I’m reminded of Jean Luc Godard‘s intriguing assessment of Rio Bravo, which is basically that it’s a better film than High Noon because the exceptionally good things in Rio Bravo can be ignored, and therefore may be unnoticable to a good-sized portion of the audience.
“The great filmmakers always tie themselves down by complying with the rules of the game,” Godard wrote. “Rio Bravo is a work of extraordinary psychological insight and aesthetic perception, but Howard Hawks has made his film so that the insight can pass unnoticed without disturbing the audience that has come to see a Western like all others. Hawks is the greater because he has succeeded in fitting all he holds most dear into a well-worn subject.”
I hold Godard’s theory in much higher regard than I do Rio Bravo. But I’m now asking myself which films of the last few years have lived up to Godard’s standards in this regard? Which recent movies, in other words, have delivered escapism by way of same-old-shit genre cliches (over and over and over again) while at the same time exciting and arousing the highbrows in such a sleight-of-hand way that Joe Popcorn, dumbass that he is, doesn’t even realize that a double-tracking thing is happening?