XIXAX Film Forum


Shiva Baby

Jeremy Blackman · 7 · 256

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Jeremy Blackman

  • Admin
  • *****
    • Posts: 12611
on: September 02, 2021, 02:21:17 AM


This might be the best horror movie of the year. Not even halfway done but I had to come here to spread the word.

Note: the trailer gets spoilery past 0:53.
"Hunger is the purest sin"


Robyn

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
    • Posts: 1707
Reply #1 on: September 02, 2021, 02:43:15 AM
So that's her debut feature based on her short film with the same name:



I had it on my watchlist, but had completely forgot about it. I'll watch it soon!


WorldForgot

  • Moderator
  • *****
    • Posts: 1459
  • 'change your hair, change your life'
    • portfolio ~
Reply #2 on: September 02, 2021, 10:48:54 AM
Polka left comments in the shoutbin about this one, too.

I dislike the film, its tediousness reveals the superficial approach to tension and angst. We know that this a medium built on sensation, premise, and suspension of disbelief; but this film iz the Bizarro Robert Zemeckis. It feigns pity for your sympathy without any true character within.

The guests at this party are character actor greats, so there's characterization, but no characters in this cast.

An imitation of anxiety that centers itself on an assault from lives we'll never know (because no one is characterized beyond their antagonism). That said, I'm glad for its indie success. For Gerardo, Kieran, and mostly Emma -- this ish has made their 2021 fruitful af.


Circle Collective/Utopia -- I'm not clear how but they're connected. I am pro-Donny's Bar Mitzvah although Shiva Baby is the widely welcomed. I like Shiva Baby though I heard someone compare it to Philip Roth and that's crazy. Crestone has the only Animal Collective score there is, which, respect


in terms of the ground VS is occupying in the world of contemporary cinephilia, their partner label Utopia (through OCN Distribution) will be the ones who release Shiva Baby, which I saw and is solid but you know it was a bit of a cultural moment so it's considered a good score


Nearly made a thread for Shiva Baby cuz one of my best friends AD'd the short and feature,and it got so much buzz. Then I saw the film...

Utopia does seem interested in distributing independent voices. That's promising, to a degree.

A lot could be said about how this movie mishandles and misrepresents sexwork, but since we're not having the Zola convo I'm assuming we're also not having that convo here (yet?).

Spoiler: ShowHide


polkablues

  • Child of Myth
  • Admin
  • *****
    • Posts: 7816
Reply #3 on: September 02, 2021, 12:48:42 PM
You and I saw different movies, I'm convinced of it. This is still my favorite movie I've seen this year. Everything that rang false to you rang true to me. I thought the protagonist was an incredibly complex and fully formed character, and the broad brush with which other characters were written made perfect sense within the context of the story. It's a subjective POV narrative of a very self-centered (and largely selfish) character too focused on the crises of her own invention to empathize with those around her.

A lot could be said about how this movie mishandles and misrepresents sexwork, but since we're not having the Zola convo I'm assuming we're also not having that convo here (yet?).

And we should definitely talk about this, because I recommended it to a friend whose experience in sex work somewhat mirrored that of the character's, and she said that it was one of the most relatable depictions of her experience that she's seen on film. What aspects of the film do you consider to be misrepresentations?
My house, my rules, my coffee


WorldForgot

  • Moderator
  • *****
    • Posts: 1459
  • 'change your hair, change your life'
    • portfolio ~
Reply #4 on: September 02, 2021, 01:15:39 PM
It's a subjective POV narrative of a very self-centered (and largely selfish) character too focused on the crises of her own invention to empathize with those around her.

A lot could be said about how this movie mishandles and misrepresents sexwork, but since we're not having the Zola convo I'm assuming we're also not having that convo here (yet?).

And we should definitely talk about this, because I recommended it to a friend whose experience in sex work somewhat mirrored that of the character's, and she said that it was one of the most relatable depictions of her experience that she's seen on film. What aspects of the film do you consider to be misrepresentations?

I dont doubt that it effectively portrays the anxiety and panopticon of judgement that comes with such work. But there's no there there for this film - it's used as a foundation for a film that emphasizes shame, then it never ventures past impulse and decor for those sort of cornered exploitations. If her interiority is meant to excuse why there's no insight to Danielle, I can't abide.
Spoiler: ShowHide

Had she never thought through the extensions of her sugar daddy's own life? It's a measure of control and separation from her family, but she hardly interacts with her fam in the film -- or really doesn't interact with anyone but her ex, so much as receive a barrage?

Okay maybe "misrepresents" isn't appropriate. I certainly think it doesn't handle it with depth or compassion. That's my bad-faith reading of it - yes. That it doesn't care to expound on the weight of its own themes while simultaneously saying LOOK HOW MUCH PRESSURE ALL THIS HAS DANIELLE UNDER. We're certainly never given to understand her relationship to her sexwork because it only exists within the film as a device for disrupting the Shiva. Doesn't lead to dialogue or insight on this or the stigmas of her ED and sexuality. (bi panic? lmfao this is the Spider-Man 3 grabbag type of conflict like ugh where's the focus) Flaunts them as something that's "real" because it's an indie-that-cares, which is valid, cuz these stigmas are, and they can shape entire subcultures of escape and inclusion.

But here it feels superficial to me. Don't wanna say it's posturing or fake cuz I know the peeps involved and that it's meant much to many. But in its execution all I get is the mimesis of tension out of hollow truths. Like an ouroboros wherein it sez "these stereotypes are harmful!" and relishing in stereotypes itself.


I know this isn't Mysterious Skin... It's something much more facile. Not even Zola or Cam...

Not a film about being a sugar baby, it's a film wherein a sugar baby digs themselves into a deeper hole of narcissism, a concept that is definitely ripe. I wish the film y'all saw existed for me, but it was ingratiating to me in its script through and through.


Jeremy Blackman

  • Admin
  • *****
    • Posts: 12611
Reply #5 on: September 04, 2021, 03:13:21 AM
Weird. I sympathized with Danielle from beginning to end and didn't find her to be narcissistic at all.

Spoiler: ShowHide
Maybe this is an insensitive take, but I don't see this story as being about sex work in particular. This might actually be a point of agreement with WF – yes, the sex work is mostly just a device to amp up the anxiety. You might argue that once the film touches a topic like that it has to really deal with it. That would probably be a more responsible thing for the filmmakers to have done, and it's a fair criticism, but I didn't really have a problem with it, because I felt the story was transparently about something else.

I think it's more about that very specific time in one's life when you're graduating college, and everyone you know is extremely open about judging your decisions and your career path and just... everything. The shiva is a boiler room that draws out and magnifies all of those anxieties. I definitely went to a few family gatherings that had a similar effect at that exact time in my life.

And how should you react when you're aggressively and inappropriately cornered the way Danielle is over and over? You either shut down or get defensive. Those are the only two logical responses, and Danielle does both.

Her mother has good intentions, but she infantilizes Danielle, which makes her feel like she might not even have a path to growing up. The only reprieve is her ex-girlfriend, the only person who actually treats her like a peer. Then when Danielle (temporarily) loses even that support, the bottom falls out, and she essentially starts having a nervous breakdown. It's all about this crossroads moment.

In one of the final scenes, Danielle suggests that sex work makes her feel powerful (not ashamed). When it works, it's almost a dignifying force in her life. What actually disturbs her and makes her feel ashamed is being belittled and emotionally patronized — something that happens to her in nearly every scene. Max does that in the opening scene as well — "I think it's really great to support females, particularly female entrepreneurs." Perhaps a reminder that she can't escape the B.S. even in a realm she once considered a refuge.

The last thing Danielle's dad says to her, when he's trying to stuff everyone in the car: "you're pretty small, right?" A haunting line, and a literalization of the belittling that she endures. It's subtle, but that's her dad’s tone the whole movie—you get the feeling he may never fully respect her.

I don't agree that Danielle lacks empathy. I think that learning about Max's family activated her empathy, and in a completely understandable way. From there she does her best, considering the nearly traumatizing level of anxiety she's experiencing. Once she's in the pressure cooker, I wasn't interested in judging any of her social slip-ups, or any of her choices really, and I don't think we're meant to.
"Hunger is the purest sin"


WorldForgot

  • Moderator
  • *****
    • Posts: 1459
  • 'change your hair, change your life'
    • portfolio ~
Reply #6 on: September 04, 2021, 07:07:25 AM


Spoiler: ShowHide

In one of the final scenes, Danielle suggests that sex work makes her feel powerful (not ashamed). When it works, it's almost a dignifying force in her life. What actually disturbs her and makes her feel ashamed is being belittled and emotionally patronized — something that happens to her in nearly every scene. Max does that in the opening scene as well — "I think it's really great to support females, particularly female entrepreneurs." Perhaps a reminder that she can't escape the B.S. even in a realm she once considered a refuge.

The last thing Danielle's dad says to her, when he's trying to stuff everyone in the car: "you're pretty small, right?" A haunting line, and a literalization of the belittling that she endures. It's subtle, but that's her dad’s tone the whole movie—you get the feeling he may never fully respect her.

I don't agree that Danielle lacks empathy. I think that learning about Max's family activated her empathy, and in a completely understandable way. From there she does her best, considering the nearly traumatizing level of anxiety she's experiencing. Once she's in the pressure cooker, I wasn't interested in judging any of her social slip-ups, or any of her choices really, and I don't think we're meant to.


Spoiler: ShowHide
I like how you've phrased it here. Don't know why I find it hard to read Danielle as a character and not just a 2D backboard for tension - I feel it may be more in the form of the piece, where each scene is a varying angle on being emotionally patronized, as you mentioned. Danielle and Shiva Baby's Form of Subjectivity; the Bagel, and Panopticons on Subject.


Thinkin' rn that it must be disconnect from preference of form. It's clearly been effective for many people. And as an indie success it's a dub for anyone believing in their short.