A few months ago, a guy named Noah Buschel on a site called Hammer to Nail wrote a brilliant and withering attack on “The New Hipster,” a piece I was rather enjoying right up until the realization that he was talking about me. Then I felt ridiculed, and what I really wanted to do was write a gloriously biting response piece, but for the fact that the essay, in many respects, was spot on.
In that post, he takes particular aim at NYTimes movie critic, A.O. Scott, and one of my favorite directors, Tom McCarthy. For some of you, this might hurt a little. Read it as though taking off a band-aid:
It was understood that if someone like A.O. Scott got it right off the bat, it probably wasn’t very new. It’s probably just a Tom McCarthy movie if A.O. digs it. And that’s all good—those Tom McCarthy movies are solid, shiny things. But hipsters fancy themselves rebels—not middle of the road yuppies. And yet, for all the Robert Downey Sr. posters and Sam Fuller books, most of today’s hipsters are a lot closer to McCarthy than Nick Ray. McCarthy’s movies feel like they’re made by the Sundance Film Festival itself. They’re not offensive. They’re very politically correct. The timing is pretty much the same as studio films, maybe just a little quieter. And the stories are not too different than studio films, if on a smaller scale. And they have that neat, bright look that A.O. Scott loves so much. I’m convinced now that if one makes a film where the males are somewhat well groomed, A.O. Scott will just about hail it as a masterpiece. McCarthy’s latest, Win Win? A.O. Scott must have felt much at ease in that theater with those gentlemen. Yes. He must have felt much at ease indeed. Perhaps he even ate his own roasted nuts.
Ouch. And then this:
[A.O. Scott] needs tidy movies. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck [Half Nelson] and Ramin Bahrani [Goodbye Solo] are the perfect directors for Scott, because he can go to the Dominican Republic or a down and out motel and still feel a certain familiar yuppie sheen cast over the proceedings. These too I find to be new hipster films. There’s a chill in the air, even when they’re emotional. Something metallic and robotic going on. A preconceived awareness—an inorganic vision. The hand-held camera, hand-held just so. Impersonal. The choices of topics—are they truly of interest to the filmmakers or just what the filmmakers feel like they should be interested in? And all so contained. Someone please smash these films open now.
I wonder what Buschel would think of Ryan Gosling? It’s almost too much to contemplate.
But what I couldn’t glean from the piece is what Buschel likes. Does he enjoy anything? In addition to swipes at Sundance-y fare, he dumps on the ironic appreciation of movies like The Rock and Fast and Furious. But that he held up Kerouac and Mailer as hipster icons made it easy to dismiss Buschel, not because he was wrong, but because he was one of those guys. Those guys reject materialism and wealth and J. Crew jeans because they belong to a socioeconomic class that has a choice in the matter. I grew up destitute in a shithole in Arkansas with a gay drug-addicted father, a suicidal mother, a meth-addicted brother, and a sister knocked up in her teens, so to an extent, I embrace what little material possessions I can grasp onto. I went to law school not out of some Noblesse oblige but because they were dumb enough to let me in. All of which is to say: I love Tom McCarthy films because I fucking earned it, douchebag. Now please pass the roasted nuts.
That’s a very roundabout way of getting to the point of this post, which is that Tom McCarthy is writing a screenplay for a family-oriented supernatural comedy. It’s called Home Movies, and it’s about “a man who is able to revisit certain moments in his life through his home movies and change things.” Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) is producing. And before you go dumping on it, remember that Tom McCarthy, in addition to writing/directing The Station Agent, The Visitor and Win Win, also co-wrote Pixar’s Up, so he knows his way around family movies. He knows how to hit all the right notes and create a small, intimate story even within the confines of a big studio picture.
It’s still in the early stages, but I’m looking forward to Home Movies, and Noah Buschel can go choke on his copy of On the Road. I just hope he takes a bath first because the “yuppie” mother he is so obviously rejecting doesn’t want to find a dirty corpse in soiled underwear.