*The Square*

by on November 7, 2017 at 2:11 am in Film | Permalink

I didn’t like The Square at first, because I initially believed the filmmakers were taking the Swedes entirely seriously, and that it was pretentious windbaggery.  Instead, the main theme is that the Swedes are incapable of dealing with others who do not share their premises.  The film touches upon issues of immigration, gypsies, Muslims, terrorists, Putin, sexual liberation, contemporary art, YouTube, crucifixions over social media, how trust decays, and more.  It’s not “alt right” or objectionably racist (the Swedes and indeed the Westerners more generally are the real target), but most of all it is critical of mainstream liberalism and its inability to see outwards.  It won the Grand Prix at Cannes, but American critics have been quite indifferent, I would say oblivious.  It is hard to think of a current movie with more brilliant scenes, or that is more appropriate for 2017.  The deployment of Elisabeth Moss from The Handmaid’s Tale is mind-blowing.

1 Steve Sailer November 7, 2017 at 2:26 am

The director’s earlier movie about a modern Swedish man who momentarily runs for his life during an avalanche at a ski resort rather than protect his wife and children like a sexist patriarch from the bad old days would have was pretty good.

2 Roy LC November 7, 2017 at 5:43 am

He also made “Play” which may be the most clearly Swedish essentialist movie I know.

3 Jan November 7, 2017 at 5:44 am

Well I am sure he thought better of it, being a white man and all.

4 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 9:58 am

Right we can’t have standards anymore because Jan can’t live up to them. It would be cool if Jan could just hate himself and not project that self hatred onto white males. But nope amour de soi every time.

5 JWatts November 7, 2017 at 6:46 pm

“Well I am sure he thought better of it, being a white man and all.”

LOL, way to be a racist Jan!

6 Max November 27, 2017 at 4:40 pm

The Tourist was excellent imo, especially the aftermath of the avalanche with all the denial of what happened. Reminds me of many situations in modern societies, when turning a blind eye and pretending it didnt happen seems to be the modus operandi.

7 Kristian November 7, 2017 at 2:34 am

Is it a Houllebecqian critique of liberalism?

8 Millian November 7, 2017 at 2:42 am

Steve Sailer is the patron saint of Tyler Cowen’s published works in the sense of being seen everywhere there, like an icon or protector from a 12th century church in northern France (hey, crusades callback!).

9 clockwork_prior November 7, 2017 at 2:46 am

‘The deployment of Elisabeth Moss’

Deployment? Really?

10 Alistair November 7, 2017 at 4:49 am

Merely a TACTICAL deployment. Signalling willingness to accept casting risk.

You don’t want a full strategic Moss exchange, do you?

11 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 5:41 am

Uh oh. Once again, someone forgot to check Prior’s secret mental dictionary before using a word.

12 Butler T. Reynolds November 7, 2017 at 8:19 am

Would you prefer enlistment? Recruitment? Employment? Enjoyment?

13 clockwork_prior November 7, 2017 at 8:50 am

Actually, ‘use’ is one, as in the ‘The use of Elisabeth Moss from The Handmaid’s Tale is mind-blowing.’ which presumes that her casting was what was mind blowing.

Of course, assuming it was not her mere presence, but also her acting that was mind blowing, something that actually credits the person doing the acting would be preferable, along the lines of ‘The performance of Elisabeth Moss, from The Handmaid’s Tale, is mind-blowing.’

14 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 10:19 am

It’s not like “deploy” is a synonym of “use” or anything.

15 Boon November 7, 2017 at 10:41 am

Forget it, he’s rolling.

16 clockwork_prior November 7, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Really? Troop deployment is the same as troop use? Maybe in someone’s dictionary, but not any I am familiar with, if only because you need to deploy troops before they can be used.

17 msgkings November 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

So now Elisabeth Moss is a troop? Let’s see how far you will go before admitting you are wrong.

18 JWatts November 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

“Troop deployment is the same as troop use?”

Well yes, for a normal person they are.

“We’re going to use American troops in Afghanistan.” versus “We’re going to deploy American troops in Afghanistan.”

19 clockwork_prior November 8, 2017 at 6:21 am

‘Let’s see how far you will go before admitting you are wrong.’

It was my opinion – and still is. And I notice that the second possible meaning – acknowledging the actual performance of an actress, and not merely her existence in a movie – has yet to earn a response.

20 clockwork_prior November 8, 2017 at 6:36 am

‘Well yes, for a normal person they are.’

That a normal person may not be all that aware of the difference of ‘being deployed’ and ‘being used’ is not really my concern. This comment section also had a discussion about how Puerto Rico is not part of the United States as it is not a state, at least for ‘normal people.’ Oddly, Hawaii was not a state when attacked by the Japanese, but somehow, the normal people of 1941 had a different understanding of what made up the United States than today.

Soldiers were deployed over months to the KSA/Kuwait border in the immediate aftermath of Saddam’s invasion in Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 – 17 January 1991). They were not used until Operation Desert Storm from 17 January 1991, through 11 April 1991.

The distinction is not trivial – various NATO forces have been deployed to countries bordering Russia in the last year. However, none of those forces have been used, which considering that using them would mean a war had started, is a good thing.

Whether deployed makes sense when talking about an actress being in a movie is a matter of opinion in the end. The difference between troop deployment and troop use is most definitely not a matter of opinion, particularly if you actually know someone in the American military who has been repeatedly deployed. Such people are extremely aware of the difference between being stationed somewhere, and being shot at.

21 relax November 7, 2017 at 10:32 am

Yes, acting has absolutely nothing to do with following direction.

22 dearieme November 7, 2017 at 6:42 am

“It’s not … objectionably racist (the Swedes … are the real target)”: so in your view being racist about Swedes is not objectionable.

23 Stanley November 7, 2017 at 7:24 am

Yes Tyler, I would like some clarity about what you mean this statement.

24 The Other Jim November 7, 2017 at 7:56 am

Swedes and WESTERNERS, mind you. Nothing racist whatsoever about directing your bigotry and hatred towards them.

Behold the brain of Tyler Cowen, ladies and gentlemen! Laid bare for all to see.

25 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 8:25 am

Come on y’all, stop being so intentionally obtuse. What a dumb thread you have going here.

26 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

How else would you interpret what he wrote?

27 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 10:51 am

Why would one assume that (self-)criticism of Swedish culture and Western leftists would be racist? Certainly such criticism is not inherently racist.

Of course it’s possible to be racist against Swedes, and it’s also possible to hold a view that is racist against one’s own group. But that would be pretty unusual, and nothing that Tyler said suggests that at all.

The left having a double standard about racism is a common critique (often with merit). However I do not think it applies to anything Tyler said here.

28 A Truth Seeker November 7, 2017 at 11:35 am

“Behold the brain of Tyler Cowen, ladies and gentlemen! Laid bare for all to see.”

“Show my head to the people, it is worth seeing.”

Is that the inferior temporal gyrus?

29 This Statement Is False November 7, 2017 at 10:01 am

You realize the movie is made by Swedes and is making fun of their own Leftists?

30 breviglieri November 7, 2017 at 7:39 am

check out loveless by zvyagintsev.

visually amazing, scathing portrait of humanity in russia (and the modern world over) and superbly acted, largely by a cast of newcomers.

was tipped for and pipped to the palme d’or by the square.

31 jack November 7, 2017 at 8:29 am

Inarticulate writing — can’t understand what the writer is trying to say.

32 Laowai November 7, 2017 at 10:17 am

Do you mean that when you encounter inarticulate writing you can’t understand what the author is trying to say? Or that you found the film’s writing inarticulate and you didn’t understand the scriptwriter’s message? Or you found Tyler’s post inarticulate and didn’t understand him?

You should probably be more…..articulate….in your comment.

33 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 10:52 am

Boom! Mic drop.

34 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 11:53 am

Pants drop.

35 The Anti-Gnostic November 7, 2017 at 9:08 am

The main theme is that the Swedes are incapable of dealing with others who do not share their premises.

That’s what separate countries are for.

36 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

But how else is my country going to be inundated with crappy ethnic food restaurants that I can pretend to like.

37 A Truth Seeker November 7, 2017 at 11:40 am

Actually most travellers agree Brazilian food is the best in world. A famous Japanese visitor (a dancer or musician, I think) said he put up six kilos because of Brazilian tasty food. A Cuban dissident said he ate more meat in a few days in Brazil than in the entire 80’s in Cuba. Brazilian food, Brazilian beaches, Brazilian music and Brazilian Literature attract lots of visitors, many never leave the country.

38 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 11:48 am

I’m the Vurca Salt of this comment section.

39 DJF November 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm

This message brought to you by the Brazilian tourist board!

40 A Truth Seeker November 7, 2017 at 7:15 pm

And also, most travellers agree that Brazilian hookers are the best in the world!

41 The Anti-Gnostic November 8, 2017 at 7:43 am

Truth Seeker is good Brazilian, but Wagner Clemente Solo is best Brazilian.

42 msgkings November 8, 2017 at 11:33 am

It’s Soto. At least get it right when you troll.

43 The Anti-Gnostic November 8, 2017 at 2:50 pm

msgkings outed as Alt-Right. Welcome, friend.

44 plangent1 November 7, 2017 at 9:30 am

“Critics are largely indifferent?” I wouldn’t say A.O. Scott was “indifferent.” He said the movie was rambling, “craven and clueless.”

I like Tyler’s rhetorical trick (he has an infinite supply) of hoping no one will check his references and discover they do not say what he claims. It’s a good way to seem superior and original.

45 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 9:50 am

I mean clearly it wasn’t that hard for you to click over to Wikipedia and find that quote. Pro tip to make it less obvious if just read the review that is exerpted and quote a differnt line. As it is your attempt to seem knowledgeable and worldly foundered on your laziness.

46 plangent1 November 7, 2017 at 10:33 am


47 Sam Haysom November 7, 2017 at 11:34 am

I’m just a Cuckold don’t worry about a Beta cuck like me.

48 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 11:38 am

I like your rhetorical trick of acting like one example disproves a claim about what a group “largely” did.

Just kidding, I don’t like it.

49 A Truth Seeker November 7, 2017 at 11:42 am

Well, I like it. It proves it is a widely–liked trick.

50 dan1111 November 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm


51 Brett A Powers November 7, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Meh. Scott is “indifferent.” Those adjectives, notably the ones you quote, fully display his dismissive attitude. Scott refuses to acknowledge that the film is aimed, in part, at him, so he dismisses it.

52 Dain November 7, 2017 at 10:37 am

There’s a great Australian noir film called The Square too.

53 Dan November 7, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Tyler — Are there any particular film critics you trust and rely on?

54 TR5749 November 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm

It is the most interesting film that I have seen this year, so far. (though I have been greatly anticipating this weekend’s “Three Billboards . . .)

I hope the American Academy recognizes Terry Notary (Oleg) with a best supporting actor nomination; his scene was riveting.

55 dearieme November 7, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Given that Mr Cowen reviews books based on a selection of pages, what can we assume about his cinema reviews? Perhaps he just watches a few scenes? Or the trailer?

56 SteveSailerFan November 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Nah, probably just the teaser.

57 Careless November 8, 2017 at 11:22 am

I can recall one time Ebert reviewed a movie based on reading the wikipedia page of the book it was based on and the trailer.

58 cw November 7, 2017 at 6:04 pm

“Swedes are incapable of dealing with others who do not share their premises”

I think we can add lots of groups to this list.

59 Chip November 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Or maybe the problem is that the Swedes prefer other peoples’ premises. Quotes from Mona Sahlin, former leader of Sweden’s largest party:

– If two equally qualified persons apply for a job at a workplace with few immigrants, the one called Mohammed should get the job.

– I can not figure out what Swedish culture is. I think that’s what makes many Swedes jealous of immigrant groups. You have a culture, an identity, a history, something that brings you together. And what do we have? We have Midsummer’s Eve and such silly things.

60 Max November 8, 2017 at 12:10 am

It didn’t win the Grand Prix, it won the Palme d’Or, which is the highest prize in that decadent festival.

61 Turus November 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm

The extended “Russian monkey attacking a woman” scene was the closest you got to the old Western European racist propaganda in years. I understand that it’s OK, not because Russians are aggressive , have a country and they are probably the ones who is responsible to the spike in Swedish rape stats but because Russians are “white”. What would it take to have a “rapist Muslim monkey” scene? A realization that according to the US census Middle Easterners are white as well, and Muslim countries are meddling in European affairs as much as Russia does?

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