Richard Kelly likes things to be complicated. It’s not enough for him to pick a genre, think of a plot, have Person A do X to Person B, then roll credits; Kelly, instead, takes delight in a cacophony of ideas. For example: take Cameron Diaz’s right foot. Ordinarily, the director of a sci-fi thriller wouldn’t pay much heed of Ms. Diaz’s foot, but in The Box, that foot is missing four (significant) toes. Diaz shows us her foot in a scene where she discusses Sartre with her high school students (one of whom is being radio-controlled by Martians). She will later bond with Frank Langella over their mutual deformities. Then, her rocket scientist-husband shoots her in the chest.
Superheroes don’t have mothers. You hear about Superman’s father (who gave him the cape), or Batman’s father (who gave him the money), but there’s seldom any mention of mom. The X-men are all orphans. Spiderman was raised by an aunt. And why is this? What’s the connection, you ask, between wearing a costume and not having a mother? Easy; the costume is the uniform of the outcast, of someone who feels they can’t be loved. Fighting crime is a form of self-harm. This is something the new superhero/costumed vigilante movie, Kick-Ass, understands really well. You should take note that both its heroes lose their mothers at an early age.
With the release of a recent YouTube video purporting to show pre-teens acting out Scarface for an elementary school play, I thought: 1) Western civilisation has come to an end, and 2) I need to re-watch the original movie. Beloved by rappers; reviled by interior decorators, Scarface has transcended its 80s-era Miami-eyesore roots to become a cultural phenomenon. This, despite the fact its hero is an incestuous psychopath with a fondness for gold medallions. Why do people love Scarface so? Is it the miasma of bad taste? Pacino’s sneer? The fact almost every major Latino character is played by an Italian? Loving Scarface is like revering polyester.