18 May 2006

Blah blah, da Vinci Code...

One of the great things about media bandwagons is the choice of who you sit next to when you inevitably jump aboard.

There are usually so many bitchingly brilliant angles to explore.

Writers like myself just have an absolute field day, because you can just pick and choose whatever it is that you want to write about. From whatever angle you like.

Take the Beaconsfield mine disaster in Tasmania recently.


Media brings in big guns into a small Australian country town and goes berzerk.

We had the media on miners, mines, unions, corporations, digging techniques, pie shops, buried miners' families, you name it it was there.

And if it wasn't stuff like that, we had a few jealous hacks going after other media identities - take the Herald-Sun's incredible character assassination attempt on Naomi Robson.

Robson happens to be pretty much teflon coated, so the Hun's attack will probably be considered over time to have been in vain.

(Still pondering the motive for this one. Who exactly did Robson manage to piss off?)

So the next big media blockbuster appears to be the release of what is possibly the year's most anticipated movie: The da Vinci Code.

One other angle that can be pursued for any media bandwagon is the good ol', "I'm not writing about this. This is beneath me. Media bandwagons suck," angle. They're always good.

How many times have I refused to comment on the Big Brother phenomenon, even though by the end of the season, the media is positively swimming in it?

But anyway, back to the da Vinci Code movie.

Regular readers of my blog are probably rolling their eyes and thinking, "Oh God. No. Not another sodding article bagging the church."

I'm gunna surprise the pair of you because I'm not going to write about that.

This goes back to the point that I raised at the start, and that there is so many topics I could write about from the insane media circus that is this movie:

1. The secret world that is Opus Dei.
2. The inevitable call to boycott this movie by various church groups.
2. The likelihood of Jesus Christ being someone's dad.
3. The religious nuts going mental as a result of someone challenging their worldview.
4. The silliness of believing anything in a book that is clearly labelled near the barcode as being "Fiction"
5. The hypocracy of the Danish film distributors (they're refusing to show it)
6. The sensitivity of the Danish film distributors for refusing to show it after the cartoons fiasco (told you there were many angles)
7. The acute embarrassment Dan Brown must find himself in, having based his book on a known forgery.
8. The work of genius of Brown - would anyone else have thought of deliberately basing a novel on a forgery? (yes, I know it's been done before - this is me playing devil's spin doctor, now)
9. Was Audrey Tautou miscast? Would Sophie Marceau have been a better choice?

That will do.

These topics have been done before, and reasonably well, too.

The Two Percent Co did it superbly here.

They even got stuck into the albinos who are protesting that it puts all albinos in a bad light.

See what I said about so many angles to choose from?

Instead, I'm going to go after all the highbrow types out there who will bag this movie despite not having seen it.

Now, for those of you who have been living under rocks, The da Vinci Code was written by Dan Brown some years ago.

It was a bit of a sleeper on the bestseller list initially, but eventually word of mouth got around and people started reading it.

And I mean, READING IT. I was on a train home from work roughly two years ago, and you could not turn around without seeing someone reading the sodding thing.

And when they finished that, they went straight out there and bought Angels and Demons (the book that Brown wrote about the book's protagonist prior to The da Vinci Code), as well as the Tom Clancy-lite stuff that Brown has also written.

I had to see what the fuss was about. So I read it.

Is it a good read?

Well, it's badly written and poorly researched. The characters are never fleshed out, and the dialogue is pretty normal - there are no Tarantino-esque moments here.

Some of the plotlines are stolen from other stories and the twists in the middle and near the end have been done better hundreds of times before.

I'm not going to begin on how implausible the whole thing is.

But is it a good read?

Yes. Quite frankly, the book is a ripsnortingly good yarn from start to finish. I could not put it down.

And even though some of it was quite predictable, it was entertaining.

The problem that the highbrow face is that literary fiction is not exciting. They can't understand why the written equivalent of a High Budget Action Movie can be considered fun. And they see this fun being radiated, which creates a type of jealousy.

So they transfer this jealousy back onto consumers of popular fiction, in the same way that classical music afficionados bag rock and/or roll.

Or that fans of subtle forms of humour such as dry wit and satire do when they shitcan truly funny forms of humour such as double entendre, slapstick and smut.

I wrote a blog post about this once...

But geez. Enough about the book.

Let's jump to the movie.

Why the distributors even entertained the notion of launching it at the Cannes film festival is beyond me.

The critics put the boots in so far that I think Ron Howard must be feeling like mashed potato.

Honestly, Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind were amazingly good flicks. But Howard is a movie lightweight. His career has been largely pedestrian filler that does not have the same kind of vision as your truly great directors such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Peter Jackson, the late Stanley Kubrick or Quentin Tarantino to name but a few.

But what critics like and don't like is not a reliable guide to whether a movie is any good or not.

Take for example that godawful movie Lost in Translation.

Not one critic disliked this movie.

However, I can say without exaggeration, that it was one of the two most appalling wastes of time that I have ever spent inside a movie cinema.

The other was Waking Life - if I was this pretentious, I would be shot. Why did this not happen with the film stock for this movie?

And when I say shot, an elephant gun at 5 paces ought to render the celluloid unrecoverable.

But back to the movie I'm supposed to be writing this post about.

The da Vinci Code. Grr.

I've already heard highbrow friends complain that this movie is crap. And they haven't seen it yet. The initial wave of abuse from critics and the highbrow alike is truly monumental.

This reminds me of the last time I saw this:


This was a fun little High Budget Action flick built on what can only be regarded as a frightfully wrong premise. That is, a comet will crash into the earth unless it's blown up first. So why not fly a bunch of oil rig operators up to blow it to smithereens with a big nuke?

The initial wave of critical rape crashed, much like the wave in the other disaster flick of this period whose name escapes me, and in the second wave of reviews, critics backlashed against the first bunch of critics.

Suddenly, movie criticism was interesting.

I'm tipping that this will happen to this movie.

You see, the thing that is most predictable is not aspects of the plot.

It's how the critics behave.


Einzige said...

Here is one bad review of Lost In Translation.

Sorry, I just had to be a smartass.

Dikkii said...

Yes, you're quite right.

I stand corrected.

Smartarses are always welcome here.

Anonymous said...

Love your media bandwagon angle.
It will be interesting to see if your critic's counter-revolution comes true on this one, as its been panned across the board in a way I've seldom seen.

It's very surprising to me. I wasn't at all impressed with the book and obviously didn't find it as exciting as you did. I think it was the expectation that ruined it for me. So many people are raving about this; how can it be so average?

I did think it would make a reasonable film, however, especially with Ron Howard at the helm. Apparently not.

I thought Armageddon was amusing in the pre-flight section of the film. After takeoff, though, I found it surprisingly boring as it went on forever.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Forgot to mention the Danish ban on distibution. I hadn't even heard about that; incredible (I've been offline for over a week). On what grounds are they refusing release?

Dikkii said...


I read the book quite a bit before it became ubiquitous. I didn't really know what to expect - and that is probably why I enjoyed it.

If you'd told me what it was about beforehand, though, I'm not really sure.

With regards to the media counter-revolution, as you so excellently describe it, the place to be looking for this is the street press.

Remember, the newspapers have already seen it, and the backlash to the backlash usually starts with the next wave.

I've already made my thoughts known about Ron Howard. I'm curious, though, with more misses than hits under his belt (well, critically, anyway), would you really have expected anything less than "cautious" from him?

That's all I'll say.

You're right about Armageddon - but I had a hoot of a time.

Mind you, after the triple irony of the scene where Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler are making out (this had me in stitches) I probably thought the movie was a High Budget Action Comedy instead of a more serious movie.

I think the owner of the Danish distribution company is Catholic or something. I also know that they have a monopoly on the Faeroe Islands, which is why the Faeroese aint gunna get to see it.

After the critical reaction, though, I'm sure the Faeroese probably wouldn't be too upset.

Nicholas Inglis said...

As a matter of Interest there has been quite a delay in the Da Vince code screening here in Dubai. The loacals are a little worried about offending the christians, but on the other hand one of the ehad ministers has stolen the only copy and has yet to return it. Aparently the government has just decided to give it the go-ahead, bypassing the censors all together.

Dikkii said...

Hi QC,

Thanks for dropping by. Hope the weather in Dubai is treating you nicely.

Interesting story, that.

Let's see what happens when someone tries to make a movie about Mohammad - would the UAE censors even look at it, or steal a glance, I wonder?

Dikkii said...

I just remembered that Christ is a prophet in Islam.

That means that The Da Vinci Code movie could almost be considered blasphemous in Islam as well.

People, please help me out!!