Sady recommends horror.
October 14, 2019 7:51 PM   Subscribe

American Psycho [NSFW]
Yet American Psycho would not be a comedy unless Mary Harron set out to make it one. Her bravery and generosity may go unnoticed, but it was heroic work. Harron — working with a female screenwriter and frequent collaborator, Guinevere Turner — didn’t quiver in fear or cry her eyes out over Ellis’ misogyny. She simply refused to take it seriously. Ellis wrote a book about his pain and how it could only be assuaged by punishing women for being dumb bitches, and Harron, the director assigned to do this little manifesto justice, essentially rolled her eyes and made jerk-off motions at it for two hours. She didn’t just save us from Ellis’ awful book, she did the man himself a favor: In finding comedy where there was only self-pity, Harron gave American Psycho a better name and a more enduring place in the canon than Bret “No Good Female Directors” Ellis could ever manage for himself.
Black Swan
Us
Birdbox
(non-horror) Game of Thrones
posted by coolname (57 comments total) 110 users marked this as a favorite
 
NSFW film stills from the graphic sex scenes in American Psycho, but I was enjoying the article thanks.
posted by carsonb at 8:03 PM on October 14


[Added an NSFW warning]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:07 PM on October 14


I had read the book and was so horrified that I noped right out of the movie. It is interesting to hear this take. I don’t think I would’ve gotten that message back in the day, so it is likely a good thing I didn’t bother.
posted by Monday at 8:08 PM on October 14 [4 favorites]


Huh. This thread has led me to realize that American Psycho and American History X are two entirely different films and somehow they had run together in my mind only through their titles. I have never seen American Psycho, and was going too comment on how horrifying the movie I saw was and how I saw no humor in it at all and what was I missing?

Apparently I was missing that what I saw was American History X and that I have never seen American Psycho.

I guess I should maybe (?) see American Psycho at some point, it's been lauded for decades as a great film. I think American History X is a pretty great movie, but I don't ever ever need to see it again.
posted by hippybear at 8:27 PM on October 14 [5 favorites]


I read American Psycho in college, probably because the film had intrigued me and I wanted to see what the book was like. And American Psycho disturbed me, because the book version of Bateman followed me around in my head for a few days afterwards. Being a white straight guy, thus the intended audience and default, I could feel that sort of childish, performative evil fitting in with societal programming. I wanted it out of my head.

From what I remember, the book kind of just peters out. The movie, ends with the realization on Bateman's part that he is a shell, not really a human being, but actually just a broken robot, going through the paces of life. That this murder and torture in an attempt to claim his manliness has failed because he was never a human to begin with, just an automaton.

You can see a quick flash of Bale playing Bateman again in the first Batman movie. It's what made me love it, seeing Bruce Wayne as this mask that he puts on. (Which also falsifies Tarantino's claim, through Bill, that Superman is the only one who's mask is his secret identity, but that's a far tangent.)

For some reason, the movie that this is tied up with in my head is Fight Club, I guess because both are about trying to obtain manhood that the main character perceives as having lost. Fight Club has lost some of the luster that it had originally (especially for quite possibly being the origin of "snowflake" as an insult) but it still has some merit, unlike Ellis's oeuvre.
posted by Hactar at 8:48 PM on October 14 [8 favorites]


Setting aside the American Psycho derail for a moment.

These reviews are extremely well thought out and written.

Like I'm trying to justify a separate non-Patreon annual subscription and I don't even really watch that much horror (though have a soft spot for a certain Hellraiser/Beyond the Black Rainbow sort of late night thought experiment mindfuckery).

So... especially the Black Swan and Us reviews. Vulnerable and erudite, forgiving yet holding a noble standard.

Thanks for sharing this author.
posted by abulafa at 8:55 PM on October 14 [40 favorites]


I never read nor watched GoT, nor will I ever. But am I glad to see this paragraph in a review of it:

But here is what I know about women and power: Men fear powerful women, because they know that women have always had cause to fear powerful men. Men fear that women’s power will be violent, because they use their power to rape, assault, and beat us. Men fear that women’s power will be temperamental and despotic — that they will be forced to fear our every mood swing and obey our every irrational whim — because men have been raised to believe that their women should tend to them, cater to their whims, hang on the thread of their good graces. Men don’t fear “female power,” in the abstract. They fear being treated like women; they’re afraid that, when we win, they die. That when get the power, we’ll do the shoving, and it will hurt.
posted by Gorgik at 9:07 PM on October 14 [98 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, the GoT review was fantastic in that it articulated exactly why I haaaaated the ending of that damn series.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:19 PM on October 14 [4 favorites]


Harron views Bateman coldly, as an outsider. She doesn’t care what he’s “going through.” She’s interested in his narcissism, his hollow glitter, his pathetic fear that some other man might be better or cooler or richer than he is. She focuses in, pitilessly, on the smallness and weakness that fuels his abuse of power; her Bateman’s first “crazy” gesture is to call a bartender an “ugly bitch,” because she’s not allowed to talk back to him. Guys do that every day, to every woman who works behind a bar, because they’re cowards, and they can’t yell at other men, who might yell back or punch them in the mouth. That’s the kind of guy Patrick Bateman is; a coward. Harron never forgets it. She strips away Ellis’ “woe is me, I have too much money” monologues to examine what Bateman’s anger actually looks like to the people around him; racism, sexism, making fun of immigrants’ accents when they don’t get his order exactly right.

I recommend American Psycho (the movie) to people, and often get an "Uhhh..." reaction, in response to which I'm like, "No! Wait! It's...different than the book."

Doyle's really put her finger on what's good and interesting about what Harron did with it.

Her other reviews are really good, too. New fan here.

On preview, her Twitter feed seems pretty great. Thanks for posting this.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:27 PM on October 14 [18 favorites]


I'm not sure I've read as interesting and enjoyable a take on a movie as that American Psycho essay since MeFi's own mightygodking stopped blogging regularly. (I'm not a movie guy so I don't check out essays about movies super regularly, but even still, I do check out what gets posted on MeFi.) And no one has ever talked about American Psycho in a way that made me want to actually see it before, either. I might need to finally check that out. Gonna read that GoT essay next.
posted by Caduceus at 10:42 PM on October 14


America as a collective whole failed to read American Psycho at the time. Indeed, we actively censored it and tried to hide it away. We are still paying the price for that failure.
posted by chavenet at 1:27 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]


You can see a quick flash of Bale playing Bateman again in the first Batman movie. It's what made me love it, seeing Bruce Wayne as this mask that he puts on.

Oh I am the total opposite. American Psycho is why Christian Bale can never be Batman for me.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:41 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]


Wasn't Leonardo DiCaprio originally meant to play Patrick Bateman, though dropping out on his agent's advice that it would cut into his career as a heartthrob or something?
posted by acb at 1:56 AM on October 15


God, these reviews are really good.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:08 AM on October 15


Great reviews, thanks for sharing. I’ve just downloaded the author’s new book Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power.
posted by tinlids at 4:12 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


In her review of Us, this section made me pause and come back here to say this: this person can write, and write incredibly well. I’m both jealous and in outright awe.

Because it could have applied to me, if things were different. I hate it because someone I loved, someone I trusted, told me that AIDS was a plague sent by God to punish people for having anal sex. Because one of them told me he’d shoot me if I ever dated someone who wasn’t white. Because I sat in cars while someone screamed “go back to your own country” out the driver-side window; I sat in cars while someone scrambled to find the lock because a black person was walking fifty feet away in the opposite direction.

Well. I got out. But I know, for a fact, that only you can decide what you believe. Only you. The whole world can scream something in your ear, but you decide whether to agree with it. If I had been weak-minded or weak-willed, if I had let peer pressure or inertia or love overtake me, if I had been afraid to lose people, if I had wanted to be liked more than I wanted to be right, I would be sitting in some bar with a Rolling Rock, telling you God hates fags. I’m not. But I will always know I could be that person. I was trained to be that person. I hate that version of me more than I hate any living thing...

...But you have an underground sister, too. You have someone awful you could have been, or may still be, without realizing it. Name five people you hate, and five things you hate about them, and you will have drawn a picture of her face.

posted by Ghidorah at 4:59 AM on October 15 [61 favorites]


American Psycho is why Christian Bale can never be Batman for me.

You put the finger right on it.

I also find Christopher Nolan insufferable, but that's not really germane I guess.

Cronenberg was originally supposed to direct American Psycho, and it's the one instance where I'm glad he didn't get his claws into something - the world probably didn't need Dead Ringers II: The Yuppening.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:06 AM on October 15 [8 favorites]


Just spent most of yesterday evening and this morning reading through her entire public archive. What a tremendous writer!
posted by merriment at 5:37 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


Doyle’s review of BIRDBOX (Bird Box, etc) is sheer delight to read.
posted by 41swans at 5:53 AM on October 15 [2 favorites]


I found the movie to be frankly hilarious. So many funny, quoteable lines: "Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?" And of course the business card scene.

Even in the opening credits you get a hint that things are not as they seem. What looks like blood turns out to be...berry sauce. A very clever script.
posted by zardoz at 6:06 AM on October 15 [4 favorites]


American Psycho feels like it's in the same category as Starship Troopers and maybe Dr. Strangelove where the filmmakers started with a super-serious novel but shot it as a comedy. I'm still somewhat amazed that the studio let Harron do that.
posted by octothorpe at 6:43 AM on October 15 [15 favorites]


We watched American Psycho again last month, and it is so darkly comedic and wonderful. It was so good and right that it had a female writer and a female director to pull a "this fucking guy, seriously" out of what could be an uber-serious take on "I gotta kill the dumb bitches cause of the business card engraving"
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:43 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


Good to see someone else make the connection to Starship Troopers. It's not even that these are "super-serious novel(s) but shot it as a comedy." It's that these books have a very specific, toxic POV and the people these books are punching down at (women in the case of the toxic masculinity of America Psycho, a victim of Nazi occupation in the case of fascistic Starship Troopers) ended up being the ones who adapted them to film. People who know that the subject matter deserves disdain, and provides it with parody instead of respect.
posted by thecjm at 6:53 AM on October 15 [28 favorites]


If anyone's curious, Sady Doyle blogged her impressions of ASoIaF (mentioned in the Game of Thrones newsletter) many years ago (before Benioff and Weiss screwed things up so badly that GRRM looked feminist by comparison).
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:23 AM on October 15 [4 favorites]


Game of Thrones has become a show which suggests all women have the same relationship to power: It’s bad for them, and they shouldn’t want it. Running the world is a nasty business, sweeties, wouldn’t you be happier staying home?

I like a lot of that article (and went to the Internet barricades for Doyle's original piece on GOT), and her analysis of the story's position on powerful women is largely correct for Cersei and Dany, and you can argue that Arya gets out OK because of her decision to become idk Christopher Columbus, but it is absolutely, categorically not true for the show's treatment of Sansa.

Her storyline ends with coronation in the North, ffs, by showing a roomful of hard Northern lords kneeling to her dressed as the embodiment of North, acknowledging her as Queen in the North in her own name. Every second of that scene is an absolute validation of Sansa's specific style of using soft power and hard work to outlast, outwit, and out-lead every other player on the board.

It's especially surprising given Doyle's very smart assessment of Sansa in the very! same! article!, just like paragraphs above.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:29 AM on October 15 [10 favorites]


It's especially surprising given Doyle's very smart assessment of Sansa in the very! same! article!, just like paragraphs above.

I think that article was written before seeing the finale, as there's a line at the bottom that says "Game of Thrones ends on Sunday, and good riddance."
posted by dng at 7:46 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


This is Sady Doyle? I'm not what you'd call wild about her political trajectory, but I think that this is very useful thought:

The year I watched Black Swan, I was just starting to become known as a writer; I had done a campaign that attracted national attention, and it had also attracted plenty of trolls, and it had furthermore attracted lots of well-meaning but painful discussion of what kind of feminist I was.... I did have a particularly high level of emotion at that moment in time, because my abusive father was pretending to be dying so that I would give him my phone number. (He’s still alive. I haven’t called him.) I spent all day crying about my Dad, then I logged on to the Internet to be a strong female role model, then I cried about my Dad some more and read the comments. People told me I was a righteous once-in-a-generation hero, and people told me I was an ugly castrating bitch, and people told me that I was a mess who was letting the movement down. I never had one Vincent Cassel, I just had these comments, over-praising me or telling me what a talentless piece of shit I was. I spent all day dancing for them, trying to be perfect, and then I collapsed on the couch and I watched Black Swan.

Which does raise a pretty big issue - in general and especially in the age of the internet, it's tough to balance the identities of individual writers and their ideas, and we do it badly. On the one hand, obviously it's important that, for example, people learn that Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt heir - what he says about wealth and wealthy people needs to be understood as advocacy and we need to know who he is. On the other hand, does one really have to get so personal with Sady Doyle? Could one possibly address her ideas without the kind of "well-meaning but painful" personalization that I remember so well from reading comments on her writing? "I was just trying to dance for you my audience" - like, surely there is some point where that is in fact a good enough explanation?
posted by Frowner at 7:50 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]


It also occurred to me that the real reason that Daenerys can't win is that her victory would open up questions about what happens after a revolution, instead of Revolutions Always Fail Because Revolutionaries Are Always Actually Bad Or Mad, and that's a set of questions too big for American television. You have to foreclose even the possibility of We Had A Revolution And It All Went To Hell, never mind We Had A Revolution And Some Things Were Bad But Some Gains Were Made Especially In Comparison To The Previous State Of Affairs because we can't be talking like that in this great nation.
posted by Frowner at 7:59 AM on October 15 [18 favorites]


THE BOOK IS ALSO A COMEDY .... OK, a very very dark comedy, and completely missed by most on the first reading (including me). The business card scene is just as funny on the page, the running gags about returning video tapes are just as funny. It becomes clearer and clearer that he is an unreliable narrator, and the key subtlety in the book which the film loses to some extent is whether these atrocities are really occurring, or are they just a figment of Bateman's increasing derangement?
posted by el_presidente at 8:00 AM on October 15 [10 favorites]


This is Sady Doyle? I'm not what you'd call wild about her political trajectory

Her political trajectory is Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren. That trajectory is a straight line that veers to the left at the end. Or, if you zoom out from Democratic presidential primary politics, a straight line.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:01 AM on October 15 [8 favorites]


It also occurred to me that the real reason that Daenerys can't win

Or really, no, not the real reason - Sady is totally right that in specific a woman can't win, because the logic of the show/books is that women can't be good leaders or end injustice.

Daenerys can't win for overdetermined reasons - women can't lead, revolutions can't happen, women can't lead revolutions. Or at least not on television.
posted by Frowner at 8:18 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


Frowner, I don't know if you watch anime, but if you are so inclined, I recommend the horribly excellent "Akami ga Kill". It starts off as your basic rag-tag group of revolutionaries out to overturn the evil government (with magical weapons, of course). It then...goes on to become something else, but it does show the cost of revolutions, and how awful that cost is, even if it's worth it in the end.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 8:35 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


It's really interesting to me that apparently the Phil Collins scene is the one that stuck in people's dude's heads at the time of the movie? I didn't see it until later, but for me the Huey Lewis scene was much funnier and more memorable.

More of a derail, but the other "most memorable/quotable moment" for me is "feed me a stray cat", followed by pointing a gun at the cat when it refuses to get in the ATM slot. I really appreciated the violent surrealism of that.

Anyway, I miss Tiger Beatdown, and I don't think I've seen anything else from her in recent times, so this is a delight.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:38 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


Huh. This thread has led me to realize that American Psycho and American History X are two entirely different films and somehow they had run together in my mind only through their titles.

Good news, you now also get to watch An American Tail!
posted by otherchaz at 9:00 AM on October 15 [24 favorites]


I'm not sure I've read as interesting and enjoyable a take on a movie as that American Psycho essay since MeFi's own mightygodking stopped blogging regularly.

*cough* I got a Letterboxd
posted by mightygodking at 11:12 AM on October 15 [11 favorites]


> "... the key subtlety in the book which the film loses to some extent is whether these atrocities are really occurring, or are they just a figment of Bateman's increasing derangement?"

I've heard that argued before (by Ellis, among others), but the possibility that they were hallucinations in the film was completely effing obvious to me so I'm not sure why that is so.

I mean, the dude
1) kills a fleeing woman by throwing a chainsaw down the stairs at her,
2) immediately after which he goes to an ATM and sees it display the message "feed me a stray cat",
3) then he murders four cops and a few other people, without consequence or follow-up,
4) and when he goes to an apartment he expects to be full of decomposing bodies, it's vacant and for sale,
5) after which his secretary finds a folder filled with drawings of his horrific murder and mutilation fantasies.

I mean, I'm not sure how much more clearly "THIS MAY NOT BE ACTUALLY HAPPENING" can be portrayed?
posted by kyrademon at 12:04 PM on October 15 [25 favorites]


4) and when he goes to an apartment he expects to be full of decomposing bodies, it's vacant and for sale,

That's no proof of anything because New York real estate is vile. I'm certain they paint over dead bodies all the time.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:24 PM on October 15 [11 favorites]


Nice bit of shade from the BIRDBOX review: "There are no monsters that kill you if you talk over a movie. I know that, too."
posted by jazon at 12:40 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


Say what you want about American Psycho, but these people are still talking about the book and movie decades later. More people are going to throw their hot takes onto the pile until it's a staple in literary and film analysis classes for decades more.

Same thing with Fight Club, of all things. It's been over twenty years and people are still wailing about it for some reason.
posted by FakeFreyja at 1:38 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if it is just a just a weird coincidence that the name of the Thrilling Adventure Hour -Beyond Belief character played by Paget Brewster is Sadie Doyle?
posted by Glinn at 3:05 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


You have to foreclose even the possibility of We Had A Revolution And It All Went To Hell, never mind We Had A Revolution And Some Things Were Bad But Some Gains Were Made Especially In Comparison To The Previous State Of Affairs because we can't be talking like that in this great nation. We Had A Revolution And Some Things Were Bad But Some Gains Were Made Especially In Comparison To The Previous State Of Affairs because we can't be talking like that in this great nation.

"We Had A Revolution And Some Things Were Bad But Some Gains Were Made Especially In Comparison To The Previous State Of Affairs" seems to me to be the exact ending of HBO's GOT and in line with the books' general skepticism about messianic figures in political narratives. The showrunners were as thoughtful as bricks so who knows how much they intended and how much was inherited accidentally, but the creation of a kingsmoot of noble houses to replace succession by blood is a notable improvement over the old system even if it is a far cry from anything we'd recognize as just. I.e., after a long and bloody civil war, nobility is still largely inherited by birth and the peasants are explicitly denied any say in who rules them, but the kingsmoot system will likely lead to significantly more peace and stability.
posted by This time is different. at 3:17 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


*cough* I got a Letterboxd

Did not realize this site was even a thing, but I'll read what you write on it! Thanks!

This is Sady Doyle? I'm not what you'd call wild about her political trajectory

Well, in her newsletter post about her most recent book, while discussing the release of her first book, she writes:

Two, that election coincided with an ongoing harassment campaign intended to end my career and drive me out of public life.

Certain people pulled out of covering the book, citing their fear of getting harassed for associating with me. No matter how good the remaining press was, it had to penetrate the fog of several dozen people claiming, at any given time, that I was (and this is just what I remember) a Republican/a neoliberal/a paid shill/an active psychotic/an alcoholic/a pathological liar/a union scab/in favor of eugenics/in favor of domestic violence/in favor of drones/secretly bigoted/secretly immensely wealthy/secretly abusing my husband/secretly sending coded messages about what a bigoted spouse-abusing eugenicist 1% murder enthusiast I was. Add in, on top of all this, that it was a book about pop culture, at a time when pop culture could not feel less relevant, and a book tied to the feminist blog boom of the ‘00s, published at the beginning of a backlash to that cultural moment. By the end of the 2016 election, people were cheerfully high-fiving each other on Twitter and predicting that I’d be unpublishable by 2020.


For whatever that's worth. I've been enjoying the hell out of this newsletter backlog, and since I need to run out to Powell's this week to grab John Hodgman's new book, I think I'm going to grab her most recent book as well, because it sounds fascinating, and I've always enjoyed reading about horror movies more than actually watching them anyway.
posted by Caduceus at 5:19 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, almost forgot, Sady Doyle almost a decade previously on Metafilter wrote an essay about Rivers Cuomo that doesn't seem to have gotten a great response at the time but I really enjoyed, and which finally gave me permission to release myself from any need to care about Weezer or feel bad about not really liking them and never really getting why they were a thing.
posted by Caduceus at 5:26 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


I loved the articles in the FPP so much I spent yesterday evening reading all the free stuff in her archives, then subscribed so I could read the rest. Like Caduceus, I enjoy reading about horror more than consuming it directly. But Doyle makes me want to watch Ravenous and give American Psycho a chance in spite of its fans.
posted by harriet vane at 5:35 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


Two, that election coincided with an ongoing harassment campaign intended to end my career and drive me out of public life.

What I was trying to suggest - obviously not clearly - in my earlier comment was that we-as-a-society allow way too much slippage between "I am not wild about someone's political trajectory" and "I need to make a lot of extremely aggressive and personal assertions about them and attack them individually", and we need to have some kind of standard of evidence that's not just "I think so-and-so probably has a trust fund and also this one comment that they made implies that they are okay with abusing their partners if you read it as negatively as possible".

And that it's tricky partly because there are situations where it's important to say, eg, that Anderson Cooper is very, very wealthy and this determines his journalism...It's a bit like it's more difficult to quit eating junk food because you can't just quit food - it's necessary to pay some attention to writers' personal lives and I feel like people aren't very good at turning that off. It doesn't make sense to say that we should only treat writers as idea-machines and that their personal lives should be utterly private, but there was never any justification for getting into Sady Doyle's personal life and she was treated very badly.

For me, what I noticed was that she went from being mostly concerned with feminism as a thing in itself to being mostly concerned with feminism-as-expressed-through-mainstream-electoral-work. I read her pretty steadily from when she was doing Tiger Beatdown onward and lost track of her a couple of years ago. It wasn't something I felt strongly about, honestly, except that I was a bit sad as I'd liked her earlier stuff more.
posted by Frowner at 6:01 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


For me, what I noticed was that she went from being mostly concerned with feminism as a thing in itself to being mostly concerned with feminism-as-expressed-through-mainstream-electoral-work. I read her pretty steadily from when she was doing Tiger Beatdown onward and lost track of her a couple of years ago. It wasn't something I felt strongly about, honestly, except that I was a bit sad as I'd liked her earlier stuff more.

That is totally fair. You clearly know a lot more about her than I do, but I couldn't tell that from your earlier comment. I myself have been kicking myself for not having noted her after the Weezer essay and following her writing the past nine years, but if I'd done so I might well feel the same as you now. Who's to say?
posted by Caduceus at 7:29 PM on October 15


Sady Doyle also released Trainwreck in 2016. I don't think any of its essays were printed elsewhere before publication, but it's a very thoughtful feminist look at various female celebrities. She draws some nice (disheartening) parallels between what led famous women of the past to be dismissed (or institutionalized) and how little of that has changed. I enjoyed it!
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:06 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


i am having trouble reconciling the sady doyle who writes these reviews with the sady doyle who posts on twitter.
posted by JimBennett at 4:28 AM on October 16



That is totally fair. You clearly know a lot more about her than I do, but I couldn't tell that from your earlier comment. I myself have been kicking myself for not having noted her after the Weezer essay and following her writing the past nine years, but if I'd done so I might well feel the same as you now. Who's to say?


I think we can all get behind her pop culture writing, anyway, which is nice. Seeing these essays, I also feel like she's grown as a writer - I mean, I liked her Tiger Beatdown posts a lot, but the style of these feels more durable. So that's good! There are lots of people writing political stuff that I vaguely disagree with, but there aren't nearly as many people writing longer-form feminist film criticism.
posted by Frowner at 5:46 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]


4) and when he goes to an apartment he expects to be full of decomposing bodies, it's vacant and for sale,

That's no proof of anything because New York real estate is vile. I'm certain they paint over dead bodies all the time.


Yeah, so having just watched the movie... we paused and debated this scene. She says "You heard about us from the ad in whatever paper?" And he goes, "Yes." and she suddenly changes and says "We didn't put an ad in there." Which means he knew about the apartment... some other way... and she does not like that and says leave.

So if there were a bunch of bodies in real life, she's like get the fuck out I need to get my commission.

But the other stuff points to him being a completely delusional break from reality. We actually started thinking that perhaps he was NOT Patrick Bateman but was the guy people keep mistaking him for. And that he is having some sort of dissociative break. Like go back to the film and people KEEP saying he is this other guy even when he goes no I'm Patrick near the end.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:19 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Maybe its because I read the novel after I saw the film, but I never felt any of Ellis' "sympathy" for Bateman when I read American Psycho. I read the novel's Bateman pretty much the same way I read Bale's performance/Harron's interpretation -- as a narcissistic, empty, spoiled rich coward. The main difference I remember noticing is that Ellis included way more "epic catalogues" of brand names and shit like that, and a few more hallucinatory episodes leading up to the end. It's been maybe 10+ years since I read the novel, but I also remember feeling like there was a lot more explicit violence towards women than in the film, there was less than I thought there would be based on what I'd heard. I was girding myself to wade through detailed torture scenes on every other page, but I feel like it was only like 10% of the total text -- not that anyone was in need of more. And not that it was that good of a book -- while I still watch the film every year or 2.

But in any case, it always boggles my mind when people -- that is, usually straight white guys -- who get the absolutely wrong message out of books/films. Why anyone would find American Psycho or Fight Club aspirational seems so bizarre to me (and, for reference, I'm a straight guy) -- but then again, I once met a guy who watched the end of Full Metal Jacket (with the sniper) to get "pumped up" for the gym. Actually, the same guy -- who worked in high dollar corporate tech sales loved the film Boiler Room and would watch it to get psyched for the work week.

her Bateman’s first “crazy” gesture is to call a bartender an “ugly bitch,” because she’s not allowed to talk back to him. Guys do that every day, to every woman who works behind a bar, because they’re cowards, and they can’t yell at other men, who might yell back or punch them in the mouth.

This comment is sticking with me: Maybe 2 years ago, I was talking with a neighbor (old location). At some point, #metoo etc. came up, and he said that "the pendulum had swung too far" and that the whole "PC" thing was out of control. I challenged him on this, and he responded with a story about how at a bar recently, some "bitch" bartender had made some joke or comment or something to him that for whatever reason he took to be an insult. But because "everyone is so PC now," he couldn't curse at her, call her a bitch etc. etc., basically humiliate her to show how dominant he was, because then everyone would think he was an asshole. I was like, "Why would you do that anyway? Who the fuck cares is some person you're never going to see again made some dumb fucking comment?" He couldn't believe that I wasn't the kind of "man" who "controlled his world." Eventually the conversation ended with him saying, "Guys like me roll over guys like you." I was like, "Yeah, OK dude, well have a nice afternoon." What a psychopath.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:38 AM on October 16 [7 favorites]


Loving all of these, thank you for posting!
posted by aka burlap at 9:29 AM on October 17


That was a satisfying read of American Psycho, in all senses of the term.
posted by LMGM at 5:07 PM on October 17


Yikes. Anyway. New post on Zombieland.
posted by rewil at 7:31 AM on October 18


[A few comments removed, let's steer this back toward the content of the post and not slide somehow into yet another relitigation of the 2016 primaries.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:02 AM on October 18


I don't know how to think about that Zombieland review. I devoured all the other reviews, shared them around, couldn't want to tell people about them, but...I don't know, I just can't agree with her take on the zombie genre as a whole. Zombies aren't characterized by their lack of interiority (can we say what is in the mind of Nosferatu, other than hunger? how does it feel to be a werewolf--does any werewolf ever tell us, or do we have to wait for them to be human again?) or by being symbols of groupthink; they're ambient, environmental threats.

I think the fact that most stories end with the zombie plague still going on, no matter whether the humans survive or not, points to a horror based on total helplessness and decay. There is a terrible sinking feeling when you realize nothing is ever going to stop them. And while sometimes that's due to human frailty or venality--Dawn of the Dead's motorcycle gang letting the dead back into the mall, or how every seven minutes someone on The Walking Dead goes crazy and opens the gates--those mistakes or evils would not be so horrible if the zombies would just stop coming.

In a way, her review of The Terror seemed to speak better to the sense of an environmental evil, than the Zombieland review did. God, I was wrapped up in that one, the review was practically better than the show.

That's not to say there isn't plenty of room for right-wing postapocalyptic fantasies in zombie movies; clearly there is a lot of military fetishization and fear of the other going on... But just as clearly zombies have not outgrown their usefulness, while we're still getting films like The Girl with All the Gifts (which she does mention) and Train to Busan (Moral: Don't Trust Businessmen). Once those kind of films dry up, I'll really start to worry about the genre.
posted by mittens at 9:48 AM on October 18


Wow. I had not encountered her writing before, and I am very glad I have now. Thanks for this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:49 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


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