February 24, 2017
"What kind of a crazy person celebrates Noam Chomsky's birthday like it's some kind of official holiday?"
Just one of the many great scenes in "Captain Fantastic," which Meade and I watched on streaming video last night. I give it the Althouse seal of approval. You can stream it here. And let's talk about it!
I enjoyed listening to Tom & Lorenzo talk about that movie in this podcast. Tom was outraged at the Viggo Mortenson character, calling his treatment of his children "child abuse" and said that because the man was inculcating left-wing politics in his children, viewers were not going to be able to detect the badness of his fathering.
That resonates with something I said to Meade immediately after watching the movie (and before listening to Tom & Lorenzo): This movie would be experienced very differently by someone with left-wing politics, someone who actually thought Noam Chomsky was great. Things we found hilarious — and also painful — would read entirely differently. I think this was Tom's problem, but it forced Tom to see that there's something abusive about inculcating children with politics (he just thought the common people needed clearer instruction, which would have been there if the father's politics were right-wing or Christian fundamentalist).
The movie is complicated, hilarious and dramatic. A father is sort of leading his band of 6 children against the world. He's both good and bad. And the grandfather who disapproves — played by Frank Langella — is also good and bad, even though he's in the position that would normally be The Villain. (He's trying to take the children away.) There's a great dinner-table scene where the 6 children try to relate to their cousins, and it's complex to think about. There's some of the feeling Meade and I remember from many movies circa 1970 where the people who reject American society are morally and intellectually better, but that's also challenged as one of the boys yells at his father for making them into "freaks."
And I just want to say: Viggo Mortenson is 58 years old. He looks great. And we got a comprehensive look at him at one point.