Any time a high-falutin film critic identifies a film as distanced or mannered, and then in support of the claim, complains concerning the lack of attention to realism within the film, I’M SOLD.
In this week’s New Yorker, David Denby’s review (warning: not a permalink) of nearly released Tom Hanks flick Road to Perdition manages to not only do this but to condemn the filmmaker’s aesthetic, citing Erwin Panofsky’s dictum “shoot unstylized reality” (more fairly excerpted in Denby’s piece) in support of this goal.
After I read it, I realized that he opens the review with a reference to the greatest of the Coen brothers flicks, Miller’s Crossing, which, it would appear, treads similar terrain. Of course, stylization and lack of human sympathy are what they get docked for too. As at least one of my readers knows, that’s why I love ’em.
One more thing to note: this weekend I was looking for more comics to review in a big, mostly superhero-oriented comics store. They have lots of unbought titles that date as far back as 1998 in genres that interest me: um, if comics had “shoe-gazing emo” or “historical documentary speculation” or “mannerist genre homage” racks, that’s where I’d look most of the time.
As it was, I wasn’t sure my editor would print (er, post) reviews of five-year old dog-eared books by publishers that went out of business two years ago, so I didn’t pick any up.
I did look at, and consider, a beautiful, moody graphic novel, of 30’s gangsters in Chicago by nobody I’d ever heard of. Guess what? The book was sold directly as the basis of this film. Now I gotta look it up. Here’s a review of it when originally published.