Cultural Drive-By: Part LVII in a MMM-part Series

Peter wasn’t pleased with Southland Tales, but his brief description of the movie made me want to see it. So I did. At first, I thought it was just what the doctor ordered so to speak: I love movies about the future and counterfactuals, pop culture detritus, dense mythologies, etc. And I do hope that a cottage industry of Southland Tales springs up around what I’m guessing will be a colossal flop, mainly so I can read lengthy diatribes on how a federal COPS 2 program represents “UPU2” in embryo. But man, the movie was pretty gnarly, a few excellent performances notwithstanding. (I hope The Rock isn’t discredited for appearing in a mess of a movie.) In truth, I slept through about a third of the movie, but to my mind this is damning evidence for the prosecution. Though I did sleep only four hours the night before, a rollicking talkie can keep me up. Southland Tales did not.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is so depressing that I can’t really evaluate it in terms of “good”/“bad.” I mean, is it “good” or “bad” if the movie makes me want to slit my wrists? I know how my enemies feel, and who’s to say they don’t have some clout here? I do worry that Marisa Tomei’s picture of Dorian Grey lies somewhere next to Johnny Depp’s in some catacomb of evil, which is to say Tomei looks roughly twice as beautiful as when she was half as young.

No Country for Old Men was so obviously excellent as to constitute a kind of embarrassment: every movie should try to be 3 percent as good, but they don’t and they aren’t. The nice thing about my movie-going experience was that there was a voluble gentleman sitting in my row who seemed somewhat out-of-place in an audience of reverential nerds. He guffawed during a few killings, and I regret to report that I joined him twice or thrice. Not in the “killing is cool” vein, and not in the sense that I didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation: the Coen brothers are known for “dark humor” for a reason, and I’m hoping that my loud comrade and I were plugged into their mordant wavelength.

Most romantic song of this decade: Silver Jews, “I’m Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You.” I’m so glad David Berman isn’t smoking crack anymore, and you should be too.