Two Things

1. What in the name of Apicius and Lucullus is a “summer crushed tomato” and why is Bertolli so sure it’ll sound appetizing? It sounds more like a nightmare about castration anxiety. Which leads to my next item…

2. Wanted is a truly awful movie. For years I’ve had a simple rule in movie-going: if the undoubtedly beautiful and talented Ms. Jolie is in a movie it will be terrible, so I don’t see it. (True, this rule would have kept me from seeing Girl, Interrupted or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which I both liked, but I also have a rule against the consistent application of rules.) Wanted, unfortunately, was no exception: a bloody mess. It’s not that there were no good things in it. It was a pleasure, for instance, to see Morgan Freeman execute a harsh parody of the “Magic Negro” role he is so often stuck with. In fact, the whole cast was very good, and the direction was quite skillful. But there’s only so much anyone can do with a movie whose message is, “If your penis feels small, get a very large gun and shoot many people for no clear reason.”

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Two Things

  1. sboydtaylor says:

    Wanted is an escape fantasy for cubicle jockies (like me and most of my RL buddies).

    As far as I’m concerned, the movie lives up to any expectations I had for it. It’s not the Matrix (part 1), but it does have even better special effects.

    One reviewer’s comments summed the movie up perfectly for me: “It’s trash, but I love it.”

    Obviously your mileage varied, though 🙂

    • JE says:

      “Wanted is an escape fantasy for cubicle jockies”

      I get this, and I’m not against escapism, even violent escapism. Maybe my expectations were too high… I guess that there are so many cubicles and so many guns in this country that I wasn’t crazy about the nihilistic anti-message.

      • sboydtaylor says:

        I’ll agree with you here — it’s not a movie with a brain. Or even a moral compass (unless you count the Loom as a moral compass). I don’t think most folks that see it are going to decide to become contract killers, though.

  2. peadarog says:

    If your penis feels small, get a very large gun and shoot many people for no clear reason.

    At last, some advice I can use.

    • JE says:

      I’m working to make the blog more useful–sort of household hints for the 21st century.

      • peadarog says:

        Brilliant! I have a household, and this is the 21st century. I expect to get a lot of use out of it.

        • JE says:

          Well, I just have the hints. I’m working on the household part… also the 21st century part. (I still don’t have a mobile phone.)

          • peadarog says:

            You don’t have a mobile phone? But how will I call you at 3am?

          • JE says:

            A psychic message to my cat. I’m experimenting with using him as a mobile messaging device. Of course, he’s increasingly less mobile as he gets older, and all the messages sound pretty much the same. But a surprising amount of them do arrive around 3 AM.

          • Anonymous says:

            (I still don’t have a mobile phone.)

            I’m gonna hazard a guess and say your children aren’t old enough to drive. That’s when I got my first. (A few months later I got my first $200 cell-phone bill, 80% of it for text messages sent and received at $0.05 and $0.02 a pop respectively. “Was there a part of our conversation about cell-phone usage you didn’t understand?”)

            –Jeff Stehman

            PS: Wow, the challenge-response test to check for humanity is insanely difficult–both the visual and the audio. It’s the first time I had to take one to post here, and it’s got me feeling subhuman.

          • JE says:

            My kids have cell phones. Due to my tragically unhip life, I’m always by a landline and (depending on what time of day it is) they know which landline to call me at. Should I ever get a life, I suppose I’ll have to get a cell, too.

            Hm–that barrier to posting must be something LiveJournal set up; I didn’t change any of my security settings. In fact, I have the CAPTCHA turned off for all comments (I just checked), so who knows what they’re up to. I suspect this is a glitch, and some angry people in cubicles are now wishing they were at the movies instead… Hopefully it’ll clear up in a day or two.

          • Anonymous says:

            Ah, there you go. “My” first cell phone stayed in the glove compartment of the car.

            –Jeff Stehman

          • Anonymous says:

            Hmm. No test there, but one on this. They must assume you’re evil on the second post within a certain time frame. I think I previewed last night’s comment twice. Perhaps that confused it.

            –Jeff Stehman

  3. dindrane says:

    I have absolutely nothing useful to say, but I must applaud “What in the name of Apicius and Lucullus…”, which is pure brilliance. I warn you fairly that I intend to steal it, but I will cite you, as is well and proper for academics.

    • JE says:

      Steal away! “James Enge” walks unseen in academia, so he can hardly object.

      (I always enjoy your quizzes, by the way, but the few questions I can answer are always answered by the time I see them.)

      [edited for splleing]

  4. nathan_long says:

    Except for the fact that the undoubtedly beautiful and talented Ms. Jolie, has become the undoubtedly anorexic Ms. Jolie. If your elbow is the thickest part of your arm, something is wrong. Yikes! If she had fired that gun in real life she would have had multiple fractures.

    • JE says:

      The freakish thinness that has become the Hollywood norm for actresses does indeed freak me out. I would prescribe emergency cheeseburgers for most of these women.

  5. onyxhawke says:

    I’m very much not a fan of Jolie. I got dragged to see Mr and Mrs Smith with someone else i don’t like and actually enjoyed it.

    • JE says:

      Well, I heard good things about Mr & Mrs. Smith, but I’m always suspicious of movies where the buzz is more about what’s offscreen than what’s onscreen. Maybe I’ll rent it and give it a chance.

      • onyxhawke says:

        What’s his name is someone who in general i feel as warmly about as Jolie… i think its the fact that they actually have decent writing in Mr & Mrs and no one who can act well to overshadow them.

        • JE says:

          I can see that. I guess I was worried about it being another Gigli, but on your recommendation maybe I’ll give it a try.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wanted was a big disappointment. I know better than to go into a movie with high expectation–it’s a sure turkey sentence–but I’ve come to a pretty good understanding with Rotten Tomatoes’ composite score of reviews, and it was initially very high. Feh.

    I had two big problems with the movie. First, based on the trailer, I was expecting a gruesome action shoot-em-up with pseudo-Matrix effects and some funny one-liners, but the movie came out of the gate like a dark comedy. Then it jumped to something else. And then something else. And then back. And on and on.

    Second, McAvoy’s character was likable one minute, despicable the next. It’s like the actor or the director were pulling petals off a daisy. “They’ll love me, they’ll love me not. They’ll love me, they’ll love me not.”

    Also, about the last line of the movie. Is it wise for a “summer blockbuster” to direct hostility toward the audience?

    There were some very fine moments in the movie–come on, who in cubical land hasn’t wanted to do the bit with the keyboard at least once?

    For the record, while I recognize Jolie’s talent, I have never thought of her as beautiful. Hers are the kind of freaky alien looks you see in Paris runway models, and she’s creepy on top of that. Her presence in a movie doesn’t cause me to dismiss it, but it’s no selling point either.

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      I think you’re right about the switching around (both of the movie’s identity and the main character’s). If it (or he) had made a decision about what to be and stuck with it, the movie might have had more impact. I thought the various reaches for deeper meaning were a big mistake, too: they just drew attention to the essential emptiness and cruelty of the material. The much-maligned Smokin’ Aces of a couple years ago was a less-ambitious but more effective movie.

      About Jolie, I agree with you in part: she does look weird. But Francis Bacon (who, as far as I know, was never taped to a cat) famously claimed that “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion”. I think she’s more interesting than most of the bland blondes Hollywood serves up as the Hero’s Girlfriend etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now Smokin’ Aces is a fine movie. It has a significant change in direction, but only one, and it makes for a powerful movie. We start off with a Guy Ritchie kind of movie, where criminals brutalize each other while we, being evil bastards, chuckle. But halfway through the movie it takes a hard right turn and gets ugly. The blood flows even freer, the humor evaporates, and the movie becomes a lesson in self destruction, brilliantly portrayed by Piven.

        I gotta disagree with Bacon. Strangeness of proportion doesn’t rule out striking beauty, but it certainly doesn’t help. Other unusual qualities, however, do help. A wonderful, honest smile that lights up a room is a real head-turner. Sadly, good muscle tone is unusual these days–Six in BSG is a standout in this category.

        That said, I’m of the opinion that there’s something beautiful about most women. It’s a convenient opinion to have, as it makes the world a more pleasant place. (A friend of mine recommends becoming legally blind. He says not only are most women attractive, but some men, too.)

        –Jeff Stehman

Comments are closed.