Tuesday, November 25, 2008

6th Grade, Jean-Claude, JCVD

It was the first day of 6th grade, and I waltzed into Mrs. Bertelli's English class and took a seat. Given that this was a large, public junior high in Texas, the school was a melting pot of neighboring elementary schools' grads. To break the ice, we were asked to fill out an About Me and partner up with a stranger.

One question was about our favorite movies.

"Pulp Fiction, Tombstone and Timecop," I scribbled, my little 11-year old self so confident in my choices. And, oh, how I explained the plots with such enthusiasm to my boy partner -- still a friend -- who was grateful for my violent, descriptive tales of gangsters, cowboys and time-traveling cops.

The next day, after she'd gone home and read our About Mes, my teacher took me aside and asked politely, if concernedly, if my parents had indeed let me see these films.

"Yup! They're so great. Have you seen them?? Usually, I fall asleep to one of them!"

I'll remember the look of shock and disgust on her face, always. (It should have been respect and admiration for the prodigious child that stood before her. Alas.)

Thankfully, my teacher never had to talk to Mama G, who would've scolded me harshly for letting on to what she has always termed my "warped" taste in movies, and peculiar habits regarding them.

Of the three great films I boasted as my favorites, I'd most recently seen "Timecop." I thought it was the most brilliant movie. Which brings me to the point. As we all know, Jean-Claude Van Damme, the "Muscles from Brussels," is the star of that awesome sci-fi flick.

And now he stars in "JCVD."

It's very "Being John Malkovich," in its meta look into his life. He plays a washed up action movie star, who's endured plenty of woe-is-me, self-inflicted drama during his public life. He's had drug issues, has married too many ladies, has a child he can't take custody of ... the whole nine.

It mirrors his real life. BUT, it's also a great heist movie. The two storylines (that of JCVD's real life, and that of the heist film) roll with each other quite seamlessly. He returns to Belgium after a nasty custody war, ready to reinvent himself. But he's broke (drugs will do that to you?) and finds himself desperate and begging people in a post office to help him out; he's the figurehead of American-made dreams for the Belgian folk, after all.

Suddenly, he's coopted into a crime scenario.

The movie's construction is of my favorite style. It's the "before the question, here's the answer" style. So, that means it's reminiscent of a Pulp-Fictionesque backwards shoot ... we know how we end before we know how we got there. And it's done very well.

For his part, JCVD shows an almost miraculous acting talent. It was one of the most impressive things I've seen of late. He actually acts and taps into some crazy feeling. The reviews/interviews I've read say that it's all real; it causes some discomfort, I must admit -- he at one point levitates when he's at his wit's end, and speaks directly to the viewer. He tells of his regrets, his feelings of failure.

Oh, poor JCVD -- we forgive you your faults ... and he does some nice roundhouses.

Once more, JCVD trailer:

1 comment:

Paramendra Bhagat said...

"It mirrors his real life. BUT, it's also a great heist movie."