February 25, 2008

Giving Daniel Day-Lewis a run for his po-mouthing money

I mentioned in my review of "There Will Be Blood" how Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis likes to say he always felt like an outsider growing up in England because of his half-Irish and half-Jewish ancestry. Yet, his father, C. Day Lewis, the son of a Protestant minister, was the Poet Laureate of England, which is the same job Chaucer had. You can't get much more English than that. (And Day-Lewis's Jewish grandfather, a knight of the realm, ran the Ealing movie studio when it made such famously English comedies as "Kind Hearts and Coronets.")

I'm working on a review of "Be Kind Rewind," which is directed by Michel Gondry, and I found something similar:

"Much of Be Kind Rewind takes place on a rundown street corner in Passaic, N.J., with which Gondry clearly developed an affinity. ... Gondry himself grew up in the Paris suburb of Versailles, and says he identifies with that feeling of detachment from the big city but also envy of its glitter and commercialism."

Right. Passaic and Versailles -- two peas in a pod, both equally obscure. (Although I'm not sure that a lack of glitter is what first comes to mind when I hear the name "Versailles.")

I'm reminded of how much of art these days (always?) consists of preserving your adolescent emotions, such as self-pity. The Coen Bros. are living out an adolescent daydream of making an Oscar-winning movie with your brother, but at least they've never displayed the slightest hint that they feel sorry for themselves (or so I hope).

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


dearieme said...

Daniel Day-Lewis carries off Assumed Victimhood with a mummer's skill. And sincerity.

James Kabala said...

According to Wikipedia, Versailles has a population of 86,000 people, not just a palace with small town attached as one might assume. Furthermore, the city is said to be "extremely compartmented [sic for compartmentalized, I guess], divided by large avenues inherited from the monarchy which create the impression of several small cities ignoring each other." It could be that Gondry actually comes from a neighborhood fairly isolated from the palace.

dearieme said...

Come off it, James. I've lived in Passaic.

Crispin Tickle said...

The star, who has joint British-Irish citizenship, collected his award from Dame Helen Mirren, and joked about her performance in her film The Queen.

"This is the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood," he said.

My heart bleeds, dear boy.

Anonymous said...

Steve many suburbs of Paris are pretty depressing places. People I knew who stayed in Versailles said outside the palace area it was fairly dreary and depressing.

Hollywood is filled with people who idolize eternal adolescence and worship only their own hipness. In other words modern, post-Judeo/Christian Western society taken to it's logical conclusion.

No one believes in anything other than their own ego, therefore most of what they produce is pretty bad. It's the same with music and books too. That explains the creative crisis in the West -- very little good in the post-War, post-Judeo/Christian era.

James Kabala said...

Oh, no doubt Versailles the city is nicer than Passaic (although if anonymous is right, maybe it isn't), but that's a low bar.

Furthermore, it isn't very clear from this remark thst Gondry feels particularly sorry for himself. It seems to have been a passing remark to trump up publicituy for his new movie, not a half-hour maudlin disquisition about the unfairness of life.

michael farris said...

"I'm reminded of how much of art these days (always?) consists of preserving your adolescent emotions, such as self-pity."

Well I think art has always been primarily about the emotional baggage of the artist (sufferings of young werther anyone?)

But as to the particular nature of that baggage now ... isn't it part and parcel of the sibling society where traditional teenage behaviors are carried on into the 20's and 30's?
Seen from the outside, this aspect of the US is very striking since I live in a country (Poland) where the sibling society has yet to take hold and most people are thinking in terms of getting married by their mid 20's (if not sooner) and hardly anyone takes the thought of childlessness seriously, though young women are trying to delay things because of work concerns.

Anonymous said...

The Coen brothers, born and bred in Minnesota attended a Zionist summer camp in Wisconsin. I think their portrayal of (dimwitted) gentiles in their films comes from this type of indoctrination. Interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air, while discussing his film "Fargo" Ethan stated that he thought the character Marge, viewed by host Terry Gross as having a big heart and likable, was "the bad guy" and "not given to introspection." Coen most identified with Steve Buscemi’s character Carl, a murderer, because he was "alien" and "an outsider." Coen didn’t identify with Carl’s sidekick Gaear either, because Gaear "was Swedish and in a sense connected to the region."

Roger Thatchery said...

The Coen brothers are cinematic geniuses. Their work will live on forever in the pantheon of blah blah blah.

Drudge reports record low ratings for Oscar this year. What a surprise. Hollywood is really beginning to swim in its own sh_t.

The postmodern cul-de-sac is now.

green mamba said...

I'm certainly glad you let that last comment through, Steve. It's very germaine to the thread. Anything to promote the meme of anti-gentile Jews, I guess.

green mamba said...

Okay, I re-read the post and the comment isn't so off-topic. So my two cents about the Coens: their movies seem to be made by extremely bright twelve-year-old boys.

As far as Gondry goes, maybe Versailles isn't so different from Passaic in some respects. European cities can be quite grungy, including ones with important monuments and histories.

Anonymous said...

I posted the Fresh Air interview back in 2003 on another site. I also just posted some of it over at mondweiss...


Raised in the Midwest town of Minneapolis, they gained outsider status early by virtue of their Jewishness. Going to Zionist summer camps, they stood out amid the provincial conformity. McDormand has said that it made her husband and Ethan feel like weirdos. And like another Jew from the Midwest, Steven Spielberg, they spent a lot of time indoors watching films on television.

The results, though, could not be more different, not least in their contrasting visions of the American melting pot. 'You've got two problems of Hollywood treatment of ethnicity,' Joel has observed. 'They're either reverential or they can't deal with it at all.' The Coens seem mischievously attracted to stereotypes, and the polar caricatures of the Jew as idealistic intellectual and cunning parasite have featured in Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing, each time played by John Turturro, a Roman Catholic. If you can attribute a moral interest to the Coens, it would be in the myths society produces, rather than society itself.

savvygoper said...

I think your take on Day- Lewis is off. As he said "growing up" in England half Irish and Jewish doesn't get you any bonus points. So what if his dad was poet laureate- do you think the sort of soccer hooligan prone young lad that he grew up with carries a sentimental affinity for flowery verse?

Ross said...

"do you think the sort of soccer hooligan prone young lad that he grew up with carries a sentimental affinity for flowery verse?"

Do you think that the son of the poet laureate grew up with soccer hooligan types?

Black Sea said...

Having a father who is poet laureate will set you up for ridicule not only among proto-hooligan, working class "youfs," but also among the toffs at Sevenoaks school (founded in 1432), where Daniel Day-Lewis boarded.

The point isn't that he felt like an outsider growing up; lots of people do. It's that he - perhaps reflexively - attributes these feelings to his Irish (Anglo-Irish, actually) and Jewish background. Daniel Day-Lewis may have been seen as an oddball, or a rebel, or a misfit, or whatever, as a kid, but it probably wasn't because he was socially excluded based upon his "ethnic" background.

That's not to say that he didn't feel like an outsider for other reasons. I felt like an ousider growing up as a WASP kid in a WASP suburb. I'd suspect that at least half of the people I grew up with felt the same way. Most people in high school don't fit the prevailing stereotype of an "insider," whatever that is, and truth to tell, even a good many of the football players and cheerleaders look around at the age of 16, and think, "How did I get here?"

It's called adolescence.

michael farris said...

Yeah, I felt like an outsider just as soon as I started interacting with people outside the family (and still do in many ways) but I didn't have any ethnic/racial/religious pegs to hang it on.

In my case it probably came from growing up in a non-mainstream family that basically had little to nothing in common with almost all of the folks around us on a daily basis.

savvygoper said...

Ok- straight from wikipedia: "Living in Greenwich, Day-Lewis naturally found himself among some tough South London kids and being Jewish and "posh", he was often bullied."

How exactly is Daniel Day-Lewis full of self-pity? He is hardly like Barack or Michelle Obama. I don't know his politics, but I respect his formidable acting ability. I think he may well be the greatest actor ever. Without further evidence I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Black Sea said...

I read Wikipedia on DDL too. The problem is that this bit of information was more than likely taken from an interview with DDL himself, so it's no more valid than the original claim.

The odds that it came from some objective third party, or the "tough South London kids" themselves are quite remote.

Anonymous said...

"This is the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood," he said.

My heart bleeds, dear boy.

If I were Her Majesty, I'd be tempted to give him a knighthood, a peerage, and the OM in the next honours list just to see the look on his face.

Lenore said...

You know, I think it is just amazing that forty years after the fact, in a time and place not your own, anyone would come along and say that an adult's claims of being "teased and bullied" as a kid or feeling like an outsider were self pity or fabrication. The kind of thing that DDL talked about is common to lots of kids for lots of reasons. It could have happened because he was Irish and Jewish, it could have happened because other kids thought he was peculiar, whatever... Unless you grew up with him and went to school with him just what/how the h--- do you know about it? Anyway, he makes his home in Ireland these days and married an American, the combination of which kind of tells you England might have been a place he never felt great about as a residence.
As to the "Knighthood" comment, I think that was intended as humility-an idea that he would never rate a Knighthood. One also can only speculate how such films as "The Boxer" would sit with her Majesty, or even that adventure into soft core porn "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (no offense to DDL intended, we all make mistakes in our youth!).
It continues to amaze me how fame, wealth, and great talent bring out the green eyed monster in people...