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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Matt the Movies

Instead of sunbathing and officiating wet T-shirt contests on a beach, my 50-60 degree spring break 2K6 consisted of the choice between beer bonging in a lukewarm hot tub with obese heifers from Arkansas, replaying a Don Vito fingerbang in my head and watching Lifetime Movie Network in a skanky room that smelled like these-bites-are-made-for-pooping Pizza Hut. (Call today to sign up for 2007! 1-888-SPRING-BREAK.) One day, I decided to break up that monotony and hit the movies to see "V for Vendetta," mainly because a) Natalie Portman stars, b) no one else wanted to see Amanda Bynes' "She's the Man," and c) I heard that Natalie Portman gets shaved on camera.

I also was informed over SB2K6 that my grandfather found out that I write this column while browsing The Dartmouth site one day, thus adding pressure on me to be less foul-mouthed and more accurate in both my reportage and opinion dishing. Yes, this is even more pressure than having a parent subscribe to the GGMM. (Self-call! You didn't die after all!)

"V" is supposedly the kind of movie designed to make you "think," but in actuality, it's pretty ho-hum as futuristic science fiction goes. (Granted, I did miss huge plot points during my viewing due to several restroom trips to go Number 3. Thanks Taco Bell and buttered popcorn!) I mean, I'd rather see the screen adaptation of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" if I was looking for "1984"-inspired sci-fi than the graphic novel series upon which the "V" screenplay was based. That may be an unfair conclusion, as I don't care for comics much anyway, and said graphic novelist has apparently disowned this film version.

In any case, "V" is set in a not-so-distant-future England, where a long-running American war, Islamic terrorism fears, and an avian-flu-esque virus have ushered in a reactionary totalitarian ruler, who communicates with his cabinet via teleconferenced diatribes. Natalie Portman (as Evey Hammond) starts off the movie as a shy, sweet, and foxy assistant at the state news station, yet ends it as a hardened terrorist. This stunning transformation is accomplished by V, a masked man (played by Agent Smith of "Matrix" fame) fond of quoting Shakespeare, knifing authority figures and trying to overthrow the oppressive government through dramatic uses of violence. The whole affair feels very "Matrix," which shouldn't be a surprise as the Wachowski Brothers -? one of whom has apparently reassigned its gender -? are on hand as screenwriters.

There are so many over-the-top pompous lines that they cannot all be listed here. My favorite though is Portman responding to a policeman on the identity of V: "He was Edmond Dants ... And he was my father, and my mother. My brother, and my friend. He was you ... (cue dramatic pause -- I smell Oscar!) ... and me. He was all of us." Excellent insight, Nat. That is only slightly more acceptable than the wooden screenplay from Natalie's "Star Wars" prequels.

Yes, I admit that the movie is quite entertaining at times solely based on its images (I have a soft spot for sai). The main problem with this kind of sci-fi film is that it tries so hard to be topical and relevant that it ends up in the dreaded territory of brain-dead philosophizing that rendered the "Matrix" trilogy so inane. It's as if the filmmakers thought that name-dropping a couple Shakespeare plays, using some big words and alluding to the War in Iraq and Lynndie England-style torture would somehow elevate the film to one with "big ideas." In fact, this appears to have worked -- you know you have hit the cultural jackpot when Dartmouth Op-Ed writers start debating your morals. The Wachowskis would be better off keeping their sci-fi tongue-in-cheek and less preachy (I mean, did I really need a 15-minute sob fest about lesbians being sent to torture camps?) -- more "Total Recall" than "Matrix Revolutions." Or, even better, they could go back to eminently more entertaining fare like the lesbian-sex-drenched "Bound."

While the movie's inanely grandiose storyline is its downfall, starlet Portman deserves no blame. She may have mailed in her here-and-there British accent, but she didn't need to do anything super-special to keep me hooked to her dark allure. One thing you should not expect is steamy sex scenes -- for those, I suggest renting "Closer." That film is a must see if only for Portman's you-can-almost-make-out-labia-through-G-string striptease.

Portman holds her own when you compare her to other actresses who have gone hairless (no, unfortunately not that kind of hairless, although that gets me thinking...) -? she's far more interesting than the Demi Moore of "G.I. Jane," and probably as intriguing as the Sigourney Weaver of the Alien series.

I normally want to shit on actors/actresses/directors (Jennifer Aniston, for instance), but in this case, I can't bring myself to dislike Portman. While one of my housemates dismissed her as "anal retentive and lame" (she does not drink, and got a 4.0 at Harvard), I prefer to think of her as laidback and cool. Maybe not yea-princess Lindsay Lohan cool, but cool nonetheless -- and hot, really hot.

Portman has that kind of dark Jewish look that is highly appealing to both Jewish and non-Jewish men alike (she's like the flipside of Jamie Gleicher, or even Sarah Jessica Parker). It is one viable alternative to the blond, blue-eyed traditional American beauty queen. For me - a ghastly pale Irishman - it's like reverse shiksappeal. Put Portman up against the pretty red-haired lass in Ireland, and I am sure a vast majority of Irish males will pick Portman. From what I gather from my friends who are Jewish, this pro-Portman sentiment holds true for members of the tribe as well. "Natalie Portman is about as hot as matzoh ball soup on Passover, which is pretty steamy," said one Jewish senior.

If you are not already convinced about Natalie's absolute awesomeness, please visit:

But what's not to like? Natalie has serious Jewish street cred -- she was born in Jerusalem, but grew up in Nassau County (only slightly less Jewish). She took classes at Hebrew University in Jerusalem while filming the Israel film "Free Zone." She is credited as a research assistant on Alan Dershowitz's book "The Case for Israel." And to top it off, her real last name is Hershlag.

So here's to you Natalie Hershlag -- you are the dream girl for goy and yid alike.