Cactus Jasmine Yuen Carrucan

Cactus Jasmine Yuen Carrucan
What I find fascinating about Cactus – and to a greater extent, The Hurt Locker – are not the films themselves, which lay out the male addiction to power, crisis and rightness in a straightforward, laymen's fashion, but how primarily male viewers and reviewers tend to interpret them. Now, Jasmine Yuen Carrucan and Kathryn Bigelow are both highly intelligent, capable women that likely wouldn't spend years of their lives tackling projects unless they meant something special to them or they were trying to say something bigger about social structures or humanity. What I find curious is that there are many folks out there that think that what they are saying – in their films that feature an entirely male cast – is something panegyrical about male courage and honour or, more specifically in the case of Cactus, about male loyalty and determination. I understand that living in a vacuum of entitlement, being encouraged and rewarded for every base whim and desire, can result in myopia, but that's ridiculous. Take Carrucan's Australian outback treatise on male power dynamics, wherein down on his luck John (Travis McMahon) kidnaps Eli (David Lyons) and drags him out to the middle of nowhere, where some faceless mob will presumably kill him. John justifies this by needing money to look after his family, as would many audience members, ignoring the grotesque sense of entitlement and selfishness that this act actually implies. The film then plays out as a male pissing contest, with the men vacillating between bullshit flattery and broad insults in an effort to gain power over the situation while driving on a barren highway. They even go so far as to discuss what women want from men, arguing about security and protection as though women were caricatures from '50s westerns. Carrucan isn't praising John's loyalty and strength, she's mocking his idiocy and the absurdity of male posturing, showing what constant dick measuring actually leads to. And if you really think about it, that's exactly what Kathryn Bigelow was doing with The Hurt Locker. Arguably, this ability to make movies that insult the very people that praise them is their very genius. Included with the Cactus DVD is a director commentary track and brief "Making of," wherein Carrucan discusses the idea of power carefully, noting her intentions, but leaving it vague enough not to alienate a primarily male audience. (Anchor Bay)