Abs and Angels
TUTTLE MODE | REVIEW
by James Tuttle
It’s been a while since my last movie review of Thor in the spring. I suppose that’s because it’s been a while since I had a free minute at the same time that a movie with a lot of hunky shirtless guys was in theatres. You probably recall that the shirt-to-shirtless ratio turned out to be pretty dismal in Thor but Tarsem Singh’s new film Immortals didn’t have that problem. It’s set in an age before shirts were even invented!
I should probably be embarrassed that I so rarely support the entertainment industry by actually buying tickets at the cinema, $19 each in this case, as involved in it as I am. Many of my clients are heavy hitters in the business, I myself am on hold to act in a couple of indie flicks and I have at least one screenplay being considered for a Lifetime Network-level budget. On the other hand, our cleaning lady Esperanza probably does, too. That’s how we roll here in L.A.
As you’d expect in a Tarsem film, the visuals are completely stunning. He only makes one every six or seven years so he probably has a lot of time to think about how he wants it to look. The soldiers leaping gracefully, slicing each other’s limbs off and plunging spears through fragile necks are as artfully done as the Virgin Oracles’ stupendous costumes on their foray through the desert wilderness or the hero’s city carved into the Aegean cliffs like Pueblo Indian dwellings. I wish he’d taken as much time to consider the story, but that was clearly not his top priority. In this plot, an outcast peasant is chosen to defend the people of prehistoric Greece against an evil king on a quest to enslave them by unleashing savage monsters that had been imprisoned by the gods centuries before. Hmmm.
My first big problem with this film was portraying Theseus as a peasant, or “untouchable,” when the hunky, gorgeous Henry Cavill is clearly the regal, haughty stuff of the ruling class from the opening scene. The real Theseus—you know, the one who slew the Minotaur and founded Athens—was the son of both a king and the god Poseidon with the same woman, so I don’t get where the peasant theme came from, unless Tarsem is trying to make him one of the “99%” and, thereby, more identifiable to today’s disenfranchised moviegoers. Well, that angle didn’t work. He should have just trusted that, with the character’s heroism and Cavill’s unmistakable charisma, men want to be him and women (and some other men) want to fuck him and let it go at that.
The costume design was odd, but original and generally effective until it came to the Olympians and their shiny roller derby outfits. I have it from a pretty reliable source that Tarsem was initially reluctant to consider Twilight hottie Kellan Lutz for the role of Poseidon because he looked “too gay” in his headshots. This objection was overruled after viewing some of the actor’s video footage, probably from the Twilight franchise because that, of course, is so not gay. The decision to then wax his muscular Nineties gay porn star body and dress him in gold lamé and a Mardi Gras headdress is a little beyond me. Luke Evans, who played Zeus with a gravitas and compassion that overcame his costumes, deserves an honorable mention and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future. The same goes for the lovely Freida Pinto, seemingly wise beyond her years and making out pretty well in a flattering wardrobe. I must give Mr. Singh props for directing his actors quite well in a film of this genre.
In the end, you’re going along for a wild ride and that’s definitely what you get. Scott and I came out of that movie feeling like we’d run a fucking marathon followed by an intense Pilates session. The long, violent battle sequences and shocking torture and execution scenes had me holding my breath, squirming in my seat, turning away and even hiding behind my knees. Then we’d be treated to a peaceful scene starring Henry Cavill’s luscious pecs and beautiful eyes, only to cut suddenly to someone’s head being pulled off. It really was exhausting but I recommend seeing it for the fun and for the cardio!
Speaking of scantily clad people, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show finally aired last night, perfectly timed to send clueless straight guys on lingerie shopping frenzies in malls across America. I’d nearly skipped doing a fashion segment this week because the fall/winter collections are already on sale and it seems too early to start shopping for spring unless you’re planning to be in Hawaii or the tropics for Christmas. I usually love the VS Fashion Show, though. I realize that Victoria’s Secret is not cutting-edge fashion but how cutting-edge do you ladies really want your damn underwear to be? It needs to hold up your boobs and cover your cooch without cramping your style and it’s bonus points if it looks good, too, right?
I know that Victoria’s Secret catches some flak from the fashion world because this show is more of a fun celebration of Brazilian bombshells than a serious consideration of finely crafted couture, but millions of people in ninety countries around the world tune in to watch this show so they must be doing something right. In many runway shows, the actual apparel can become a tiny cog in the production machine and this is true to the greatest degree here. The models steal the show, as they rightfully should because they are truly some of the world’s most beautiful women, and the bras and panties are often so hidden under the fantastical costumes that you forget what the starting point of the entire thing was. Never mind, though. I still record the show every year and play it whenever there is nothing better on or if I just want something fun in the background while I’m writing or wrapping Christmas presents.
This year, they began with a Ballet segment that was very “Black Swan” and opened by beautiful blonde Candice Swanepoel, who is practically the face of Victoria’s Secret these days, wearing a wonderful pale lilac tutu outfit and red ribbon heels. The lilac-red combination was really breathtaking and the classical ballet-inspired looks walking out to a great rock song from that Gossip Girl girl was an unexpected treat, especially because I didn’t know she had any talent.
The superhero comics theme of the second part was pretty disappointing with the primary colors and big sheer capes with the words “INCREDIBLE” and “WOW” printed on them but things got better with the succeeding Spanish segment followed by the Aquatic group and Miranda Kerr (Mrs. Orlando Bloom) sporting the $2.5 million bra in the comfort of her enormous abalone shell.
The New Orleans/Belle Epoque-inspired group that I’d expected to hate was, in contrast, my favorite by far. It’s also the most difficult to explain. If you think of the costumes from the “Lady Marmalade” scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and throw in a little voodoo and Gone With the Wind, I think you might almost get there. Rather than being derivative of other designers’ work, this might be a twisted and wonderful seed of genius.
Unfortunately, the finale was the Pink Collection that featured a performance from our colorful neighbor from down the street, Nicki Minaj. It looked like the Eighties exploded up in there and was so literal with the combinations of neon brights and the black netting that it’s not even worth mentioning. In fact, Ms. Minaj with her pink hair completely overshadowed the whole mess. Without any disrespect to veteran VS show designer Todd Thomas, I just wonder if they might get Sarah Burton to do some corsets and minutely ruffled trains and put Philip Treacy onto creating those wings next year. As much as I enjoyed this year’s show, that would be one I could really get behind.
And don’t wear denim on the top and bottom simultaneously. I didn’t think I was in danger of seeing that until yesterday in the supermarket checkout line. Still recovering.