May 24, 2004

Tokyo Monster Show

What is there for a classics major to love about Troy? Well, the very last line of the movie uses a phrase from the Iliad when it refers to Hektor as a tamer of horses. And the first time I saw the thousand ships in a preview it took my breath away. Eric Bana turns in a great performance as Hektor, and his epic battle with Achilles is the high point of the entire movie. Unfortunately I was otherwise disappointed. White-armed Hera and fish-waisted Poseidon are nowhere in sight, and without the gods the love story of Paris and Helen is insipid motivation for war at best. The architecture of Troy is an eye-searing mishmash of at least five cultures from the ancient world, some of which were nowhere near the west coast of Turkey much less of that time period. The wrong people die and the wrong people live. Achilles is straight and Patroklos is his "cousin". Helen is blonde. And where are Kassandra and Iphigenia and Penthesilea? Even leaving aside my whining about the details, Troy is little more than a bloated Hollywood spectacle, occasionally pretty to look at but otherwise empty of the poetry that supposedly inspired it.

I rinsed the taste out of my mouth Thursday evening with a viewing of Fellini's wonderful film from 1984 And the Ship Sails On (E la nave va). A ship populated by composers, royalty, opera singers, and one very lovesick rhinoceros makes its way across the sea on a sort of bereavement cruise for a recently deceased diva. Along the way a child prodigy suffering from arrested development falls for the deckhands and impromptu concerts are given in the scullery and in the boiler room while an intrepid reporter tries to capture all of it for posterity. I love the way Fellini embraces the absurd and makes fantasy look like reality.

The original version of Godzilla (in subtitled Japanese!) just finished up a two-week run at the Castro, but I utterly failed to see it. As penance I visited the Tokyo Monster Show at the Shooting Gallery Saturday afternoon and soaked up some creature-inspired goodness. Godzilla and Mothra were well-represented, of course, but one of my favorite pieces was Dawn After Destruction by Jim Winters. It depicted nothing but an aerial view of a city with a swath of burning buildings, leaving the viewer to construct the cause of the disaster. Other standouts were Yumiko Kazukawa's very sexy Ice Cream Monster and a cute little thunder lizard by Tim Biskup.


And the Ship Sails On
The Shooting Gallery

Posted by nightfall at May 24, 2004 09:38 PM