The New York Times is scratching its head this morning over the spectacular 70-million dollar haul that the computer-enhanced musclefest 300 took in this weekend. Surreally beautiful but widely panned, 300 has surpassed all expectations, and no one knows why. Could it be the hunks upon hunks of manflesh on display?
All we know is this is definitely a movie we're getting in hi-def DVD: It has high jerkoffability.
We think it would be suitable as the midnight show in those dirty movie theaters that suddenly turn gay at the witching hour, when the boy features replace the girl features, and people get downright frisky in their seats ... and along the walls ...and behind the screen.
Based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name and married to Miller's muscular graphic style, thanks to the breathtaking CGI work (similar to the overwhelming artistry seen in Sin City, Miller's first comic to hit the big screen), 300 tells of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, a battle still revered and taught at West Point, when 300 Spartans fought to the death against 4000 Persians -- and won (in the long run* -- see comments).
The Spartans, you PBS watchers will recall, promoted homosexuality among fighting men, believing it strengthened unit cohesion -- the direct opposite of our own enlightened military, which draws its Stay in the Closet and Shut Up Policy from -- well, no not from history, and no, not from the current evidence of fellow nations that welcome openly gay servicepeople, but from religion-based malarkey about human nature. We are, as we are so often told, a Christian nation.
Persia, PBS-watchers will further point out, is present-day Iran, a name which whatever other bells it rings plainly lacks all the exotic purr of the original. Clearly this movie, like so many other popcorn epics, is channeling Delphic waftings from the current Zeitgeist in the Sky.
The only question, then, is which character is suppose to be George Bush. Happily, Salon had taken up the issue in its daily gossip blog The Fix:
300 has a political angle? The film 300 ... has taken on political overtones, but, the New York Times reports, no one is sure exactly what those overtones are supposed to mean.
Are audiences meant to see George Bush in Leonidas, the Spartan king leading a small force to "defend freedom at any cost"?
Or is Bush Xerxes, "the Persian emperor who led his force against Greek's city states in 480 B.C., unleashing an army on a small country guarded by fanatical guerrilla fighters so he could finish a job his father had left undone."
While the film's director, Zack Snyder, says he intended neither reading, online fans and some journalists have started a discussion about the film's point of view -- during a recent screening at the Berlinale film festival, some audience members stormed out, and Snyder was grilled at the movie's press conference on the topic.
You'll have to decide which of the lucky hunks -- excuse us, serious actors -- is really playing our own Mr. Wonderful. But can we make one tiny confession? We haven't even seen this movie yet.
Right, we going this out of our minds simply over the trailers!
For reasons already mentioned this is not the type of movie we want to see in a theater with a mixed audience, on date night, in an atmosphere of dumbbells missing the point. While we can forgive a straight boy many a sin (so big is our heart) missing the point is not one of them -- unless, of course we can exploit the misunderstanding in a way that leads, after all, only to the young man's pleasure.
So no, we don't want to share so classic a homo-hot experience as a souped-up Gladiator movie with an audience that can pick up nothing beyond the lurid moron-magnet that is comic-book gore (which, frankly, we're big suckers for too -- speaking of pots and kettles!)
Meanwhile, do we need any other reason, other than the two eyes in our head, and the two eyes in yours, to run yet another wall-to wall picture from the film?