Why this movie is the most important of the Trump era | Jack Bernhardt

Nine Lives may be a film about Kevin Spacey being turned into a cat. But it speaks directly to Donald Trump, telling him to change. Its an attempt to alter the course of humanity

Great art speaks truth to power: Shakespeares King Lear, Picassos Guernica, Atwoods The Handmaids Tale. It elicits, it challenges, it implores change. In our time of global uncertainty and upheaval, one film has attempted to take on that mantle without dread of consequence. Nine Lives, a film about an absent father( Kevin Spacey) who is was transformed into a cat by a magical pet shopkeeper( Christopher Walken ), is currently on 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is a certifiable box office flop. And it is the most important movie of the Trump era.

The key to understanding Nine Lives is throwing out everything you think you know about movie. I admit, the trailer has all the hallmarks of a bad children movie the cheesy voiceover, the record scratch moment, the prerequisite scatological humor where Kevin Spacey urinates in his ex-wifes handbag, and the wordplay. The tedious, tedious wordplay. At one point a character is asked Do they stimulate MRIs for cats ?, and he replies his eyes dead, dreading the inevitability of the pun he knows he has to induce you entail cat scans?

Nine Lives Official Teaser Trailer

Except this is not a childrens movie. At all. And I dont just mean that in the sense that it goes to very dark places( divorce, families having to decide whether to take their vegetative relatives off life subsistence, one character attempting suicide this all happens ). There are large chunks of the movie that no child could find interesting. Dialogues about New York real estate. Corporate business structure. Several( I entail several) scenes about how the company committee votes for its CEO.

Jack Bernhardt (@ jackbern2 3)

And it’s stuff that no child could possibly find interesting. Here’s honest-to-God an actual scene from the first 20 minutes. pic.twitter.com/ 4dZZMAtJdF

May 3, 2017

Imagine youre a child and youve been told youre going to see a film about a talking cat. Imagine then sitting through 10 minutes of five old white men talking about whether or not theyre going to sell their company. Its like being told youre going to Disneyland and then being made to sit through four hours of presentations of market projections to Disney shareholders.

Dont jeering when you flick past Nine Lives on Netflix. Photograph: Takashi Seida/ PR

But what if this isnt a example of the film-makers failing to understand their audience. What if this is all very intentional.

If you want to look at who a movie is for, look at its protagonist in this case, Spacey( even if he doesnt want to be ). Spacey plays New York billionaire Tom Brand, head of Firebrand, a massive company that specialises in real estate and golfing supplyings, who is trying to build the biggest skyscraper in Northern america( why? Because biggest skyscraper in Northern america, thats why) with the help of his sycophantic, loser son.

Jack Bernhardt (@ jackbern2 3)

Billionaire with a giant New York skyscraper whose name is his personal brand, who mixes family and business.

You insure where I’m going. pic.twitter.com/ laxVMsHlAL

May 3, 2017

This isnt too extraordinary a lot of films have used Trump-a-likes as a bad guy. But heres the remarkable thing about Nine Lives the Donald Trump character isnt the bad guy. Hes the hero.

If you were writing this film to stimulate him the bad guy, for example, you would want him to come across as a curmudgeonly old person who are cares about money. You wouldnt make it so that his first scene involved him skydiving out of a plane like an Absolute Boss. You wouldnt make it so that he tells terrible jokes that everyone utterly loves.

Jack Bernhardt (@ jackbern2 3)

People LOVE Kevin Spacey’s Dickhead Character in this cosmo. Here’s a lame joke he tells.
LOOK HOW MUCH EVERYONE LOVES IT. pic.twitter.com/ Ek7isQzqPL

May 3, 2017

So is this just a sycophantic pro-Trump movie? No. Because over the course of the movie, Brand, as Mr Fuzzypants the cat, understands what he was missing out on when he was at work negotiating boring, boring business deals. He plays games with his child and realises he should have been a better daddy. He watches his wife sleep, in a scene that Im pretty sure Im still very uncomfortable about, and realises he should have been a better spouse. When he( spoiler alert) eventually returns to Spaceys body, he understands that he allowed work to dominate his life. He takes a back seat from the company and enjoys himself instead.

And thats the key. Nine Lives isnt a film about Trump. Its a movie to him. He is the totality of the target audience. This isnt truly a cinema at all it is a message to the most powerful human in the world, praying him to change his ways. It doesnt do so with anger it coaxes with the things that will appeal to him, like gags about skyscraper regulations, ex-wives and awesome skydiving billionaires that everyone inexplicably loves.

Nine Lives could become the start of a new wave of cinema: films that are written solely to change the mind of Trump. Imagine what Nine Lives 2 could do Spacey is turned into a cat and the only style to change back is to learn about the intrinsic inequality of the American healthcare system. Nine Lives 3? Spacey is was transformed into a cat and will only be changed back when he understands the sillines of brinkmanship with North Korea. Nine Lives 4? Spacey is was transformed into a cat and then has to release his tax returns( which, to be fair, as a cat would be both difficult and adorable ).

So dont scoff when you flick past Nine Lives on Netflix. Recognise it for what it is an attempt to change the course of humanity, to appeal to one mans better self. Because if that one man were to watch it, perhaps, just perhaps, the world could avoid a nuclear and I write this with my eyes dead, dreading the inevitability of the pun I know I have to build catastrophe.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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