Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wolf Cravings

Since reading The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, wolves have been slipping out of the corners, so many I had to resort to the only cure known to feed the wolf -- watching movies.

I started with Red Riding Hood, which is a modern interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood in which Red Riding Hood is neither little nor young and she can understand the growls, barks, and yips of the werewolf. Gary Oldman is in the movie, so it's worth watching just for that reason, but the story is, although not unique, fascinating. There's a blood moon, which is when Mars casts its shadow on the moon, hence the blood part of the moon, that occur every thirteen years and the wolf passes on its legacy to the bitten, turning the bitten into a werewolf on the next full moon.

The story is a simple love triangle. Daughter of woodcutter is in love with a young woodcutter, her playmate since early childhood, but has been promised to the blacksmith's son in marriage. The blacksmith's son is wealthy and the young woodcutter is not, and definitely not good enough for the daughter of a woodcutter when her mother is intent on selling, or rather giving, her daughter to the son of the man she once loved as she was given in marriage to the woodcutter. Add a zealous warrior of the church (Gary Oldman) with a silver sword blessed by the pope, a cadre of torture devices and mercenaries, and silver fingernails perfect for killing wolves, a town in which the pact with the wolf has been broken with Red Riding Hood's elder sister is savaged by the wolf, and the fun begins. It takes a while to unmask the real werewolf, by which time a few townspeople have been murdered, the zealous warrior unhanded, and the woodcutter's daughter, Red Riding Hood, ready to save herself from the werewolf after it kills her grandmother. It's a nice retelling of the old Grimm's fairy tale and visually appealing and bloody.

Since that was not enough to feed my wolf cravings, I resorted to my favorite wolf movie, Wolf with Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, and a stellar cast. Now that is what the wolf needed, a good man bitten by what appeared at first to be a dead wolf on the way back from Vermont to sign a well known author to MacLeish House, a turn from vegetarian to carnivore, heightened senses, betrayal by his protege in business and with his wife, a beautiful and screwed up rich man's daughter, and a milque toast turns into a savage man right before your very eyes. I have to say, for all its cinematic beauty and wonderful casting, I never really saw Jack Nicholson as a milque toast for all his acting chops. He is more wolf than mild-mannered man battling a curse, and the way he embraces the wolf at the end is pure Nicholson. Michelle Pfeiffer is, as always, the most beautiful scenery and at her ethereal best.

Now that the cravings have been stilled for now, I can go back to my regular life a little sadder that werewolves don't actually exist and that there is no chance for the bitten to gift me with his wolfiness through his passion. More's the pity, too.


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