Monday, February 3, 2014

American Psycho (2000)

I hadn't seen American Psycho in years, and it was on again tonight.

This movie still holds up.

It's so clean. Even the things that usually bother me (like the matte paintings of New York) don't really bother me in this movie. Probably because the lighting is always so perfect.

Christian Bale. Never a single false note in his performance.

Mordant is the word that comes to mind before all others.

The actor who plays Patrick Bateman's gay co-worker, Matt Ross, is perfect. The scene where Bateman enters the bathroom and puts his gloved hands around the neck of Carruthers, and where a would-be murder (over business card envy) devolves into the bathos of a gay love confession (repulsing Bateman and scrambling his "murderdar") is nonpareil.

If you're going to do black humor, this is the way to do it.

I think Hitchcock would have loved this, because there's that down in there, not all that far underneath.

Hitchcock was definitely moving this direction with Psycho, and you'd have to be daft to miss the tribute there in the title.

There are so many darkly funny lines in this movie, but I think the one that got me the most this time is how Patrick always falls back on some version of the sentence "returning some videotapes," as in the flimsy alibi he feeds Dafoe's detective as to where he was at the time of one crime, and what he tells his fiancee he must go do when he breaks it off with her in the restaurant confrontation.  I think this just made me laugh because of how quintessentially eighties it is. It just seems like a metaphor of how that process started taking up about forty percent of our species' time in that decade, running around picking up and dropping off videotapes. And now it already feels like a "vanished civilization." Also love that ginormous phone he uses in one scene. Weird to think they must have scrambled to recreate the eighties so convincingly in 2000.

I'm sure anyone sensible sees this as a total allegory of the eighties criminals who made this country eventually go totally bust, and how they got away with it, and totally got away with it. They just happened to be of the right class. So many times Bateman commits murder and the evidence is right before someone's eyes. But all they can see is the package, the money, the "pure class." The scenes with Bateman arguing with the old Chinese laundromat owner over not getting his blood-soaked sheets pristine and the scene where Carruthers sees him stuffing a body in the trunk of a car (and can only notice the quality of the luggage being used to dispose of the body) come across as classic indictments of the political climate in America of the eighties.

The fact that Bateman doesn't even know his true body count when he makes his telephone confession is pure Reagan.

The highest tribute I could give this film is to say it feels like a film that Kubrick could have made.

But he didn't. Mary Harron did.

"Mary Harron is a Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter best known for her films I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page."

I really liked the Solanas film too.

1 comment:

  1. So, so true that the picking up and dropping off of videotapes feels like vanished civilization. :-)