Friday, November 2, 2012


James Bowman has a devastating review of the film The Oranges, which I knew was going to be a moral train wreck as soon as I saw the trailer. The whole review is good, but one paragraph in particular says it all:
It all comes down, as I say, to the Hollywood culture, which really is wedded to the therapeutic one, particularly in the absolute value it places on the quest for individual happiness and fulfilment and its Nina-like contempt for the rules by which people used to think themselves and their happiness were bound and limited. This merely hedonistic philosophy is occasionally dignified by reference to such fake Chinese proverbs as this: "Sometimes you have to burn your house down to see the moon." Uh, no. I don’t think so. At no times do you have to burn your house down to see the moon. Doesn’t happen. Ever.
There are probably a lot of reasons why I'm finding movie reviewing such an onerous task lately, but Bowman nails at least one reason - the work required to parse out what's wrong with Hollywood films requires you to translate the disordered moral universe that informs so many of these pictures to the more generally centred one in which real people actually live. It's a lot of work, and sometimes, when it's all done, you feel like you've spent far too much time in a place that's the moral equivalent of science fiction - a universe where the laws of physics have been upended to help shepherd a wholly improbable story to a completely unlikely place.

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