The cunning plot (based on the SHORT story by F Scott Fitzgerald) sold me the ticket. In the film, Brad pit is born at physical age eighty and grows younger. He’s abandoned by his father at the doorstep of a childless southern mammy who takes the hideous bub to her breast like a good (black) Christian should. At around physical age seventy/mental age ten Pitt meets his true love, a disturbing seven year old red head with the voice of Cate Blanchett. This epic love affair is the boner around which the skeleton of the story snuggles. Other than mooning over girl-child rack, Brad Pitt gets into the real stuff of life i.e. fighting in wars, riding motorbikes, being ushered into the lobby of love by older women and learning eternal truths - like that life is fleeting, death is inevitable and blah blah live for the moment Dead Poets Society Forest Gump bird metaphor sigh sniff…
Tired clichés are modified somewhat for the female characters who are permitted to live for the moment only until such time as they ripen into stunning, selfless mothers who live for their spawn. Father’s may abandon their children, the story tells, if they feel they are not emotionally able to provide for said child in the natural, effortless, uncomplicated way that the female of the species embodies. Such a decision is not easy to make, and should not incur blame. For if men did not live, who would pen adventure stories and love letters? Abandoning fathers with golden hearts can be separated from the pack of dead-beat-dad’s by their financial contribution and the postcards they send annually.
I see some link between this message and that worrying regular of recent film – the cool Gen X dude who loves post-punk and used to skate/play sick guitar before his hormonally possessed woman badgered him into the suburbs, systematically broke his spirit and made him give up everything he loved (Juno, Knocked Up).
But I am not merely out on a feminist revenge rant. There are bigger ideological fish to fry right now. In the coming attractions shown before I was beaten with the trite stick by Benjamin Button, a very disturbing trend emerges. Shorts showed takes from Yes, a film were by Jim Carey is a Negative Nelly until he opens his heart to the possibilities of life and love by saying yes to everything that presents, Revolution Road, a more serious film in which Kate Winslet and Leonardo Decaprio realize they are not self actualized in their hum drum suburban existence and must hold on to the passion of their initial youthful love in order to challenge the staus quo and Seven Pounds where Will Smith, Jesus like, gives away his possessions to random strangers only to learn that receiving an unexpected gift from a stranger (the gift of love that is) can be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
Do we seriously want to watch this stuff? I’m glad that everyone took time of from writing affirmations, getting nose jobs and reading chicken soup for the soul to make it down to the cinema but surely we can do better than this.
I was so aggravated after my assault by the Curious Benjamin Butthead that I sat on the verandah fuming, chain smoking and calling late night friends to rant. A bestie helpfully talked me down by drawing my attention to the fact that it is the New Year, and everyone, especially Hollywood, is in a turning over a new leaf kind of mood. I hope this is true and it will all wash away like crap poetry written in sand, but I do feel, if this is the holiday message being pushed celluloid then I must offer another perspective.
Sometimes the silver lining around the cloud is the toxic residue from years of pumping industrial filth into the air in order to manufacture Care Bears, sometimes love is just comforting and short term, sometimes a plastic bag floating down the street is completely forgettable and that’s okay. Let’s make our new year’s resolution to not loose control of our critical faculties every time two good looking people look at a sunset. There is work to be done, things to dislike, arguments to have. Getting older is not necessarily the accruing of wisdom but we have to do it anyway so hone your bullshit metre and work out exactly what will and will not make you feel good, bad or indifferent. Don’t let the pittblanchetcareysmith machine bully you into seizing anything. Oh yeah and don’t become mummies and daddies unless you really want to.