“I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees, and misty memories of days gone by. We could never see tomorrow. No one said a word about the sorrow…”

Sung by Al Green (1972) and written by Barry and Robin Gibb in 1970.

Solara: “I hate it here.”

Eli: “Then change it.”

Strictly speaking, I am wholly against book burning, and any type of censorship. I wanted to call this blog: “Anti-heros up to the eyeballs” but was told to use the title of the film in the title of the blog. True, I am usually not the kind of person that likes to be told what to do, but I am also not the kind of person to ignore sage advice either.

Denzel, Denzel. Denzel slays me with his strong leads. I mean that in a good way. With much conviction I say: Denzel is not on bullshit. Intelligence and experience combined are wisdom. Wisdom is the message that Mr Washington  brings us. Denzel Washington’s filmography:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000243/

I remember he played a doctor on the tv series “St. Elsewere”(1982-1988). His character was strong, smart, and kind. A complicated man, but a righteous one. That has generally been the type of role that Denzel represents. Denzel Washington is one classy guy.

There is some controversy about the religious content. Religion may always be a hotbed topic in this country; it is in others. Google: “Book of Eli religious controversies” if you’re into that kind of thing. Google has about 130,000 results you can dig through. I did find some interesting blogs about “Why a religious theme is so offensive” in this movie, but, I’m not going to go there. You just can’t please some of the people most of the time. Sadly, some people are only happy when they are miserable.

Did I like “The Book of Eli?” Yes. It was highly effected, a pretty movie, but it does have a lot of substance, an ensemble cast, nice narrative structure, polished writing, editing, cinematography and special effects; you can’t really label it something as simple as “eye-candy.” At the beginning of the movie, I started talking about the desaturation because it cast the perfect mood. I was shut down immediately with: “Shhhh. You’re ruing the movie for me, man.” I shut-up, but barely contained my enthusiasm for the effectiveness of the visual effects.

As an action/Sci-fi film, I knew in advance  that the martial arts community was excited to see this one. Guro Dan Inosanto did much of the stunt/action consultant work. Guro Dan trains many arts, and any students in his lineage can see the weaponry, trapping and kali influence there. “Book of Eli” is different, better than anything sci-fi I’d seen in a while. Hooked immediately. The weird colors, the saturation, the slow-mo HD that is a child of the “Matrix,”(1999) but Eli is more than just another weak pantomime.  This film stands on it’s own legs. I’m just going to list the supporting cast and some of my favorite productions they have been in. In no particular order:

Tom Waits:  Rumblefish (1983),  Down By Law(1986). Outstanding Weird Movie: “Fishing with John” a documentary series that includes Denis Hopper, Matt Dillon, Jim Jarmusch, and Tom Waits all going on fishing trips with John Lurie (who was born in Minneapolis.) The Criterion Collection has a nice version of this.

Gary Oldman:  Sid and Nancy(1986), True Romance(1993), The Fifth Element(1998). Outstanding Weird Movie: “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead”(1990). If you want to see Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and Richard Dreyfuss do a Shakespearean period piece, this is the one to watch. It’s pretty clever. It’s Roth and Oldman. The two great tastes that taste great together.

Jenifer Beals: Flashdance(1983), L word(2004-09). Outstanding Weird Movie: Feast of All Saints(2001) A TV miniseries that is an adaption of an Anne Rice novel. Set in 19th century New Orleans, and it’s supporting cast includes: Ossie Davis, Pam Grier, Jasmine Guy, James Earl Jones, Eartha Kitt, Ben Vereen, Forest Whitaker. It is not a monster novel, but if you were into Anne Rice/Rampling/Roqulaure, you might appreciate this movie.

Ray Stevenson:  “Punisher: War Zone”(2008), “Rome” (2005-07). I haven’t seen enough of Ray Stevenson’s work to give him an outstanding weird movie, but I’ll say that Stevenson made me notice Titus Pullo. He was the reason I watched”Rome.” Yes, he played a big brute, and yes I am mixing a bunch of tv with film. Good acting is good acting, and something you can rent is something that can drive away the winter boredom. HBO does quality work, and as a brand, I like their products.

Milla Kunis: “That 70′s Show”(1998-2006), Meg’s voice (before she became Ron) on “Family Guy”(1999-present).  Outstanding Weird Movie: “Gia”(1998), when she played a young Angelina Joilie, and Angelina Joilie plays a crazy-lesbian-model-junkie.  Strange, because Milla is really starting to look like Ms. Brangelina.

There is a bit part with Malcolm McDowell, known for “Clockwork Orange”(1971), “Caligula”(1979), and “Gangster Number 1.”(2000) Mr. McDowell has secured himself a position in the cult anti-hero hall of flizzle, predominantly playing a sociopath and a rapist. He has also been in gems with names like “Wet”(2009) and “Suck”(2009). Outstanding Weird Movie: “Tank Girl”(1995) with Lori Petty, Ice T as a kangaroo gangsta, and Naomi Watts as a nerdish brunette.

Final note about the movie: I like the pragmatic character of Eli. Eli is not a perfect man, he is not a hero, he is a man on a mission. There is a difference. He is driven with that nagging sense of responsibility. Eli makes moral abstracts bleed into hard, bloody reality. Early in the film, Eli/Denzel Washington is portrayed as a wanderer, loner, walker. A reluctant warrior. He is the traveler in search of…   something.  Something more than he has, than he is. His character is nicely developed without being too fanatical.

I interpret this film to follow the dystopian lineage of “High Noon”(1952), “Animal Farm,”(1954), “Fahrenheit 451″(1966), “Mad-Max”(1979),  and “Equilibrium”(2002). In this film, a failed (and failing) government, corrupt politicians, and helpless citizens are reoccurring themes.  There is a message of spirituality and anti-censorship. {How liberal!} The government tries to secure control of emotion/knowledge, to keep the people down, while presenting an evolved and utopian government. It is a transparent lie, the people are tired of the lies, frustrated with the social system. Eli is standing on a revolution. The revolution starts with one man. The movie is about the heart and fortitude of that man. The protection of religious freedom. (Even if your religion might be anti-religion.) A warning about abuse of power. The inspiration of one man. The book is a metaphor for Eli’s spirit.

“It’s not just a book. It’s a weapon.” -Carnegie