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Movie Review: Apocalypto

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I. Regarding Mel Gibson

By the multiplex doors an old man high on lighter fluid stands screeching at the crowds wandering in for to watch Apocalypto, the new Mel Gibson picture, his lips lost midst the splurge of discombobulating foam done devoured the lower half of his face. His feet stomping in the puddles 'pon the steps, his right fist waving manic round his head, thus he stands roaring and barking and threatening.

"Would you give your green to the Gestapo so quick?" says he, "Would you forgive Adolf half as fast if'n he made a picture show about a man eats a boar's bollocks for to coax you?"

Men and women huddle against each other as they pass him, ducking their heads, raising hands to the sides o' their faces.

"Save us, if'n only they'd had a jungle film at Nuremberg! Thon boyo's would've been free by the afternoon, wouldn't they just?"

Wandering up the steps, I'm slipping my hands into my pockets, lowering my eyes, watching the rain pit-patting off of the concrete. As I'm approaching him, the old fella steps front of me, blocking my path. "You" he says, raising a finger. "What say you, y'craggy-toothed faggot?"

I cautiously raise the mug. A cluster of tiny red and white spots marks the end of his nose, same spots friends of mine used to exhibit round the chops far-side of a fortnight spent scrunching a bag fulla glue to the yaps. His eyes rattle with anger, his shoulders trembling 'neath his brown and yellow pullover.

"I say, what say you? Will you sleep well tonight knowing you done shoved another tenner into thon skitter-faced get's well-bustlin' coin-sack?"

I give a shrug. "I like his films" I say. "I don't have to like him."

"Oh is that right? And so he could say whatever he felt like saying, he could stand up afore the laws of the world and say 'In case you were wondering, the gays killed Muhammad' or 'Incidentally now, I must remark upon the blacks, for they're a sore bunch o' bastards' or 'What if we just set fire to the immigrants, would anybody really miss them?' and so long as he made a film about a man gets whipped and spat on every couple years it'd be dandy-o? Is that the gist of the situation?"

"Well", says I, giving an apologetic twirl of the shoe, "Many's an arsehole's produced a work of wonder afore now. I no more care for Gibson's stupid, twisted banter than I care for that uttered by D.W Griffith or Leni Riefenstahl. But I still think all three have made incredible motion pictures, arseholes or no."

"He was drunk" a woman in a purple cardigan shouts. "Folks say a lot of things when they're drunk. I told me ma I was pregnant one night I was wrecked on porter, and by Christ I've never even flicked me own bean."

"He crafts exquisite spectacles" says another.

"Spectacles, is it? I think I need spectacles, for I can hardly believe what I'm seeing! A crowd from here to Auschwitz lining up for observe the twisted brain-farts o' some hateful Nazi bastard just cause it has a bit where a cat bites the lips off of somebody's face."

This said, he drops to his knees and roars to the heavens. "C'mon then, Riggs!" shouts he, "C'mon y'great whelp of a goon, c'mon then and call me to my face a beak-mugged money-huddlin' torn-cock swine, c'mon and tell me here and now! Where's my phone-call, where's my apology? Are you a man at all, or perchance are you as the ropes o' jelly dangle 'twixt a cow's fandango followin' a good solid calving?"

Walking on across the foyer, I turn to the woman in the purple cardigan. "Still" says I, "You can see his point, sure as God, and I wonder now how I can feel anything at all for those protesters who stood up at the ballet in London Coliseum there for to shout down Simone Clarke, on account of her being all BNP, when here I am wandering happily t'wards the ticket booth for to pay to see the latest Mel Gibson?"

"Did you support the protesters?"

"Well yeah, mean, the British National Party are a buncha malignant, vicious, cancerous fuckers. All the same, mind you, she was just performing a ballet, she wasn't shooting swastikas out her hoo-hah or nothin'."

The brain jiving and jagging and jiggering 'thin my skull like an arse fulla jackals, I'm pressing a finger and thumb 'gainst my eyes, grimacing some. "This is gon' have me awake for a month" I'm sighing. "Why couldn't he have blurted something I agree with, for fucks sakes."

"What does it matter" says she. "Mean, who knows what shit Orson Welles or Pasolini or Lucio Fulci maybe gabbled when pished? Nobody knows, because they gabbled it back in the day, back before anyone gave a shit what drunken celebrities might splurge far-side of a ruction with the fuzz."

"Anyway" she adds, reaching for her purse, "It's a flick about the Mayans. What difference what he thinks of Jews in the 20th or 21st century? It's surely not gon' have anything to do with this."

"But see, now" says I, "Pasolini, blessed Pasolini, thon was a Marxist of impeccable intellect and humanity and sense, and when I see, say, The Gospel According To Matthew or The Decameron or Salo, I see that worldview fairly burning the celluloid afore me, whether it's set in Biblical times or Medieval times or whenever. By thon same token, if'n perchance there's some racist, right-wing ideology slinking about the corners of Gibson's head, it's more likely than not gon' show up in his work whether it's set last week or in the footfalls of the dinosaurs."

"So then you react to that, and you say that's bullshit, but I like this, with the frog dart things. Mean, by way of an example, I can tell by those teeth of yours that you'd be a man fond of The Louvin Brothers."

"Jesus oh, you'd be right about that."

"Right, and yet those trousers you've on aren't the trousers of a Christian man, so how come you can appreciate the beauty in a song about 'Broad-minded is spelled S-I-N' even when, by the looks of things, a fella in the street saying that to you would be met with little more than a half-smile and a duck o' the mug?"

"Aye, that's a fair comment, now." Reaching the green to the fella pumping tickets out the doohickey 'side the till, I turn back to the woman there and say "And maybe, mean, maybe I just kinda feel sorry for him. As you yourself pointed out, many's a wretched word's tumbled off of a grog-lashed tongue afore now, and I dunno how just it is to hold anyone wholly accountable for such blather in the gloom of the hungover morn."

A series of fragmented screams and rages ring out back my eyes, the cursing and the threatening and the… "I've said things I didn't mean" I continue, wandering towards the doors of Screen 1. "I said things a decade ago that still keep me awake, and God knows I meant none of them."

She nods solemnly, then stops. "Balls" says she, "I forgot t'grab a bag o' peanuts. It'd be a quare time I'd have if'n I forgot to take a bag o' peanuts to the pictures."

She races off to the sweetie stand, joins the queue behind a young lad in a Deicide shirt with a haircut juts out a foot and a half from his head at a 36 or 37 degree angle. Sucking the air through my teeth, I give the collar a tug a time or two and proceed towards yon screen.

"Alright, Mel" I'm thinking. "Don't be making me look a pillock now, y'hear? This best be fucking amazing."

II. Regarding Apocalypto

"That was fucking amazing!" a fella's roaring as he bounds out the doors of Screen 1 with the erection gnawing the denim out his jeans and the arms flailing frantically about him. "By God I've rarely saw a finer flick about men cut others' heads off in all my born days and nights and noontimes!"

"It was alright" says another, "But I tell you, it's a rare Mayan tribeswoman would've referred to her mother as 'mom'."

"How do you know?" yonder zealot counters. "Where you there, perchance?"

The foyer bristles with such banter, great clods of debate and critique and lamentation and highest praises all spilling out o'er the front steps and down into the car-park and lipping and lapping at the walls of the KFC across the way.

Fidgeting in my jacket pocket for a packet o' cigarettes, I stop by the ashtray-bin things set out either side of the toilet doors. Two lasses are stood there also, one puffin' on a pencil-lead roll-up, the other grimacing her way through a counterfeit Regal King Size. "The thing about it all" says the roll-up woman, "Regardless of whether it was good or bad, and I'd put forward the notion that it leaned nearer the former than the latter, regardless of all of that says I, it was still worth paying for, and why? If for no other reason than it shows to the multiplex honchos that folks are more than willin' to watch a film has subtitles, if'n they have the opportunity to do so."

"Pavin' the way for the rest of the arthouse lads" says herself there with the bootleg fag.

"Well now, I wouldn't go that far. It's hardly an arthouse film. It's an action flick with pretensions, and in that regard it's not an inch removed from those Steven Seagal pictures where he kicks a man's throat but then no, it's about the environment, or it's about Buddha, or whatever."

"I wonder what Seagal thinks of the Jews, now when you mention him?"

"Funny, I was wondering the same thing this morning. Or Van Damme. Would you say Van Damme has any opinion on the Zionists?"

"It would be odd, now, if he hadn't."

An A4 sheet's been folded up and tucked away within my wallet, an A4 sheet upon which a number of points were noted and jotted throughout the screening. Of these notes and jots, the following might be considered a fair representation;

"The humor in the first half hour is by equal turns refreshing and god-awful. The dream sequence around the end of the first act is wretched and ridiculous and very very shitty."

"Despite Gibson's braying to the contrary, the film says no more about the fall of the Mayan civilisation or about its parallels with Western civilisation in the here and now than The Omen III – The Final Conflict said about abortion. It's altogether possible that folks may well discuss said issues when discussing said feature-flicks, but that doesn't mean the works themselves do anything in particular to justify it."

"The last hour and a half is astounding. Nowhere near as violent as folks've been led to believe, I doubt it's got a solitary drop o' guts more than Braveheart, but by God it's as invigorating as a shot o' raw ether to the bell-end for all of that. As the recent Empire review noted also, with regards Jungle Runnin' Trials, all the Big Hits are in evidence; Jaguars, quicksand, hastily-fashioned traps and tricks, darts fashioned from the poison of indigenous critters. Plenty crowd-pleasing catastrophe rained down 'pon the bellies and the faces and the tongues of both hunter and hunted."

"Also, if a man were to fall asleep in the trailers and wake up 100 minutes in, he'd swear on all that's holy he's found himself sat at a screening of Predator. There are moments when Rudy Youngblood's performance is uncannily similar to that of, I believe, Sylvester Stallone in John McTiernan's masterpiece, particularly the bits where he's all mucked-up and lain o'er tree-branches glaring at the pursuers down below. It'd be a braver man than me would suggest Gibson hadn't watched the aforementioned Jungle Horror a time or two afore he got to growing that beard and pointing thon cameras. Maybe he also watched Predator 2 with his ol' mucker Danny Glover who's too old for this shit."

"That birth shot was glorious. Best birth shot since Man With A Movie Camera, or maybe Warlock – The Armageddon. Special mention also to the birthing in Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom, and the similarly conceived (no pun intended, unless it made you laugh, in which case it was well intended, and worked out months ago) tomfoolery in Takashi Miike's Gozu."

Being well-smoked and a touch knackered about the head-holes and in dire need of something feels like it was kneaded together from the sweat of the damned and the arse-gas of lepers from out thon establishment across the way, I made a final visit to the Gents afore departing.

Within said off-white cocoon, two gentlemen are stood either end of the trough with the filths in the paws and the yaps all tuned to Gibson. "It was like Quest For Fire meets the trailer for The New World" says the one stood nearest the sink, fella with a Nirvana lyric tattooed around the back of his neck. "Or Ninja Scroll meets Pocahontas."

"To tell you the truth" says the one nearest the rubber dispensary, "I thought it resembled nothing so much as The Passion. That bit with them wandering through the forests and the villages en route to the city, lugging thon wood about o'er their shoulders, sure wasn't it as near as dammit to Christ ascending yon hill, with the slow-motion and the eyes of the onlookers all empty and cold and, save us, lest we forget the evil children."

"Aye, he's a wild man for a sprog afire wi' the devil, that Gibson."

As chance would have it, I emerge from the pishers just as the woman in the purple cardigan from earlier is herself coming a-dandering out the Ladies. "Well" says I, "What did you think?"

She shrugs. "It was alright, aye, was really good sometimes, was fuckin' shockin' at others. You?"

"I enjoyed it" says I. "Mean, it was no Passion, but it was as good an action flick as there's been since Face Off. Gibson obviously learned a thing or two from George Miller, sure as God."

"Sure as God is right. By Noah's testes, I was half expecting one o' thon youngsters to fling a boomerang at the poor bugger."

Stepping out into the sapphire nighttime, I bid farewell to herself there, and as I'm wandering o'er to the Poultry Shack I see sat beside the bins the protester from the opening paragraph. "How's you?" says I. He grunts and wafts his hand. "Away t'fuck" says he.

"What'd I do?"

"What didn't you do? 'An old man high on lighter fluid stands screeching at the crowds'" he recites. "'His lips lost midst the splurge of discombobulating foam done devoured the lower half of his face. His feet stomping in the puddles 'pon the steps, his right fist waving manic'… 'roaring and barking and threatening'"

I run a hand about the back of my neck, stammering some. "Poetic licence, like."

"You ridiculed me by way of nulling any point I made, regardless of how much sense said points done harbored. That's right nice, oh aye."

He stands up, rubs the arse of his suit trousers, shakes the Rolex a time and wanders on towards the BMW parked by the path front the cinema. "Sorry" I shout. "I agreed with you, to some extent!"

He raises his right hand, then a digit, then lowers the lot.

"Poetic licence" I repeat, shuffling a shoe o'er the gravel.

Thanks, folks.

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About The Duke

  • http://midnightcafe.wordpress.com Mat Brewster

    Whoa, Duke, you’ve totally blown my mind. You mean you guys still allow smoking in your theatres?!

  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    Wow, Duke. This is simply amazing. Perhaps your best yet. I’m awestruck.

    Wow.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Duke De Mondo

    i just then wrote a grand reply to the pair of you, but didn’t my browser cut me off. I’ll try to recall it…

    Mat – Of the two cinemas dotted about (there were three, but, alas, the man who owned and ran [with his delightful wife] the third recently died), one of them, the one in question, allows for smoking in the hallway. This is odd, becuase of the two, this is by far the biggest, the most corporate, and therefore the one you’d assume would be most likely to ban any such tomfoolery. Now, unofficially, the aforementioned delightful wife who worked in the aforementioned closed cinema would also allow the like, but it was very hush-hush, and if’n the boss-man came a-wandering, it was to be stubbed the hell out. I recall puffing merrily throughout Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

    Phillip – thank you very much, i’m glad you liked it!

    It also occured to me that this number, perhaps more than usual, has a vast number of “thons” on display. “thon” is an ulster-scots word meaning, simply, “that”. So the phrase “thon is an unlster scots word” could also refer to some OTHER word, and still make loads of sense.

    i.e; “thon’s the bugger stole my duck, dammit!” or “thon’s a right wicked thirst you’ve on you, Thomas” or “did you perchance see thon fella with the red jacket, for he’s owing me forty-seven quid.”

  • duane

    Duke, one thing that strikes me in reading this review and the one for United 93, is that you know how to write dialogue, which, in pretending to start writing a novel, I found to be much more difficult than writing narration.

    How’s the novel coming along?

    “Mean, who knows what shit Orson Welles or Pasolini or Lucio Fulci maybe gabbled when pished? ….

    This voices my opinion on the matter quite precisely. What should our position be? Boycott those who have been busted for opening their traps, do business with those who have the good sense to keep their mouths shut? Throughout my life, everyone that I have gotten to know pretty well has said something that would best not be repeated in public. That goes for me, too.

    Choices:

    (1) Selectively boycott providers of products who, based on some careless utterence, might hold positions that you find objectionable.

    Fine, but then you assume that the drummer in the jazz band for whose CD you just plopped down $16 does not practice satanic rituals in his basement with the neighborhood kids. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t.

    (2) Selectively boycott providers of products who are known to hold positions that you find objectionable.

    Seems workable, though possibly misguided. Should I care whether or not the local expert garage mechanic thinks people of my profession are sponging off taxpayers?

    (3) Thoroughly research the backgrounds of providers of products, thus verifying for yourself that they hold no positions nor have performed any actions that you find objectionable.

    Rarely, if ever, workable. Imagine trying to ascertain whether or not the designer of the electrical system in your new Toyota has a history of domestic violence, drug violations, drunk driving, racism, etc.

    (4) Ignore providers of products entirely regarding matters not related to their work. Pay for the product based on its worth to you as a consumer of the product.

    This is workable, maybe a tad irresponsible. But this is my choice.

  • http://midnightcafe.wordpress.com Mat Brewster

    I think I got this new Duke language down. How’s this

    Thon is the Duke fellating himself in front of christs church

    Thon is some nekkid teenage boy and thon is the Duke there with him. What they are doing, I’ll never tell.

    Duane, you are more than correct in that the Duke is a master of dialog. Search out his review of King Kong disguised as a argument with a leper. Tis brilliant

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Nice job as usual!

    You have KFCs over there? Really sorry to hear it – I apologize on behalf of my country.

    Did I detect a reference to my “Mel Call” piece of a few months back? If so, I’m honored. If not, bugger me. (See, I’m getting down with thon lingo of yours.)

    P.S. Predator had Schwarzenegger, not Stallone.

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