[Marxism] Fwd: Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 19 09:45:36 MST 2018

Each November and December NYFCO members like me receive dozens of DVD 
screeners from film studio publicists that are meant to help us decide 
on our yearly awards. In order to help me participate meaningfully in 
the deliberations, I prioritize the films that are likely to be 
finalists, namely the big-budget Hollywood films from Sony, Fox, et al. 
This has meant that the kinds of films I prefer to cover get left in the 
lurch, particularly those that are sent from Magnolia, a conscientious 
distributor of quality films for various art houses around the country. 
I invite you to visit their website, which for a modest $4.99 per month 
allows you to see some first-rate films like “Entertainment” that was 
included in the 2015 batch that I only got around to seeing recently. To 
get straight to the point, Rick Alverson, the director of this dark 
character study of a middle-aged comedian playing to tiny and 
indifferent audiences in forlorn Southern California towns, is a major 
talent that deserves far more attention than any of those forgettable 
Hollywood blockbusters that routinely get awarded. He is a 47-year old 
Richmond native who has his fingers on the pulse of a dying civilization 
and is not afraid to tell the truth even if it is one that might not 
soothe you like the typical Saturday night escapist fare. Indeed, the 
last two films made by Alverson might be understood as a morality tale 
on how comedy itself might be key to the malaise that has gripped 
America for decades and shows no sign of letting up.

What follows is a survey of all of four films that have been made by 
Alverson since 2010, all of which are available as VOD. Having seen them 
over the past week or so has left me feeling like I have been through 
the mill, just like the four men at their center. Despite having a 
different life experience than theirs, I can share the existential 
crisis that has overcome them all, against a backdrop of a country that 
Robinson Jeffers described in “Shine, Perishing Republic” as settling 
“in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire”.


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