No comics today...

*Because I'm still trying to compose things. And it's almost the stroke of midnight, and the Saturday post isn't up.

*Oh, I did manage to see a real live films in a real theater recently! It was the recent Peter O'Toole award vehicle Venus, which did indeed result in its star netting his eighth Oscar loss, to Forest Whitaker of The Last King of Scotland. Appropriately enough, the trailer for that very film was played before Venus, and holy smoking Jesus Christ was it terrible; from what I had to go by, it appears that Mr. Whitaker captured the gold by screaming nearly every single one of his lines at the top of his lungs in a crisp accent. Not that I doubt the Academy would laud such a thing, but I presume there is more depth to be had in the actual film than the preview elected to present.

Anyhow - Venus. O'Toole is one of my favorite actors ever, so clearly I was going to see it no matter what. I mean, I've plucked a dvd copy of The Seventh Coin off of a Wal-Mart $1 bin and beamed with delight, so I'm well past the point of no return (and yet, I've never seen The Lion in Winter). There are three very nice scenes, which I think was Gene Siskel's rule for deciding if a movie was good or not. In no order:

1. Peter O'Toole and a young woman are being chauffeured around in luxury vehicle. The young woman stands up to stick her head out the sunroof, and Peter O'Toole leers directly at her rump, giggling, as the hit Corinne Bailey single Girl Put Your Records On plays loudly.

2. Peter O'Toole and the same young woman are sitting at a table. The woman decides to give Peter O'Toole a 'treat,' so she puts her fingers into her vagina and offers them to Peter O'Toole to sniff. He then tries to lick her fingers, so she moves to swat him in the head, but Peter O'Toole performs some sort of judo block to deflect the blow with the speed of puma. This is all the more impressive considering that Peter O'Toole is 9,000 years old and no computer effects appear to have been used.

3. Peter O'Toole is kicked out of his home by the young woman, who wants to use it to have sex with her virile boyfriend. Peter O'Toole wanders around aimlessly, until he happens upon a highly symbolic outdoor stage of some sort, at which point the soundtrack switches to a sonic collage of old, actorly performances, presumably authentic Peter O'Toole lines, though it's hard to tell. He then goes back to his home and has a fight scene with the virile boyfriend, who kicks poor old Peter O'Toole's wrinkled ass. Wait, that's more than one scene.

I realize this probably makes the film seem a bit more interesting than it actually is - for all its gestures toward grit and bodily urges, Venus is actually pretty pat, even formulaic in its procession of 'inspirational' end-of-life movie tropes. O'Toole plays an aged actor confronting the inevitability of death while lusting after a buddy's rude great-niece, with whom he develops a mutually exploitive quasi-relationship, although before too long it's one of those soulful movie relationships where everyone eventually learns something vital about themselves and familial bonds are reinforced and O'Toole makes amends with Special Guest Star Vanessa Redgrave (as: a woman from his past) and I guess we all cry in our seats and then the Oscar is handed to somebody else.

It's decent enough for what it is, though. O'Toole does deliver a rather nice performance, even if it seems a bit deliberately poised to evoke past roles - there's a film-within-a-film bit where O'Toole gets to do some costumed drama, there's moments of physical slapstick, there's a few top-of-the-lungs bellows thrown in. He can still roar with the best of them, but the whole thing struck me as more of a valedictory address than anything, a vessel for nostalgia primed to remind us all how good Peter O'Toole can be, rather than something terribly interested in providing insight or whatnot. Then again, the whole film's winking 'old, great actor who has led a fullt life playing an old, great actor who has led a full life' concept is about as sympathetic an environment as one can imagine for that brand of performance.

Still: I liked it. It's pretty low on the big list of O'Toole Oscar Performances. We're not talking The Ruling Class or The Stunt Man or Supergirl or anything. Wait, that last one is wrong... I think it was Caligula. Or was it Helen Mirren that got the nomination for that?? Give me a minute...

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