...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Where Is My Rubber Chicken?

Or: Un-Review Strikes Again!

Obviously, again, we had seen a movie. Obviously, again, I was asked to un-review it...
This was last Friday. Time and sickness intervened yet again... But do not despair, Dear Reader, I have my trusty tea-mug by my side, and fortified with two finally acquired antibiotics capsules (mmmm...drugs)I am here to bring you an Un-Review of:

The title of this un-review refers to that well-loved Monty Python sketch with the knight and the rubber chicken. And I really would like to commit JUST that act on certain reviewers, fo instance here.

Argh. We read a couple of the reviews after watching the movie (to be sure, we did not do it until a day has passed so as if to make sure it was not just our late-night imagination made us think this movie was actually a movie, and not a flick...)--and I distincly remember looking at each other (this was The Husband, and The Lizard Queen and her hubby) and saying: "They gave this movie an 'F'?"
I think only some young reviewers and one or two blogger got this piece. And you know what? That would be OK...as long as reviewers'critics remember to place certain type of cinema into its proper context. I mean: Spiderman got As and B+-s...this one, all in all, a C+??
Granted, there were plotholes in this to drive an F-350 through, yes (starting right with the opening scene). However, if you are MINIMALLY familiar with Christianity (which I am, passably, but necessarily, being a medivealist and a Calvinist Hungarian,) OR the comic series Hellblazer (which I am not, admittedly, but maybe I should be). If you, Dear Reader, enjoyed the heck out of Hellboy or Underworld, you are in for a ride with this one. If not, well, perhaps it's not for you. But I like to have my brain and my moral sense challenged. I like movies where yes, it is about good or evil, and at the end everyone must choose. I like choices that even a chain-smoking, almost suicidal, unfazed and cynical exorcist has to make. I think the idea that Hell looks like Los Angeles in a really, really hot and windy day (even the palm trees are there!) plus some half-rotten Gollums slithering about... is just sufficiently sick enough. Not to mention Djimmon Hounsou's character (remember him in Gladiator), Papa Midnite, whose nightclub and its basement is almost as cool visually as some twisted scenes from Underworld. All in all, the whole visual imagery is really well done, and, briefly driving through certain parts of L. A, exudes the correct atmosphere. And you know, I do NOT want to kill the ending for tho who have not seen it yet, but I cannot help but chuckle and quote my husband: "The Devil might think that he's playing chess with God, but God knows that in fact it's a games of solitaire, and the Devil is only one of the cards." Loosely paraphrased, The Husband is much more elgant than that.

There will be people who think or say 'well, Keanu Reeves really stumbled with the Matrix 2&3, so he now plays in 2nd rate movies..." Hehe. I say, he is just perfect for this role. Besides the fact that the Matrix movies were hardly a stumble, Keanu Reeves is one of those few guys still alive (with Johnny Depp, maybe?) who can act out the taciturn chain-smoker P.I- equivalent in a mystical-horror thriller comic-novel adaptation thingy. John Constantine, the anti-hero of this movie (did you notice how many un-heroes are around these days?) tracks down the otherwordly transgressers of an eons'-old pact and 'deports their ass back' as he puts it. The reason he does it, is that, well, he believes there is Heaven and Hell, because he sees the creatures inhabiting both planes. He, however, does not have faith. He thinks, since he committed suicide but was revived, he can literally 'buy his way' to Heaven with doing this little service...However, his suicide or non-suicide ceased to be an issue a long time ago with the Powers Above...he became such a world-class selfish, proud and unbendable asshole (wow, I cussed in an un-review, yet again...bad me, no cookie!) that for those sins he definitely WILL go to Hell upon his unevitable death (remember, chain-smoker?) At the beginning of the movie we learn he has maybe six months to live, accompanied by an X-Ray image of his lungs. Not. Pretty.
So, our Constantine, after some preliminary adventures, teams up, however, reluctantly, with a cop who is looking into her twin sister's alleged suicide, and the plot goes on from there until the inevitable ending where, after trashing a hospital, a possible sequel is sketched up to the evening horizon of L. A..

I could go on, really, but I think that my thoughts, coupled with what the Husband said here, may be sufficient for you to go and see it. Me, if you are in the DFW Metroplex and want to see it with a buddy, am available for a second evening. And, of course, if you have some coments, we can continue in the 'Comments' section.

But I would definitely bring out the rubber chicken for the critics on this one. Dear Lord, I almost forgot: and have them read the Book of Job, BADLY.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Busy Week

Just a quick update, my Dear Readers: I will be away on business travel starting tonight and back Wednesday evening, hence the radiosilence. And even though The Husband insist that I un-review one of the movies we'd seen this weekend, namely "Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow', I feel it can be summed up very succintly thus;
Had its moments. Missed the boat. Gwyneth Paltrow should have been smacked around a lot for being a righteous bitch. Not a clue why anyone would get involved with her character. Neat litle homages al-around to the following: old broadsheet comics, Batman,Film Noir detective stories, some King Kong moments, The Lost World, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and yes, Star Wars.

So--have a great week!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fat Tuesday

In case this will be your last meaty meal for a while, dear reader, why not to try this chicken recipe I made last night. Quick & easy, an the results are rather yummy. And oh, yes, it is FATTY.
For 2, you'll need:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts slightly rubbed with salt & pepper
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs. mustard (preferably stone-ground)
grated Asiago, Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in large skillet; while heating, pat chicken dry and rub it slightly with salt and pepper. When butter-oil mix stopped foaming, ease chicken into pan and brown on both sides until almost done. Meanwhile, mix broth, mustard and cream and add to pan. Bubble on low until chicken is done and sauce has thickened slightly. Grate the cheese on top if you so desire just before serving
You can serve it over rice, or like I did, over steamed vegetables.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Un-Reviews-Take Three

Okay, I understand, the popular demand is overwhelming. So, after I finished grocery shopping, dishes and most of the laundry, found a decent Celtic radio station and had enough coffee and some food to keep me alive, here I am...Broadcasting live from Irving TX, here are my random musings about the movie 'King Arthur". For the sake of preserving my sanity, I will asume my Dear Readers have seen this piece so I don't have to go on explaining the whole story as most movie critics do, thus irritating the heck out of me...I mean: I am either thinking about seeing given movie and I do NOT want anyone to tell me what it is about (after all, I want to see it), or I've already sen it, in which case why do I need a movie critic explaining to me what happened in it? The reason I want to read a movie review is to know either if it's worth my 8 bucks artistically, storytelling wise, etc., or after seeing it, I am curious if there were some meanings or little insights in it I missed or whether other people agree with my interpretation etc. But again, this is me, growing up with a different movie culture.

Okay. I've seen the previews. I read the reviews. I said: "Hell, NO! I will NOT watch this crap...they played with my favorite myth of all times, claimed they had a 'historical Arthur' story and totally distorted everything...::gulp:: gave Guinevere a bow and leather brassieres and BLUE PAINT!" So, with all that in me little mind, our little band of brave movie watchers finally sat down in my living room to see this one.

I am STILL ambivalent about it. I mean yes. It seems like the scripters could not decide whether they wanted legend, history, modern thoughts in historical guise, or what...The Sarmatian cavalry that they based Arthur and his knights was moved to Britain in the 2nd c. AD the earliest--by the late 5th century those guys were definitely NOT dreaming about their pagan gods, wide steppes and whatnot. One of the greatest strengths of the Roman Empire was their incredible power of assimilation. A couple hundred years under Roman rule, and look at Gaul or Hispania...It is especially true with the troops. While these Sarmatian dudes most likely retained SOME of their weapons or armor, and they certainly retained their dragon banner (based on archeological evidence)---DRAGON as in ' Pendragon' , okay? NOT a horse, or a unicorn, or whatever that thing was they carried in the movie...they, by the 5th c. AD were Romanized as heck, especially with all th intermarriages once they finished service. I mean, the closest Sarmatian maidens were by that time in what is now Ukraine, and mail-ordering brides was definitely not cost effective for a veteran...
If anyone want to delve deeper into the 'WHAT the hell is this Sarmatian thing?" question, please click on this link. Janos Makkay's article was one of the first ones exploring the Sarmatian connections of the Arthurian legends.

Anyways, I am somewhat in the same league with "King Arthur" as with "Gladiator". I mean I know that
1. there is NO way that Roman villas and estates were still in existence in around AD 500 OVER THE WALL OF HADRIAN!
2, that Pelagius did NOT promote the ideals of freedom and equality among men as this movie proposes...
3. that the AD 500 Picts of the North were NOT blue-tattoed barbarians... if anything, there were BLOODY BRITONS all over Britain, heavily Romanized, with an increasing amount of Angles and some Saxons...
4. that the Pope had NO authority to dispatch of the legions of Britain or to issue ANY kind of orders to them WHATSOEVER, as this movie posits.
5. that the BLOODY ROUND TABLE they put in this movie looked like one straight from a corporate board room at an executive retreat.
6. that the dialogs sucked really, really BAD.

Despite all of this, this movie still, still, added something to the Arthurian myths. The final battle was rather good, and if you have not seen the original of the battle on the ice (after which "King Arthur"'s was rather shamelessly, actually, modeled; that of the movie Alexander Nevsky, the best propagande movie of all times)--you shall enjoy the heck out of that, and go find the original...:-)
The heavy cavalry outfit in which Arthur and his 'knights" (see, this irked me to no end--WHY are they called knights???If we do a 'historical retelling' these guys are cataphracti or somesuch, definitely NOT knights)--was good too. Yes, they would plough through the Saxon infantry JUST like that. Now I admit, not only the six or seven or however few they were...(even though I kept thinking 'Wow...homage to Kurosava ON'; but the idea and feel of those 5th century tanks plowing through a battlefield was pretty accurate.
A Saxon chieftain who acts like one--as The Husband likes to say. Yes. Deal with it. They were NOT. Nice. People.
The underlying feeling of 'we are hopeless but there is this ideal we hold true so we STAY and STAND our guard because we have a DUTY" --well, that always appealed to me, and despite thye NUMEROUS and STRONG failings of this flick, it came through. Just like Maximus' figure in 'Gladiator' made me forgive what the makers of that movie did to 2nd century Rome, Arthur, as played by Clive Owen in this one had the same sense of straight, grim and determined honor I miss SO FREAKIN' MUCH from modern days.
The music half made this movie. Was great. I am a sucker for emotional choruses and swelling Hans Zimmer music.

Notice I did NOT say anything about Keira Knightley's Guinevere--that WAS painful for me...even though, yes, I KNOW, the male readers of these ramblings DEFINITELY have an opinion about her figure and ...ahem...other things. I leave it to them. Yes, that's it.

So: I did not LOVE this one, but as a different myth about the ideas of the Round Table--was it really that bad?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Slowing down.

Okay, folks. I need to gather some thoughts in me little head so I can be coherent when I talk about the dreaded "King Arthur" movie, because I am ambivalent about it, though not as much towards the positive side as The Husband. I need to percolate a bit, and tomorrow is FRIDAY anyway when I can guiltlessblog. I am wiped and something tells me I will NOT have an easy Friday, what with my boss being out of town for DAYS and stuff piling up that needs to be addressed before HIS boss hits the town next Tuesday for reviews. Ugh.
Until then, enjoy my foaming rant below about the worst movie of 2004.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Un-Reviews--Take Two

So, continuing from last night's rant, I give you: Troy Screamings Number Two

For starters, a little background on why I am so passionate about this: I am a bona fide Greek mythology geek. I forced my playmates to impersonate Greek gods and Goddesses in first grade and carried my copy of the Iliad with me to freshman's camp eventually. I was THIS close to become a Classical Archeologist, I completed two years of courses before I decided on specializing on medieval archeology instead. During my teaching years back in Budapest, my entry level exams featured a 'name this god/goddess and his/her pantheon' question, because I firmly believe that future archeologists (or, for that matter, anyone in Liberal Arts), regardless of their specialization, need to be familiar with the mythologies of the ancient world, otherwise 2/3 of any art will be unaccessibole for them.

Where to start, where to start? I shall randomly pick some parts or characters of the movie that really ticked me off, and build from there I think. I see it now, that this post WILL make me scream IN WRITING, so please bear with me.

Okay: the whole war is taken care of in about, if we get the timeline right, about two-three weeks. Maximum. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot? I DO understand collapsing timelines, but it can be done right, and it can be done awful. Peter Jackson did a good job in the LOTR trilogy. Petersen totally blew it in 'Troy'. Time is IMPORTANT in this. Time is one of the major characters in Iliad, really. People grow up with the notion that there is a WAR going on outside, that their father can die any day, or their brother, or their husband...marriages happen, children are born...the War lasts TEN years. Think about it. Ten years of war and siege. Continuous negotiations between the leaders. Daily skirmishes, losses and wins, reinforcements for both sides arriving, leaving... What an opportunity to show how to live in constand warfare, what an opportunity to show how warfare can be different and...Oh, wait. This is Hollywood. Forget it. War is So un-PC, let's get it over with, despite the fact that this story is about war the first place. Nevermind.

WHAT is this with all the bloody cousins? Achilles and Patroclus are 'cousins'. Briseis and Hector are 'cousins'. Is this an euphemism for something that, again, is un-PC, or some scriptwriter was just plain lazy? And where the heck is Hecuba and all the rest of Priam's family? I am NOT even getting into the fact that Briseis's figure got shamelessly merged with Chryseis'and Cassandra's. Grrr...

Menelaus portrayed as this hesitating, womanizing, drunken cowardly sloth, who is KILLED in the middle of the movie? Helen CHOSE the guy from about five hundred suitors of hers, for pity's sake! I HATE the constant portrayal of the Atreus brothers as some miserable whiney little brother/arrogant dominant big brother comic combo in modern days. This is 9th c. BC poetry about 12C BC events and situations! Helen was a demigoddess whose stepfather let her choose her future husband because all Hellas was on the verge of civil war when she became of marriageable age.
Before she chose, her stepdad, the King of Sparta (yes, Menelaos inherited his kingdom through his wife, as Tyndareos did not have sons by Leda) made all suitors,who were all kings and princes of city states, swore that
a. they won't kill the chosen one instantly and
b. that if he gets wronged in the future, he shall be aided by them. All of them.

That's why all Greece/Hellas/whatever (there it is, again: ther is NO FRIGGIN’GREECE at this time!) goes to war in the Iliad. They are OATH bound--oaths are SACRED in this world, just like the ancient law of hospitality Paris breaks when he gets away with not only the Spartan king's wife, but his whole treasury (which is conveniently not mentioned in the movie).

Yes, they got Achilles right, okay. Even down to Brad's quasi-emotional monkey-pout, which, as I mentioned before, is hilarious. But then again, Achilles never sat right with me.

Now: either we do a completely realistic reconstruction of a 12th-13th c BC siege and war; in which case, bronze weapons, lamellar/bronze breastplates and chariots ONLY,(WHAT is this crapola with the HUGE swarming armies of HORSEMEN??) Troy is a great ‘tell’settlement from the Anatolian plains, the ships are NOT huge triremes from 4th c BC, just to name a few beefs of mine...or, we treat it as a MYTH with all the bells, whistles, gods, goddesses and supernatural powers, supernatural emotions, ancient customs and the overwhelming sense of fate. Priam and his city is doomed from the very moment the king gives a ship to Paris to fulfill Aphrodite's wish in aiding him to get the most beautiful woman in the world as a wife. Nay, from the very moment they decide they can prevent the demise of their city by placing Queen Hecuba's newborn child to the cold mountainside to prevent him from growing up and to bring fire and destruction. This child then is found first by a she-bear, then by shepherds, grows up to be a beautiful youth and one morning three goddesses pop up out of the thin air in front of him asking him to decide their quarrel about a certain golden apple...But you know, the scriptwriters thought they could do BETTER than that outdated storyline. This blatant attempt of flattening and Hollywoodizing an ancient and pretty much timeless epic just makes me want to puke.

::wipes forehead::

There. How's that for a first? Want to get more?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Un-Reviews, Take One

Okay, then...as I said before: these are NOT reviews. Just my random musings reflecting on a rainy evening about various movies I'd watched in the past, oh, month or so. For some reason we've seen a bunch of them lately. Yes, still cheaper than in the theater, especially now that I don't have to pay late fees ::grin::.

I was really, really surprised about I, Robot. This was part of a dual-renting expedition with the Lizard Queen who was quite horrified when I chose, alongside this DVD the dreaded and oft' screamed-about "Troy". But more about that one later.

I had no preconceptions about "I, Robot": I expected to see nothing from Asimov's book, except some of the character names.I was, however, pleasantly surprised when I realized that the scriptwriters ACTUALLY read the book, and actually said the movie was 'inspired by' it, as opposed to 'based on' which always gives me the creeps, because in a lot of instances that phrase just disguises the approach: "We can do whatever we want, because we bought the rights!" They read the book, because the basis of musings on free will, freedom and such are intact in the movie version, and the investigation part of the plot is actually rather riveting. The visuals for me were not that distracting, except the Audi advertisements, and you know what? Will Smith acted good, and was obvious that he liked the whole idea: in other words, this was deifinitely not just a boat payment for him...like, oh, say, 'Troy' was for poor Sean Bean.
And there, there it is. When we were done with "I, Robot", we decided NOT to spoil it with said other flick,(it was almost midnight anyway), so instead, we watched it next day, with freshly scrubbed mind, some food, and some tranquilizer darts ready in case I burst a vein in my uncontrolled screaming and sobbing (this latter did not actually happen, but boy, we were close.) Now, I have NO problems with flicks like, say, 'Gladiator', which you can watch as a legit fantasy piece that has eerily similar names and places to Ancient Earth history. That one had a believable plot, great characters, development, you know, the usual drama stuff you like stories for. (Even though I STILL bear grudges about calling Maximus 'the Spaniard', or letting Aurelius's daughter sit in the Senate, but that's the aborted Classical Historian in me and I can handle her...) But WHAT was this thing, this pseudo-I don't even know what to call for?
Oh, wait. I know. It was a legit cover to show Brad's nekkid backside. Yes, that must have been it. That's why three ladies at the rental place almost hit the checkout guy, their colleague because he said: "Well, I do not care much for Brad Pitt, myself..." I swear, these women SHRIEKED and turned towards him like Furies and were ready to POUNCE because he DARED to imply that B. P. sucks... It was rather amusing. Much more, actually, than the piece itself. Even though, as I said to the Lizard Queen, I can safely separate the two phenomena, that is, 'Troy' which is a really really sad and bad piece of donkey dung, and Brad Pitt, who once upon a time could really act (I just watched 'Seven' again this weekend and oh boy)--and yes, who, I must admit, got some heavy workout in for this movie and looked rather appetizing. Until he started to do what he thought passed for emoting in this role at which point all we poor watchers could do was making primate noises, rather loud.

But, this is not a movie review. So, I think I shall abruptly stop now, leaving my Dear Readers with a cliffhanger and hopefully continuing tomorrow, when my brain restarts. It's past 2200 now and The Bunny's little mind usually shuts down at this point. All I can remember now from this miserable piece of wreckage is that famous one-liner Helen Krueger as Helen says to Orlando Bloom as Paris: "Last night was a mistake." Yes, anyone who paid theather prices for this made a HUGE mistake.

Back hopefully tomorrow with more on Brad as a monkey,the 'Everyone is A Cousin' syndrome, Sean Bean's boat payment and the question: "Where the H**()" did all the gods go?"

The Bunny out.

Light rain.

I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but:
Rain that I can see splotching in the puddles across the office parking lot from the FIRST floor is NOT light rain--despite what all local channels would say.

Just needed to be said, for the record. Thank you. I feel MUCH better now.