Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bloody Good Movie, Literally

Before, I only knew Leonidas as a brand of terribly expensive Belgian chocolates. Sure, the logo had a Greek guy holding a spear, but hey, I originally thought the chocolates were from Greece, for crying out loud. Then I watched 300, the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same title, and I realized there was nothing sweet about the tale of Greeks versus Persians. It is the story of King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans (plus some other Greeks) going up against thousands, nay, millions of pixels of CG images of Persian men, horses, rhinoceros, elephants, arrows and artfully-directed blood splattering. Oh, and the king and his half-naked Spartans should also thank the mouse-pushing folks at post-prod for giving each and every one of them their gorgeous abs!

King Leonodas is played by Gerard Butler, last seen—or half-seen—as the Phantom in Joel Schumacher’s movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. As the Phantom he proved he could sing; as Leonidas, he proved he could shout out most of his lines, like: “Madness?! This is SPARTA!” and “Tonight, we dine in HELL!” and “This is where we FIGHT! This is where they DIE!” and “Action speaks louder than VOICE!” and “What do you take me for, GRANTED?!” and “You’re nothing but a second-rate, trying-hard, PERSIAN CAT!” I suppose all that shouting was historically accurate. With no megaphones or walkie-talkies at the time, what can a king do but scream at his men just so his instructions could be heard? But don’t look for complete historical accuracy in this movie. I honestly doubt they were accurate about the Persian King Xerxes, played by gorgeous Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, he with the fabulous eye shadow, gold foundation, and plucked-to-within-an-inch eyebrows. I mean, how can a Persian king look that gorgeous and fabulous in the middle of a war, right?

But I must admit the kinetic energy of the battle scenes was contagious. Halfway through the film I was ready to grab my noisy seatmate’s drink and stab his throat with his straw just to shut him up. But then the movie kept cutting back to the subplot involving Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo, who really should consider a name change. The movie screeched to a boring halt every time the queen’s scenes came on. But I guess the producers must have thought, “Hey, there’s just too much man-to-man action here! We need tits to keep the geeky straight boys in their seats!” Speaking of man-to-man action, there was more sexual tension between Leonidas and Xerxes (who were both half-naked and deep into negotiations) versus Leonidas and Gorgo (who were totally naked and deep into sex). Much like the sexual tension between Sam Milby and Zanjoe Marudo in You Got Me!, but then it may just be me.

It’s visually arresting, historically inaccurate (on purpose), structurally flawed, but oozing with testosterone and blood. Go watch 300. I swear by the time the end credits roll, you’ll want to be a Spartan: go without a bath for days, shave your torso for a sleeker look (oh my, ancient Greek metrosexuals!), and show no surrender, no mercy, no emotions (other than anger and triumph), and no t-shirts. It’s tough to be a Spartan, but you’ll surely end up a tough one.


closet case said...

i have this sneaky feeling that moviemakers may purposely be injecting that ambiguous tension between the male leads, gorgeous as they are... subtly playing it up to appeal to the pink dollar, euro, peso, whatever the case may be.. :)

Nelson said...

Oh my, I found Xerxes' entrance so unintentionally FUNNY: he looked like a drag queen -- parang amazonista na kalaban ni ZsaZsa (nagdamit pa talaga). La lang, I was already so into the battle scenes, and then I laughed out loud upon seeing Xerxes he he

Raymond said...

This is what EW has to say about the "gay factor":

"While Queen Gorgo's topless interlude will get the hormones of adolescent males firing, it's hard to predict what they'll make of Xerxes, the eight-foot-tall Persian conqueror who looks like a glam-rock refugee. He's played as a fey, sexually ambiguous figure by Brazilian-born actor Rodrigo Santoro (currently an ill-received new character on Lost). ''He's this giant,'' says Santoro of Xerxes, ''who believes he's a god. He's very manly, but at the same time has a feminine side.'' And why is that? ''Because, being a god, he's allowed to have every quality.'' The scenes of a bejeweled, long-fingernailed Xerxes offering King Leonidas peace in exchange for ''submission'' have a decidedly sexual undertone. Snyder says that's not accidental, that it's intended to make young straight males in the audience uncomfortable: ''What's more scary to a 20-year-old boy than a giant god-king who wants to have his way with you?''

The movie, true to Miller's vision, is also loaded with sweaty hunks running around in those tight leather Speedos and capes. None of this is played for gay appeal, but could induce snickering among some teens. Snyder shrugs it off. ''Some people have said to me, 'Your movie is homoerotic,' and some have said, 'Your movie's homophobic.' In my mind, the movie is neither. But I don't have a problem with people interpreting it the way they'd like to.'' As long as they buy tickets first.",,20014479,00.html

joelmcvie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joelmcvie said...

I must admit Xerxes' entrance, with his fey movement plus electronically enhanced voice, also made me snicker. Actually my jaw dropped first, then the snickering started. I feel like calling him Xerex, not Xerxes, ahahaha!

Nelson said...

o di ba? parang float sa gay pride parade yung entrance niya! At ang killer kilay! naloka ako dun!

I have to say, when a god-king makes an entrance--he really MAKES an entrance hee hee hee

Raymond said...

I just saw the movie this weekend. My gosh, all those washboard abs and strong chins! Where did they recruit those Spartans--from Chippendales? And I found those leather speedos so funny. The Persians, with all their armor, could not even nick a bunch of supermodels in their underwear. But, yes, Joel, like you, after the movie, I had the murderous rage to slaughter the people nearest to me. Maybe decapitate one or two, and in slow motion. Bloody good movie indeed it was!

joelmcvie said...

BONG: The whole movie should have that "Intel inside" stamped on it. And the credits should include: "Washboard abs by Adobe Photoshop."