In his review of The International, N.Y. Press critic Armond White says that Clive Owen‘s “perpetually sullen, unshaven mug provokes dreadful flashbacks of his woebegone heroics in the ludicrous apocalypse-thrill-ride Children of Men.” We’re all familiar with Owen’s sullenness, but equating Children of Men with some kind of “dreadful”? It was my choice for Best Picture of 2006, and I knew whereof I spoke when I wrote this initial review.
White has to be the contrarian; he has to blow your mind, piss on your temple, show disgust for one of your all-time favorite films, etc. It’s his handle, I get that, but still.
White also provides a list of “recent feel-bad movies about international politics,” including Children of Men, Michael Clayton, Lord of War, Traitor, Rendition, Syriana, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Kingdom, Stop-Loss, Vantage Point, the Bourne [films] and War, Inc., and says they’re all “essentially about glamorous cynicism.” Well, there’s obviously no way to address current or futuristic global political concerns without coming to some pessimistic-cynical conclusions, so the question is when making a film about this is do you make the world of your film appear glamorous or not? Which obviously could mean stylistically avant garde. If I were producing such a film, I would certainly approve of any glamour additive that didn’t distract from the aesthetic essence.