Around Daddy's House, we like to watch movies and eat. Such is the luxury of the now. In doing so, we've developed and nurtured our appetite for Miyazake. Since Ponyo, we've been exclaiming 'Ham!' as an inside joke. Last evening it was The Illusionist, an animated film based on a story by Tati.
I'm something of a sucker for aerial photography of verdant places where there are simple homes that any fool can afford. It is a romantic obsession borne of the life of a traveling consultant who spends too much on rent in the big city. But aside from that obvious problem, I share a more subtle dysfunction which is the general romance of foreign films, especially those whose characters are hyperreal, and good, and simple.
In The Illusionist, as in Il Postino, as in My Friend Totoro there is something too clear about the characters. The seem always to be invested with a simple goodness that makes their flaws acceptable. The is some purity about these bucolic types that we Americans cannot seem to see in ourselves.
I suppose it would be facile to say from a conservative POV that this is a symptom of Hollywood - that makes the American countryside much more fecund for the likes of Leatherface and Suspect Zero. But why? Why do we turn over our judgement on Middle America to the imagination of Truman Capote? Why are we likely to believe that we'd be safer in Ulster than Ann Arbor? Consider Blood Simple or Fargo. Do we have murder in our hearts at bottom?
For the time that I was an organic (and I'm tending to swing back that way at this point in life) I had a constant beef with the permanence of the yuppie in all of our media. Now that media is being distributed, it seems to have accentuated that problem. I'm thinking of 'Wedding Crashers' and why the babe had to be a rich babe. And on top of that a rebellious rich babe from a severely dysfunctional family.
But yeah, I don't like chick flicks like Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatos either. Perhaps this is why Shawshank stands out like no other American film. Hmm.