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."