The Spirit

Nazi for no good reason.


Nazis do not make as good a Christmas present as one might think.
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Reported on 1st of February, 2009

Christmas, the time of presents (and some guy who got born or something), is also the time of early morning film outings. Christmas is one of my favorite times to see a film, since the roads are clear, and you feel a bit like you shouldn’t be there. I am not alone on this, since the holiday is the biggest movie day of the year, so feeling like you shouldn’t be there may be one of the biggest draws to seeing a movie in the first place. That, and avoiding the uncomfortable silence between presents and eating.

The Spirit

25 December 2008 @ The AMC Century City 15


$0.50 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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But how to choose from the plethora? I this time was faced with Benjamin Button (three hours long), Marley & Me (it takes 13 years for a family to love their doggie, and then it dies), and Valkyrie (The tagline of ‘Many saw evil. They dared to stop it’ having been changed from the much longer: ‘They went along with evil for ten years or so, and then, for their own selfish reasons, decided to make a half-hearted and incompetent attempt to stop it, only to fail and then die’. The shorter version fits better on a poster).

I went with the Nazi one. The Spirit.

I should have known by the asterisk.

I should have known by the asterisk.

And if you’re surprised to discover that Frank Miller’s at once baffling and dull adaption of The Spirit has Nazis in it, I was too. Going to see a film is always a bit like Christmas, which may be why I don’t celebrate the holiday – I get to celebrate the excitement (and then the subsequent elation or crushing disappointment) twice a week. And if seeing movies obsessively is a form of paganism, burn me at the stake. Or at the very least, assimilate one of my holidays and call it your own. Why not start with Christmas?

In any case, this is the thrill of seeing a movie: you really have no idea what you’re going to get when you pull back the wrapping. The Spirit had received a 10% on the tomatometer, which was a good sign that I might be getting a Tango and Cash for Christmas. Tango and Cash, one of my favorite Christmas miracles, was not a critic’s darling; it was nevertheless inappropriately and unconsciously homoerotic, surreal, and stupefying. Sylvester Stallone? Wearing glasses?

It was not boring.

And the augers were good for The Spirit. Yes, on Christmas, the Godiva store was closed, but I found a Lindt crème brûlée bar at the 7-11 on Santa Monica and Overland (no, not that 7-11, the other one. And for those of you from out of town who don’t get that bit, there are two 7-11s on the same block in that section of LA. Sometimes, you just can’t be bothered to turn left). The candy, which didn’t taste the slightest bit like crème brûlée, was nevertheless delicious, and I intend to have it again.

As I entered the theatre, there was additional good omens: a crazy unwashed lady four seats to my right, and a guy saying ‘Wow’ at the trailer for the misguided Friday the 13th remake (from the man who brought you The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Tobe Hooper’s back? No, from the man who brought you The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Even I’m getting confused at this point). I couldn’t lose – if the movie was bad, crazy and crazy jr. would at least give me some distraction.

Bruce Campbell is cool, and shouldn’t be. Frank Miller is supposed to be cool, and isn’t.

Sadly, they were silent as the producers getting this week’s grosses. They were no doubt expecting a narrative film, with a story, a theme and maybe characters doing something. I myself am not that fussy. Sure, I’ve gone on and on about narrative films, but if not making any kind of sense is your bag, that’s cool, man. When I realized, right at the beginning, that I was watching the climatic fight scene, you know, at the beginning, I was hopeful that at least I might be getting a jaw-dropping baffle-fest for Christmas. And I really could use one of those, as my National Lampoon: Gold Diggers was getting a little threadbare.

And as the film progressed, I should have liked it. All the pieces are there. Scenes set inexplicably underwater. A protracted and unexplained scene where Samuel Jackson dresses as a Nazi, straps our hero to a dentist chair, and, instead killing him, dissolves a kitten. Like a soap opera, it’s a film where nothing, really, genuinely nothing happens on screen, but the very little that does happen is talked about endlessly. Unlike a soap opera, there are no aliens, twins, or kidnappings; nothing strange or even very interesting happens. But they do talk about it, in front of vertical blinds…in black and white!

As Frost/Nixon was to Doubt, so My Name is Bruce is to The Spirit I don’t mind the lack of wit. I loved My Name is Bruce for the reason that I don’t like The Spirit: when I say it lacks wit, I imagine a sheepish Bruce Campbell hearing me say that and saying, “Hey…”. Bruce Campbell is cool, and shouldn’t be. Frank Miller is supposed to be cool, and isn’t.

Nazis, kittens being dissolved in acid for some reason, Greek mythology, Scarlett Johansson; they’re about as hip as the Converse hi-tops (remember Converse hi-tops?) that the Spirit wears, and Frank Miller foregrounds extensively, as if to say: A Suit? With Sneakers? What would Nancy Reagan think? Unlike My Name is Bruce, during which I said “This is the greatest movie I have ever seen in my entire life” at least four times, The Spirit, during which I was silent, is a film that is so desperate to be memorable, that all you can remember is desperation.

If you’re going to make a bad film, be cool. But know that cool is a tricky thing. Everyone knows if you try to be cool, that’s not cool. Not trying to be cool is, but not if you’re doing it to be cool. I try to be cool, but I do it so desperately that it winds up being cool. If you were cool, you’d know what I was talking about. And now you are!

You deserved better, Lindt Crême Brulée bar.

You deserved better, Lindt Crême Brulée bar.

The Take

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Profits!
Mr. Samuel Jackson dressed up as a Nazi dissolving kittens. Only a heartless man would not find this wonderful.
$7.00
Total Profits
$7.00
Losses!
Making a movie, somehow, where Mr. Jackson dressed as a Nazi dissolving kittens is boring.
$3.50
Oh, I remember how. By actually leaving in all the parts in the comic book where they talk.
$3.00
Total Losses
$6.50

$0.50

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