Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tonight We Dine in Hell, Tomorrow We Brunch in Lincoln Park

Last night I did something completely uncharacteristic and went to the Navy Pier IMAX to see 300. Unless you count Henry V, I'd never before willingly sat through a war flick.

I'm not afraid to fight if I must, but I don't like violence and I hate war. I particularly detest the glorification of war, even at a remove of several thousand years.

So what the hell drew me to see 300?

There were many reasons.

The first: I was graciously invited by a fellow from the gym who had recommended it highly.

The second and third:

Still Life with Tangerines

I'm not going to lie to you. If this had been a World War II picture and the soldiers were all running around France covered up in fatigues, I don't think I'd have been interested.

The official title is 300; but me, I'll always think of it as 600+. Yeah, there was occasional female nipplage, too, but I quickly figured out that if I squinted those parts just looked like a Tressamé commerical.

Before the lights dimmed, I found myself conflicted about which side to back. The intended heroes are the Spartans, of course. But my Middle Eastern ancestry gave me a certain sympathy for the Persians. I decided to withhold my allegiance until I got a look at both kings.

Leading the Spartans, you have 300's central character, Leonidas. He bears a startling resemblance to the soi-disant Mask of Agamemmnon excavated by Schliemann at Mycenae:

Mask

Leonidas is tough but tender, with great nobility of character. He also has an ass upon which one could serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and a midnight snack. (I regret that I have not a picture of the ass to show you.)

All admirable qualities, and I was prepared to root for Leonidas and His Merry Men. Then, after a bunch of fuss and botheration and decapitation, Xerxes showed up, carried in by slaves on his own traveling Ziegfeld staircase:

Stairs

dressed in a get-up that was clearly an homage to supergay disco legend Sylvester:

La La

The word "fabulous" simply shrivels and dies when confronted with such as this.

How on earth is a man to choose?

There was a too-brief moment in which it looked as though the two forces might merge

Backrub
and render the question moot. But just when the wokka-chikka music should have started, somebody threw a spear or something and then Leonidas bellowed again and we were back to serial decapitations in slow-mo.

Even though I knew *SPOILER ALERT!* the Spartans were going to wind up as shish kabob, ultimately I finally found myself howling for Big Daddy Leonidas. Xerxes was a little too much the posing Pretty Boy for my taste, though I'd consider doing him in exchange for his earrings.

To my great surprise, I enjoyed 300 from start to finish. Granted, it lacks certain things. Character development, for one. And it would have been nice to see the Spartans actually making out with one another between battles. However, as my companion for the evening suggested, we have but to wait patiently for the pornographic director's cut on DVD.

As they say in Sparta, "Arrrrooooooooooooooooooo."

45 comments:

roggey said...

I want to see this film even more now... Thanks for the review! ;)

Amy said...

What would be the title of the porno they will inevitably make? 300 what?
Can't wait to take a gander at that Leonidas!

Beth said...

So, being of Persian descent, did you think it was offensive to Iran, or was it another case of taking history out of context again?

And my verification word was "hyank." Things that make you go 'hummmmm.'

jesi said...

nice to know i'm not the only accessory slut around!

Anna-Liza said...

This was the best review I've seen yet! I wasn't going to see it, but now maybe I'll change my mind.

Szarka said...

Now the History Channel says that those 300 Spartans were an elite fighting force particularly fierce because it was made up of 150 pairs of devoted lovers - was that in the film? I'm dying to know (though I won't see it because of the 'serial decapitations in slo-mo'). I bet not.

rebecca said...

But it is about a thousand times more fun to say "Xerxes."

"Think I'll pop a Xerxes and hit the hay."

"Xerxes, that's a big zit!"

"Is that the new Hyundai Xerxes?"

See what I mean?

lyssa said...

that was the most awesome move review ever!

Mel said...

The History Channel says what?! Are they conflating the 300 Spartan troops with the Sacred Band of Thebes? Given the dubious quality of some of their programming, I wouldn't be surprised.

Hot man tits aside, it looked like way too much Matrix-y slo-mo for my taste. I would recommend, though, that you seek out a copy of "A Choice of Destinies", which I just read en route home from NC. I think it would mesh nicely with your movie experience.

Sarah said...

I wouldn't be holding my breath for the director's cut. The director was quoted in Entertainment Weekly as saying "What’s more scary to a 20-year-old boy than a giant god-king who wants to have his way with you?" So I'm thinking there's not a whole lot of porno-esque footage for use (unless it involves Queen Gorgo!)

Emy said...

I can't believe that you didn't mention the abs even one time. I'm sure they were mostly painted on (don't you love that there are air-brush tan artists?), but we can dream, can't we?

Oh yes. Yes, we can.

Heather said...

Franklin, I know I've said this before, but I do appreciate you! I've set you as my homepage, because if I read you first thing, I start the day laughing, and that's very good.

As for the bungling of Persian history, yes. This film will fill the educational void in the minds of undereducated Americans (who make up the majority) as "what really happened". That frightens me. When film takes the place of actually teaching World History to grade school kids, we have a problem.

I was going to not see 300 because I don't want to support the dumbing down of America with my money.... but I might watch it at someone elses expense sometime.... just to see Xerxes in action.... hot damn!

Veronik said...

Thank you for bringing back fond memories: my husband had a small part in it and I quite enjoyed that period... he had to train at the gym, get a fake tan and the whole getup. Unfortunately, he didn't get to keep the 'costume'.

Jen said...

Two words: War Rhino.
The movie and men were lovely, but it was like watching a drama about the US Revolutionary War where King George is 8 feet tall and speaks with an echo effect. And all the British troops are orcs.

Cal said...

"There was a too-brief moment in which it looked as though the two forces might merge"

Thanks. And my computer thanks you from the depths of its coffee-soaked keyboard, too!

Sarah said...

My main complaint with this movie was that Dominic West was the greasy-coiffed bad guy, instead a charming (droolworthy) rogue like his character on The Wire. That made me sad. :(

MonicaPDX said...

Haven't seen it yet, but hope to. And even though I know they no doubt louse up the history a lot--grief, historicals are so rare any more, you hate to miss 'em. You've gotta take what you can get, neh? Besides, I get kinda tired of people always blathering about movies being more than sheer entertainment. Is it a documentary? No? Then let me just have fun, 'kay? (Although I'd love to agitate for more realism on some details, like actually showing relationships between erastes and eromenos if they're concentrating on the ancient Greeks. Not that they'd pay attention. Plus the moralists would freak.)

Plus, of course, there's the very small *kof* consideration of all the skin on display. Including Butler's fine ass. Mmmmmm...quarter-bouncing. ;)

Great review. But might want to hide it from Dolores. She could take it as justification for strong-arming you into that duo act. With tongue. Or worse yet, chest waxing. ::shudder::

Helen said...

I remember a gay friend of mine saying that 'Band of Brothers' should have received a special award for The Best Use of Photogenic Young Men. It sounds like The 300 might be a rival to that masterpiece.

Eden said...

Love your blog, never left a comment here before.... as is my way as a lurker extraordinaire.

That said, and I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking it: Caligula.

Mary Lynn said...

GO FOR THE BACKRUB . . . it beats the crap out of beheadings!!!

Mary Lynn said...

GO FOR THE BACKRUB . . . it beats the crap out of beheadings!!!

Kristen said...

Hubba, hubba! Thanks for the riotous review!

David said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you for "getting" this film. I totally enjoyed it as well.

And a special note to emy:
Those abs weren't painted on. Those boys were sent to boot camp before filming and they earned every six pack.

Ted said...

Yea, movie: right, good.

Let's get to the important stuff. Who's the guy from the gym? Were you on a date?

Eunice said...

if you liked the movie, you should check out the book by frank miller and lynn varley. there's something very compelling and iconic about frank miller's artwork.

simple colors, stark contrast, laconic dialogue, and incredibly detailed musculature are all frank miller hallmarks. tad better suited to a graphic novel than a movie, but he did a good job in sin city as well.

nancyneverswept said...

I, for one, am just delighted to find you in SO much better a mood! You seem genuinely happy; I hope as a result of being entertained so well by the movie and your friend from the gym. Welcome back!

Lacelibrarian said...

A O Scott of thr New York Times said:
... you can find many of the same themes, conveyed with more nuance and irony, in a Pokémon cartoon. And he suggested thatone should, "Go tell the Spartans, whoever they are, to stay home and watch wrestling."
I am glad you went though. Your review is more entertaining than the movie anytime.
Lynda

Jeanne said...

The network should replace Ebert & Roper with you, Franklin. Your reviews are much more interesting and really give a good "feel" for the story! :-D

KellyD said...

I love the review~ And we seem to want to go for the same reasons! I'm glad you went. and again in agreement, I'm not interested in female nipplage either lol. When I saw the ads for this film I was all in a tither. Yum!! And in those days they used to oil themselves all over. Kinda like oiling up for Naked Twister!
(my word verification: zimhwz! see? a war cry!)

lauragayle said...

You should write more movie reviews. I laughed and laughed. I can't wait to share this with selected friends.

Mary K. in Rockport said...

Got a repro of that mask hanging on the wall right where it shows over the top of the laptop. Weird to see it in double.

Lee Ann said...

I'd root for Leonidas, too, simply because his name is also the name of a Belgian company that makes some of the best chocolate EVER. Try a Leonidas truffle sometime. Even better, try it using your...uh...serving suggestion above.

mc78 said...

I couldn't get the boy to watch Troy because he knew I was going for beefcake. I saw it anyway and it didn't disappoint. Sigh.

Kate said...

That has got to be the best movie review I have ever read.

Kai Jones said...

If you search YouTube you can find a video of the training workout they were doing to prepare for the movie.

Sharon Rose said...

Saw 300 yesterday. Visually yes, it was fun. Once you you get past the wrinkled and assymetrical latex on the chest & ab prosthetics in a few OOPS moments, it's terrific to see a film revel in male muscle rather than too-skinny girls.

Even so, this movie was a huge dissapointment for me. The story of this battle is so much more than an action flick. I highly recommend the book "Gates of Fire" by Stephen Pressfield, which tells the compelling history of the Spartan life and that event. George Clooney & Michael Mann have been trying to get the movie made for ages. Now it probably won't happen. Instead of a classic saga we are left with a ridiculous piece of eye candy. :(((((

Emilee said...

As a Gerard Butler fan, I can't wait to see this. I have photos of him in swim trunks and in a kilt (I like men in kilts). Google it, it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

I think I just wet myself while I was laughing!

Knitress said...

Thank you for making me laugh on a tough day. And also for convincing me that I need to go see this movie this weekend to recover from a tough week.

Carson said...

Franklin, I know this is going to sound like the most frightful name dropping - and I s'pose it is, it's just that I'm so proud- but my best bud from college (all the way over here in Oz) did the frocks for 300. Did I mention I'm so proud of him? ;)

Brewgal said...

LMOA! Thanks for the great review.

Jennifer Saylor said...

Via Making Light, the "definitive" 300 trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi2t58CRmbU

Nikki said...

Ha, I saw 300 at the Imax at Navy Pier, too! It was really lacking in depth, but I enjoyed it all the same. 1/2 the time I kept thinking as I watched the Spartans in their panties, um, I mean, manly man under/overgarments, "boy, those Spartans sure do shave close!"

Spartan dudes hooking up with each other? Weren't you watching the movie, that was for the Athenians!

That Persian king dude freaked me out.

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