Thursday, January 6, 2011


Alfie remembers that Paul Bettany once played Chaucer, which means Alfie’s seen “A Knight’s Tale,” which means he’s seen everything. I still remember when he told us, “I love repetition”—who knew you were allowed say a thing like that? He was just on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire—the emphasis is meant to fall on the first word of that question, but one can’t help shifting it to the second. As The Tourist implicitly asks, by its lush late-capitalist Grand Tour, TGV and vaporetto, why move desire around, anyway, since it’s measureless and total? Just for economy’s sake, just to grease the flow of euros? Jolie, who never stops trotting the globe, is affectless here: Lyotard: “For it is of the essence of desire to desire also to free itself of itself, because desire is intolerable.” No one is closer than Jolie to that famous object of desire—herself—so it’s no surprise she hymns a nothingness. To where would she make a pilgrimage? She gravitates toward stories about fraudulence, while Depp is the face of innocence, though he began it all, let’s not forget, playing a narc. Scissorhands, William Blake, Cap’n Sparrow, the Mad Hatter—the filmography, anyone would agree, of the oldest old soul. The red twizzler in my fist, held up to the screen, dissolves into the tumblerfull of Campari he swirls and sips.

Old friend of mine, to a (pre-Katrina) French Quarter shopkeeper: “Can you recommend a place to eat where there aren’t so many, you know, tourists?” Shopkeeper: “You mean like you?” Authenticity’s such a drag. Depp, as a Wisconsin community-college math teacher, smokes an electronic cigarette that vaporizes tobacco, thereby delivering nicotine without the smoke which it nevertheless simulates, for nostalgia’s sake, with a little puff of water vapor—and this doesn’t satisfy at all. The joke being, getting the drug agent itself is hardly the point, the real experience is of the byproduct, the delivery system, the burnt offering. He’s taken as a double for the man he actually is, Jolie’s too suspicious to recognize him at face value, she wears a medallion of two-faced Janus, Brad must have one hell of a home life. Hitchcock and Highsmith: It’s not only that you don’t know you’re really a criminal, it’s that you always knew it perfectly well. Pursued, one finds oneself all-too-proficiently running, leaping a turnstile, supplying a false name. Of course we don’t really care about any given movie but rather “the movies,” as one smokes or travels by train not to inhale that drag or arrive at that city but to find, exactly where one left it, the same profoundly comforting nausea (as of the seasick womb), the same predictably exhilarating trance.

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