March 16, 2007

The Smack is Back!

A few students over in Clemans Hall read a UW Oshkosh Advance Titan from I think 1997 when I used to write a column called Movie Smack. So I decided, it's been a while. Back by popular demand...sort some Movie Smack (warning the following passages are typically an entertaining, cynical view of movies, be prepared for someone who was once asked "why are you so angry?").

Movie Smack Reviews '300'

Years ago Frank Miller, having successfully written/drawn 'The Dark Knight Returns' and regularly working on 'Sin City' (both graphic novels) he woke up one day and said "I really wonder what would happen if I created my version of a Spartan/Persian war, and made it as graphic and fictional as possible...let me see if I have enough red ink." Sure enough, Miller and frequent collaborator Lynn Varley decided to make a gory, freakish version of history...and it was mostly received from the comic book community.

Not to preclude myself from the comic book community but seriously...I don't want to 'read' about history in a comic book. 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'...creative...literary...kinda boring. And I like Alan Moore's work.

You put it in a movie, totally jack up the details, make it all cinematic, and you've got my eight bucks easy. Additionally, you take a comic book about history and jack it up, make it all cinematic and you got me and another couple million folks making it the current highest grossing box office smash.

'300' is based upon the comic based upon the history. It's about the Spartans, very athletic strong warrior types, all macho, who are about to be taken over by the Persians, large in numbers, carry a lot of weapons and weird science fair type creatures. Well the Spartans, lead by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) decide to circumvent the red tape of their government, take only 300 soldiers out for a casual stroll to defend their country.

Almost two hours full of creatively shot scenes, with fantastic archaic lighting, extremely manly acting, and a lot of computer generated blood, later, you learn not too much about history, but a lot about how to make an arty looking violent block buster.

Butler (who?) has gracefully (like a truck driver plowing through a snowbank) changed the previous parenthetical to (oh that guy who ate an apple while walking on a pile of dead bodies), has channeled Russel Crowe's gladiator and drunken bar fighting, band playing anger into his role, making him a lovable general. Kinda like a teddy bear that decapitates people. He's joined by a cast of other no names who will now get jobs thanks to the intensity of the violence of this movie. (Did anyone else notice that the guy who played Theron (Dominic West) looks a lot like a hungover Harry Hamlin?).

There's not heartwarming ending. There's no long lasting tale. Anyone who's been looking into the 'deeper meaning' of how it's applicable to current events has been watching too much C-Span. It's a violent, well shot, artistic action filled, humorous movie about men wearing next to nothing killing other men wearing next to nothing. So enjoy, bring a rain coat for the extra blood which will fall on your face, and have pleasant dreams of a large man with crab hands.


March 04, 2007


Warning: The posting comes right after OPE weekend. There may be some slight craziness associated with it. ENJOY!

For those following at home I'm in a poetry class this semester. It has taught me a lot about my writing and probably one of the cooler things I've realized about poetry is that it's like a painting (save for epic poetry which is more like the Sistine Chapel). The goal, to me, of poetry is to utilize language in such a way that paints a single image, a small series of images. It may tell a story, it may hint at a larger story for you to fill in. The manipulation of language (just like in painting the manipulation of colors) aids in illustrating the image(s).

Our most resent assignment in poetry is to take one type of subject and one type of structure and create a poem. Kinda like a menu. One of the types is a perspective piece, placing yourself in the position of someone else. Aka Persona poem. The 'rules' is that it most be a person. But, rules are meant to be broken. Add a little sleepy-afternoon-viewing of Crocodile Dundee 2, and you've got:

CD2 Persona Personification Poetics


The New York Harbor reeks
of garbage, sewage, and the old adage:
one man's trash is another man's treasure.


A sudden rush of imploded H20
white buggles bouncing together
like Mr. Wizard's ping pong balls
sparks my unblinking eye.


Another sonic vibration gliding
against my gills, cause my fins
furious flapping, pushing me closer
to a quickly evaporating nexus
of gun powder and redwrapping.


Almost there, my cartilage
crackles with excitement,
my body swims in warm
anticipation toward a mysterious
mire of light, quick to show
quicker to disappear...
what's this red stick?


That poem was written in the personification of a fish getting blown up by Mick Dundee at the beginning of the film. Well more next week, now it's time to go to bed.