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The W - Movies & TV - Review of 300 by someone else (Page 2)
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Hogan's My Dad
Andouille








Since: 8.6.02
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#21 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.30
If Justin's a troll, I am GOBLIN.

Wow. Wowwowwow.

This movie is for the thinking impaired.

I will bow out of any extended debate on how it was shot, as I know absolutely nothing about cinematography or whateveryacallit. I didn't think it looked that different than any other movie I've seen, to be honest, though it did definitely remind me of Sin City. Only, with worse acting. And that's saying something, considering Jessica Alba was in Sin City.

The historical inaccuracies are rampant in this film. Now, one might say as it's been said here, that this is a non-issue because the producers weren't trying to make a historical film. I strongly disagree. When you produce work that is supposed to be about something which actually happened, to me: it's a historical film. Period. No matter what you want to call it, no matter what copout you resort to, no matter how sweeping the pre-credit disclaimer might be.

And boy did this vile slime need a disclaimer.

If the film wants you to think about the themes alone, why does it go out of its way to lie about history? For example, Leonidas refers to the Athenians as ďboy-loversĒ. At least, I think itís him. One of the Spartans does, anyway. This is a deliberate warping of history. Pederasty was indeed practised in Sparta, which, by the way, was not an idyllic hideaway like the setting of a tropical porno, but a rather detestable place to live and one that none in the region was especially envious of. Pederasty is a distinctly Greek concept. All Spartans practised it.

Persians, are, of course, monsters. This is to be expected. It really is hard to make twenty-five years in American film of having every person of Middle Eastern descent play a terrorist or a cab driver look like a fair portrayal, but it is compared to how the Persians are shown here. Persians, you see, are animals. Some of them are even Orcs, for some reason. One of them is them is a Frankenstein-esque thing with no-sells like the Great Khali, even though it's played by Kurrgan. Like, a sword through the bicep type of no-sell.

These Persians are slaves, which, of course, makes them bad. The Spartans had slaves too, called Helots. You donít see them in the movie, as this would distract you from the moral relativity of the story here, but they did have them. In fact, this is why they were such good warriors. More time on your hands when donít have to do anything to survive, after all. It was these unarmed slaves (who were indigenous Greeks by the way, so letís not say historical Greek bloodlust was ever racist) and not a CGI-enhanced superwolf that a Spartan boy would have to kill as part of his regimen. A king, however, would not have been expected to do so, and Leonidas almost certainly never had to.

But getting back to Persians, theyíre animals, yeah. A couple of them are black and these black ones are given extra special, extra slow-motion deaths, as if we should enjoy these deaths more than the other thousand murders, for some reason. Persians canít fight for shit, either. When you stab a Persian, his blood splatters but dries almost immediately, because brown people have no souls, and your soul is where your blood is located. Oh, and Persians worship an eight-foot-tall bejewelled homosexual. A giant of a homosexual! Which, I guess, is another thing that makes them worthy of destruction. Though, to be fair, this is probably necessary because the film has to divert attention away from its own voracious, stylized homoeroticism, which is typified by the absence of breast plates the Spartans wore in order to perpetually shoehorn-in finely chiselled man-abs and bulging Spartan crotches, which would normally be obscured by tunics. The movie also does a slight of hand on the closet-Queen nature of its imagery by showing a lot of topless women. I didnít mind the topless women, Iíll admit, but their presence in a film this wrought with thinly-veiled wang-lust is really just like that time Elton John got married to a woman. Donít really fool nobody, yíknow?

Now all of this is repulsive enough, but might be dismissed if this thing had a moral compass. Hell, Gladiator eventually abhorred violence, which is why that film ages quite well. This film bathes in it, sees it as the only solution to anything, and seems to be a haunting allegory for whatís going on in Iraq from a pro-war point of view, at least. Only an American film could, in full self-awareness, promote something that repulsive without meaning to be satirical.

Eugenics is cool, too, by the way. The film glosses over how imperfect Spartan babies were often destroyed and demonized one such survivor, setting him up as the turncoat who betrays their position because he is too deformed to fight. Ephialtes is his name, and he too is, inexplicably, an Orc. The actual man was perfectly normal in every physical way. However, a cleft lip or lazy eye would have been enough for the Spartans to toss junior off a cliff. In any case, at the most this practise of Eugenics, which was adopted by such cuddly characters as Adolph Hitler in later history, is little more than a Spartan quirk in 300.

At the end of the day, however, its most egregious violation of truth is probably its whole premise. There simply werenít 300. There were 7000. They were still grossly outnumbered, and they still held for two days, but I guess that doesnít sound impossible enough. Troops of Athenians were doing the same thing simultaneously, by the way, but we canít reference that when weíve made them our convenient paedophiles, now can we?

See it if you must. But for the love of God, if youíre going to let something this historically inaccurate inspire you, let me know how Spider-Man 3 strikes you in couple months.



Was It Something I Said?
Captaincuba
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Since: 25.10.05

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#22 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.42
Wow...I guess you can't simply sit back and enjoy a good popcorn flick huh? Nah, you felt the need to bore us with your dissection of a movie based on a comic book. I get it, you like to be too cool for the room by being anti-whatever everyone else likes.

I've lurked this site for years and this may be the first time I've actually read something that actually sounded condescending and insulting.

For what it's worth, the movie is entertaining, is going to make a TON of money, and will be the reason Watchmen gets made.

For that last reason alone it's worth 10 bucks.

Whatever.

Leroy
Andouille








Since: 7.2.02
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#23 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.68
I think this review is gave me the greatest excuse to not see this movie - at least, not until we can Netflix it.

'300' mixed messages


    Someday, maybe, the "entertainment defense" will no longer hold water. But for now, we're slogging through the era of the completely implausible denial. Like many films that seem to riff on everything without stooping to make a point (which would be just so hopelessly earnest and dorky), "300" proudly claims to be about nothing. Or rather, like another type of purchased pleasure, it claims to be about anything you want it to be. As long as a movie is dumb and violent enough, it can quote whatever cultural allusion is handy, then deny that it did with impunity.


Given some of the opinions Frank Miller has expressed lately, it is a fairly tough sell to claim this movie is not a comment on current events. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's a GOOD movie. Frankly, I will never buy the "it's just entertainment" line of reasoning when it comes to expecting more out of a film.

Anyway, the longer this movie is out and the more I read about it, the less I want to see it. Still, in the Netflix queue it will go...






"Oh my God! They have a shit-load of Cockapoo stuff!"
-Jennifer's greatest quote... ever.
Captaincuba
Italian








Since: 25.10.05

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#24 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.24
Miller has gone on record that he was inspired by the movie The 300 Spartans from the 60's. The graphic novel was published in 1998...

So because it was released this year, it HAS to have some political undertones right?

That's one hell of a stretch.

CC
Hogan's My Dad
Andouille








Since: 8.6.02
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#25 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.30
    Originally posted by Captaincuba
    Wow...I guess you can't simply sit back and enjoy a good popcorn flick huh? Nah, you felt the need to bore us with your dissection of a movie based on a comic book. I get it, you like to be too cool for the room by being anti-whatever everyone else likes.

    I've lurked this site for years and this may be the first time I've actually read something that actually sounded condescending and insulting.

    For what it's worth, the movie is entertaining, is going to make a TON of money, and will be the reason Watchmen gets made.

    For that last reason alone it's worth 10 bucks.

    Whatever.




POPCORN MOVIES I'VE LIKED:

SUPERMAN RETURNS
BATMAN BEGINS
X-MEN, X-2: X-MEN UNITED, and yes, even X-3
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (hey, that was racist too!), and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE
STAR WARS EPISODES III-VI
WEDDING CRASHERS
THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN
CRANK
OLDBOY
SPIDER-MAN I & 2
ROCKY BALBOA
BACK TO THE FUTURE I-II
ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE
ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS
OLD SCHOOL
THE BLUES BROTHERS
THE MUPPET MOVIE
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE MOVIE (1990)
DEBBIE DOES DALLAS
SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS
THE MALTESE FALCON
THE WIZARD OF OZ

I used to like Birth of a Nation, but re-watched and found it a little off.



Was It Something I Said?
Eddie Famous
Andouille








Since: 11.12.01
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#26 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.91

I liked it. It wasn't as good as the review I pasted, but it was worth spending the money to see it in the movie. I didn't go in hoping to see Shakespeare, in fact I wouldn't have paid to see Shakespeare, I wanted to see mind-mumbing violence shot in a really cool way that I knew was completely fake.

Like pro wrestling. Sometimes.





As of 2/28/05: 101 pounds since December 7, 2004
OFFICIAL THREE-MONTH COUNT: 112 pounds on March 9, 2005
OFFICIAL SIX-MONTH COUNT: 142 pounds on June 8, 2005
OFFICIAL ONE YEAR COUNT: 187 pounds on December 7, 2005
As of 2/27/06: 202 pounds "I've lost a heavyweight"
As of 7/31/06: 224 pounds
oldschoolhero
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#27 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
Miller is, essentially, a fascist, and 300 reflects that. The good-looking, masculine, stoic warriors of Sparta turning away the multicultural and disturbingly gender-challenged Persian hordes. The movie's dripping with homophobia. And who is it that betrays the Spartans? The ugly guy, thus proving that the Spartans had it right when they opted to kill all weak or deformed babies. Praise be!

And of course it has cultural significance. Just because the original graphic novel was released ten years ago doesn't mean the story can't be seen as a reflection of today's problems.

But hey, it's entertaining for what it is: a silly, overblown, two-dimensional action epic. Butler's pretty great, and the FX work is gorgeous. But it doesn't stop discussion of the thematic subtext being relevant.



To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires, and lights, in a box.-Edward R. Murrow
spf
Scrapple








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#28 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
So if I go see 300 on the IMAX, and then make a $15 donation to MoveOn.org will I have balanced karma, or will I need to use some sort of sliding scale of reaffirmation of support of liberal causes to get my left-wing badge back for liking the movie? Please let me know lest my rightward slide continue and I begin quoting Dick Cheney without even knowing it.



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CRZ
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#29 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
<rolls eyes>



I AM CRZ
spf
Scrapple








Since: 2.1.02
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#30 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
Okay, I plead guilty, that was unnecessary. Let me try to say something without the annoyed snit.

I think what gets me about this is that the only difference between this and every other action movie is the fringe details, and so the implication that this particular movie is somehow different than most seems a bit disingenuous to me.

In pretty much any action/violent movie you have one of a couple of things happening:

-Hero fighting to gain power for himself or others aligned with him (who then keep said power, sure to be more "just" in their rule yet still fighting to control others.). For example: Lord of the Rings

-Hero fighting to defend current power structure. Said hero may battle against certain elements of the power structure he is defending, but those people are clearly identified as abnormal and not true to the power structure's ideals. For example: Rambo.

-Hero is involved in criminal world, fighting against other criminals and/or against authority. This is an insular world usually that doesn't explore the impact of its hero's actions on the greater society. For example: Goodfellas.

-Hero is fighting against corrupt power structure. This is always carefully presented so that the corrupt structure is always a perverted form of current society so as not to implicate ourselves as corrupt. Slight alterations in details could easily turn hero into a terrorist in the eyes of the audience. For example: The Running Man.

I'm sure there are others but this is just a short form thought on it. The point is that, for example, the list of popcorn movies that Hogan's My Dad listed enjoying, nearly all of them have a disturbing subtext. There is vigilantism, racism, imperialism, misogyny, anti-intellectualism all to be found in those films.

It has been said that every single thing we do is political. I guess to some degree I believe that, yet simultaneously choose to ignore that fact. I recognize that yes, the movie takes historical liberties and portrays the non-white antagonists as nearly non-human. The fact that it also shows many Greeks to be themselves severely flawed is of course overlooked in the midst of these diatribes, but so be it.

Where though is the balance at? Should a story which depicts those of non-white skinned lineage be told with an eye towards correcting the imbalances of the past? How much artistic license is acceptable in the creation of art? Is the point of art to teach, to entertain, or do different pieces of art have different intents, and to demand something of the work which is not the intention of the creators an unfair demand to place on the work?

As for the history aspect of it, here is where I think the idea of intention has to be respected. Or perhaps a question is more accurate. If this exact same movie was set on the planet Alderaan, and the brave rebels of Sparta were fighting a desperate battle against the Persian Empire, and the Persians brought all manner of beasts and foes to bear, would the same problems apply?

Also, for having watched the movie closely enough to critique it so in-depth, there are a few quibbles to be made. Perhaps the most important is that discussions of historical accuracy completely ignore the framing device of the movie. The movie is shot using an unreliable narrator, and at no point in the movie is David Wenham's character ever put forward as a fair and unbiased perspective. The movie is told as an exaggerated tale from the perspective of a participant. The imagery is presented as memory and retelling, which automatically degrades the credibility and accuracy of the narrative. Now, I know this is nit-picky to point out, but if one is going to argue about whether 300 or 7,000 troops were there (when the movie settles somewhere in the middle actually since the Thespians are shown fighting under the command of Leonidas), then it is necessary to point out the fact that movie itself cannot be trusted. It is a common fallacy of analysis to accept the celluloid as absolute truth, yet we gladly bend it when it turns out there is a twist ending (Usual Suspects?), but in other cases despite the movie giving us reason to doubt the full veracity of the narrative, we demand that the story be taken as gospel.



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oldschoolhero
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#31 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
No other action film in recent memory has made such a triumphant art of trumpeting Spartan-like Aryan superiority. Are there action movies out there with repugnant messages? Sure. But we're not talking about those. Looking aty what's contained in the film, and looking at Miller's broader body of work, there are clear political overtones to it. This is the guy that's writing a comic about Batman travelling to the Middle East and beating up Osama bin Laden, for Christ's sake.

But I'm not even trying to detract from enjoyment of the movie. I enjoyed it, for what it was. I'm comfortable enough in my personal belief system that I don't need to see it validated in every single movie I see. It was more just fodder for discussion.



To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires, and lights, in a box.-Edward R. Murrow
Leroy
Andouille








Since: 7.2.02
From: Huntington, NY

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#32 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.68
    Originally posted by spf
    I think what gets me about this is that the only difference between this and every other action movie is the fringe details, and so the implication that this particular movie is somehow different than most seems a bit disingenuous to me.


The fringe details set the entire context of the movie. Yes, it's a big, dumb action movie, but to suggest that the entire setting of the film is somehow irrelevant or fringe doesn't make much sense to me.

    Originally posted by spf
    Where though is the balance at? Should a story which depicts those of non-white skinned lineage be told with an eye towards correcting the imbalances of the past? How much artistic license is acceptable in the creation of art? Is the point of art to teach, to entertain, or do different pieces of art have different intents, and to demand something of the work which is not the intention of the creators an unfair demand to place on the work?


I absolutely refuse to accept the notion that a film is good because "most people like it" - as though movies are made with no broader context.

Miller had a whole history of the film to call from with his portrayal of the Middle Eastern world. You can start with Valentino's The Sheik (1921) (where the European born Sheik rescues the damsel from the true Arab menace) and work your way up to True Lies (another big dumb action movie with no subtext at all, right?). Miller sites The 300 Spartans as his inspiration, which again runs into the same problems this film apparently does - the Spartans are good, the Persians bad, historical context need not apply.

Did Miller intend to portray Persians in a negative light? I think it's possible that he just wanted to make a remake of another film, taking the problems of that original film along with him. But his recent comments suggest that he knew perfectly well what he was doing, and that these portrayals are not some accident. And he would have to explain why his depictions fell perfectly in line with other historical portrayals as well.

For me, personally, I don't except the premise that a film, or music, or any piece of art exists solely to entertain. And I am getting really tired of the only reason a film is good is because "people like it". Why did you like it? Because it was a big dumb action movie, and I got to ignore everything else about the film. That seems like a BAD movie to me. I don't want that when I go to a film.

What's so wrong with being expected to think a little bit as part of your entertainment? Why is using your noodle so detached from enjoying oneself?





"Oh my God! They have a shit-load of Cockapoo stuff!"
-Jennifer's greatest quote... ever.
spf
Scrapple








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#33 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
    Originally posted by Leroy
      Originally posted by spf
      I think what gets me about this is that the only difference between this and every other action movie is the fringe details, and so the implication that this particular movie is somehow different than most seems a bit disingenuous to me.


    The fringe details set the entire context of the movie. Yes, it's a big, dumb action movie, but to suggest that the entire setting of the film is somehow irrelevant or fringe doesn't make much sense to me.

      Originally posted by spf
      Where though is the balance at? Should a story which depicts those of non-white skinned lineage be told with an eye towards correcting the imbalances of the past? How much artistic license is acceptable in the creation of art? Is the point of art to teach, to entertain, or do different pieces of art have different intents, and to demand something of the work which is not the intention of the creators an unfair demand to place on the work?


    I absolutely refuse to accept the notion that a film is good because "most people like it" - as though movies are made with no broader context.

    Miller had a whole history of the film to call from with his portrayal of the Middle Eastern world. You can start with Valentino's The Sheik (1921) (where the European born Sheik rescues the damsel from the true Arab menace) and work your way up to True Lies (another big dumb action movie with no subtext at all, right?). Miller sites The 300 Spartans as his inspiration, which again runs into the same problems this film apparently does - the Spartans are good, the Persians bad, historical context need not apply.

    Did Miller intend to portray Persians in a negative light? I think it's possible that he just wanted to make a remake of another film, taking the problems of that original film along with him. But his recent comments suggest that he knew perfectly well what he was doing, and that these portrayals are not some accident. And he would have to explain why his depictions fell perfectly in line with other historical portrayals as well.

    For me, personally, I don't except the premise that a film, or music, or any piece of art exists solely to entertain. And I am getting really tired of the only reason a film is good is because "people like it". Why did you like it? Because it was a big dumb action movie, and I got to ignore everything else about the film. That seems like a BAD movie to me. I don't want that when I go to a film.

    What's so wrong with being expected to think a little bit as part of your entertainment? Why is using your noodle so detached from enjoying oneself?



The problem is expectation. You were looking for, and are criticizing the film for not being good history. This is a fantasy film, set in a world vaguely inspired by ancient Greece. The Persians of this movie share some names with the Persians who actually fought at Thermopylae. But they are not those Persians. The Spartans share some names with the soldiers who fought there, but those aren't those Spartans. I went into the movie accepting the premise that this was in no way intended by its creator to carry any degree of historical accuracy. This is a fantasy movie that takes place in a past that is tangentially related to our own, and which creates in its structure ample reason to question the veracity of the portrayal. Between the obvious thematic exaggeration and the structural nods to bias and skewed perspective, I feel that taking this movie at face value and criticizing as such is disingenuous and demands overlooking obvious reasons not to do so in the purpose of advancing an agenda or argument against the filmmakers and the creator of the original source comic.

As for the larger issue of thinking in movies, or "What's so wrong with being expected to think a little bit as part of your entertainment? Why is using your noodle so detached from enjoying oneself?" Nothing. However, most movies as they exist these days are poor tools for the exercise of intellect. I suppose as an enthusiastic supporter of this film I am one of the millions to blame for this state of affairs. But in general very few movies demand any sort of rigorous consideration. Even those movies which are often deemed "thoughtful" and theoretically make you consider "bigger things" tend to simply hammer you over the head with their viewpoint. "Crash" comes to mind as such a film.

Also, one could very easily make the point that this movie does allow the viewer to contemplate various issues. What is the nature of sacrifice? What are the things that you as a person in a basically free state hold dear enough that you would willingly go to what you know to be your doom? What is the nature of being free (why is it living in the obviously militaristic Spartan state is considered freedom but submission to Xerxes would be a fate worse than death?) and what level of subjugation to the will of the masses are you willing to accept?

But honestly, I didn't go to the movie intending to contemplate these things. I chose to go to this movie for the same reason I choose other aesthetic pleasures or adrenaline-producing activities. A piece may exist not solely to entertain, but does it necessarily have to exist for philosophical reasons or as a statement of belief? Can a piece of art be created for the purpose of exploring the nature of an art form itself? The original post in this thread suggests this almost exists as a summation of all action movies, the attempt to distill the pure nature of the war film, the action film, the rousing battle movie, all into one stylistically forward-looking piece of art. Now of course you may turn around and scoff at the idea that Zack Snyder was thinking along those sorts of lines or considering his film to be some sort of statement of being the endpoint of action filmmaking. I of course would say that it is no less likely than the idea that he sat there with the impulse to make a movie that impugns Middle Easterners as giant freakish homosexuals and desires to indoctrinate its viewers into supports for an infanticidal militaristic neo-Spartan regime.

I don't think on a roller coaster. I could do so. I could ponder the nature of exurban sprawl, the commodification of amusement, the endless parade of advertising, the waste of materials in a pointless example of American sloth and excess. But instead I yell when the car hits the drop. 300 is the drop. There is nothing wrong with thinking in your entertainment, but just as one would not want a world of nothing but mindless fun, so I don't want a world where I have no right to be mindless for a short while.



I'm going bald to help kids with cancer! (stbaldricks.org)
oldschoolhero
Knackwurst








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#34 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
    Originally posted by spf
    I of course would say that it is no less likely than the idea that he sat there with the impulse to make a movie that impugns Middle Easterners as giant freakish homosexuals and desires to indoctrinate its viewers into supports for an infanticidal militaristic neo-Spartan regime.


Read up on Miller. These motifs aren't accidental in his work. I'm not suggesting Snyder shares his views - in fact, his authorship of the Gorgo subplot, which wasn't part of the entirely-male graphic novel, would suggest that he seeked to temper the more extreme political and social touchstones of Miller's work.



To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires, and lights, in a box.-Edward R. Murrow
spf
Scrapple








Since: 2.1.02
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#35 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
    Originally posted by oldschoolhero
      Originally posted by spf
      I of course would say that it is no less likely than the idea that he sat there with the impulse to make a movie that impugns Middle Easterners as giant freakish homosexuals and desires to indoctrinate its viewers into supports for an infanticidal militaristic neo-Spartan regime.


    Read up on Miller. These motifs aren't accidental in his work. I'm not suggesting Snyder shares his views - in fact, his authorship of the Gorgo subplot, which wasn't part of the entirely-male graphic novel, would suggest that he seeked to temper the more extreme political and social touchstones of Miller's work.

Miller is meaningless in this discussion. I've never read 300 the graphic novel, I have no intention of doing so. The producers and director of this movie made the decisions about what to put on screen. And in that vein I maintain the decision to use the Dilios narrator was a move to anchor the film into the realm of a subjective fantasy rather than an objective retelling of history or a treatise on geopolitics.



I'm going bald to help kids with cancer! (stbaldricks.org)
Leroy
Andouille








Since: 7.2.02
From: Huntington, NY

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#36 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.68
    Originally posted by spf
    I chose to go to this movie for the same reason I choose other aesthetic pleasures or adrenaline-producing activities. A piece may exist not solely to entertain, but does it necessarily have to exist for philosophical reasons or as a statement of belief? Can a piece of art be created for the purpose of exploring the nature of an art form itself? The original post in this thread suggests this almost exists as a summation of all action movies, the attempt to distill the pure nature of the war film, the action film, the rousing battle movie, all into one stylistically forward-looking piece of art. Now of course you may turn around and scoff at the idea that Zack Snyder was thinking along those sorts of lines or considering his film to be some sort of statement of being the endpoint of action filmmaking. I of course would say that it is no less likely than the idea that he sat there with the impulse to make a movie that impugns Middle Easterners as giant freakish homosexuals and desires to indoctrinate its viewers into supports for an infanticidal militaristic neo-Spartan regime.



Art has to both "exploring the nature of an art" and "exist for philosophical reasons". If it doesn't do the former, it's propaganda, and if it doesn't do the latter, it's just a bunch of blinking lights on a screen. The degree to which any film succeeds in either area depends on the film and is largely up to debate - which is why it is an art form. I would also argue that the two are not mutually exclusive - that good filmmakers can achieve both without compromises. To do so and still make a film that is marketable, however.... not so easy, which is why a lot of filmmakers claim they have to compromise one for the other.

You bring up such things as artists intentions, but an artist is formed by the history of their medium whether they want to admit it or not. For me to believe that Snyder and Miller were not aware of the history of films in this setting - especially considering this is a remake - means they're not doing their homework as filmmakers. And Snyder's claim that this film is "about nothing" is a cop-out.

You also argue that the Persians are not really Persians and that the Spartans are not really Spartans because the film is not historically accurate enough for those labels to be accurately placed. And with all due respect, I say bullshit. You can't set a story and portray people in such specific ways without considering the context. You just can't do it. It frames the entire story. Would the film be worse had it been more accurate? If so, why? Would have be too much for the audience to digest?

Can you argue that Triumph of the Will is nothing more than a than the cinematographer's masterpiece, devoid of any context? At what point is it NOT okay to dismiss the setting of the film? At what point are you obligated to hold a film accountable for its setting and character portrayals?

It's as though we're arguing for the dumbing-down of the medium, and that these images don't have a broader impact. Sorry, I don't buy that.

Look, I am all for mindless entertainment. Not EVERYTHING have some higher intellectual value. But when you talk about films, there's a huge history that you have to set aside in order for it to be mindless entertainment. I, frankly, cannot do that. And it irks me when people insist that I must.



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#37 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
    Originally posted by spf
      Originally posted by oldschoolhero
        Originally posted by spf
        I of course would say that it is no less likely than the idea that he sat there with the impulse to make a movie that impugns Middle Easterners as giant freakish homosexuals and desires to indoctrinate its viewers into supports for an infanticidal militaristic neo-Spartan regime.


      Read up on Miller. These motifs aren't accidental in his work. I'm not suggesting Snyder shares his views - in fact, his authorship of the Gorgo subplot, which wasn't part of the entirely-male graphic novel, would suggest that he seeked to temper the more extreme political and social touchstones of Miller's work.

    Miller is meaningless in this discussion. I've never read 300 the graphic novel, I have no intention of doing so. The producers and director of this movie made the decisions about what to put on screen. And in that vein I maintain the decision to use the Dilios narrator was a move to anchor the film into the realm of a subjective fantasy rather than an objective retelling of history or a treatise on geopolitics.


This is totally inaccurate, and pretty intellectually dishonest. Miller was an active participant in the developing of the film, and even if he weren't Snyder's been pretty vocal about the story being incredibly faithfully adapted from the original work. You can't dismiss his contribution to the iconography on display - it's his, and intentionally so. But of course, if you were to acknowledge that is just as much a Frank Miller work as it was a Zach Snyder one, you'd also have to acknowledge the fascistic fetishism which appears in much of his work, and you seem unwilling to do that.

So you've got a writer with noted fascist tendencies, homophobic scenes, clearly racist iconography, and a glorification of a "perfect" race which killed deformed babies. Are we really to believe that all of this is just coincidental? Of course it isn't. Admitting so doesn't mean you can't enjoy the film for what it is. You yourself have said it's a "turn your brain off" movie in the truest sense of the word. But trying to maintain that there is no intent to these depictions is quite the untenable position.

(edited by oldschoolhero on 27.3.07 1218)

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#38 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
    Originally posted by Leroy
    At what point are you obligated to hold a film accountable for its setting and character portrayals

I think perhaps here is the crux of our argument, because my answer is none whatsoever. A film is just a film. Whether that film is "Philadelphia", "Triumph of the Will", "300", "Death Wish", or "Debbie Does Dallas". You come to the art as you are, and you leave impacted in a unique way depending on your own experiences with the world. Fundamentalist Christians would likely consider "Philadelphia" as a piece of left-wing gay agenda propaganda. You came to 300 (well, actually you haven't since you haven't seen the movie in question) as someone who is attuned to finding the political nature of things and thus did (or would have at least) walked away disgusted by the film. Others walked away feeling like suddenly the war in Iraq is justified because those damn dirty Persians have been trying to kill of freedom for thousands of years. And others left with images of Gerard Butler's abs to pleasure themselves to later that night. But the film didn't change a damn bit. And honestly, as a piece of propaganda, it kind of sucked. I mean, sure I was excited after watching it, but unless the Al-Qaeda boys are going to wear nifty silver masks and throw smoke bombs at me, they're not who I'm interested in fighting.

A film is what it is. Directorial intent may have one thing in mind, but that becomes meaningless upon reaching the recipient. Personally I could not care less what Frank Miller believes or wants me to think. If Frank Miller is a neo-Nazi who kicks black people when he walks by then I agree he's not a very nice man. If he and Zack Snyder ever run for office on the platform that giant androgynous god-kings need to be brought down I doubt I'll vote for them. But otherwise I'm not really concerned. And regarding intention and context, I doubt Leni Reifenstahl intended Triumph of the Will to be taught at film school classes filled with Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, Hindus, etc. I also doubt the intention was to be looked at as the appalling excesses of a monstrous regime. But damned if time hasn't screwed the pooch for her on that one. Having done enough art that was intended to mean one thing to the reader, and find out that they got something totally different from it, I guess I'm just not very worried anymore with what someone wants me to think through their art, since odds are it won't work anyhow.

(edited by spf on 27.3.07 1444)


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#39 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.01
    Originally posted by Dexley's Midnight Jogger
    Visually, it was fantastic. However, I didn't feel any connection to the characters and didn't really care about what happened to them.


I take it you didn't read the graphic novel. That's pretty much how the graphic novel is/was for me. So in that sense, it's a pretty great translation from print to screen.;) Take it as you will I guess.



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#40 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.13
    Originally posted by spf
      Originally posted by Leroy
        Originally posted by spf
        I think what gets me about this is that the only difference between this and every other action movie is the fringe details, and so the implication that this particular movie is somehow different than most seems a bit disingenuous to me.


      The fringe details set the entire context of the movie. Yes, it's a big, dumb action movie, but to suggest that the entire setting of the film is somehow irrelevant or fringe doesn't make much sense to me.

        Originally posted by spf
        Where though is the balance at? Should a story which depicts those of non-white skinned lineage be told with an eye towards correcting the imbalances of the past? How much artistic license is acceptable in the creation of art? Is the point of art to teach, to entertain, or do different pieces of art have different intents, and to demand something of the work which is not the intention of the creators an unfair demand to place on the work?


      I absolutely refuse to accept the notion that a film is good because "most people like it" - as though movies are made with no broader context.

      Miller had a whole history of the film to call from with his portrayal of the Middle Eastern world. You can start with Valentino's The Sheik (1921) (where the European born Sheik rescues the damsel from the true Arab menace) and work your way up to True Lies (another big dumb action movie with no subtext at all, right?). Miller sites The 300 Spartans as his inspiration, which again runs into the same problems this film apparently does - the Spartans are good, the Persians bad, historical context need not apply.

      Did Miller intend to portray Persians in a negative light? I think it's possible that he just wanted to make a remake of another film, taking the problems of that original film along with him. But his recent comments suggest that he knew perfectly well what he was doing, and that these portrayals are not some accident. And he would have to explain why his depictions fell perfectly in line with other historical portrayals as well.

      For me, personally, I don't except the premise that a film, or music, or any piece of art exists solely to entertain. And I am getting really tired of the only reason a film is good is because "people like it". Why did you like it? Because it was a big dumb action movie, and I got to ignore everything else about the film. That seems like a BAD movie to me. I don't want that when I go to a film.

      What's so wrong with being expected to think a little bit as part of your entertainment? Why is using your noodle so detached from enjoying oneself?



    The problem is expectation. You were looking for, and are criticizing the film for not being good history. This is a fantasy film, set in a world vaguely inspired by ancient Greece. The Persians of this movie share some names with the Persians who actually fought at Thermopylae. But they are not those Persians. The Spartans share some names with the soldiers who fought there, but those aren't those Spartans. I went into the movie accepting the premise that this was in no way intended by its creator to carry any degree of historical accuracy. This is a fantasy movie that takes place in a past that is tangentially related to our own, and which creates in its structure ample reason to question the veracity of the portrayal. Between the obvious thematic exaggeration and the structural nods to bias and skewed perspective, I feel that taking this movie at face value and criticizing as such is disingenuous and demands overlooking obvious reasons not to do so in the purpose of advancing an agenda or argument against the filmmakers and the creator of the original source comic.

    As for the larger issue of thinking in movies, or "What's so wrong with being expected to think a little bit as part of your entertainment? Why is using your noodle so detached from enjoying oneself?" Nothing. However, most movies as they exist these days are poor tools for the exercise of intellect. I suppose as an enthusiastic supporter of this film I am one of the millions to blame for this state of affairs. But in general very few movies demand any sort of rigorous consideration. Even those movies which are often deemed "thoughtful" and theoretically make you consider "bigger things" tend to simply hammer you over the head with their viewpoint. "Crash" comes to mind as such a film.

    Also, one could very easily make the point that this movie does allow the viewer to contemplate various issues. What is the nature of sacrifice? What are the things that you as a person in a basically free state hold dear enough that you would willingly go to what you know to be your doom? What is the nature of being free (why is it living in the obviously militaristic Spartan state is considered freedom but submission to Xerxes would be a fate worse than death?) and what level of subjugation to the will of the masses are you willing to accept?

    But honestly, I didn't go to the movie intending to contemplate these things. I chose to go to this movie for the same reason I choose other aesthetic pleasures or adrenaline-producing activities. A piece may exist not solely to entertain, but does it necessarily have to exist for philosophical reasons or as a statement of belief? Can a piece of art be created for the purpose of exploring the nature of an art form itself? The original post in this thread suggests this almost exists as a summation of all action movies, the attempt to distill the pure nature of the war film, the action film, the rousing battle movie, all into one stylistically forward-looking piece of art. Now of course you may turn around and scoff at the idea that Zack Snyder was thinking along those sorts of lines or considering his film to be some sort of statement of being the endpoint of action filmmaking. I of course would say that it is no less likely than the idea that he sat there with the impulse to make a movie that impugns Middle Easterners as giant freakish homosexuals and desires to indoctrinate its viewers into supports for an infanticidal militaristic neo-Spartan regime.

    I don't think on a roller coaster. I could do so. I could ponder the nature of exurban sprawl, the commodification of amusement, the endless parade of advertising, the waste of materials in a pointless example of American sloth and excess. But instead I yell when the car hits the drop. 300 is the drop. There is nothing wrong with thinking in your entertainment, but just as one would not want a world of nothing but mindless fun, so I don't want a world where I have no right to be mindless for a short while.


Remember the part where the kid gets his head cut off and his neck starts spurting blood? That part was totally cool.
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I haven't seen House of Lies, but it's good to see Don Cheadle continuing to get recognition. He's one of the most underrated actors of our generation, I think.
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