What is it about Northwest-tangential murders this holiday season? We’ve got the UW student whose boyfriend now says she’s not the murdering type, although that’s the most flattering thing he can come up with. We’ve got the basketball player in Brazil, whose family and friends think he was murdered despite what the cops say. And now we’ve also got the twin murder suspect connected to Graham, Pierce County, through a prison pen-pal wife he married after being released by a judge appointed by presidential candidate Mitt Romney whom Romney now says must go. Heckuva job, Mittney!
And you thought nothing could dampen the seasonal joy of $22 DVD players and $59 digital cameras. Actually, the august and usually boosterish New York Times had a real downer of a Page 1 story yesterday on just that point: “Bargains draw crowds, but the thrill is gone,” containing such heresies as “the mood was more desperation than celebration,” “the merchandise is blah-humbug,” “exasperated consumers left the store in anger” and “sparse crowds” in upscale shops “were scary.” Contrast that with the still-boosterish Seattle Times’ local banner A1 head: “Splurge Surge,” and a story that gives mall–by-mall rundowns on shopper frenzy (“this truly is the shopping Olympics”) with nary a discouraging word. So the question is, are we living in a shopping bubble here in the Northwest, where sweetness ‘n light still rule the day? Maybe it’s all those Canadian shoppers cashing in on the dollar’s woes (do they still call their own version loonies, or are they taking themselves more seriously these days?)…or maybe we’re just lagging behind the national temperament. Or could it be that shoppers who are tightening budgets and downscaling and feeling frustrated at bait-and-switch are simply unseen by local media?
Anyway, back to Murders on Parade. For a little holiday cheer my wife and I went to see “No Country for Old Men” in hopes that the Coen Brothers of “Fargo” and “Big Lebowski” had somehow rediscovered their touch. Unfortunately, and despite the aura of universal raves (96 on Rotten Tomatoes), 2 1/2 hours of uninterrupted senseless homicide somehow failed to lift our spirits. Only one visual hearkens back to the comic relief that the CBs of old used so adeptly. And as for proclamations that this film is a cinematic metaphor for the post-9/11 world, um, er, pointless killing is a metaphor? Maybe Javier Bardem is a Dick Cheney with hair. I do have one question: Can people actually walk around in public carrying cattle stun guns? Which brings us to my wife Cecile’s assessment of the film as her own definition of a “dick flick.”
But even man-god Jesus would have a hard time recommending “No Country for Old Men” as a movie for the season putatively celebrating his birth. As for metaphors, perhaps it will do for our current Northwest siege of dead and dying…escapism be damned.