Victoria Jelinek


The Lobster

MV5BNDQ1NDE5NzQ1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzA5OTM2NTE@._V1_UY1200_CR108,0,630,1200_AL_The film takes place in a dystopian world where single people are sent to a hotel and given 45 days to find a romantic match or they will be turned into the animal of their choice. Ostensibly, as an animal, they are given a “second chance” to find love. Our hero, Colin Farrell’s desolate architect David, is dumped by his wife and immediately sent to the hotel in the company of his brother, who is now a border collie, having failed the 45 day time limit to find a match earlier.

There are several elements that make this film worth seeing: the Kafkaesque meditation on modern society’s preoccupation with coupling, as well as its increasing desensitization, is much appreciated, fresh and noble; there is dark humor; our hero’s reasoning behind his choice to be a lobster is interesting; and the ensemble cast is very good, inclusive of Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, and Lea Seydoux. Moreover, a few of the incidents in the film will haunt me for a long time, which is arguably a good thing because the images were vivid enough to sear themselves into my cerebral cortex. However, there is absolutely no relief for the viewer in what is an exhaustingly morose take on humanity in some alternative reality, or in some not-so-distant future world.

 

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The Hunger Games

Set in the not-so-distant future, The Hunger Games are a televised death match for lottery-picked teens from each of the Capital’s districts. After volunteering to replace her little sister when she’s chosen to take part, Katniss Everdeen must endure the games, where she’s forced to make tough choices in order to survive, all-the-while facing quandaries about love and humanity.

Meant to take place in a Brave New World in which North America has fallen due to droughts, famine, fire and war, the games are a return to the brutality of early empires – part entertainment for the masses, and part intimidation of the masses. Add this context to our heroine’s moral dilemmas throughout her quest to survive the games, and you have a compelling concept for an action film, but it’s not original: reminiscent of the 1982 movie The Running Man, and the goddess Artemis (bow & arrow, prowess in the woods), with elements from the great classic books 1984 (cold, bureaucratic society), Brave New World (desensitized society), and Lord of the Flies (youth turning against each other), what’s worrying is that the book that this film is adapted from is mandatory reading for middle-school teens in the US…are they also reading the great classics (Orwell, Huxley, Golding) that this book is derived from? Are these teens exploring historical references here, too, such as the Aztecs and the Romans, with their human sacrifices? Are they considering the similarities of this book and film to reality TV? I hope so. Without delving too deeply into the implications of the popularity of this book and film, the fact is that it’s had such incredible box office numbers that it seems important to see the phenomena in order to comment on it. And, despite my ambivalence about the film, I found that it is entertaining fare. With cameos by Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, and Woody Harrelson.