I just came up with a movie idea:
It’s about a group of struggling but inventive farmers from northern Ontario. They have come up with a way to permanently increase the temperature of Hudson Bay. If the farmers succeed, the growing season will be longer and they will finally be able to feed their community with locally grown food. I call it: “Oceans +11°”
Guess who isn’t going to star in my movie: Brad Pitt and George Clooney. They think that intentionally making our brutal winters a bit shorter is terribly irresponsible.
And, yet, they didn’t have any moral reservations about making three movies that glorify organized crime. They make it look like a bunch of criminals can work together without turning on each other, steal millions of dollars, and get away with it.
Unlike Mr. Clooney, I do not claim to know whether global warming will be good or bad for the farmers of Canada. I do know that crime doesn’t pay. And heists, no matter how well-planned, will spell doom for the men involved.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 classic “The Killing” is a forceful anti-heist film. It doesn’t argue that criminals are bad people; it shows us how the best-laid plans unravel and that crime absolutely does not pay.
Kubrick starts near the end, by showing us that the story will conclude with an audacious race-day robbery at a California horse track. Then he takes us back to the beginning to introduce us to the motley crew of guys who want to get rich quick.
There’s the racetrack bartender who wants money for his sick spouse. There’s the sad sack cashier who thinks that the loot will impress his ice queen wife.
In the middle of it all is Sterling Hayden playing the mastermind behind the robbery. He has just been released from prison and he wants one big score so he can fly away with his loyal girlfriend and be happy.
Hayden is perfect. Through sheer force of charisma, you root for him. You root for him even as he convinces a lowlife thug to shoot a horse as a race-day diversion. “It isn’t murder. In fact, I don’t know what it is, but the best thing they could get you on would be inciting a riot.” That’s messed up, but Hayden looks so darn cool in his grey suit and fedora that you somehow forgive him.
“The Killing” wasn’t a hit. But it was influential. Kubrick’s ingenious decision to tell the story out of chronological order was a direct inspiration for Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. Without “The Killing,” there is no “Reservoir Dogs” or “Memento.”
But 27 year old Stanley Kubrick wasn’t trying to change cinema history. He was trying to show us that the 7th Commandment is there for a reason. Thievery isn’t just wrong, it ultimately destroys the people who do it. We all want to get rich, but this is not the way.
I love the ending. The great heist has unraveled – as we always knew it would. The cops are bearing down on poor Sterling Hayden and his girlfriend. “Run,” she shouts.
But Hayden just stands there, resigned to his fate. “Eh, what’s the difference?” he says. I got chills.
Despite what Brad Pitt and George Clooney would have you believe, crime doesn’t pay.