Zizek! (2005) Poster


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captivating as a subject, so-so as documentary
Quinoa198428 April 2007
I got introduced to Slavoj Zizek through his under-seen Lacan-style analysis of cinema called the Pervert's Guide to Cinema, and was immediately taken in by his very sharp mind, oddball sense of humor, and dead-on analysis of the nature of cinema and the Freudian psychology. This little documentary by first-time director Astra Taylor basically follows Zizek around, usually without much control visually (her main tactic is to get her in close-up, which isn't smart since he's always animated, if still controlled), but always obtaining what Zizek is all about. He gets a person's mind moving about so many subjects: the super-ego and it's ties to capitalism, the need to associate oneself with ideology and the dangers with that, how to use philosophical ideas meaningfully, and what belief plays a role in politics and psychological interpretations. Not limited to these topics are all on Zizek's mind, and all of his points reveal him as a man with unlimited intelligence, even as his mind goes so fast it becomes something of a task to keep up with him.

Little moments Taylor captures add idiosyncrasies one might not expect from someone as such a Marxist and Lacan-follower (however NOT a Dogmatic Lacan-follower as he says), including showing off his son's toys, and shopping for movies at Kim's Video in New York City, or how he tries to look for a restaurant. But for the most part, Zizek! at it's best- and it's best to look at for its substance, not its style- brings to mind the nature of philosophy for the individual, how politics ends up feeding into the public's consciousness by way of wanting more "enjoyment", or what enjoyment really means. It's almost TOO short, and one who becomes fascinated by Zizek's theories and very straightforward interpretations of subjects that should be more complicated by how he describes them sees that sometimes he gets cut off from what is such a long and amazing description or drawn-out thought. But if one is interested already in the man, it should provide some fun and food-for-thought seeing the man in down-to-earth form for the cameras, and newcomers may or may not take to the man's theories. Like Pervert's Guide, some things will fly over your head, but what sticks makes for some of the most insightful commentary in recent years.
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Mostly Slavoj Zizek psychological observations and life moments
ctcanham3 October 2005
Yeah, I know it seems like a pretty high rating, but I really enjoy movies that make you think, and if you're like me, you'll want to see this one 3 or more times to try to get the most of it.

Slavoj is an interesting character on his own...he seems to not quite "appreciate" a fan base. But the theories and observations mentioned are definitely thought-provoking. They range from talk of advertising, to politics, to Love, to the super ego. His political peak (up to now) is also mentioned and talked about a little.

Anyway, I saw about 20 movies at the 2005 Toronto Film festival, and in my opinion, this was the best of them.
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markobroadhead15 April 2010
To the reviewers of this film who think that Zizek is a Stalinist because we see a poster of Stalin outside his office...please look up "irony" in a dictionary. Also read this interview: http://www.believermag.com/issues/200407/? read=interview_zizek It begins with this statement from the interviewer: "you have said that Stalinism is worse than Nazism, despite the grand spectacle of the Holocaust." Not a bad documentary, but not amazing either. Zizek is a strange man. He is seemingly a narcissist and misanthrope at the same time. Ultimately I suppose this is the result of reading so much Lacan and Freud that he constantly over analyses himself.
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An excellent film that avoids the tedium of the conventional documentary.
dhenwood-117 November 2005
Slavoj Zizek is one of the stars of Theoryworld, and deservedly so. He mixes Lacan and Marx with a seasoning of pop culture to analyze how we construct meaning - and reminds us that our understanding is often far from rational.

It sounds like a heavy dose, but Astra Taylor has made it all into an extremely charming and intelligent movie. It has none of the piety and tedium of the documentary form - no godlike voiceovers, goofy archival footage, or narcotic pundits that make films like The Corporation so hard to sit through. It's mostly Slavoj Zizek talking (sometimes prompted by Taylor, often not), and he's such a compelling character that he holds your interest from the first frame to the last. Don't miss it!
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Zizek! The subject proves to be smarter than it author.
marcel37-14 April 2007
A good introduction into Zizek as a thinker and as a personality, but the film goes along with Zizek, posing no challenge to its subject. It seems pretty obvious that Zizek has been an object of fetish by the west, using cinema and pop culture as the sugar with which he gives people his medicine. From my expeirence on US capmuses, this makes a lot of American hipsters feel smart when they pick up one of his good books.

Though not completely fluff piece - and who is Zizek to deny taking advantage of it - it would have been better if the filmmaker took the Zizek beast on with more than a humble adoration of his current cool factor.
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Less biopic than soapbox.
TheDocHierarchy15 April 2012
Towards the end of Astra Taylor's 'Zizek!', the Slovenian philosopher is convinced by his son to put the Lion King on TV. As the child squeals with excitement, Zizek throws his head back, turns to the camera and laments 'oh now he's going to act all narcissistically amused'. Without delving into the inner-workings of Zizek's scholarship, for such a pursuit is so far beyond the means of this writer it would be a joke to even attempt it, the off-hand remark goes some way to encapsulating the enigma and eccentricity of the renowned Lacanian/Marxist author.

The film itself probably struggles between providing a platform for Zizek to opine on modern society, and in doing so alienating the 99% who won't truly understand what he has to say (*puts hand up*), and delving into the psyche of a truly remarkable mind. One does not have to be a philosophy major to marvel at the language Zizek uses and the speed at which he constructs arguments and rattles off examples that ground his work in our quotidian existence. At just 71 minutes, there is no harm in the being restricted to the latter, but there is a certain frustration in being taken to the verge of understanding an argument and then abruptly swept off to a different corner of Zizek's scholarship.

The filmmaker's synopsis describes Zizek! as: 'Never ceasing to observe the paradoxes that underpin our perception of reality, little goes untheorized over the course of the film, particularly Zizek's recurring themes -- ideology, belief, revolution, and love.' Beware the creative license taken there, for much goes untheorized, but expect to be provoked to think. Be switched on if you want to watch it.
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This review brought to you by the film "Zizek!"
sublunari15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Before you ask, Slavoj Zizek does pronounce his name for you in this movie, thankfully. And now that you have asked, I'll tell you that this film was good and thought-provoking, but it could have been much better. This is why: whatever Zizek wants to achieve with his philosophy is simply beyond explaining through the medium of film unless you are actually intimate with his work, which you probably aren't, as Zizek remarks. You have to read his books; I found myself pausing and rewinding whenever too much text or expository was on screen. I think the film's strength is in the scenes spent simply walking around with him or watching him do things: he just never shuts up, but he always has something funny or intriguing to say, as long as it doesn't have to do with Freud or Marx or Lacan (who in my mind are guaranteed insomnia cures, if nothing less, as I'm sure they are for most).

We briefly meet his son, who smiles for the camera after an initial stage of shyness, prompting a punchline from Zizek (whose name is just as much fun to type and see as it is to say aloud once you know how to do so): "he is narcissistically amused." The same could be said of the film's director, a woman whose haircut says she is a great fan of the Teutonic invaders of Alexander Nevsky, and whose smilingly cautious but really nakedly narcissistic insertion of herself into the film distracts the camera completely from its far more ostensible subject. There would have been infinitely more mystery, and therefore infinitely more appeal, if she had remained a disembodied voice, a young feminine auditory hallucination, a modern daemon for a modern Socrates, because much as I hate to admit it she sometimes asks decent questions, and really has put together a decent film on an interesting man, though it is by no means the definitive one. Let me spend a day walking streets and drinking coffee and slicing steak with Slavoj Zizek, and let me prod him away from his -ians and -isms, and you will have me shouting his impossibly Slovenian name with far more than one exclamation point.
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Focused At Last!
soup8315 September 2019
I am seeking funds for a movie in which the heroine, Ayn Rand, played by Susan Sarandon, chases Zizek, playing himself, around the universe until he confesses that he's a blithering idiot. The movie ends with Zizek laughing uncontrollably and manufacturing nose picks in the shape of Stalin.
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Loves Stalin, hates people, no surprise.
mule6631 July 2008
This Zizek guy actually has some perceptive ideas on modern culture when he's critiquing our pathological need to diminish our enjoyment of soda, coffee, beer and other consumer products by accepting diminished aspects of the real thing such as diet, lite, decaffeinated and so on. He's way off base by venerating a mass murderer such as Stalin though and it's awfully telling that the director doesn't even challenge him on this but does express astonishment at the fact that some people when they see his proudly displayed portrait of Stalin in his home walk right out the door - I mean what sad, narrow-minded idiots these people must be for not appreciating the finer ironies of the slaughterer of millions! Despite this fault of Zizeks I kinda liked him, he is whip-smart, not afraid to mix it up with his critics and despite his extreme intellectualism is a lovable schlub. The real problem is the aforementioned director, Astra Taylor, and her slavish adoration of Zizek and her jokey, yet unfunny, interspersing of the film with stock footage accompanied with old-timey piano music to present some of his ideas. Not cool.
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Anyone Can Be A Philisospher
Theo Robertson24 May 2007
Ah yes Slavoj Zizek a man who is a household name but only in his own household . Apparently he's the most famous Slovenian in the world which is surprising since I've never heard of him and I have heard of Milan Kucan . Perhaps the hype should have said " Most famous Slovenian to have appeared in a 73 minute documentary by Astra Taylor " ?

From what I've learned from this documentary all you have to do in order to be credited as a philosopher is point out something no one has noticed before as in " Fascists don't clap while Stalinists clap themselves " Hey Zizek might actually have a point until you watch an edition of FAMILY FORTUNES . It might actually be that people who clap themselves are educationally subnormal rather than believers in one country socialist democide

The second point about being a philosopher is being able to state the painfully obvious , as in " the more coke you drink the more thirsty you feel therefore the more coke you will drink the thirstier you will become " To be fair to Zizek he does point out out that there is decaffeinated coke but no one spends a great deal of time and money drinking decaf , we drink coke because caffeine is an addictive drink and thirst has nothing to do with it . If I point out that the apple of knowledge is a euphemism for drug addiction does that make me one of the world's greatest living philosophers ?

There is some unintentional amusement to ZIZEK like for example he describes a child watching television as " narcissistic amusement " ( WTF !?)and he lies in bed waxing lyrically about the human condition . Yeah that's right he cannot go to bed without having his great thoughts recorded for posterity . In fact Mr Zizek comes across as one of those people who if he were discussing films shouts down everyone else's opinions because " The lighting makes San Francisco look like Los Angeles so that's not the Golden Gate bridge in the background " You can't disagree with his arguments because you're not sure what he's talking about

And as a footnote Mr Zizek apparently makes a considerable living on touring seminars . It might be a good idea to watch ZIZEK before you pay money to attend one of his classes because I'm sure you'll here the same things said down the pub
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A mishmash of sound bites from a philosophy professor
youaresquishy15 December 2007
I had never heard of Slavoj Zizek before I saw this film. He is a Slovenian philosophy professor. He has written many books and obviously he wouldn't keep getting published unless people were buying them. He seems to be a Marxist of some sort, and has a photograph of the only dictator arguably worse than Hitler on the wall of his apartment, Joseph Stalin. He seems more concerned with nonpolitical philosophy though, generally speaking.

This film did nothing to make me interested in reading his books or in him. It is a random mishmash of clips of Zizek talking in various places in small soundbites about a wide variety of matters. Insofar as philosophy is concerned, and I consider myself a philosopher, there was nothing of any philosophical interest to me in this film. Much of what he says in this film seemed to me to be either trivial (obviously true) or incoherent.

Perhaps one might enjoy this film if one were at all familiar with his work, but I doubt it--why not just read more of his work rather than waste time watching this hodgepodge of soundbites? But if you aren't familiar with any of his work, like I was, there doesn't seem to be any reason to watch this.
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