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“V for Vendetta”: Virtue in Vengeance?

posted by kris rasmussen

Blowing up a national landmark to make a statement about terrorism. Unleashing a dangerous virus for political gain. No, I am not describing the latest news headlines. It’s the plot of “V for Vendetta,” the latest blockbuster action flick from the makers of the “Matrix” trilogy.

In the film, based on a graphic novel of the same name, “V” (played by Hugo Weaving) is an anti-hero living underground in a futuristic and totalitarian Great Britain. He has spent years plotting an elaborate plan of revenge against everyone who was once involved in a horrible scientific experiment in a prison camp where he was tortured. His plans take a detour, however, when a young woman, Evey (Natalie Portman), comes to his aid and he must return the favor. “V” begins to care for Evey, and she soon becomes inextricably involved in his crusade to rally the fearful masses from complacency to revolution against the military regime under which they live.

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“Vendetta” wants to be an important movie about ideas–political, moral, and spiritual–and it certainly starts out that way. In the first 15 minutes, we are inundated with numerous not-so-subtle references to 9/11, the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and the potential legacy of the current Bush administration. The movie is also quick to take on religion, as spiritual books such as the Koran are banned in this Orwellian society. And while the government slogan, seen everywhere in the film, states, “Strength in Unity. Unity in Faith,” the slogan is not referring to faith in God but blind faith in a corrupt government. Even “V” himself doesn’t have much use for God, as he explains early on in the story: “Unlike God, I don’t leave things to chance.” (For more on the theory that this is a deliberately and completely an anti-Christian film, click here.)

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And while all of the spectacular special effects and endless allegorical allusions to contemporary society pulled me in at first, by the film’s end “Vendetta” was an unsatisfying look at courage, justice, hate, and love. For the audience to care about “V” as a heroic figure, we need to see good in him that we do not see in the enemies he is fighting–but we don’t. “V” is as much of a monster as the people he destroys. There is no virtue in his vengeance and no interest in his own redemption.

During its two hours of murder and mayhem, “Vendetta” didn’t attempt to answer any of the significant questions it raised about life in a truly godless society, and it also didn’t give those questions the serious reflection they deserved.

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Lights, Camera, Dover!

posted by kris rasmussen

Dover, Penn.–the town made famous last year because of a court decision to overturn a school board requirement to teach intelligent design in the classroom–is about to get the Hollywood treatment. Variety reports that Paramount Studios is developing a film version of the trial, which will focus on the way the court’s decision divided the community. Ronald Harwood, the screewriter for the project, has said that he is using “Inherit the Wind,” the well-known play about the Scopes monkey trial, as his moral touchstone for the project.

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No comment from either Paramount or Pat Robertson–who told the community last fall they had turned their back on God–as to whether or not Robertson has been offered a starring role.

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GQ on the Anticlimax Beat

posted by burb

The April issue of GQ, the magazine for dudes with elegantly mussed hair, baits us with the cover line, “The New Christian Sex Craze.” This continues a series of articles on conservative Christians, most of which have peddled fringey crackpots as just average Christian Joes. The sex craze in question, however, turns out to be the chastity movement, which writer Walter Kirn discovers with a visit to the L.A.-based Christian college Biola University and an interview with Stephen Arterburn, co-author of the Christian man’s no-sex guide “Every Young Man’s Battle.”

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Kirn, who admits that he grew up a sexually repressed Mormon, confesses a lot of admiration for both the boys of Biola—who use scotch tape and paper to hide Jennifer Aniston’s curves on magazine covers and talk dirty to one another to quell urges—and for Arterburn. He’s astonished at how chastity has become a form of rebellion, in which sex is ardently hoped for but delayed: “The new abstinence is not anti-sex but pro-sex, and that’s it’s ingenious selling point,” he writes.

Strangely, Kirn is the one who comes across as anti-sex: His repeated jibe against the passionate for Christ is that they are bound to be disappointed when the real thing happens.

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God to Steve Carell: Build an Ark

posted by donna freitas

Before he was the 40-year-old virgin, Steve Carell had a hilarious cameo role as the competition news anchor to Jim Carey’s Bruce in “Bruce Almighty.” Now, Universal Pictures plans to release a Summer 2007 follow-up called “Evan Almighty,” with Carell as its central character.

Evan Almighty” will see the return of Morgan Freeman playing the part of God, who informs Evan (Carell)–an anchorman-turned-politician–that a flood is coming so he must build an Ark in the style of Noah.

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In my opinion, Carell’s few minutes on screen during “Bruce Almighty” completely stole Jim Carrey’s thunder. That, together with Carell’s recent successes in “Anchorman” and “Virgin,” makes me think that “Evan Almighty” will be a Summer ’07 must-see.

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