Thursday, March 23, 2006

V for ... very undecided (new and improved version)

Saw V for Vendetta tonight.

First of all I just have to say. And this won't make any sense to you until and unless you see the movie. But. HOW the hell did they get the cameras into my bedroom without me noticing? I mean, literally. Those stacks of books. I honestly expected to see me lying there.


I am very fond of Natalie Portman. I loved her in CloserSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database . I thought she was great in this. But my God, woman. Get yourself another accent coach. SOOOOOooo distracting. (This pretty entirely negative review is good for a chuckle: "Natalie Portman brings sensitivity and emotion to her beleaguered heroine but she loses a valiant battle with her character's wavering English accent. " )

I was really, really enjoying this movie up until the part which I won't spoil for you but it's where you and Evey discover something really shocking and though I'm sure it's being faithful to the graphic novel (which I haven't read), I just kind of found it contrived and annoying. I mean, the movie IS a comic-book movie (and from then on only becomes even more so), so you have to suspend a lot of disbelief, and I'm all up with that, but up until then I was taking it pretty seriously even for a comic-book movie. That part just didn't work for me at all. I wouldn't have reacted the way Evey did, and frankly it spoiled a lot of the drama of what had led up to it (though it explained why things weren't going a lot worse for the character in question).

Plus, I'm with Ebert on this one bit. And I'm not giving anything away since it's all over the trailers. But somehow blowing up big buildings just doesn't have quite the feel it used to. Plus, come on. The 1812 overture? How jejune is that? (I told you: I'm a lot like Frasier Crane! I loved it when he used that word. So irritating. Heh.)


There are some movies that get better the more you think about them. There are others that you enjoy while you're watching it but which kind of don't bear thinking about afterwards. This movie isn't quite in the second camp but I'm afraid it's not really in the first camp either. (SithSee this movie's record at the Internet Movie Database , for instance, was definitely in the second camp; the more I thought about it the more pissed off I got.) I'll have to sleep on it.

Next Day:
Ok, I've slept on it. I'm liking it better. Yes, it has the flaws I already mentioned, and some I haven't: there are of course many awfully convenient events towards the end (ways in which V manages to manipulate affairs just a little too well) that seem contrived even for the comic-book genre; and since Evey was given a decision at the end to make one might have hoped she would have made a more original one ... But I don't agree with the review I linked to above. They clearly didn't get into the spirit of the thing.) And of course, I particularly enjoyed the updated political references (the original graphic novel was in part an indictment of Thatcher, but the movie is an explicit indictment of Blair and Bush). I don't know what Ebert and Roeper were thinking when they sounded all confused about whether this refers to current political events or to Hitler. The film could hardly have been more UNsubtle in its reference to current events. And, given my politics, that is certainly one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed the film (love that "Coalition of the Willing" flag!).

Filmrot has a placeholder here for discussion with a link to that bad review and to this one which really captures what I like and don't like about the movie. I agree with it almost entirely. I don't know why the Filmrot guy describes this latter review as a "positive" one.

One last thing. It has been reported all over the place that the author of the original graphic novel, Alan Moore, demanded to have his name taken off the credits for the film. The New York Times has a great article on this in which, frankly, Alan Moore by his own words comes across as a pompous blow-hard. Talk about temperamental artists: this guy is a caricature straight out of a bad Murder She Wrote (he'd be the one that would buy it). An excerpt:

Last year, when Mr. Moore received a phone call from Larry Wachowski — who, with his brother, Andy, had written and directed the "Matrix" movies — to discuss the "V for Vendetta" film that the Wachowskis were writing and producing for Warner Brothers, Mr. Moore felt he had made it clear that he did not want to be involved in the project.

"I explained to him that I'd had some bad experiences in Hollywood," Mr. Moore said. "I didn't want any input in it, didn't want to see it and didn't want to meet him to have coffee and talk about ideas for the film." [italics applied to petulant quote my own; you will have to imagine the foot-stomping on your own]

But at a press conference on March 4, 2005, to announce the start of production on the "V for Vendetta" film, the producer Joel Silver said Mr. Moore was "very excited about what Larry had to say and Larry sent the script, so we hope to see him sometime before we're in the U.K."

This, Mr. Moore said, "was a flat lie."

"Given that I'd already published statements saying I wasn't interested in the film, it actually made me look duplicitous," he said.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Silver said he had misconstrued a meeting he had with Mr. Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 20 years ago, when Mr. Silver first acquired the film rights to "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta." (Mr. Silver no longer owns the rights to "Watchmen," though Warner Brothers is still planning an adaptation.) "I had a nice little lunch with them," he said, "and Alan was odd, [heh] but he was enthusiastic and encouraging us to do this. I had foolishly thought that he would continue feeling that way today, not realizing that he wouldn't."

Mr. Silver said he called Mr. Moore to apologize for his statement at the press conference, but that Mr. Moore was unmoved. "He said to me, 'I'm going to hang up on you if you don't stop talking to me,' [God, what a butthead!]" Mr. Silver recalled. "It was like a conversation with a tape recording."

In the article, Moore clearly can't be bothered to give a single reason why he didn't like the movie. "I've read the screenplay," Mr. Moore said. "It's rubbish." Okayyy, then. I'm all for integrity and all, but when his fiancé says "He's frightening to people because he doesn't seem to take the carrot, and he's fighting to maintain an integrity that they don't understand." it just makes me think of the kind of naïve, Holden Caulfield integrity that you grow out of after adolescence ... I particularly enjoy this quote from the illustrator (whose name does appear, very prominently, in the credits):
Mr. Lloyd, the illustrator of "V for Vendetta," also found it difficult to sympathize with Mr. Moore's protests. When he and Mr. Moore sold their film rights to the graphic novel, Mr. Lloyd said: "We didn't do it innocently. Neither myself nor Alan thought we were signing it over to a board of trustees who would look after it like it was the Dead Sea Scrolls."


Still. That bedroom. Glad to know I'm as crazy as some nutcase who lives in a basement.

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