After a rapidfire screening schedule that included Australia, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, and Slumdog Millionaire, Noel made an observation that rings true at least at this point in the prestige movie season.
These films aren't for grownups.
Compare to last year, whose prestige slate included such thoroughly adult and morally sophisticated fare as There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men. By contrast, this fall seems to be feeding us fables and fairy tales -- highly enjoyable ones, even stylistically adventurous ones. But nevertheless with the simplicity, schematic outlines, and overdetermined messages of the morality tale or the bedtime story.
Now I quite enjoyed Australia and Millionaire (I haven't seen Button). But I certainly see what Noel means. For all their cinematic daring, the stories are supremely comfortable. I know they are meant to evoke movie traditions (from Oz to Bollywood) and the happy endings that those historical models demand. Isn't it striking, though, that this is what these talented (and often iconoclastic) filmmakers are giving us? What is it about this moment that calls for the soothing tones appropriate to children?