Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The One They Call The Warlord




First, a disclaimer: I do not like the Matrix series. Maybe it’s because the first time I saw The Matrix, I was drunk and it was playing in Spanish, I don’t know. I just never really “got” the Wachowski brothers’ “vision.” I do love action films and didn’t really get into Sci-Fi until just this past spring, when I saw Brazil for the first time. I then spent the entire summer catching up on the Sci-Fi genre, only to find that Brazil is still the best of its kind. I appreciate Sci-Fi movies because, unlike real life, they do not allot much time for boredom. Also, I should add that I am not a fan of graphic novels and, I will admit right now, I didn't even know V for Vendetta was an adaptation; I just saw the preview during the Super Bowl and thought it was the coolest thing I'd seen all night.

I really, really liked V for Vendetta and felt that the film fully lived up to its hype.


There is nothing original in this film. It is entirely a pastiche of references drawing from: Phantom of the Opera (music, mask), A Clockwork Orange (rebellion, violence), 1984 (um, everything), V. (mechanization, paranoia), Batman (darkness), and Fahrenheit 451 (censorship). Additionally, the creators make no qualms about hiding the obvious jabs at our current administration by linking Bush with a dictator who has an overt resemblance to Hitler. And what a timely release – postponing after last summer's train bombings in London- for the weekend that marks the fourth year of the Iraq War.

If you don’t catch any of these allusions, then you’re a dimwit and I’d appreciate it if you no longer perused my blog.


So I’m just going to talk about Natalie Portman’s role as Evey, because I don’t feel like getting into the other stuff. For starters, the actress seems to have reprised her very first Hollywood role, that of Mathilda in The Professional (1994). Again, she plays the helpless, orphaned girl, saved by a man- the villain/hero type- who destroys others for the sake of the greater good, and passes his skills onto her before he dies. Yet Natalie Portman is older now and allowed to play more of a seductress (the sexual undertones in The Professional were, after all, a bit creepy for a 12 year-old actress and a much older French actor).

Evey (Beauty) falls in love with V (Beast) and how could she not? He’s cunning, speaks in alliteration, and has a pretty impressive lair. Why she tried to get in his pants, after seeing his hands, only furthers the testament of her love. After he rejects her physically, assuring her that she does not want to go there, he dies, furthering the pattern of significant males in her life who have abandoned her for death.

But what about the women, I ask you? Evey is the only woman in V for Vendetta. The film shows Evey constantly seeking safety, from a totalitarian world in which she ends up on the most wanted list, each time with the refuge of men. First, there’s V, then her boss, and then, with visual impact, the hundreds of civilians donning Guy Fawkes masks in the film’s conclusion.

Yet she is most inspired by the (sparse) female roles in her life. Most notably, her mother, the political activist who dies for her beliefs. I think, however, that it is the pair of lesbian actresses who carry the biggest influence on Evey’s life. It is through their story that Evey is able to find the inspiration to survive in the tortuous solitude of her prison cell and, upon escaping, to carry on a revolution without fear of death or rule.

I don’t know what this role says about Natalie Portman’s acting career, exactly. Did anybody happen to catch her on Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks ago? Well, I did and I watched, with my grandmother, as she performed a skit in which she starred as a hardened gangsta bitch, rapping in verse and knocking journalists out with her fists. It’s the only time I’ve seen her do anything remotely funny and even my grandmother was taken aback, asking: “What’s a nice, little Jewish girl doing in a skit like that?”

So maybe Portman is aiming for a new image, or at least trying to give her career more attitude. I think I’m rooting for her because we’re around the same age and there aren’t many other actresses that offer much hope for my generation. Kirstin Dunst, Kiera Knightly, Maggie Gyllenhal, etc.? Coming up empty. Before Vendetta came out, I counted The Professional as the only movie worth watching Portman in, although I still haven’t seen Closer. Because, let’s face it, her role in Garden State was horrendous and she wasn’t all that good in Star Wars, either. At least she gets to play a hero in V for Vendetta and she even pulls off the buzz cut pretty well, kind of.

But I also think that before Natalie Portman started all of this, she should have found a better voice coach to help with her shoddy English accent.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Greg said...

What a review, I love this blog thing, kudos to you. See Closer though, its Mike Nichols, good shit. I think this should be published.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Toby Shuster said...

i'm still bummed that we missed seeing it, before you left town, because we were both too hungover!!

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello. i did not know mr. cranky had a twin sister.

- jimbo

12:37 AM  
Blogger ultrafknbd said...

I went to the theatre with all intents and purposes to see Vendetta but ended up seeing She's the Man. Don't ask how or why. If I could offer a review, I would but I didn't finish the thing. In other words, unless watching the Sci-Fi that is 20 year olds pretending to be teenagers in a highschool that appears to rival college or professional sports program budgets let along any of the outfits from the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue appeals to you on the alien planet Hollywood, it may not be one's bag. As for the mighty Brazil, what can I say 'cept the morning found me miles away with still a million things to say.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Toby Shuster said...

ha! i'm sorry for your loss. you do need to see vendetta, though. i have a buddy here who gets free movie passes because he does something involving the commercials before the movie (you know, the ones you hate), so tomorrow i'm seeing 'thank you for smoking' and i also want to see the new spike lee....

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Mary said...

All right, I read it. You're right, you didn't give anything away. Actually it kind of makes me wanna see it more. Maybe because now I have a little more information than, "Oh my god, that trailer was super-cool," which is what I was going on before. Oh, and I agree with Greg, I love this blog thing. Don't think I've told you that yet.

10:53 AM  

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