Tuesday 23rd May 2017,
Televisual

MEDIA UPDATE: Watching

Aymar Jean Christian May 20, 2008 uncategorized No Comments on MEDIA UPDATE: Watching

Mister Lonely – Loved it, although I can’t say watching it was always a pleasant experience. The film has a sadness to it, and part of it came with my unease with celebrity impersonators. I cannot imagine living through someone else — but the film has a good way of addressing that unease.

Harmony Korine has a big theme going (note to anyone reading: I look for big themes like squirrels look for nuts) about the ability to improve the world through belief in something bigger than oneself. The movie has two storylines: one about a commune of celebrity impersonators and one about a group of nuns who jump from planes — I’m dead serious. The link between celebrity and religion is an obvious one — celebrities are idols, the new religion, etc. But Korine doesn’t wallow in easy comparisons. Instead, his delicate and virtuoso handling of the nun storyline — mystifying, scary, painful, hopeful — escalates the thematic tension: he has something to say.

The celebrity impersonators, like the nuns, are trying to better themselves through a belief in something (their celebs, their craft, but also each other). They aren’t doing any harm, and they haven’t lost their souls, they’ve just found another use for them. They want to make people happy — they put on a talent show.

What’s sad is the impersonators see themselves as outsiders — yes, “black sheep,” a convenient but important metaphor in the film — they don’t participate in the world, living miles outside Paris. How can you improve the world and encourage togetherness when you are alone? Diego Luna’s Michael starts the film thinking he’s alone, he ends it realizing we’re all together.

The religion here, then, is the world, it’s people, who by merely living show life is worth living. Once Michael learns that the impersonators are not alone in trying to improve themselves, living for something else other than the self, he is finally free. The idols are not the celebrities, “people,” writ large, are the idols. Korine believes in faith, not religion (and the fate of the nuns at the end proves this).  So the message of the movie is simple: believe in each other and we can all “live forever,” as Diego Luna says .

The movie is slow, it demands patience, but some of his scenes are downright brilliant — as many reviewers have noted. You simply have to see for yourself. And sometimes Korine’s choices seem oddball and unnecessary. That may be true. But I’ve never felt so odd during and after a movie. Korine managed to get at themes of togetherness and faith through celebrity impersonators. Freaky, unsettling.

Description and reviews.

Oh yea, I saw Prince Caspian. One word review: Watchable.

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Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.

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