn of the Dead with Civil War, as if that proves anything. Get back to us in 45 years, eh?

The paragraph about "processing images of the January 6th coup" is just incoherent. Osterweil represents the attack by Western Forces on the White House as "anxiety ... about right wing militias destroying the government" when by this stage it's clear that the WF army (no "militia" is going to have the resources we see massed for attack in preceding scenes) represents the "good guys", the ones out to get the fascist dictator. To call this "nonsense" is... nonsense.

"It talks about the polarization of American society as equally arbitrary and ahistorical as it is elsewhere": Osterweil is effectively accusing Garland of believing that conflicts elsewhere are "arbitrary and ahistorical", when he clearly believes nothing of the sort, as no thinking observer would. What he clearly believes is that however much you think your civilised society has good reasons for its polarization, when the result is war the results are devastating for the vast majority of the population and leave the victors picking over ruins. How on earth is that "middle-brow"? Hey, let's all visit DC and enjoy those middle-brow war memorials before we head down to the arthouse for a middle-brow screening of Apocalypse Now!

"Though the narrative itself is fundamentally reactionary it can't help but mobilize much more insurrectionary desires in the audience." Poor Garland; he makes a whole movie where the fascist president who drove the slide into civil war ends up shot in his foxhole at the end, and he "accidentally" appealed to people who think fascists should be overthrown. What was he possibly thinking?

Well, we do also have examples of what he was thinking, in the interviews being cited elsewhere in this thread—and it's true that his talk of his born-again centrism gets a bit exhausting (but having to repeat himself in interviews with different outlets is hardly his fault; that's the promotional game), but it does seem to me that his viewpoint is being misconstrued by some readers and viewers of those interviews. As he repeatedly says, he's centre-left. In British terms, that's mainstream Labour, a social democratic position. With those views I can't imagine he has ever or would ever vote Tory, and so to call him reactionary, or this film as being intended as such, is a sign that you're missing the point. He has an important point to make about the tension between a politics of the centre and a politics of deliberate polarization, in his interviews and in his movie.

When the extremes split the centre over some wedge issue or other, they encourage those in the middle who would once have considered themselves political neighbours to see each other as political enemies, and that leads to the polarization we see around us—so polarization isn't cause, it's effect. Perhaps, if we're particularly unlucky, it leads to civil war. And civil war is destruction, it's death, it's both sides losing in so many ways—except ideologically, for whichever side ends up victorious.

There are no guarantees about the winning side of a civil war being the "right" side", either. Take off the U.S. vs. Confederacy blinkers, Garland is encouraging us, and look elsewhere. Look at Spain, where the fascists won a civil war and ruled for forty years. Look at England, where the parliamentarians won (yay, democracy!) and then Cromwell ruled as a puritanical dictator and brutally reconquered neighbouring Ireland (whoops). Look at France—vive la révolution!—and the Terror, the rise of Napoleon, and war across half of Europe.

It isn't middle-brow to hope not to live through times like that, or to warn of the dangers of times like that.

But perhaps all that matters to you is ideology: in your daily life, in your entertainment, in your own work. Then you might not enjoy Garland's movie, and might criticise it along the same lines as Osterweil. But what do you want? Do you want every depiction of war on screen to have clearly flagged "good guys" and "bad guys", to argue that violence is always worth it as long as the bad guys lose, and to reassure the audience that their specific delineation of good and bad is objectively correct in every way?

Like Garland, I have one or two right-wing friends (who would find the idea that somehow their ideology has rubbed off on mine hilarious). One of my oldest, dearest friends I would no longer even describe as centre-right: he seems to be drifting into ideological positions that 30-40 years ago I would never have imagined him capable of. But you know what: I wouldn't want to see him hanging upside down in a carwash with his face beaten to a pulp. I wouldn't want to see him shot, or the streets around him reduced to rubble. I wish him a happy and peaceful life. Call me a middle-brow bothsideist, but I wish that for most people.
posted by rory at 2:29 AM on April 22 [24 favorites]


how did she miss that Dune isn't a triumphalist narrative? That the Fremen's victory under a fake religious messiah is supposed to be a loss for everyone except the Bene Gesserit? And that Alia is supposed to be an Abomination?

and

On top of that, she seems to misunderstand many elements of "Dune 2". I wonder if she ever read the book, or watched the Lynch film?

Maybe… I know it’s bizarre but hear me out… just maybe, she’s critiquing the recent movie as a cultural artifact on its own, they same way that many audience members come to the film (I know the Dune series is a favorite among a subset of Metafilter, but there are also a lot of us who have never read the books; and I’ve seen the movie with Sting because I’m old enough that it was kind of my generation’s Villeneuve Dune, but am not so into the franchise that I ever sought out the miniseries or any other related material).

I haven’t read the links yet, so can’t say what I think of the author’s interpretation of the actual films being critiqued. But requiring that any critique be of the entire multi-book series rather than focusing on the specific latest movie is an unserious take that shows a lack of understanding of how people engage with popular films based on books. … You know that a sizeable portion of the audience for the Marvel films and tv shows have also never read the comics, right? And lots of people have only watched the movies based on Jane Austen’s works, or Little Women, etc., without ever reading the books? It pains me that the majority of the audiences for Cosmos and I, Robot haven’t and won’t ever read the books on which those films are based, which means in particular that there are a whole lot of people running around thinking that the moral of Cosmos is that science and religion are kind of the same or at least commensurate, which is the opposite of the moral of the book. And one can write a critique of that difference, but it would be foolish to complain that a review critiquing the movie Cosmos for presenting science as a religious experience in which the book was not mentioned was wrong because that’s not what the book says - it is what the movie says, unfortunately.
posted by eviemath at 4:33 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


she has said, in essence, "trans women are women and trans men are men, but let's be cautious about bad actors taking advantage of access to women's refuges", which, sure, is an argument that one can take issue with, but it isn't evidence of being fascist

Honestly that sounds like exactly the kind of “just asking questions” nonsense that makes TERFs a useful leading wedge for fascism and why all of them just coincidentally seem to find themselves approvingly mentioned alongside people like Andy Ngo.
posted by Artw at 4:41 AM on April 22 [15 favorites]


eviemath, that's as may be, but she's not even working from a commonly accepted or particularly natural reading of the film, nor doing the work to convince people of what she's seeing in it.
posted by sagc at 4:43 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


I’d have to read the piece to have an opinion on that, but my impression watching Dune 2 was that, to the best of my knowledge at least, that was Villeneuve’s intended ending of a two-parter; and as such, although I personally didn’t agree with it, it did seem rather triumphant for both Paul’s family and the Fremen. I’ve heard from folks here on Metafilter that things change later in the books, so I could see some glimpses of hints toward that in the film. But they were pretty subtle and if I didn’t know to look for them it would be quite easy to interpret the film without that thread, and instead as including a bit of ethical debate on Paul’s part as a centrist-liberal show of him being a good guy who thinks about these things, but ultimately that accepting his role as the messianic leader was the “right” thing to do, so long as the person in that role was a good guy, as the movie had shown Paul to be previously. In that reading, he selflessly sacrifices his own happiness and chance at love with Chani for protecting everyone. Again: from what I’ve heard, this was the ending of a planned two-parter - there will be no third Villeneuve Dune movie, at least as far as I know. Try to set aside everything else you know about the broader story universe and look at it just from that restricted perspective. In the denouement/ending of the Villeneuve movie, Paul and the Fremen triumph over the evil other family and the Emperor, and while it looks like they might have to fight the other families as well (though a more casual viewer might have missed the brief mention of the other families not accepting Paul as Emperor), it was established previously that they have the nukes for that and are sure to triumph in that coming fight as well, in the unlikely event that Paul marrying the Emperor’s daughter isn’t sufficient to prevent it (which seemed to be the whole point of him marrying the Emperor’s daughter instead of Chani, when it was well-established that he clearly loves Chani and would prefer to marry her). Also, Jessica was set to become the new Reverend Mother, so he’d have the Bene Geserit on his side, additionally assuring triumph.
posted by eviemath at 5:01 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I felt like the movie was pretty clear that we was doing something that we were supposed to be at least ambivalent about, given the multiple visions of horrible suffering we get whenever he considers the future he chooses at the end of the film.

In conclusion, Arrakis is a land of contrasts.
posted by sagc at 5:14 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Maybe… I know it’s bizarre but hear me out… just maybe, she’s critiquing the recent movie as a cultural artifact on its own, they same way that many audience members come to the film

The pair of movies where the first understandable voice is Chani's, where she ends the prologue asking "Who will our next oppressors be?" and ends with her leaving Paul in despair and disgust at the way he drags the Fremen into an interstellar war? War under the leadership of someone the second movie consistently shifts towards portraying as a superstitious fool, who boards the ship to take him to combat with absolute wild-eyed religious fervor?

I don't dispute that your "reading" of the movie is sincerely yours, and I expect that it's fairly common insofar as we are primed as moviegoers to expect happy/triumphalist endings from big-budget actionish movies. Maybe it's a reasonable way to think of a way Villeneuve failed, like the way so many people unironically enjoy Starship Troopers.

But I do think it requires almost effort to miss the many ways Villeneuve keeps saying Chani is the good guy, not Paul.

Again: from what I’ve heard, this was the ending of a planned two-parter - there will be no third Villeneuve Dune movie, at least as far as I know.

No, the adaptation of Dune Messiah is in active development.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:43 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


“Left and right are ideological arguments about how to run a state,” he said at SXSW. “You try one, and if that doesn’t work out, you vote it out, and you try again a different way. That’s a process. But we’ve made it into ‘good and bad.’ We made it into a moral issue, and it’s fucking idiotic, and incredibly dangerous.” He later clarified that social issues don’t factor at all into his understanding of the left and right, which is limited to the question of whether governments should have “low taxation to stimulate economic growth, or high taxation to help disadvantaged people via educational welfare.”

Right has currently removed the right to control my own body and much more on the horizon, so forgive me for believing this thought process is fucking BONKERS, and the province of a rich and out of touch jerk. Yikes.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:53 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


Haven't seen Civil War yet, but from arm's length I've gathered that it's ideologies seem kinda flakey. So I'll have to see it eventually just out of curiosity.
posted by ovvl at 5:53 AM on April 22


I hadn't heard about "Civil War" until The New York Times wrote about it in some fashion almost every day for the last couple of weeks, which makes me immediately suspicious of it.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:01 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Right has currently removed the right to control my own body and much more on the horizon, so forgive me for believing this thought process is fucking BONKERS, and the province of a rich and out of touch jerk. Yikes

I have personal reasons for not wanting Garland to drift off into being a “neither right nor left” style right wing weirdo, but he’s absolutely sending off all the signals.
posted by Artw at 6:05 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


Sometimes people attempt to argue with you about a movie in good faith, even though they are mad about the movie they expected, rather than the movie that exists. Since, they didn't approach the film itself in good faith, the whole conversation is pointless.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:09 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


Honestly that sounds like exactly the kind of “just asking questions” nonsense

Sure. But Helen Lewis isn't fascist, if that word is to mean anything at all, which Osterweil seems to hope it does. She commented at some point, as journalistic commentators in the UK were wont to do last decade, that she saw potential problems with gender self-ID; but she didn't make it a full-time obsession the way Glinner did. Conflating her political position with a professional anti-Antifa right-winger like Ngo is just wrong.
posted by rory at 6:11 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


I didn't think that the all-consuming sandworm god would consume me!
posted by Jacen at 6:15 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Sure. But Helen Lewis isn't fascist, if that word is to mean anything at all, which Osterweil seems to hope it does.

Noting here that she’s a regular source of “anti-woke” “cancel culture has gone too far” columns in The Atlantic and the like.

She absolutely part of the fash ecosystem, like all TERFs become.
posted by Artw at 6:17 AM on April 22 [16 favorites]


Here's a paragraph from a recent Osterweil piece whos url claims "joe-biden-is-the-franco-to-trumps-mussolini"

"Trump is scary, but what is scariest about Trump are the people he emboldens and encourages, the fascist movements that bloom fungal in his shadow. And it is increasingly clear that one of those movements is the Democratic Party. Biden has been granted permission by Trump, and he is making good use of it."

This person is just a FUD troll - exactly the kind of extremist boosterism I have been complaing about for years. I wouldn't be surprised if she was getting paid directly by the Heritage Foundation.
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:53 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


I haven't seen the movie but I enjoyed Osita Nwanevu's take
posted by Kwine at 6:54 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I've watched several interviews with Garland and he wasn't making this film to score political points, he was trying to illustrate what war does to people and how they have to struggle in that setting with those pressures.

Fine, fine, you guys win, I'll go watch the movie so I can comment intelligently. ;)
posted by corb at 6:57 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


That Dune essay is very strange.

Dune Part Two looks good, but the images are incredibly static, people are reduced to flat images, with the exceptions of the sudden outbreaks of violent action, which are themselves short lived and poorly staged.
"It's static except for all the exciting bits"?
And if you haven't seen the film, there are a lot of "violent action" scenes.

We get loads of long shots showing people framed by huge amounts of space, and all the spaces are empty of other human beings.
It's like the director is using visual storytelling to make points about isolation, the environment, etc.

evoking the fussy-fascist aesthetics of Wes Anderson.
...the what now?
posted by doctornemo at 6:58 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


Noting here that she’s a regular source of “anti-woke” “cancel culture has gone too far” columns in The Atlantic and the like. She absolutely part of the fash ecosystem, like all TERFs become.

I hear plenty of people on the left in everyday life making jokes about wokeness. The word now fills the same role in popular rhetoric as "PC" did 30+ years ago, to the point where it isn't a reliable indicator of much. To be clear, I personally don't find those jokes very funny, because I subscribe to a straightforward reading of "woke" as meaning having your eyes open(ed) to the injustices around us, which, duh.

So if Lewis is writing about "too much wokeness" or the like, that's disappointing, but it doesn't make her part of a "fash ecosystem" to my mind. Ditto complaints about "cancel culture" coming from someone who experienced being cancelled: it's what you'd expect of someone in that boat, and should be discounted accordingly (or given more weight, depending how you're analysing what she says—it's a voice of first-hand experience, at least).

The concept of a "fash ecosystem" that encompasses all and any disagreement with any aspect of a defined list of left-wing beliefs is part of the problem here. Almost nobody is going to agree with everything on the list, and some of those who disagree will have a public profile; if every last one of those public figures is condemned as part of the "fash ecosystem", all we're doing is implying that fascism has majority support. Which it absolutely hasn't. Trump did not and does not have majority support. The Tories and the UK populist right parties are polling at about 35% combined at the moment.

By all means, if someone spends all of their time hammering the same fascist tropes on Fox News and posting Pepe gifs on X, have at them. But using guilt by association with a left-wing journalist as evidence of Garland not understanding fascism doesn't inspire confidence in the reviewer's political analysis.
posted by rory at 7:11 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


I hear plenty of people on the left in everyday life making jokes about wokeness. The word now fills the same role in popular rhetoric as "PC" did 30+ years ago

Er, yeah. It’s cover for doing bigotry same as that shit was.
posted by Artw at 7:17 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


the "more powerful political resonance 45 years on" of Dawn of the Dead

Thanks for the quote, saves me from having to read the pieces or pay attention to anything this person ever does ever again.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:21 AM on April 22


From the Osita Nwanevu review that Kwine shared above:
“The viewer is required to make their own interpretation,” he told Entertainment Weekly in an interview. “The film is actually being opaque. It’s forcing the viewer to ask questions.” This is the kind of reticence we’ve come to expect from good directors; auteurs who are vague about what their films mean and get surly when asked are afforded extra respect. But Garland, that particular interview notwithstanding, is actually something much rarer and more special in prestige film—a director who won’t shut up. For weeks now, with the desperation of a man on trial, he’s been outlining and defending his intentions in any venue that will have him. “Journalists are getting shat on, and they’re being distrusted,” he said at a SXSW screening. “And I wanted to make journalists the hero because there’s a simple point at the heart of it, which is that in any kind of free country … journalists are not a luxury. They’re a necessity.” He elaborated on this in an interview with The New York Times last week—“The film,” he explained, “is presenting old-fashioned reporters, as opposed to extremely biased journalists who are essentially producing propaganda. They’re old-fashioned reporters, and the film tries itself to function like those reporters.”

...

Civil War, as described by Garland, is a film about the perils of taking politics seriously. On-screen it is also, and in fact primarily, a film about the merits of having nothing to say. It has much to say about this—making detached art about the importance of detachment is, like making journalism without a point of view, a project doomed to failure. That’s especially so when an artist is as anxious to be heard as Garland plainly is. At SXSW, he wondered aloud about the country’s seeming failure to absorb warnings from experts about its political divisions. “Is it the polarization?” he asked. “Is it just that we are not able to absorb any information because of the position we’ve already taken?’ Hence, making a movie that pulls the polarization out of it.”
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:25 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Honestly scratching my head at the writer's characterization of the militia-member in the Hawaiian shirt as a "boogaloo boy." Like I'm aware of the alt-right chuds trying to make that all part of their iconography, but if we actually LOOK at the textual clues offered us by the film, these non-uniformed irregulars are clearly being revealed to us as the direct opposites of the clearly racist white vigilantes we met at the gas station earlier in the film.

For one thing, the Hawaiian shirt guy is fighting alongside multiple black and brown folks (including women? I'd have to watch again closely) and they seem to be shooting at uniformed troops of the fascist US government led by Offerman's president. Moreover, these folks seem pretty welcoming of our diverse main characters' presence among them, and to having their activities documented by the press.

Unlike the uniformed group we see in the later scene where they're explicitly filling in mass graves following obvious war crimes and DO NOT WANT to be photographed; Jesse Plemons' character (their ostensible leader) spouts xenophobic rhetoric and makes a point of threatening and intimidating the nonwhite characters in the group, shooting their two Asian-American colleagues to death in cold blood and nearly doing the same with the Latino male protagonist.

These two people are clearly not fighting on the same side.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:25 AM on April 22


But requiring that any critique be of the entire multi-book series rather than focusing on the specific latest movie is an unserious take that shows a lack of understanding of how people engage with popular films based on books.

Huh? Who said this? Do you genuinely think that everyone saying the Dune reading is terribly simplistic is so bad a critic as to be relying on the books rather than the movies she's explicitly talking about?

It is not as clear in the first movie due to the plot structure, but Paul spends his entire time in the desert fearing and fighting to avoid taking on the role of Mahdi. He has horrible visions of grotesquely emaciated people dying in agony and of Chani horrifically disfigured by a nuclear blast if he follows the path his mother is setting forth. He screams about millions of deaths in a holy war in his father's name. Jessica confirms explicitly at the end that he has now launched this holy war. Chani, the most sympathetic character in the films and someone with a fairly sophisticated political critique, turns her back on him completely at the end.

As for Alia, the Fremen Reverend Mother's dying (?) words are, "What have we done? She is pregnant!" Fetus-Alia is shot as creepy as hell (fetuses helping plot holy wars tend to be). You don't look at her and think, "gosh, abortions are bad," you think, "whoa, maybe this one should be ended before she wishes us all into a cornfield."

Now, there's always the problem of "there's no such thing as an anti-war film," and you can talk about that in this context, too, since Paul is handsome and for most of the movies has an appealing character and they defeat some horrific villains (though House Corrino and the Bene Gesserit are a lot more ambiguous than House Harkonnen) but the essay's critique is not along those lines at all. She thinks there's no tension, no ambiguity, Paul's victory is a straightforward success and the big problem with it is that instead of "long live the fighters!" he didn't say "from the river to the sea."
posted by praemunire at 8:28 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Strange Interlude, that's why I feel like they shouldn't have put Hawaiian shirt guys - I don't recall seeing any women - in the film, because it would be interpreted by Boogaloo boys as a shout-out. That being said, while the group is multiracial and friendly to the journalists, they are also seen executing bound captives, so I think the depiction was "morally ambiguous."
posted by Selena777 at 8:40 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


But perhaps all that matters to you is ideology: in your daily life, in your entertainment, in your own work. Then you might not enjoy Garland's movie, and might criticise it along the same lines as Osterweil. But what do you want?

"Be careful of people who tell you want to hear. I don't care what you say your politics are."

Quoting a friend who's been saying this a lot lately, says it's become his main takeaway from the past eight years of so of divisive cultural discussion-argument-upheaval (whatever you want to call it). He's very much a left leaning guy but, as he puts it, "that means I'm generally in the company of other left-leaning folks, so of course, that's who I'm going to be best at critiquing. So yeah, if pointing out that [person I recently saw giving a smugly simplistic speech at a Socialist rally] came across as a condescending ass is somehow feeding the fash ecosystem ... I don't know what to say. Actually I do. I'm going to say, I think you're wrong, I think your commitment to your ideology is trumping your common sense ... and history tells me this never goes well."
posted by philip-random at 8:50 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


i feel like analyzing the politics of the sides in Civil War misses the point of the movie.

there wasn't much more there than "war is bad. don't do a war." it was done much better than supposed anti-war films that instead glorified war.

it was a look at a cadre of journalists/friends coming to terms with their roles as witnesses now that their subject matter wasn't happening in a place far away with people who could be exoticized.
posted by kokaku at 9:00 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


i feel like analyzing the politics of the sides in Civil War misses the point of the movie.

there wasn't much more there than "war is bad. don't do a war." it was done much better than supposed anti-war films that instead glorified war.


Yeah, exactly. The Civil War discourse has driven me batty. It's an artistic response to the partisan conflict in the United States, shortcutting all the intermediate steps to show what a breakdown of democracy and a civil war actually look and feel like.

Is it a perfect movie? No, not at all, I have several issues with it. But there are some brutal, brutal images in it and it's worth seeing.
posted by rhymedirective at 9:09 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Filmmakers often find politics and business very boring or are simply completely ignorance of it, and when neither, almost always believe the audience will find those topics too boring to get any screen time. In war movies, sometimes they clad this in some notion that all war is bad, all you care about in the trench is your buddies, all politicians are hypocrites, Americans bad/guerillas good, etc.

It's very consistent to have a movie depicting a civil war (even one literally called Civil War) spend no time on the reasons why the civil war is being fought, and feel no need to explain how California and Texas would find themselves on the same side of near-future civil war, but put a lot of time on human drama and war is bad, etc.

The best of fiction of course knows the politics is essential. Think of Act I of Henry V. The church is backing the war to stave off a tax bill. Hal wants glory, but needs a legal rationale. The Dauphin is an arrogant provocateur. The Southampton Plot(ters) choose money over their friends. Bardolph, Nym, and Falstaff go to war with the non-elite perspectives - patriotism, greed, fear. The King of France is defending his homeland. The amazing speeches of later acts (Siege of Harfluer, Band of Brothers) resonate because we know what this war is about and why.

I have always loved that Kubrick could attend to politics in his great war movies Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket in ways that were both telling, succinct, and often with great dark-comic flourish.
posted by MattD at 9:25 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I'd say Full Metal Jacket is an excellent example of the anti-war movie that fails because it ends up glorifying war. Almost every one I can think of does, except Civil War and a couple others. I think that's both because of the distance created by the journalists and the abstraction of the politics. The focus is on the collapse, the people, and the ruin, not the soldiers so much.
posted by kokaku at 9:37 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


"There are no guarantees about the winning side of a civil war being the "right" side", either. Take off the U.S. vs. Confederacy blinkers, Garland is encouraging us, and look elsewhere. Look at Spain, where the fascists won a civil war and ruled for forty years. "

But that's the problem. There's only one side that doesn't care about the rule of law, peaceful succession, all that jazz. When a Republican presidential candidate lost the popular vote and the recount that would have decided the electoral college was stopped by a Republican supreme court, Democrats didn't take up arms. When another lost the popular vote, Democrats didn't take up arms. When a Republican candidate lost both the popular vote and the electoral college, he and his cultists tried to overthrow the government. What Garland seems to believe is that resisting a fascist takeover makes you just as bad as the fascists.
posted by tavella at 9:47 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I thought the article on Civil War was great and highlighted how centrism, which stands for nothing apart from defining itself between others, is a bothsidesy, reactionary mess of a thing paralysed partly by the inability to accept or comprehend a world where people act on their values, whether good or bad. From a lot of the comments here, it appears centrists really dislike that view of them. Who knew?

It's a terrible film, the would-be politics of it are appalling and everything Garland says about his own views make it worse. I guess if you like being reassured of your own decency at the cost of any ability to engage with reality outside that bubble, your mileage may vary.
posted by onebuttonmonkey at 9:49 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


would you like a broader brush with which to paint folks who liked the film, onebuttonmonkey?
posted by kokaku at 10:12 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Garland failed to name the president Ronald K. Strump and also failed to ensure all the Bad Guys were suitably labeled therefore I too see his complicity in doing the fascism
posted by elkevelvet at 10:27 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


Full Metal Jacket isn't exactly meant to be anti-war. It's about the duality of man's nature.
posted by ovvl at 10:36 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


What Garland seems to believe is that resisting a fascist takeover makes you just as bad as the fascists.

It most definitely doesn't. However, if you are violently resisting a fascist takeover, you are likely to find yourself doing some terrible things to survive and win. That is the way war works.

I think probably the comparator here should be Melville's Armée des Ombres (Army of Shadows). Melville fought in the actual resistance against the actual Nazis in France. Yet the depiction very early in the film of a bunch of only semi-competent Resistance members struggling to cleanly execute a collaborator is almost unbearable. They end up murdering one of their own because they fear she's become vulnerable to being pressured into betraying them. And they still all die at the end.
posted by praemunire at 10:44 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


As the person who's dumped more words into this thread about Civil War than anyone, I guess you lump me in as a centrist, onebuttonmonkey. To which I say, ha ha ha ha haaaa.

"The inability to accept or comprehend a world where people act on their values, whether good or bad": nice tagline there for Civil War II: Revenge of the Strawmen.

tavella: What Garland seems to believe is that resisting a fascist takeover makes you just as bad as the fascists.

The most well-oiled military machine in the film is the one that rolls into DC and kills the fascists, so that wasn't the conclusion I drew.
posted by rory at 10:44 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


It's a terrible film, the would-be politics of it are appalling

I ask sincerely: what politics? The movie contains no political message that I was able to discern, aside from "war is bad", which of course isn't really a political message at all. Is that a problem? Maybe, but I don't see anyone making that argument.

I think what's interesting about the film is to imagine a movie made in 1857, dramatizing a civil war in the United States without once mentioning slavery. It would be wildly irresponsible, right?

So: what actual disagreements currently exist in the United States that would lead to a civil war being the only possible solution left? I honestly can't think of one. Certainly you could extrapolate out some based on current trends, which the movie sort of does (a third-term president heavily implying a collapse of democracy, for instance) but without knowing the reasons why and how a president would do such a thing, it's just set dressing.

What fascinates me about the strident criticisms of Civil War is that they seem self-defensive because the movie explicitly challenges the fantasy of a civil war in the United States in the 21st Century that many people, I think, find comforting in some way. The movie is saying: you don't want this.

I mean, a character in the movie literally says "Every time I survived a war zone, I thought I was sending a warning home: Don't do this." If anything, the movie is too blunt an instrument to be effective. I suppose Garland thinks that is what is necessary right now, and maybe he's right, I don't know. But the movie isn't subtle about it in the slightest.
posted by rhymedirective at 10:58 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


what actual disagreements currently exist in the United States that would lead to a civil war being the only possible solution left? I honestly can't think of one.

a Trump presidency that somehow has enough of Congress to seriously implement Project 2025 (with its curtailment of rights for various groups of people) combined with him claiming a 3rd term due to "an emergency."

i think that could push us over, especially if there was a violent crackdown on peaceful protest?
posted by kokaku at 11:31 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Again, haven’t seen it, but having an actual imminent threat of nation destabilizing violence sure does complicate “Don't do this” as a message… what if it’s getting done anyway? Do you just give up?
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Full Metal Jacket isn't exactly meant to be anti-war. It's about the duality of man's nature

Whose side are you on, son?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:48 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Anti-war movies that don't end up glorifying war:
Dr. Strangelove
Catch-22 (though it's not a great movie, especially compared with the book)
Duck Soup
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:48 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Come and See
posted by elkevelvet at 12:00 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


having an actual imminent threat of nation destabilizing violence sure does complicate “Don't do this” as a message… what if it’s getting done anyway? Do you just give up?

i think the movie was saying don't let it get to that point.
posted by kokaku at 12:25 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


the fussy-fascist aesthetics of Wes Anderson

If anything, Wes Anderson could be accused of bothsidesism.
posted by swift at 12:30 PM on April 22 [8 favorites]


i think the movie was saying don't let it get to that point.

So… preemptively give up? Nothing is worth fighting for? Certainly more appealing when the stakes are abstract, but it’s a not great vibe right now when they are very much not so.

Honestly I’d probably watch it and enjoy it if Garland hadn’t said anything about it, because I can totally see it working on a visceral level if you go in assuming it uses the familiarity of an abstracted US setting to sell the costs of war. But with Garland actually denying that and taking this “divisions are bad” tack it kind of focuses things on what the divisions actually are.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


You become the one pushing for violence if you see violence as the only answer to divisions.

Is anything worth laying down your life for other than the opportunity to kill those you see as on the other side?

This is also relevant to Dune. Paul's genocide is good, right? Because the other guys are so obviously bad.
posted by betaray at 12:50 PM on April 22


artw, I'm really not sure how you're getting give up or nothing is worth fighting for from don't do a war or let things escalate to a war.

personally, i believe in non-violent resistance. so if you mean fight in the metaphoric not literal sense, there's lots of ways to fight that don't require physical or verbal violence.
posted by kokaku at 1:05 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


*shrug*

Possibly not living on Arrakis I have more latitude to appreciate how Paul can both be bad and bad-ass, and be less bothered about how Villaineue might potentially be having his cake and eating it.

“Division is bad” lectures about looks-like-America present more of a challenge.
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on April 22


I wish I could say that stupid, thoughtless enthusiasm for political violence was just not a historical phenomenon across many political axes for centuries. But it has been.
posted by praemunire at 1:50 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


But that's the problem. There's only one side that doesn't care about the rule of law

I don't mean to invalidate your larger point or suggest a moral equivalence, but wrt to caring about the rule of law, I think it's germane that Osterweil wrote a book to defend looting as a tool for political change. Regardless of the merits of the argument, it doesn't evince care about the rule of law. The point being that norm-breaking isn't a fixed, neutral qualification. It's almost definitionally how we qualify the enemy in relation to ourselves. Of course the enemy violates every norm that's right and proper: that's why they're the enemy.
posted by dmh at 2:46 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


I missed that Dune is not triumphalist narrative when I read it as a callow youth; I'm not surprised the same thing happens with the movie. There is nuance to Frank Herbert yes, but there is also a lot that is really messed up. For example, The Dosadi Experiment has the sentence:
She knew her own weakness and hid it carefully: she'd been taught by loving parents (who'd concealed their love behind exquisite cruelty) that Dosadi's decisions were indeed terrible.
There's a saying: Hard times create strong men/Strong men create good times/Good times create weak men/Weak men create hard times, and Herbert appears to have bought into this idea across multiple books. And it's fairly natural to read into this Herbert being in favour of brutality because it creates strong men, even if this might not be what he intended.

On a happier note I saw part 1 because visual effects folks were really excited about the ornithopters, and indeed the verisimilitude of the ornithopters was quite good. But I'm not really interested in seeing Dune 2.
posted by mscibing at 5:21 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


If you’re going to make an anti-war movie about journalists, you are welcome to release it after the election or focus it on your own country. But “Civil War,” at this time, in this place, is either malignant bothsidesism, a cheap PR trick, or both. And I won’t pretend that’s ok. Whether it’s good art in a vacuum is irrelevant in such a context.
posted by vim876 at 5:51 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


And I won’t pretend that’s ok.

What is acceptable film media, in your view? What movies are appropriate to the times? If you were a filmmaker, what kinds of films would you want to make right now
posted by elkevelvet at 7:17 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Huh? Who said this? Do you genuinely think that everyone saying the Dune reading is terribly simplistic is so bad a critic as to be relying on the books rather than the movies she's explicitly talking about?

Who said this? The specific comments that I quoted, and who were specifically complaining about the review’s interpretation of the movie as being contradicted by the books.


I don't dispute that your "reading" of the movie is sincerely yours

I appreciate that but it rings a bit hollow given that you don’t seem to understand what my reading of the movie was, and that you were disputing that the reviewer’s reading of the movie was legitimately hers. My point was that her reading was not an unreasonable or uncommon one based solely on the movie itself. As you acceded to later in your comment. I get that you think it’s an ignorant and naive interpretation. But if one is doing cultural criticism, one must look at the actual impact of a film or other work on actual audiences, not your well-informed by deep knowledge of film theory interpretation.

Which, to repeat myself, is not to say that there’s nothing to criticize in the review - I still haven’t my read it myself, so still have no opinion on that detail.

But there are lots of movies that attempted to be anti-war or anti-violence, for example, that failed at that in their actual impact. Fight Club or The Matrix are some well-known instances where the actual cultural impact ended up being very different from the filmmakers’ intent or informed critics’ interpretations. You can rail against reviews that blame Fight Club for glorifying and supporting toxic masculinity as misunderstanding the film, but that is how most viewers interpreted it and what its cultural impact has actually been.
posted by eviemath at 8:43 AM on April 23


I missed that Dune is not triumphalist narrative when I read it as a callow youth
Isn't that the point of Dune? Herbert tells you that Paul is a monster while he shows you another iteration of the hero with a thousand faces. You are supposed to fall for it so he can come back and show you the consequences over the next three novels. The warning against a charismatic leader woudn't work if that leader was ineffective and obviously bad.
The current movie is a bit more blunt and tips it's hand earlier. I get why they did that in light of the reaction to things like Fight Club or Starship Troopers. And as much as I wish we would, we're probably not getting a God Emperor movie.
posted by the_dreamwriter at 10:45 AM on April 23


But that's the problem. There's only one side that doesn't care about the rule of law

Really? I...wish I could say that was true.

How many people, on a daily basis, actually notice or care whether the rules of law are applied to the citizenry? Especially when, say, those citizens are poor or inconvenient?

I attend law school currently, where one of the things that is so common it's a part of instruction is the various parts of government that ignore the law because it is advantageous to them to ignore the law and no one has the capacity to stop them and the citizenry doesn't care. And I wish I could be like "but it does" when it self-evidently doesn't. How many people care when police officers fail to Mirandize suspects? How many people care that our adversarial system of trial justice doesn't actually happen for 90% of people, who sit in jail until they are so tired of jail they take a plea deal?

When our normative government is so broken that it doesn't function as it advertises on a daily basis, it's a little hard to hear noble speeches about the rule of law. The law doesn't rule. The thin veneer of law rules. And don't get me wrong! That thin veneer of law is better than brutality! It's better than not having the veneer at all! But when I hear it said, at a certain point I just want to laugh bitterly and go looking for a bottle to drown myself in.
posted by corb at 10:50 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Maybe… I know it’s bizarre but hear me out… just maybe, she’s critiquing the recent movie as a cultural artifact on its own, they same way that many audience members come to the film (I know the Dune series is a favorite among a subset of Metafilter, but there are also a lot of us who have never read the books; and I’ve seen the movie with Sting because I’m old enough that it was kind of my generation’s Villeneuve Dune, but am not so into the franchise that I ever sought out the miniseries or any other related material).

I haven’t read the links yet, so can’t say what I think of the author’s interpretation of the actual films being critiqued. But requiring that any critique be of the entire multi-book series rather than focusing on the specific latest movie is an unserious take that shows a lack of understanding of how people engage with popular films based on books.


I pointed out that Osterweil misunderstands basic plot points of the film, presumably because she hasn't read the book, singular.

And your take is that I've misunderstand the Osterweil piece. But you haven't actually read it.

Dare I say that, just maybe, yours is an unserious take that shows a lack of understanding of how people engage with essays about popular films based on books?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:04 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


My point was that her reading was not an unreasonable or uncommon one based solely on the movie itself.

I expect it might become common but it's in no way reasonable. It's a lazy and inattentive reading that ignores so much of what the actual movies that are unfolding in front of her are doing. If you pay even a moderate amount of attention to the movies you paid money to see, coming away from them thinking that it's a Yay Paul! story is as daft as leaving the theater after Star Wars and thinking Vader was the good guy.

not your well-informed by deep knowledge of film theory interpretation

I assure you I don't know shit about film theory. I know I see Chani and in the movie Chani is always right and Chani is always good and she's always telling Paul not to do this and how the myth of mahdi is stupid and wrong and how the fundamentalists enslave themselves. The movie's Chani is a profoundly unsubtle character. And he does it, and he's stomping around the cave arena raging like an abusive drunk and Chani is no no this is bad. And we see Paul abandon her to take up a crown and the last thing the movie shows is that she leaves in disgust and despair.

You don't need to read the book. You don't need to know any "film theory." You just have to actually watch the movie that's in front of you instead of half-watching it and mixing it with expectations honed by Marvel dreck or from half-remembered misunderstandings of what the book is supposedly about. You just have to just not ignore what the movies are doing.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:39 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


If you’re going to make an anti-war movie about journalists, you are welcome to release it after the election or focus it on your own country.

Love it or leave it alone?

I know Garland is British, but Kirsten Dunst isn't. Nor are Cailee Spaeny, Jesse Plemons, Nick Offerman, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. They all made this film too.

But perhaps they should have waited until after the election, when Hollywood is being dismantled under Reichspropagandaminister Bannon. Yeah, that would go down well.
posted by rory at 12:37 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen Dune pt 2 or Civil War yet, but here I am commentin'.

I'm not in a rush to see D2 because I find that half of the book boring as shit; I reread it last month for a book club. I'm not interested in the Fremen and their tough guy plight/zealotry nor in Paul's mauddibification. I think Herbert's ambivalence about "so is this good or bad" is a bit interesting, but I'm not actually sure it leads to good discussions. I suppose it is, in the book, the ambiguity that Osterweil thinks she wants, and I think it does kind of stifle the "fuck yeah!" feelings that seem very strong in Lynch's version.

I agree with her about the visual inertness of the movie though. Some people love its aesthetic; as with Tron: Legacy though, they're wrong lol. These are like default aesthetics when you don't have ideas. I find both movies to feel very sterile and unevocative.

Did I understand correctly, and she included "Everything, Everywhere, All At Once" in her critique of movies that are too literal and lack nuance?

I like EEAaO but no I don't think it has any hidden depths, it's pretty much telling you what its showing you all the time. But that's what it's going for. I could say something similar about Bong Joon Ho's later movies but I suspect Osterweil would not like to add them the worrisome trend of allegory-not-story pile.

I'm generally pro-accessibility though. And yeah Anatomy of a Fall is an interesting case because it's carefully ambiguous as hell; nevertheless it's constantly blaring what it's trying to say. The audience ignores that and substitutes what it wants to hear anyway, which is delicious tbh. And maybe I'm doing that too and it really is a simple tale about how she did[n't do] it.

I ask sincerely: what politics? The movie contains no political message that I was able to discern, aside from "war is bad", which of course isn't really a political message at all. Is that a problem? Maybe, but I don't see anyone making that argument.

Answering sincerely, I think the article does address what you're talking about, and perhaps so does the Osita Nwanevu article above?

Based on Garland's comments (oof), I think her reading might be pretty good: That what Civil War is really expressing is the impotence and uselessness of neoliberalism and its inability to handle, or even really understand, what is going on in the world right now. (Or: a nightmare of what centrism thinks exists outside itself.) I feel like this reading is an accurate superset of the stuff people are saying about it in supposed disagreement.
posted by fleacircus at 1:10 PM on April 24


Helen Lewis is anti-trans, but in a slippery way similar to Jesse Singal. She believes that trans things have Gone Too Far and she has relentlessly concern trolled affirmative care with whatever attacks are at hand (thus laundering right wing attacks into the mainstream). Right now she's crowing about the pulling back of trans care in the UK w/ the Cass Review and scolding America for not following suit. She and Singal will say they are pro-transition but they mean it like prison wardens would say they are pro prisoner's rights ie contingent on domination.

I agree that she is not a fascist, however I think one can become too sensitive to misuse of the word fascist and also believe/say some stupid ass shit as a result of that. We should all be careful when we indulge our angry lil reactionary sides.
posted by fleacircus at 2:16 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


What could cause a civil war in the USA? Texas succession. Republicans removing three supreme court justices and or packing the court. Right wingers start shooting up protests... Colleges... LGBTQIA+ meetings... Democratic meetings... The right bans abortion and blocks interstate commerce with any state that performs abortion... The Republicans with guns block polls in cities... Some right winger getting access to the wrong missile and bombing X city... People getting tired of their kids being shot and confiscate guns...
posted by Jacen at 4:18 PM on April 24


well, most of those kind of things have going on for a few centuries...it's loss of money, that's the number one cause for rebellion.
posted by clavdivs at 5:43 PM on April 24




Marjorie Taylor Greene couldn’t successfully lead an insurrection out of a parking lot.
posted by clavdivs at 8:19 PM on April 26


Author David Dennis offers a Black perspective on the film I haven't seen in either of the 2 threads about it at Mefi:

‘Civil War’ brutalizes its characters, even more so when they’re Black

About five minutes into Civil War, we get a close-up, slow-motion depiction of a Black man being burned alive. The moment comes as part of a flashback sequence about the main character, Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst), and her history as a photographer in war-torn countries. The actual burning of the Black man, whom the camera lingers on for an uncomfortable amount of time as his flesh melts away, isn’t necessary. And it’s the most graphic death in the entire movie.

About 20 minutes into the film, there’s another shocking death. This time, it’s a Black member — the only Black member — of an anti-government alliance who is gunned down. But, unlike many other deaths in Civil War, his killing is also drawn out. Other soldiers try to patch him up while blood gushes all over the screen. The purpose of this scene: to focus on the new, young, white character Jesse (Cailee Spaeny) and her journey as a rogue photojournalist...

I was aghast at the moment, but I also felt foolish in my disappointment. I should have expected this because to attempt to make a movie about a civil war in an America devoid of politics is actually a political statement itself. It says the Black and Latino people who would likely be the catalysts for this war aren’t worthy of their stories being told.


He criticizes the movie's use of Sammy's death, too, which he succinctly expresses in a Twitter thread here:

when a main Black male character dies, it's 100% the fault of a main white character and NOBODY HOLDS HER ACCOUNTABLE...

The most realistic moment in the movie came when a Black journalist gets overruled by non-black journalists, gets proven right and ends up getting killed anyway. I’d give Garland credit for the symbolism of if I had faith he did it on purpose


I'll return to staying bowed out now, since as I said in the other thread I can't imagine a scenario where I'd pay money to a director who made the obnoxious choice to mainstream Andy Ngo, but I thought Dennis' take worth sharing.
posted by mediareport at 5:44 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


That's an important perspective, mediareport—thanks for sharing it. I don't agree with that last tweet's take that "nobody holds [main white character] accountable"—the death of [main black character] has heavy echoes throughout the rest of the film, and it's clear that she's carrying considerable guilt, made worse by the others not saying anything directly but all being devastated by his death. She holds herself accountable. Also, when a main white character dies later, it's 100% the fault of [the same main white character] and NOBODY HOLDS HER ACCOUNTABLE...

The points about the burning tyre scene and the soldier's death, though, are very well made.

If people don't want to watch the movie, don't watch it; but I question the value of critiquing it via second-hand critiques. All that does is transmit other people's opinions that, if you were to see the work they're criticising, you might find yourself disagreeing with. For example, you might conclude that the film is in no way "mainstreaming" Andy Ngo. It must use a few seconds of his footage somewhere in one of its background-via-TV-report scenes; I don't know, I'm entirely unfamiliar with Ngo's work. And because it's done that, it has to credit him, somewhere deep in the credits that nobody watches. I dunno, is that "mainstreaming"? None of us would even have known if someone (Osterweil?) hadn't been combing through the deeper reaches of IMDB to spot it.

But I'll go back to bowing out too. The thread drift had put me in the position of carrying water for Helen Lewis, who I don't agree with on the issue in question and have no particular interest in (hence my unfamiliarity with her work for The Atlantic, for example), just because I chafed at the idea of fascist being sprayed about like a firehouse of condemnation against all and sundry. But apparently wanting that word to mean something other than "person to the right of me personally" makes one an angry lil reactionary, so... whatever.
posted by rory at 1:13 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Well, since you asked me a direct question:

I dunno, is that "mainstreaming"?

Yes. Happy to help you with that.

Leaving aside that Ngo has been notorious for years for stealing other folks' content without credit, let alone permission, Garland's decision to use footage specifically from him immediately struck me as more a marketing decision than anything else, and everything I've seen from Garland since confirms that. It was a completely unnecessary move, and putting Ngo's name in the credits of a major movie with big-name stars definitely counts as mainstreaming a fascist.

What would count as "mainstreaming", if that doesn't?
posted by mediareport at 5:13 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I don't know how you can watch that film and think it does anything to "mainstream" Andy Ngo. I think you could interview 500,000 people on their way out of the theatre asking them if they are newly aware of who Andy Ngo is and you would have a precisely 0.0% positive response rate.

I also truly, truly, truly do not understand people who claim this film is irresponsibly apolitical. Who cares what Garland says on the press tour to promote the movie? Lots of artists say lots of things that have nothing to do with the actuality of their art, usually because they have a team of managers behind them saying "we've identified that ticket sales will go up 6% among the 31-49 year old demographic if you describe the movie as apolitical."

Within the film, there is a glaringly overt comparison of the president to Trump; mention of an antifa massacre where it's implied the antifas got massacred; the president's crimes include declaring a third term for himself, using airstrikes against American citizens, and disbanding the FBI; the president is directly compared to Mussolini; and the scariest bad guy in the film is a direct and profound racist. Like, this should not be hard to understand, people. Maybe the film should have floating labels above every character that say "BAD GUY - VOTED REPUBLICAN IN 2016" or something to make this more simple to follow.

The key part of the film that is not discussed - because it would likely tank ticket sales in America - is how the main conceit of this film is taking America's special brand of surgical and brutal military violence that is usually reserved for places in the middle east, and putting it on top of an American backdrop. Instead of a movie about tough American operators committing senseless war crimes in Afghanistan, we get a movie about tough American operators committing senseless war crimes in America.

Hollywood has taken god knows how many billions of dollars from the US Military to construct a vision of the world where America is invincible, their soldiers are invincible, and a 2,000:1 death ratio between foreign combatants and Navy Seals is an average day at the office.

For some reason, who on earth knows why, a movie about this kind of war being waged within America is upsetting Americans. What!!!
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 8:50 AM on April 29 [9 favorites]


I'm not in a rush to see D2 because I find that half of the book boring as shit; I reread it last month for a book club.

Notwithstanding the book, Denis Villeneuve's second Dune movie is much more interesting and enjoyable than his first, IMO.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:54 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


3rd one is gonna be nuts.
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on April 30


None of us would even have known if someone (Osterweil?) hadn't been combing through the deeper reaches of IMDB to spot it.

There was a screenshot of the movie's credits that went around twitter/bluesky that tons of people saw. I'd bet that's how Osterweil found out too.
posted by fleacircus at 5:39 PM on April 30


I see. So it started with a Reddit thread full of graar about a movie nobody had yet seen. Alex Graar-land.

"The producers would like to thank"... and Garland wasn't one of the producers.
posted by rory at 2:07 AM on May 1


That reddit thread is based on a twitter post.
posted by fleacircus at 7:37 AM on May 1


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