Pig ★★★★★

Movies about art are, almost exclusively, the worst artistic product available to man. The reasons for this are myriad, and I will name a few here.

1. The art in question is always film or film related- acting, music, writing, photography, etc. It takes little to no curiosity on the part of the filmmaker to speak on these topics: They are told to ‘write what they know,’ and what they know is art, and they have no interests outside of art, and so that is what comes out of them, like a cow regurgitating half-chewed grass so it can chew and swallow again.

2. The artist is always portrayed as an aspirational figure. They are deeper, truer humans than the humans around them, and their craft is the deepest, truest craft that a human can commit to. They are flawed, but the art always justifies it. JK Simmons is an asshole, but my god can he teach a guy to drum! Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling lose their relationship in the pursuit of art, but it’s art, damn it! It requires sacrifice!

3. The effect of art is always overstated to the point of masturbation. Villain’s hearts melt at the perfect chord. World leaders reverse their positions based on a single perfectly shot speech. Art and Culture are important, world changing, transcending economics and politics and any material concern, because if they are not than the filmmaker has to contend with the fact that what he does is not only not the core of importance, but it is not consequential at all. Smoke and mirrors cast into the void to be forgotten by most and to change no one.

Pig is the greatest movie about art because it not only refrains from indulging in these trends, it actively holds them in contempt. It is a movie about cooking, and the business of cooking, and the strange specific industry of truffle foraging. It is unmistakably about art, its characters unmistakably artists, and never once is an audio-visual artform mentioned or even alluded to.

Likewise, the artists in the film are miserable, hollow people, trapped by social convention if in addition they are pathetic, trapped by longing if they are not. There is no way to make art and be human, the film argues. Nic Cage’s character comes the closest, and he is a misanthropic hermit who obsesses over a truffle pig to distract him from the death of his wife.

Finally, and most importantly, Pig recognizes art for what it is: passing fancy, remedial magic, a tool that, at its highest, most potent form can be deployed to torture evil people into having a calming glass of scotch while changing not one thing about themselves. Pig is the dialectical opposite of La La Land. The last movie you ever need to see.

George liked this review