Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

09 March 2007

Oh My

Has it really been a week since I posted? I must be busy...

But I'm not actually busy. I'm on Spring Break which means I'm trying to be busy but not actually achieving busy-ness. I will post today, I promise. I have two posts sitting in the back of my head just waiting to bring forth fruit (how Biblical I am today!)

Let me say a few things about 300, which I saw last night at midnight on a fluke. The audience for this thing was like nothing I've ever seen before. Nearly everyone there was a nerd. I have been to midnight showings of things before (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Phantom Menace--has there been anything else?), but the audience for this comic-book thing was unique. I didn't know men still wore long hair. What is that about? I apologize to anyone who reads this who has long hair and is a man. I don't think it looks horrible or anything, but can you explain why it is that you wear your hair long?
300 is very silly. It knows who its audience is and it plays to that. The men are in speedos the entire time, which I found to be giggle-inducing. They have huge muscular bodies that aren't really my type, so the speedos weren't so much hot as, well, silly. The film looks fabulous, of course, and this is supposed to be a film about style, so I didn't find its style irritating. The film is shot with a washed-out look and the scenery is really the sky. The sky and the earth are the main scenic elements in fact.
Pretty much everyone will see this movie, so there isn't really any reason to keep talking about it, but... the film got irritating in its third act when it became a film where words like "freedom" and "justice" got thrown around. "Freedom"? We're in ancient Sparta. They have slaves. The re-writing of history was inevitable with 300--they have a near-naked Xerxes and hideous creatures of all sorts--but certain things about Sparta seem to be re-written for ulterior purposes. The writer of the film (and the scribe of the graphic novel, no doubt) introduced two father-son narratives into the film. There is all this talk of fighting for sons and loving of sons, etc, etc. It's something that would've been completely unknown in Sparta--half the time they didn't even know who their sons were! And it's not the the father-son thing that bugs me. You know I love a good father-son narrative. But this is a film about war and battle and honor and justice and freedom and—dare I say it—Iraq. So of course the Spartans in the film have to have an American reason to fight—their sons—instead of a Spartan reason to fight.
Lena Headey, who plays the queen, is appropriately gorgeous and severe, and she gets most of the cool ancient lines like "Only Spartan women give birth to real men" and "Come back carrying your shield... or on it." The rest of the performances are overdone. Gerard Butler screams the entirety of the film. David Wenham, never a commanding personality, is his usual beautiful but sleep-inducing self. Rodrigo Santoro, looking like a drag queen (I assume it is intentional--we Westerners do like our Easterners to look feminine) has had his voice dubbed or re-recorded in a lower register or something. I didn't even recognize him.

But this is a film about style. The acting is unimportant. The battle sequences are fun, I guess. And the script is cute. Actually, that's the word that describes this film best for me: cute. I thought 300 was mostly cute. It looks harmless on the surface, too, but I bet once I start deconstructing the film in my head it's Iraq allegory will become clearer and its Orientalist sentiments will reveal themselves. Maybe I'll try not to think about that stuff and go back to thinking about men in speedos.