March 28th, 2003

2020 lack of vision

regaining my equilibrium

So, instead of Solaris I went to see a ridiculous film that should never have been made, or at any rate never given general release called Equilibrium, not that there aren't any good things in it, oh no. There's (bonkers made-up martial art) gun kata, Sean Bean, an entire society based upon the ramblings of Sean Pertwee's disembodied head, Christian Bale's cheekbones (shiny!), the funniest scene with a dog since Pierce Brosnan found the family pooch on a lava flow in Volcano, use of poetry as a weapon of lifestyle destruction (Yeats, no less), Sean Bean, an underground resistance movement run by the guy off the IKEA adverts, an electronic Mona Lisa authenticator, and Sean Bean! Dying! Heroically! ... oh, but the editing was slack (admittedly, the entire film was crawling with georgous men, but really, nobody (with the possible exception of Elijah Wood) looks good in a reaction shot that has gone on for too long), and the visuals were a rag-bag of influences and homages and asides and references, mostly to The Matrix (fight scenes) and those boring explanatory bits in computer games (everything else), and there was something primitive (or teenaged) about the combination of ultraviolence and nauseating/funny sentimentality, and anyway I'm not absolutely sure that the Director/Writer deserves any prizes for inventing the BRAND NEW GENRE that is the feelgood totalitarian action comedy. Although ...

And the treatment of the female characters! What was he thinking? Admittedly, with such a wealth of male talent on display (I imagine the film would get irksome pretty sharpish if you didn't think Christian Bale was a good view) you might be tempted to give girls a miss (for heavens' sake, my eyes kept snagging on extremely good-looking male extras!) but the women are so completely either hero appendages, victims or wallpaper (sometimes all three!) that it just looks embarrassing, as if the Director/Writer hadn't really thought about the existence of women as such, just a few things for the (anti)hero to get riled about, and had therefore had to shove them into the non-active roles to stop it looking like a society entirely populated by hot young men. Which would be a bad thing. No, really, it would. No female Clerics either (the elite police force) though I'm sure there's a very good reason for that. The high cost of stuntwomen?

The ads were all dreadful, too. Why aren't there any action films starring women coming up? I'm sick of having to watch hairy men in slimy vests wave their embarassing facial hair around (Vin Diesel, I'm talking to you!), well OK, there was Madame Wire Fu from Daredevil but apart from her there's been no-one since Lara, and that just isn't fair. Computer games are full of female leads (for good, bad and obvious reasons) and it's about time films caught up, and anyway a proper kick-ass gynocracy would make for a much better feelgood totalitarian action comedy!

I can see it now -- a beige power-suited future where war and conflict have been eradicated by the systematic oppression of men and the brutal destruction of the sex-and-violence cultural cradle where we currently spend our short and bloody lives. People live in nervous harmony in goverment-sanctioned equality-promoting houseshares (two men, two women, shared child-rearing) and the androgynous look is definitely in. Men need responsibility passes to walk the streets, urinals are verboten and re-education units take care of the incorrigable (like rascal, this is now a term of utter contempt). Striding over it all, Mother's Little Helpers; half-nun, half-marine, all lethal. Until one of them finds an old copy of Playboy, some lipstick (product placement opportunities!) and a wonderbra. Better be someone with a good matching stuntwoman; Lucy Liu, maybe.

Mother, of course, to be played by one of the grande dames like Judi Dench, with one of the ice maidens (a cheaper Paltrow, probably) playing Big Sister, a cattle prod under one arm and a suit so tight she has to be sewn into it. Let's have the blonde from The Matrix back as her chief enforcer (I don't care that she's dead, it's criminal that she's not coming back for the sequels), all chilly blue eyes and blonde indifference (is she a natural blonde? No matter, just give her a bleach n' trim, think Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element). But when Lucy's busy discovering her feminine self (think "a woman's touch" from Calamity Jane but taking place during a gunfight in an illegal lingerie shop) we need a friend, solid, dependable, beautiful, covering her back and keeping the ice warrior busy. What about the black woman off Solaris (BWOS), she's hot property at the moment (and would be quite the babe in military gear).

On the revolutionary side, the teeming underground world of filth and depravity, populated in equal parts by the fervent and idealistic (Drew Barrimore in wholesome dungarees preaching the value of difference and the individual) and the voluptous and untrustworthy (Salma Hayek's honest whorehouse).

Not that all the cast should be women, of course, we could have a few pretty guys in playing husbands for the leads, extra revolutionaries, that sort of thing. In fact, a Big Brother to match the Big Sister (will Mr Sex, Lies and Videotape still do anything for money?) might be a good, ram-home-the-equality touch. A fling with a hot boy (at Salma Hayek's) would be a crucial part of Lucy's journey, too. Doesn't matter who. And there would have to be a tragic death, though I'm not sure I know any woman able to inspire emotion as well as Sean Bean can. Oh god, yes I do. Imogen Stubbs. Blood on her fatigues. A tear in her eye. A hint of unfulfilled lesbian longing. It'll be so moving.

But of course it'll be the boy's death that really pushes her over, and the raid on Salma Hayek's (blood on lace pillows; floating ostrich feathers; shattered boudoir lights) triggers off a domino-run of huge gun battles, explosions and violent martial arts. In the natural break before the final scenes, BWOS finds her (who of course knows where to find her, housemate, best friend) and they culminate a film's worth of supicious glances and torn loyalties by joining forces finally and going all Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on the local Convent House (think when Guy Davis and the hard man finally join forces in LA Confidential but with more high-kicking, less clothes and a much higher bodycount).

And how to end it? Lucy dies, BWOS rages at the sky, nothing changes? They go down in a hail of bullets, but at least they are (groan) true to themselves? No, sod that. They take down the Convent House and I mean, take it down (yes, she's an explosives/ordnance expert, obviously, she's black), and oh! have they died, heroically and pointlessly, in the blast? No, there they are, pulling themselves out of the wreckage. Blue skies, the waiting arms of the erotic underground, not dealt a death blow by the raid, but equally Mother and all the rest of her Little Helpers are still out there, not really damaged by the carnage these two have wrought (and ready for a string of DTV sequels) ...

BWOS: I suppose this won't really change anything.
Lucy: You can't paper over the cracks forever.

Oh, and they lez up. Obviously.

I wonder if we could get those taTU chicks to do the credits song?
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