‘The New Americans: Gaming A Revolution’ review: Ondi Timoner’s provocative doc gives insight into the world ahead – SXSW

‘The New Americans: Gaming A Revolution’ review: Ondi Timoner’s provocative doc gives insight into the world ahead – SXSW

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Want to feel old? Contrary to popular portrayals of millennial youth as disenfranchised, politically irresponsible, and idle, this eye-opening documentary might be the bazooka needed to shatter all those comfortable assumptions. Ondi Timoner’s latest work is therefore topical, it was created almost exactly when the collapse of SVB made international news, and while that particular eventuality is not foreseen here, it will not take lots of post-festival tweaks to bring your film up to date.

After last year Last return flight, an emotionally intense yet beautifully calibrated meditation on her father’s right to assisted suicide, Timoner returns to her forte, which is an uncanny ability to divine the vicissitudes of pop culture while embedding herself in it while she performs. . With awards season a year away, it’s hard to say whether the immediate relevance of The New Americans will make the course last, given what just happened with Laura Poitras’ surefire winner in the span of six months. But the world Timoner discovers here isn’t going to change any time soon.

After a shockingly straightforward opening, using garish, lo-fi game visuals in a way that will more than pay off in the end, the film opens with a snippet of an interview with Jordan Belfort, the original Wolf of Wall Street. . It will shortly follow comments from the infamous Anthony Scaramucci, who spent six days in the White House as Donald Trump’s communications director. And when you suddenly realize these two might actually be the voices of reason — especially later, when The Mooch says, “How crazy can you handle?” – you come from have be careful.

Belfort makes a very good point early on, saying that the United States as we know it was founded by settlers on the run from reality, noting that one of the key factors of the “American Dream” is that ” if you fail, they let you start over. Like a video game, in fact, and Belfort’s comment unknowingly reflects what is about to become the main thesis of the film, which is that the influence of gaming culture has destroyed the boundaries between the physical world and the digital world. And in this regard, The New Americans may be the first post-pandemic film that reflects the true way the Covid-19 lockdown has impacted American culture, giving not only context to the collapse of the SVB but also to the January 6 insurrection – both resulting directly or indirectly from communities formed in isolation.

For a more in-depth history of American financial institutions, Michael Moore’s 2009 film Capitalism: a love story is a very good and surprisingly non-partisan introduction. The New Americans is all about the present, especially with the recent rise of “retail traders” – ordinary people who work the stock market using information from websites like Wall Street Bets and Robinhood. This subculture gained momentum two years ago when the stock price of GameStop, a high street electronics store, became a thing, although a minor issue is that even this movie accessible and airy explains to the layman how This work.

It takes some getting used to, with lots of cartoonish CG visuals and, more importantly, memes that, at first glance, appear to be there as a mild relief, a funny sort of stopgap. But to quote Marshall McLuhan, the visionary Canadian philosopher who has become somewhat forgotten since the things he predicted came to pass rather strikingly, the medium here really East the message. We are exactly where we are now because of the balkanization of the way we consume information, where a tweet can hit as hard as a headline. It also contains a lot of information about cryptocurrency, its strength and fallibility, in a surprisingly human way, and now playing with SVB.

No one knows how we are going to deal with all of this. But what’s comforting about this sometimes overwhelming flood of information is that, as she always has been, Timoner is ahead of you and just as alert and open to the questions her film raises as you are. Also the music is great.

Title: The new Americans: the game, a revolution
Director: Ondi Timoner
Operating time: 1h42

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