Trent Film Society brings you “The Old and New”, a second serving of bi-weekly film suggestions to keep you trucking through the fall.
I think it is not a stretch to say we live in a culture that idealizes constant innovation. This week’s picks focus on the dual nature of genius, creativity, and novelty. The modern world is full of exciting technology, art, and ideas. Though these advancements come with personal and widespread consequences.
Before I get into this week’s suggestions, I would like to acknowledge that this article will be published around September 30 which is Orange Shirt Day. This event was created in 2013 to remind and educate settlers about the atrocities and current impact of the residential school system. As such, I personally recommend Tim Wolochatiuk’s 2012 film We Were Children, and encourage looking at the National Film Board of Canada’s indigenous cinema collection.
Suggestion 1: The Social Dilemma (/the social dilemma_) [Available on Netflix] frames how the human love for innovation and goal of human connection, is absorbed into the ominous power of the tech. industry so prevalent today. Former presidents of big social media companies, psychologists, and advocates for humane technology discuss the devastating effect of making ever-smarter algorithms capable of short cutting the best qualities of human nature and capitalizing on a fundamental human weakness—the cult of belonging. The impact of these powerful algorithms can be seen in our political unrest, mental illness crises, individual narratives of truth, tech addictions and more. You will, like a friend of mine, think about deleting Facebook after watching this. You might be right to do so (even at the price of all those tantalizing cat videos).
Suggestion 2: Anything on Vicotria Vincent’s Youtube channel, Vewn is like an uncomfortable dream you can’t turn away from. Animator Victoria Vincent creates short animation works on her channel that could only make sense to someone living under late stage capitalism, in a tech driven world. She deals with vapidness of digital romance and sex in “floatland” and “find true love” to the intense ennui of being processed through the sport and work world in “dead end”, “Pizza Movie”, and “Twins in Paradise”. Vincent’s videos feel escapist in their colour and fantastic characters, but also all too familiar in their sentiment.
Suggestion 3: Chef’s Table—Vol 5, Ep 4 [Available on Netflix] focuses on Spanish chef, Albert Adrià, and his intense experience as an eccentric pushing the boundaries of food as art and tradition. Adrià’s life is one long episode of coincidence. Growing up with dyslexia, he struggled with school and decided instead to follow his older brother’s direction into the restaurant industry though knowing little about food and gastronomy. This episode illustrates the delicate balance of working with family, an experience rife with support and unspoken understanding as well as jealousy and resentment. Though most of us aren’t gourmet Spanish chefs, I think as creators of knowledge and art and other forms of labour, we can relate to feeling an “obligation of permanent creativity.” The desire to have our lives and successes remembered and immortalized is common enough even for those who are not considered to be a living genius.
Suggestion 4: Muppets Now [Available on Disney+] Binge-watch three hours of the same Muppets you grew up loving, but now with modern references you actually understand. Muppets Now plays on the nostalgia of something tried and true and tackles aspects of our modern society with humour and levity. As school ramps up and the world around us braces for winter, shows for all age groups like Muppets Now provide the cozy lighthearted comfort that you deserve in between study sessions. Tune in to see Miss Piggy’s beauty guru tips and brand deals, watch the Swedish Chef and celebrity guest stars cook together, and see Kermit interview RuPaul. Need I say more? I suggest using these fun episodes to break up some of our more serious picks, or if you just need to smile.
The Social Dilemma — English audio and English audio description, other dubbed languages, English CC and multiple other language subtitle options
Chef’s Table—Vol 5, Ep 4 — European Spanish and English are the original audio, CC available for both as well as multiple other language audio and sub options
Vewn (Youtube channel) — English audio, auto generated English subtitles, multiple other verified language subtitles
Muppets Now — English audio and English audio description, English CC and multiple other language subtitle options
The Social Dilemma — tech surveillance, white supremacy, talk of suicide and self-harm, talk of civil war, real and fictional depictions of violent protest, talk of and fictitious portrayals of addiction
Vewn (Youtube channel) — illustrated depictions of self-inflicted violence and violence towards others, drug abuse, depictions of mental illness and psychosis, suggestions of predatory behaviour, death, isolation and loneliness, internet addiction
Chef’s Table—Vol 5, Ep 4 — graphic depictions of animals as meat, coarse language, talk of drugs
Muppets Now — no foreseeable triggers
Check out the first instalment of TFS bi-weekly film recommendations here!