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New Adam Curtis documentary - Bitter Lake. ALSO new Adam Curtis doc 2020


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Really enjoyed the first one - the technique with soundtrack and old visuals never really fails to be very unsettling. There was a shot of people walking down corridors in a US building from the first person that felt like it lasted for minutes, then cut when you walked into the street and nothing was there - I have no clue why it was there but it felt really cool at the time.

 

Then my other half asked me what it was about when I said how good it was, 'er, elites, china, kenya, racists, Rachman, bankers, illuminati, Rand, AI' - for some reason its so hard to explain despite making a lot of sense at the time whilst watching it.

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5 hours ago, Gotters said:

Then my other half asked me what it was about when I said how good it was, 'er, elites, china, kenya, racists, Rachman, bankers, illuminati, Rand, AI' - for some reason its so hard to explain despite making a lot of sense at the time whilst watching it.

 

I had this experience too, I was asked 'What did I learn?' and all I could think of at the time was 'Mao's wife was a bit mad'. I'm 4 episodes in now and still none the wiser but loving the presentation of it. At times, it almost feels like a MetalGearSolid cutscene.

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23 hours ago, Simmy said:

Can anyone who's watched part one and taken something from it maybe spoiler their findings?

 

I'm 20 minutes in and like the other documentaries - nice to look at but absolute bobbins so far. Total absolute nonsense.

 

However, I'm interested if that's "it" or if you've taken something else from it? Oh apart from the soundtrack of course.

 

Worry less about what the 'point' of it all is and enjoy how fascinating each of the story threads are, the archive footage, and yes the music. The overall themes emerge from all that.

 

I'm 2 eps in and enjoying it immensely so far. A return to form for him.

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I finished this earlier. I enjoyed it for the most part, although my mind does start to wander off at times. Plus he has this ASMR voice that washes over me and his commentary often fails to sink in. I would also struggle to explain what the overriding theme was at times, but I think it gets a little better as you progress and stuff gets tied together.

Spoiler

It's interesting how he focused on Trump and Brexit and completely skirted around the whole rise of Corbyn, which I think is/was fairly noteworthy, but that's just me. I wonder if he's afraid he may come across too partisan. He did begin and end with a Graeber quote...

I liked how he mentioned how the liberals and Trump supporters in America both retreated into the conspiracy theories of Putin and Qanon respectively, positing it was because neither had any idea how to deal with society's problems.

I might have to watch it again...

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Honestly, I thought the Brexit / Trump part was some of the weakest material (along with some bobbins in the neural network bit). No mention of the stories that Thatcher / Murdoch weaved that played a huge part in the latter (especially since this was a central part of The Living Dead's The Attic episode) were conspicuous by their absence.

 

I would imagine that he views Corbyn as a resurfacing of the past rather than the third option that he leans towards in the last bit of the episode - wanting to grasp for something new instead. But again, no mention of Corbyn (or Sanders?) seemed a bit odd.

 

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Really enjoying this, just starting ep.6 now. I've found it pretty well structured, albeit with a bit of jumping between topics, but he always manages to cycle back around to a point or story that was raised previously.

 

There are also loads of interesting individual stories in there too. For instance the life of Michael de Freitas, was fascinating. I'd never heard of him before (although I had heard of his boss, Rachman). I found myself letting out a little gasp when his tale ended with the announcement that "he was hanged". I think it was that I got to see him in his life before, talking on camera about the things he believed in and wanted to achieve that made it feel like a shock. Same goes for Mao's wife, never knew that story.

 

What an excellent and enlightening series. Tops his previous stuff for me and I'm saying that as someone who thought Bitter Lake was the pinnacle of Adam Curtisness.

 

And the archive visuals and music choices are, as usual, fucking outstanding.

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My only complaint with this so far is he still does a lot of recapping between episodes, which would be suitable if it was a series going out weekly on BBC2, but not so much when it's an iPlayer only affair. Makes me wonder whether he'd originally hoped to get this out on broadcast but was shot down by BBC bosses.

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No I think the recaps are good, it's very easy to zone out in his docs, I think he's deliberately done it and I'm finding it easier to follow a a result.

 

The stuff about Michael X was fascinating, makes me wonder how many other figures undo their own work in their lifetimes and are forgotten about. 

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At lot of the majesty of Curtis' work is in making these initially disparate tales intertwine. I sit there half the time wondering how he's going to link a Notting Hill shitbag landlord with Mao's wife and Lee Harvey Oswald. And even when some parts wash over me or I don't quite get the point he's trying to make, I still come out of it all feeling a little bit informed and aware of historical events which I had prior known nothing of.  

 

I've watched the first two episodes with my wife. She's never seen any of his work before and isn't as aware of some of the topics he covers as I am, but she's (seemingly) enjoyed and been intrigued by it all. 

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2 episodes in, enjoying it so far. It's the usual mix of mesmerizing imagery and music combined with sometimes tenuously linked figures/stories from political and psychological history who have impacted the modern era. TBH it's a little bit funny that he's going after conspiracy theorists. I mean the idea that the Mafia or Cuban dissidents maybe had a hand in the JFK assassination is less outlandish than some of the stuff Curtis purports to be fact in his work!

 

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This is definitely one of those things where when you're watching it you feel a bit lost with all the seemingly unrelated strands being woven together, yet I'm sure once it's over and you begin to digest it all it'll make a lot more sense, even if it's difficult to articulate. 

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As always with his films, really need to watch it again with Shazam at hand. The guy must have an encyclopaedic knowledge of music, and I always love his choices. Just started listening to This Mortal Coil, as he cites them as one of his favourites in an interview I read.

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25 minutes ago, Pete said:

I think this is his best since The Century of Self, loved every second.

That’s one of the few of his I haven’t seen. Just downloaded episode one from Sky.

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I built a thing.

 

But This Was A Fantasy: An Adam Curtis Search Engine

 

Type in a query (e.g. 'Tony Blair', 'a woman looking out of a car', 'Britain in the 1960s'), and via the amazing power of The Machine, you'll get five images that it thinks matches the query.

 

(there are a few issues: I've only encoded the most recent series so far, and if it finds something it really likes, it'll mainly show frames from around that timecode, but considering I knocked the main functionality out on a Monday evening, it's not too bad)

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Finished CGYOOMH last night, amazing, I had it all tied together, the grand narratives being nothing but conspiracy theories, systems that try to be stable but get corrupted, individualism versus collectivism and more! But now I've forgotten it all because I was slightly blazed so I need to watch it all again. I re-watched hypernormalisation prior to this and this feels like the same theories just more played out, with also the last 4 years giving some greater perspective on recent events and benefiting from the longer run time. I also liked the individual stories, Mao's wife for example was very interesting (sorry I forgot her name), Michael X was amazing because I watched the film Bank Job (2008) with Jason Statham just in the last year and he was in that but I thought he was a fictional character or at least was highly fictionalised but it turns out his story was real! Anyway a really great series with much to ponder, i will be rewatching.

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So amazingly I have never seen any of these outside of a few clips. 

 

Me and my son started watching Century of Self and we enjoyed the first episode so will watch the rest. 

 

What would you recommend after that or what are the 'best ones'? Something a bit more modern (for the boy) might be good. 

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The Mayfair Set is my favourite of all his work, but I'm biased towards the 'weird things going on in late 60s/70s Britain' angle. The Trap and The Power of Nightmares are a good pair to watch together to explain the neo-conservatives, and I'm also fond of the first part of All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, which caused a lot of tech Twitter to turn against him when it was first broadcast. That's 2011, so relatively recent!

 

(I also am partial to the Inside Story on the fall of Barings Bank - it's very funny in places)

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