3rd January 2012

Yes, yes, my penchant for alliteration continues unabated into the new year…. And yes, all three of the aforementioned films have titles that begin with the letter ‘M’, but they also share an exploration of the end of worlds, both metaphorically (Moneyball and Margin Call) and literally (Melancholia).

MONEYBALL (one of the year’s best films in my view) deals with the end of an old intuitively driven system of scouting for baseball players as a new more abstract, stats driven system comes into being. Like the joining of Pathos and Logos, one could argue that the best systems combine both approaches, however, when Pathos runs rampant, it’s always great fun to watch Logos come in and take over. There’s something strangely comforting about abstract systems with strict rules that avoid ambiguity. Math anyone? This is of course, coming from a total Math retard, which is perhaps, another reason why I’m fascinated by stats nerds and baseball. After all, I’m Pathos personified, always in desperate need of a little Logos.

So, what happens when the abstract system breaks down? MARGIN CALL examines one such system in free-fall, as investment banking and market play provide the backdrop for the drama. I found both films uplifting, since I love it when old systems give way to new, even if the process of change leads to a hell of a shit storm… For my money, MARGIN CALL is one of this year’s best films, an excellent directorial debute and well worth catching at the cinema.

So what do you do if everyone refuses to change? Welp, I say just end it all. Which leads us to Von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA. I like my end of the world pics to well, end… That is, with total destruction and annihilation since survivors in a fucked up landscape of radiation and ash is just too depressing. DOCTOR STRANGE LOVE still has the best world ending scene ever (exploding bombs and Vera Lynn…perfect) but MELANCHOLIA comes in a close second. Of course the film is flawed, a little slow, slightly ridiculous and melodramatic at the start, but beautifully shot and gives TREE OF LIFE a run for its money in the cinematography stakes. Plus, the world TOTALLY ends, with no survivors, no alien saviours (KNOWING…), and no silly armoured arcs (2012…).

So, as we careen forward towards the end of the Mayan calender, here’s to many of our old and outworn systems giving way to something new, and if not, hopefully the true end will be quick and painless with no survivors and no zombies.