Tracker Pixel for Entry

Deadly Clicks in Levinson’s “Assassination Nation”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | September 26th, 2018

Slipping and sliding through its blood-soaked climax, “Assassination Nation” attempts to reconcile the lurid and exploitative embrace of its milieu with an in-your-face polemic on the modern hellscape of rape culture and toxic masculinity. As channeled through the hypersexualized noise of social media (where everyone can be a “star” or cultivate a personal “brand”) as well as the private-until-they’re-not exchanges of person-to-person text messages, writer-director Sam Levinson’s provocative, profanity-laced roller coaster is an acquired taste.

Writing in “The New York Times,” Bruce Fretts described the trailer for “Nation” as “the demon spawn of ‘Heathers’ and ‘The Purge,’” a perfect logline nailing the film’s penchant for quasi-teenspeak among its central quartet of high school hipsters and the allegorical but blunted home invasion bullet festival that dominates the late stages. Odessa Young is Lily Colson, the central protagonist among a wolfpack of frustratingly underdeveloped characters deserving of much more than what’s provided by Levinson to play (more Hari Nef, please).

Coincidentally, the fellow Sundance premiere “Eighth Grade” shares several core thematic concerns questioning the effects of the less savory aspects of internet culture on young people (particularly young women). Even though the two movies could not be more dissimilar in terms of tone and genre, their shared moment in time points toward the inevitability of even more stories utilizing the subject of the digital realm to ask questions about the ways in which we have been, and are being, transformed by living online. Familiar subjects, from cyberbullying to identity construction, are here. Levinson’s use of doxxing as a plot vehicle is also not new, but turns out to be the filmmaker’s most effective device.

Can a movie that literally wears its male gaze on its sleeve (along with a number of other trigger warnings boldly stated in Godardian titles of red, white, and blue) offer a convincing message of empowerment? Are feminism and screen exploitation mutually exclusive, particularly if filtered through a masculinist lens? Katie Walsh’s “Los Angeles Times” review takes the position that “Nation” fails, citing red flags like the way the cinematography establishes a “leering gaze directed at the girls’ nubile bods, [that takes] much delight in wringing every sexy moment out of attacking young women, shooting scenes of violence that are gratuitously pornographic.” Unsparingly, Walsh also rips Levinson (“Dude really tried to mansplain the virgin/whore paradigm”) and blasts the film’s attempt to decry sexual objectification while objectifying.

It might be a stretch to imagine that “Assassination Nation” will enjoy the same kind of cult longevity as the smarter, funnier, and more subversive “Heathers” a quarter century or more down the road. But Sarah Kurchak wisely reminds readers in her honest, mixed “Consequence of Sound” review that different generations and demographics naturally view texts through the standpoints of unique levels of age and experience. She cites, for example, how the forgettable and critically dismissed “Jawbreaker” “was embraced by a younger audience... hungry for something sloppy, weird, and improper that we could grapple with on our own messy and increasingly complex terms.” Maybe the kids catching “Assassination Nation” today will experience a similar reaction.

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Two bills are fighting for ethical supremacy in the North Dakota State Legislature. Senate Bill 2148, sponsored by Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat from Fargo, received a ‘Do Pass’ from Special Ethics Committee on…

Culture

​‘Pull-Tab’ machines

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comThere is nothing more hopeless than a feeling unrequited. The obsession it brings, the doubt it stews, and the madness which erases your sense of self are crippling. You’ll give more than you are…

Thursday, February 21, 5:30-8:30 p.m.650 40th Ave S, West FargoThe area’s premier evening of Yoga, wine, cheese and community. Luna Fargo restaurant owner and wine/cheese expert, Nikki Berglund, will select 3 pairings to follow…

It will be Valentine’s Day by the time this issue hits the stands, but who knows you might even be picking it up after you’ve finished eating the last of the chocolates you bought for yourself for Valentine’s Day.We’re not…

Gadfly

Anti-Life America

by Ed Raymond

All The Evidence Points To An Anti-Life Political PartyAfter observing and experiencing the machinations and voting records of the Republican Party from Nixon to Reagan To Bush To Trump, one can arrive at only one conclusion: It is…

After a day of checking the weather updates and keeping an eye on any closing announcements from this week’s entrants, our judges ordered up a ride share service and headed out to the western side of town for two stops in West…

Over the past few years Luna has become my favorite restaurant in the FM area. The thoughtfulness of Ryan’s creations and the neighborhood environment of the locale as a whole creates a beautiful experience that can’t be found…

Music

​Ready or Knot

by HPR Contributor

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comWhen Sabrina gets a hold of you and asks you to interview a band as unique as Fargo locals The Knotties you just yell “yes!” Only a few days later I was meeting with Channing Minnema (lead vocals,…

Documentarian Penny Lane adds another entertaining movie to her filmography with an inside look at the recent rise of the Satanic Temple. As a movie experience, “Hail Satan?” often lives deliciously. The film might even turn…

By Jacinta Zensjacinta.zens@gmail.comThe Department of Visual Arts at Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls and the Kaddatz Galleries are excited to announce the First Annual Visiting Artists Workshop series.…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

The 1,290 square-foot garage that was once Main Avenue Auto has generated a lot of buzz for good reason. Harold’s on Main is Moorhead’s newest watering hole and the attention is all in the details. With its dark wood paneling,…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Cara Cody-Brauncara.braun@wyndmereschools.orgI am not much of a science fiction fan, but I’m a sucker for a story with a portal. Who hasn’t dreamed of entering a different world? Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole in…