I saw a movie recently.
Quick point I want to make: there's no fucking possible way to start a first-person blog post without sounding like Andy Rooney. Remember that guy? Crochety old man who got an "old man yells at cloud" segment at the end of 60 Minutes. One time he railed against Lady Gaga and used the phrase "in my day" like four times in as many minutes. It was fascinating. And now every time I hike up my jeans to my navel and sit down to write one of these things I can't help but feel "oh, hey, here's me basically doing Andy Rooney as an elder millenial."
Anyway. I saw a movie recently.
The last movie I saw was actually 2002's 'The Country Bears' which is a GREAT movie in that it is the exact plot of the Cameron Crowe movie from 2000, Almost Famous, hastily updated to include bears 'trying to get the band back together'. I suggest you watch it. It is peak 2002. The only way it could be more 2002 is if Donald Rumsfeld had a cameo in it wearing Heelys, which he doesn't, but Elton John does (but does not wear Heelys, which is his loss, quite frankly). Also: Christopher Walken plays the villain, says “oh NO” in exactly the way you’d want him to say those two words, and he does so multiple times in the movie. In the words of James Lipton, "it was a delight."
I've lost 15% of the audience in that last paragraph alone. I can feel it. Writing on the internet is like Plinko for attention spans.
Anyway. I saw The Dead Don't Die, a film by Jim Jarmusch, a filmmaker whom my autocorrect dislikes enough to try and correct it to 'Jim Jamming', which is what I call putting on my pajamas, which I don't own, because I am 35 and sleep either fully (some would say aggressively) nude, or in pair of loose-fitting boxers (that some would say are actually Harem pants made for waders).
The Dead Don't Die is a fascinating study into what an eldery hipster from New York City When It Was Last Culturally Relevant thinks about the world outside of New York City. I love Jarmusch's work, and as an aging hipster myself I can only dream of a) having a haircut as iconic as his and b) being a true artist, for he is indeed a true artist. He doesn't give a shit what you or I think, rendering this entire crispily written thing I'm bending into shape here totally moot. I love the word moot more than members of my extended family. I also really like that "Jesse's Girl" uses the word 'moot' — go ahead, it's there. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it was the first movie in a while where I felt that I was being played a little. Billy Murray, Adam Driver, Danny Glover, Chloe Sevigny, Sturgill Simpson... it's like giving me chocolate cake, man. It's fucking chocolate cake. Chocolate (fantastic). Also: cake (a delightful treat with strong ties to good memories). Combined? It's good by principle, not by design*. Fuck. I finally found the point I was trying to make. I was sitting here poking around my brainbag like a goddam truffle pig waiting for that one to pop up.
Where do I go now that I found the point? Herein lies the inevitable — and unenviable task — of finding a closing thesis that is somehow different than the main one I crashed into above like the breaks had been cut. What else is in here… don’t be clever just to be clever? If you have to explain that it’s meta, then it isn’t meta?
Maybe a movie about the failures of consumerism doesn’t make sense in the context of $9 popcorn? I only got that because I had a gift card. And gift cards are an excuse to get your Kim Jong Un “I’m a special boy” sized popcorn. Art is about context. You can see why The Avengers and all that bollocks is what’s in vogue now: people want fucking escapism because pretty much everyone is broke. When America has a surplus we can afford to look inward. That’s why (takes deep hit of inhaler) the ‘90s were a perceived time for intellectualism. Mostly because we could literally afford to go hang out at coffee shops and didn’t also have The Answer To Every Question in our pants (which is to say: smartphones, not a dick joke, although, now that I look at it, there could easily be one there, but if I make you draw the conclusion then the onus is on you).
I legit love Jim Jarmusch, Billy-Jo Murray, and have an actual sensual reaction to Sturgill Simpson’s music, lyrics, and ability to look cool even when dressing like a substitute teacher’s substitute teacher. But The Dead Don’t Die was like being yelled at by a cool older brother.
One time Roger Ebert tweeted out an article I wrote. I was happy about it for months.
Which is to say: this is not the best movie review I’ve ever written. What follows, however, is.
* 'Us' was similar to The Dead Don’t Die in that it was just O.K. It was like... well made, expensive pants. You can appreciate everything about them, the hours of skilled craftmansship that went into making it, but at the end of the day its still... pants.
Thank you for coming to my NED Talk.