Well, howdy stranger! Go on, sit for a spell by the fire! Don't mind if I keep whittlin' here while you make yourself warm, do ya? And help yourself to some vittles, don't be shy! While you dig into that there chow, I got a story to tell ya, stranger. It takes place in a different time, a more innocent time - back, back, way back: the salad days, a time some 'round here call "July 2009."
See, back then, lots of people were a hootin' and a hollerin' 'bout a little 80-some minute movie called Bruno. It was something called a satire, but a very broad one, done by this comic feller with three names, and some people thought this here movie'd change the way people thought about a touchy subject - homosexuality! See, lots of people seemed to think that the movie was all about homosexuality, and lots of those people were a-feared that plain folks like you and me would take it wrong, that the comedy in the movie would have us laughin' at this character's prediliction fer sleepin' with other menfolk, instead of the scrapes he manages to get hisself inta. But plain folks can catch on to satire, 'specially the broad kinds - see, this comic feller played this here "Bruno" as a very out, very wild, but gentle and well-meaning bumbler who just wants to be famous here in America: this here character is a little bit like them silent movie heroes, ya see? He's on our side from the start, stranger, and we're on his, and what we're really having our guffaws about is just how unrealistic and weird and inappropriate the real live people act around this totally manufactured persona! Ya see, it's not about how silly this feller is - it's about how nasty we can get! I'd say that's pretty clever, huh stranger?
Needless to say, the hubub died down pretty fast about Bruno. Yep, ya don't hear about it so much anymore. Lot of it has to do with the fact that the movie that comic feller made was basically the same one he'd made before, 'bout another gentle and silly ferrner who wanted to find happiness and fame here in America too. You may be surprised to hear this, stranger, but that one was actually a bit more nuanced than Bruno. Though, there weren't no dancin' weiner in that one, and it's not everyday ya get to see one a them, do ya stranger? But there it was, a whippin around and a winkin' with its one little weiner eye there all across multiplex screens, all across America, way back in July 2009...that's something some folks might call just a little subversive, and I admire that comic feller with the three names for that, yessireebob...
I could envision a similar sort of transference Bruno-scolds projected onto Sascha Baron Cohen's flick happening to Amat Escalante's Los Bastardos, which follows the course of one catastrophic Los Angeles day in the life of two undocumented workers Jesus and Fausto, who (also a little like a Sascha Baron Cohen character) have made the mistake thinking that the America represented in hot rod zines and quiet suburban streets is a real place filled with opportunity. Instead, the grim-faced pair suffer the burning hot parking lot where they gather with other early riser day laborers, casual harrasment from rip-off artists and goading by white trash Los Angeleans, and partake in a perverse betrayal (also casually purchased) hiding among the sidestreets and bungalows. Los Bastardos simmers with desperation, fear, and defeat, and it might be easy for more, shall we say, sensitive viewers to see the movie pointing to those elements as making up who Jesus and Fausto are rather than evidence of the walled-off lives they're being forced to lead. So look carefully - in Los Bastardos' most successful moments (and it is a film of moments), it's a devastating and surreal portrait of wrenching, unresolved sadness, a place where there are no room for mistakes. Or being poor and brown.
Atom Egoyan has made a few films about the failure of people to find resolution - or maybe, the right kind of resolution. This presentation of characters who find themselves connected to one another not only by passing incidents, but the narratives that make up the deeper oceans of their own lives continues with Egoyan's latest, Adoration. It may be a little more heavy-handed, a little less true than his brilliant 1997 film, The Sweet Hereafter, but it's probably one of his best ones since. And no, it's not about fucking terrorism: like Amat Escalante's Los Bastardos, you also have to look and look carefully at Adoration. It shouldn't be too hard, though, as it's probably one of the most stimulating films in general release this year.