Saturday, May 22, 2004

Three words: Brad Pitt's butt

You don't see much of it in Troy -- and what you do see is from the side -- but it is indeed a marvel of structural engineering. And so is the whole movie, actually. It takes major liberties with the original texts by Homer, but it sews everything together to make a fascinating, entertaining, beautiful piece of cinema ... with the occasional bonus glimpses of Brad Pitt's butt.

The plot.
I was pretty lost when the movie started -- mostly because all the kings of all the armies have the same wigs and beards and outfits and I couldn't tell who was fighting whom. (I still struggled at the end during all that Trojan Horse mayhem when I had no idea which king was threatening the priestess with the indignity of a lifetime of servitude.) Thank goodness people refer to each other as "cousin" or "my brother" or "my step-nephew three times removed on my sister's side but from her third marriage" throughout the movie. That helps. It also helps that people refer to themselves in the third person ("Homer don't play that") once in a while. And the movie starts with a parchment map (shot in the obligatory sepia tones) showing how everything collectively known as Greece is on the west side of the Aegean Sea and the lone holdout of Troy is over on the east side. Which helps make the whole thousand-ships thing make more sense.

The men.
I may never eat a muffin again. The three lead bodies manage to fill the hearts of gay men with simultaneous levels of admiration, jealousy, lust and inspiration. And this movie may single-handedly bring back the smooth circuit-boy aesthetic that the fashion world has been trying so hard lately to cover with body hair. In addition to the ripped, sinewy, endlessly luscious body on Brad Pitt, we also have the hunky Eric Bana flashing his mighty physique around pretty often. And even twinky little Orlando Bloom is pretty buffed out -- though he looks very much like a little boy in comparison to the aforementioned beefcake.

The rest of the cast.
The actress playing Helen is pretty, but I think her face would have better luck launching a thousand campaigns for open city council seats than a thousand ships. The actor playing Achilles' "cousin" (more likely his lover, according to the original texts) Patroclus isn't so terribly hot either.

Random thoughts.
How nice that the city of Troy was set back far enough from the beach that the royalty could sit in the shade, sip mint juleps and comfortably watch a bazillion guys slaughter each other on the front lawn outside the city gates. Speaking of a bazillion sweaty dead guys lying on the beach in the sun, I'm glad the plot made mention of the troops gathering and burning their dead, because after the first battle all I could think of was how bad the place would smell if they were left there to rot. Speaking of the dead, each corpse gets coins on his eyes before he gets burned -- which had to cost a bundle -- except for the one character whose death prompts a conversation that specifically mentions putting coins on his eyes.

More random thoughts: Every finger and every foot on the screen -- even in the heat of battle -- is noticeably well-manicured. Which is nice, because nobody likes ancient warriors with scraggly cuticles. Eric Bana's baby is frighteningly huge. Brad Pitt's Achilles is a nicely nuanced, wholly complex character: savage in battle, arrogant in politics, tender and loyal in personal relationships, openly atheistic ... and blessed with that amazing honey-baked ham tucked in the back of his skirt. When the men take their shirts off, the camera often cuts them off right above the pubes -- which has given me a new appreciation for (OK, obsession with) the treasure-trail area.

So it's a very cool movie. Go see it. Bring a Kleenex if you don't think you'll be able to contain yourself during the butt scenes. Meanwhile, I have to do a thousand crunches and slather myself in self-tanner.

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