Much can be said about the concept and implications of globalization. That it’s good for corporations, indifferent to local economies and cultures, rough on the working class. Here’s another: globalization inspires very bad art. Besides Jia Zhangke and Olivier Assayas, who understand commercial exchange as being inseparable from life, and see business as transforming but not necessarily debasing human relations, most filmmakers approach globalization as an existential death-match between capitalism and the human soul. Now that we’re so connected, goes the thinking, we struggle to connect. We want to go home, but we’re spiritually lost. Fractured stories reflect our fractured selves. Modern life is an Edward Hopper painting, with everyone everywhere staring off into the distance, texting into the void, and muttering about the media and America.
The one helpful thing about Paul Haggis’s Crash winning the Best Picture Oscar in 2006 is that future historians will have an easy time identifying the pop-psych foolishness of our era. “We’re always behind this metal and glass,” goes that film’s opening monologue. “I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” Hollywood doesn’t have a monopoly on fortune cookie existentialism though, as freshly exhibited by Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson’s dismaying career killer Mammoth. Click here to read the rest of Eric Hynes’s review of Mammoth.