Margarito is a monster. Hit him all you want. He'll keep coming. Here's the end of his war with Cotto.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I haven't seen the film Beowulf, but I am probably one of a handful of people who enjoyed reading it in college (and, more recently, the Seamus Heaney version.)
A writer I know claims that the movie version "fixes" the original tale, giving it plot structure and cohesion that was lacking in the classic work. Hmm.
Apparently, in this better version of the 8th Century Anglo-Saxon epic (Punched up by Roger Avery, and Neil Gaiman of "Babylon 5"), Beowulf slays Grendel, then must face the wrath of Grendel's mother.
So far, so good. But here's the thing. Grendel's mother? Hottie. Total fuckin' aquatic piece of monster ass. Like an Angelina Jolie, maybe. And she is so pissed about what Beowulf did to her son, she demands Beowulf give her another baby. And she wants him to make it the old fashioned way. Boom-Chicki-Boom.
Hey Beowulf's only a man, right? Cue the sexy Berlin song and flip on the blue lights. Steamy? You betcha. Take my breath away.
Now get the angle on this. For his "duties," Beowulf becomes king. Sweet, right? But as punishment for his moment of sexy weakness, the child that Mama Grendel pops out don't look much like Pops at all.
Papa was a rollin' stone, but junior is a dragon. And he's got a case of the colic.
Now for the tragedy. Beowulf must save his own kingdom from the wrath of dino-boy by slaying the little fella -- his only begotten son. Wow. Almost Biblical, but hotter 'cause it's got Angelina.
Roll credits. The end. There's not a dry eye (or seat) in the house. Thank you, Robert Zemeckis.
Yea, I'm skeptical that a Hollywood development team and some CGI programmers could "fix" one of the seminal poetic works of our language. Or that it even needs fixing. Beowulf was a spoken work, memorized and shared by bards who would embellish and expand upon the story as fit the occasion. There was no structure to the tale because it was a cumulative work created by generations.
Actually, I like to think of Beowulf as a story people kept building upon, until they finally got sick of telling it. Originally, it was probably just a great campfire story to scare the shit out of the kids. "There was this monster, Grendel, who terrorized a Mead Hall -- maybe one that wasn't too far from here. But a hero named Beowulf swam across the sea to save the day. He waited for the Grendel to attack, then bam! There was a great battle, and Beowulf won!
And someone said: Tell us more!
"OK, well. Let's see. The monster had a mother, who was even worse than him. And she lived underwater. And when she found out about Beowulf, she started killing people, too. But Beowulf swam down to her lair to get her. There was a great battle, and Beowulf won! The end.
And someone said: Is that all?
"Um, no, no. Because, there was this dragon. A big, fire-breathing serpent who terrorized the town and was way, way worse than those other monsters. And Beowulf fought it. There was a great battle, and Beowulf won.
And someone said: What else....?
"No, no, no. Wait, I'm not done. You see, because WHILE Beowulf was in the act of delivering the death blow, he was also wounded by the dragon. And he died. And they burned his body in a pyre and sent him out to sea to make sure he was dead. And he was. Dead.
And someone said: Is that all?
"Yes! Go to sleep!"
Posted by Brian Kunath at 12:04 AM
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Saw the film this evening. Fantastic.
Don't worry. No spoilers here.
Performances. Let's start with the Joker. You know how they said playing the role of the Joker messed with Heath Ledger's mind? I thought that was just some Hollywood silliness. But seeing the movie, I can believe that playing the character he plays could actually fuck with your head. It is an intense, exceptionally dark, but funny and wildly charismatic performance.
Heath steals every scene. The Joker's dialogue is the strongest of any character. His crimes are exceptionally clever, anarchic gags that have layers of meaning and deliver sudden, violent punchlines that make you wince and laugh simultaneously. The Joker is a moving art exhibit -- like a terrorist Banksy. You hate him. And he truly earns your hate by being horrifyingly cruel. But you sit up and grin every time he comes on screen.
There is something essentially human in the Joker: a wicked, destructive, selfish, spontaneous, id-driven lust-for-life that balances Batman's sense of order and discipline. (There is a line by the Joker in the movie that sums up this mutually definitive relationship perfectly and hysterically) However, while the Joker professes to play by no rules, don't believe it: He has daunting creative standards that inform everything he does.
What is so stunning is how Heath somehow gets evil and funny into the Joker seamlessly and at the same time. Nicholson's goofier portrayal lacked the subtlety to pull this off. Heath simply defines the character of the Joker.
Christian Bale is solid. I actually prefer him as Bruce over Batman -- his performance, anyway. Nobody plays trust fund, Ivy Leaguer like Bale. There were a few scenes in the movie when Bale's portrayal of Wayne as a social scenester evoked a touch of Patrick Bateman. Hm, Batman -- Bateman. Neat.
Maggie Gyllenhall. Same downturned expression of Katie, minus the empty-headed perkiness. Richer performance. She fully understands and therefore believes, and therefore sells the dialogue, which Holmes in her Dawson Creekiness could never muster. But that is underselling Maggie. She brings a calm, centered selflessness to the character that is essential to the story. Nolan knew what was required here. And he made the right choice.
Caine and Freeman are Caine and Freeman. Understated and perfect, both.
I've always been a fan of Oldman's chameleon-like ability to sink into his roles. But somehow Gordon is my favorite. Why? I Think of Dracula, Drexyl, Sid Vicious, Jackie (State of Grace). All big characters, played big. But Gordon is the quiet man. Good, moral, brave, but ordinary and middle aged. Sagging and a little sad. He's the guy we could aspire to become, because what he exhibits is attainable.
After Ledger, Aaron Eckhart might have the most demanding role in the film. His character certainly has the biggest arc. I don't want to say too much about his performance lest I give something away. But it's a damn tricky role, and the naturally reasonable, affable Eckhart nearly pulls it off.
OK, no more. The plot is wide and reaching -- even silly, I suppose, if you stop to think about it. But real wars are started on sillier premises. Go see it. Like now. Surrender and be that annoying first wave of fanboys who simply must see it TODAY, and have their laptops all fired up and ready to go so they can blog their impressions to the world (as I have done here!).
And Ledger. Damn. His performance is so good that I promise you won't do what I feared I would do the whole movie -- think about how I'm watching someone who has since died. I never thought it once. (OK, maybe once.) This role was a revelation for me. I never knew how good he was.
And Nolan. After Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight, I have to place him way up there among the best directors today.
PS, Iron Man is also great. Bye.
Posted by Brian Kunath at 11:27 PM