Skip to main content

love kills


movie review::king kong

peter jackson is remarkable. i’m still puzzling over how the director of trash-cult fare “meet the feebles” and “bad taste”, or the art-house staple “heavenly creatures” managed to convince a studio to give him the equivalent of the GDP of a small country to make a film version of lord of the rings, which most people would have considered an unmanageable proposition. but few would argue that he executed his vision with skill and that the money (from a business perspective) was well-invested.

so it should come as no great surprise that he was happily handed another tonne of money to go remake, king kong, the grand poobah of monster movies, released originally in 1933 and remade (badly) in 1976.

like lotr, this was a labour of love for jackson, who is, as always, deeply respectful of his source material. although the movie is double the length of the original, it incorporates all of the elements fans will remember from it. he even gives little winks to the original within his film: when low-life director jack black (an excellent performance for almost the entire film) and his assistant are desperately trying to think of a replacement for their leading lady, black suggests “fay” but is told she is unavailable because “she’s doing a picture for rko”. there are more subtle hommages as well, like the screams. other than the monster himself, fay wray’s incessant, ear-shredding screams are the thing that most people remember from the 1933 king kong. jackson plays with this a little as his characters embark to the auspiciously named skull island. there are bones and cadavers (always signs of a friendly, well adjusted population), lots of scream-inducing scenery, but our heroine (in this case the radiant naomi watts) holds off. when we finally do get to hear her scream (fay would be proud), it echoes through the eerie silence of the “abandoned” island, reverberating off until it is answered by a primeval roar, rising from somewhere deep in the jungle beyond the wall. this is the director at his most brilliant: a wordless scene with no movement somehow encompasses a world of meaning.

i was very skeptical of this film, not because i lacked confidence in jackson, but because i have, for years, detested the story. i blame bram dijkstra, probably the most astute observer of turn of the century feminine iconography, for my cynicism. the story of king kong fits easily within the world view of the time, that women were precatory and vampiric, that they were lesser creatures who attached themselves to men and drained them of the higher functions to which their greater brains would naturally draw them. kong, as the primal, natural man, is king until he comes in contact with anne, the beautiful blonde female archetype. beauty captivates him, but makes him weak and his desire for the woman leads to his eventual enslavement and death, which psychologists at the time would have argued was allegorical to the emasculation a man suffered at the hands of a woman. think i’m crazy? then explain the quote from black (jackson’s alter ego in the film), widely used in the film’s trailers: “and lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty. and it stayed its hand from killing. and from that day, it was as one dead.” still need more convincing? look at the scene where kong and anne sit watching the sunset. the king sits contemplatively surveying his domain, while anne, miffed at no longer being the centre of his attention, tries to distract him by performing some of her vaudeville tricks, the splendour of her surroundings lost on her self-involved mind.

you can view kong as a monster movie, but this is to see only part of the story. it is very much a psychological snapshot, bound up with a fear of sexuality (especially female), a suspicion of the natural and the wild and at the same time a yearning for a return which is impossible. the monster fights, kong trashing new york and the bug scene (bring your own barf bag, i’m pretty jaded with films and i almost lost it) will catch viewer’s attention, but it is the emotional, profoundly touching and indescribably disturbing aspect of the film that will stay with you. jackson has taken a story that has some pretty ugly undertones and made something beautiful and it is that which makes both the film and its director remarkable.

Comments

As a bit of self-referential humour, it may be interesting to know that Skull Island also happens to be the birthplace of the infamous monkey rats, from Braindead/Dead Alive fame...

as long as you're here, why not read more?

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

making faces :: i could maybe not buy this one thing

i've been into makeup on some level for a long time- much longer than i've been writing about it, for certain. even as a young woman, i loved the feeling of i got from applying a deep-hued lipstick and some mascara. it took years for me to figure out eyeshadow, and even longer for me to appreciate blush. but at this point, i think we can agree that i'm pretty much into the whole gamut. [except liquid and super-matte lipsticks, and most very sparkly eyeshadows. but that's because they're painful for me to wear.]

the thing about spending a long time collecting and holding onto just about everything is that you accumulate quite a stash. lately, i'm trying to force myself to think about what i already have before laying down money for something new. most recently, i found myself drawn to the modern renaissance palette from anastasia. me and a lot of people. by the time i started thinking about it, it was already sold out in my local sephora and online. i signed up…

...and my cup size is none of your damn business

this story, about a man who got a female coworker to trade email accounts with him for two weeks to see if he could see a difference in customer reactions, has been making the rounds on social media and beyond in the last week or so. earlier today, i posted it on my personal facebook page about it, and realised that i had a lot more that i wanted to share than made sense for a facebook post. so i've come here to rant.

a couple of things to start:

1. i've had some really good job experiences in my life. i'm both lucky and unlucky that the best of them came early on, but even in more recent years, i worked at a couple of places that treated workers, all workers, with respect. that respect can be expressed in different ways, but believe me, you know it when it's there. so i want to make it clear that #notallworkplaces fit the pattern i'm about to describe.

2. i am really, really, really grateful to martin r. schneider, who thought up and did this experiment, not just …