Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
It's just as well a woman directed "American Psycho." She's transformed a novel about blood lust into a movie about men's vanity. A male director might have thought Patrick Bateman, the hero of "American Psycho," was a serial killer because of psychological twists, but Mary Harron sees him as a guy who's prey to the usual male drives and compulsions. He just acts out a little more.
Most men are not chain-saw killers; they only act that way while doing business. Look at the traders clawing each other on the floor of the stock exchange. Listen to used-car dealers trying to dump excess stock on one another. Consider the joy with which one megacorp stock-raids another and dumps its leaders. Study such films as "In the Company of Men," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Boiler Room" and the new "The Big Kahuna." It's a dog-eat-dog world, and to survive you'd better be White Fang.
As a novel, Bret Easton Ellis' 1991 best seller was passed from one publisher to another like a hot potato. As a film project, it has gone through screenplays, directors and stars for years. It was snatched up for Oliver Stone, who planned to star Leonardo DiCaprio, before ending up back in Harron's arms with Christian Bale in the lead. (To imagine this material in Stone's hands, recall the scene in Ken Russell's "The Music Lovers" where Tchaikovsky's head explodes during the "1812 Overture," then spin it out to feature length.)
Harron is less impressed by the vile Patrick Bateman than a man might have been, perhaps because as a woman who directs movies, she deals every day with guys who resemble Bateman in all but his body count. She senses the linkage between the time Bateman spends in the morning, lovingly applying male facial products, and the way he blasts away people who annoy him, anger him or simply have the misfortune to be within his field of view. He is a narcissist driven by ego and fueled by greed. Most of his victims are women, but in a pinch, a man will do.