Declining depictions of the present day?

Started by wilder, December 15, 2014, 09:10:21 PM

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Lately I've been noticing how few recent movies are set in our present-day, in real life (as much as movie realities can be 'real'). There seems to be a trend among directors of doing period projects, and I'm not sure if that's just their natural inclination and they're choosing them because of the opportunity for world creation period pieces have -- maybe a way to give a movie production value in contrast to the giant superhero, fantasy, and sci-fi stuff being made, or if it's because modern communication technologies have destroyed so many of the logistical storytelling techniques that used to be possible, or that many directors don't find the modern day reality interesting to depict? Or is it a pure economic consideration, no one wants to fund them?

It's odd to me. Growing up, so much of my perception of the world was shaped by the way it was filtered through the films I watched, set during the times I was watching them. Now it seems to be the rare case that a film is depicting reality-as-you-know-it and you actually have to seek those films out.

I went through This Year In Film, The Grapevine, and So Far This Year and tried to aggregate the movies that fit this categorization. Some are set present day but have vaguely fantastical elements or are really more just thrillers, so I'm stretching it with Birdman, Blackhat, Gone Girl, and Nightcrawler. But anyway:

These are the upcoming projects I could find that seem to be set in the real life present:


Lost Melody (Terry Zwigoff)
Mag Crew (Andrea Arnold)
Manchester-by-the-Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
Wiener Dog (Todd Solondz)

Flash Mob (Michael Haneke)
Oktober November (Gotz Spielmann)


Knight of Cups
Mistress America
The Smell of Us
That's What I'm Talking About
While We're Young

Mommy (a fictional Canada but kind of)
Three Hearts

And from the past couple of years...


Blue Ruin
Breakfast with Curtis
Gone Girl
Happy Christmas
Men, Women, & Children
Palo Alto

Clouds of Sils Maria
Force Majeure
Jeune et Jolie
Stranger by the Lake
Two Days, One Night


Before Midnight
The Bling Ring
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
Frances Ha
Spring Breakers

The Great Beauty
Tom at the Farm
Ulrich Seidl's Paradise Trilogy

It's possible I have blinders on or some warped nostalgia for a time when this wasn't the case that never existed, but I don't actually think I'm hallucinating here. What's happening.


if nothing else is going to be said, i want to at least say that both mainstream and arthouse movies are doing a real shit job of potraying what it's like to live in the present, and filmmakers avoiding the present are helping kill it, helping kill cinema as a cultural force, and let these filmmakers be buried with their 35mm because it's what they want, and everyone will watch their funeral from tv

i'm exaggerating but i wonder how much i'm exaggerating


the present day doesnt really have a stereotype yet so its just usually being portrayed as 'everyones on new different drugs and partying'


to really see the present day in movies you gotta go to the ultra indie now. they shoot in real houses and locations, they decorate with what's already there, actors use their own clothes, cars look used and not so clean, people dress casually. actually our own jenkins, in goosebumps, makes a pretty accurate version of present day (in l.a. of course).

you know who was great at present day? robert altman.


Quote from: Alexandro on December 16, 2014, 11:49:55 PM
actually our own jenkins, in goosebumps, makes a pretty accurate version of present day (in l.a. of course).

Did I miss something? Is Jenkins involved in the production of Goosebumps?! How'd that get glossed over? And is he making fun of me here, or the movie?

I think the gravitation towards period pieces is all about having control of the environment so as to not risk your material seeming 'dated' due to minor details. When directors are constantly trying to stay on top of 'what's current', like Judd Apatow,  the movie only seems to have a certain shelf life before the references become stale.

Todd Solondz has made only present day movies- aside from the 'Fiction' segment in 'Storytelling', set in 1985. I find that he really knows how to dig into the modern day psyche and instead of becoming tiresome, his depictions of what life was like at the time of his films develop a kind of sweet nostalgia to them as the years go by. I've been wondering about 'Weiner Dog' after revisiting 'Palindromes' and feeling like I finally understood it. SPOILER: It opens at Dawn Weiner's funeral after she commit suicide, so are we to assume that was just a farce and never happened at all? Or is it supposed to be leading up to that event in the early 2000's? Seems lazy of Solondz, get your universe straight!


Quote from: Reelist on December 17, 2014, 04:29:44 AM
And is he making fun of me here, or the movie?

omfg don't be a baby. jk be a baby, i do it all the time. i wasn't making fun of either you or the movie, i somehow thought at the time that i was making a funny sony-sponsored meme that'd communicate my excitement about the movie and my appreciation for your humor. i remember like an hour later i realized my joke had been so lazy, but i ate my grief because i figured it'd already been seen. and now i realize i underestimated the joke a bit, because it was both lazy and bad

also, my guess would be that alexandro was referring to gooses, and i'm going to keep guessing that because it warms my heart

also also, i agree with alexandro about ultra indies. movies without big production money have to pull their production materials from what they actually have, and that's great irl stuff. i just want the ultra indies to be better. i think they can reach further with cinema



jenkins<3 [26|Jun 07:07 PM]:listening to emo reading entertainment weekly with x-files on the cover
jenkins<3 [26|Jun 07:12 PM]: they list movies they say defined their year. e.g. 1985 is Breakfast Club, '89 is Heathers and Say Anything, '98 is Can't Hardly Wait, '04 is Mean Girls, '07 is Superbad, '12 is The Hunger Games
jenkins<3 [26|Jun 07:14 PM]: They don't mention that Hunger Games is the only fantasy movie on their list of teen movies.


Wilder I feel you man! Your so fucking right!

It has to do with a lot. I mean American films REFUSE to show any reflection of their actual society and culture. How many movies actually have felt with 911 from a non political stand point, the only one I can think of i 25th hour, which does not get enough praise. everything deals with like a military perpsecive, zero dark thirty, american sniper, stop-loss, hurt locker.
world trade center is so bad is so awful. The photography / cinematography also plays a hand in this. I am from NYC and a lot of shows are shot here and take place here yet when you watch these shows, they all shoot in the same locations, its not real NYC, its the west village, the east village, down town manhattan, williamsburg. you don't see places like Gravesend Brooklyn, Dyker Heights, Garrison Beach, Corona Queens, flushing, white stone, the bronx, stain island, great neck. its basically the same trendy places, its nauseating.

you don't see things being addressed that are happening. I will give you all a funny: Lately when I am out and about in the city I am noticing people use this incredibly annoying telescopic "selfie" stick. IT IS SO FUCKING RIDICULOUS and actually really breaches the whole philosophy of a selfie ( if that ever existed )   it makes taking a selfie into a fucking production. not to mention that is just fucking annoying to see some tool pull out a stick at a bar just to take a really bad picture on their phone.

why aren't more writers making fun of shit like tinder, and all these hook up relationship things out..using computers to find romance and match you up. De Plama made fun of this SHIT IN 60S! ( GREETINGS/ HI,mom! ) they had computer dating back then!

the problem is also the people who are in the drivers seat all come from more or less the same social class and have been selected from the same concentrate, meaning ivy league schools or expensive name brand colleges like NYU or W/E so the mindset it more or less the same.

How many writers out there are like Stephen Adley Gurgis ( i am sure I spelled that wrong ) or Quentin Tarantino, or P.T Anderson, or even Oliver Stone( although his last few films have sucked, but his documentaries have been awesome)

the kids at film school are dumb half of them haven't seen anything and go to the school to see a fellini movie, for them thats like reading war and peace, for us here on this board we absorbed that shit when we were in H.S and are past that. so its like a film illiteracy mixed with a kinda of bourgeois mentality.



Quote from: wilder on December 15, 2014, 09:10:21 PM
Lately I've been noticing how few recent movies are set in our present-day, in real life (as much as movie realities can be 'real'). There seems to be a trend among directors of doing period projects, and I'm not sure if that's just their natural inclination and they're choosing them because of the opportunity for world creation period pieces have -- maybe a way to give a movie production value in contrast to the giant superhero, fantasy, and sci-fi stuff being made, or if it's because modern communication technologies have destroyed so many of the logistical storytelling techniques that used to be possible, or that many directors don't find the modern day reality interesting to depict? Or is it a pure economic consideration, no one wants to fund them?

Interesting the extent to which this phenomenon worsened as the decade wore on. Even the Safdies and Sean Baker (mentioned in another thread) are largely focused on major cities and regionally specific underbellies. I don't think I've seen a single film set in a new-build cookie cutter subdivision or suburban condo tower near a big box plaza or any other such milieus and we've been living with these as commonplace for twenty years. Micro indies do tend to depict the kinds of characters I encounter in everyday life, but are so often shot in the filmmaker's shitty downtown apartment. And so few people see them. It's not like the representation has any kind of grand social effect.

Really don't get it. These are fascinating times! Do financiers believe audiences don't want to see themselves reflected? What do they think social media is?


'Zola' Is The Ultimate Internet-Age Tale Of Messy Bitches Being Extra [Sundance Review]

Every generation gets a defining literary opening line – "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams..." And for the generation alive and online in 2015, that honor inarguably goes to "Y'all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out????????". The first tweet in A'Ziah King aka A'Ziah Wells aka Zola's infamous 150-odd tweet thread has it all: high drama and the promise of more to come  ("It's kind of long," she continues, "but full of suspense"); an implicit trash-talking challenge couched in streetwise slanguage; and a completely irresistible eight (8) question marks. Not since "J'Accuse" has a Zola penned such an influential text, and sure, Emile's version, which I think went something like "Y'all wanna hear a story about why Alfred Dreyfus & the French government fell out????????" did threaten to topple the Third Republic. But did it do so in pasties and six-inch see-through stripper heels? Bitch, please.

Of course, there's been a long tradition of adapting classical literature into films, but the tweet thread is still unproven source material. And first hearing about "Zola," the question really was whether director Janicza Bravo, in only her second feature after 2017's irritatingly over-mannered anti-comedy "Lemon," could capture the original's electricity. There wasn't only Zola's inimitable prose to consider, with its admixture of pithy urban colloquialism, online abbreviations and sex worker jargon, sprinkled with a smattering of New Yorker op-ed vocab like "verbatim". There was also the format itself, those 140-character bursts of excitable information, that came crackling through the ether in what felt like real time, each one containing some jawdropping twist, or some witheringly dry all-caps commentary. But Bravo and her largely female behind-camera team (DP Ari Wegner, editor Joi McMillon and composer Mica Levi, whose score is unusually gentle, marked with fairytale-ish glissandos) find ingenious ways to mimic the woozy, sometimes surreal, but often hilarious rollercoaster ride that was this (heavily fictionalized) trip to Florida, so that "Zola" lands somewhere on the glitter-neon spectrum between "Spring Breakers" and "Hustlers" – which is to say: it's pretty much a blast, albeit a thin one.

In fact, given that most who will see it are probably aware of Zola's original tweets, the articles they inspired (including the Rolling Stone piece by David Kushner on which Bravo and "Slave Play"'s Jeremy O. Harris based the screenplay) and maybe even the Reddit conversation in which "this bitch" (Jessica in the tweets, Stefani in the film) defended herself, it's little short of miraculous that the movie "Zola" should feel like such a definitive retelling. It's like we've somehow already read all the footnotes and now finally get to crack the spine of the actual book.

For the uninitiated, however, or the Extremely Offline, or the recently awoken coma patients among you, the story of "Zola" is pretty simple. Waitress and part-time pole dancer Zola (Taylour Paige) befriends Stefani (Riley Keough) at the Hooters where she works — a female frenemyship that begins, naturally, when Stefani compliments Zola's "perfect titties." The very next day, after a successful night's dancing as a duo at a local strip club, Stefani invites Zola to Florida for the weekend for more of the same. But the trip south goes South as Stefani's bipolar boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun – yes, Nicholas "Cousin Greg" Braun) becomes more unstable when Stefani starts to "trap" (sell sex) to make more money, and the older guy she first introduced as her flatmate (Colman Domingo, listed as X here, but called Z in the tweets) turns out to be her controlling and violent pimp.

The wildly veering tone zigs and zags between slapstick comedy, acerbic satire, genuine menace and a strange hollow melancholy that these exuberant, unapologetic young women have so few and so tawdry options to choose from. And it's perfectly evoked in the color and life that Bravo injects into every frame, liberally using voiceover, subtitling, freeze-frames, off-kilter sound design and text-on-picture – like the frequent time stamps that appear in the unmistakable layout of a clock on an iPhone screen – to remind us of the film's thorny relationship with truth and technology. And her perfectly cast actors embody the often infuriatingly contradictory characters vividly –one of the greatest pleasures of the original series of tweets, which is preserved here, is the inherently humanist observation that everybody is a messy, dramatic bitch in their own way. Every person, however peripheral they may seem, has their own drama to star in, their own story to tell. X has an African accent that slips out when he gets angry; his gun-toting girlfriend, overflowing her fur bikini, deadpans "do it" when Derrek threatens suicide; Derrek himself, so often the butt of the joke, gets a sympathetic, quiet scene in the car while he waits for Stefani to finish her trick.

Really, though they all orbit the central Zola-Stefani axis. Paige is a terrific Zola, by turns spiky and surly, even if the film cannot quite account for the gap between her evident intelligence and common sense, and her continued participation in these escalatingly dangerous shenanigans (a problem baked in to the original tweets, it should be said, in which Zola is half the time a wry, incredulous observer and the other half a fully involved driving force).

And given that the whole story walks a very difficult line between feminist reclamation and misogynist exploitation – after all, the empowerment of one woman comes at the cost of disempowering another – the casting of Riley Keough is a masterstroke. Stefani might be the ostensible midpoint between Keough's borderline sociopathic call girl in "The Girlfriend Experience" and her dead-eyed, star-spangled-bikini-clad hustler in "American Honey" but here she displays previously untapped comic timing, absolutely nailing the rhythms of Stefani's terrible tryhard speech patterns. But more importantly, for the balance of a film that looks at her character snidely (a case in point: a very mean-funny freeze frame of her with eyes half-closed and mouth half-open, like in an unflattering snapshot destined for instant deletion) there is a native watchfulness in Keough that defies victimhood. So even though the tale is told entirely from Zola's perspective – except a brief section headed "@stefani" in which she self-creates as a Jesus freak in a pastel blazer and which is so exaggerated it's also basically a gag at her expense – Keough's charismatic presence somehow neutralizes a great deal of the story's cynicism.

Elsewhere the feminist credentials are more obvious. The men are all terrible, whether actively threatening like Domingo's volatile pimp and Jason Mitchell's disgruntled Floridian lowlife, or simply pathetic, like Braun's good-natured but comically dim-bulb cuckold Derrek. And while there's a great deal of booty shaking and female nudity and a Russ Meyer-level love of boobs, especially enormous ones poured into too-small bikini tops, there's a gleeful equal opportunities exploitation of male bodies too — in particular an amusing full-frontal montage of Stefani's johns all dropping their underpants. Only one of the parade of dongs gets slapped with a heart-shaped "like" icon, and — spoiler alert — it's not the smallest.

Inevitably, towards the end, the pace does flag as the craziness of the weekend starts to recede, and the hangover starts to settle on characters who have clearly learned absolutely nothing from their 72 hours or so of ultra-extra-OTT drama. But then we can't really blame "Zola" for not being bigger than the material that inspired it, and part of the charm of that original series of tweets was how unrepentant it was. We're used to women – especially women of color – who are sex workers or strippers being expected to atone for making money by using their bodies for the gratification of men, so it's refreshing that "Zola" expects no such thing of them. Empowering, saddening, amusing and aggravating in roughly equal measure, with a very small side order of social critique, Bravo's film marks a huge step up for her and a definitive answer to the question that @_zolarmoon posed to Twitter in October of 2015: yes, y'all do wanna hear the story about why she and this bitch here fell out!!!!!!!!


I really want to see this because it's hyper modern and I have this whole theory that technology hasn't affected human nature


Okay so we don't really have a thread for the 'Internet Wave' or current microbudget sphere that will possibly mostly be seen on streaming, and rarely in the cinema.

Movies that maybe aren't entirely shaped by the net but that their venue and audience iz the net. This thread sorta seemz the closest to that, because these movies will not tend to be period pieces (exceptionz exist for every rule, in the case of tonal intention possibly; Illuminati Detectives). Mostly they will be filmz that can be made with the tech we live in, and blatantly acknowledging that.

Spacemaker and Euguene Koltyarenko exist within this; and then there are some filmmakers where they can screen for a bit but ultimately most people will catch the flick on streaming, MUBI or the sort. Hopefully someday I can check out Troma's streaming service, lol. or something idk.

Well here's one of those, Planet Heaven by