Movie of the month

You might be wondering what to watch this month, as you await the end of the world with a feeling of mounting horror.

I recommend Melancholia:

Of all the films I’ve seen, it best captures the mood of the moment.

Of course Lars Von Trier is an acquired taste.  He can make even Kubrick seem warm and cuddly by comparison.  But it’s a fine film, and one I’ve never been able to forget, despite wishing I could.



12 Responses to “Movie of the month”

  1. Gravatar of Brandon Reinhart Brandon Reinhart
    7. March 2020 at 17:11

    Have you seen Aniara? It’s pretty bleak.

  2. Gravatar of Bob OBrien Bob OBrien
    7. March 2020 at 18:49


    I have not seen this movie. Why do you wish you could forget it. This makes me hesitate to see it!

  3. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    7. March 2020 at 21:43

    Looks like some modern “Bride of Frankenstein” theme. Is this a man we wish to entrust to printing money? Even if money is largely neutral. Somebody consumed by morbid thoughts? By contrast I prefer wholesome films, like The Sound of Music and nature documentaries.

  4. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    8. March 2020 at 05:36

    Yes, it’s perfect — if you love slow-paced movies, have a severe depression and want to kill yourself tomorrow.

    For everyone else I recommend a little more speed and action, for example World War Z. Already back then Pitt gave a surprisingly solid performance. He has earned his Oscar over the years, I guess.

  5. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    8. March 2020 at 07:28

    Last few weeks watched 3 Soap Operas (my name for Amazon multi-season shows). Liked Marvelous Mrs Maisel the most because it’s different—-and funny and 60s—-and “Jewish” (like Sopranos was “Italian” and Mad Men was “WASP”)—-although implausible in certain ways; Man in High Castle——truly dreadful—-but if it has to do with WWII—-I will almost always watch WWII movies; and Jack Ryan—-40 years of Tom Clancy is just too much. This one you can recite the scenes in real time 5 minutes in advance—-almost done with season 2—not recommended either.

    I will watch the Korean movie Parasites—today. Despite all the stories around it, I have no idea what the story is about—-always the best way to watch a movie—blind to what is about.

    Will watch this—-the mood of the moment will be fun

    PS—-re “mood of the moment” ——-just for kicks, I googled “Coronavirus and Trump”. Fascinating, although obvious. The first 15 headlines or so (VOX, Politico, Boston Globe, Mother Jones , Times—-etc) are truly spectacular. Not only is he doing everything one could possibly do wrong——he is the literal cause of all that is happening.

    While my betting view of this Virus is that it is almost a nothing (I said “betting view”) and I am half in the bag believing that Xi is probably realizing he released, unwittingly, a Schumer style whirlwind——-politically speaking in the US (I said politically speaking)—this is just another Russia, Kavanaugh, (sp?), Meuller, McCabe, impeachment and so forth

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. March 2020 at 08:51

    Brandon, No, I have not.

    Bob, I don’t regret seeing it, but it is depressing.

    Michael, You said:

    “While my betting view of this Virus is that it is almost a nothing”

    I’ll take that bet. I suspect we’ll have to shut down a good chunk of the US economy to control the virus; it’s on a exponential curve in the US and Europe. That’s not good. Asia’s ahead of us, especially Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. But even China, Korea and Japan, which botched things early on, are now reacting faster than we are.

    The US government botched the crisis, and Trump botched the crisis (in terms of messaging). But those two facts are probably largely unrelated. We needed a crisis plan in place, and didn’t have one. That goes way beyond the president. But Trump’s calling it a minor problem will haunt him in the fall campaign.

  7. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    8. March 2020 at 12:09

    My nothing relates to the disease not the economic fallout. I have been going back and forth between short disaster to long disaster on the economic fallout (based on what I call “Cowen’s cliff”. Our reaction to this disease, relative to it’s true incremental danger, is what my “bet” is about. It makes no sense to me and is overwrought. That is my bet.

    If China is the model of how this disease will evolve——assuming they are not seriously incompetent or seriously lying, one can already see the number of net new cases have flat lined close to zero. It has flattened remarkably fast—-dying out like Ebola—-like radical killer diseases which burn out fast. As you have said, numbers are wierd.

    Hopkins has an interesting but inadequate minute by minute (!) chart, which is irritating. They show by the minute but leave out the most important data.

    They show China and rest of world for new diseases, but for recoveries they only show recoveries globally, so we are unable to compare the “arcs of recoveries versus new” for China and ex-China separately. How can they not show this?

    Clearly rest of world in increasing faster than recovering, but it is in the beginning as was China when it looked like that. What if rest of world flattens at same proportional levels as China has? It would mean the global increase will be over in a matter of 1-3 months.

    If that happens, disease will be a virtual nothing. It took two months to see China “resolve” itself to virtually “flat”. So in two months, the world should resolve itself in a similar way.

    Of course, we do not know data really. I think back to 2009—no panic, but bigger disease than this seems to be. Smaller disease than 2009 and already, economically, arguably worse than 2009.

  8. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    8. March 2020 at 12:35

    @Michael R: I tend to agree with your take. Pessimism makes one sound smart, and optimism is derided as naive. But optimism, or at least things muddling through and avoiding the doomsday scenarios, are how it almost always happens.

  9. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    8. March 2020 at 14:59

    Sure Michael’s scenario is not wrong, there are not much differences to Scott’s and my scenario.

    But the valuation is different: 1-3 months of a full Italy scenario would be pretty bad for the US.

    It may be even worse in the US because of things like fewer test kits, no universal health care and no paid sick days.

  10. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    8. March 2020 at 16:35


  11. Gravatar of Njnnja Njnnja
    8. March 2020 at 17:58

    This is a brilliant movie! Another way of thinking about it is as an experiment on the viewer that never went before an IRB. It’s just a movie, right? There’s no asteroid coming to kill us all, right? Then why does the average viewer feel like total crap after watching it?

    It’s because it is simulating a state of depression in the viewer (very effectively!). Someone with clinical depression can understand from a rational perspective that things are basically OK, and they feel depressed because of the underlying medical condition. But it doesn’t matter; they still feel the way they do. In the same way, there is no rationalization that you can do after watching the movie that makes you feel better.

    It’s an amazing hack of one’s emotional system.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. March 2020 at 15:19

    Njnnja, Interesting comment.

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