We’ve got two movies up for big awards that seem of wed together already by primal masculine force: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Both have been supplying many men who have seen them with some missing nutrient in their diets.. they’ve been starving for it without even knowing it was missing.
What is this wild man force and how did we lose it? We had it in Jim Morrison, Robert Bly, Ken Kesey, Nicholson, Brando, Robards– we lost it in the blinding Tom Cruise flash and lo, there was poofy hair and loud jackets. Then came the 1990s, dot-coms and a crushing need to stay edgy even with two kids and six figures. But let’s face it, the masculine archetype fisher king is going to lie around in defeat eventually, it’s the nature of the seasons. The only difference is in the spring-back, in how far down you hold the nerf ball under the water before it shoots up again. The longer man festers in his cubicle the louder the explosion when the Iron John yang energy comes hammering up out of the ground in great black oil sperm of my vengeance-style bit torrents and old-testament oratory.
It should have been the year of Josh Brolin as well as Daniel Day Lewis tonight at Oscar time, but I think Brolin has those old and comfortable voters a little confused; he’s like an accusatory ghost from a time the academy had thought long dead and buried in a Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson VHS clamshell box bonfire.
Men who have grown soft with unearned privilege will probably not like Lewis in THERE WILL BE BLOOD and are probably the reason Brolin’s not even nominated. The return of the true king is never welcomed by the pretender to the throne. The haters thought this sort of moustached hombre long vanished. Now he’s back, covered in the dirt used to bury him, but his eyes are burning through the dust with the fire of a thousand Bronsons!
I guess part of it for both Brolin and Lewis is that they’ve been away from Hollywood for awhile, cobbling in Italy or wandering through Ireland, doing their own things. Stay in Tinseltown too long and even the noblest of men can turn into needy eaters in need of a good Camille Paglia-style beat down. Lewis and Brolin have the sense to wander out into the desert when they sense themselves growing soft with money and fame. This wandering away from civilization and its tiresome trappings for communion with the wildness of nature — this was once part of something known as the Men’s Movement, around the end of the 1970s, early 1980s. It was a time when men went into the woods to beat drums and bond; a time before the age of Irony, before day care scandals and AIDS made masculinity and fatherhood something to hide the way witches had to hide from the inquisition. Well, we see now that the wildman was just in orbit – he’s returned with the tick-tock precision of Daniel Plainview’s oil pumps!