Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Movie Log: The Spirit

I'm watching Frank Miller's The Spirit this evening, and, as I've done with other movies that can't be taken seriously, I'm going to type a few thoughts about it as I go along and just post when the movie ends. (Some things aren't worth spending any time thinking about afterward.)

It's as if Miller is daring the audience to notice his bizarre attitude towards women with that bizarre speech from SexyDeath...and Gabriel Macht's equally overheated narration.

So far, the only thing traceable back to Will Eisner are the names -- nothing else.

Miller likes cutting quickly between tight close-ups so that you can't tell what's happening, doesn't he? And it's really distracting when the two people talking are lit utterly differently and have very different diffusion filters on them.

This is another one of those movies that takes place in the middle of nowhere, with a couple of lunatics emoting at each other at random.

I'm glad to see that Sam Jackson's having fun. But if only The Spirit and The Octopus are nigh-invulnerable, how come the mook can get run over by a truck and still walk around?

Young Denny is distractingly familiar...oh! he's the kid from Hotel for Dogs! Now, that's a better movie than this one. More realistic, too.

I don't want to say that Macht can't act, since it's impossible to prove a negative. But I will say that he does a very good job of avoiding acting here.

Um, the Blood of Heracles?!? So far, I'd be hard-pressed to find five consecutive seconds of this movie that I could believe in.

She takes a photocopy of her butt? As part of a threatening conversation? Has Miller ever met a woman?

This entire movie takes place in a world ruled by the pathetic fallacy -- it must be nice when blinds lower themselves because you're snogging.

Since I haven't mentioned it yet, let me point out that the Spirit wears blue, not black.

Eisner's names always were really unbelievable, weren't they? Sand Sarif is almost as bad as Tooty Compote.

There are only two kinds of dialogue in this movie: the lines that explain the plot in tedious detail, and the lines that illustrate what an unpleasant place Miller's mind must be.

Dolan is about twenty years too young and looks like Harvey Bullock.

And another scene set in a coal scuttle lit by floodlights facing down from ten feet up.

This is not a movie that should be calling attention to things that are "plain damn weird."

ScarJo's glasses are cute. And she seems to be trying to actually act, to play a character, which is odd, because she's the only one in the movie who is.

Miller never saw a fancy shot he didn't love, did he?

It's nice to know the nobody-can't-tell-it's-you-if-you-wear-a-small-domino-mask idea is still around. It'll probably live forever.

Plaster of Paris, too? What is this, the Spirit's greatest girlfriends? Oh, and here comes Sam Jackson in a Nazi uniform and monocle, about which I can have nothing coherent to say.

Every action movie requires a Talking Killer scene, doesn't it? It must be in the contracts.

Miller really didn't understand the point of The Spirit, did he?

Yes, the only thing that will stop the Spirit is chopping him into a million pieces and mailing him all over the place...unless just stabbing him in the chest is good enough.

I'm so sorry to learn that Miller is yet another in the long line of people who don't know what "gunsel" really means.

I bet that would have been quite entertaining on a big screen with a crowd that didn't expect it to be any good. At home on a TV, the lameness crests higher.


David Nowlin said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I'd be interested in knowing which usage of 'gunsel' you objected to. I think just the fact that you brought it up probably answers the question, though.

It's a term that has prompted snicker or two in my household. Mostly when watching or discussing The Maltese Falcon, wondering what Hammett was implying about the relationship between Sidney Greenstreet and Elijah Cook, Jr. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, but as I recall, there were enough veiled references to Joel Cairo's proclivities to suggest that Hammett intended Bogart's comment to be taken in the more archaic, original sense. It was, if I'm not mistaken, at least a double entendre.

I'm guessing The Spirit is pretty noir, so I'm guessing the usage is the more common (of late anyway), noir-ish usage -- 'gunman.' Is that accurate?

For anyone intrigued enough to look it up, gunsel is a synonym for 'catamite.'

Words are my bizness.

Andrew Wheeler said...

David: You've got it exactly right -- someone refers to the Octopus's female henchperson as a "gunsel." There might be a context in which that was a winking reference to heterosexual sodomy, but not this one; the screenwriter (Miller) and director (Miller) clearly had forgotten or never known the original meaning.

It's also my understanding that "gunsel" meaning "gunman" entirely derives from Maltese Falcon, so it's purely the result of audiences' failure to understand the word's original meaning.

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