Cannes and the banality of evil

Alissa Wilkinson in Vox:

At the press conference following the Cannes premiere of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, someone asked Robert De Niro about his character, a kingpin of a sort with a tricky psyche. “It’s the banality of evil,” he said, describing the character’s moral ambiguity. “It’s the thing we have to watch out for. We see it today, of course. We all know who I’m going to talk about, but I’m not going to say his name.” (Everyone knew who he meant.)

The banality of evil was hot at Cannes this year. De Niro’s statement came on the heels of the premiere of Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, which set Cannes critics abuzz about the same phrase. That movie — which I proposed might best be understood as an adaptation of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, even more than the Martin Amis novel it’s loosely based on — is not much like Killers of the Flower Moon, at first blush. Glazer’s is short, taut horror that evokes the Holocaust by keeping it offscreen; Scorsese’s is epic, bloody, and relentless in its depiction of a series of murders from a century ago.

Thematically, however, they often rhyme. Both are about mankind’s ability to exterminate one another while deluding themselves into thinking they’re doing the right thing. Both are about atrocities so heinous they’re hard to wrap your mind around. And both feel eerily contemporary, in an age where prejudice, racism, and fascism are on the rise around the globe.

More here.