Monday, August 16, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love, KILL!

This weekend I witnessed baffling explorations into different aspects of the human psyche in cinema… and I’m not even talking about Inception again.

In ancient Greek mythology, a young man named Tiresias found two snakes getting it on, prodded them with a stick, and immediately transformed somehow into a woman

I am not making this up.

After ten years living as a woman (and even having kids), he nudges the banging snakes again and turns back into a man. Zeus then asks Tiresias which gender has more fun during sex.

Again, not making this up. Seriously!

Tiresias answers that women have it better, so Hera (Zeus’ wife) gets angry and blinds him. As a consolation, Zeus gives the sorry guy prophetic foresight.

I went through a similarly cathartic experience this weekend. First, I was invited—by a woman—to see the film The Expendables, which features every good action hero since 1975 sans Carl Weathers, who is philosophically obligated to never be in action films again after playing an aged golfer in Happy Gilmore.

Come to think of it, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme need to fire their agents. Or learn how to act a few decades into their careers.

Then, as a “double feature”, I viewed the new feminist journey Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts, a non-stoned James Franco, and the guy who kills people with a cattle bolt pistol in No Country For Old Men.

The Reviews:

The Expendables may qualify as a psychological bait-and-switch. Going into this movie, my inner monologue was screaming with excitement “Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, AND Bruce Willis can’t all have signed on for a bad movie!" I tried to ignore the thought that Stallone sometimes misses the “good idea” target. Ok, let’s face it, Rocky V was like aiming a missile at Iran and hitting Paraguay.

As the movie began, I slowly realized that I had been duped by my love of timeless classic flicks like Die Hard (Bruce Willis), Sin City (Mickey Rourke), and Spy Kids 3: Game Over (...Sylvester Stallone…) into seeing a bizarre smorgasbord of awkward dialogue, 2-dimensional characters, “fourth-wall” breaking jokes about Schwarzenegger wishing he was President, and Rocky Balboa’s probable need for a wheelchair ramp up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the next time around.

The film never allows itself to amount to much more than 80’s action-movie nostalgia porn. All that being said, death came to the bad guys in all manner of explosion, incineration, shooting, stabbing, and neck-breaking, which is what the audience is there to see. The gladiators onscreen did not fail to deliver what they were ultimately there to do: kill Eric Roberts.

Pro: Lines of dialogue that allow “bullets” to make targets explode.

Con: The film is like an entire Chinese buffet that’s been put into a blender and served as a milkshake: the ingredients are delicious but the combination isn’t.

Speaking of Eric Roberts, his sister was the star of the other film, Eat, Pray, Love.

Eat, Pray, Love is a journey through a discontent female writers’ decision to go on an existential journey after her divorce by travelling to Italy, India, and Indonesia (she was on an “I” streak in more ways than one).

Of course, having just wrapped up The Expendables, my most immediate thought was exactly this: “Good lord. What’s the point of a film with no explosions?” Unfortunately, I am not a soulless, and true to form I eventually got sucked into the emotional journey the protagonist was experiencing, and even salvaged a vague taste of whatever the spiritual thoughts presumably are in the book. Italian food looks delicious, toothless old men from Bali are cute, and movie audiences have malleable emotions. There were tears, sighs, and even a few kids who quickly bolted out as soon as they realized that it wasn’t Scott Pilgrim Versus the World in this theater.

Pro: Javier Bardem has a better haircut

Con: James Franco doesn’t fight Spiderman

Final Thoughts
In the end, it’s hard to say which one of these two films was better. Ultimately I think that the hardcore action-movie aficionados are harder to please than the romantic comedy filmgoers. So Eat, Pray, Love probably has it a little easier than The Expendables to please its target audience.

Crap. Now I’m blind.

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