Real Genius
Monday, May 17, 2004
Sea, Sun and Sand
I'm glad I watched Troy before my trip to my homeland this Wednesday, and not after it. It would've really made me miss the Mediterranean badly. It already did, but because I knew I am visiting soon, it didn't bother me that much.

Should you go see the movie too? Absolutely. Should you have high expectations? Absolutely not.

The war scenes are truly moving. You will find yourself amazed at your ability to guess that the first fight you ever see Achilles in will last for just a few seconds; and if you're anything like me, you will sigh of frustration for not being able to capture every detail of the amazingly rapid, blood-drenched fight scenes.

You will see in Hector's eyes that same soft, cautious, forgiving warmth that puts comradeship --or brotherhood, here-- and love of a cause above all... Just like you did with that Delta Force SFC in Black Hawk Down with his soft Southern drawl. (Speaking of his eyes... Why was Hulk decorated with such blue eyes in the movie?)

You will see more kindness in Achilles' eyes than perhaps ought to be; a fighter resigned to his fate cast upon him by the gods, he is ever so generous in letting us know, every once in a while, that he has generous feelings of mercy too.

The movie is fun to watch; it especially should be for anyone with a specific interest in Brad Pitt --his golden hair more golden than ever, his blue eyes bluer than ever, he really does appear to be the closest a man could come to the incarnation of a Greek semi-god. On the other hand, some scenes feel a little too contrived to expose just this aspect of his physique.

I think they could've cast someone who's more attractive than Orlando Bloom as the man able to eternally seduce a woman who can launch a thousand ships. By that, I mean his facial features. Yes, they've gotten the youth right. And the naive appearance. But the rest? Come on!

And the women... You wanna know something? I've always thought Saffron Burrows could have used some reconstructive chin surgery when she was young (oh no, I don't think she's old --if I did, I'd have to admit that I am too, being just a year younger than she, and I honestly don't). Then again, I'm sure she's grown comfortable with that feature of her otherwise-nearly-flawless face over time, you know, being a top model as well as an actress and all. Besides, she has plenty of other features to compensate for anything, like growing up as a socialist-feminist activist kid.

And about Diane Kruger I am in almost complete agreement with this article in Slate that more-or-less made me want to write this post in the first place. Her eyes are truly dazzling, especially when she is about to cry (which is almost always the case in the movie). I'd have to say, though, that her nose is not entirely perfect. And although completely new and unconventional (to the Hollywood eye), she's far from being "perfect", or anything that could launch a thousand ships, for that matter. But the movie makes it brilliantly clear that that is not really the reason why we had Agamemnon knocking on the doors of Troy.

After re-reading this last paragraph, I thought perhaps that you folks might be smiling, and probably thinking that I'm being too picky. Well that's because she is as perfect as I've told you she is.

My main complaint about the movie is on the dialogues; they, and the way they were acted, seemed more superficial than one would expect from a production of this magnitude.

But go watch. And tell me if you also thought it reminded you of the Mediterranean scenes of Derek Jarman's Sebastiane.

One final thing: I think it was rather poor casting to have two major characters from Braveheart appear in this movie too.

Sunday, May 09, 2004
Book to Listen To
I have the hardcover version of Richard Clarke's fabulous Against All Enemies, but for anyone who might be interested in a dazzling audio experience, I strongly recommend buying the book on CD. I did, soon after finding out that it was read by the author himself. My local B & N didn't have it and I needed to buy it right away, and found it at Politics & Prose, a DC bookstore that's not unfamiliar amongst inhabitants of the area from our political persuasion. Ever since (that would be since yesterday afternoon) I've been extending my drives for no other reason than to listen to it uninterrupted and staying in my car a few seconds more than I need to just to hear another sentence or two. I was amazed at his testimony before the commission as many others were and had found Frank Rich's comments in the New York Times on April 4 right on:

With his sonorous voice, secret-agent aura and vaguely intimidating body language, he's as commanding in his weird way as Orson Welles in full noir.

(Interestingly, part of this sentence seems to be among parts of Rich's column that were taken out of the International Herald Tribune's summary-version in their archives online, but I am keeping the link anyway to give you a general idea about the piece. I've been meaning to mention the column ever since I read it in the print edition... Now I wish I'd done that on time.)

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