Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reset

Hard as it may be to believe, I do realize that there are many things in this world that are far more impt. than my ego. Yes, that's directed to you, dear friends. I got the message, and I assure you, you will be the first people I call once I "pull my head out of my ass"... seriously. In the meantime, I thought I should share some of the things that have been occupying my mind over the past couple of weeks...

Well, there's the major muck that is Gaza. Much has been said on the subject, and if this teaches me anything, it is to regard human beings with significant contempt. We really are a pathetic bunch of fucks for letting this go on for so long.

That brings me to the Coen brothers... which is to say that I can't blame them for doing the same in just about all their movies. I'd watched Fargo & The Big Lebowski before, and maybe it's cause I was happier/younger/naive back then, but I didn't really pick up on their disdain for their audience/characters as much as I did when I recently watched No Country for Old Men and Burn After Reading.

The pitfalls in Burn are easy to find - Linda Litzke's portrayal could be read as a misogynistic one, as could those of any of the other women; and really in a film about complete idiots, the only character who manages to evoke any sympathy, and by extension some semblance of humanity, is an ex-analyst for the CIA - Osbourne Cox. Presumably named for laughs, Cox also happens to be a graduate of Princeton (class of '73 to be precise - a fact that the movie reiterates several times) and lives in a million$ brownstone in swanky Georgetown, until he is unceremoniously usurped from this throne and forced to seek exile in a smaller but none too indecorous sailboat. Poor guy. Meanwhile, his "cold stuck-up bitch" of a wife - incidentally, the same description is used for another female xter, clearly the Coens are not engaged in any imaginative tongue in cheek criticism - empties his accounts and changes the locks. Finally, Cox returns to his house to take his revenge, carelessly clad in boxers and a loosely tied robe (both designer, I bet) which is a far cry from the pristine three-piece he started off in (per special features commentary). Long story short, he ends up in a comma soon after, having nearly died in a battle against "one of the morons (he had) spent (his) whole life fighting." Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Of course, the film is only this potent in its attack if you take it seriously. Here, the Coens shift their contemptuous focus onto their audience, those idiots who will laugh at anything. As a viewer, you have two options: you could laugh at the sophomoric attempts at humor, the half drawn characters, and the flimsy-at-best script; or, you could sit there for a full 95 minutes and be insulted by the Coens' narrow world view. Enjoy the show.

No Country on the other hand, has a clearer outlook. I suppose I can't give the brothers full credit here, seeing as that it is based on a literary predecessor by the same name, but as an article I recently read points out, "it seems no coincidence that this filmic reproduction... erupts in a xenophobic political era obsessed with national boundaries."

It's Sunday and I have already violated the sabbath enough with this revival, so I will end this here. Look for a future post wherein I share my predictably unfavorable views on the insufferable Slumdog Millionaire.

NB: I know it seems like I invariably end up on the opposite side of public opinion, but it's not always so, I am actually very pleased at this year's NBCC's recognition of Orpheus in the Bronx among other gems. And I do like K'Naan.
NB2: Turns out that the NYer's Denby already did a good enough job of explaining everything that is wrong with Slumdog.

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