At some point, years from now, scholars will look back in wonder at the cataclysmic effects of one Colin Farrell. How did one cocky Irishman manage to get his hands on so much of the best of Western culture? And how was he able to so completely obliterate said culture?
Please, examine the record. This week, Farrell brings his icky-uncle-we-wish-would-move-back-in-with-the-toothles- woman charm to Miami Vice, the show that brought the auteur into television. With Jamie Foxx and Michael Mann directing, the movie offered the one chance we had this summer of actual enjoyment. Even Tom Cruise couldn’t ruin a Michael Mann-Jamie Foxx pairing.
Michael Mann simply doesn’t have a chance against the destructive powers of Colin Farrell. So far, he has managed to perform critically panned, box office disasters from the following directors: Oliver Stone, Terrence Malick and Steven Spielberg, only managing to put together decent performances for the most Hollywood of directors, Joel Schumacher, in the watchable Tigerland, and the droning Phone Booth, which may or may not have been an episode of NYPD Blue.
Not that a ruined summer is anything to complain about. Farrell has ruined history at large with two performances so bad that history professors worldwide have simply given up their respective subjects: you can no longer learn about Alexander the Great, because students laugh when they hear the name, and you can no longer teach about the Virginia colonies in America, because students fall into seizures when they recall the boredom of New World.
Fine, who cares about history and film? We’re a street paper. We count on a different type of literacy. Which brings us to the most painful of Farrell’s attacks on Western culture, his neutering of American fictional icons. Starting with the most brutal, Farrell was cast as Arturo Bandini, John Fante’s fictional persona, the character who inspired Charles Bukowski’s fiction. For a casual reader to see even five seconds of Ask the Dust, the melodramatic take on a great comedic work, is to lose the ability to feel joy – something like watching your dog killed in front of you.
Such is the case with Farrell’s other triumphs in trashing, with Tom Cruise’s help, Philip K. Dick’s story Minority Report, Michael Cunningham’s sweeping novel A Home at the End of the World, and even Frank Miller’s comic writing in Daredevil, a landmark in style before Affleck and Farrell got to it.
As you go to the movies, and the gnawing disappointment turns your stomach when you try to make a film selection, understand you are justified in not allowing Mr. Farrell’s grating persona to burn away a cultural icon you hold dear. Ray Bradbury warned us the day would come, and it has, the best of culture is being cremated. And Colin Farrell is the fireman.