Not to be bested by Quills
and Geoffrey Rush, Land of the Blind had the bright idea to have a scene where Donald Sutherland writes in his own excrement. To do one better, you see the feces plunked down right there in Sutherland's hand. Was this where Sutherland saw his career going? Was he just winding up his pitch with Klute
, Don't Look Now
, and last year's stellar take on Pride & Prejudice? Was it all really just to get to the point where he could write jibber-jabber about freedom and anarchy in his own poop? Please, Donny, say it ain't so.Sutherland plays Thorne, an imprisoned playwright whose writings have been deemed too inflammatory. The world he lives in is run by a dictator (Tom Hollander) who casts Hollywood actors as news anchors and makes movies that resemble DV versions of Jerry Bruckheimer films. It isn't until a soldier, Joe (Ralph Fiennes), starts listening to Thorne's articulate ramblings that things start happening. Joe busts Thorne out of prison and allows him to exact revenge on the dictator and his wife (a useless Lara Flynn Boyle). The ink is still wet on the new constitution when Thorne becomes a dictator too, sending his friend Joe to the torture chambers for not agreeing with his new regime.Is this what we have stooped to for leftist political films? Robert Edwards' film for one reason or another really thinks it's saying something. It punctuates the cruelty of both the left and the ultra right with equal measures, but it never really shows examples of what is good in either ideology. It highlights the "everyman" as hero, but never sees Fiennes' character as anything besides an ideology that is up for bid. The fact that Edwards fits Joe with a family is absolutely absurd because we don't care about Joe as a character; he is simply there for us to see the effect that politics have on a normal person. It's hollow and criminally indecisive.If anything, you can say that Land of the Blind has excessive, somewhat stylish design production. The castle that the dictator lives in resembles the excessive architecture of some palace in Barcelona. However, this gentle stab at stylizing brings to mind that Edwards was trying to do what none have succeeded at: attempt to follow up Terry Gilliam's Brazil
. Not even Gilliam himself, who has made successful, even great films like The Fisher King and Twelve Monkeys, has ever been able to bring his style and politics to such a fantastic torrent. It's possible to see where Edwards' heart might have been in the right place, but his film is too clever, too cold, and too completely self-aware to ever really embrace an everyman like Joe.Hey, Donny, Altman is still making movies, so is Roeg. You have options.