Tag Archives: violence

Bronson (2008)

But violence does not consist so much in injuring and annihilating persons as in interrupting their continuity, making them play roles in which they no longer recognize themselves…

Emmanual Levinas, Preface to Totality and Infinity (trans. Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1969).

For the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, the foundation of violence is the reduction of the Other to the Self. In other words, violence turns another person into what you make of them; it is the exercise of power to subjugate another’s freedom to your wishes. And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen violence so eloquently portrayed as the final scene of Bronson.

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

new-wolf-of-wall-street-trailer-leonardo-dicaprio-is-the-wealthiest-stockbroker-in-the-world

Scorsese has been telling this story for years: Goodfellas, Gangs of New York–and now–The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a story about a dream, an American dream, and the people who try to remove the roadblocks to attaining it. Scorsese has never been an idealist; his character’s don’t achieve success and its trappings by birth or any sort of entitlement. Rather, his films are crime films for a reason: success cannot always be had by peaceful means. Scorsese’s protagonists are often endearing Nietzscheans, endearing not only for clever personalities and determination of spirit, but because of their humanism–their desire to see their deserving, overlooked friends achieve success alongside them. In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belford becomes a Messiah to his “wolf-pit” of young, ex-working class yuppies. Scorsese, in my opinion, masterfully manages to arouse a measure of sympathy for Belford (particularly through breaking of the fourth wall) despite Belford’s constantly deplorable actions. A large part of this sympathy, too, is grounded in the “underdog” nature of the blue-collar salesmen which Belford surrounds himself with. Can they be faulted for visions of the American dream? Continue reading

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