Who's in It:
Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgård, Randy Quaid
The Basics: It's the end of the Spanish Inquistion (which, according to this rip-the-lid-off-history wig-and-corset movie, was very, very bad, in case you were unclear on that), and the beginning of Napoleon's invasion of Spain (he overreached, apparently, just FYI) and legendary Francisco Goya sees it all from behind his painter's easel. Except we don't know why he sees what he sees or what, if anything, he plans to do about it or why he's played by Skarsgård (I guess all the Spanish actors were busy).
What's the Deal? I finally figured out a way for Hostel: Part II to make some money. All they have to do is go back in and make it a historical drama. Because in this movie, Portman spends the entire film being tortured (just like Heather Matarazzo's now-notorious hanging scene in H:PII) or raped or chained in a dank cell for 15 years or being driven slowly insane. But see, it's an arty Milos Forman film, so no one's going to get too upset about it. But
The Comic Timing of a Tortured, Crazy Portman, Explained: So here are my three favorite parts of this dirt-brown, long-winded, empty gesture of a movie, and all of them involve Natalie Portman and the following weirdness (and, yes, these are definitely spoilers, but the movie is a big bag of self-important gas, so I don't feel guilty about giving it away. Stop reading here if you care.)
1. She's being tried for heresy, even though she's not guilty and there's no evidence. So she asks how she can prove her innocence. Suddenly, there's a quick cut to her being strung up naked, and she's screaming her head off. Now, is it my fault that I burst out laughing in the press screening? Or the editor's? I blame them, obviously.
2. Finally, after 15 years in darkness, she's let out when Napoleon shows up. And they've put some kind of prosthetic device in her mouth to make it look like her jaw's been repeatedly broken and set incorrectly, giving her a lopsided face. She then stumbles around like Gilda Radner did in this old Saturday Night Live bit where she played a crazy child who thought she was a roll of Scotch tape. Giggling every time she's onscreen is the only true response to this sort of thing.
3. Portman also plays her own daughter, in slightly darker makeup to let you know that her father is a Spaniard. Just obviously not a Spaniard that's really from Sweden. Like Skarsgård. Why didn't Forman just get Jim Carrey to do it while he was at it? Then offset his fee by casting someone like Jessica Simpson in the Portman role?
For Fans Of: Being bored and getting disdainful looks thrown your way when you crack up too much in a serious grown-up movie.