June 15th 2000

Well, I finally got to see Gladiator tonite. I'd first tried to go see it - by a misread of the schedule - the day before it opened, and things finally worked out. My old friend Gale from Body Circle Jewelry [www.bodycircle.com], whose late partner Tom created the breast kavadi I've written about before, and I got together for dinner and a show.

We were in her neighborhood so she took me to a great Chinese restaurant in Renton. Very very good food and lots of it, but we had to rush to meet our show time. Just time to pick up large popcorns - no butter, small soda pop, and in for the coming attractions.

Let me tell you, this movie is 154 minutes of pure movie-lover enjoyment! Eye candy, damn but this movie was full of eye candy. There were more beautiful bodies wearing leather here than in last year's Pride Parade. Not a one - other than a couple of the female leads - was "perfect", but all the rest were wonderfully ordinary and real.

Speaking as a former military man, it was interesting to notice that a buck private, a corporal, an adjutant, a general of today and of AD 180 were essentially interchangeable. Catapult, starlight scope, sword, kevlar, ax or machine gun - these are just trinkets. The _men_ are the same, and this study in men continued to be a focus for me through the movie. Yeah, the movie is a testosterone-fest, but there is much more here than hormones. Human relations, honor, duty, skills of survival, bonding, and more. You really got a sense of what it felt like to stand back to back with another man, in mutual defense in combat.

Russell Crowe, excellent as Bud White in LA Confidential, was superb as Maximus. He had a world-weary blue collar determination that was palpable. He was totally believable, he wore the leather and dirt and blood so well. When I grow up and make my million, I want to have the same costumer he had here. Watching him carve a tattoo off his own shoulder was excruciating. Seeing his fighting energy was exhilarating. When he hurt, we hurt; when he exulted, we exulted, when he died, we cried. I make no apology for choking up and getting misty-eyed when Juba [Djimon Hounsou] buried the little fetishes that Maximus had had of his wife and son. Crowe carried this role off well, where a Sly or an Arnold or Norris or Willis - well, they just wouldn't have had his credibility. Not bad for an Kiwi, eh?

During the credit roll, Gale and I both agreed that it'll be worth seeing again on the big screen, and will definitely be a purchase when it hits video.

Life is good.

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