I Want No One Else To Succeed
by Molly Lambert
Westerns are not always the female-friendliest of genres, but I imagine a lot of women liked No Country For Old Men despite its maleness for the same reasons they liked Brokeback Mountain. Not that they necessarily wanted to see Llewellyn and Anton make out and do it d-style (I’m sure there’s plenty of fanfic out there). But we enjoy narrative pleasure as much as the next guy.
And you know, two Big Men chasing each other through the desert along the river of men, buying some teenage boy’s flannel shirt, and trying to blow each other’s brains out. I wouldn’t be surprised if NCFOM had a big gay following too. It’s just two Beautiful Bears romping around in a near perfect film.
The unforgettable villains from last year’s Western masterpieces, Anton Chighur and Daniel Plainview, were both more or less asexual in the films. Maybe their lusts for blood and money spring out of some other kind of repression. P.T.A. and the Coens both made extremely dark Humours Comedies about men driven by singular passions, but not bodily ones. Bodies are just an uncomfortable house for the spirit.
In Deadwood Al Swearengen was constantly getting his dick sucked whilst torturing, giving speeches, and taking bribes. He was a multi-tasker. Often the man with strong passions is a man of many appetites, equally attracted to all manners of vice and incapable of not indulging. Like Falstaff, or Orson Welles.
NO CUNNILINGUS FOR OIL MEN:
I read an exchange from the There Will Be Blood script that wasn’t in the film, where Plainview indulged at the whorehouse. In the final version of the movie, he abstains. He gives his “brother” Henry some money to make it with a hooker and that’s all we see before they hit the beach. I swear I’m not making this up:
In the shooting script, it mentions in a couple of spots that Plainview is impotent. He mentions to Henry that his “cock” doesn’t work. I just read on Defamer that a lot of folks seem to think he is gay, but I just don’t agree with that. I’ve seen the film three times now and that thought has never crossed my mind.
D. Plainview: “I told you I would eat you”
Also of note is that the fact that also in the shooting script is a scene where we are to see Plainview on his knees in front of a woman, apparently going down on her or just finished and he gives her money. I kinda hope this scene wasn’t shot. I mean, does Daniel Plainview strike you as a guy who eats pussy?
MEN IN LOVE: J.B. & J.B. are best BBs now
The most sexualized moments Plainview has are with the Sunday family’s younger daughter. I’m not suggesting he’s a pederast (I’m not!), but I thought of the Big Bad Wolf a few times, mostly later when he was screaming “I told you I would eat you!” at Paul Dano. John Huston’s unforgettable Noah Cross is, of course, the iconic predatory pederast of film. In fiction, it’s Lolita‘s Clare Quilty.
The Coen brothers certainly haven’t shied away from pedophilia (The Big Lebowski), deviant sexualities (Barton Fink), or child eating (Raising Arizona). They share P.T.A.’s admiration and emulation of the O.C.D. focus on technical and especially visual craft in the films of Kubrick, Hitchcock, Huston, and Welles.
“I LIKE FUCKING AND MAKING FILMS”
I don’t really think TWBB or NCFOM are about sexual deviancy. They’re about aggressive predatory behavior as applied to competitions for power. But like Alfred Hitchcock’s, these movies depict Obsession. The nature of obsession was also the theme of the fall’s other magnificent modern Western, the less heralded but no less great Zodiac.
Chighur is as crazy for Llewellyn as Jimmy Stewart’s Scottie was about Kim Novak’s femme fatale in Vertigo. Both are twisted love stories about characters who exist seemingly only to pursue each other. The money, as ever, is besides the point. Tommy Lee Jones’s character reminded me of Marge Gunderson in Fargo. His happy home life is the key to his ability to tolerate crime.
Ruffahaal: “Loving you is easy cause you’re beautiful”
It’s not hard to locate P.T.A.’s competitive drive and striving perfectionism in Daniel Plainview, or the Coens’ lifelong bond and unspoken shared code in Chighur and Moss, or David Fincher’s fetishistic dedication to detail in Zodiac‘s Robert Graysmith.
The desire to create and make art, like any strong urge, can overwhelm and push the other lesser passions aside. Expressing oneself can be as addictive as any drug or sexual kink. Just you try and get me to stop blogging now. The key is to remain somewhat engaged with the earthly plane. Otherwise they’ll shut your power off, and it’s harder to type in the dark.
Post-Script On The Death Of Old Men:
In the (otherwise totally brilliant) issue of Esquire I just read with (Arch-Masculinist) Ahnold on the cover, there’s a ghey gag on the back page. It’s a grave marker for the author’s masculinity, which supposedly died the day he fed his newborn a bottle of soy milk.
Fuck that. There’s nothing unmanly about becoming responsible. Stop acting like there is Mr. Soy Boy. Being able to feed and care for your child should be a standard measure of Masculinity.
“No woman comes between us, unless she comes between us.”
People always say Westerns are elegies to Dead Masculinity, and I say y’know what? To hell with the shitty old kind of masculinity. I am ready for an awesome New Masculinity where male identity isn’t defined through the exclusion of women. I’ve dubbed this new masculinity Post-Men, differentiated from their brethren the Emosogynists (who are just regular old sexists in American Apparel t-shirts).
It’s possible to be a good (read: moral in the “golden rule” sense) person and lead a full and interesting life. Sure it’s generally easier to do the inappropriate thing in the short term, but in the long run it inevitably tends to come back and hit you in the face. There is nothing inherently male gendered about selfish impulsiveness or bad decision making as “Kristen” and Jamie-Lynn make clear.
Giving Spitzer a pseudoscientific biological defense for his behavior is bullshit. Knocked Up was well-intentioned but it mostly ended up celebrating what it meant to condemn. There are responsible people, and there are cowards. And still far too many of the latter in business, government, and everywhere else. Own up. Grow up. You might even enjoy it.
JB on JB:
Apparently Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin (who have no scenes together) became total besties when they finally met! Based on what I’ve read, Bardem and Brolin are poster Post-Men: meaning their love for one another can co-exist peacefully with (as opposed to exclusively from) their love and respect for their incredibly hot girlfriend/wives Penelope Cruz and Diane Lane.
Brolin: I was so intimidated by him. After I saw Before Night Falls I thought I was gonna wake up every morning with him in my bed.
Bardem: And did you?
Brolin: Yeah. Why do you think we’re so close?
And so it went, with the two completing each others sentences or attempting one-ups. Asked about his unusual tonsure in the film –
Bardem: I went to the trailer and I had the long hair. And [the hairdresser], because he’s kind of a genius, he went bit bit bit bit bit. And the Coens were in the trailer, and they started to laugh… I think I saw Ethan fall down crying… and I said, ‘What’s happening?’ and I looked in the mirror, and I said, ‘Fuck.’
Brolin: And then he started welling up in the eyes and he looked at me and he said, I’m not gonna get laid for three months.
Brolin: I shouldn’t tell this but I’m gonna tell it anyway. Woody Harrelson came in and he and I have this scene in a hospital. Javier has a scene with him, I have a scene with him. We’re doing this scene in the hospital and he’s got this little speech. And he can’t remember this speech for the life of him. And he’s just like stuttering through it. And finally he gets through the speech, and both of the Coens get up and go, ‘Oh my God, that was great!’ And big hugs, and I look at Javier and I go ‘‘What the fuck?’ Because for the first two weeks, we’re in the trailer and I look at Javier and he says ‘I think they’re gonna fire me.'”
Bardem: So that’s how free we are. They don’t say too much. But they are always there for you. Because me, I’m a pain in the ass, I’m obsessive, I need to answer every question that comes to my mind, and they are always there to let you know what you want to know. They’ll give you options, but they are not aggressive like other directors telling you that this is how it has to be.
SEE YOU AT THE PEACHTREE DANCE!
Don’t do the blog if you can’t be the guy.
You know when cats look like loaves of bread?
Dean Wareham explains how indie rock street cred doesn’t pay the bills. He’s 42 and turning into a crotchety old New York art star (see: Lou Reed and Glenn Branca). And how can he dislike The Pixies?
Dog Bites Man made Zach Galifianakis cry from guilt
Help another guy named Zach and his friend Jessica get laid
The Hater’s High Five from the inimitable Julia Wertz.
Ethan Hawke’s face looks more and more like his soul every day.
Skinemax Potent Quotables
Claudia Schiffer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play Belle De Jour in GQ and everybody wins.
Ryan Adams can’t stop blogging
objet petit a
Your Boyhood in Seoul
Cracker Your Wardrobe
Fire Joe Morgan is only a somewhat misleading blog title.
Judd Apatow celebrating Paley Center Panel Play By Play (with hot Garry Shandling action)
Larry David is reminding me why I should vote 4 Hilldog.
Molly Lambert is the senior editor of This Recording.
“Flakes” – Mystery Jets (mp3)
the new mystery jets drops tomorrow
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:
Harris Feinsod on the famous Chighur haircut.
No Country For Pwned Men.