Bird Box took four viewings before I was finally able to decide what I think of the Netflix original. Directed by Susanne Bier, the film is probably the best adaptation one could make out of a mediocre novel. While the film is catching fire with the general populace, certain aspects of the Internet feel hellbent to put their stamp on it. Please don’t, as the majority of you are too dumb to form any critical takedown of something that’s going to make 200 million dollars.
But, AndersonVision! Why does quality have to be sacrificed for Netflix to keep affording its constant stream of green lighting every damn show made? I mean how many comedy specials do we need to give elderly podcast hosts?
To that, I state again…you don’t know what works. Quality is subjective, but story cohesion and functional narratives are concrete. Does Bird Box work as a story? Yes. Is it a story worth telling? I’m not going to let the loudest mouths of the Internet dictate that.
Notice the creative dodge there. I’ve been doing that more and more, as I feel the push to be serious film writer slipping further and further away. The modern audience is besieged by waves of content upon content that is being judged with the same parameters that Maslin and Kael were splooshing out back in the 70s.
As a new year starts, I feel everso committed to fighting this urge on a personal level. I just wish it wasn’t Bird Box that served as my call to action. Why is that?
Well, Bird Box is forgettable. Sandra Bullock has the mental push to be the savior of the world onscreen and in her personal life. Whether it’s The Blind Side, Gravity or this film…Bullock has to be the motherly figure saving the last shred of hope. Any challenge to that is met by the death or removal of an obstacle, as this is a star vehicle and less of a natural story. The amount of people that forget that the film features a voyeuristic sex scene is staggering. Hell, I forgot about it the first few times watching the movie.
Again, I ask once more…why is that? Western culture has entered this bizarre phase that we seem to return to every couple of decades. Stagnant malaise characterized by a tired opposition to insurmountable evil in our very real world. It’s too hard to understand the riots in Paris, the possible treason in Washington or the greatest culture war since the 1960s. There is a desire to understand and become educated by such change. However, any attempt to successfully broach the issue is a drop of water into an ever-expanding ocean.
As such, the efforts to understand a scary world get turned onto popular culture and that which is easy to define. You can’t fight City Hall, but you can put all your anger towards Sandra Bullock. She’s not going to fight back on that little screen. Ol’ Sandy is just going to take her kids down river to live with a new group of survivors, as they wait for a better day. Even our fictions can’t provide the promise of a satisfying reality. I ask for a third time…why is that?
There was a time when the educated elite believed that future generations would give over their intellect to cloud intelligence. That means an ever-increasing reliance on technology to share knowledge and find new ways to connect as an informed community. What has happened is more technology is in more hands than ever before. But, the minds of these blind users haven’t expanded to understand them.
Thus, we return to Bird Box.
Is Bird Box bad or good? Does it matter? In a few months, we’ll have another dark future film to replace it. This is 2018/2019 and only old people still read things. No one is going to actively seek out and finish reading the source novel. So, Bird Box becomes yet another take on a corrupted future that feels closer to the present than the far flung future. That hopelessness makes it easier to hate.
Whether it’s the Sopranos’ finale or a stable boy force pulling a broomstick, people don’t like being left hanging. Regardless of how mentally superior you might feel, Bird Box will piss you off because it doesn’t deal in concrete terms. Sandra Bullock is a maternal savior figure, but she has nowhere to go. There is no home sanctuary in Bird Box. Even the final locale is just something that works for now until a new Tom Hollander shows up. Tom Hollanders will always exist and even more there will be people that can accept the ambiguity of an indifferent killer world.