18 March 2006

Not Music

Saw V for Vendetta last night. Trailer notes first.

A Scanner Darkly-- Was styled so drastically (filmed in live-action, and somehow transmogrified into flat, semi-impressionistic animation--looked kind of like a schizophrenic's art, with all those emanating lines and stuff) that it's hard to think about the content and its package at the same time. Content is yet another Philip K. Dick story, package may or may not be annoying and superfluous.

Silent Hill--By the look of it, just a there's-something-evil-out-there horror movie.

X3--Can't tell how Angel does himself, but it looked good. And there's Magneto! That'll go a long way.

Poseidon--A remake of a 70's movie about a cruise ship flipped by a great big wave. Looks execrable, not to mention unneccessary; dialogue includes Deep Blue Sea-like exclamations of "Ships weren't meant to float--upside down!" Dunn dunn dunn! And what was meant to be a touching, urgent line--"I need you to tell you that you love me" in extremis--got a big laugh, and a good three minutes of mocking imitation from the guy behind me.

And one other that I've forgotten, and suspect I actually liked.

V itself. Brilliantly done, I thought, with a few weak spots and one major weakness (one of which I bet is what--other than general cantankerousness--caused Moore to get his name taken off it).

First weakness: That scene where V comes out of the fire and roars. Unnecessary and silly--kinda like newly Darth'd Vader's howl in the last Star Wars. Intercutting it with Evey in the rain just pointed out how unsubtly both were done.

Second weakness: That fight with Creedy's men. Too much fake-looking blood flying, and too many demonstrations of what a cut throat looks like and does to the person it belongs to.

Third and most important minor weakness: The flood of Fawkes-masked people to Parliament, and Evey's confrontation with Finch at V's exploding-train pyre. Sentimental, not credible, and beside the point. The inclusion of characters already killed in the Fawkes-mask-montage was a particularly mawkish touch.

Major weakness: The whole anarchy thing was pretty much gone; maybe in the interests of making V a sympathetic character? Like they toned down (or didn't show, at the least) Evey's torture. It meant that in the book V was a difficult character to sympathize with, and I guess you can't have that in a movie.

Besides the unfortunate ending, a couple of weak scenes, and the overall weakifying, it was a brilliantly-done movie. Hugo Weaving gets mad props for voicing V so credibly and expressively that the unchanging mask became just what it was supposed to be--a cipher, a stand-in for a complex person. Natalie Portman was a good choice for Evey--the right combination of vulnerable and tenacious, uninitiated into the world she happens upon; Finch also was well-cast, with a bloodhound's look and a bewildered patriot's instincts.

One thing I do wonder, though: with what thought was the art in the Shadow Gallery chosen? Van Eyck's The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini with Giovanna featured prominently behind V in at least one shot, and granted it was radical at the time, but it could hardly look more bourgeouis and unthreatening now. Why that painting?

I'm not sure if this was imaginary or accidental or what, but it seemed to me that Party or Government members had very dilated pupils, while people outside the Government had very constricted pupils; maybe interesting to think of in terms of arousal, but maybe not.

Oh, another thing that didn't please me: the digs about "America's war" and that flag in Dietrich's secret bit with the words "Coalition of the Willing" around the swastika. V's England is supposed to be a little fantastical, not directly connected to the present, even though it was written as a protest.


angryrobot said...

I just saw V last night. I defintely enjoyed it, but like you I did have a few problems.

- My biggest problem was having Creedy's men kill V, rather than V letting Finch shoot him. I can see they wanted a more spectacular fight at the end, but couldn't hey have had the fight, and then he runs into Finch and gets shot? Finch and V are linked together and it's just much more dramatically appropriate to end it they way the novel does.

- The masked crowd at the end was cinematic, I guess, but it seems overly tidy to imply that the whole population has suddenly adopted the idea of V. I mean really, it has to end with Evey becoming V -- that's the obvious trajectory of the narrative. The struggle continues, but the idea lives on. Maybe they were afraid audiences just wouldn't buy Portman as a superhuman terrorist. Or maybe they were worried it would look like a corny nod to a sequel.

- Even though I understand why they may have cut out the plot with the computer, I still missed it. In the novel it seems to say something about how the leaders have forsaken humanity in favor of technology.

- I hadn't thought about it until reading your post, but removing the stuff about anarchy really does weaken V's character. In fact, in the movie Finch mentions that V wants chaos, which is a gross misrepresentation of what he ultimately wants, which is true anarchy and not chaos at all.

Hmm..it sounds like I hated the movie, but I really didn't. At least it was a lot smarter than most comic book films.

Karin Kathode said...

There's an excellent interview with Alan Moore over at the Beat (my favorite comics blog going) that covers the very subject of the anarchy/fascism dichotomy of the original and the simplified right/left politics of the movie in detail -- and straight from the horse's mouth, no less.

Part One
Part Two

Good stuff, as always with Moore.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, the anarchy thing seems a little dated. I suppose it had more cultural resonance in the early 80s. Now? Not so much.

Same with the LSD. In 2006, it seems kinda hokey for Finch to need an acid trip in order to have an epiphany.

Anonymous said...

"The masked crowd at the end was cinematic, I guess, but it seems overly tidy to imply that the whole population has suddenly adopted the idea of V. "

At least they made a point of showing V sending the thousands of costumes out to everyone and their mother, and there was his point in the video about everyone meeting in front of Parliament. And there was an allusion to a build-up of resistance and subversion (the graffiti, etc), culminating in the beatdown of the finger by the neighborhood.

It would have been truly, truly awful if not for those things, if the crowd had materialized identically dressed for no reason whatsoever.

jerry yeti said...

Good points. They showed the "V coming from fire" image far too often. 'Silly' is right.

And the march on Parliament was too consistent. Not everyone would be in a mask, and those in the masks who be taking them off from time to time.

Finally- I understand the Movie must make Parliament blow up as if the entire building is rigged, to make it look cool, but obviosuly it would have blown up in a completely different manner from a train below.

CrayolaThief said...

Finally just saw this at the Somerville Theatre (I'm very behind in my cinema). Great film for the most part, but I had some minor quibbles too.

1. The conspicuous product placement of Dell monitors in Finch's office was rather distracting.

2. Evey's hair apparently stops growing once it's been cut. When she returns to V's chamber, presumably many months later, there could have at least been a snatch of dialogue about her adopting her new hairstyle.

Moore's major complaint seems to be that it was converted from a Fascism-Anarchism fable into a contemporary American neo-conservative versus liberal boxing match. Yeah, that's true, but I don't see why that's necessarily grounds for dismissal. The filmmakers hijacked it, sure, but the question is did they hijack it well?

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