Friday, February 22, 2008

Blood, Gore, and Depression at the Movies

Jason L. Riley's decision regarding several of recent films is probably shared by many:

In "No Country for Old Men," a so-called literary thriller about a drug deal gone bad, Javier Bardem's character, a murderous psychotic, is equipped with "a slaughterhouse mechanism for killing beef cattle by driving a piston through the brain," writes Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post. "He uses it to terminate the extremely unwary who allow him to get up close and place it against the skull." In his Wall Street Journal review, Joe Morgenstern, who's been critiquing movies since the 1950s, says that "No Country" features "some of the most horrifically violent moments ever put on screen." Thanks, but I'll pass.

Hollywood's technical ability to give us realistic portrayals of violence may have caused some directors to think that such explicit scenes are necessary. Many of us are not against all violence in film but seriously question the artistic equivalent of a sledge hammer where a hint would be more artistically effective. Less is often more and many an otherwise good film has been ruined by unrestrained special effects.

Another observation: With age I've found myself running from films that are depressing. Been there. Done that. Tell me the movie has a message and I'll think, "No thanks. Saw more than enough message movies in the Sixties."

My quest is not for films that are devoid of rough stuff. I simply want to avoid ones where depressing the audience is the primary goal.

And I suspect I'm not alone.

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