March 18th, 2007

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Orlando Bloom provides an interesting "Haven"

When I was working for an RKO Radio station, we
organized a weekend in the Cayman islands for our
loyal listeners. While there was no nightlife per se,
the trip was full of daytime adventure involving
submarine rides, snorkeling with the stingrays and
swimming up to a poolside bar and downing pina
coladas. This was a heavenly experience until it was
time to fly home. At which point, two people in our
party were caught smoking marijuana in the airport.
Our plane was delayed for three hours. The suspects
were stripped searched and there was talk that the
plane was going to be searched.

This tough law enforcement in 1989 revealed a strong
message about the use of recreational drugs and international relations.
Almost twenty years later, the politics of drug use seems to have been marginalized in a recently released DVD titled "Haven." Written and
directed by Cayman islander Frank E. Flowers, "Haven" is a
character study about the different levels of Cayman
society. The trailer for this movie is misleading,
"Haven" is not an action packed treasure hunt, but is
a character study that contains moments of painful violence.

Orlando Bloom portrays Shy, a local who is involved
in love affair with a crime lord's daughter, Andrea (Zoe Saldana).
While the race issue does not to seem to be much of a
factor, the caste system of the island it, Shy is
beneath the financial strata of Cayman crime lord.

Miami is represented by Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton), a middle
aged financial wizard who is being investigated by the
Treasure Department. Ridley and his daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner)
exile themselves to the Cayman islands While Dad
attempts to figure out a strategy for dealing with the
IRS, his daughter joins the party scene with
disastrous results.

The Cayman culture is presented as a leisurely paced
community and so is pace of this the motion picture. When violence
does erupt, it is instantaneous and shocking. There
are shootings, but there is also social maiming and
branding that is more shocking.

Orlando Bloom must have shot this film on the weekends when working
on his "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy. In contrast to his Errol
Flynn heroics, Bloom reveals a darker side to his populist image. The
actor pulls it off, making Shy a romantic leading man who falls from grace.

To appreciate "Haven," watch it on a lazy Sunday afternoon while sipping a pina colada.
"Haven" captures the darkness of the island that I missed in June of 1989.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"300" is smashing expectations

The fate of the world is full of turning points. Upon
reflection moral clarity seems so simple, whether it
was William Wallace leading the Scots against the
English or Davy Crockett at the Alamo, heroic
sacrifice lives beyond tyrannical actions. While
battles were lost on the field, the war for humane
evolution has endured. "300" is the latest movie to
describe this notion of heroism in the face of defeat.

Perhaps the battle of Thermopylae is the first
documented example of drawing a line in the sand. 300
Spartans prevented thousands of Persians from invading
Greece civilization. Using trees, rocks, canyons as
their ally, the 300 hundred Spartans slowed the
invaders lead by Xerxes (Rodgrigo Santoro), a cruel
leader who believes he is a god. Beyond outnumbering
the Spartans 1000 to 1, the Persians incorporate
showmanship and diversionary tactics into their brand
of warfare, utilizing, ugly giants, raging rhinoceros
and elephants for combat.

Opposing Xeres is King Leonidas (Gerard Butler).
Leonidas is born of warrior blood and is trained by
his father to become a Spartan. At age 7, the boy is
taken to Spartan Training camp where he learns to
control his fear or die. As a rite of passage, young
Leonidas is abandoned in the mountains as part of his
vision quest. Upon his return, Leonidas marries Queen
Gorgo (Lena Headey) and rules Sparta with political
justice, Greek reasoning and Spartan nationalism.

"300" is the movie adaptation of a Frank Miller
graphic novel. The emphasis of this movie is on the
visualization with comic book gallows humor and dark
comedy. The first battle between the Spartans and the
Persians looks like the line of scrimmage of a
football or rugby game. There are moments of balletic
fencing and limb chopping. These scenes are brutal
for the weak hearted, but are artistically rendered.

The turning point of the battle occurs when a father
watches his son get decapitated. As the tide turns,
one sees betrayal that is plausible within the scope
of the narrative. For all of the graphic novel
spectacle on the green screen, "300" is a character
driven piece of cinema.

After years in supporting roles in films like "Lara
Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" and "Timeline,"
Gerard Butler confidently takes on the leading man
reins as King Leonidas. This Scottish actor in Greek
makeup is reminiscent of Sean Connery from "Time
Bandits." Lena Headey is an equal match for her King
and she provides pragmatic feminism. Narration is performed
by David Wenham, veteran of "The Lord of the Rings" and "Van Helsing."

In eight days "300" has earned nearly 130 million dollars. Most elitist critics
have referred to this box office gross as another example of the downfall of civilization as we know it. It is these elitist critics that do not understand that the history presented in "300" marks when western civilization sacrificed itself against fanatical menace.