Bullitt's Bros

Saturday, March 10, 2007

300 review... not mine

So we are going to see 300 on Sunday. It looks like a really enjoyable visual piece. It's written by Frank Miller so the writing won't be particulalry good but I'm sure the action will be there and it will be exciting.

So I looked at some reviews of 300 in preparation of seeing it. I made the mistake of reading AO Scott who I typically hate. He's kind of like a poor man's Aaron Sorkin which means he is functionally retarded. Somehow, however, he can seem normal at a cocktail party. Anyway, here is part of his review:

"They also hew to a warrior ethic of valor and freedom that makes them, despite their gleeful appetite for killing, the good guys in this tale. (It may be worth pointing out that unlike their mostly black and brown foes, the Spartans and their fellow Greeks are white.)"

Really? Is this worth pointing out? What's it saying except that this movie and the people behind it are racist, racist, racist and AO Scott is one of the good whities who will side with the browns and blacks against his fellow whites whenever he sees them being slaughtered... on film, of course. In real life he lives on some upper side of Manhattan where he can avoid most blacks and browns. And good for him. He is soft like a marshmallow in the noonday sun and the first MS-13 gang member who looks at him funny will scare years off his life... so he is best keeping his gates up and defending the blacks and browns (hereforth to be known as "blowns") from the belly of the beast.

I guess something not worth pointing out as far as AO is concerned is that Greeks are Greek and Persians are, well, Persian. This is a movie about a battle betwen Greeks and Persians. Exactly what should the Persians look like if not Persians? Would AO feel better if the Greeks had shaved heads, baggy jeans, and low-rider chariots?

So then I looked at Slate, one of the king outlets of navel-gazing, white self-hatred. Dana Stevens review is all racial politics and no movie review. Here's a bit:

"Here are just a few of the categories that are not-so-vaguely conflated with the "bad" (i.e., Persian) side in the movie: black people. Brown people. Disfigured people. Gay men (not gay in the buff, homoerotic Spartan fashion, but in the effeminate Persian style). Lesbians. Disfigured lesbians. Ten-foot-tall giants with filed teeth and lobster claws. Elephants and rhinos (filthy creatures both). The Persian commander, the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is a towering, bald club fag with facial piercings, kohl-rimmed eyes, and a disturbing predilection for making people kneel before him."

Nice writing, by the way, Dana... not gay in the homoerotic fashion? So gay in the heterosexual fashion? Or is that gay in the gay fashion? At any rate, why quibble with the details when the thoughts behind this review suck more than the prose. Which sucks.

Here's another gem from Dana:

"One of the few war movies I've seen in the past two decades that doesn't include at least some nod in the direction of antiwar sentiment"

This reminds me of that famous Pauline Kael comment about her amazement that Nixon won when no one she knew voted for him. So this movie has to include some pat on the head to Dana's opninion of temporal politics or it's lacking in some way? This is not movie review, this is a hack journalist who isn't good enough to write for the editorial page getting his licks in any old way (or is Dana a she? I dunno, I will guess Dana is a tranny). Pauline Kael was a movie critic too. It really is an intellectual ghetto nowadays.

So remember kids, when you see 300, think racism first and foremost!

And people wonder why the newspapers are disappearing. Faster, please.


  • I often like A.O. Scott, but you're right that in this case he's just being un utter dipshit ... I'm gonna see 300 later today, and I'm not planning to look for any "racism" in it .. For my money, the best Times critic is Elvis Mitchell

    By Blogger Reel Fanatic, at 7:05 AM  

  • Normally I'm not a big fan of Richard Roeper, but he is willing to judge it based on its intended audience. Here's a money quote:

    It is excessively, cheerfully violent -- and it is gorgeous to behold. It looks like the world's most sophisticated and expensive video game, and I mean that in a good way.

    By Blogger Christer, at 9:19 AM  

  • I usually like A.O. Scott, but (I haven't read the review) thoughts of racism regarding the 300 are pretty misplaced.

    Obviously, what Stevens and Scott are thinking is: the Spartans are white and pro-war--therefore American. The Persians are brown and full of lesbians and giant monsters--therefore Iraqi. Thus, this movie is pro Iraq war. (Though Stevens at least--once again, I haven't read the Scott review--seems to point out anti-gay and racism stuff, which doesn't have to do with the Iraq war.)

    Now, I'll admit that it would be pretty hard *not* to think of the Iraq war when watching this, just like it was hard not to think of the Iraq war while watching LOTR. But in both cases, it would be pretty mistaken to move from the fact that the movies could be taken as pro-war epics to conclude anything about the authors' intentions. First, Tolkien wrote it during the 40s (right? Or was it the 30s?), and from what I remember, he specifically didn't want people to read it as having anything to do with WWII (good luck!). But the point is, it's a strain to see LOTR as about the *latest* war. Similarly, the 300 was written in the mid-90s, after the first Gulf war and before the second. And I don't have any reason to think that Frank Miller is friends with Michael Ledeen, so I'm guessing that he wasn't really thinking of the Iraq war while he wrote it.

    Still, critics of the movie can ask, "Why was it released *now*?! Why not wait until *after* all this Gulf War stuff?" That would be pretty stupid, though, given how well _Sin City_ did. I.e., I think the only thing the people who made the 300 are interested in are (1) being truthful to the comic (I assume--I haven't read it) and (2) making money.

    I won't see the movie, though, because I was happier when music videos were dead. And frankly, the movie does not look to have dialogue as good as your typical video.

    By Blogger Bobcat, at 12:22 PM  

  • Also, it's nice to hear from Christer again!

    By Blogger Bobcat, at 12:22 PM  

  • Let me agree first with Reel Fanatic, I liked Elvis Mitchell a whole lot better. It's not a surprise he was bounced from the NY Times.

    And this idea of reviewing every single movie as a proxy for the war in Iraq is now so widespread as to make Rotten Tomoatoes practically worthless. It's driving me crazy that all these critics have followed Pauline Kael over the cliff in this way and now assume it's their duty to deconstruct every movie and find out how it's a comment on current politics. It's just more bullshit like the auteur theory.

    AO Scott. Kill yourself. Seriously, please do it.

    By Blogger Joe, at 6:37 PM  

  • Bobcat, I think LOTR was created a story for Tolkein to tell some family member during WWI. He definately wrote (in a forward to some edition of LOTR) that it was not an allegory for WWII. In fact, I think Tolkein kinda considers allegory a poor-man's history.

    So I'm shocked I haven't read any critics compare 300 to, say, certain parts of the Illiad. That's seriously the first thing I thought of when I saw a preview. A big, long, bloody epic about the glories of war. Well, I suppose the Illiad might have had a couple more elements, but I don't really remember them.

    By Blogger Christer, at 1:46 PM  

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