It’s not exactly radical to suggest that some directors tend to express stuff about their natures by focusing on certain themes and scenarios in film after film. That just-posted Vulture video made light of the fact that Interstellar director Chris Nolan has something about dead wives, whatever that means in terms of his psychology. It’s obvious that the Wachowski brothers, particularly the former Larry (now Lana) Wachowski, were expressing an interest in hot lesbians when they made Bound (’96) and again when they included a brief glimpse of some girl-on-girl action in V for Vendetta (’06). (It’s not my business but the general understanding is that Lana likes women.) And as long as we’re discussing (or will soon discuss) getting badly beaten up, it’s obvious that characters played by Marlon Brando, who had a lot of clout in the ’50s and early ’60s, were frequently beaten bloody, whipped, shot full of holes, burned to death, etc. Some have deduced that Brando was expressing some kind of guilt and a need to be punished.
All to imply that Unbroken director Angelina Jolie, now gracing the cover of Vanity Fair and almost certain to be coronated with a Best Director nomination (unless Unbroken turns out to be a stiff), has a thing for innocent captives being put through the ringer. I”m not saying it’s an obsession or anything, but there’s no arguing that within three years she’s directed two films that deal with this — Unbroken and In The Land of Blood and Honey (’11).
The former, screening for L.A. press on 12.1 and opening on 12.25, is a true-life tale about an Air Force lieutenant, Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), who endures all kinds of brutality in a Japanese P.O.W camp after surviving in a raft after crash-landing in the Pacific. The latter is set during the Bosnian War and deals with a sado-masochistic relationship between a Serbian soldier (Goran Kostic) and his former peacetime girlfriend (Zana Marjanovic), a Bosnian who falls under his control during the conflict and whom he protects in exchange for sex or love or some mixture of the two.
Add this to reports that a wilder, much younger Jolie used to express enthusiasm for a certain degree of (am I about to lose award-season ads from Universal?) S&M in her black-leather days of the ’90s. Six years ago the Sun posted an apparently legit tape in which she spoke about how she’s “considering making a film about S&M because it comes from ‘that real, real place.'” Which is all totally fine. S&M is a very mild and almost conservative culture when you get to know it. (I say this as someone who visited the Hellfire Club two or three times in the early ’80s.) And if you insist on regarding S&M as creepy, you’ll at least acknowledge that 20-somethings have always had their eccentricities, especially movie stars.
Jolie is obviously on a totally different track now (married, six kids, U.N. humanitarian work, living in a big chateau on a French vineyard, photographed with Queen Elizabeth three or four weeks ago) but when you couple her history with an element shared by Unbroken and Blood and Honey, you could deduce a current or two. That’s all I’m saying. Directors are attracted to certain subjects, and they all put themselves into their films to varying degrees. No biggie.