Went to see Little Children yesterday. The only reason we didn’t walk out of it is because apparently I had hit a woman in the head with my bike helmet while trying to find my seat, she turned around and yelled Jesusand I didn’t say I was sorry, I didn’t hear her, it was during a very loud preview, then part way through the movie as the whole enterprise was getting exceedingly worse by the second I felt gripped by a terrible anxiety because I was too scared to get up and cross her path again until the movie was over figuring she would have forgotten about it by then and that is sad because Little Children, and De Campo will be disgusted by the fact that I am wasting my energy writing about it, I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so repulsed by something so horrid. I also had a hangover. Went out the night before and saw Spider Vomit (NO), Kill Boogie (NO), Lindsay Lowhand (YES!). WHOAaaa-hey.
Art is kooky, in order for it to work, it has to be killer (of course), but at its most base level, it needs to have a heart and this movie, not only is it missing pretty much every essential organ (except rod and fanny), it does not understand life.
I was happy to go see it in the first place because it’s set in a salubrious suburb on the east coast satisfying my alacrity for Cheever's dark satires, not to mention my current literary obsession (Rabbit at Rest, incredible) and being homesick for U.S. suburbia in general.
Kate Winslet is a stay-at-home Mom and Patrick Wilson is a stay-at-home Dad. They meet in the park where their kids play and start having sex after Kate makes an implausible move to ruffle the stiff, conservative Mothers in the park, who are so tediously condescended to by the filmmaker its freaking pathetic. Kate’s unsatisfied at home because her husband jerks off all the time. The less said about him the better. (“We need to talk,” storms Kate. “Can’t you see I’m at work,” he replies, a pair of polka dot underpants smothering his face. It should be funny but it’s not. It’s awkward and embarrassing. ) Patrick is married to Jennifer Connelly in one of the most unsubstantial roles for a female of her calibre I’ve ever seen. Patrick tells Kate Jennifer makes documentaries. “You mean like Michael Moore?” she says. Is it just me or is that a really foolish thing to say. Actually no, because it turns out she makes documentaries about Iraq too that are extremely tacky. A clumsy voice-over done by some sleazy soap guy gives the movie a ghastly jolt. The moments when Winslet is off-screen are absolute torture.
The movie ends with a message of hope and that is its greatest offence. There’s other strangeness too. The number of loving close-ups of mangled hands and unkempt feet are just bizarre. And it actually isn’t nice to see Jackie Earle Haley, the rat-faced teen hooligan from the 1970s (Bad News Bears, Breaking Away, etc), back in movies because the character he plays is so utterly detestable he is pointless.
The director is Todd Fields. The fact that he and I went to both Mt. Hood Community College and Southern Oregon State College has always stuck with me. The only other person I know to have done this is my college roommate. Therefore I always thought Todd and I had some sort of kinship. Now I don’t believe I could even share a shortbread cookie with him. I think he’s a screwy closet Republican, extraordinarily naïve, who has assembled an extremely unsympathetic cast of characters.
This might sound arrogant, but I believe I have already accomplished more valuable work than what Mr. Fields has accomplished, despite glowing reviews by Mr. Denby in the New Yorker. I didn’t make Little Children.
I don’t understand, a couple years ago, he was complaining about upstart foreigners (Von Trier; the guy who did 21 Grams, which I thought was a vastly underrated comedy and this Russian asshole who made an awful movie about the perils of San Franciscan real estate) making movies set in America, that were hateful and contemptuous of U.S. values. The argument being their knowledge of American culture purely based on vile American TV.
Why not add my erstwhile soulmate and his pretentious perversities and creepy foot fetishes to the mix? I don’t see the difference. Consider this my Public Service Announcement. I urge you not to go and see this foul, heartless, miserable little turd. I was upset for a very long time afterwards until I found a great-looking, second-hand copy of Martin Amis’ Money at the Elgin Street bookshop. That cheered me up immensely. I’m going to go read Rabbit at Rest now. A tremendously funny and compassionate work of art.