Monday, January 15, 2007

A Sweet Tooth, And A Nose For Meth.

Apocalypto
2006, USA
Mel Gibson
35mm



As far as Hollywood filmmaking goes, Mel Gibson makes flawless diamonds of cinematic perfection. Wait, did I say 'diamond'? Because I meant 'one of those sugar crystal rings you get from candy machines in bus stations'. This movie is Cheez Wiz. I'm not trying to be stuck up or elitist, but I don't drive a fucking Chevy and I've got all my teeth, so there's no way I'm falling for this bullshit. It's like hanging on the edge of your seat to find out how Walker, Texas Ranger is going to end. I'd say this movie is formulaic, but that would imply that math was involved in the computation of the plot. Instead, I'm guessing they used a ruler, drawing a straight line from point A to point B. So, less algebra and more shop class, which is exactly the workmanlike approach to filmmaking that ruins Mel Gibson movies. These are films for people who get confused by wrestling plotlines, who buy hot dogs from 7-11, who mix Pepsi and Orange crush in their Big Gulps. These are films for the unwashed, Old Spiced masses, full of action, romance, pseudo-Christian morality, and a rousing score.


The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 1.


Apocalypto is five episodes of Cops strung together. Everyone has bad teeth, the theatre smells like breath on a Sunday morning, and, just like Cops, I can't understand what anyone in the movie is saying because they're all Spanish. Or Mexican or Indian or whatever, point is they're brown and probably on crystal meth. That would explain why the whole movie is
ephedrine, border patrol minutes behind. Apparently, in the days before the age of home electronics, this is what you did instead of staying up for three days taking apart a VCR then dying of renal failure. Also, you set a lot of traps like a particularly vicious Roadrunner cartoon. Jaguar Paw is a noble Mexican living with his family in small jungle village, for from the temptations of the big city. His idyllic,childishly pastoral existence is shattered, however, when his village is attacked by a bunch of guys with tattoos and body piercing, provingthat Mel Gibson has the same phobias as my mother.





The rest of the movie, aside from the running, concerns itself with the essential rural/urban conflict that has inflamed Christian fundamentalists since the times of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Las Vegas. Most Bible thumpers would have you believe that living in the country is like a vacation for the soul, and we'd all pick daisies and drink fresh cream while our children skipped in fields of golden wheat and laughed along with the sound of church bells. The city, on the other hand, is a suppurating sore of vice and sin, where the screams of the innocent are silenced only by the cocks of the guilty. In reality, the only people I know who moved to the country did so in order they could beat their wives without the neighbors calling the police. Still, the reactionary moral posturing is ever-present and obvious in this film, with the Mayan city portrayed as full of obese children with shaved eyebrows, like they've spent their entire lives immobile, stuffed full of cocoa and rubbing themselves until the hair comes off. Gibson's juvenile portrayal is just subversive enough that it plays into the Bible Belt's subconscious prejudices and fear of the other without getting too offensive, with enough trappings of art-house respectability to win over some of the film critics in the red states. By subtitling the film, Gibson attempts to move it away from the simplistic 80s action movie template to a more universal context, making it look like not just Texas hates Mexicans. Sadly, he's probably right, and what's worse, I'm pretty sure the whole world loves those little candy rings, too.

Underage? Read a PG-13 review at The Comic Book Bin. Then come over to my house and let me watch you touch yourself. Girls and effeminate boys only need apply.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Rin said...

I live in the countryside. Naturally, I act out Straw Dogs every night.

Apocalypto is tries and fails miserably to be The New World and then tries and fails miserably to so Southern Comfort in the jungle.

I love how almost every review goes 'I know it's Mel Gibson, but...'

Not buts, it's just not very good.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Rin said...

I'm sure bits of grammar and spellings just fall out of my head on a regular basis. It's the only explanation for such an incomprehensible comment.

7:50 PM  
Blogger blacknote said...

Your understanding of fundamentalism is poor at best. There is no confilict between rural and urban, the conflict lies between tradition and progress, fundamentalism fears loss of traditional values at the expense of "progress".

9:38 AM  
Blogger Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

Screw that last guy. I have too much experience with rabid country-ites.

And let this be a lesson to you: leave the racism to the real professionals, like Mel Gibson and Billy Graham. They know how to do it on a grand scale, and hit all the grace notes.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Bobo, if I cut out the racism, these would be real, and poorly done, film reviews. And nobody wants that.

Blacknote, your lack of understanding of allegory and narrative structure is poor at best. Ever since the days of German expressionism, film such themes as the conflict between progress and tradition have been represented by juxtaposing rural and urban life. Hence, small town girl with big city dreams turning into a hooker when she gets to Hollywood. And in terms of other narrative forms, this goes a lot further back.

5:47 PM  
Blogger batturtle said...

Pfft...there's no such thing as a noble Mexican. Why you always spreading lies all over the otherwise completely truthful intramanet?

12:09 AM  
Anonymous russell.j.coller.jr said...

I happen to love Orange Crush mixed with Pepsi, dig the occasional 7-11 hot dog and disdain poseurs with ridiculous barb-wire tats and methed-out skeevie 'picker-girls' on their arms. Those chicks would never date me. Gibson's commentary is worth hearing, c'mon cut the whack-job some slack.

12:42 PM  

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