Maybe the best drug moment is: you took something stronger than you’d meant to, but now it’s done—smoked, sniffed, swallowed—and you understand you’re bound to see it through. Though you could argue the high point is always the wrestling, wrecked. Or, what about a New York dawn you watch resolve through a hotel window, like the moment the tiger goes limp and the python coiled around it may finally slacken its hold. The small lift in the knowledge that a great amount of activity, out there, will embroider your coming slumber. And somewhere between onset and chaos and fadeout did you think the great thought, this time, did you tug the mystic rope? They get it right. Absinthe, The Shining. In P. Diddy’s role as British rocker Russell Brand’s amoral promoter one detects a trace of grudge over the complicated triangulation by which the English appropriated African-American music without incurring the implicit curse Diddy invokes by discoursing on how those rockers, unlike their American counterparts, didn’t flame out and die (but what about Brian Jones?).
Again and again the hero is a vessel: Alice transports the Vorpal Sword, Perseus the Gorgon head. In this Jonah Hill drags Brand to a venue (“The Greek”—exactly) where he’ll play the show that redeems not him but us, the mob. Essentially, then, the warrior or artist serves form, the name we give to presence purged of doubt. And yes, it follows that it doesn’t really matter if in the process he dies. Brand, about to go on stage, shredded from his trials and a near-suicide, passes his hand over his stricken face and voilà, the star appears. Hill sees it, understands in an instant the true nature of performance, and smiles.
Such not-failing has a name: Destiny. A title card in Prince of Persia, here it funnily hides in the name of a stripper who shoves a massive clear-latex dildo up Hill’s ass. The movie is asshole-obsessed, and tongue-happy. But these are not the great organs of music, art, and love. Consider in their place the organ of true listening, the kind that can ignite the very soundwaves and reach back to torch their astonished source.
Who wants to be a critic, I want to be a clit!