Thursday, February 5, 2009

Visting Cinematic Greatness (Film Review) by Alison Ross

Visiting Cinematic Greatness
by Alison Ross

I don't always read the movie reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, and nor do I invest a ton of credence into any movie review, given that some of my favorite movies, like Zoolander, were panned across the board, and given that some of my most loathed flicks, like Y Tu Mama Tambien, received abundant critical acclaim. (Seriously, though, that movie was a pile of shit - unless of course you revel in films that masquerade as art and ooze hollow pretense).

But in doing some research for this review of the staggeringly phenomenal The Visitor, I decided to just glance at the blurbs at Rotten Tomatoes. Overall the critics rejoice in the film's multi-faceted charms, but there were a couple of negative reviews that gave me pause. One such blurb said scornfully, "full of liberal

Well what a better reason to see a movie, I thought! Abounding in sumptuous liberal guilt. Cool!

In all seriousness, though, I find that reviewer's comment to be guffawably absurd. I am not even sure I know what "liberal guilt" IS, other than some lazy phrase forged by mentally lethargic fools. Indeed, the phrase "liberal guilt" is almost oxymoronic (and most assuredly moronic) since the word "liberal" connotes generosity and cheerful affinity for progress, and the word "guilt" connotes remorseful burden and psychological regression.

Of course, over the years the word "liberal" has become rather anathema, thanks to creepy cretins who think that fervently embracing love over fear is something to jeer at as weak and worthless.

And hell, even I have succumbed to the inanity and mostly ceased using that word to describe my political worldview. Instead I use "progressive." The creepy cretins have succeeded in making "liberal" a taboo term, one that encompasses a restrictive worldview rather than a happily carefree one.

But no matter what some cerebrally-challenged neo-con film critic asserts (a creepy contradiction anyway - how can you possess such a constipated worldview and yet claim to love such an unbridled art form?). The point is, "The Visitor" not only features brilliant acting, and fully fleshed-out character and plot development, but it lays bare our latent fears about inhabiting a burgeoning Big Brother society. For the movie intrepidly tackles the topic of immigration, and the shamefully dehumanizing treatment of both legal and illegal immigrants.

Of course, the film handles this theme through the prism of a story about an emotionally repressed professor, one whose life has become meandering and meaningless. His contact with a pair of immigrants, however, infuses his life with vigorous purpose. He becomes sensitized to their plight while concurrently cultivating a more creatively flamboyant lifestyle, one that mirrors the immigrant couple's indelible influence.

Richard Jenkins delivers a wrenchingly nuanced performance as the inhibited academic whose inner tigers are unleashed when the male half of the immigrant couple, the vibrantly passionate Syrian Tarek, teaches him to drum.

Indeed, Jenkins has been given an Oscar nod for his performance, and I am extremely hopeful he will grab the honors. His countenance conveys such tender pathos, it's as though he's acting with his facial features alone.

"The Visitor" also features the best ending I have witnessed in cinematic history.

If "The Visitor" is filled with liberal guilt, then I'm more than happy to partake in such a charge. Because, really, guilt can be a compelling force that induces us to liberally embrace all of humanity, rather than discriminate so brutally based on status and ethnicity.

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