Tony Scott Gets His Due

Tony Scott is one of my guilty pleasures, though I resent the expectation that I ought to feel guilty about liking his movies (post-2000 especially). That’s why I loved reading Christoph Huber and Mark Peranson’s review of Deja Vu and Scott’s filmography alike. Their piece in Cinema Scope uses his latest movie as its point of reference but–reflecting the structure of a Scott film–it is regularly interspersed with a critical re-examination of the rest of his usually maligned oeuvre.

With the subtitle “Tony Scott’s Vertigo” I couldn’t not read it, and I was rewarded with a series of provocative but always supportable claims (“A quick comparison of their early shorts proves which Scott was going to be the pompous artiste and which one the grand entertainer”). Whether you’re a misotonist or a philoscott, I trust their piece will repay your reading.

5 thoughts on “Tony Scott Gets His Due

  1. Dennis says:

    I take it then that you like Domino? That’s a big guilty pleasure of mine, because while I enjoy it a great deal, its (many) dissenters seem to positively loathe the movie, and it’s not easy to defend either.

  2. Nobody says:

    I went in expecting not to like it thanks to the annoying trailer (alright already, we know you’re a bounty hunter!), but I couldn’t deny my enjoyment of such a surreal Western fantasia across modern California.

    After King Arthur and The Jacket, Keira was beginning to lose her novelty factor and I wanted to dislike her haughtiness in Domino but I couldn’t bring myself to it. I started feeling less guilty about it once Pride & Prejudice finally proved she actually was a good actress.

    Nonetheless, I’m not sure Domino is as good as Man on Fire. There is too much redundancy of images (how times do we need to see the gulping goldfish?) and the repetitive religious symbolism feels forced, lacking the allegorical function it served in Man on Fire.

    But after seeing Natural Born Killers recently for the first time, I realized that Domino is definitely the superior meditation on “reality” television. The fact that it is loosely biographical only makes its blurrings all the tastier.

    However it’s been almost two years since I saw it originally so a second viewing is definitely in order!

  3. Dennis says:

    Interesting… Man on Fire is another that I harbor a guilty appreciation for. The allegorical function that the religious imagery served in Man on Fire was what, to paint Creasy as a redemptive character atoning for his past Old Testament-style? I’ve also read an intriguing interpretation of the second half as an allegory for Western Christianity forcefully imposing itself on the infidelic third world (that was a negative critique).

  4. Nobody says:

    The character arc of John Creasy (J.C. for short) follows the conventional trajectory of movie Christs, from watery baptism to substitional sacrifice (he even “gives up the spirit” under his own power, rather than receiving a death blow).

    Despite his initials, however, Creasy’s torture practices in the second half don’t comport with a Christ allegory (he’s supposed to be the one tortured, not vice versa!). Creasy’s rampage through the criminal underworld could be interpreted as a “Harrowing of Hell” (apologies, Mexico City) but it is out of narrative order.

    Regarding the director’s perspective, I think a more likely reading is the one you mentioned:

    I’ve also read an intriguing interpretation of the second half as an allegory for Western Christianity forcefully imposing itself on the infidelic third world (that was a negative critique).

    That may be but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott intended the film itself as a negative critique of Christianity or the US.

    Even the article I originally linked to draws the parallel:

    As an allegory of the post-9/11 American psyche it works to a degree, and is even somewhat provocative: born-again Christian going into the third-world danger zone to avenge and finding out he’s been deceived.

    According to my inside sources Tony Scott is kind of anti-Christian himself, excising some Christian themes out of Deja Vu and casting Jim Caviziel as the terrorist because he had played Jesus. (Caviziel’s trench coat and machine guns also resemble that other Christ-analogue, Neo.)

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if Creasy’s Bible reading and dramatic conversion (miracle and all), followed by crusader zeal, was intended by Scott as a critique. Perhaps “Man on Fire” doubles as a reference to Pentacost?

  5. […] am Since the thread about Cache has filled up the list of Recent Comments, I just wanted to post a link to an older post on Tony Scott which sparked some discussion this week, in case anyone is […]

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