Monday, March 27, 2006

W for Weekend

Apparently I should be accessing this site on the weekends because it appears that a comic creator whose work I am really liking presently has visited – Ms. Gail Simone. I may address this later today or even in this post if I can remember to do so. Needless to say I’ll be picking up her Atom series (I can’t remember if it’s a mini or ongoing at the moment). Still, cool. I’m feeling better about this wacky medium again.

I managed to go see V for Vendetta on Friday. Guess what? I freaking loved it! I haven’t enjoyed a movie in so long and this weekend the trend was broken. V for Vendetta was really nothing like I expected it to be – not that I even knew what to expect but I was really entertained and enjoyed the entire film.

I know that aspects of the comic were changed and I’ll be reading the comic now that I’ve seen the movie, but I really don’t think it was done in a bad way. These are different mediums with different audiences (in different times) and I think the movie managed to deal with it as well as it could. No matter how faithful the Wachowski’s wanted to be to the comic they can’t escape the fact that no matter what they do people will expect The Matrix from them. They make blockbuster popcorn movies with a smattering of intellectual challenge to them (well maybe not the last two Matrixes but the first one was really clever and a new mix of intelligent pop culture). I think this movie channels a lot of the spirit of the first Matrix.

The message is made for today’s audience and to interpret something word for word isn’t always going to make it better. I liked the ending. They’re all the same and yet they’re all unique, yeah it’s American and not in the book but I can forgive it. It worked and I’m kind of taking Alan Moore’s own position on this sort of thing – the comic and the movie are separate and should be treated separately. There were a few other aspects of the ending that I liked. It showed how violence begets violence because this big mob scene is averted when the military/police don’t start shooting. And you’re still not sure about V. I think for a pop-culture “hero” he left me feeling completely unsure about him, his methods and wondering if the ends, no matter what they are, justify the means. He is destroying a very rich past for an unknown future and I’m left wondering if he removes all this history will the people who inherit England be doomed to repeat the same mistakes that got them to where they are in this movie?

And I also like anything that critiques the current state of the USA. I mean c’mon! Haliburton anyone? This isn’t really anti-Bush (intentional or implied) more so than anti-Rumsfeld. The guy behind the guy in power holds the power. A large company with it’s board of directors inserting themselves into government like a suppository and while it’s obvious to everyone that this isn’t good nobody knows how to change it. Not until some extreme action is taken does it change. I was wondering what the vendetta was in this movie, and while it looks to be against the system currently in place it is at its base against the people who did this to V. He goes after these people but in order for his vendetta to really take hold and remain he needs to bring down these “evil” people and that which makes them inherently “evil” – the system in which they have become successful. Successful and evil are two sides to the same coin and your image is determined by where your audience stands and where you’ve managed to position yourself. It’s as much about putting personal accountability back into the public domain than it is about hiding behind an impersonal and ambiguous idea like “the system.”

Now, while I’m by no means a trained actor I did work in a theatre for quite a few years so I do know a bit about performing and there were some fantastic performances here. Hugo Weaving does an absolutely amazing job out of what seems like an impossible task. He gives an inanimate mask personality. His performance is really helped by the lighting and cinematography but it truly is a great performance to give something with one concrete expression “life.”

Who else thinks this may very well be Natalie Portman’s big break-out performance? Holy crap she was amazing. I honestly can’t think of anyone else in that role now and that to me proves that she was the right choice. I truly believe they picked the right woman at the right time in her career to take on this role. She is broken. Her character gets beaten down to nothing and you feel that she goes there as an actor. Who else in glamorous Hollywood would allow themselves to be beaten down, shaved and defeated on screen. She goes there and sells it to the audience. I honestly haven’t seen a performance like hers in a very long time. I can only say good things about her performance here, even if it wasn’t meant to make me feel good or entertain me, she made me believe it and I think that’s what every actor is striving for.

Now, if you’ll excuse my abject laziness, I won’t go searching for a cast list to remember the names of everyone. I really enjoyed Stephen Fry’s character. I do believe his character type will be almost always prescient, and that upsets me. Also the cop was amazing. More than anything I felt it was his story since he comes to his conclusions on his own whereas Evy’s were forced and manipulated. Oh, there’s another topic for discussion.

The female character is forced into situations she can’t control. All she can do is react and turn to herself. Unlike the cop who comes to the same conclusion Evy doesn’t have the support of anyone but herself and V (who I wouldn’t exactly call supportive). Evy is violently awakened to the truth, forced into it while the cop is on his own journey of discovery. The man finds his own place in the world while the woman is forced to comply to one that a man creates for her – even if it apparently frees her. Evy is still “controlled” by the male dominated system until a man sets her free. If anything this reinforces the broken performance as much as the performance reinforces Evy’s place in this world. Powerful stuff.

In the end this was one very intelligent popcorn movie. Me and Allison were both captivated from beginning to end. That’s how I know a movie is good. We’re both entertained and can talk about it for hours afterwards. It also prompted Allison to say that the movie made her want to read a comic. I won’t force this.

I was also going to write about how I saw The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as well – I liked that movie as well. And I also saw Red Dawn on TV yesterday. While fairly crap, it made me want more alternate reality movies. I may address these later if I have the time and stamina to type about more movies.

Edit: Oh yeah! The cop's name was Finch. I do believe it's a connection to "To Kill a Mockingbird."

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