I had two moments of rapture at the movies recently. Perhaps they’re just signs that the 2013 blockbuster season is already upon us, creeping up earlier as it does with each passing year. Or maybe they’re souvenirs of what going to the movies once meant, what it still occasionally means, and what it may soon cease to mean.
Rapture #1: A young man drops in on his neighbor’s party in the suburbs. The young man lives in a cottage, the neighbor lives in a mansion and the journey from one to the other is like crossing the threshold of Dorothy’s house after it lands in Oz. The party is beyond enormous — it seems to expand in successive horizons of Jazz Age hedonism, every inch of the screen filled with politicians and prostitutes, flappers and frauds. Cars pile up in the driveway and confetti fills the air like 3-D static; the soundtrack riots to a hip-hop score built to scandalize. It’s Hieronymus Bosch in West Egg, the camera pulling back along Art Deco lines of vanishing perspective until fireworks explode and the foreground is filled with the man responsible for it all: a confident, unknowable figure born James Gatz.