My pick for the best film of 2018 is "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
An animated super hero movie. About a boy who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains extraordinary powers.
It’s SO GOOD.
It get’s everything right. Script, story, character, visual design, music, humor, psychology.
And it doesn’t just “get it right.“ It knocks it out of the park. It packs so much creativity and joy into a 2 hour movie that I was literally in tears leaving the cinema. Not tears because of the content (although there are genuinely moving moments in the story), but tears of joy because of just how incredibly good this film is.
Lindsay felt similarly, and she is way less in the comic book nerd camp than me, so this movie is good even if you don’t normally like “this kind of thing“ (the scare quotes are because there hasn’t been anything much like this before).
Ok. Now, my advice to you:
Don’t watch any trailers.
Go buy tickets now!
And then forget all this hype that I just hyped you with. This is only useful to get you in the seat, then it’s actually counterproductive. Just go with an open heart and mind, and see what happens. And then, please come back here and let me know! I hope you enjoy it even a quarter as much as I did :D
Ok, did you see it? This next part is for after you’ve seen the movie.
This is an example of genuinely Integral art. I think when we think about Integral art, we are often looking for it to elucidate Integral themes (development, quadrants, transcending and including etc), and/or be created by explicitly Integrally informed artists (Alex Gray, Stuart Davis).
This is neither. But what it does is integrate the Modern and Post-Modern waves of art. And that’s my broadest conception of Integral art.
It is brilliantly Post-Modern:
It plays with form, it’s self aware, both as a piece of media embedded in a history of media, and a retelling of a story that has already been told many times. Many characters break the fourth wall to retell their origin story, complete with showing the comic book covers of their stories. The characters themselves are self-aware nods at other genres (noir, anime, loony-toons cartoons). It subverts racial and gender expectations in this kind of story. The bad guys are multi-dimensional, likable, and the main bad guy has a genuinely sympathetic motivation. In all these ways it is Post-Modern.
Now, works of art that are PURELY Post-Modern in this way can also be shallow, hollow, heartless, cynical, detached, cerebral, and ironic. The purely Post-Modern sneers at the idealism and naivety of the Modern, and tears down those things that the Modern tried to erect.
But this film is also beautifully Modern. It’s about personal transformation, about family, about friendship and community, about good guys beating bad guys, about our highest human ideals, and about inspiring us to reach for them. It is *not* cynical, *not* ironic. It IS idealistic and full of genuine hope, joy and love for humanity.
And it’s the integration of these two poles that makes this film an Integral masterpiece.
Final aside. The last time a work of art hit both of these poles for me was when I saw “Babel” by Cildo Meireles at Tate Modern last December. It is so different in form, execution, feeling and culturally location from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but it shares this deep structure of uniting the self-consciousness of the Post-Modern with the beauty of the Modern.
Here’s a description: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/meireles-babel-t14041
But it’s a multi-media installation, so a description and photographs like this don’t do it justice at all. If you’re in London go see it! After you see Spider-Man