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Spirit Noir

Review of the Spirit film (2008)

Spirit is based on a weekly comic series penned and illustrated by Will Eisner in the 1940s. This is one of the first comics to establish the conventions and standards of comic books and graphic novels still used today. The movie felt like a film noir hard boiled detective film. The main character is not a detective, per se, but an ex-cop who died and came back to life and is now apparently invincible/immortal. Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is now known as The Spirit, he is the spirit of the city, and her protector. In order to serve this role, Denny has decided no names, no personal connections, no relationships so he can do it right. The city is his love. In the movie, Denny Colt’s childhood sweetheart, Sand Seref (sounds like Sans Serif, a type of font without feet) played by Eva Mendez, returns to the city. Sam Jackson plays The Octupus, the movie’s villain. The police commissioner and his doctor daughter (who was denny colt’s love interest before he “died”) also play important roles. The movie felt like a 1940 city until I was jarred out of it when a cell phone with video feed was used. This pulled me out of the movie because it made me wonder what year it was, and if it was current, it must be in some alternate reality where most everything else is still like the 1940s, and on and on my mind ran away from the movie. Other than that, I really got into the movie. Spirit was written for the screen and directed by the Frank Miller, who directed Sin City, and the visual styles were similar. There was a lot of diachromatic scenes (black, white, and red), and some animation was used so it felt like a comic book come to life. Sam Jackson’s performance was incredible, and he definitely brought a old school funk feeling to the character. The interactions between his character and Scarlett Johansen’s character, Silken Floss, were filled with a great rapport and banter.  The movie has been accused of having cardboard characters and ludicrous dialogue, but I felt it was witty, sometimes bordering on the absurd (especially with all the -os clones and Sam Jackson appearing as a samurai and a nazi), but thoroughly enjoyable.

Sam Jackson as a Pimped-Out Octopus

Sam Jackson as a Pimped-Out Octopus

image from ComicCon 2008 magazine, availble http://www.comic-con.org/common/cc_magazine.shtml

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Just accept that you liked it: JCVD reactions

The movie theater I was in had ear jolting sound problems for the first five minutes of JCVD and at one point in the opening the screen went black. The theater lights were not dimmed until the credits started rolling. Considering all this, I was not neccessarily predisposed to like JCVD. During pretty much the entire movie, I thought it was either incredibly brilliant or ridiculosly stupid, but definitely nowhere between. I think the point in the movie that sold me was the soliloqy VanDamme delivered directed at the audience. This was a very post modern move. The fact that Jean Claude VanDamme plays himself was like Paul Auster’s narrator in City of Glass being named Paul Auster. This movie definitely fit the charateristics of a postmodernist work- it questioned commonly held assumptions and systems, and it was full of irony and self reference.

As a result of the meta-ness of the movie, parts moved slowly. In one case when we got to see part of the same event from two different points of view (the outside first, then the inside), the repeated parts were cumbersome. That did help to set up the sadly funny twist of everyone thinking JCVD was the culprit holding hostages at the post office. There was a lot of irony in the movie and the interactions between the one out of the three hostage takers who idolized VanDamme and the man himself were humorous in an absurd way.

As the credits started rolling (and the lights finally dimmed), I had the vague feeling that I really liked this movie and wanted to smile. But I wasn’t quite sure why.

jcvd-review1

For those who don’t know, and don’t feel like doing a google search,  here is a brief promo synopsis:

When the life of Jean-Claude Van Damme collides with the reality of a hold-up in Brussels, Belgium, suddenly the huge movie star turns into an ordinary guy, filled with fears, contradictions and hopes. How can he be up to the legend he has built? What can a film hero do when the gun pointed to his temple isn’t charged with blanks? JCVD finds himself at the turning point of his “hero” life.

(NOW PLAYING)

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