I've studied Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, and if that weren't enough, I've tortured my children and made them study both books (it's never too early to learn story structure, everything from video games to teen melodramas revolve around story). PLUS (pity my children), I've had them study Greek Mythology. So going to see Hercules was a no-brainer.
And I'm not going to discuss story or heroes of anything of the sort (no, that's a lie, I just reread this, and I kinda/sorta discuss it, but not in an academic way).
The power of myth is important, and certainly relates to the idea of "romance and other fairy tales." Mythology, Greek or otherwise, is the basis of our human story structure. It's the way we're wired to tell stories and the way we're wired to hear them. God bless the Greeks, they discovered something that took us centuries to relearn and reclaim. Myth is story, from Twilight to Gone with the Wind to everything Shakespeare.
Of all the stories, I think we're especially drawn to dark heroes (Rhett Butler, anyone? So much more interesting than Ashley Wilkes). I'm currently writing a dark hero who happens to be female, and she has struck a chord so deep in me, I can barely wrest myself from the laptop. I wrote 10,000 words yesterday (not typical for me), tears streaming down my face, because she is so broken and so flawed and so human. I have a deep seated NEED to know what happens next. Broken people don't respond to stimuli in ordinary ways.
Dwayne Johnson's Hercules is no less broken. He is a product of the 12-labors, a result of his dead family, and he has sold his soul because everything he valued is gone. His crew is equally flawed, equally broken and equally fascinating. Maybe I like flawed characters. No maybe. It just is. I am intrigued by Ingrid Berdal who plays the Amazon female who is a serious kick-ass heroine (also significantly younger than the men in her crew, but that's a Hollywood thing), but I am more drawn to the English professor type, of which there is no shortage. Ian McShane plays Amphiaraus and the voice you hear in the trailer. He could read the TV guide and I'd listen. Rufus Sewell of the gravelly voice (a personal weakness) is the epitome of the handsome English Prof (also a personal weakness). Why is it men in Hollywood age so well? And there's Dwayne Johnson who flat takes your breath away. The man knows how to work his body. The statue of David has nothing on this man.
I don't know what the critics have said or will say about this movie.* I don't care. I go to movies for escape (not unlike the Romans who went to the amphitheater for blood and gore). I want a story with the power of Calgon to "take me away."
Hercules took me away.
"Are you only the legend? Or are you the truth?" When The Ian McShane character has his monologue near the end (lovely part), he asks of Hercules what we should ask of ourselves. "You don't have to be a demigod to be a hero." You just have to act heroic.
Enjoy the movie. There are enough accents, beautiful people, and one-liners to satisfy anyone, and if that's not enough, the fight scenes are pretty cool. Mythic, maybe. :)
Ok, I lied. When I went looking for a link, I glanced the following quote (I tried not to look, but it was highlighted with bold letters): "Oafish pleasure." Get a grip Mr Hollywood Critic. You're too full of yourself. Remember the line from Trix cereal. "Trix is for kids." Hercules is for real audiences. It's about pleasure. Oafs like this critic need not apply.
Sorry, short rant, couldn't be helped. I'm not a fan of critics, but my mama raised me with the adage: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," to which critics do not ascribe (and therefore don't earn its protection). I'm not a critic. I talk romance, myths and fairytales because I like them. I'm an easy audience. Plus, I don't talk about movies I don't like. End of story.
The Myth of the Last Honest Man
Begin Again was a movie I knew nothing about going in. I do that sometimes. It's easier to get a legit opinion when you're not bogged down in hype. I'll be honest and say I normally wait until the movie is at the cheap theater when I haven't seen a trailer, but it's hot outside, and the movie theater promises a great air conditioner plus movie theater popcorn, so I figured even if I didn't like it, it was a win.
I left the theater feeling good, but that's true of most movies, so I'll say instead that I left thinking, and that's pretty powerful stuff. If I had to find a tie-in to my theme of romance and/or fairytales, I'd say that this movie is the myth of the last honest man.
Honesty and integrity are important to the Skaggs family, it's a myth of its own, I think, and I often find myself making choices based on what is right versus what is easy, and sometimes, choosing the right thing isn't rewarded in this world. Hell, sometimes it's punished. Dishonest people (especially those you think you can trust) will use your honesty and disabuse you of your trust. But that's not what this movie is about. Which is part of the reason I liked it.
It's not a romance in the traditional sense. It's about the power of money and fame and how easy it is to be seduced by either or both. Enter Keira Knightley, the second half of a couple who gets left behind by a man (Adam Levine) whose ego bought the hype of his imminent fame. Even though he is an absolute cutie, it was easy to dislike Levine. I mean, really easy (the beard did not help). Mark Ruffalo (one of my favorite actors) is a washed-up (and drunk) music producer who wants to produce Knightley's album, one she's not even sure she wants to make. What ensues is about redemption, and choices, and family. It's about the Cee Lo Green character who stands by Ruffalo, because even though he's had a few rough years, Ruffalo was responsible for this man's success (and we all hope that our friends will stand by us, even if--God forbid--we're washed up and drunk).
As I left the theater, I thought about authenticity, something that was important to the Knightley character. Creative people for the most part seriously have to consider the power of being authentic. It's hard, because when you're real, when you are who you are, that means any artistic judgments are about you and not some character. Being honest in art is hard and imminently rewarding, but it does take courage, and not everyone has it. I certainly didn't when I was young.
There are movies and songs and albums written, bought, and sold strictly for the desire for pop culture celebrity. It's the way of the world. And if they entertain, then they have value. Hey, I like popular movies and top-forty music, so I'm not throwing stones. If the value is entertainment, it's certainly a necessary commodity in our world. But what of those artists who wanted more? Who started to write or paint or act or sing because they had something to say?
I know people who "sold out" their art, and there's something about it that leaves them a hallow shell of who they were and what they believed about themselves and the world. Fame is seductive, as the Knightley character learns through her breakup with Levine. Does she follow in his steps? Sorry, no spoilers here, although the idea of the last honest man certainly foreshadows the ending.
We'd like to believe that in a world rife with greed and power, that an honest man can still succeed in the world. For me, the jury is still out. But if you do happen to find an honest man, let me know. Just because he's a myth doesn't mean I don't believe.
Funny story. During the Mercury Retrograde Incident in September 2016, Cindy's original blog disappeared. Five years, gone in a random act of chaos. Now she gets to repopulate her blog world one post at a time. Join her if you dare. :)