William Monahan is probably one of my favourite screenwriters. I don’t know if his scripts really work as films but they’re funny and he writes the best lines. He won an Academy award for best script for The Depaah-td (*faux Boston accent), which contains some vulgaric jems like ‘In America we bring cash to a deal – no ticky no laundry!’ and ‘No use cryin over spilt Guineas…’ and ‘Do you like sticking your cock up miss Freud’s ass?’
It’s fun for its Elmore-esque dialogue but overall feels both hallow and weirdly tragic in its tale of male existential angst. In fact, I’d say Mojave was like a long lost relative from Tarantino’s Godardian/LA-era period (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown). Those films, along with Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, The Player and The Long Goodbye, possibly including Inherent Vice and Big Lebowski, and maybe even Chinatown, constitute certain type of surrealistic-cum-French New Wave vision of Los Angeles, which is like a genre in and of itself. It’s about sex, murder, money, drugs, and more drugs, and Socrates and Nietzsche, and more drugs and money and sex – that this is specific to America and the City of Angels. Beautiful, immoral and ugly.
Typically, the marketing team for this film seemed to have completely miss-sold what it film was meant to be about. ‘The most intense thriller of the year’ blah blah blah etc etc. It’s not. The critics hated this film. Whatever Monohan did after The Departed he knew he was doomed, because basically his talent is to write witty obsene dialogue better than anyone else, and who wouldn’t feel jealous? So here’s a story about two uptight idiots having an unnecassarily protracted disagreement about life in a desert for no apparent reason; it’s like the hipster version of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Thomas, a super-rich, celebrity Vincent Gallo-type actor/filmmaker (Garret Hedlund), has an identity crisis whilst making a film about something really arty, probably himself, so he goes to the desert to be alone and contemplate the meaning of life. Naturally, he meets another guy Jack (Oscar Issac) who’s equally erudite and disilluisioned as himself, and so a battle of wits ensues. But who is Jack, what does he want with Thomas……that’s the profound question we need to ask ourselves and the reason we’re watching this absurdly funny, Leonard/Tarantino/Beckett mash-up. I liked it. I’m not surprised everyone hated it. It’s really like study of narcissism, not as well made as Fellini’s 8 1/2, but swearing and lines are funnier.
Mark Wahlberg, as Thomas’s sleazy agent, has lines like ‘This is killing my vibe. I ate all the chinese food, now all I want is a blowjob. I’m not into feet’ He is permanently dressed in a bathrobe, drinking champagne from oversized flutes and surrounded by bodyguards and prostitutes who fail to please or protect him at the crucial moment.
Garret Hedlund plays the central Brando-eqsue protaganist. A performance so tired and bored even Brando and Kinski might feel irritated. His voice is like Dolph Lundgren impersonating Jack Kerouac, which is basically the same roles he played in On The Road and Inside Llewyn Davis.
If Oscar Issac had played Kerouac in On The Road alongside Hedlund, I would’ve officically called these three films a trilogy of ‘young bored poets being angry’.
I have yet to watch Lindsey Anderson’s Oh Lucky Man!