New York Times Film Critic A.O. Scott Reviews My Instagram Stories

by Patty Terhune and Johnathan Appel

close up of smart phone
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Historical narratives often face a tricky balancing act between focusing on the period or the protagonist but this “throwback” compilation of old family pictures has shown me both the 1990’s and the people who lived then. I look forward to many more Thursdays.

 

Speaking volumes through its subtext, this latest piece depicting our protagonist at a nightclub insisting on the thrills of “newly single life” is consistently interesting though not always convincing.

 

Cooking can bring you closer to the generations of people who came before you and remind you, with each bite, that you are never alone. That magic is lacking in this series of videos on how to downsize two-person recipes so they aren’t too much food for one person.

 

Haunting, thrilling, and confusing at the same time, this series seems content to ask more questions than it answers: why is the protagonist at the beach on a Wednesday afternoon? Weren’t they in Disney World a month ago? What are the specifics of their company’s vacation benefits?

 

Steeped in the bowels of obligatory civic duty, this screenshot of someone else’s impassioned post about marginal tax rates surrounded by fire emojis uniquely addresses an era of voter engagement peer pressure.

 

With infinite sincerity, “Corgi at the park” delves into the intimate details of living, loving, and being a very good boy.

 

It’s new, it’s exciting, yet it’s surprisingly touching. We all can only hope that these complete strangers the filmmaker has captured enjoy the date they’re very likely on. However, the narrator’s captioned assertion that “RELATIONSHIPS ARE DUMB” strikes a discordant tone.

 

In this possible sighting of Gordon Ramsay on the R train, we see the filmmaker zooming in on the potential celebrity chef and then immediately focusing the camera on themselves as if in a philosophical debate about the ethics of filming non-consenting strangers.

 

Playwright Tennessee Williams once said “Life is an unanswered question.” However, this picture of a Pomeranian puppy with the caption “Should I adopt this little guy??” can immediately be answered by the following video: “Rent’s gonna be late this month.”

 

“Just Trees” is nothing short of sublime.

 

A fascinating experience in interactivity that ultimately ends frustratingly, the poll asking whether first dates found through Hinge are “the worst” or “the WORST, LIKE RIGHT??” just lacks a substantial or meaningful choice for the audience.

 

With the urgency of a news bulletin and the authority of a classic, “Texts From My Mom” offers entertaining and sound relationship advice.

 

Despite the nearly non-stop shaky cam and eardrum-rattling sound quality, it’s hard to not feel transported to an optimistic place by this recording of songstress Lizzo’s powerhouse “Juice” encore performance. And then “Good as Hell.” And then “Truth Hurts.” All with the crucial sticker reminder that our sound must be turned on.

 

A pitch that was clearly better in theory than in execution, I found myself mentally and emotionally disconnected by image number 12 of the excessive 25 picture display of documented love for Tricia’s 25th’s birthday. While the artist was likely trying to appease a former feud, the viewers were then dragged through the mud of apologies in this lengthy plea for atonement.

 

A truly great sequel either reminds us what we loved in the first film or innovates the formula. “Just More Trees” manages to do both.

 

Though clearly intended to stir memories of youth, this documentary about a man at a house party shotgunning beer and then hitting on our protagonist before puking instead belies a sad truth about the demons of 21st century masculinity.

 

This screenshot of the receipt for our protagonist’s Uber Pool from Hoboken speaks volumes to deep desire for human connection and the willingness in all of us to look past someone vomiting on us.

 

“Golden retriever on a walk” gets everything right.

 

In this fourth-wall-breaking monologue, the protagonist opens up to their audience for the first time yet to reveal that posting to social media has been an unhealthy coping mechanism masking a deep unhappiness. Their promise to “take a LONGGGG break from social media” seems a genuine one to this humble critic. I believe them and I am rooting for them.

 

The recent selfie posted only 21 hours after the seemingly sincere pledge signals that my trust in our protagonist has become yet another casualty of the social media age.

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