Issue: 8.08
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Hi Gang, and greetings from Hollywood!

Shalom, Gang! 

Unhappily, I don’t get to see each and every movie that comes out until it hits the video shelves. This proved to be a detriment to my readers, as the other day I saw a film so badly executed, the director should have been too. 

As you all know, I came into Hollywood in the early sixties, when the old dream factories were all on life support, their vitals being eaten away by the new breed of independent filmmakers. I became somewhat of an aficionado of the old style, and a fan of the broad sweeping epics like “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments” wherein scenery chewing was not only acceptable, but obligatory. But back then it was done by competent, skilled actors like Yul Brynner who were able to take a line like “Let him rave on, that men shall know him mad!” and make it sound perfectly ordinary. 

Not so with the recent film “300”. I really thought it was going to follow in the footsteps of deMille and Flemming. Instead, it came across more like Tim Burton on a bad acid trip. It was, in a word, cartoonish. The sepia tone of the film was flat and annoying, as was the acting or lack thereof. Zack Snyder, who directed this celluloid debacle, seems to know nothing about epics or remakes. To say this is loosely based on the 1962 epic “The 300 Spartans” borders on blatant misrepresentation. The only resemblance the remake has to the original is the number 300. The excessive bravado shown by the Spartans was pure camp, reminiscent of Burt Ward as ‘Robin’ in the series “Batman”. Snyder filled the screen with monotone hunks in leather, their oiled eight packs glistening under the lights against CGI backgrounds, making the whole thing look like a float in a gay pride parade, and overacting to the point of embarrassment. The dialogue was every bit as heavy-handed as in the epics of old, but lacking in poetic pentameter. That, gratuitous violence, poor art direction, and a total lack of believability, could well serve to unseat Ed Wood and replace him with Zack Snyder as the worst director of all time. One friend who screened this film with me said it was like “Boys in the Hood” meets “Gladiator”, while doing justice to neither. 

In most films of this sort, we, the viewers, find ourselves rooting for the underdog, in this case, the doomed Spartans. But ten minutes into “300”, one finds one’s self debating if they should just pop out the disc and try to get our money back. I don’t know whom I feel sorrier for; the actors who signed on to this project, or the people who put up the money. I think it’s the actors. The investors at least can write it off as a loss. 

I really wish I could have found one thing I liked about this film, but alas, the only thing in it that made me smile were the closing credits. If you’re itching to see a good old sword-and-sandal romp, I suggest renting one of the old classics. They may be dated, ostentatious, and the Technicolor may be a bit hard on the eyes, but at least they’re entertaining. 

L'Shana Tovah!

Till next month, Gang!

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