Tag Archives: violence

Movie Review: Vengeance: A Love Story

Hello Again,

I just finished watching this movie and I have thoughts.

It is not a great movie. It is, at its best, an average movie. There are small moments here and there that make it interesting and there are some very large plot arcs that also make it interesting, at least to me.

****Just as a warning, the movie deals pretty heavily with sexual assault, so I’ll be talking about that as well.****

Let’s get the synopsis out of the way:

Based on Joyce Carol Oate’s Rape: A Love Story, Vengeance: A Love Story is about a young single mother, Teena (Ann Hutchinson) who is brutally gang-raped in front of her twelve-year-old daughter, Bethie (Talitha Eliana Bateman). Because the justice system caters to jagoffs and rapists, it’s up to Detective John Something (Nicolas Cage) to put away the trash….for good.

This is not going to be a typical review. I’m not doing a blow-by-blow of the cinematography or the acting or whatever you want. I do want to talk about the rape scene, which is brutal and awful and involves a child actor being present for a fair amount of it, to the point that the daughter covers her own brutalized mother’s nudity with the discarded and torn clothing.

This is…unnecessary. Whenever I see children in this type of movie, I think about Danielle Harris. She’s an actress who played the ten-year-old niece of Michael Meyers in the Halloween movies (IV and V?). Because the production team did such a lousy job of protecting her and screening her from the worst of it, she suffered nightmares and eventually did the Rob Zombie Halloween movies as a form of therapy, which is…the most mindbogglingly sentence I’ve had to type.

So there’s that. Additionally, I’m extremely over scenes of extreme sexual violence in movies because usually they’re just used as a catalyst to propel the male character to do some violence.

Ann Hutchinson as Teena.

However….this movie did something right. Nicolas Cage’s character is the over-the-hill cop who has seen it all and is tired of the system and the revolving door in our criminal justice system….except he’s very low key and he’s not really in the movie that much. He appears here and there and then shows up toward the end in a big way, but for large chunks of the movie, it’s about Teena and Bethie dealing with what happened and the emotional ramifications of that.

There’s an especially affecting scene when Teena is about to swallow a handful of pills in a suicide attempt and then throws them away in an angry fit. In a lot of movies, that would be the end of it. She conquered her suicidal depression in one angry act! But the movie continues to show that she is not okay, that she is still having trouble emotionally processing the attack and what happened to her and that’s she’s still suffering from suicidal ideation.

And Nicolas Cage is Sleepy Cage in this movie. He’s not grandstanding. He’s not taking over the movie when he’s around. He’s mostly silent, mostly in the background and mostly just waiting to act. And when he does act (yes it’s to murder the rapists) it’s thoughtful, careful, planned violence that removes the problem with no collateral damage.

This movie is still problematical in that in robs Teena and Bethie of dealing with the resolution themselves, but it does something right in that it actually highlights their journey after the assault. It highlights the women that were attacked, the women around them who are trying to help.

This is not a good movie. It has some great moments, Ann Hutchinson and Talitha Batemen work well together and have great chemistry and don’t pull any punches with their performances. And Cage makes the right choice in this movie and minimizes his impact.

I’m not recommending you see this movie, unless you, for some reason, think we need another movie in which a woman is brutally raped and her male whatever needs to avenge her. Vengeance takes a step in the right direction. Focus on her story. How she deals with it and copes with it.

It’s not his story.

-D-

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Culturing: Movies, Books, Comic Books and Other Arts

One Dry, Vodka Martini

 

We expect, in our heroes, the ability to last. They last from generation to generation, fighting the good fight, no matter if that good fight completely changes from now to then. As the times progress, so must our heroes. Their methods grow more modern. Their attitudes fit our own. Their morals reflect what we expect in a good person.

James Bond has been around, in one form or another, since the early 1950’s. The world is an extremely different place since he first stepped onto the stage. The Soviets are no longer around. Communism is not perceived as a threat. And we worry less about nukes and more about religious zealots with some simple explosive and the will to use it.

He has, however, managed to stay relevant for over six decades. His creator has died. The actors who played him at first are beyond the age where they could play him now. Six men have played him (not including the movies made by other studios), numerous authors have written him and who he is as a person has changed in sometimes subtle and sometimes drastic ways.

But, at heart, he remains the same. He is a lover, who will not let any harm come to his woman, but he will also not stay with them very long. He is a killer, but only kills when it is necessary to survive or necessary for the greater good, not for pleasure or sport. He is tough, intelligent and charismatic.

He has money, but not enough too much money. He likes nice things and appreciates good drinks and fine foods. He has a wealth of knowledge at his fingertips and is always interested and invested in learning more. He is curious, brave and determined to see matters through.

If one wanted to see a perfect, masculine ideal, a facet of the ideal, you would do no better than to see the evolution of James Bond. Or, perhaps, you would do no better than to see how James Bond has influenced a perfect masculine ideal.

The movies continually and routinely do well at the box office, even at their low points, it was never enough to kill the series. They keep making the movies and writing the novels, which means he appeals to the popular culture, which means he means something to the popular culture. He is, for a large number of people, an ideal.

This is how our culture defines a hero. He is British in a lot of ways, but also American (independent, takes law into own hands, almost a vigilante, in spite of his government agent status, see the number of times he is at odds with law enforcement and his own agency to see the vigilante aspects of his character).

A society’s heroes (and their villains) define them.

What does James Bond say about us?

What does his appeal say about us?

He has lasted 60 years as a relevant, pop culture icon, while remaining much the same in a majority of ways (assassin, drinker, womanizer, violent, sensitive, charmer, vicious), what does that say about our culture that promotes such a creature as our hero?

If you cast the light in a different way, you could make him a monster; a sociopath who destroys lives, a government robot so heartless that he will have sex and murder within the same hour. He is so controlling that his drink must be the same and made the same way every time.

You look to a culture’s heroes and you learn so much about them.

What does James Bond say about us?

-D-

4 Comments

Filed under Pop Culturing: Movies, Books, Comic Books and Other Arts