Whatever you have to give, art takes. Great artists spurn living, in order to create. That’s why great artists are such shitheels: they ignore or feed-off the ones they love, because The Thing – perfection – has them entranced. To know that you are capable of greatness is a curse. But the thing you create – your masterwork – is infinitely rewarding. Art ruins people: it locks them in rooms; separates them from family; pours scorn on their talent; usurps their good health. It’s poison. But it feeds heroes. We admire great artists, even when they’re exasperating. Prima donna behaviour is accepted, so long as we see results. In Black Swan, a ballerina goes mad, and achieves perfection. Art: One; Artist: Nothing.
Crime movies work on a that-looks-like-fun principle. Bank robberies look exhilarating, so they’re ok. Ditto driving a stolen car, or taking consequence-free drugs. Not having to pay taxes is obviously a big middle-class turn-on. Chain smoking without fear of opprobrium is hot stuff. We all want the veneer of being a criminal, in essence. That’s what good crime movies give us. Mesrine: Killer Instinct works because Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) only commits sexy crimes. He’s what we want in a criminal: passionate, well-dressed, electric in bed. Even when he’s shooting up a prison, he does it with élan.
Who are the bourgeoisie? Is it you and I? – slouched, respectively, reading/writing this review. Blogging seems like a pretty bourgeois pastime. I can’t picture true aristocrats writing blogs (shooting peasants, yes; catching syphilis; maybe). Do heroes of the working class blog? Is it a proletariat thing? I guess the aristos would say so, but I dunno… you can’t ween the masses off their opiates properly if you’re sat your bedroom. So bloggers, accept it: you’re bourgeois. French director Gaspar Noé has it in for you something rotten, I’m afraid. His movie, Irreversible, is a one and half hour assault on all your petty bourgeois sensibilities, and if you pee yourself in bourgeois terror at the result, he’ll be a very happy bunny.
Once in a while I understand what good actors bring to a movie. It’s usually mediocrity that sounds it out. When a good actor is given a script that’s nothing much and a group of co-stars who are either miscast or woefully inadequate, it’s as if adversity acts as a lightning rod; think of Antony Hopkins in Meet Joe Black or Marlon Brando in anything after 1972. Johnny Depp is a master of turning cinematic lead into acting gold. Now Viggo Mortensen must be added to these somewhat dubiously-honoured ranks. Viggo’s new movie, Eastern Promises, is mediocre to the bone, but his performance, as a Russian mobster, is among the best acting of the year.