The Young Pope & The New Pope

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Mr Sausage
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The Young Pope

#26 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:48 am

SPOILER PERIOD ENDS MONDAY, February 10th.

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, February 17th.

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#27 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:50 am

I would recommend having two weeks for people to watch the whole series and then talk about it in the remaining two weeks, as opposed to a schedule. Because it is a ten hour movie more than it is a TV show, it doesn't lend itself to conventional television episode discussion, though it could of course still be done this way. I just think it would be easier and more fruitful to watch as a whole and then discuss as a whole, especially given the nature of the final product

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#28 Post by knives » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:12 am

Yeah, a lot of the themes of the film aren't coherently expressed until about episode seven or so. Especially if this is just the first or second Sorrentino for someone picking up on the scope of the film might be hard.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#29 Post by Glowingwabbit » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:19 am

knives wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:12 am
Yeah, a lot of the themes of the film aren't coherently expressed until about episode seven or so. Especially if this is just the first or second Sorrentino for someone picking up on the scope of the film might be hard.
Which Sorrentino films would you recommend seeing before diving into this? I haven't seen anything by him.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#30 Post by knives » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:35 am

This probably has the most in common with Consequences of Love or The Family Friend in terms of how it deals with concepts of goodness and the power of the mundane. My favorite, Il Divo, also provides a good contrast by having it's austere lead be representative of evil rather than a black variation of good.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#31 Post by Glowingwabbit » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:43 am

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll start with those first.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#32 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:59 am

Ok, so it sounds like this’ll work better as a conventional Film Club discussion thread. I’m ok with that as well.

What does everyone else think? Should we just do it that way?

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#33 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:34 pm

Glowingwabbit wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:19 am
knives wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:12 am
Yeah, a lot of the themes of the film aren't coherently expressed until about episode seven or so. Especially if this is just the first or second Sorrentino for someone picking up on the scope of the film might be hard.
Which Sorrentino films would you recommend seeing before diving into this? I haven't seen anything by him.
I don’t think it’s necessary to watch any Sorrentino before this tbh. I’m hot and cold on his other work but this is a masterpiece and even if there are some similarities it’s just so wildly different, and being prepared for something esoteric is good enough. To put it another way: You have a better chance of turning yourself off from this by watching his other stuff I think than you do of giving yourself a better platform to access this, so it seems more worth it to watch this and then if you like it check out his other work, but that’s just my opinion

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#34 Post by knives » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:39 pm

Out of curiosity what did you find esoteric about the film? I thought it was rather plain speaking.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#35 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:45 pm

I say just start the thread but in contrast to the usual spoiler policy here, if anyone is discussing something spoilerish, it should be tagged as follows:
Episode 10Show
It was all a dream

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#36 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:59 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:39 pm
Out of curiosity what did you find esoteric about the film? I thought it was rather plain speaking.
AllShow
I thought it was set up to be about an offbeat pope shaking things up and turned out to be about themes and layers of humanity some of which can be described as some that can’t. There’s grappling with not just one’s faith (in a higher power, in mankind, in oneself) but also using a specific platform of being a saint and the responsibility and power that comes with that. I don’t think the film is as clear as it appears - there is a social conditioning of his parents being hippies that could affect his right wing politics but there’s also his innate abilities coupled with the Pascal’s wager that chooses biblical literalism for this safe stance because of the unknowability of god even to his ‘favorite child’ in a saint, that adds another parent he is afraid and devoted to but even conflicted about that - his intentions and psychology not even effable to himself. The film is full of behavior and choices that cannot be easily explained or chalked up to point A to B psychology (his parents left him so therefore...) and I admire the film for omitting any clear path while populating the atmosphere with so many complex ideas that we drown just as Law does in his own clouded conflicts and we are forced into a spiritual experience as a result, and allow ourselves to take his with him when we get on his level, only after looking at him with awe as he seemingly takes his while we still figure him out.

In essence we play the skeptic and the believer, we feel distanced from Law and judge him like god and we join him and feel humbled by his humanity. We get to have all the experiences of life with this film in psychological and spiritual space as a canvas for our own journeys and a mirror to reflect us to that point.

So while I think there are some aspects that may be more comfortable than for others to sit through the film ultimately destroys convention and comfort for the viewer as a sacrificial lamb for spiritual awakening and isn’t afraid to leave most content intangible. But on a surface level I think it’s challenging for a lot of people to access something emotionally about a ultra religious right wing saint sans explanation for x amount of hours. I too thought this was pretty comfortable to see because it aligns with my own perspective of complicated anthropology and acceptance in life’s mysteries, but I’ve recommended this to too many people who did not to deny its general esotericism.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#37 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:17 pm

swo17 wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:45 pm
I say just start the thread but in contrast to the usual spoiler policy here, if anyone is discussing something spoilerish, it should be tagged as follows:
Episode 10Show
It was all a dream
AllShow
My favorite part was def when Jude Law was reading Word Up! magazine

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#38 Post by knives » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:03 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:59 pm
knives wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:39 pm
Out of curiosity what did you find esoteric about the film? I thought it was rather plain speaking.
AllShow
I thought it was set up to be about an offbeat pope shaking things up and turned out to be about themes and layers of humanity some of which can be described as some that can’t. There’s grappling with not just one’s faith (in a higher power, in mankind, in oneself) but also using a specific platform of being a saint and the responsibility and power that comes with that. I don’t think the film is as clear as it appears - there is a social conditioning of his parents being hippies that could affect his right wing politics but there’s also his innate abilities coupled with the Pascal’s wager that chooses biblical literalism for this safe stance because of the unknowability of god even to his ‘favorite child’ in a saint, that adds another parent he is afraid and devoted to but even conflicted about that - his intentions and psychology not even effable to himself. The film is full of behavior and choices that cannot be easily explained or chalked up to point A to B psychology (his parents left him so therefore...) and I admire the film for omitting any clear path while populating the atmosphere with so many complex ideas that we drown just as Law does in his own clouded conflicts and we are forced into a spiritual experience as a result, and allow ourselves to take his with him when we get on his level, only after looking at him with awe as he seemingly takes his while we still figure him out.

In essence we play the skeptic and the believer, we feel distanced from Law and judge him like god and we join him and feel humbled by his humanity. We get to have all the experiences of life with this film in psychological and spiritual space as a canvas for our own journeys and a mirror to reflect us to that point.

So while I think there are some aspects that may be more comfortable than for others to sit through the film ultimately destroys convention and comfort for the viewer as a sacrificial lamb for spiritual awakening and isn’t afraid to leave most content intangible. But on a surface level I think it’s challenging for a lot of people to access something emotionally about a ultra religious right wing saint sans explanation for x amount of hours. I too thought this was pretty comfortable to see because it aligns with my own perspective of complicated anthropology and acceptance in life’s mysteries, but I’ve recommended this to too many people who did not to deny its general esotericism.
Pardon what is perhaps obvious, but it sounds more like the film didn't fit your expectations rather than it necessarily being esoteric towards those intentions. What you describe the film as being, and I basically agree, is very well articulated by the film in an explicit way that I wouldn't call the handling esoteric. Perhaps then you mean the subject itself, but I'm not sure I would agree. It's certainly shocking that Sorrentino would turn his idea of power as mundane towards his gods, but a daring application as well isn't esoteric. That theme though, which is his central one and a large part of why I'd argue him with Denis as our best active filmmaker, has become something all folk speak on at least since Arthur Miller.

As for stuff like the parents and handling of psychology. Well, that's just good storytelling to me and doesn't make it esoteric. The film is not a psychological film so the lack of psychological inquest isn't evidence of anything. The approach to characterization seems more informed by archetypal exploration. There's a curiosity about what an old fashioned black pope would be like today. That those archetypes become more than that is more a comment on the quality of characterization, and also sense of humour especially with Diane Keaton, rather than proof of the film having limited audience potential for understanding. The behaviors when looked at through that lens thus become very easy to explain (especially on rewatch with narrative well known) to the extent I cannot conceive of one action that is left open by the end of the film.

Then again I don't even look at his with awe which may be our stepping apart point. I also don't see anything which 'destroys convention' which is perfectly okay. A great work does not need to be a radical one. As to your last point, I actually assume not. Most people probably feel more comfortable with Law's character and if anything discomforts it's some of the more unusual visuals like the kangaroo. While I haven't seen it yet it sounds like the sequel deals directly with this as a number of online reviews seem to take that as blasphemous while this one as just bizarre in a modern way. Perhaps, and I'm assuming here your milieu given that you are a doctor living in the Boston area, but perhaps the off putting nature for your friends is more reflective of American, urban, liberal perspectives rather than something universal to the whole of American culture.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#39 Post by senseabove » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:31 pm

I have every intention of participating, though I confess that I'm terrible at ginning up a response if I don't already feel compelled to write something out and/or don't find that compulsion coincides with the time to do so—as unfortunately evidenced by a few other times I've voted and watched for and never written in these threads...

Unfortunately this is also coinciding with a local film festival that starts Friday, which I'll be attending in toto, which means I pretty much won't be watching anything else for the next week and a half... And I started La Flor last night, so I likely won't even have the time to get a head start. So for entirely selfish reasons, I vote for an unscheduled two weeks to watch, just because if we start this week or next, I won't get around to it until the end of the window anyway.

And FWIW, I'm also going in blind regarding Sorrentino.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#40 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:33 pm

I have yet to see any other Sorrentino films and it didn’t stop me from thinking this was one of the great films of the modern era. Perhaps seeing more would add to / color my appreciation, but it didn’t dampen it

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#41 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:49 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:03 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:59 pm
knives wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:39 pm
Out of curiosity what did you find esoteric about the film? I thought it was rather plain speaking.
AllShow
I thought it was set up to be about an offbeat pope shaking things up and turned out to be about themes and layers of humanity some of which can be described as some that can’t. There’s grappling with not just one’s faith (in a higher power, in mankind, in oneself) but also using a specific platform of being a saint and the responsibility and power that comes with that. I don’t think the film is as clear as it appears - there is a social conditioning of his parents being hippies that could affect his right wing politics but there’s also his innate abilities coupled with the Pascal’s wager that chooses biblical literalism for this safe stance because of the unknowability of god even to his ‘favorite child’ in a saint, that adds another parent he is afraid and devoted to but even conflicted about that - his intentions and psychology not even effable to himself. The film is full of behavior and choices that cannot be easily explained or chalked up to point A to B psychology (his parents left him so therefore...) and I admire the film for omitting any clear path while populating the atmosphere with so many complex ideas that we drown just as Law does in his own clouded conflicts and we are forced into a spiritual experience as a result, and allow ourselves to take his with him when we get on his level, only after looking at him with awe as he seemingly takes his while we still figure him out.

In essence we play the skeptic and the believer, we feel distanced from Law and judge him like god and we join him and feel humbled by his humanity. We get to have all the experiences of life with this film in psychological and spiritual space as a canvas for our own journeys and a mirror to reflect us to that point.

So while I think there are some aspects that may be more comfortable than for others to sit through the film ultimately destroys convention and comfort for the viewer as a sacrificial lamb for spiritual awakening and isn’t afraid to leave most content intangible. But on a surface level I think it’s challenging for a lot of people to access something emotionally about a ultra religious right wing saint sans explanation for x amount of hours. I too thought this was pretty comfortable to see because it aligns with my own perspective of complicated anthropology and acceptance in life’s mysteries, but I’ve recommended this to too many people who did not to deny its general esotericism.
Pardon what is perhaps obvious, but it sounds more like the film didn't fit your expectations rather than it necessarily being esoteric towards those intentions. What you describe the film as being, and I basically agree, is very well articulated by the film in an explicit way that I wouldn't call the handling esoteric. Perhaps then you mean the subject itself, but I'm not sure I would agree. It's certainly shocking that Sorrentino would turn his idea of power as mundane towards his gods, but a daring application as well isn't esoteric. That theme though, which is his central one and a large part of why I'd argue him with Denis as our best active filmmaker, has become something all folk speak on at least since Arthur Miller.

As for stuff like the parents and handling of psychology. Well, that's just good storytelling to me and doesn't make it esoteric. The film is not a psychological film so the lack of psychological inquest isn't evidence of anything. The approach to characterization seems more informed by archetypal exploration. There's a curiosity about what an old fashioned black pope would be like today. That those archetypes become more than that is more a comment on the quality of characterization, and also sense of humour especially with Diane Keaton, rather than proof of the film having limited audience potential for understanding. The behaviors when looked at through that lens thus become very easy to explain (especially on rewatch with narrative well known) to the extent I cannot conceive of one action that is left open by the end of the film.

Then again I don't even look at his with awe which may be our stepping apart point. I also don't see anything which 'destroys convention' which is perfectly okay. A great work does not need to be a radical one. As to your last point, I actually assume not. Most people probably feel more comfortable with Law's character and if anything discomforts it's some of the more unusual visuals like the kangaroo. While I haven't seen it yet it sounds like the sequel deals directly with this as a number of online reviews seem to take that as blasphemous while this one as just bizarre in a modern way. Perhaps, and I'm assuming here your milieu given that you are a doctor living in the Boston area, but perhaps the off putting nature for your friends is more reflective of American, urban, liberal perspectives rather than something universal to the whole of American culture.
Well first of all, I’m not a doctor but a social worker so on the opposite spectrum of the research sphere toward direct clinical work, but I get your point about social context even if I’ll disagree and say that the majority of Americans I believe want a more simplified story than this with less grey space to have a relationship that challenges and/or flexes their faith. I generally believe the principles in most modern therapies like MI that abide by the idea that people more than anything are uncomfortable with change and often go to any lengths to squash discomfort especially that which challenges their beliefs, so I see this as a dangerous show for some depending on what they bring into it or how they process their own selves while watching it.

I’m also not suggesting this is esoteric like an experimental film. Yes it has humor and characterization that leads to typical growth patterns and audience comprehension, but I think we disagree on the psychology. I think this is a very psychological film insofar as it lays bare how cognitive processes are the most significant tool we use as human beings (it’s the most tangible) and so it’s the primary barrier and avenue by which we bring ourselves to access the spiritual (the last part often through surrender). I agree that the show is relatable, for who hasn’t wrestled with their own faith often with logic and skepticism and personal history- and I’m not so much saying that audiences have limited potential for understanding but yes the subject itself and the handling of it will provoke these intangible spaces sans answer and force audiences to sit with their own experience in ways that I think the majority of people find uncomfortable. The show is straightforward in many ways but where we divide is not on whether Arthur Miller and co have worked with these concepts, but in the audience’s relationship to the content on screen and the therapeutic process and spiritual experiences had as a result. If that’s not your experience that’s fine, but it was mine and even if it did defy my initial expectations, the places this goes requires a leap of faith I don’t see the average HBO audience passively enjoying with popcorn and a soda. I should also have clarified that I don’t mean that people I’ve recommended the show to were “uncomfortable” in the sense that they didn’t like the show or found it to be too overwhelming but that they (mostly atheists, perhaps worth noting) felt it provoked a spiritual connection that was unexpected and that they didn’t know what to make of because it wasn’t tangible or didactic, which yes may be what many Americans are looking for so it could be an American thing but I struggle to see how this show is broadly accessible. I think it’s more accessible if you’re open-minded enough to resign your beliefs at the door and accept an agnostic perspective for what this is offering to help your relationship with said beliefs become dynamic and shape your own identity, and maybe it’s my social context but I‘d take the casino odds against the average Adam Sandler Netflix/GoT HBO audience being up for that task. I think people here mostly will be though, and that’s what I meant my esoteric: unexpected, layered beyond what’s presented, and accessible in multiple ways on as many levels as the audience sheds rigidity to access.
Last edited by therewillbeblus on Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#42 Post by knives » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:50 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:33 pm
I have yet to see any other Sorrentino films and it didn’t stop me from thinking this was one of the great films of the modern era. Perhaps seeing more would add to / color my appreciation, but it didn’t dampen it
My comment wasn't intended to be such an auteurist flurry. Just a statement that it might take a second more to gather the film's intentions without knowing a pre-existing pattern. I doubt that second would dampen anyone's enjoyment of this excellent series.

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Re: The Young Pope Project suggestion thread.

#43 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:55 pm

Just a few minutes into the first episode and I’m already noticing some evidence to support the anomalous path to audience engagement that I could see sending people heading for the hills depending on how they meet the material:
Episode 1Show
The idea of being in harmony with god only by being harmony in life should seem to be pleasing but it’s all a ruse of a dream - and the abrasive ideas Law spouts at the crowd consisting of some progressive in step with many audiences viewing, but also some questionable, and downright uncomfortable. This alone suggests the difficulty in assignment of the audience to what kind of faith, politics, or leader would be comfortable and forces a confrontation of potential dissonance across concrete lines of liberalism into a space of flexibility. This mirror is one of the many that occur throughout this film that cause this intense confrontation with the self for the individual viewer, and I guess that’s the kind of density of ideas along with the vagueness of what is depicted onscreen as a canvas to elicit that subjective response that I meant by my comments.
There is a lot to be said for the beats this hits that are universally enjoyable with one stream of clear narrative (even if there are infinite depths beneath) so I don’t think this is wholly “esoteric” by way of something like Inland Empire but the accessibility exists for me on a level where the psychological and spiritual meet for the unique individual in ways I don’t think there is a popular interest in or an ability to without at least partially surrendering one’s own burned in conceptions of faith, which I don’t think is easy for most.
Episode 2Show
Lenny’s ‘humility’ in refusing to be photographed has always inspired the internal argument I think about often between humility as a subconscious facade for narcissism as the ultimate irony. Take the twin towers survivor who declares they couldn’t have survived without god’s intervention, or the alcoholic who doesn’t believe they could get themselves sober and gives credit to god watching out for them- even if that dismissal of agency is intended to diffuse credit, it carries an implication that they are some of the select few specials who have a relationship with god. Lenny’s refusal to be seen services his own ego, it’s humility as he declares only Jesus should be worshipped but based around self-importance for his own status as he compares himself to the best artists of our generation and signifies that his actions are directed in being the ‘greatest.’ This one of the best depictions of that uncomfortable conflict that people in the recovery halls refer to as the egomaniac with an inferiority complex, which summarizes so much of humanity but is incredibly uncomfortable to contend with.
This films is full of so many abstract contradictions it’s one of the most honest and bold undertakings for something posing as straightforward on superficial levels.
Last edited by therewillbeblus on Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Young Pope

#44 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:42 pm

Ok, we're starting the Film Club discussion as usual.

As per the first post (now edited), the discussion ends Feb. 17th. The first two weeks are technically the viewing period. All discussion should be spoilered until Feb. 3rd, after which the thread will cease to be spoiler free on the assumption everyone participating should've seen the series.

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Re: The Young Pope

#45 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:58 pm

AllShow
Those who do not heed the spoiler rules when posting will be sent to Ketchikan, Alaska

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Re: The Young Pope

#46 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:48 pm

I just realized I have a digital HD code on my blu-ray copy of The Young Pope that I have no use for, so if anyone is interested in participating in this project (who doesn’t have access to the show via HBO subscription or other streaming service) whoever is the first to P.M. me I’ll send it to you. Please participate in the discussion though, or you could be 2020’s Donald Brown.

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Re: The Young Pope

#47 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:00 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:48 pm
I just realized I have a digital HD code on my blu-ray copy of The Young Pope that I have no use for, so if anyone is interested in participating in this project (who doesn’t have access to the show via HBO subscription or other streaming service) whoever is the first to P.M. me I’ll send it to you. Please participate in the discussion though, or you could be 2020’s Donald Brown.
The code has been claimed, almost 24 hours later. I hope this is an indication that everyone has HBO and not of interested participants in this project!

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Re: The Young Pope

#48 Post by The Pachyderminator » Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:27 pm

I've seen the first five episodes so far. I know it's premature to say this, but I'm surprised to see words like "esoteric" in this thread even with caveats. It seems to me that the drama is played very broadly, with all the themes being not just spelled out, but hammered home with great force. The show seems absolutely determined not to let me miss anything about the psychology of the characters or the interconnections and parallelism of the storylines. There's every chance that future episodes will change this impression, of course, especially since I really can't tell where the story is going to end up.

The one potentially useful thing I have to say at this point is that for those still planning to watch, I think at this point that taking it one or at most two episodes at a time would work better than binge-watching. After seeing the first five episodes in two sittings, I'll plan on a slower pace for the second half. Listening to Jude Law casting imprecations on God and man for several hours at a time becomes too exhausting. (The first two episodes, though, make a coherent unit and play rather like a double-length pilot episode.)

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Re: The Young Pope

#49 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:56 pm

I still think I might watch and comment on episodes singly. I just need the library to finally give me a copy of the thing. My hold has been “available soon” for five days now. At this rate I expect to be watching episodes well past the spoiler-free period.

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Re: The Young Pope

#50 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jan 23, 2020 3:29 pm

If we are going to get hung up on the word "esoteric" I'll drop it, but my point is that the masses will likely have a hard time accessing some of the leaps of faith this film asks us to take and I'm surprised that's actually being disputed. I could have sworn I wasn't the first to refer to this film by this word, and sure enough domino labels it as "esoteric" in the first post of its dedicated thread, so at least I'm not crazy. Perhaps I'm missing the point or not being clear about what makes this work fit that label, but I also think the turns this film takes does bring it into a place where we must consider and accept ideas that won’t necessarily fit with a broader worldview, ironically through the necessity to broaden our perspectives ourselves which, I think, is difficult for more people to do than others seem to

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