Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

Discuss films of the 21st century including current cinema, current filmmakers, and film festivals.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:17 pm

Neon will release the Natalie Portman-starring pop star movie Dec 7th, with a push for Portman in Best Supporting Actress not unlike last year's winner for Neon

User avatar
Omensetter
Yes We Cannes
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:17 pm
Location: Lawrence, KS, U.S.

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#2 Post by Omensetter » Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:51 am

It would seem NEON has some flexibility for Portman too regarding categories, but Supporting seems like a better play in addition to her apparently actually being supporting in the film (at least in terms of screen time).

This is a fantastic fit for NEON, who literally had nothing else to push after, in their debut year, pushing a Scorsese-movie-of-the-week to an above-line Oscar. Granted, this seems more abstruse, esoteric, pick-your-adjective, but a powerhouse Portman with distributor backing is always a safe bet. Their success with I, Tonya likely pushed them over A24, and I'm confident NEON will get this into flyover theatres in the months to come. An Academy Award nomination will not make his music better than it already is, but I'd nonetheless love to see Scott Walker land a nomination, although I imagine NEON is looking at the more manageable nomination for Sia at the moment.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:27 am

If any profession keeps demanding more and more of its workers these days, it's that relatable vocation of superstar entertainer. The audience in the final sequence of Brady Corbet's stone cold masterpiece Vox Lux needs Natalie Portman's Celeste more than ever. Regardless of their personal timeline for realizing deep down that our planet is on a one way ticket to hell, every one of them would not be able to bear it without a shallow release, a source of genuine inspiration wrapped up in a sparkly empty spectacle. Something propulsive in a world that's been thrown in reverse.

It doesn't matter that Celeste is a completely frayed wire, ready to make whatever false move will inevitably take her from them forever. It doesn't matter that her family is losing faith in her sanity, that her child no longer recognizes her. Above all else, Celeste understands her place. She knows why she's here, because her star was born of the exact horror that her art provides an escape valve from. She saw the devil and walked away knowing that she matters so much more and so much less than she realized in the before times. As played by both Raffey Cassidy and Portman, this is a woman who is on another plane of consciousness in a way that is often uncomfortable, sad, hilarious, harrowing, and inspiring. Her story is one that has played out so many times [inside and outside of films], but rarely has it ever been told this well.

Corbet directs this film with the same wild-eyed desperation as his protagonist, as if it's the last thing he'll ever do. The incredible score is ostentatiously bombastic but never hits a false note. The opening credits are staggering. The narration is delivered with acerbic precision. From its first moment to its final dedication, Vox Lux is a rare film that feels as though it is operating on a wavelength all its own. You'll either love it or hate it. I think it's an absolute treasure.

Many of the very best films of 2018 have done such an incredible job at holding a mirror up to the living wreckage of the last couple of decades of our society and asking how we can live with our sins. How we move forward from what might be the untenable result of a series of fatal mistakes. Vox Lux may not have the answers, but it sure does ask all the right questions. What a film!

eerik
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:53 pm
Location: Estonia

Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#4 Post by eerik » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:37 pm


User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#5 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:40 pm

This kind of music is not up my particular alley, but everything I've seen on this has made me want to see it more. It just looks fabulous and seductive, from top to bottom.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#6 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:11 pm

Natalie Portman seem[ed?] to think that wearing a bikini and being a virgin is a conflict of interest, and Jessica Simpson is vocally insulted by it

There, I tried to make that hyperlink text as interesting as possible. Enjoy.
flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:40 pm
This kind of music is not up my particular alley
The music recorded and performed in the film is 1000% beside the point with regard to engaging with its philosophical aims, so no need to fret re: whether it's your chosen genre or whatever

User avatar
J Wilson
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 11:26 am
Contact:

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#7 Post by J Wilson » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:36 pm

Was interested when I saw Scott Walker composed the score, but the trailer made me want to see this regardless.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#8 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:24 pm

This is getting somewhat polarized reviews, as I anticipated, but David Crow of something called *shudder* "Den of Geek" gets it quite right here (major spoilers within)

Reading even bad reviews of this film has reminded me again of just how special it is. If it weren't for the unassailable masterpiece First Reformed doing a similarly nihilistic-with-a-tiny-glimmer-of-hope riff with a more spare and surgically expert filmmaker behind the camera, this would be far and away the best film to come out of this year. Even if no one here ends up agreeing with me, I'm so excited about it.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#9 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:24 am

I think Portman saw the conflict more in the sexual dehumanization by the media (and very well the music industry itself) in general of artists like Simpsons and Britney Spears, while in interviews they would talk about things like Christian values and purity rings.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:32 pm

I still don't see the problem with the juxtaposition, but this is something that was litigated to death nearly 20 years ago so it's sort of needlessly been re-hashed by Portman, who has always had kind of a puritanical streak. At the end of the day, the way teenage girls, particularly ones who have been thrust into super-stardom, dress, has nothing to do with promotion of sexual promiscuity (or "dehumanization" as you put it) which is a completely different thing despite occasional intersection in sort of a chocolate/peanut butter way, to put it as briefly as possible. Talking about women's clothing choices are implying some inherent promiscuity is a pretty outdated topic in this day and age, and Portman knows better than to rehash it

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#11 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:53 pm

I agree, but I'm putting more the impetus on the music industry and the media, whose ultimate goal is promotion for the sake of promotion, lowest-common-denominator and all that. It wasn't really cool of Portman to call out Simpson particularly, she could have been more vague and people still would have got what she would have said.

The puritanical streak her and some other a-list actresses have shown, particularly towards sex workers (if even in an off-handed way as opposed to direct), is something more worthy of investigation now. Ashley Judd was excoriated by several of them on Twitter for this comment.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#12 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:05 pm

Hollywood actors may have unforgivingly dehumanizing paths through a narrow career path but if their voice is loud enough for us to hear it they are also high income bracket employees who are compensated handsomely for the hardship(s), and therefore have much less validity commenting on something like sex work, or the way a career-oriented teenager decides to present herself, and so on, than they might think. For more on these topics, please check out the movie Vox Lux, in theaters tomorrow

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#13 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:30 pm

The 4 PM screening at BAM on Saturday, December 15th will have Brady Corbet and Natalie Portman in attendance for a Q&A (along with, more importantly, mfunk9786 and LQ). Tickets are here.

User avatar
Grand Wazoo
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:23 pm

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#14 Post by Grand Wazoo » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:28 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:30 pm
The 4 PM screening at BAM on Saturday, December 15th will have Brady Corbet and Natalie Portman in attendance for a Q&A (along with, more importantly, mfunk9786 and LQ). Tickets are here.
Thanks for the heads up on this! I just got tickets. This is my most anticipated movie this year, in part due to Childhood of a Leader blowing me away when I saw it at the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland at a 10am screening after being up for about 28 hours straight before that. I'm afraid to watch it again because that insane mindset cannot (and should not) be repeated, but I assume at least some of my memories are reliable and it was an impressively audacious debut. I also have a friend with a small role in Vox Lux so I may be extra biased, but Brady Corbet's bombastic filmmaking is genuinely exciting and I hope this lives up to my expectations. Either way, I'm on board with whatever he does for quite a while.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#15 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:59 pm

When you say "This film can't figure out whether it's about X or Y!" as if it's a bad thing, I'm not sure you're cut out to criticize films - anyway, here's a spoiler-heavy review from Pitchfork that completely misses the point of Vox Lux

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#16 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:59 am

Saw this again with a Q&A and feel largely the same. The way this film gets at the decay and disease of U.S. (but also world) society over the last 20 years and then begins to ponder whether our glitzy escapes are helping, hurting, uplifting, sad - these are really fresh and timely things for a film to be doing. Only the film's narrator knows what will happen to all of us, and he's not telling. Willem Dafoe is so well utilized in that role, I can't imagine someone better to deliver on those lines. Great, great film.
SpoilerShow
The turn the concert takes makes me genuinely sick to my stomach. I feel terrible for the uncomfortable and frightened people who are cut away to in the crowd, hanging all their terror and hope on someone who is barely hanging onto her own sanity and physical health. Then the score kicks back in, and the closing bit of Dafoe's narration is just perfect.

User avatar
Satori
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#17 Post by Satori » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:02 am

This is a provocative juxtaposition of celebrity culture and contemporary forms of mass violence, although I honestly don’t quite know whether I liked the film or not. While I’d agree that the Pitchfork article linked to above misses the point by trying to understand the film in either/or terms, I suspect that it is symptomatic of the fact that the film itself approaches the relationship between pop art and violence in contradictory ways. So the better is question is not whether the film is only about pop stars or mass violence, but how we should understand their relationship.

At the risk of being a bit reductive, it seems to me that there are at least four possible answers to this question:

1) Pop music and mass violence are both symptoms, albeit very different ones, of a broken world that has lost its way. This position would see celebrity culture, and pop culture more generally, in opposition to true “art.” I’d call this the “Mathew Arnold” position, after a famous literary and cultural critic who wrote a book called Culture and Anarchy in which he railed about “philistines” and their popular culture.

2) Celebrity culture and pop music are forms of mass distraction that actively prevent us from solving social problems like mass violence. Celebrity culture, in this position, is mere ideology. We can call this the “Frankfurt School” position on mass culture, which is ironically similar to Arnold’s in that it contrasts the ideology of mass culture with authentic “high art.” The difference between them is that Arnold seeks his solution in an idealized past while the Frankfurt School looks forward to a utopian future.

3) Pop music serves a positive social function by providing psychic relief from the mass violence consuming our world. Pop music and celebrity iconography are not merely a distraction, but a form of healing, and even a way of imagining a better world. I’ll call this the “Lady Gaga” position, in which celebrities and pop music can at the very least provide a salve for the misery of the world and perhaps even help us improve it.

4) Pop music and celebrity culture is completely unrelated to the rise of mass violence. This reading would see these elements as completely autonomous: if you want to understand pop culture, you should just look at pop culture; if you want to understand mass violence, then you should just look at mass violence.

Given the central conceit of the film, I think it is fair to dismiss the fourth position outright.
SpoilerShow
Both Celeste’s music and celebrity stem from her experience surviving the school shooting at the beginning of the film. While there are some moments that seem to suggest that these two elements of the film run parallel to each other—such as 9/11 happening the same morning that she discovers her sister in bed with her manager—the central idea of the film is that mass violence and Celeste’s experiences are constantly feeding back into each other
So we are left with the first three, all of which seem to be operative at different points in the film, if not all simultaneously. I think this is to the film’s strength, regardless of which interpretation one might personally hold (and especially if you happen to find at least two of them compelling).

I have not seen the other film Brady Corbet directed, but it is interesting to think about this film in relation to some of his acting work, most of which is for European auteurs. The two comparisons that I have seen popping up the most are Lars Von Trier and Michael Haneke, which makes sense given Vox Lux’s use of violence. I would characterize both Von Trier and Haneke as somewhere between the Mathew Arnold and Frankfurt School positions. (I am at least confident in this characterization of Haneke; I hate everything I’ve ever seen by Von Trier, so I haven’t actually engaged with his work very much).

But I think the most interesting director in Corbet’s filmography is actually Olivier Assayas, especially since the film that Corbet acted in is Clouds of Sils Maria. I think that film is a perfect example of a film with elements of the Arnold/Frankfurt critique of mass culture as well as the Lady Gaga position. Remember in particular the debate between Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in the bar after seeing the superhero movie: I think it would be very reductive to say that the film fully endorses either of their positions.

But on to Vox Lux.

I found the first part of the film to be the most interesting in its engagement with history. This is perhaps partially because of my age: I was actually born the same year as Celeste in the film (1986) and was therefore the same age as her during the two major historical events that bookend this part of the film. This part of the film also introduces the Lady Gaga position on art in a scene that had me in tears:
SpoilerShow
The first time Celeste sings in the church after recovering from the shooting.
This is art as healing, as a way of coping with trauma. And even though the Dafoe narration that follows suggests that this healing is being co-opted by the country at large, I do not think that this takes away its power. Instead, it speaks to the power of art to bring people together. At the same time, though, the narration reveals the negative side of this: that Celeste is no longer able to use it to heal herself because it now belongs to everyone.

I think this scene is very revealing because it helps to clarify the use of Dafoe’s narration, which is always associated with the Mathew Arnold/Frankfurt School position. While the film’s diegesis shows a beautiful moment of healing through art, the narration quickly punctures this utopian moment (even, if I am remembering correctly, cutting the song short). The use of Dafoe’s narration is therefore important, although I found myself resisting it at this moment because of how it stacks the deck against the Gaga position.

In fact, I am going to come out as against the narration because I think that it is the one part of the film that doesn’t preserve the ambiguity between the film’s different possible interpretations of pop art. I think I know why Corbet felt that he needed it, though: to puncture two specific moments. The first is the scene I just mentioned in the spoiler block above and the second is at the very end of film after the Vox Lux performance. Not only did I hate some of the implications of the latter narration, but I don’t think it was necessary because of the way that Corbet actually ended the film:
SpoilerShow
The absolute silence during the end credits. This is enough to alienate us from the catharsis of the musical performance.
One more observation on the Dafoe narration: while I am reading it as both the Arnold and Frankfurt School positions, there are specific moments which suggest one or the other:
SpoilerShow
For example, the opening narration focuses on economic class and some of the later narration focuses on the corporate music industry in a way that strikes me as somewhat Marxist. On the other hand, the ending narration about Celeste making a deal with the devil is totally Mathew Arnold. The “deal” she makes with the devil is not her deal with the record company later, but a personal deal she makes during her recovery. If I’m reading this right, it introduces a metaphysical kind of evil that would seem to make Celeste herself responsible for the problems with pop music. The “deal with the devil” is not a metaphor for the culture industry, but seems to be indicative of Celeste’s internal moral corruption. If I’m reading this correctly, it is really dissatisfying resolution to the film because of oversimplifies the complex material preceding it. Luckily the rest of the film is complex enough to overcome this simplistic reading.
As a whole, I did not care for the second part of the film as much as the first. It is interesting how historically unmoored it feels, especially given the specificity of the first half. There is one offhand reference to this being an era in which celebrities and public figures make absurd proclamations, but this critique isn’t particularly incisive since celebrities have always done this (and the comment Celeste makes is pretty much just another version of “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus”).

Otherwise the film’s representation of celebrity culture in 2017 is no different than it would have been in the early part of the century: it makes no attempt to engage with social media or anything that would specifically differentiate this era from the previous one. (Which is fine, but it does make the film seem like it has less to say about celebrity culture in the present than the last couple of films by Assayas, for example).

This part of the film also seems to heap scorn on Celeste, making her as unsympathetic as possible in a way that risks obscuring the fact that she is the result of a set of cultural and economic circumstances depicted earlier in the film.
SpoilerShow
I also found it a bit odd that a film that is trying to be so Zeitgeisty seemed so uninterested in dealing with the sexual exploitation of Celeste and her sister despite its close examination of their economic and cultural exploitation.
The film was successful in contrasting the interpersonal bleakness of this segment with the jubilance of the musical performance, though.

But how to read the musical performance itself? I suspect that you could make a strong case for either the Mathew Arnold or Frankfurt School positions, especially given the Dafoe narration at the end. In this reading, the performance represents everything that is vacuous and hollow about contemporary culture: a bright distraction that either reflects our decayed world or actively prevents us from solving the problems we need to solve.

I think the problem with this position is that it doesn’t do justice to the music: I thought the soundtrack was great (although I also love pop music, so it might not be for everyone). One should not underestimate the transformative power of joy. The joy of dance, of crowds, of light and music—these should not be so easily dismissed. Yes, it is crassly commercial. Yes, it is controlled by evil corporations. But this does not mean that there is not also a utopian side to it as well. So even if the film is ultimately dismissive of this position, it at least gives representation to this joy. It at least preserves some of the ambiguity that would allow for a more positive reading of the music and performance.

To this end, I have to disagree with this statement:
SpoilerShow
mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:59 am
The turn the concert takes makes me genuinely sick to my stomach. I feel terrible for the uncomfortable and frightened people who are cut away to in the crowd, hanging all their terror and hope on someone who is barely hanging onto her own sanity and physical health. Then the score kicks back in, and the closing bit of Dafoe's narration is just perfect.
I don’t think you should be so quick to dismiss what these uncomfortable and frightened people are getting from the performance. It goes beyond what Celeste can directly offer them. It is not the “depth” of Celeste's psyche that matters, it is the surface. The music itself. After all, how many of us have had transformative aesthetic and emotional experiences from artists who are barely hanging onto their own sanity and physical health? For example, Bergman was never able to find his peace, nor were many of the great writers, filmmakers, musicians, or painters. But their art can still give us answers and the desire to make a better world, or at least a better life.
But you are probably right if you are arguing that this is the intended meaning of the sequence. In that case, I’m not sure that I like the film because of how much it would simplify these complex issues. However, I think there is an excess to the performance scene—perhaps not unlike the excess of the Hollywood musical number—that escapes this act of containment. I think this complex duality is the strongest argument for the film.

User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#18 Post by Black Hat » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:37 pm

I've grown quite fond of Natalie Portman, especially since Jackie which I felt was terrific, I read the Vanity Fair piece on her and really really wanted to like this movie, but it was not to be, I thought it was pretty terrible and most of what its fans are liking about it strikes me as projection rather than anything happening on screen. What people want the film to be rather than what it is. Perhaps I myself am too cynical and was seeking more depth as all the issues the film tries to tackle are ones I'm very much interested in.

The film's biggest problem is it can't decide what it wants to be. Is it about pop culture, pop music, school shootings or family? Of these the most interesting is the relationship between the two sisters, but what's most compelling is strangely left off screen. The film seems to want to fill in this gap (along with others) with its narration, as well as relying on the audience's imagination, but it's not enough and Dafoe's narration which is really more of a whimsical commentary undercuts the film's serious ideas. I agree with Satori that the film's first 40 minutes are its strongest, I thought it was excellent, but even that is undercut by wondering how on earth Natalie Portman will fit into this? To that end I just did not buy her performance or her character's shift in personality. With the former I don't think it was necessarily her fault, I just think she was miscast. She's not a popstar. Additionally the character as popstar wasn't established enough with young Celeste for it to be believable by the time Portman arrives on screen as washed. With the latter, can someone explain to me where that accent came from? Beyond that ok, she's a hardened pill popping whisky drinking cigarette smoking dysfunctional popstar cynical of the world around her, but isn't what's most interesting about that shift how one arrives there? Especially considering the character we spent our first 40 minutes spending time with? For this we're again forced to rely on the silly narration as well as our imaginations. I found it to be a bizarre choice, but at the same time I understand there's no way this film gets made without Portman attached so you need to give her something to do.

Re: the ending, I thought this was very strong because in the world of the performer who's stardom serves to isolate them, all that they have left is their relationship with the audience. This exchange between the two entities, despite everything going on behind the scenes is joyful, perhaps best illustrating the film's point — the relationship between stars and stans as mutually exchanged escapism from a horrifying world of mass shootings, 9/11 etc, etc, and personal problems. I don't think this is a bad thing, nor do I believe it was intended to be critical. The problem with the ending however is once again you have to use your imagination because Portman can't dance, (the amount of editing to cover this up was hilarious) nor has charisma on stage as a popstar. The effect here was it looking more like an SNL Digital Short making fun of Brittney Spears rather than Brittney Spears.
SpoilerShow
The idea here wasn't either to show her as washed because we see the people closest to her, however reluctantly, still effected by her performance.


One last note, fans of The Young Pope will enjoy Jude Law taking his Lenny routine into a world more suited to his sensibilities.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#19 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:57 pm

Satori wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:02 am
To this end, I have to disagree with this statement:
SpoilerShow
mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:59 am
The turn the concert takes makes me genuinely sick to my stomach. I feel terrible for the uncomfortable and frightened people who are cut away to in the crowd, hanging all their terror and hope on someone who is barely hanging onto her own sanity and physical health. Then the score kicks back in, and the closing bit of Dafoe's narration is just perfect.
I don’t think you should be so quick to dismiss what these uncomfortable and frightened people are getting from the performance. It goes beyond what Celeste can directly offer them. It is not the “depth” of Celeste's psyche that matters, it is the surface. The music itself. After all, how many of us have had transformative aesthetic and emotional experiences from artists who are barely hanging onto their own sanity and physical health? For example, Bergman was never able to find his peace, nor were many of the great writers, filmmakers, musicians, or painters. But their art can still give us answers and the desire to make a better world, or at least a better life.
SpoilerShow
In no way am I trying to dismiss those people. It's not their fault they don't have anywhere else to put their feelings of being downtrodden - but Portman's music and stage set-up is deliberately pretty dumb (listen to the lyrics or check out the nonsense words on the screen behind her), and she's obviously not the brightest bulb herself - sort of a reprehensible person in some ways laid out during the film. To try to rephrase what I said above: Her art is a glitzy, cheap salve for deep societal uncertainty and disease. Turning to it for salvation is not a sin, but the fact that there are few alternatives is. I don't think Corbet is putting forth any solutions for this, but he's opening it up to the audience to think about and worry about as much as he is, which is a brave choice in an increasingly pop culture-obsessed era. I can see why someone might just see this as a criticism of people enjoying pop culture and spectacle, and why in this day and age they might be repulsed by that sort of thing.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#20 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:27 pm

One last note, fans of The Young Pope will enjoy Jude Law taking his Lenny routine into a world more suited to his sensibilities.
Now I really can't wait to see this one!

User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#21 Post by Black Hat » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:31 pm

Funk, I'm curious how closely do you follow pop music?

Saying of pop music fans they have no other choice but to like this music is in fact wildly dismissive of them. Of course they have a choice of where to place their attention and most importantly dollars, in fact you're wrong when you say they have 'few alternatives', they have more choices in the time period this film covers than ever before. As for the lyrics and concert set up, that is what pop music is, and always has been, albeit in slightly different forms, look at Miley Cyrus' SNL performance last weekend - same exact thing with silly lyrics and words being projected behind her performance. I don't think this popstar is deliberately anything besides giving the people what they want which is the job of any entertainer. Where do you extrapolate from the film that Corbet is worried about anything? I find it a very strange claim to make as I don't see him passing anywhere close to the level of judgment on his characters or the world they inhabit that you clearly are.


domino harvey wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:27 pm
One last note, fans of The Young Pope will enjoy Jude Law taking his Lenny routine into a world more suited to his sensibilities.
Now I really can't wait to see this one!
We don't get enough of him, but what we do get is extremely amusing.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#22 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:46 pm

I don't think it has much to do with the music at all, it's the idolatry that they (the fans cut away to during that final sequence) crave. Someone to connect their own feelings of isolation, fear, and uncertainty with, and to hang a redemption narrative on. I don't think the movie is looking at pop music itself with too much more scorn than the occasional eyeroll, but it is asking how we got to a place where so many people feel less alone finding a cult of personality (whether it be fandom of a pop musician, admiration of or involvement in terrorism, or a bunch of things in-between) to attach themselves to. What the symptoms are that lead to the need for that sort of extreme cure, and whether we can collectively aim higher than someone like Celeste.

And yes, Jude Law uses a JUUL in this film.

User avatar
Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#23 Post by Black Hat » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:12 pm

Well if that's what film is trying to do then it's sorely misguided. Hero worship has always existed in our culture going back to Elvis, then The Beatles and then Michael Jackson. There is nobody in music today that even approaches that level of stardom, the most popular artist today far and away is Drake, but he has almost as many people who hate him than love him and probably even more who have never heard of him. Perhaps the stand in is the Kardashians, but that's a whole different context and movie. I think ultimately this is what I was getting at, if the film was trying to be a commentary on a superficial culture, it's a noble attempt and idea, despite nobody wanting to hear it, but I don't think a pop star is the vehicle in this day and age to make that point thru. They are frankly just not that important anymore.

To me a much more successful attempt to create a commentary thru film that showed a far better understanding of how celebrity and fan culture works in the 21st Century was Ingrid Goes West. A very underrated film that I think was ahead of the curve.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#24 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:29 pm

"Stan" culture is a lot different than fandom of figures like those. There are people today who hang their entire identity, their entire way of seeing the world around them, through one person they don't know (just look at some Trump supporters, for example). I think it's more intense, more personal, and more disturbing now than it was with the examples you're describing. Or maybe it just feels that way to me.

I haven't seen Ingrid Goes West, but I'll take that as a recommendation and report back at some point.

User avatar
Big Ben
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:54 pm
Location: Great Falls, Montana

Re: Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)

#25 Post by Big Ben » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:47 pm

Fan culture has existed since long before Elvis. Roger Ebert derided the film Gladiator for having a sequence where they announced gladiatorial combat like Pro Wrestling he was unaware that it actually was a thing. They were the superstars of their day and they did all the same things celebrities do today. Endorse products. Get paid a ton of money (I seem to recall that the highest paid athlete of all time actually was a gladiator as hard as that is to believe and have legions of super fans. This type of culture is not a recent invention. It's a very human one. The point I'm gathering from these comments though is that the issue is how pervasive it has become.
mfunk9786 wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:46 pm
And yes, Jude Law uses a JUUL in this film.
Forget what I said in the House That Jack Built thread. This is a bannable offense for a film.

Post Reply