Monday, May 05, 2008
Netflix Shenanigans and Bonus (Eye Candy!)...
This past weekend, I spent some quality time with my Netflix queue by watching Eastern Promises. I don’t think I need to go into how much I LOVE Viggo Mortensen, because, frankly, it would be like a kid trying to explain to you the size of the fish he just caught… I LOVE him thiiiiiiiis much… basically, it’s the kind of hyperbole that’s unquantifiable, like infinity times infinity… anyway, that’s how much I love him.
So the movie… It’s about a kindly, well-intentioned ER doctor in London, played by Naomi Watts, who finds herself drawn to the fate of a new-born baby whose mother, a Jane Doe, passed away during the birth. She finds a journal, written in Russian, on the deceased mother’s body, and in an attempt to identify the baby’s next of kin, finds herself suddenly and inexplicably knee-deep in the Russian Mafia. Turns out the dead woman was involved in the nefarious practices of said Russian Mafia, or vory v zakone (Thieves in Law), and the journal and the baby are forms of evidence greatly coveted by both the Mafia and an increasingly pushy Scotland Yard. At the center of the conflict is Nikolai Luzhin, played by Viggo, the Mob Boss’s son’s personal valet and “cleaner,” and if you don’t know what a “cleaner” does, I suggest you look it up. It’s, like… something everyone should know.
Basically, Anna (the doctor) starts asking too many questions to the wrong kinds of people and the story unfolds as she attempts to get out of a potentially fatal situation involving hitmen, mob bosses, and knowing too much. The twists are unexpected, the emotional strands are well pulled and well placed, and Viggo has a full frontal nude scene. Granted, he’s fighting two goons with knives while nude, so the blood and graphic representations of severe bodily harm kind of ruin the normal appeal of a full frontal nude scene, but I’ve learned to take what I can get in mainstream Hollywood fare. Also, the Russian accents are truly delicious on the ears. I know some people think Russian sounds ugly, but I think it’s really fascinating… the way the r’s are rolled and the way vowels are swallowed, I mean, there’s nothing else quite like it. What it lacks in phonic beauty it totally makes up for with sheer interest. I could listen to it for hours.
All nudity aside, Viggo’s character is a disturbing, yet strangely optimistic look into the human side of being a career criminal. While these men (and women) are hardened and morally bankrupt, they are still capable of human compassion and decency (at least, in this movie). Supposedly, these people are frightening because they commit incredibly heinous crimes nonchalantly, almost like it’s a habit. This movie asks what is scarier… the idea that they are capable of doing evil, or the fact that true acts of charity feel so unnatural to them? I have a lot of living left to do, but as cynical and bitter and misanthropic as I tend to be, I still believe that people are good at the core. Being kind and thoughtful and compassionate is very easy, but being evil is actually kind of hard; it requires hard work and practice and a hardening of the spirit. It’s the hardships, unfairness, and injustices in life that make good people work very hard to be evil.
The other neat thing I want to mention: tattoos play a big part in the movie. Each member of the Russian mob is etched with many important tattoos that identify their status or rank in the organization. In a way, the tattoos are visual records of the criminal’s life. For example, each stint in prison is documented in ink on their body somewhere. I assume successful hits are documented as well. So like, if the body of a member of the Russian Mafia washed up on the riverbank, or something, a person in the know could tell you the guy’s whole life story just by putting together the pictures. This isn’t anything new or anything, I know that prisoners in US prisons still do this kind of thing. But it got me thinking… if I was to document my life on my body with tattoos, what would that… be?
I remember when I got my tattoo, the hardest part was trying to figure out what to get. I remember feeling a little bit depressed because I honestly couldn’t think of anything I’d ever done or been through that might merit a permanent mark on my body. It made me feel like I hadn’t done anything or been anywhere. I went to school, and I got a job, and you know… nothing special about any of that. But after seeing Eastern Promises, I was laughing out loud to myself thinking of what my body would be covered with if I chose to do it like the Russian Mob. Like, a bust of Beethoven on my ass to symbolize my classical music training. Or two diplomas on each arm to represent my two graduations. Or something to represent those three summer camps I went to… Obviously, all of that’s pretty lame and I would never do it, but again… this gets depressing. See what I mean? This is making me want to go skydiving or something. Anything at all just to feel like I’ve done something.
Anyhoodle… see the movie. ‘Tis good! 4.5 out of 5.
Bonus Eye Candy after the jump!
These two are from the movie...
And finally, Viggo as Aragorn... quite possibly my favorite...