Saturday, July 04, 2009

Films of the 00s: American Psycho

This post was not intended as a flip rejoinder to Independence Day, though when I realized it had that potential implication, I can't say I rushed to defuse it. Make of this what you will!

I was initially mixed about Mary Harron's American Psycho, but it's a hard movie to forget or to shrug off. Ten years later, that much further into Harron's unusual career and well past Bale's arrival as a major star (though who knows if he'll stay that way, given his recent string of vehicles and performances), I am still mixed on Psycho in a way that's hard to parse. What's forceful and confident and strong in the movie is clenched so tightly to what's clichéd and imprecise and chaotic in it—at some moments more than others, but especially towards the end. Still, I'm more inclined now than I apparently was in 2000 to accentuate the positive in this strange and striking movie. Here's how my new review starts...

"As early as Little Women and The Portrait of a Lady, maybe even earlier, Christian Bale's face has always been a kind of parodistic exemplar of the word 'chiseled.' As Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, Bale famously mapped that adjective onto his whole body. If his sharp brow, ever-enviable cheekbones, and suddenly statuary muscles seem preternaturally planed and hewn, via a regimen of exercise and cosmetics to which an early sequence memorably introduces us, there is also an aspect of the severe, maybe even the fascistic about this Wall Street pirate's pursuit of his inner and outer Superman. Chiseling isn't just a metaphorical or an autoerotic activity for Patrick, who also likes to slice and carve people up, although the Guignol assaults and starkly photographed red-on-white bloodbaths in Mary Harron's movie were never its most interesting element..."

What is its most interesting element, at least according to me? I'll tell you if you keep reading...

But by the way, does anyone remember that Lions Gate promotional stunt where you could sign up to receive daily e-mails from "Patrick Bateman" leading up to the film's commercial release? File that under creepy oddities in the annals of film advertising...

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Blogger Colin Low said...

Ahem: it's Meryl Streep's Suzanne Vale, and Nicole Kidman's Suzanne Stone... ;)

11:07 PM, July 04, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

On a side note, Nick, check out and marvel at the kind of things to which sound designers stoop to get their SFX. Whoo~

1:57 AM, July 05, 2009  
Blogger Glenn said...

Always appreciate a positive take on this movie, one of my favourites of the decade.

2:26 AM, July 05, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Colin: Oops! Thanks for the catch.

@Glenn: I know you love this one; yours was one of the voices in my head telling me to revisit it.

9:11 AM, July 05, 2009  
Anonymous miam miam said...

one of my fav movies is so funny , trash ! every quote is a classic!

11:21 AM, July 06, 2009  
Anonymous meg said...

This is one of those movies that gets better with age.

3:01 PM, November 18, 2011  

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