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:

News

​Man and the moon

by C.S. Hagen

VALLEY CITY – Lowell Busching shuffled into The Vault, pointed to the staff-less counter featuring self-serve sandwiches, Kuchen, and coffee before launching into a history of the building, once a bank. Books and magazines are…

You probably won’t be connecting an Ethernet cable to your smartphone anytime soon. But it’s usually worth running Ethernet cables to the devices that matter, if you can—gaming and media PCs (or consoles), backup devices, and…

Thursday, July 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.Zandbroz, 420 N Broadway, FargoAuthor Sarah Coomber will be making an appearance at Zandbroz for a reading and signing of her recently released memoir, "The Same Moon." Recently wed and soon…

It’s no secret Theodore Roosevelt loved North Dakota. It’s also no secret North Dakotans love Teddy. He left us with a legendary legacy and it’s no wonder that the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be in the…

Gadfly

​Freedom???

by Ed Raymond

There Seems To Be A Lot Of Confusion About What Freedom Is!At a recent conference of the evangelical Christian’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Chairman Ralph Reed, long a hard worker for the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell, had…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

By Teresa Farrelltara.Ekren@essentiahealth.orgLove it or hate it, it’s rhubarb season! Rhubarb brings back good memories for me.Growing up on the family farm, my siblings and I would head outside with a bowl of sugar, snap off…

High Plains Reader had the opportunity to catch up with Sarah Shook, front woman of the North Carolina based punk country band Sarah Shook and the Disarmers. We had a chance to talk about life and love from the road, where she…

Legendary British skipper Tracy Edwards, who in 1989 led the first all-female crew of sailors to compete in the tough-as-nails, 33,000-mile Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, makes for a convincing heroine in filmmaker Alex…

Arts

‘Local American epics’

by Sabrina Hornung

The US Postal Service recently released a set of stamps celebrating the New Deal era post office murals that were federally commissioned during the Roosevelt administration, though the mural that graces the walls of the New…

The annual mainstage summer musical, produced by Trollwood Performing Arts School and sponsored by Bell Bank, opens Thursday, July 11. This year’s performance is Disney’s “Freaky Friday.” Trollwood Performing Arts…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

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…

Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights…The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty, property, security, and…