After Gladiator won an Oscar for Roman history, it was only a matter of time until someone mustered up the balls and $175 million to make an epic movie depicting the fall of Troy, one of the most legendary battles ever, and attempted to do the same for Greece.
Well the time is now and the movie is Wolfgang Petersons Troy. With an all-star cast (Brad Pitts bare ass) and almost a dozen grisly battle sequences, Troy is the summer blockbuster to beat. The story is an old one, based loosely on Homers Iliad, but a good one nonetheless and Peterson, no stranger to emotion-wrenching tense dramas ( The Perfect Storm, Outbreak, Das Boot) does a decent job of telling it.
Paris, prince of Troy, played by Orlando Bloom, is a lover not a fighter. In fact hes a bit of a pussy. After stealing beautiful maiden Helen of Sparta away from her husband, and pissing off most of Greece, Paris relies on his daddy and big brother Hector ( Hulk s Eric Bana) to protect him. Most pissed off is mean old Menelaus, upset for losing his hot wife, and his brother Agememnon, power-hungry and looking to rule all of the Agean Sea.
Heading the attack against the supposedly un-sackable city of Troy is Achilles (very-buff Brad Pitt), a warrior so serious and morally flexible he has his own tendon named after him. Yeah, I know its all Greek to me too, and Ive been there. (Theres a juice stand at Agememnons tomb that sells the best orange juice on earth. It comes from red oranges.) But dont worry, even if you forget the characters names, the actors are such superstars its easy to remember whos on whose side.
Troy is a summer blockbuster, and a big one at that (140 minutes), so dont expect it to change youre life. However, its got lots of killing and the four essential elements of any good war story: Love, Honour, Power, Glory. The drama borders on sappy occasionally but isnt that the way it usually goes with big-budget Hollywood flicks? Just enjoy it for what it is. The action and violence (while not as brutal as Braveheart and almost mundane at times) should still suit the male audience fine. And for the ladies, theres that big horse and Brad Pitt naked (and totally fetishized by the camera, which cant seem to stay away from his body). That alone makes it a hit at the box office ask your girlfriend to pay for your tickets, she will.
Also opening at the Village Eight, (on May 19) is Shrek 2. Its like a computer-generated version of Meet the Parents where Shrek and his new bride must travel to a kingdom far, far away and meet her parents. The thing is, Mom and Dad are expecting Prince Charming, not a green ogre and a talking donkey. Shrek 1 was pretty good and incredibly popular so hopefully, three years later, Shrek 2 can keep the dream alive.
I like seeing kids movies at the matinee times. Kids are so weird its sometimes more fun to watch them than the flick. In any case, after a couple pre-movie bong hits and a large popcorn, extra fake butter, this is a good way to kill a sunny afternoon.
The DVD of the week is a doozy. Gus Van Sants Elephant won the top prize at the Cannes film festival last year and for good reason. Story-wise its an ordinary day at an ordinary high school kids get detentions, girls gossip, people get picked on. The ordinary-ness goes out the window pretty fast when two students pack up all their semi-automatic weapons and go on a killing spree, Columbine style.
The violence isnt glorified, the characters are very realistic and superbly acted by a bunch of kids youve never seen in a movie before, and the camera work is utterly amazing. Director of Photography Harris Savides, under Van Sants direction, perfectly captures the solitude of the high school experience through a cluster or long tracking shots that intermingle and cut through time, following different characters through the same events while slowly unravelling a compelling story.
The school layout and the lives of its students become clearer and clearer with each passing shot until the bullets start to fly. Its raw and minimalist, shockingly dark, yet tender too, and just a little bit artsy. Basically one of the best films Ive seen in a while. Rent it, and be thankful for this countrys gun laws.
At Village 8 May 14-20: Troy, Shrek 2 (starting May 19), Mean Girls, Van Helsing, New York Minute, Kill Bill Vol. 2.
At Rainbow Theatre May 14-20: Hellboy.