It is currently Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:07 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 1:42 am 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
I’ve long said that we desperately need a film that captures the current technological and youth zeitgeist, and this might be it. Adapted from a young adult novel (which I didn’t know beforehand but I correctly guessed as much as soon as the third act kicked in), Nerve gives us a hyper-linked, uber-stylish cacophony of stimulation and voyeurism, culminating in a bold critique of Anonymous, 4Chan, the Dark Web, and other such internet threats both real and imagined. Is some of it a bit on the nose? God yes. If you’re incapable of watching a film for more than its plot you’re going to have a meltdown at some of the improbabilities the narrative foists on us. But look at how the film is relayed and the style and methods show us something deeper and wholly skeptical from a position within the world depicted, not without. The film has no desire to be subtle, but neither does its subject.

Unfolding over one day, introvert Emma Roberts (the movie suffers from the same problem most teen movies have, in that the protagonist is so hott and personable that selling her as an outsider is already starting with one foot in the plausibility grave-- don’t worry, the film will end with fifty more packed in there) finds herself sucked into an internet game in which Watchers pony up money for Players to enact dares, which are filmed for willing audiences to view on their phones and other devices. As Roberts’ exploits gain prominence, so do the risks she’s required to endure in the pursuit of “interfame” (to paraphrase one of the characters).

Okay, so, it’s not hard to see where this trajectory lands Roberts, her new partner in crime Dave Franco, or any of their associates. However, the entire film is quite cleverly mirrored on how many of us, especially teenagers, use our devices and distractions to cope with and interact with our lives. Roberts only joins to distract herself from her IRL problems. We hear important info about our friends secondhand from others commenting on it first. Forget Big Brother, we’re the ones filming ourselves at all times, and I’m not sure there’s a moment in the film where we don’t see someone’s phone out filming someone else (not even necessarily our protagonists!). The film ultimately criticizes mob rule via internet anonymity from a position that feels earned by the film that produced it: this isn’t a Groovy Grandpa film about how all of the internet is bad. I readily believe everyone who made it knows exactly what they’re engaging with, and any doubts should be erased by the wonderful end credits, which form a time capsule of what the internet looked like in 2016.

The film is stylish in the extreme, and I appreciated some of the small novel touches, like how the film will occasionally give us the unexpected screen POV of characters interacting from their devices from the point of view of their electronics, which must then be filtered through the various pop ups, icons, and apps on the screen!

Image

The soundtrack is also a total banger. It could be an honorary domino harvey mix for 2016.

I mean, I found merit in something like Jem and the Holograms (which too co-starred Juliette Lewis in a thankless role) for some of the same reasons I like this film (its depiction of how youth interact with and consume alternative and social media), so my barometer may be running at a different setting than many here, but I give this film a strong recommendation on the strength of its observations on technology and youth in 2016— if nothing else, I love the unacknowledged running joke in the film that all of the teenage characters are terrible parkers!

Colin and John Cope, I hope this one’s on your radar, I think it would be right up your alley. Everyone else, well, be more adventurous! Nerve is one of the best films of the year.


Top
 Profile  
 

 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2016
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:00 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
domino harvey wrote:
I readily believe everyone who made it knows exactly what they’re engaging with

Well they are, after all, the same team behind Catfish.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2016
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:01 am 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
Haha wow, I had no idea, but that's perfect!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
As a side note, when the wife and I watched this, the power went out just before the scene where Roberts first starts to explore the game. We have a battery backup so the movie didn't turn off right away, but it was beeping to warn us and our smoke alarms were sounding off and it all felt like part of the movie until we were abruptly left in complete darkness. Anyway, I highly recommend that people watch that part of the movie this way.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:38 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
They also worked on the only semi-interesting Paranormal Activity films.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:50 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am
a person one row in front of me on the other side of the aisle was watching this on the flight we took at thanksgiving. I kept noticing how visually fascinating and well told it was (without really watching it over her shoulder, just that whenever I looked up, the visual storytelling was coherent at conveying the story without me needing to hear any dialog), and I made a mental note to watch, rather than skip, that film, except I wasn't sure what it was called!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:29 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:48 am
I caught a free preview screening of this back in July, and I was also pleasantly surprised. My reaction very much mirrors yours, domino. As I left the theater, I definitely remember making a similar comment about this film capturing the current technological zeitgeist.
domino harvey wrote:
...the wonderful end credits, which form a time capsule of what the internet looked like in 2016.
I think this sums up what I find most valuable about this film. Just as with Unfriended, I think this film will only become more and more fascinating over the years as a preserved artifact of the aesthetic of internet culture in the mid-oughts. I recall the climax of Nerve being rather by-the-numbers (my memory of it is too fuzzy six months later to offer an erudite critique), but I imagine such inconsistencies will be easily glossed over in light of the film's other qualities.

In considering all the new films I saw in 2016, I totally forgot about this one, so thanks for the reminder!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Domino, have you seen Unfriended? Considering your reaction to this, it seems like it may be up your alley. Although it sounds like Nerve just sort of takes that to a natural next level, so Unfriended may be underwhelming in comparison at this point. But it's certainly got a brave way of trying to tell a story with technological relevance to our current era without making you cringe until your face falls off.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:39 pm 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
I haven't seen it, maybe one of these days I will! It is comforting to see such positive responses in this thread for Nerve, hopefully more curious parties seek it out

In other news, unbeknownst to me, Franco and Roberts already starred in an earlier depiction of voyeuristic audience interaction with media in this video for Cults' "Go Out" six years ago!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:00 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:32 pm
I was also pleasantly surprised by this when I saw it a couple months ago. I swear I thought to myself "domino must love this movie" but I neglected to post about it, glad it's getting some attention! I also need to check out Unfriended one of these days.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:46 pm 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
Russian teens may or may not be succumbing to the Blue Whale Game, an online social media challenge that ends in suicide


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:58 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
So the plot is Sono's Suicide Club?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:08 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:32 pm
Not sure if this belongs here or the new films in production thread but apparently Joost and Schulman are in final negotiations to write and direct the Mega Man movie. Given how much I enjoyed the neon visuals of Nerve I'm pretty excited to see what they do with a videogame adaptation like this.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:34 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am
Location: Berlin, Germany
I too enjoyed this, it basically is the Adventures in Babysitting for the social media age and I mean that as a compliment. I just wished the film had ended five minutes earlier.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:59 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm
Joost and Schulman also directed 'Viral' last year, which is a decent enough thriller about a parasitic contagion hitting a town, focussing on the relationship between two teenage sisters.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:55 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
"Please don't undress the mannequins"

Major spoilers:

This was a really good update of the old 'truth or dare?' game for the social media age, reminiscent of a Black Mirror episode at some points in the ways that it sort of captures the way that dignity, morality and even simple human decency can be (voluntarily) given up in slow incremental steps. That like gambling, things can be fun for a while until they're not anymore, but by that point its too late to turn back without losing face entirely. It captures that 'mission creep' of more or less fun hijinks towards more heinous actions, and eventually suggests that a lack of accountability for your actions is not the greatest liberation but perhaps the ultimate form of cowardice.

I particularly liked the early sections of the film which throw up lots of spiky and perhaps even unappealing characters to challenge the viewer (even to the extent of making the two main characters do very unappealing things, but in a way that doesn't feel too out of character. I especially like the moment of Vee bitching about Sydney to Ian during a quiet moment that feels both potentially manufactured by Ian and plays into Vee needing to vent! With it of course all getting streamed back to Sydney instantly!). The biggest example is the best friend Sydney who begins the film as an inveterate show off who intrudes into the main character's mooning over a guy to destroy her crush by flat out asking him out on her behalf (in some ways that, along with university application deadline bookend, is the 'old media' form of what is going on in the rest of the film. You can't live in a mushy fantasy world - you do it or don't; you are someone or no-one; you are either active or passive. You cannot be content having a crush that you don't act upon: you either get a boyfriend or strike out and move on. Life's too short to hang around being 'indecisive'! Which of course is something that doesn't acknowledge that indecisiveness can be a perfectly valid, and maybe enjoyable and motivational, state of being in itself!). But even she feels interestingly complex in the way that Vee's success forces her into having to do more reckless things (or more reckless than wandering around Time Square with a fart machine, scaring the tourists!) until she's also getting into potentially deadly situations. Sydney feels like a character who is trying to adjust to having been turned into a supporting character of her own life, so no wonder she reacts so badly to having her reason for being taken away from her over the course of just one night! Though trying to make out with the guy your friend had a crush on was perhaps inadvisable in immediately turning her into yet another doppleganger. Only to then have Vee get the dare to 'finish Sydney's dare' that she failed and immediately 'usurp' her again, in front of the viewing thousands!

That scene felt really tense as a viewer too because at least I wasn't sure whether that was Vee's breaking point for the entire game itself (after all she had walked out in shame in that earlier scene when Sydney had unthinkingly humiliated her in the café. But then of course that humilation inspired Vee to sign up for the game in the first place. Perhaps the entire film is about the way that female friends end up getting so annoyed by each other they end up doing reckless things in response!) or whether she would continue with the dare. I really like the way that scene was handled too, with the dare coming in partway through the fight between Vee and Sydney and then Vee kind of upping the aggression of the spat, at first maybe to vent but eventually seeming more as a way of sort of amping herself up for doing 'the walk'!

I especially liked the way that the new boyfriend Ian from the very first moment seems shifty and just using the main character as a pawn in his game, and that for the majority of the 'light, fun' part of the film it felt as if he didn't act as an autonomous character at all and just was a puppet being directed to the next task by his phone. That worked really well as a sort of satire about people ignoring their current surroundings and people they are with to focus on the insistent messages constantly coming from their phone all the time. And it also suggested someone so involved with the game that everything else was secondary, which gets interestingly turned into something a bit more sympathetic at around the moment when the game becomes revealed to be more nefarious than just stupid stunts (its like he gets humanised but at the expense of the wider community becoming the aggressor instead!)

I also really liked the handling of those early dares, which feel very much like quests in a video game. You get the easy things to ease you in, then more and more difficult tests until you reach the end or get a game over. The ramp up was well done to give Vee and Ian the opportunity at first to think around the problem and not immediately break the law by shoplifting when their clothes get stolen, even if that seems like the only option at first (But staying lawful means getting humiliated and ogled. Although immediately celebrated too, and the ogling was already happening either way, so why not embrace and enjoy the moment!). Then the tattoo scene comes up, which is where I would have checked out of the game! I do like that this ups the ante to being forced to have a permanent physical mark chosen by the other person who was a stranger just a few hours before, and that the film plays this as something much lighter than it really is. Its only pure luck that Vee ends up getting a sensitive partner in Ian who chooses just the right tattoo for her, that she loves! Both of those first two big dare situations could easily have played out much worse than they do. The film handles these scenes really well to keep things light and actually still 'empowering' for Vee in many ways (getting challenged to do silly pranks but ones that she sort of consents to and finds fun in the end) in pushing her to do things she would not have thought she would and have experiences that she never would have had, but with an undercurrent suggesting what might have happened if they'd shoplifted and got caught, or if Ian turned out not to be trustworthy and tattooed a big flaming skull on Vee's back! That likely wouldn't have mattered to any of the Nerve viewers and probably would have made the situation even more action packed and dramatic from the very start if that had happened! But the slow ramp up gives time for a budding romance to happen, and there even could be the suggestion that this might be the thing that pushed Vee and Ian towards the top of the leaderboard even more than any of their antics! Viewers might have been tiring of random people (like Sydney) just wanting to do pranks without any wider context and actually wanted to see a love story. Especially one with a potentially tragic ending! Which they get fulfilled, though with a twist! (I wonder if the ending of Series 7: The Contenders was in the filmmaker's minds with the arena stand-off finale)

Then of course we get to the blindfolded motorbiking through traffic scene which pushes beyond what Vee is consenting to or not (she's still just about into it at this stage!) and what the wider world is consenting to. All of those unwitting other drivers and pedestrians getting caught in the middle of a silly game which could so easily go wrong with terrible, fatal consequences. Ones which the innocent civilian and Vee and Ian would take the brunt of, as presumably nobody else would think to trace the cause of an accident back to a website! That sort of gets to the heart of what I find most interesting about the film - how much autonomy people have over their actions and who is taking control away from them. Is it more relaxing to have someone providing instructions, so the stress of wondering what to do, what to wear, where to go, and how fast you need to get there is out of your hands (very like playing a mission in Grand Theft Auto in some ways! Just moving around the city from checkpoint to checkpoint, occasionally with a timer ticking down). Or are there moments of feeling used but being unable to back down, even when your life and those of other innocent people are at stake?

Are the 'players' the mindless avatars doing the bidding of the 'watchers'? Who don't care if the players are having a particularly good or bad time of it, so long as they are being entertaining. (Which ties Nerve in with those Neveldine and Taylor films like Crank and Gamer, which are also in some ways about critiquing layers upon layers of imagery as much as they are about characters going on contextless rampages!) Or are the 'watchers' the passive losers trapped looking at these daring, and often beautiful, people doing larger than life things that they'd never have the nerve to do themselves? Or are both sides users and being used simultaneously? In a symbiotic relationship of needing to be seen and needing to see to give their lives some sort of sense of purpose. This is the part of the film that made me think a lot of David Fincher's The Game, though that was more a paranoid thriller while this is lighter in tone and more in the vein of a wild and rebellious night out turning unexpectedly coercive (a lot of the actions here: shoplifting, dangerous driving, getting a tattoo, going to a party and having a catfight, ending up doing something stupid that almost kills you - are sort of a heightened version of what I imagine a more outgoing person's average drunken Saturday night is like! Except without going for a curry at the end of it!)

And what happens when people start treating the real world as if it were a private playground, dragging unwitting innocent civilians unasked into the middle of a dangerous stunt. But is that so different than playing doing fart pranks in front of them Candid Camera-style? Or taking their photograph unasked? Or intruding on their privacy just because they're in a public space and therefore fair game for anything? I especially like the pointed CCTV shot in the middle of Vee and Ian's early escape from the store. Even if you're not filming yourself on your mobile to win the dare, at least the store has footage of you in your underwear racing through the lingerie section! Maybe they'll sell it to one of those 'Funniest Home Video' shows! And there are lots of other viewers all with their own cameraphones too, getting their own angle on the situation and putting their footage up on their profile to get views of their own from the situation.

All of this is playing out as a bit of fun on the surface but feels meant to be deeply disturbing just underneath. I particularly liked the way that as the film goes on the visual style gets more and more artificial and neon. Different parts of vehicles, as well as windows, even entire floors, of buildings themselves (even characters get their own glow by the end!) are lit in different artificial colours, turning the environment into a beautiful virtual cityscape mirroring the psychology of its players. Though one trying to transform the physical world rather than escaping from it into an entirely artificially created one, which is perhaps the only significant way that this differs from something like Ready Player One! (Both Nerve and Ready Player One interestingly situate their games as in some ways necessary for economic survival too, as much as for the more ephemeral escapism that they provide) Either way, someone has obviously seen Enter The Void!

Its also interesting to see this as a New York City film because you need that kind of densely packed together tech-savvy population to both watch and participate in the events, as well as a variety of different types of interesting pieces of infrastructure to play on and around and for there to be many different types of activities to do. You could probably only do something similar somewhere like Hong Kong or Tokyo. (Though I do wonder what could be done if the premise was spun out into a series Purge-style - Nerve: L.A.? Nerve: London? Nerve: Abu Dhabi? I'd suggest Nerve: Paris but Luc Besson got there decades ago with Subway, even down to the final fake out! Luc Besson feels like an influence in other areas too, particularly the heroine ending up in a classy dress then immediately betrayed and having to find an escape route, which feels very like a major scene in Nikita) But this feels sort of like a love letter to the city (Despite what the blindfold in a certain scene says! Though part of loving a city is occasionally hating it too!) with the way that our lead characters, and the viewer themselves, get taken on a tour of all of the sights! Plus being a paen to New York means that the final section where the film goes part Escape From New York and part The Warriors works well too, as the culmination of moving to a heightened plane of reality! Speaking of which, this film isn't one to watch if you are at all scared of heights! Its was strange to be wondering how some of the sequences in this film compare to The Walk!

And I do think its great to see as well as being amusingly subversive to have the epitome of 'badass rebel youth' of 90s cinema, Juliette Lewis, in there as the concerned mom figure, slightly befuddled and bewildered by these reckless kids always on their phones playing havoc with her bank account! While the film is from the perspective of Vee, who ends up having the night of her life (OK, so she gets punched in the face and sort of shot, but its not the end of the world), it is perhaps most understandable as a modern update of the usual parent's nightmare about what their kids are up to while out at night, off getting tattooed and even worse riding on motorcycles with boys! (Is it better or worse for the parent that now they can monitor their child's every movement through social media, click through the close ups of the tattoos on Instagram, and be helpless to do anything except join the viewers watching on impotently?)

(I also have a strange feeling that whenever someone here talks about finding films on the 'back channels' through 'that other forum', I'm now going to imagine it being like the version of the 'logging onto the dark web' scene here. Just instead of illegal drugs and weapons its all about the illicit thrill of sharing subtitles for the latest Jean Grémillon discovery!)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Cold Bishop, Google [Bot], rawlinson


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection