Things I Learned From Movie X: The Book of Eli
By Edwin Davies
December 2, 2010
Previously on Things I Learned From Movie X, we looked at 2012, a film which depicted the end of the world in suitably loud and stupid fashion. Also, Hank and Britt took on a seemingly easy case which turned out to have deeper ramifications. (If you don't get that reference, you aren't watching Terriers on FX. Why the hell aren't you watching Terriers? It's one of the best shows on TV.) This time, we'll focus on The Book of Eli, a film that shows us what happens after all the dust has settled and the people of the Earth have to try to pick up the pieces.
Eli (Denzel Washington) has a book (I get it!) he believes could help people to rebuild after the devastation wrought by an unspecified disaster. As he battles gangs of cannibals and a fatal lack of Starbucks, he stumbles into a shanty town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman), a man who maintains an iron grip on the town and its people and shows an above average level of interest in Eli's book. Perhaps he hopes to learn something from it, as we will now learn from the film in which he is a character.
(Incidentally, I usually try to keep these spoiler-free, or at least confine any spoilers to the later sections, but this one has one in the second section because it suited a joke, so you have been forewarned.)
The only things left after the apocalypse were a handful of survivors and one Estée Lauder counter
At the risk of engaging in grossly disproportionare hyperbole, Mila Kunis is one of the most beautiful women to have ever lived. Not only on this world, but on all other worlds and in all possible dimensions. She really is quite pretty.
Obviously, when you have as sensual a being as Mila Kunis (even her name sounds like it should be a Latin phrase meaning "sex") in your film, you don't want to hide her under layers of dust and debris and all that other stuff that makes a post-apocalyptic wasteland such a dirty buzzkill. The Hughes Brothers go too far in the opposite direction, though, by making her look far, far too glamourous for the world she inhabits. I'm not saying that a beautiful woman can't look good under under even the most difficult circumstances - notice how Naomi Watts' hair still looked fabulous no matter how much King Kong smacked her head against the jungle floor or pavement - but when you've got Denzel Washington looking battered, beaten and bruised by his experiences, the sight of The Voice of Meg Griffin walking around a barren dystopia in a fur-trimmed coat and designer sunglasses seems a bit out of place. She doesn't resemble one of the few survivors of a cataclysmic event, but rather Angeline Jolie looking to adopt some adorable cannibal children.
Holy crap, Tom Waits is in this film!
Holy crap, Tom Waits is in this film!
Sorry that I repeated myself, but I'm just so shocked to see Tom Waits, the craggy faced and gravelly-voiced singer-songwriter and self-proclaimed troubadour of drunks, outsiders and drunk outsiders everywhere, in anything other that a Jim Jarmusch film, even if it is in such a small part as a pawnbroker/repairman that Eli visits when his iPod runs out of juice. (FYI, that's not the spoiler I was talking about.) Because Tom Waits doesn't really play anyone other than himself in every film he's in - though, to his credit, he plays Tom Waits like no one else can play Tom Waits - it's not hard to make the logical leap and assume that this bedraggled hermit character is, in fact, just Tom Waits after he has survived the end of the world. (And here I was thinking that Keith Richards would be the only rock star to survive the end of days. Then again, the film doesn't explicitly say that Keith Richards didn't survive, so I can only assume that he is in charge of a rival township somewhere outside of the scope of the story.)