Monthly Archives: June 2012

Evolution of the Tie

ties, neckties, neckwear, scarves, fashion, clothing, accessories, men's fashion


A myriad of modern ties. From GQ.com

Ever wonder where the tie came from, that rather useless modicum of clothing that has become the standard of business attire? It actually has a long evolution from a functional item to what it is today. The tie began its life in a very different form. Imagine a frog’s egg that becomes a tadpole and eventually a frog, or a caterpillar that builds its chrysalis and turns into a butterfly. That is the range from which the tie has evolved.

In the early days of civilization and human invention, people had to discover and puzzle out everything. When they finally moved from wearing furs, skins and large leaves, they began to figure out how to make threads from plants and weave them. The first looms were not large and like looms to this day, made rectangles of fabric. Once the weaver had their rectangle of fabric, they wrapped it around themselves. Pins and stitching developed, and because making fabric was time consuming and expensive, no piece was wasted. Early clothing was made by rectangular construction, meaning that rectangles from those looms were piece together. Sometimes the fabric was cut and piece but rectangles, squares and triangles were as inventive as early clothing got.

This is a simplification, and there are areas where sophistication in patterning was more advanced. But

tie, cravat, scarf, necktie, fashion, history, clothing, accessories

Ye old cravat from the early 1800s.

let’s get back to the tie’s birth. It actually starts with the outwear that people needed to protect themselves from the elements. The earliest forms were called mantles and were rectangles of fabric, sheepskin or furs. I’m talking mostly about European origins and these were closed with large pins and clasps. The mantle developed into the cloak, with piecing of rectangles. However, hats and hoods were made separately because the ability to put the two together was not yet there.

The hoods had an overlap and sat atop the cloak. The point or tail of the hood could be different lengths and was sometimes quite long so that it could be wrapped around the neck of the hood to keep the wind and rain out. The long tail was called a liripipe and eventually that hood was worn in different ways. Plopped on top of the head with the tail wrapped to hold up the dagged edge in a cockscomb way, the fashion changed away.

ties, cravat, neckwear, fashion, clothing, history

This cravat is more of an Ascot tie.

Collars came about and had been used in other countries for a while, such as with the Chinese and Mongols. A scarf or kerchief was used selectively, such as with the Roman army, but as an actual dress item it was a slower process. But the wrapping around the throat of extra fabric came about in the 1600s. Croatian soldiers in France wore red kerchiefs around their necks and the French decided this was a cool and wonderful thing. They adopted it into fashion and the word cravat comes from Croat.

The cravat was usually white and often an elaborate affair of frills and ruffs tied in various ways. Here is where something to keep the neck warm changed to something to adorn the neck. There was also the stock in the 1700s, a piece of fabric wound around the throat. In some weird way it might have been a very shrunken version of the ruff, which was popular in the early 1600s. A long separate piece of fabric, like the scarf, was not common until the 1800s. But that cravat got a workout from the Baroque to the Rococo and beyond.

By the 1800s you have scarves and ties, and the ties begin to morph in size and shape. There’s the Ascot tie, the bow tie, the long tie and the most essentially inane tie ever, the bolo tie, created in the 1940s. Ties became part of formal dress that hasn’t changed much since Victorian times. They’ve been long and short, narrow and wide, dull and paisley, and a variety of colors. Considering the conservatism of men’s clothing I imagine we’ll have another century of ties, and while some formal dress no longer requires the tie, it seems it will stick around as male fabric adornment for a while yet.

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Movie Review: Bass Ackwards

movies, entertainment, film, bass ackwards, Linas Phillips, road trip

Bass Ackwards is about a road trip to find oneself.

This is a low-budget, independent film from 2010, written, produced and starring Linas Phillips. It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

This was on a disk I borrowed from a neighbor and would never have asked for it. Because of this I almost didn’t watch it. It starts out slow and seems a depressing tale of a guy who is lost, drifting, doesn’t know what to do with his life, lives on people’s couches and generally is failing at trying to have a relationship with a woman who is married. From what I can tell he never gets farther than chatting with her and playing cards. Up until this point I was pretty bored with the meandering, going nowhere life. Then the woman’s husband/boyfriend follows her and tries to beat up Linas. It’s ineffectual, involving two guys who aren’t very physical or macho, rolling about and batting at each other. Linas doesn’t even know why the guy is after him.

After he goes to work on a farm, where he finds some old VW bus that’s been shortened. Without money or purpose he decides to travel east and maybe see his parents. He still entertains a dream that the woman will join him, but the viewer knows that won’t happen. Thus begins another road trip movie.

I found this started slow, depressing, dreary. The cinematography is pretty straight forward, the colors a little subdued. Once Linas gets going on his road trip the tale picks up. The true gems are the people he finds along the way. The small cast, Paul Lazar, Jim Fletcher and Davie-Blue, are also co-writers, along with Sean Porter.

Linas avoids getting beaten, barely, by a yokel who’s woman he was hitting on. Then he meets some guy who just kind of coerces Linas to let him sleep in the van. At first you think he might be a drug addict or nuts and maybe he is a bit. He meets a mechanic who first yanks his chain, then opens up to him. Through these encounters and a few others, Linas begins to find himself. The people come across as real, and have more depth than you think they would at first.

These encounters are the true heart of the movie and make it worth watching. So while the pace is as meandering as the road trip itself, and there is flatness to the beginning, the film builds on its humanity. This is no startling revelation, nor sudden change of fortune. It’s a tale of what life is often like; it continues on, like a gentle curve in the road, sometimes revealing vistas, sometimes potholes, and slowly you see Linas climbing out of stasis and finding a path.  I’ll give this 6.5 gallons of gas out of 10.

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Writing Update: Aurora Award & Smashwords

writing, awards, speculative fiction, poetry, anthologies, publishing

Creative Commons: gnuckx, Flickr

I’ve been remiss in mentioning this so here we go. I’m nominated again for the Aurora Award in poetry, one of Canada’s speculative fiction awards. This is for my poem “The Fish Wife” which was up at Polu Texni last year (April 3, 2011). If you’re Canadian you can vote for the Aurora Award nominees in all categories. Up to five people are nominated. There is a $10 fee (I’m not sure why but I think it funds the trophies) but if you already did a nominating ballot that fee covers the voting as well. People can vote until July 23 and the awards are given in August at the When Words Collide convention in Calgary.

writing, anthology, speculative fiction, publishing, science fiction, Third FlatironI also have a story titled “The Brown Woman” in an anthology titled Over the Brink from Third Flatiron Publishing. What’s different about this one for me is that it’s completely electronic version put up through Smashwords and Amazon for e-readers. I’ve not tried this format before but I’m working on getting my reprint collection up for July. Wayne Allan Sallee, a longtime writer in the dark fiction genre has given me a small intro for my book. He compares me to Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury, which is flattering.

And speaking of Bradbury, who died recently, he had a great influence on my way of thinking and eventually, writing. When mentioned on SF Canada, the list for professional Canadian writers in the speculative genre, it turns out that he was influential on a number of people. He had a great mind and I can only hope to be as great as he was.

Writing is filled with hope, imagination and sometimes rejection. It’s been a hard few months for me where I’ve had four stories make it through all the readings and cuts for different anthologies only to be cut in the final selection. It means the stories have merit but having so many not quite make it, when I had my hopes pinned on them, has been depressing. My writing doesn’t stay static. I’m always trying to improve, be more creative, be unique, but it’s a tough road sometimes. While persevering both in my skills and in submitting, it’s still hard to swallow a lot of rejections a once. So what I need right now is something to be accepted, just to lift my spirits. I have to remember my accomplishments while taking the rejections in stride.

So I continue to write, having finished one new story a week ago and working on another that will need to be done this month for submitting to an anthology. And I’m still trying to come up with a superhero/supervillain idea. Once more, into the breach.

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Gender Stereotypes and Food Don’t Mix

mancakes, cupcakes, food, baking, confections, gender stereotyping, taste, savory food

Bacon chili chocolate ManCake. Women, don’t touch!

Imagine this scenario; a woman is perusing the menu at a cafe and the waiter comes to take her order.

Woman: I’ll just have a coffee, black and the Whiskey Lime cupcake.
Waiter: I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t do that.
Woman: You can’t do that?
Waiter: No, sorry.
Woman: Why?
Waiter: Those are ManCakes. We can only serve them to men. And I’m afraid that only men drink their coffee black. I’d have to bring you cream.
Woman: What! I can’t have this cupcake because it’s only for men?
Waiter: Might I suggest the strawberry cupcake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles?
Woman: Sprinkles?
Waiter: Yes, women eat those sorts of things.
Woman: Forget it. Just bring me a scotch.
Waiter: Sorry, can’t do that. That’s a man’s drink. Might I suggest a daquiri?
Woman: You know Hemingway drank that, don’t you?
Waiter: Pardon me?
Woman: What about that man over there? He’s eating a cupcake with sprinkles and sipping a drink with an umbrella in it.
Waiter: Oh, he’s not a man.
Woman: What?
Waiter: He said his name is Genevieve and he’s a woman so “she” received the woman’s cupcake.
Woman: Fine. Call me George and bring me a double scotch. And the friggin Rum and Coke ManCake.
Waiter: Do you really want to mix your drinks?
Woman: Just bring them!
Waiter: Right away, sir.

 

food, cupcakes, mancakes, manly food, gender stereotypes, eating, taste

Manly man food according to DragonBeak at Deviantart.com RaRrrgh!

Building on the sadness of yesterday’s discovery is another port closer to home that makes ManCakes. Sigh. And in fact, now that I found them, my comment about the radio announcer saying they were invented to be more manly actually refers to these ManCakes and not the ManPies. Whereas yesterday’s diatribe was about manly meat and other savory pies, today’s is about cupcakes that will not be called such a thing. Because, as the Port Coquitlam bakery’s creators (down as only Geoff and Jeremy) say of their previous buying experiences, “Shortly after purchasing these cupcakes we became acutely aware that we are men, and that we have taste buds. We don’t want frilly cupcakes with inches of icing smeared on top.”

So these poor guys didn’t even know they were men until they bit into a frilly cupcake. Perhaps they should have removed the paper lace doily first. And then those dastardly cupcakes of the frilly and overly iced variety awoke their taste buds, because, from that statement above, it seems that women don’t have taste buds.

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Don’t manly men want to eat babies and raw meat and dirt? Image of Sebastien Chabal by Pauce Photography

Remember how I commented on advertising gone bad? These guys actually move above ManPies by a mile. While the site shows some pretty interesting and delicious looking cupcakes, the whole manly man complaint just doesn’t wash and actually offends me. When I look at those cupcakes, I see many flavors that I’d be interested in trying and I’m not really a cupcake person.  I’m not a bacon person either but I know many women who are. Pink peppercorn and grapefruit, chocolate red wine and bacon chili chocolate (Chocolate base filled with ancho chili chocolate buttercream, topped with vanilla buttercream and crumbled bacon) all sound worth trying to me.

So why this need to say that women only want sprinkles and frills and things made gooey sweet but with no “concern for what tastes good instead of what just looks good”? Seriously, guys? Sounds like someone’s bought into the advertising hype. I get pretty tired of finding that cider is sweetened up to be what producers think women want to drink. In fact, I tried a rather sad, new restaurant/pub last night where when I asked about ciders the waitress told me that they had Smirnotff Ice, which is in no way a cider. Seriously, perhaps women in their 20s like the gooey sweet stuff but not all do of any age or any particular gender. Please don’t perpetuate this gender stereotyping. I detest it.

Like the ManPies people, these guys will probably do very well because well, food sells, and people like good and interesting food. Notice that I said “people” and not men nor women. I’d would try these cupcake (and really, guys, a rose by any other name is still a rose) because they sound interesting even though I’ve only ever entered one cupcake factory and that was in Seattle. I know one of my male friends once reverently carried a cupcake all the way back to Maine with him and he seems pretty manly to me.

I’m looking forward to seeing a new revolution of gender foods. I can’t wait to see the Woman Steak and the Girl Ribs. Yumm yumm, the zombies will be especially thrilled.

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Sexual Segregation in Food

cannibal, man pies, cooking, meat pies, food, culture, bad advertising, marketing gone wrong

Would Hannibal like his man pies with a side of fava beans?

There are brilliant marketing ideas and then really bad ones, such as lingerie football. The newest one that caught my attention was “Man Pies.” I’m afraid that when I first heard this term I thought of something akin to cowpies but made by humans. Then I thought of some delicacy that Sweeney Todd would make and a cannibal would like, manpies. Yum yum.

But no, this isn’t some wacky horror tale; it’s story tale of marketing gone wrong. But hey, maybe I’m wrong, maybe these man pies are made by men and someone thought that was a good idea for a name. The team of man pie makers consists of creator Bryce Sharp, Amy Burn and Daniel Henry. People often think some names are great without really sounding them out or looking at them from different perspectives. Besides the unfortunate associations of this name, there is a worse undercurrent to the reference.

man pies, food, meat pies, cooking, savory, cannibals, meat, bad marketing

What a man pie really looks like.

But what, I’m sure you’re asking, exactly are man pies? They’re meat pies, plain andsimple. The company is out of Bellingham and uses locally raised ingredients. These pies include such delectables as Indian Curry, Spicy Pork and Beans and Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant pies, to name a few. While the site shows healthy and the mouth watering pies, I’m a little aghast at the suggestion here that these pies have to be so named to get men to eat them. I first heard about this company on the radio and at least that’s the thrust the announcers gave. Make manly pies for manly men, because you know, men are just not gonna want to eat cream pies or lemon meringue. Really? Really? What, are these pies too girly and fluffy for real men to eat?

While I’m sure this company is doing really well with their wholesome and delicious pies, I really wonder at the need to bring the genders into food. Next we’ll see Girl Cakes, Woman Waffles, and Boy Burgers. Yikes! Seriously, folks, while you’re making a great product, you probably want to keep the cannibals away. Tasty food is great, but marketing in poor taste doesn’t help.

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Traveling in Europe: Bruges

Europe 2011: Bruges

Clicking on the above picture will take you to the web album.

Bruges (Brugge) was by far my favorite of the three places, including Antwerp and Ghent, which I visited in Belgium. I actually took the tram or bus from Ghent to Bruges, a fairly short trip. The weather was perfect and quite warm and while I found the many brick buildings of Bruges and the canals to be particularly picturesque the smell wafting out of the sewers was fetid. Luckily, within a few feet the stink would dissipate.

I think I counted at least a dozen chocolate shops in the town center, but of course by the end of the day when I wanted to buy some I couldn’t find my way back or find any. I’m notoriously directionally challenged and old medieval lanes and streets tend to wend their way here and there and around buildings and canals. Given that, the area wasn’t large and I could always find my way back with a bit of exploration.

Brugges, Bruge, canals, history, medieval, architecture, travel, Belgium

Brugge canals have building buttressing the water and red trim to compliment the blue of the sky.

Belgium doesn’t have a museum/gallery pass like Holland does. However there was a day pass for several museums and galleries and even for a day trip it saved me money. It’s always good to ask at the train stations, tourist centers or the first gallery you go to (as I did in Brugge) if such a thing exists. My pass was for three days but at 15 Euros even for one day, I saved money.  Arenthuis is an 18th century mansion that housed contemporary art and works but the Bruges artist Frank Brangwyn. His paintings were bold and colorful and I quite enjoyed the style. He had also designed furniture and other items.

Bruggemuseum is actually a collection of historic buildings. I wandered into some of them and missed others. It was only one day after all and many things close at 5 pm including shops.  One of my favorites was the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a small chapel up on the second floor of a gothic building. It was beautiful both in simplicity and elaborateness. A gothic cathedral, it was small, with vaulted wood ceilings and every inch of wall and ceiling painted in patterns and colors. I loved it. It had such a great sense of peace as well. Somewhere, tucked away is a reliquary with an old rag supposedly covered in the blood of Christ.

gothic architecture, patterns, religion, basilica, Brugges, Bruge, relics, history, medieval

Details of the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Every inch of the interior was painted.

Because I will still battling travel ills and a cold I got started later in the day and wandered the streets, missing some of the historical buildings. In a way, after seeing so many churches over two weeks it was fine to miss a few. However, if I hadn’t needed to get to Brighton for the British Fantasy convention I would have stayed an extra day to explore Brugge longer.

By dusk I was trying to find a restaurant to eat at but they were tucked away on different streets so it took me a bit to find one. The place I entered was packed, with warm brick walls and a sweating owner trying to keep everyone seated. I don’t remember its name but I had begun to learn that the portions were quite large in Belgium so I ordered an appetizer and dessert, with a couple of glasses of wine. Beside me this couple had ordered mussels and the very large metal mixing bowl they threw their shells into was at least 16-20 inches across. My meal filled me nicely.

Brugges, Bruge, Belgium, history, travel, Flanders, medievalI was in Brugge at the end of September, as evidenced by the turning leaves with the weather at about 25-27 degrees, unusually warm for that time of year. The night came on early and I headed back to Ghent where I would leave for Calais the next day.

 

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Movie Review: Flushed Away

Flushed Away, animation, Dreamworks, Aardman, film, movies, Roddy

Roddy’s troubles are about to begin. Copyright Aardman & Dreamworks (on all images here)

I already mentioned I’ve been on an animation binge lately, as well as a movie binge in general (there’s a reason for this to be blogged about later) and another animation I recently watched was the 2006 British Flushed Away. If you’ve ever seen or are a fan of the Wallace and Gromit films then you’ll probably like this. Wallace and Gromit started as a short animation made with stop-motion plasticine or claymation figures. Wallace is an inventor of the kookiest kind whose kept on track by his faithful dog Gromit. Gromit has the wisdom that Wallace lacks with his genius. Created by Aardman Animations The Wrong Trousers where Wallace ends up in some crazed mechanized pants, won an Academy Award in 1993.

Aardman did several other award winners or nominees and their first full-length animation was Chicken Run in partnership with Dreamworks. Before this they did numerous shorts and TV series in Britain. Flushed Away, while exhibiting the same characteristics of stop-motion, was the first Aardman film done completely by CGI. The ability to rend water properly required this switch. Wiki reports that he production was so arduous and became so expensive that Aardman and Dreamworks split after its production.

Flushed Away, The Toad, Rita, animation, claymation, stop-motion, film, movies

Roddy & Rita are chased by The Toad’s henchmen.

 

The movie is about Roddy, a pampered pet mouse, who lives a life of leisure in an upper crust mansion. When the family goes out he scampers out of his gilded cage to party. But it’s a lonely life for a solitary mouse who’s invaded by Sid, a fat, slovenly, punked up street mouse. Things go awry and Sid flushes Roddy down the toilet where he emerges into the great underworld of mouse lives in the sewers. Roddy’s terrified and just wants to get home to his cushy life.

Flushed Away, movies, film, Aardman, Dreamworks, entertainment

Rita to the rescue. The innovative world of the mice makes this a visual delight.

He’s reluctantly rescued by Rita on her tug the Jammy Dodger. It seems that a jammie dodger is a biscuit with jam in it, and it’s a typical aspect of Aardman humor. Rita’s being chased by The Toad  and his henchrats because she’s stolen a jewel. Roddy points out that its fake and earns Rita’s wrath when he destroys it. The adventure ensues with The Toad’s evil plans to destroy the mouse world, his cousin Le Frog helping capture Rita, Rita and Roddy rescuing each other and a lot of shenanigans.

The characters have the classic Aardman features of a wide mouth full of teeth, big ears and round bulgy eyes. The humor is evident both in the dialogue and plot and in the settings and actions as well. This world is so rich with detail that it’s worth seeing a second time just to stare at all the brilliant images. Being a tiny world on a mouse-sized scale, the rodents have created their habitats out of bits and pieces of human discards; pins, bottle caps, broken pottery, toys, lost buttons, etc.  Roddy begins to prove his worth and his intelligence and eventually makes it back to his aristocratic mouse cage…

The cast of characters include Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellan, Jean Reno and Bill Nighy. While these arefamous names to me it makes not one iota of difference. When I watch animations, I really don’t care if it’s a big star or not. Half the time I can’t even tell who is playing what part. Obviously the studios believe it will sell the movies but I really wonder how many people care.

slugs, Flushed Away, Aardman, Dreamwork, movies, animation, Roddy

The models for the singing slugs. They add the icing on the comedic cake.

One last thing to mention about Flushed Away. Part of the background characters are slugs that float on lily pads or on other items in the sewers. They have two bulgy eyes on eyestalks, lips and teeth (of course). They shriek at opportune moments but also seem to float by and sink a sappy song at the right or wrong moments. I love the slugs and they’re great filler for comedic moments. I always love the Wallace & Gromit movies though some aren’t as funny as others. Flushed Away was a lot of fun and a pretty good plot,  without Roddy or Rita being the singular hero but a team that worked well together.  I would give this 8 jammie dodgers out of 10.

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Movie Review: Immortals

Henry Cavill, Theseus, Immortals, film, movies, Greek gods, gods

Henry Cavill’s Theseus is competently acted but the plot lacks. Nice man muscles though.

I actually had no clue what this 2011 film was about when I got it. I thought Immortals might be about superheroes and in a way it is, the superheroes of old. It is a tale of Theseus; you know, the guy who battled the Minotaur and did other heroic deeds. In the ancient world of Greece you had your gods, your demi-gods and your heroes. As time, history and mythology progressed, some heroes became demi-gods. And when you have thousands of years of history and mythology the stories get a little muddied.

So I was willing to accept a lot of fantastic elements and let some of the costuming (of the gods) be historically inaccurate. But let’s look at the costuming because it’s often a bugaboo for me. Since this is placed in ancient Greece, it’s at least pseudo historical. How pseudo?  A lot.

Minotaur, Theseus, movies, film, Greek gods, Olympian, Immortals

I was okay with this interpretation of the Minotaur though the tale strays pretty far afield after this.

Theseus’s people live in a narrow cliffside area, but there are no trees, no grass, no chickens and what looks like no way down the very high, sheer cliffs to fish. So what do they do there? Is this the town center, missing any semblance of commerce, or a temple? Who knows but the people are dressed in weird baggy homespun robes of indiscriminate shape with odd woven cape things on some of them. Theseus himself doesn’t seem to be doing much but hacking ineffectually at a dead tree on a rocky shore. But at least he has a nice impression of leather armor/breastplate though if he’s not a warrior I’m not sure why he has one or how a man of his age doesn’t seem to be part of the army or working a little harder at surviving.

I can give the bundles of fabric to emulate peasantish clothing, I could even forgive that he has some leather armor but then we get to the sibyls in the sibylline monastery. First, monastery? Really? The Greeks had temples with priests and priestess. Monasteries came about with Christianity. And since we’re dealing with pseudo history, the “monastery” is some ugly rectangular edifice with no windows, and reminiscent of Mordor once the Heraklion forces move in.  But back to the sibyls who look like they’re wearing semi sheer red and black chitons or peplos (the rectangular garment we associate with Greece). Underneath, lo and behold, they’re wearing lovely red skirts with corset/bodice tops. Yep, that’s as far from ancient Greece as I am.

The worst case of crabs I’ve ever seen. The Immortals

The Heraklion forces are lead by the ruthless Hyperion (don’t get me started on the names), played by Mickey Rourke. I have to tell you it’s hard to take the really bad man seriously when he’s wearing a crab claw on his head. I kid you not. Of all the bad guy helms that could be made, I guess we can give this one points for originality but it is ludicrous beyond belief. The silly hats and headdresses don’t stop there. Enter the gods, dressed all in gold, plastic gold armor from what I can tell, and a nice gold corset top for Athena (no Aphrodite here; after all it’s about war). They’re all wearing bizarre headdresses that I can’t figure out until I hear Poseidon’s name and figure out he’s got shells on his ears in gold filigree. And the guy I took to be Apollo with giant rays of gold coming off of his hat (there’s too much air space for it to be a helmet) turns out to be Ares, god of war. The helmets that the Olympian gods don when they have to battle the Titans are nothing Greek at all and in fact pretty similar to the Titan helmets. Strangely the gods wear helmets but Theseus doesn’t in battle. Why why why do the dumb heroes and villains fight without their helmets unless they have no brains (or the directors don’t).

Immortals, Greek gods, Athena, Ares, movies

Ares looks back to measure Athena’s crown and see if it’s bigger than his. As a historical note, the ancient Greeks did not wear crowns.

Oh and the Titans, well they’re held in Mount Tartarus for all time, just chained up together in a box (it’s more cruel you know) so they can wait and wait. They’re shown as identical and when unleashed there are more of them than we saw. And let’s not forget that the Titans were 12 gods before the Olympians came along, and 6 of them were women. We see mindless cloned killing machines that Zeus ends up burying by pulling down gigantic statues, placed inside a mountain that nobody goes to. Why didn’t they do this first? And the gods, well they are so super fast that each of them can kill five Titans in the literal blink of an eye, but somehow the Titans still get the better of them and kill them all including some nondescript Olympian army dudes. No more Poseidon or Ares or Athena? Theseus doesn’t save the day except to kill Hyperion before he succumbs (but is saved to the heavens by Zeus).

The sets have their share of CGI, a bit too much and too obvious I think, but the biggest problem with the movie is that it’s a mishmash and doesn’t know what it wants to be. If you’re going to take one of the many varieties of a myth and do your own interpretation, that’s fine but this has the feel of someone with ADHD on too much caffeine, from the disjointed imagery and costumes to the storyline. I didn’t mind that the Minotaur is a very large man wearing a metal made bull helmet but when Theseus chops off his head in the mausoleum where he puts his dead mother,  he feels the need to carry it outside with him. The crypt suddenly becomes the labyrinth though he had no trouble walking into it and there is no Ariadne to give him a ball of twine but his own bloody or wet footprints. Once outside and seeing his friends about to be killed he tosses the head over the cliff and uses the Epirus bow.

Now we come to it, the item that Hyperion seeks and that Theseus finds. Okay, there is no mythological Epirus bow though there was a town of Epirus and Greeks like many cultures had archery. But the bow (very modern in looks) might have been tied to Apollo but they leave that out. And it’s a weak plot device and doesn’t add a lot. The sibyl Phaedra who has been trained as a prophetess gives up her virginity and pretty much the first sight of Theseus. At least in the myths they do have him married to Phaedra for a while.

The acting is competent with such names as Henry Cavill (Theseus, The Tudors), Mickey Rourke, Luke Evans (Zeus, Three Musketeers), Freida Pinto (Phaedra, Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Dorff (Stavros, Public Enemies) and John Hurt. But you can only do so much when the storyline dips and drops all over. When Poseidon causes a seismic wave of watery doom, the heroes get off the ship that is destroyed with their enemies, not to mention that we don’t see the rest of the decimation of a seaside coast for miles around. But hey, gods are capricious. Personally, I think I know why the gods meddled with Theseus even if Zeus threatened them with death if they interfered with the free will of humans. (Since when did Greek gods worry about morals?) They were probably so bored with the storyline that they had to spice it up with the action shots. After all, enough special effects will carry a story that should just sink to its watery doom. I’m afraid I can only give this a generous 5 Olympian statues out of 10. Originally I gave a 6 but that’s too generous by far. Addendum: I just saw Wrath of the Titans and it was even worse. I could only give it 2 crumbling statues. Directors, just don’t use existing myths/legends if you’re going to mangle them so badly.

Zeus, Greek gods, Immortals, film, movies

Hunky Zeus coddles Theseus but bans the other gods from doing so.

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Filed under Culture, entertainment, history, movies, myth