Movie Club: Captain Fantastic

Heute gibt es nur eine Filmbesprechung auf Englisch. Keine anderen Gedanken unter einem Strich.

I think this will be a short review because I am still a little overwhelmed with the film. The film was suggested by Veetii in our Movie Club, and I’ve seen it for the first time. The review might be spoilery.

Captain Fantastic is a film about a family that lives in the woods somewhere in the USA. After the suicide of the mother, the father and children have to deal with her death and navigate corporate America while they’re trying to go and attend her funeral.

The film asks many questions about our modern way of living and I thought it was especially interesting during Covid-19 times. Ben, the father of the children, „homeschools“ them in the woods where he not only assigns them books to read and apparently taught them how to make music. He also trains them to survive in the wild: they hunt, they gut animals, they grow plants, they exercise. From the start of the film, you can see that the children are clever, outspoken and opinionated. There is debate although Ben still seems to be the one who makes decisions. It is unclear which role the mother had before her hospital stay and death.

After Leslie’s (the mother’s) death, Ben takes his children to the funeral of their mother where they are met with Leslie’s and Ben’s family who do not agree with his way of raising the children. Harper, Ben’s sister, clashes with Ben on whether his children should go to a normal school or not which leads to Ben proving to them that his children understand different things about the world than their children. I was compelled to write that they know more, but that wouldn’t quite be true. Ben and Leslie’s children know different things than Harper’s children: they know philosophy and politics, they know music and how to survive outside of society. But they don’t know much about how the modern day USA works. Although they know enough to use the workings of capitalism to their advantage.

I think the film raises questions about how we live with each other and what kind of knowledge is valuable to us. Especially considering Covid-19 where more people turn to gardening or baking their own bread, I thought the question of which knowledge is valuable is even more highlighted. Most of don’t know how to survive in the wild because right now, we don’t need to. We don’t need to shoot and gut our food for ourselves. We rely on others to feed us. It’s convenient, and personally, I wouldn’t like to have to shoot animals very much. On the other hand, this lifestyle alienates us from the rest of the world (non-human world) and isolates us. Maybe we’re experiencing this now more than ever.

Apart from this, Ben’s character arc is also partcularly interesting. He is convinced that his way of raising his children is right. Otherwise he wouldn’t have isolated them from the world for the last decade. I think what he learns throughout the film is that he needs to practice what he preaches. He teaches his children to think for themselves and voice their opinion. And he needs to learn to listen to them instead of making decisions for them. I think his turning point is when one of his daughters almost dies in an accident and he realizes that he cannot endanger his children’s lives anymore, after two of his sons have already pushed back against his authority. Ben is all about respecting his wife’s wishes about her death, and needs to learn to respect his children’s wishes as well.

Which leads me to the last plot point I want to discuss: death. The film also contrasts two ways of dealing with death against each other: a removed, sterile funeral by Leslie’s family, and a simultaneously sad and joyful cremation by Ben and his children. It shows how removed modern society is from death. (I think it’s also highlighted by the way Ben’s family and Harper’s family deal with dead animals.) And I very much liked the personal goodbye the family gave to Leslie. It honored her wishes and gave all of them the space and time to say goodbye to their mother/wife they needed.

Apart from the plot, the film was incredibly gorgeous. The scenery in the beginning in the woods was splendid. I also liked how Ben’s family always looked out of place everywhere because of their colourful and self-made clothes (for proof see picture above).

So I am giving this movie 4 out of 5 stars.

You can read Veetii’s review here.

You can read Dolby’s review here.

(Photo credit: Bleecker Street)

Movie Club: The Lobster

(Die folgende Review ist auf Englisch verfasst, da ich Teil eines englischsprachigen Movie Clubs bist, und damit die anderen Teilnehmer:innen meine Gedanken verstehen können, verfasse ich diese auf Englisch. Es finden sich, wie immer, ein paar meiner anderen Gedanken unter dem „weiterlesen“-Knopf.)

I saw The Lobster for the second time, this time alone. Last time, I watched it with my then-roomie and I had asked her for something uplifting. The Lobster didn‘t do it for me, although I liked it because of it‘s social critique. That‘s why I chose it for Movie Club.

The Lobster is a film about David (I realized I never heard his name in the movie and also none of the other names and wikipedia tells me most of the characters don‘t even have names (I didn‘t verify on imdb), so this is an interesting feature). He checks into a hotel after his partner leaves him for another man with glasses. During his stay in the hotel, David has 45 days time to find a new partner, otherwise he will be turned into an animal of his choice (in David’s case a lobster). David is accompanied by a dog, his brother who didn‘t „make it“ out of the hotel.

The movie introduces three settings: the hotel, the woods and the city. Only couples are allowed to live in the city, so if David manages to find a partner, he will be allowed to go back to the city, and supposedly will also resume his work as an architect again. (We don‘t know anything about how the work system functions. It‘s fascinating though that people will leave their jobs for a certain period of time to find a new partner. Work seems to be less important than being partnered here.) The partnering system has different stages, and during the hotel stay, unpartnered and partnered people are not allowed to interact with each other. Once you find a suitable partner, both will be moved to a double room for two weeks and after that to a yacht. If problems occur, couples will be assigned children. (Has anyone ever wondered where these children come from? Who volunteers their kids for this? Do couples even have their own kids anymore?) The hotel is a very strict environment, as an unpartnered person, you are only allowed to pursue sports that are for single people. No sports that require a partner. The partnering is based on superficial and random characteristics, like a recurring nose bleed or being short-sighted or a bright smile.

After trying to fool a woman into believing he shared similarities with her, David has to leave the hotel and goes into the woods where he meets the loners. They are people who live outside of regular society by themselves in the woods and who discourage partnering. People should be alone. If someone of the community violates these rules, they are to be punished. The hotel guests actually have to run around in the woods (once a day?) to hunt the loners who will then be turned into animals. So David finds himself on the other side now.

The three presented settings are very distinct and show certain parts of society. I thought this was very well done, even the small glimpses into city life that we‘re given. The hotel and the woods both have their cruel rules that support the current state of society that resolves around couples. A funny thing to look out for in the woods: animals that do not belong there.

The film is not really funny, I would classify it as a parody on our (Western) society. It raises interesting questions about how we deal with love relationships, and even friendships as all the relationships formed in the movie seem superficial and not very intimate. So the movie asks us about love, sex, sexuality, relationships, honesty, loneliness. I think it succeeds in holding up a mirror on how society is structured today.

I liked it even more than the first time, probably because I was in a better state to appreciate the cleverness. However, it is sometimes painful to watch, a) because there‘s some gore and b) because it is just so awkward lots of times. I cringed every time people asked each other about their defining characteristics to figure out if they were compatible. It‘s very well done because this logic even stretches into the woods, showing that even the people who dislike the structure of society are in its grasps and orient themselves along the same lines.

To conclude: It is a very clever film, not easy to watch, and requires some willingness to engage with and think about the questions the film asks. As a parody, it works really well and it has some really good actors.

4/5 stars

Read the other‘s reviews:

Veetii’s review

Bea’s review

Weiterlesen »

Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit, Solidarität und Freund*innenschaft

Die letzten zwei bis vier Wochen (ich weiß es ehrlich gesagt nicht mehr genau, haha) habe ich damit zugebracht, One Piece zu lesen. One Piece ist ein Manga, der vor über zwanzig Jahren begonnen wurde und immer noch nicht fertig ist. Mittlerweile gibt es auf Englisch 946 Kapitel. Ich habe früher (damals, als ich noch jung war und bei meinen Eltern lebte) immer mal wieder den Anime im Fernsehen gesehen (damals, als Animes auf RTLII liefen! Ist das heute immer noch so, oder nicht mehr? Wer weiß, ich hab schließlich keinen Fernseher). Jetzt, beim Lesen, habe ich festgestellt, dass ich offenbar auch mal angefangen habe, den Manga zu lesen und dann irgendwo zwischen durch aufgehört habe. Vermutlich weil ich den einen Charakter nicht mochte, haha. Nun ja. Jetzt habe ich wieder angefangen und durchgehalten bis zum jetzigen Stand des Mangas. Und während des Lesens habe ich viel darüber nachgedacht, was das eigentlich für eine Geschichte ist, und warum ich dieses Mal weiter gelesen habe. Es folgen also nun potentiell Spoiler.

Weiterlesen »

Linkschau #35

Es ist wieder Zeit. Wenn wir ehrlich sind, ist es schon drüber. So what. Hier kommt die Maus:

Doris Akrap schreibt im Guardian über Chemnitz und wie deutsche Politiker*innen rechtem Gedankengut den Weg bereiten.  [Englisch]

Bei sterben üben gibt es einen Gastbeitrag von Johanna, in dem sie über ihre Fehlgeburt schreibt.

Feline schreibt bei innenansicht darüber, dass unsere Gesellschaft auf die Zweisamkeit ausgerichtet ist.

In der The Mary Sue schreibt Princess Weekes darüber, was die Show Game of Thrones uns von den Charakteren aus A Song of Ice and Fire genommen hat. Es beginnt mit den Starks und geht dann weiter mit Cersei, Dany und Shae. [Englisch]

Emma González schreibt in The New York Times über ihren politischen Aktivismus gegen die Waffenlobby in den USA. [Englisch]

Und mehr ist es diesen Monat auch nicht. Ich habe viele Artikel noch offen und nicht gelesen. Das wird vermutlich dazu führen, dass es im nächsten Monat einige alte Artikel geben wird. So what.

Linkschau #34

Ich bin spät dran. Das kommt, weil ich die ganze Woche unterwegs war, und meinen Laptop nicht mithatte. Und sowieso keine Zeit, um diesen Text hier zu schreiben.

Jasmin schreibt über den Tod und was Frauen damit zu tun haben.

Anselm Schindler schreibt über israelisch-palästinensischen Widerstand.

Und Levi schreibt über das Leben, das wir nicht wollen. (Alter Text.)

Paris Marx schreibt darüber, warum digitales Nomad*innentum nicht gut für lokale Communities ist. [Englisch]

Und nochmal ein Text von Levi, diesmal über Liebe. (Auch ein alter Text.)

Kelly Marie Tran schreibt über ihre Erfahrungen mit Online-Mobbing. [Englisch]

Kasmir Hill und Surya Matu haben in einem Experiment für ein paar Wochen eine Wohnung mit smarten Produkten ausgestattet und sprechen über die Ergebnisse. [Video, Englisch]

M. Salih Akin schreibt über die Debatte um Mesut Özil, und was sie bedeutet.

Jason B. Rosenthal erzählt von seinem Trauerprozess, als seine Frau gestorben ist. [Video, Englisch] Und dann gibt es noch den Artikel, den Amy Krouse Rosenthal kurz vor ihrem Tod über ihre Liebe zu ihrem Mann geschrieben hat. [Englisch]

Mina Khani schreibt darüber, was es heißt, ein „Fremdkörper“ zu sein.

Steve Rousseau schreibt über die Unmöglichkeit, sich auszuloggen. [Englisch]

Enric Sala erklärt, wie wir die Weltmeere retten können (und wir wie vielleicht sogar ein paar Staaten mit kapitalistischen Argumenten davon überzeugen könnten). [Video, Englisch]

Heather Hogan schreibt über Frauen und Bier.  [Englisch]

Rose George schreibt über die Vagina, die sich selbst säubern kann und warum wir dafür keine Produkte brauchen. [Englisch]

Und dann noch was zu Migration und Kapitalismus. (Ist ein Zweiteiler, deswegen zwei Links, ha!)