©2009 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
Book of Eli

Filthy says:
"Is it Sunday morning already?"

You know what's really hip these days? Not hula Hoops or Twitter. Not self-publishing your Avatar fan fiction, although my nephew Jimmy seems to be doing a lot of that. It's making post-apocalyptic pseudo epics featuring cannibals. All the cool people are doing it. The neighbor kids are, and they asked me if I'd play a gaunt, violent flesheater. They didn't ask it to my face, because I have carefully cultivated the reputations of a gaunt, violent flesheater. I watched The Road a few weeks ago. It featured a father and son picking their way across a barren landscape. It's a humanistic film, not really questioning whether there is a God. Rather, it makes the point that you take care of yourself. There is no salvation, no miracles, and only a sliver of hope.

The Book of Eli is the latest after-the-end-the-cannibals-will-get-you flick. It's a quasi-mystic raging volcano of horseshit with a silly story, an even sillier surprise ending and a message as offensive and hypocritical as a priest standing up with his mouth smeared in feces to sermonize about the evils of shit-eating. Denzel Washington is Eli, a man who has been determinedly walking across the desolate ruins of the USA for thirty years since "The War" obliterated most everything and everyone. Take note of the prophet-ish nature of his name. He's headed west. Let's see, 30 years is about 11,000 days. The United States is, give or take, about 3,000 miles wide. Even assuming he started in the east, Washington is the world's slowest walker. At this rate, it takes him ten minutes to cross a residential street.

Washington has a mission, though. It's meant to be unclear to us what that is, and the vagueness should lend mystique. On his stroll, he slashes up a few dozen bad guys with a machete. He comes across an outpost town, which looks like the Old West in some iconic way--except with way more product placement for J. Crew and Busch Beer--run by the despotic, greasy Gary Oldman. It's one of the few known places with fresh water. Oldman lives well, the townsfolk scrape by, including Tom Waits in a what-the-fuck cameo as the proprietor of a post-apocalyptic Radio Shack. I'm still not clear on why this desolate town has to look like the old west other than some dumbass thought it looked cool.

Oldman seeks a book. He doesn't say which one and the audience is supposed to wonder for a while. I'll give you a clue: think of the overly-serious title of the movie. Hell, here's another clue: it's not just a book, it's a Good Book. Oldman wants it because he thinks he can use it to control the ignorant and bored masses. Turns out, Washington has the only copy left in existence. Yeah, that's a preposterous idea, but this movie is a parable, see. It's symbolic, although not nearly as elegant or simple as the ones in the book Oldman seeks. Also, this parable is way, way bloodier than anything in the New Testament.

When Washington refuses to hand over the book, there's another fight, and Washington shoots and maims another dozen people. Washington is one bad motherfucker in the name of God. Never misses a shot, never gets hit. He slices, dices, slashes up genitals and shoots through the head, as bloody as a Mel Gibson Jesus movie starring Jason Statham.

After the high-noon shootout, Washington hits the road, with Mila Kunis as a local who tags along in a role that's as useless as she is sort of cute. Washington and Kunis encounter a cute elderly cannibal couple with a "no trespassing" sign out front. What the fuck? That's like a hunter trying to scare deer away. Or a teen boy wearing a sandwich board that reads "I have a tiny dick that I don't know how to use." The sign is pretty representative of The Book of Eli's gap between logic and story.

Oldman and his henchmen chase down Washington in a series of trucks that are, apparently, still running fabulously on thirty-year-old tires and gas. Oh, and Washington has a first generation iPod he listens to every night, because, you know, those batteries never lose their capacity for a recharge. Kunis, who was born after "The War" can drive a truck flawlessly, even though she's never even touched one before. I'm pointing out a small fraction of the inconsistencies that are glossed over or ignored in the Book of Eli because the dumbass Hughes Brothers who directed think they have something big and important to say. They don't, unless their big message is "We're fucking hypocrite assholes who think too highly of ourselves."

Oldman succeeds in shooting Washington. The shot doesn't kill him, though, because he has secret magic powers given to him through faith, something fleetingly referred to as "the fire inside" or some such horseshit. Mystic hocus pocus, the same kind that benefits serial killers in slasher movies when they keep coming back from the dead after the heroes start to relax.

The theme of the Book of Eli is that exploiting the bible is bad. Saving it is good. Oldman wants to exploit the bible, and by extension religion, for his own purposes. He doesn't care about the message but what he can get through it. Washington wants to protect it and use it to light the world with knowledge. This is an age-old conflict told hundreds of times in history. But to make this point the Hollywood grassfuckers have a hero that slaughters scores of people. He beats the shit out of them, maims and slashes and never acts repentant. Where the fuck is that in the Bible? Explain again, please, the message of love. This shit might fly in the Old Testament, but this movie ain't a Jewish parable. There'd be more begetting if it were. The Book ofEli is New Testament shit. In order to tell us it is bad to exploit and subvert the message of the bible for your own gain, Book of Eli exploits and subverts it. For the sake expediency in making its one grand point (and hoping to make hundreds of millions of dollars). Seriously, I don't see Jesus taking the apostles to this one at the drive-in. He didn't preach tolerance just because nobody handed him a Kalashnikov. The Sermon on the Mount was not "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."

The end of the movie reveals that Washington was blind all along. His bible was Braille, so Oldman can't use it. So, yeah, throughout the movie, he walks by faith, shoots by faith and slashes by faith. God apparently gave him some serious Jedi powers. He let there be a war that destroyed everyone, but then gave this one blind dude with bloodlust magical powers. Oh, some might call this a spoiler. But really, how can you spoil a piece of meat that been sitting in the sun as long as this has?

The Book of Eli is dismal. It's bleak, silly, over-the-top with self-importance, overly driven by a flawed message and a wonderful example of why Hollywood should shut the fuck up any time they get an inkling to preach. I paid ten bucks to be entertained, not to be given a bastardized version of what I can get fro free Sunday mornings. At least churches give you free bread. One Finger.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Film Advisory Board

The Spy Next Door is "Flat-out Fantastic!"

Be advised "The Film Advisory Board" is one person with a crappy web site which hasn't been updated in several years. Yet, it's a source Hollywood relies on to validate their own quality.

Filthy's Reading
Jeff Kinney - Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The Last Straw

Listening to
Talking Heads- Remain in Light


Old Joy