A lot of arthouse movies are boring. Some are boring because they’re pretentious. Some are boring because they’re too long. Some seem to lack any point in favour of existing altogether. No one talks about this, of course. It’s like Nicole Kidman’s use of botox; the single-expression elephant in the room. Take Persepolis. It’s boring. The comics were good. The movie… Not so much. Is any notable critic going to say this? Did any notable critic admit Blackboards (iterant teachers, Iran/Iraq border, SUFFERING) made them lose the will to live? No. Only a philistine would say an arthouse movie was boring… Well, bugger it. I’m a philistine. Persepolis sucks.
Samuel Johnson once said that: “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.” That was the 18th century view. In 2008, every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a cop. Maybe it’s the word “cop” that does it. “Cop”, from the Latin capere, meaning to “to capture”. Ah, the hell with etymology. “Cop” sounds cool. It sounds like a profession for drunks and brawlers, and all the other guys men want to be. Men want to be cops the way women want to be Kate Moss; because cops/Moss don’t take shit from anyone. When Keanu Reeves dons a badge in Street Kings, he isn’t a real cop anymore than I am; he’s a fashion spread.
Some movies are like watching the Hindenburg burn. I’m not talking about movies you expect to be bad (remakes, sequels, anything with a colon in the title), but about movies you had hopes for which sadden you (like Bonfire of the Vanities, the last twenty or so Woody Allen movies, everything Sam Mendes has made). Southland Tales is terrible. It is not good but for… anything, nor is it bad save for [insert what you like]. It is a mistake that could only be made in movies; the end result of an onslaught of sycophancy that must have been mind-bending to behold. Seriously – to those on set – was Richard Kelly drunk when he made this? Or is he just stupid?
Movies romanticise everything, but nothing more than childhood. Setting aside the heavily dimpled phenomenon of children in most Hollywood movies, even movies about child-murderers (I’m thinking Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher) make childhood out to be ecstatic. Something about that goldfish-brained tribe of ankle-biters seems to entrance film-makers. Perhaps because kids, like directors, think the world revolves around them. Perhaps because kids, like movie heroes, define themselves by action. Whatever the case, Son of Rambow (the latest movie to equate childhood with bliss), is an unabashed love letter to the tender age where imagination rules.