Cruelty. Manipulation. Meaninglessness.


Trailer for I Heart Huckabees

There are so many reasons to like I Heart Huckabees: the film stars French belle Isabelle Huppert, American veteran Dustin Hoffman (who I’ve actually come to like in his later years in supporting small roles such as A Series of Unfortunate Events, Perfume and Stranger Than Fiction, I’ve even come to appreciate his mouth-mannerisms, which I disliked so much), and cult favorite Lily Tomlin.

Huckabees’ director David O. Russell seems to belong to the club of smart, intellectual and philosophical North-American filmmakers which also includes P. T. Anderson, Michel Gondry (I know he’s French), Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, and to a lesser extent Vincent Gallo, Hal Hartley, Alexander Payne and Terry Zwigoff. British film critic James MacDowell, in a semantic approach I also worked on at [1], dubbed these directors the “The ‘Quirky’ New Wave”[2], for their “quirkiness“. The denotation of MacDowell overlaps with the recent spate of what has come to be termed “Indiewood” features.

The film is indeed overtly philosophical, with special attention given to concepts such as existentialism and pure being. In my limited philosophical expertise, Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin represent good old American positivist, buddhist-inspired, self-help therapy and Isabelle Huppert, personified as Caterine Vauban (whose business card reads: “Cruelty. Manipulation. Meaninglessness.)”, represents evil French Deconstructionist continental obfuscating philosophy.

Fear not, the two strains are reunited towards the end, all to the sounds of a beautiful soundtrack by Jon Brion, who you may be familiar with via his work on Magnolia (1999) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2003).

Huckabees’ is a 2000s entirely sympathetic entry for the anarchic comedy film category.

This post is a continuation of sorts of this post.

4 thoughts on “Cruelty. Manipulation. Meaninglessness.

  1. scott carpenter

    If you are interested there was a youtube clip of David O Russel having an auteur meltdown and calling lily Tomlin a cunt! These are the extra features we want /need on the dvd special edition.

    I’ll go with quirky but I always felt these films were whimsical, in short full of whimsy!

    Is this a new Holly-weird affectation or is television via Sopranos and Six Feet Under widening the scope for quirkiness?

    I find the same sentiments exist in Altmans Long Goodbye.

    Other films I found of note in the same vein were:- Roger Dodger, Igby Goes Down and The weatherman with Nicholas Cage!

    Me You And Everyone We Know by Miranda July is a lost gem and you will probably enjoy it because she is a visual artist who has made the transition to film.

    Last but not least, Welcome To The Doll-house by Todd Solondz .

    In times of High Weirdness is film not merely reflecting this?

    Is cult film being given a revival by the home viewer as opposed to the art house /all nighter ? Longevity is assured by the dvd consumer.

    Were you aware that Michael Rother of Neu passed away last week or is Motorik an alien concept to those without motorways?

  2. jahsonic

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for your viewing tips. I believe I haven’t seen these films, so I will keep it in mind.

    I think you’re mixing Rother with Klaus Dinger.

    Thanks again

  3. scott carpenter

    oops! I stand corrected.

    Recommending Film is such a subjective affair, for your critical faculties I would recommend Solondz and Miranda July.

    I love Michael Haneke but I could never recommend his work to anyone I know.

    The other titles could be deemed more black comedy than quirky and yet why are humorous films with an 18 certificate deemed dark or black?

    On a more personal note , I laugh with you and not at you, when you mentioned that you consume all your new music via Youtube .

    I have a close friend who watches all his new film on inflight entertainment. Although he is always up for an NFT presentation or documentary.

    I am interested in your statement that you returned to film viewing only recently.

    Is this due to dvd,work,family commitments or a new arthouse venue?

    I myself am spoilt for choice in London and find myself enjoying ‘small’ American Films as opposed to ‘event’ cinema.

    Another aspect is that films which have been eviscerated by print media critics are welcomed online by the digital cognoscenti,such as your good self.

    The Nines and Southland Tales immediately spring to mind.

    Also Sydney Lumet has made a blinding film in his eighties. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead is a return to form ,from the man who gave us Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon.

    Yours in Art and Labour.

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