Thursday, June 12, 2008

Leatherheads, or On The Auteur Theory (578th Revisiting)

There’s this very particular, rather charming animus at the centre of Leatherheads. It’s called George Clooney.

While the auteur theory immediately gets your correspondent’s hackles up – the notion that, say, Lord of the Rings tells us an immense amount about who Peter Jackson is would seem to do a disservice to the hundreds of skilled artisans behind that picture, and also to Mr. Jackson’s depth as a thinker – there are cases in which he must simply admit that, yes, this is a clear case of movie as product of one singular force personified. (An author, if you want to pretend like we can have this discussion without sounding like prats).

But what’s a pleasant surprise is when auteurs just out of nowhere manage to really impress themselves upon you, as Mr. Clooney has an increasing habit of doing.

(It’s worth noting that just because someone’s an auteur doesn’t necessarily make them much good: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, for instance, are definitely auteurs, but unfortunately they’re also obviously real dicks).

The self-aware dapper-Dan posturing, the wry tightrope act between suave and ridiculous, the unabashed alchemy of progressiveness and old-school chivalry: these are the things that suffuse the Clooney persona, and also form the essence of Leatherheads.

So there must, somewhere out there, be people who have little time for George Clooney and by extension will have little time for Leatherheads: those who will find it subtly smarmy and vaguely hollow and wonder why it insists on being both period sports-flick AND Renee Zellweger romcom; and who could, if they thought it through, level at least the first two charges by extension against Clooney himself.

But come to think of it, your correspondent has never met these people, and he suspects they might be dead inside.

[appears at Flicks]

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