Earlier this year a group of peeps from Museums Wellington went to see the ‘The Square’, a Film Festival movie.

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Here’s a summary of the film from the movie website Rotten Tomatoes: “Christian (played by Claes Bang, pictured above) is the respected curator of a contemporary art museum, a divorced but devoted father of two who drives an electric car and supports good causes. His next show is “The Square”, an installation which invites passersby to altruism, reminding them of their role as responsible fellow human beings. But sometimes, it is difficult to live up to your own ideals: Christian’s foolish response to the theft of his phone drags him into shameful situations. Meanwhile, the museum’s PR agency has created an unexpected campaign for “The Square”. The response is overblown and sends Christian, as well as the museum, into an existential crisis.”

So this is what we thought of the movie…

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Paul Thompson, Head of Content
A Nordic black comedy that raises important considerations of the semantics of the phenomenological signifiers ‘black’ and ‘comedy’ – does it not?

 

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Brent Fafeita, Curator History
Is a square still a square if the square’s lines are incomplete? For instance, is a square paddock still a true square if a gate is left open or a fence line not finished? Is a square defined by its border, or more by its footprint, its content, or even something more irrational?

I left the movie early so for me the ‘Square’ was incomplete. Perhaps this feeling goes beyond the movie’s length however. I could just as well have felt this state of incompleteness at its conclusion. The question then is whether anything is ever truly complete. Our Museum is prone to change, more-so it seeks and welcomes it. Thus the Museum is also never complete – just like the ‘Square’. Maybe that was truly the movie’s point.

 

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Brian Wood, Marketing and Development Manager
A movie that polarised people into two defined camps. LOVE it or HATE it. Personally I am in the LOVE it camp, mainly because it was genuinely thought provoking without providing answers or solutions and managed to be extremely funny in the process. The film highlighted many problems that cities around the world are currently facing including major ones like poverty and homelessness but it also touched on other issues like are museums connecting with their audiences? Overall for me the main point of the movie was, how bad can things get before someone or society has to step in? Definitely recommend A++ watch it and make your own conclusions.

 

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Nik Bullard, Curator Social History
The opening scene of ‘The Square’ pokes fun at the inaccessible and elitist language of the contemporary art world. Interesting…

The central theme is based on an art installation with the premise: ‘The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations’. Great, that’s thought provoking.

Then there were frequent references to homelessness on the streets of Stockholm. Excellent, this is going to look at poverty and inequality as seen through the eyes of the rich art curator. And it does, somewhat.

So, all good so far.

But then… It gets increasingly disjointed and esoteric (and downright disturbing in parts!). And it ends up not making any of the conclusions or exploring the insights into society that I thought it would. I like to think that there is hope for humanity!

Maybe if it hadn’t been 2.5 hours long it would have worked better? Maybe not. I left feeling deeply frustrated and embarked on a week-long therapy session with my other work colleagues who saw it (some of whom were struggling to make sense of it too).

 

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Tom Etuata, Communications Co-ordinator
It’s good to have a laugh at yourself sometimes. The movie ‘The Square’ certainly does that.

Working in the marketing side of Museums Wellington, I couldn’t stop grinning while watching the scene when the two young PR creatives and the museum management team discuss what would be the best way to promote ‘The Square’ exhibition via social media. What they come up with was certainly over the top and very ‘Monty Python’, and to its credit the film does that well – poking fun at the image of Museums and Art Galleries and today’s world of social media where it’s all about creating ‘buzz’ to generate more likes and comments amongst the clutter of snapchats, Trump tweets and cat videos.

Overall the film is an interesting watch and certainly funny and thought-provoking in parts, but it runs out of steam in the last hour and could’ve done with some major editing (like getting rid of the last hour).

By the way, don’t get a seat up in the R Row at the Embassy. There’s absolutely no leg room whatsoever.

 

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Raukura Hoerara-Smith, Assistant Curator Māori
‘The Square’ was not an easy film for me to watch. My anxiety levels were creeping in, and by the end of the movie, my thoughts were incomplete and I was frustrated at the whole thing.

Perhaps it reflected what different societies consider to be humane and inhumane?

‘The Square’ is the type of film that stayed in my mind and would occasionally still pop up randomly in my head. I give the director kudos for playing with my emotions!

Overall, a sensitively sophisticated piece of film that creates an experience like no other.

 

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Tamsin Falconer, Project Manager
In ‘The Square’, an ambitious and potentially contentious exhibition is being launched alongside a major fundraising event with an amazing entertainer.  And it is a professional disaster, magnified by personal disasters.

In ‘The First Monday in May’ (which I also saw recently), an ambitious and potentially contentious exhibition is being launched alongside a major fundraising event with an amazing entertainer.  And it is a glorious success, resulting in professional kudos.

‘The Square’ made me feel slightly queasy, not because of the exploding kitten, but because sometimes there seems to be only a thin line between glorious success and personal disaster.

Film lover of Waikanae
Vicissitudes and Volvos – the quintessential Nordic combination.