Friday, March 09, 2007

Movies opening this week

300 (Gerard Butler, David Wenham, Lena Headey, Dominic West, dir. Zack Snyder)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I find the reaction to this film very interesting. It's been rabidly anticipated by the hardcore fanboys online for what seems like over a year. For at least six months, it's been predetermined as the greatest movie ever. And, I admit, I was pretty excited, too. Not at the level of the uber-geeks, but I would definitely say I was looking forward to the film, and anticipating enjoying it. But even before most of the reviews started coming in this week, there were signs that the fanboy enthusiasm had turned into a sort of nasty groupthink. When Cinematical's Erik Davis posted a negative review of the film from the Berlin Film Festival, and mentioned that it had received boos from the audience, the fanboys attacked. For a while, though, it seemed like he was a lone voice in the wilderness; as recently as last week, I think, the Rotten Tomatoes rating was 100% (although with very few reviews).

But pity anyone who gives the movie a bad review, especially when there were only a few reviews posted. Check out the copious vicious and misogynistic comments left about the review by Christy Lemire of the Associated Press, the first critic to post a negative review. It's disgusting, but it's also exactly the sort of attitude this movie promotes: Women are weak, disagreement is intolerable, the only solution to any problem is swift, unflinching attack. I wouldn't throw around the accusation of fascism lightly, but there's no doubt that this is a movie celebrating fascism. And what's most disturbing about it is the way that people are cheering it, eating it up. They leave the theater ready to attack (at least verbally, online). I think the specific parallels to current political events are a little tenuous, but as a general endorsement of a broad philosophy of militarism, intolerance and, yes, hatred, it's unmistakable. And it's going to make a ton of money, and garner a hugely dedicated following (mostly of self-described geeks who consider themselves intelligent), and that honestly makes me sad. Wide release

The Italian (Kolya Spiridonov, Mariya Kuznetsova, Olga Shuvalova, dir. Andrei Kravchuk)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
In a week in which all my energy is used up pounding away at a monolithic mainstream film, this slight but charming Russian movie gets very little attention. It was pleasant, although maybe too pleasant considering its subject matter. Some impressive naturalistic performances from the child actors, and an interesting look at working-class life in Russia, but nothing spectacular. Opened limited Jan. 19; in Las Vegas this week


Anonymous said...

would you, josh, say that 300 is the blueprint to the fall of the entire human race? the end of what we all believed would be the hope to save this place?

Josh said... But it still sucks.