There's even a video for it:
Have a nice day at work!
In a sense, a movie like "Lethal Weapon" isn't about violence at all. It's about movement and timing, the choreography of bodies and weapons in time and space. In lesser movies, people stand there and shoot at each other and we're bored. In a movie with the energy of this one, we're exhilarated by the sheer freedom of movement; the violence becomes surrealistic and less important than the movie's underlying energy level.
All Pixar is wrought with compromise, and the latest installment in the Toy Story franchise is no different. What I find so frustrating about Pixar is that all their films contain hints of what they are capable of if they weren't forced to create art with hundreds of millions of people's expectations in mind, and if ever a film illustrated the folly of giving the people what they want (or what men in suits think they want), Toy Story 3 is it.
Never has the need for compromise in the work of Pixar been more evident than in the picture's climax, which has already become a famous sequence in its own right. The toys, through a convoluted series of misadventures (no, really) find themselves on a conveyor belt that leads to an incinerator, and this sequence is some of the most effective imagery Pixar has ever created; the flames are animated so vividly that you can almost feel the heat (and I saw it in 2D). This sequence culminates in the most fully realized individual moment in any Pixar film, as the toys fall in to the incinerator and interlock hands with one another, and Woody, always the hero thinking up clever ways of escape, realizes he is powerless and accepts his implicit fate. Only it's not implicit, as a literal Deus Ex Machina comes in to save the day, morphing the sequence from an examination of mortality and family into just another cheap thrill in literally the blink of an eye. Coming from someone who grew up with these films (I was 7 when the first came out), it's impossible to deny this sequence's effect, but it's devoid of any real consequence because it's not even a remote possibility that Pixar will kill the toys, even though that's probably the most fitting ending imaginable.
New groups, whole families, kept arriving. [Tod] could see a change come over them as soon as they had become part of the crowd. Until they reached the line, they looked diffident, almost furtive, but the moment they had become part of it, they turned arrogant and pugnacious. It was a mistake to think them harmless curiosity seekers. They were savage and bitter, especially the middle-aged and the old, and had been made so by boredom and disappointment.
All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks and counters, in the fields and at tedious machines of all sorts, saving their pennies and dreaming of the leisure that would be theirs when they had enough. Finally that day came. They could draw a weekly income of ten or fifteen dollars. Where else should they go but California, the land of sunshine and oranges?
Once there, they discover that sunshine isn't enough. They get tired of oranges, even of avocado pears and passion fruit. Nothing happens. They don't know what to do with their time. They haven't the mental equipment of leisure, the money nor the physical equipment for pleasure. Did they slave so long just to go to an occasional Iowa picnic? What else is there? They watch the waves come in at Venice. There wasn't any ocean where most of them came from, but after you've seen one wave, you've seen them all. The same is true of the airplanes at Glendale. If only a plane would crash once in a while so that they could watch the passengers being consumed in a "holocaust of flame," as the newspapers put it. But the planes never crash.
Their boredom becomes more and more terrible. They realize that they've been tricked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. This daily diet made sophisticates of them. The sun is a joke. Oranges can't titillate their jaded palates. Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies. They have been cheated and betrayed. They have slaved and saved for nothing.
“We all go a little mad sometimes.”
That memorable saying is uttered by Norman Bates, one of the major characters of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror classic Psycho, which will be screened tomorrow over at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of a series entitled “Bad Guys, Badasses, and Other Mean Spirits: Great Villains in Cinema.”
Norman Bates is indeed one of the most fascinatingly morbid of movie characters, but calling him a “villain” doesn’t quite do him justice. To me, the word “villain” suggests a one-note snarling bad guy, one who is easy to hate. Psycho is much richer than that because it understands the villainy lurking inside even the most unassuming of people—and not just in Norman.
Norman Bates, obviously, is the one most people remember from the film, and with good reason. You know how it’s often said about some killers on the news that “he always seemed like a nice person” to neighbors? Norman is one of those people. Sure, he has his quirks: taking up bird-stuffing as a hobby, being a little too attached to his mother. Otherwise, though, Norman—smoothly played by Anthony Perkins in his career role—seems mostly harmless. Listening to him talk so candidly to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), one would probably only conclude that he was a weird and sheltered but basically agreeable fellow…and certainly not one capable of murder.
But murder he does—although Hitchcock and screenwriter Joseph Stefano do not reveal this until the end of the picture, in which we find out that he, not his mother, killed Marion Crane in the shower (in the film’s most famous setpiece, the so-called “shower scene”).
Psycho isn’t entirely about Norman, however; in fact, he doesn’t even appear until after the first 40 minutes or so. The focus of the first section of the film is on badness of a different, less obviously horrific sort: Marion’s attempt to flee Phoenix, Arizona with a large sum of money that she steals from a rich client of her employer’s. As she basically fumbles about in her attempts to conceal the money, escape the watchful eyes of a cop on her tail, and avoid looking too suspicious in the eyes of a used-car salesman, we hear voiceover dialogues: her ideas about what people must be saying back home about her act of theft. Expressions of her guilt, in other words—a guilt that is uncannily mirrored in the film’s second half, as Norman tries to cover his guilt in a similarly fumbling manner.
In many ways, Psycho is not just a highly effective horror thriller. At heart, it is a disturbing, uncompromising look the madmen in all of us, murderous or not. In film after film, Alfred Hitchcock explored the psychologies of morally compromised characters: people who spy on others out of boredom (Rear Window), people who ruthlessly try to remake others in their own image (Vertigo), or, in Psycho, people who act irrationally out of frustration. Marion steals the money because she’s frustrated that she has to keep her relationship with Sam (John Gavin) a secret; Norman, we eventually discover through the psychologist at the end of the film, kills Marion in the motel shower, dressed as a woman, as a result of an unstated sexual attraction to Marion.
The discomforting power of Psycho comes from the fact that Hitchcock doesn’t turn these characters into evil cardboard cutouts. He doesn’t exactly love them, but he shows a kind of detached sympathy for them and their questionable actions. Maybe that’s what has really creeped us out about Norman Bates through all these years: at times, we can almost feel for this murderer, can almost understand the fear and guilt that leads him to kill. As a fictional character, he’s almost frighteningly plausible. That’s real horror.