when i first saw the trailer many months ago, brotherhood of the wolf seemed like a movie i just had to see. a french action film with elements of mystery and horror set in the 1700's? so after seeing it today, i'd say that it's a gorgeous movie, i was entertained, but i don't know if i'd put it on my must-see list.

certainly there was the appeal of the action sequences. i went with my friend alex, who knows a little something about different fighting styles, and he was very impressed with the hand-to-hand combat depicted in the film. true, it was jazzed up and matrixfied by the use of slow motion and high speed shutter photography, but the fighting seemed true to the time (meaning, no one busted out a chinese martial arts move in 18th century france), unlike musketeer, with its very historically inaccurate fighting styles (historical accuracy is the first casualty of moviemaking when you want to pitch the product to a wide audience, especially the younger market. case in point: knight's tale - i still lose sleep thinking about feudal peasants chanting "we will we will rock you").

as for the beauty of the film, the cinematography was very gorgeous. i'm usually very indifferent when it comes to europe, but seeing this movie made me want to visit the french countryside, at least the french countryside that's depicted in the film. the cinematography reminded me a lot of sleepy hollow, and i always thought every scene in sleepy hollow was like a postcard come to life. and since we're on the subject of beauty, ohmygod monica bellucci as silvia, the mysterious and dangerous brothel worker from italy? mama mia! my only negative comment about that is she doesn't appear until midway through the movie.

maybe it a side effect of working in an office with a lot of women, but nowadays when i watch a movie, i'm also very mindful of potential aspects of appeal for the discriminating ladies who might want to see this film. for them, i have two words: mark dacascos, as mani, the native american friend of grégoire de fronsac (samuel le bihan). he's plays what is known in the business as the strong and silent type. there's a scene in the end where he's fighting baddies in nothing more than a loincloth that brings back marc singer beastmaster memories!

some more comments, potential spoilers, so beware!

  • the explanation for the ending was too complicated. something with using the beast to topple the throne, and somehow the church is involved? it did remind me of another sleepy hollow similarity, how in the end nobody was guilt-free.
  • what was the beast anyway? we know it came from africa. my guess is that it's a lion wearing a lot of armor. still, even a lion couldn't smash through walls and floorboards like that, unless houses back then weren't very sturdy. i'm also glad that the beast didn't turn out to be something supernatural, that there was actually a very good natural explanation for the monster. nothing like a supernatural explanation to ruin the credibility of a storyline.
  • monica bellucci - we should've known right away that she was working for rome because she's italian!
  • grégoire de fronsac is such a player. he's working on marianne but he's visiting the brothel at nights with mani, hooking up with silvia. oh those frenchmen! only in a french movie could you get away with this though. if it was american, with all its moralizing, you could never have a main character like that.
  • what was that mushroom scene with thomas d'apcher (jérémie rénier)?
  • those baddies working for the beast, they reminded of those savages from the 13th warrior.
  • i was thinking the gypsy woman whom everyone thought was a witch was actually a werewolf (the beast) and her father was trying to protect her. turns out it was only a red herring.

so overall a good movie. it's not a must-see because it doesn't really show you anything that you probably haven't already seen elsewhere. it is however a french action movie, and if you're curious to see how the french do it, you should definitely check this film out.

by early morning movie i mean going to see a movie before noon, since on weekends anytime before noontime i consider the morning. i headed into kendall square to rendezvous with alex to watch brotherhood of the wolf. by the time i got to the theatre alex was already there playing with his newly bought handspring prism. this encounter gave me the opportunity to finally give him his christmas present, a copy of fruits by shoichi aoki, a taschen photo book filled with portraits of weird japanese kids. i got some popcorn and a small pepsi and we headed into the theatre as the place was starting to fill up. i was surprised, but a lot of people came out for this movie (despite the fact that it was showing so early, at least early for me), there was hardly any empty seats in the theatre. from the corner of my eye i saw a woman by herself who would silently clap and pump her fists in the air whenever something exciting happened in the movie. i made a mental note to myself never to be like her, although it was interesting to watch her watch the movie because she became an excitement barometer and i could tell if the scene was good or not by how much she was gesticulating.

after the movie i walked to the office. i showed alex the upstairs space, and copied mark's os x software onto my ibook. we left and parted ways at kendall square, alex to his car parked for free at the mit parking lot (free on weekends), me to my sweet t.

getting off at harvard station, someone threw a glass snapple bottle from the inbound platform a floor below. the bottle ricocheted off of the subway train (it looked like slow motion as it flew across my field of vision) and smashed on the ground into a thousand pieces. i was just a few feet away from the flying debris. everyone on the balcony side of the platform looked over the edge to see who launched the projectile. no harm, no foul, i walked to my bus stop as if nothing happened.