Its great merit is one, although it manifests pluriously. For one thing, it manages a very honest rendition of mental illness. By honesty we do not mean that it represents reality so as to pander to the familiarities of the mass market (codeword : empathy) ; nor do we mean that it represents reality so as to balance out a set of books (codeword : educational) ; nor that it represents reality so as to avoid specific taboo spots (codeword : responsible) ; nor as a narrative in favour of some fashionable idiocy or other (codeword : empowering). No, none of that gunk. By honestly we mean honestly, which is to say both unapologetically and, in ultimate analysis, incomprehensibly. That is the bar for honesty, a story that mostly makes sense but doesn't neatly add up, doesn't promise not to offend and doesn't particularly care one way or the other is honest.iii Everything else is shit, some of it bull, some of it chicken, all of it shit.
For another thing, it manages a very honest rendition of productive genius. That man who can tell you "jets are the way of the future" when it counts, which is to say before it's actually even a thing ; that man who can tell you "build it", and upon whose telling you "build it", the building is worthwhile. Even if he said so confused, broken, on a hospital bed. Even if he goes on muttering like a raving lunatic and has a strange relationship with bottled milk. Even if he counts his peas. That man who feels with his bare hand your product, and won't have it, no matter how hard it was, how difficult to make, what it took out of you. That man you know will kill you, which he will, that then runs his hands over the next iteration and smiles, that smile which is worth a thousand worlds because really, without it there is nothing. Nothing at all.
Honesty is honesty, all through, and as it turns out productive genius is not readily distinguishable from mental illness. Not through anything that can be "modeled meaningfully", as that expression goes.
Movies are, fundamentally, an exercise in obscurantist claptrap. That's why they play them in the darkness, on the wall of a cave. This is a movie. Other things - not so much.———
- 2004, by Martin Scorsese, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale. [↩]
- DiCaprio was in Titanic, and I never watched either that nor anything else with him in it, for that reason. Nine Oscars, fuck you, that's the end of Oscars as well as anyone involved. Yes, I know nobody was supposed to react thusly, only psychopaths do this sort of thing, bla bla yadda yadda. Yes, he was 17 or some shit. Stupidity has consequences, which can be denied but can not be escaped. Remember that.
Cate Blanchett I never liked for her politics. I don't demand that every actress have a rape fetish like Belucci (seriously, you ever saw anything with her where she doesn't end up getting it ?), but if you're going to play roles Hollywood and "the press" approve of you will be off my list. Remember that also - the job of an actress is to be scandalous, not respectable. Not in any sense of that term. [↩]
- The oldest trick in the book of the manager, criminal lawyer, and every other professional interacting with the complexity of life, when confronted with a man accused who denies, is to provide him an easy out. The man who takes the easy out is lying. The man who doesn't is telling the truth. [↩]