Film Club / While All Around Them the World Collapses

Directed by Chloé Zhao



God this film is boring. And I just don’t understand how anyone could get any pleasure from watching it. I mean the whole thing is just watching a rich and successful Hollywood actor (net worth $100 million) pretending to be a poor person like it’s the ultimate form of cosplay. 

Yeah it’s slow and meditative and it’s all shot with natural light but gosh in the year of our lord 2020 I have to ask – is this really the best we can do? I mean I sat down and did my uttermost best to watch this movie and let it work it’s magic on me but all I could see was someone who really wishes they were Terrence Malick.  

(But you know – if only being boring was it’s only crime).

To state the complete and utter obvious – yes it does leave a sick taste in my mouth when I watch a movie about an old woman being made homeless and destitute and it’s treated as some sort of life affirming declaration of independence or something. Although I will admit that it is a perfect encapsulation of the modern liberal mindset. The type of person who looks at the world and thinks that everything that happens is just the natural way of things. Oh what? Your town got closed down and everyone lost their jobs? Well – hell maybe that’s just the kick start you need in order to begin your journey in terms of letting things go and letting the past be the past etc. Western society is basically just like a large scale weather pattern and no one’s in charge and there’s no one to blame and the best thing we can do is try to make do and hope that we can all get a job working in Amazon. 

I do try my best not to sound like too much of a conspiracy nut – but it does get difficult when I see a film like Nomadland get praised to high heaven and held up as the exemplar of modern movie making especially when it seems built in such a nefarious way. I mean leaving aside the fact that it feels like it’s written so that you can take a 20 minute nap in the middle and not have to worry that you’ve missed anything – the more paranoid part of my brain says that it’s basically preparing us for our post-human future where we’ll all have to live in our vans and spend our days eating bugs and so goddamn we might as well try to construct the best most hopefully narrative we can damn it. 

Of course the obvious question is ok – well what would make this movie better? Do I want to see the radicalisation of Frances McDormand? Lots of shots of her reading Marxist theory and mixing up molotov cocktails? Because obviously – that’s still just a film right? It doesn’t actually change the material world. I mean – it’s even worse actually – it’s just lights and sound beamed directly into your head that makes you think that everything is ok. 

But yeah fuck it: at least that would be more socially useful and uplifting rather than this giant wet blanket of a movie that wraps itself around your face and slowly suffocates you with it’s nothingness. I mean I would have thought the slow collapse of western hegemony would at least give rise to some interesting movies – but instead we get things like this: the cinematic equivalent of watching someone humming their mantra to themselves while all around them the world collapses. 

I mean – I think this is why something like Squid Game becomes massively popular because (unlike every western form of entertainment) it’s actually about our experience of the world now… In all of it’s nasty and horrific majesty. Rather than – pastel colours, non linear editing and pinkly plonky piano. 

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