วันพุธที่ 18 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2552

the da vinci code (2006)

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Mrs. Betty Bowers is the First to Review "The Da Vinci Code"
"Anything that irritates Catholics can't be all bad!"

The Da Vinci Code is a wildly contrived story about how the forbidden love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the Brad and Angelina of Judea, was revealed by Renaissance fresco-paparazzi, and later immortalized by Pierre Plantard, the L. Ron Hubbard of France, in the 1960s with his fabulous hoax called the "Priory of Sion," which author Dan Brown, the Tom Cruise of literature, took seriously.

Opus Dei Vinci: The Book Behind This Dreadful Movie

As an unwavering Republican, I have quite naturally burned more books than I have read.[1] As such, I seldom read any fiction not found between the bejeweled covers of the Bowers' family Bible. Nevertheless, believing that anything that infuriates Catholics can't be all bad, I finally closed my autographed Bible long enough to read the The Da Vinci Code. I must say that Dan Brown's book proved a delightful change of pace. After all, the entire volume has far less gratuitous sex and dismemberment by psychotic zealots than even the first chapter of the Bible, the Lord's more effective stab at writing a book that makes Catholics look silly.

After decades of reading the Bible, it was such a delightful novelty to find a book where the readers can look down their noses at the author, rather than the other way around! Indeed, there is something to be said for reading anything that doesn't constantly tell me what I should be washing the filthy feet of strangers instead of shopping. And since there was no chance that anyone would ever expect me to abide by any of the words in The Da Vinci Code, I tried an approach I deem most suitable for the New Testament: I actually read it rather carefully.

There's no place like Rome! There's no place like Rome!
This man (on the left wearing a fabulous vintage chiffon-lined Dior gold lamé gown over a silk Vera Wang empire waist tulle cocktail dress, accessorized with a 3-foot beaded peaked House of Whoville hat, and the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz) is worried that The Da Vinci Code might make the Roman Catholic Church look foolish.

As a True Christian™ whose amber-paneled prayer room contains only King James Bibles, I must admit that I initially found reading an entire work from start to finish (instead of cherry picking the sentences most suitable for needle-pointing onto throw pillows) a revolutionary, and potentially dangerous, approach to understanding a book. And now that I've thrown caution to the wind by trying this wholly secular fad called "reading the whole thing," I'm left unconvinced that this time-consuming technique in any way better edifies a reader. To be honest, I found the plot points of The Da Vinci Code no easier to swallow or piece together than those in the fragments of the Bible I've read. Indeed, The Da Vinci Code has more convoluted and gimmicky twists than anything I've read since I thumbed through the pleadings filed in Denise Richards vs. Charlie Sheen a/k/a Customer on The Smoking Gun.

Fortunately, I am a Southern Baptist. That means, of course, that I never succumb to using common sense as a crutch -- or rely on the uncooperative niceties of logic to make a story work. Indeed, my staunch refusal to yield to the quintessentially "liberal elite" expectation that things should make sense has made possible my enjoyment of countless Hollywood movies. This is particularly the case with that Scientology robot trilogy called "Mission Impossible," which even a cursory attachment to logic would have rendered unwatchable.

Veni Vedi da Vinci: The Movie

I find, however, that my forgiving ability to overlook cinematic flaws is not without limits. Frankly, The Da Vinci Code tested the tensile strength of my seemingly elastic credulity. While the film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the book, it accomplishes this fidelity in the manner that television programs are faithful to the movies upon which they are based. You know, sort of the same thing, only with less attractive people.

Take, for instance, Tom Hanks, who plays Robert Langdon. Now you know that I would never ridicule anyone for their personal appearance if I couldn't claim that I was actually talking about someone else if called on it. Nevertheless, I must break this already malleable rule to comment on Mr. Hanks' face. Friends, we are talking about a face that will frighten more people away from the consequences of booze than MADD's most graphic teenager-through-a-windshield public service spot could ever hope to accomplish.

When I was reading the book, I imagined Robert Langdon more as George Clooney. Well, truth be told, exactly like George Clooney, only in tighter pants. Not Don Knotts in a greasy mullet. I'm not saying that I don't appreciate how difficult it must be to pull off an authentic NASCAR hairstyle with hair plugs, but I just don't see even a French gal (who, let's be honest, is used to men with bad hair) giving her number, much less her Smart Car, to someone who looks like that.[2]

Sophie Neveu, the love interest with said Smart Car, is played by Audrey Tautou, who had elfish charm and Hanks' haircut in Amélie. Poor Audrey, a full 20 years Hanks' junior and thereby slightly older than Hanks in Hollywood years, is left with the thankless task of bedding such an unsightly man, simply because her grandfather, Jacques Saunière, has more puzzles to solve than Vanna White. Indeed, when not participating in ritualistic sex orgies in response to postings on the Normandy Craig's List, the French Jacques Saunière is writing clues to his French granddaughter in English. Like that could happen. In behavior more typically French, in a wildly over-the-top gesture, he flags his most important cryptic clue with his naked body. An American would have used a Post-It.

Jacques Saunière body is found in the Denon Wing of the Louvre. Some claim he was posing in homage to Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, but I suspect that being naked and spread eagle in public was something he picked up from Paris Hilton. Don't worry about seeing his rude parts. Ron Howard has him lit like Madonna: You can't see anything!

Anyway, none of this really matters. The thing that has the Pope pooping his Prada is that Hanks' character discovers super-confidential information so secret it is only available to those few, privileged souls who know how to order books off the Internet from Amazon. The secret? Jesus finally made an honest woman out of Mary Magdalene! According to Dan Brown, the Catholic Church hid this fact because it didn't wish to revere a female. Call me a nitpicking killjoy, but I find this professed Catholic aversion to genuflecting before women a bit difficult to swallow. We are, after all, talking about an institution that has spent the past 2,000 years demoting Jesus and His Daddy, so as to better transform a bit part in the Gospel of Mark, played by the other Mary, into its Goddess. Clearly, it was simply a case of one Mary being the wrong Mary. In fact, I suspect that divinity is much like the Screen Actors Guild: You can't use a name that has already been taken.

But I don't know why the Catholics are so eager to venerate Mary (the mother one). Frankly, had that Mary been a more diligent homemaker and whipped up a hot meal on her Son's last night on Earth, the other Mary and Jesus would never have had to dine in a public restaurant for the Last Supper in the first place. Had they stayed home, they wouldn't have been subjected to the galling – and, according to The Da Vinci Code, Gauling -- infamy of being the Brad and Angelina of their time. Flaunting a romance destined for doom, but not before being memorialized by Judean gossips and, later, by Renaissance fresco-paparazzi. Apparently, in times before a camera with a telescopic lens, celebrity sightings were reported in fine art. But only to those who can read things backwards in blood.

While the post-Kodak celebrity paparazzi may be less skilled than Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to composition, they are, frankly, more reliable. Speaking of which: Would someone please remember to go to the Paramount Prop Department and retrieve Suri if Tom Cruise ever returns from his relentless promotion of his new film? Thanks.

FOOTNOTE 1: I don't wish to brag, but I'm quite confident that our planet is currently minus a handful of glaciers as a result of the wildly successful Harry Potter "Eternal Flame" Bonfire franchises, which I have managed to sell in 37 states. For those of you have bought into an outrageous liberal fiction called "Cause and Effect" and have concerns about the potentially deleterious effect submergence might have on the resale value of expensive beach homes, I encourage you Henny Pennys to take the more environmentally friendly "green approach" to book burning. It's called "censorship."

FOOTNOTE 2: Since Tom Hanks is an executive producer on HBO's Big Love, I think it is safe to assume that he drew inspiration for his character's appearance from that program's cluster of incestuous Mormon hillbillies who inhabit the clapboard shacks at the Juniper Creek polygamy compound. Goodness me, since all the men at Big Love's Juniper Creek look like Sweet Betsy from Pike's pimp, it is a marvel they are able to attract enough wives to fix lunch, much less populate their private prairie bordellos!


Special Features
* First Day on the Set with Ron Howard Featurette: Director Ron Howard introduces the film and the excitement of beginning production at the Louvre in Paris
* Featurette on “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown
* Featurette: A Portrait of Langdon
* Featurette: Who is Sophie Neveu?
* Featurette: Unusual Suspects - The international cast…Colorful, memorable and frightening characters
* Featurette: Magical Places
* Featurette: Close-up on Mona Lisa
*Featurette: The Filmmaking Experience Part 1 - Includes a DVD exclusive look at filming the last and revealing scene

Editorial Reviews

Critics and controversy aside, The Da Vinci Code is a verifiable blockbuster. Combine the film's huge worldwide box-office take with over 100 million copies of Dan Brown's book sold, and The Da Vinci Code has clearly made the leap from pop-culture hit to a certifiable franchise. The leap for any story making the move from book to big screen, however, is always more perilous. In the case of The Da Vinci Code, the plot is concocted of such a preposterous formula of elements that you wouldn’t envy screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, the man tasked with making this story filmable. The script follows Dan Brown’s book as closely as possible while incorporating a few needed changes, including a better ending. And if you’re like most of the world, by now you’ve read the book and know how it goes: while lecturing in Paris, noted Harvard Professor of Symbology Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to the Louvre by French police to help decipher a bizarre series of clues left at the scene of the murder of the chief curator. Enter Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), gifted cryptologist. Neveu and Langdon team up to solve the mystery, and from there the story is propelled across Europe, ballooning into a modern-day mini-quest for the Holy Grail, where secret societies are discovered, codes are broken, and murderous albino monks are thwarted… oh, and alternative theories about the life of Christ and the beginnings of Christianity are presented too, of course. It’s not the typical formula for a stock Hollywood thriller. In fact, taken solely as a mystery, the movie almost works--despite some gaping holes--mostly just because it keeps moving. Brown’s greatest trick was to have the entire story take place in one day, so the action is forced to keep moving, despite some necessary pauses for exposition. As a screen couple, Hanks and Tautou are just fine together but not exactly memorable; meanwhile Sir Ian McKellen’s scenery-chewing as pivotal character Sir Leigh Teabing is just what the film needed to keep it from taking itself too seriously. The whole thing is like a good roller-coaster ride: try not to think too much about it--just sit back and enjoy the trip. --Daniel Vancini

Product Description

Dan Brown's international bestseller comes alive in the film The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard with a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman. Join symbologist Robert Langdon (Academy Award® Winner Tom Hanks, 1993 Best Actor, Philadelphia, and 1994 Best Actor, Forrest Gump) and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) in their heart-racing quest to solve a bizarre murder mystery that will take them from France to England – and behind the veil of a mysterious ancient society, where they discover a secret protected since the time of Christ. With first-rate performances by Sir Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno, critics are calling The Da Vinci Code "involving" and "intriguing," "a first rate thriller."

another comments:
- "The only thing that matters is what you believe!",
The Da Vinci Code is a movie that has been the object of critics' scorn since Cannes. Therefore when I went in my expectations were quite low. I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed this intellectual treasure hunt. Action sequences boldly intertwine with quieter scenes where codes and symbols are being deciphered to lead to the next clue. At times we get the back story of what has happened to a persecuted religious sect through out the ages. The flashbacks to ancient Rome are brief but beautiful. In addition there are some gorgeous locations for filming, among them the Louvre and Rosslyn.

Hanks and Tautou perform like the pros that they are--it is interesting that two actors known for their whimsical charms were cast in such serious roles. Generally actors starring in thrillers will be those known for their laconic delivery and quietly passionate intensity. However, Tom Hanks was playing a professor of symbology and as such he did a fine job.

The supporting cast reads like a list of international superstars: Alfred Molina, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Jurgen Prochnow--all were superb.

One of things I liked about this film is how it gave the audience the opportunity to view the world from the perspective of someone who is used to looking at symbols and their meanings, in particular of things that most of us don't even notice most of the time. It was an unusual and fascinating angle on perception.

This a movie that tries to pack some very deep concepts into the thriller/treasure hunt genre. Overall I think it succeeds rather well.

- The Da Vinci Code,
The fictional masterpiece --and historical disaster-- "The Da Vinci Code" is an extremely entertaining book (two years of reasearch and Brown couldn't figure out that Leonardo da Vinci was known as "Leonardo"... since "da Vinci" means "from Vinci" -- where Leo was born).

So, how did it fly as a movie?

Quite well, I'd say. You can't expect a bad movie when Ron Howard works with the likes of Hanks, Tatou and McKellen. Needless to say, the acting was above and beyond. The direction was superb and the story flowed with amazing ease. The tension was present with every turn as was the mystery behind it all.

However, as most book-to-movie adaptations, it loses some of it grandeur. The twists are less sharp and it's a bit more predictable. I must admit that the movie is pretty faithful to the book. However, in trying to place all of the book's riddles in the movie, the characters had less time to "de-code" them. Therefore, they seemed like all-knowing geniuses that casually figured out the most complex mystery in no time. The result? It gets confusing and tedious. The story is just as flawed and as poorly-researched in the movie as in the novel. I guess this also counts as a fidelity, depending on how you look at it.

If you expect a lot of in-depth "da Vinci" exploration, don't. Only a few works of Leaonardo make an appearance and his name is mentioned twice, exactly. If you think that this movie/book is as close to the truth as you can get, you must not get out much or haven't read any other book in your life. If you think that this is a well acted movie with a so-so plot and wonderful direction, welcome aboard.

If X-Men 3 is sold out, go see this movie. If not, rent it. It'd be a nice rental.

- Fun & Exciting Chase Through History & Mystery w/ Panache,
Prepare to be entertained. Having read the novel first, and also armed with the blasting reviews the film received, I kept my expectations low as I prepared to see this movie. However this is a very fine film. I found it respectful and tasteful in presentation of those sensitive issues which seem to be so threatening to so many. Besides it's just plain beautiful to look at. The scenery and cinematography is not to be missed, and keep your eyes moving about the backgrounds and details as you watch.

Of course, few films can capture better the scope and mental details we add as we read an intelligently written book, but one would really be missing out to avoid seeing this one. I don't believe the filmmakers were seriously looking to convert anyone, merely create enjoyable and thought-provoking entertainment. I'd personally rather have something to think about during and after a film other than not, which is so often the case today.

There are also some nice goodies packaged in this DVD set, and I'm looking forward to receiving my copy. If you have any interest in history whatsoever, or in mindbenders, you should enjoy this. Without the background interest? It is, after all, an action adventure movie filmed in incredible places! See it!