So, I saw THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA yesterday. As an overall moviegoing experience, it was excellent. However, the CSA itself let me down a bit, perhaps because the word “brilliant” had been tossed around in describing it. It was quite good, but definitely short of brilliant. The film was most successful at conveying the cheerful creepiness of what it would be like to graft the slave-holding culture of the Confederacy onto today’s technology and pop culture. (So “Cops” becomes a very similar show called “Runaway” where escaped slaves are captured to the strains of fake reggae; you can add to your slaveholdings through the Home Shopping Network).
The weirdest part were the faux-commercials. They were amusing, though they seemed out of place within a Ken Burns-style documentary (which might be interrupted by a PBS pledge drive and bookended by “brought to you by…” ads, but not outright interrupted by commercials). That said, some of the products the filmmaker had come up with seemed a little over the top: “Niggerhair tobacco,” for instance. I did think it was strange that he included one product I’d seen in real life – “Darkie” (renamed “Darlie”) toothpaste- among the made-up ones. Of course, at the end of the film he lets us know that all of the advertised products were once available for purchase in the USA! My persistent naivete surprises me sometimes.
As a filmgoing experience, yesterday’s outing surpassed the day before. It was my first time at the relatively new IFC theater (formerly The Waverly), and the place kicks ass! Beautiful, down to the comfortable and differently upholstered seats (who says they all have to match?). Instead of the pre-film fare the megaplexes have inured me to by now (real commercials; “The Twenty,”, etc.) we were treated to a Guy Madden short (“The Very Heart of the World”) as well as previews for the new Steve Buscemi auteur effort (“Lonesome Jim,” which looks awesome); and “Drawing Restraint 9,” a Matthew Barney/Bjork train wreck.
I hate Matthew Barney. Forget Katie Holmes; FREE BJORK!