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i saw THE BEASTS last night

I saw THE BEASTS (dir. Rodrigo Sorogoyen) last night at Film Forum. I'm so glad I went.

I'm not someone who gets truly angry easily or all that much. This movie filled me with such palpable ire and tension. There was a true sensation in my body that I could commit violence (also rare for me). I was making claws at the air. And it wasn't that I was having that reaction to the movie, the movie was just so successful in imparting its story that I didn't feel any effort at suspending my disbelief. Truly, it was delicious to feel that much.

Someone once asked me what it was that made a movie good to me, and I told him I like movies that make me feel, and he looked at me like I was stupid. I stand by it though.

Suspending disbelief is essentially an act of submission. It requires respect, and it requires trust. Respect correlates to craftsmanship and the ability to carry a perspective from beginning to end. I don't believe art and artist can be separated, but that isn't to jump to moralizing; it's about consistency and understanding. Trust correlates to how well the artists/the work is able to acutely and truthfully represent its various characters as people. These are relative measures – we can't all love all the same movies. There are many people I wouldn't recommend my favorite movies to, and many recommendations I won't take at face value. To connect to other people vis a vis film is a philosophical experience.

I'm not as interested in the content of a film like BARBIE as I am in the social response it's received/receiving. Laya said it was the film the masses needed and we talked about it at length and that conversation has stuck with me more than anything about or from the actual film.

  • the characters, as they should be, are representative – e.g. Barbie represents inner child – but the treatment of those characters doesn't feel real

  • the first counterexample that comes to mind is Zoolander (another all-time favorite)

THE BEASTS, meanwhile, has me thinking a lot about:

  • the nature of rural gentrification, but also rural abandonment

  • heritage

  • stewardship

  • acculturation

  • the anxious relationship between provincialism and sophistication

    • on a personal level

    • how those things are moralized or misrepresented in cultural discourse (social, political, and economic)

  • correlation between violence and experience, on a personal and psychological level

    • the relationship between having power/privilege and moralizing personal violence

    • a question of who assumes the right to arbitrate the right to self-interest in a given situation

  • the ways in which loving companionship/partnership can make an individual kinder, more compassionate in general

All this, while fundamentally I experienced the film as the thriller it was. A good, good movie.

From my visit to India last winter. Articles that relate closely to this question of rural abandonment. Draws attention to how local communities are waning – the people, the traditions, the trades, the cultures. A couple weeks after I took this picture I was having a conversation with my great-uncle who was telling me about how the numbers of people who can shimmy up a coconut tree and harvest coconuts are dwindling. Everything can be done by machines. But there's a craft/tradition in it that is dying out. It is sad. The question of heritage, stewardship, and gentrification are also on my mind as my sister and I, now in adulthood, face the responsibility and honor of figuring out our relationship to the villages our families are from. What do we make of what that has been and what do we make of things moving forward? Ownership, heritage, and power/privilege are massive pieces of the puzzle.

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