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September 2 at 2:44pm

A Return To Cool: Anton Corbijn’s THE AMERICAN

By Ted Hope

Watching my business partner’s production of Anton Corbijn’s THE AMERICAN the other night, I was struck by how few truly cool American films there are.  The American is certainly one, but cool is an aesthetic that few truly dare to tread.  The cool that I refer to, is not something that is just neat or novel.  My cool differs from the way my son uses the word.

Cool is a committed style.  Cool is a discipline.  Cool embraces both content and all the elements of execution.  In a cool movie, everything other than cool is truly secondary, and ideally non-existent.  Cool movies thrive on an existential protagonist.  Cool is about the sustain and not the flash.

What are the cool American films of relatively recent vintage?

  • The American
  • The Limey
  • Stranger Than Paradise
  • Out Of Sight
  • Jackie Brown

This list is far from complete.  What have I forgotten?  Yet, the real question is “why are there so few truly cool films?”.

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  1. Amos Posner / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    I always found Get Shorty genuinely cool. Is Elmore Leonard the only truly cool American writer?

  2. Tim / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    I happen to think his dudeness is pretty far out…

  3. JimVB / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    Oh, I don't know, because American filmmakers would rather toil in the kitchen, mumbling, maybe?

  4. Liesl Copland / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    The Wackness

  5. Raymond / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    Having a Dutch director helps :)

  6. Ian / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    Ted – Anton Corbijn is a Dutchman living in London! The cool you perceive in The American is European!…and I gotta agree that the Big L is about as cool as it gets…'course all the Coen Bros films are produced by Working Title in London…

  7. jnb / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    Cool is the problem with film. Everyone wants to be cool like Tarentino. Read this: http://screen.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/3/6.extract

  8. vanrojas / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    Ghost Dog. Very cool.

  9. Gregblakejohnson / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    early tarantino embraced cool. later tarantino resorts to camp.

  10. Gregblakejohnson / Sep 2 at 2:44pm

    christopher nolan's movies are cool. inception and memento in particular. michael mann's movies as well, but they are not primarily concerned with cool.

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