Twitter Sonnet #126
Ellis Island expands in a red pan.
Communist rain falls on Gothic racists.
In a tuba is just a tiny man.
The Fool city is filled with bicyclists.
Repent for a floating ball of damp sin.
Han just received our transmission of Tang.
Saruman's breeding ducks with goblin men.
Stay Puffed Marshmallow man changed everything.
Warm turtle necks stay longer than fake suns.
Batman games will see us bounce from the wall.
Superhero tights will not hide the runs.
Grey painted nature on ceilings tells all.
Big trees are ripe for breaking by children.
Adults suck off Ents for the best aspirin.
It seems every day I'm always running out of time. At least to-day I can point to my grandmother's friend unexpectedly calling me needing a ride from downtown to-day. But somehow without me quite knowing how it happened, it's already after 9pm and I haven't even started on the new Venia's Travels script.
My interest has been really piqued by the trailer for Luc Besson's upcoming The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec;
The pterodactyl sound effect seems to be exactly the same one used for the dragons in Warcraft II and the imps in Doom. I'm wondering if this is some kind of Wilhelm scream phenomenon.
Anyway, because of this trailer I finally decided to watch The 5th Element last night. I'd expected to find a very Blade Runner influenced film, since that's how people have usually described it to me, but I was surprised to find something much closer to Barbarella, a relaxed fantasy with a sort of pretence of tension with a plot about the wonderful power of love. I find it actually a bit perplexing The 5th Element doesn't contain more gratuitous sex and nudity than it does because I'm not sure what the point of the movie is otherwise.
I didn't really hate The 5th Element, at least not as much as some other movies. The opening scene made me think I was really going to love it, when a bunch of interesting, not cg robots storm an Egyptian temple. And the cast borrows great actors liberally from Terry Gilliam movies--John Neville, Ian Holm, and Bruce Willis.
So I will say The Fifth Element is about exactly as good as Star Wars: Episode I. This might produce some anger from the many people who hate Episode I while considering The 5th Element a Sci-Fi classic. I'd like to refer now to the amusing review of Episode I by Red Letter Media that's been making the rounds on a lot of entertainment sites. I suspect most of you have already seen it--I was a little late to the party only having watched it last week. But while I enjoyed it, I actually got something a bit different out of it than the guy on AICN who linked to it recently and said it pointed out awful things about the movie he hadn't even noticed yet. For me, it actually made me remember good things about the movie, despite Red Letter Media's invariably negative take. I disagreed with him on some points, particularly in his assertion that Palpatine's plan doesn't make sense in that by helping the Trade Federation as Darth Sidious, he's effectively working against himself. Rather, I think this was a reflection of Palpatine's cunning, that he would throw his weight behind a faction designed to fail, fucking over everyone on his side. I also think it's worth noting that there are a lot of beautiful visuals in Episode I, and though I agree the sabre battle lacks the character intimacy of the original trilogy's sabre battles, Darth Maul's still pretty bad ass and it's fun to watch him do his thing.
But anyway, a lot of Red Letter Media's criticisms of The Phantom Menace are actually quite applicable to The 5th Element. For one thing, The Fifth Element stars indistinct characters. I think if we applied Red Letter Media's prompt to describe characters without mentioning what they look like and what their jobs are, we'd find descriptions of Bruce Willis' character at least as vague as the Qui-gon Jinn descriptions Red Letter Media got. Dallas is good . . . he wants to get with the girl . . . he's reluctant to get involved sometimes. He's basically just Bruce Willis.
The best part of the movie is Milla Jovovich's adorable performance as Leeloo. But aside from being adorable, there's pretty much nothing to her. Gary Oldman's villain is an interesting premonition of George W. Bush, but it's hard to take him seriously, especially after Ian Holm calls him a monster after Oldman's almost choked to death on a cherry after holding forth on some moronic, meaningless loop-de-loop philosophy on destruction--Basically, that we need destruction so we can create so that's why he's working with the big, burning Evil Egg that wants to destroy the world. The only thing that makes him threatening is that he remembers to use a gun while fighting Milla Jovovich, unlike the normally well armed alien goons who for some reason decided to fight the pretty little kung fu master hand to hand.
All this silliness might be fun if the choreography was interesting, but it's followed by a big moral lesson about how humanity is too destructive. Jovovich's character, Leeloo, is learning English throughout the film with the help of a computer taking her through the language alphabetically and late in the film she's horrified to find out about war when she gets to W. Which made me wonder how the computer handled entries on nuclear power, genocide, and torture.
Everything about the movie feels half formed, like ideas that weren't fleshed out, and I get this feeling like I'm expected to do a lot of the work for the film, like it expects to be loved just for showing up and there's something wrong with me for not getting it. A good example is Chris Tucker's radio personality character, who hijacks Bruce Willis' vacation on a pleasure ship to interview him while he's there. Watching Tucker, I imagined the filmmakers lounging about an office conceiving his character, "Oh, he'll be this great, outrageous fellow!" "Yes, and he'll say outrageous things." "Oh, and everyone will say, 'I can't believe how outrageous he is!'" "Yes! He'll say outrageous things like . . . Oh, I don't know, but they'll be outrageous!"
So leading Willis through Space Opera House, he breezily points out how that famous fellow over there is deaf, so he probably won't get much out of the opera. Oh, no he didn't!
The films filled with lines that sound like they were written by someone who can't speak English very well. You could say this just so happened to be the dialect hundreds of years from now, but it really doesn't come off that way, and it's annoying. As when Jovovich jumps off the side of a building and a policeman says, "She dove off!" It's especially annoying when the movie clearly expects us to laugh at something totally flat, like a policeman taking two sodas from his partner because--get this--he's really thirsty!
When the ragtag team of barely defined five characters convene on a small ship near the end to save the world with love, I realised a good way to describe The 5th Element would be to ask someone to imagine a mentally impaired child who really loves Star Wars describing Star Wars for two hours.