Saturday, June 19, 2004

What Recent U.S. Film Describes "a Country Being Eaten Away by Corruption and Bigotry"?

Given the opportunity, Le Monde's main movie critic never fails to use his columns to castigate America, its leaders, and/or their policies. We shall see more of Samuel Blumenfeld in the coming weeks, but suffice it to say that in this week's Le Monde 2, he uses an article on Paul Verhoeven to lambast George W Bush.

That is hardly newsworthy, perhaps, given the reputation of the Starship Troopers director. But an interview with the Coen brothers in an earlier issue of Le Monde's weekly supplement says that their latest opus describes

a country being eaten away by corruption and bigotry, by finance and religion, a perfect metaphor for George W. Bush's America.
Now, I have no doubt that the chances are great that Joel and Ethan Coen are, like many in the movie business, pro-Democrat and anti-Republican. There are only two problems here: The first is that not once in the three-page article do the brothers ever speak of politics or American policies, domestic or foreign, nor do they ever mention a single politician's name. (Blumenfeld's description is even more jaw-dropping when one realizes that the movie star they chose for the main role is known neither to be particularly anti-Bush nor to have ever been, in any way, a knee-jerk opponent of the U.S. military.)

The second is that The Ladykillers is the remake of a British comedy from 1955, when the 43rd president was 9 years old. Of course, it might be interesting to find out if the intention of the earlier movie's director (Alexander Mackendrick) was to castigate that era's British government. But my hunch is that the Ealing Studios comedy (with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers) was mainly what it purportedly set out to be: a comedy for the masses to enjoy.

The choice of words seems therefore to be entirely gratuitious and entirely Blumenfeld's, who probably — I know I'm extrapolating, here — felt empowered by the prevailing attitude in France (and at Le Monde) that the White House should be castigated at every possible opportunity.

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