Thursday, May 13, 2004

Troy Boy Toys

By Susan Thea Posnock

"Immortality, take it, it's yours!� *pause* And dude,
check out those gnarly waves!"

Alright, perhaps that isn't fair. I mean, Brad Pitt is trying to be serious; to be the great warrior. For the most part, he succeeds. But well, he's just so--shiny.
He stars as uber-warrior Achilles in Troy, the first major summer cheese-buster. It's a film about love and war. More specifically, it's about hot men fighting in skirts, with finally coifed hair. That's right, it's an important film.

If ever they could give an Oscar for SMF (Sexy Male Factor), Troy would dominate. The battle scenes are finally crafted, and the hand-to-hand moments spectacular. There's romance, but the climactic sex scene isn't between a man and a woman. It is the showdown between Achilles and Hector. Watch as they lovingly put on their armor in preparation, the camera lingering on their manly beauty. See as they bound through the air, shields and swords in a brutally elegant dance, muscles tensing, blonde and brown tresses flowing.(Whew, a bit breathless just thinking about it.)

Pitt and Eric Bana as Hector are testosterone unleashed, but this film has man-candy for everyone. Yes, if you prefer your men a little more "pretty" there's Orlando Bloom as Paris.

Troy is a great technical achievement, but outside of Peter O'Toole, I don't see it getting much real Oscar love. Pitt is
fine in the role of Achilles, but--and maybe this is just the dilemma for any huge star--I never felt I was watching Achilles, I was watching a very buff, glistening BRAD PITT as Achilles. Not that there's anything wrong with that. O'Toole is a moving,convincing Priam, while Bana is to me, the real hero of the film. I have to wonder what would have been if he and Pitt had reversed roles. I can't decide if Hector is the more interesting character, or if he's simply more interestingly played. Its official: Bana has arrived. A year later than expected, but he's here. (Oh, and if he's interested, I'm here too *wink*.) Yes, Pitt looks godlike, but I guess I prefer mortal men.

Bloom is well cast as a man who does want to be a hero, but is really a wuss. Given the fact that his two big roles have been pretty much fearless, it was refreshing to see him cower a bit. And he works well with Bana and the regal O'Toole. The audience I saw the film with snickered a bit when Helen says she prefers girly Paris to the more macho men, but come on, he's the face that launched a thousand teenage-girl-internet-hits, who can blame her?

Oh yes, there are a few women too. But who cares with all the shiny biceps, abs and calves on display?

Ah, summer.

*This post originally appeared on OscarWatch.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

On Personal Traumas and Movie Therapy

By Susan Thea Posnock

I can honestly say that dodge ball scarred me for life. Well, at least for adolescence. I'm not kidding. Whoever thought a game that teaches sadistic bully kids how to effectively humiliate their "weaker" peers would be appropriate for school kids? Obviously, sadistic bullies invented the game.

I mention my obsession with its evilness because I'm giddy with anticipation over the upcoming Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. That's right, time for payback as the heroes of the story, led by Vince Vaughn, go
up against exercise and dodge ball tyrants in the guise of mullet-wearing Ben Stiller and his team of muscle-heads. Here's hoping the best joke isn't the hair. Yes, I know there are little films like Troy, Spider-Man 2 and Harry Potter 3 coming soon, but right now I'm pumped for D-Ball.

I admit the trailer looks really dumb, and this probably won't be attracting any Oscar attention, but films like this (if they're actually done well and not just one-joke wonders) often one-up the escapism factor: they add a sense of personal vindication or satisfaction. In this case its "I guess I wasn't the only kid who freaking hated that stupid game." And, I'll cheer the opportunity to see its stupidity glorified in a movie.

Just hope it doesn't cause flashbacks to painful memories.

Speaking of painful memories, the best movie so far this year (please don't let its early arrival impact Oscar chances) is all about erasing them. While I'm not ready to dedicate a regular Oscar column to it, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a lot more than a movie that happens to include my beloved Frodo. Jim Carrey is my first official "can't miss" in terms of getting an Oscar nomination. He's been ignored for good work before, but this time the man lets us into his mind, (so to
speak). It's a beautiful thing. While there is certainly the aspect of the Charlie Kaufman "zany premise," I can't recall any recent film that has taken such a poetic look at love and relationships. It isn't the trite "love conquers all" theme either, but looks more at how we choose love, even when we know it will end in pain. I guess that sounds kind of depressing, but for some reason it makes me hopeful.

While it may be in the form of a comedy, Eternal Sunshine is also a riff on the importance of memory in our lives. I've certainly had love affairs I'd like to erase-if only to forget how stupid I was to fall for said jerk. But, the only way we can actually learn anything is by our experiences. And it doesn't hurt to remember how much we've loved people, even if our feelings change dramatically over time. I think ultimately the film makes the case
for remembering-the good, the bad, and the ugly, then lets the characters decide. Definitely a great twist in the oft-banal Romantic Comedy genre.

*This post originally appeared on OscarWatch.