Hopeless Is Hot in Hollywood
Movies and viewers love to get miserable
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Nov 30, 2008 7:57 AM CST
The late Heath Ledger stars as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," one of a series of bleak movies released by Hollywood in this dark year.   (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)
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(Newser) – Bleak is the new chic in Tinseltown, writes Dan Zak in the Washington Post. Cloverfield's crowd-trampling monster, the psycho serial killer of No Country for Old Men, and the twisted oil entrepreneur of There Will Be Blood (need we mention the Dark Knight?) highlight the "raw misery of the human condition," sniffs Zak. "Big movies have tent-poled 2008 with a tarp of cruelty."

It's the kind of mood viewers "expect from foreign films," but not from America's biggest hits, he adds. Whether it's total immersion in the economic meltdown or a surrender to the mood of the Bush years, viewers seem to revel in their "miserablism," notes Zak. "There's something majestic about watching suffering (especially portrayed by great actors). And there's something self-satisfying about sitting through a movie, however bleak, and declaring it important."