Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sean Penn Sucks [Smoke] & HIs Films are Dishonest

Slate has a review of Sean Penn's latest movie, which like his career is half-cocked [and if All the King's Men is any indication, in need of resuscitation.]

Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild is a wonderful exploration of one young man's earnest quest to avoid Holden Caulfield's ultimate trap, being a "phony." But unfortunately, Sean Penn is a rip-roaring phony in the one overwhelmingly dishonest Big Lie which is the iron bar in an otherwise sturdy house-of-cards flick. As Slate puts it:
Penn performs one bit of sleight-of-hand on the book that's borderline unforgivable. In an attempt, perhaps, to justify Chris' decision not to communicate with his parents for more than two years (he failed to notify them before he hit the road, and they never saw him alive again), Penn inserts a flashback back story that shows the McCandless' relationship as abusive and violent. In grainy Super 8-style scenes, the parents (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden) drink and push each other around as the young Chris and Carine look on. It's a Lifetime TV rule that this movie should have risen above: Every questionable moral action must be explained by an equal and opposite childhood trauma. In Krakauer's account, McCandless's father, Walt, was something of a remote perfectionist but certainly no wife-beater. As for Billie McCandless, she sewed the sleeping bag in which her son would eventually meet his end (a heartbreaking detail that, had Penn left it in, might have cast his proudly self-sufficient hero in a less idealizing light). If I were a member of the McCandless family, I'd be furious at this insertion, but Penn waited years for the parents' permission—presumably, they allowed him the license to fictionalize as he saw fit.

Of course, Charlie Rose neglected to bring this up with the smirking Penn through the billows of cancerous crud this chain-smoking creep exhaled along with his phony bromides and BDS cliches.

Penn will be predictably bailed out by friendly Hollyweird critics and the flick will sell because of the inherent strength of the story.

But once again, the lying Hollyweird narrative line must conform to PC unreality, rather than life as it is really lived.

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