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[whitespace] 'Brotherhood of the Wolf'
Leapers Creepers: Mark Dacascos gets physical in French scarefest 'The Brotherhood of the Wolf.'

French Kicks

Soccer mom takes on the 'Brotherhood of the Wolf'


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David Templeton takes interesting people to interesting movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate film conversation. This is not a review; rather, it's a freewheeling, tangential discussion of art, alternative ideas and popular culture.

IT'S A BUDDY FLICK. That's the critical opinion of Lorna Landvik--standup comic-turned-soccer-mom-turned-bestselling novelist (Patty Jane's House of Curl, The Tall Pine Polka)--voiced just seconds after seeing Brotherhood of the Wolf.

A grand and gory French import, Brotherhood of the Wolf follows Gregoire de Fronsac, an 18th-century naturalist (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Iroquois "blood brother" Mani (Mark Dacascos), sent to investigate a series of gory animal attacks in southern France.

The jam-packed costume creeper also features a parade of incongruous plot enhancements: Matrix-inspired martial-arts battles, fake-but-freaky mutant Helldogs, a conspiracy of red-robed Christian cultists and sexy assassins in the employ of the pope.

But all that stuff is mere adrenaline-candy to Landvik. "Brotherhood of the Wolf," she insists, "is a good old buddy story. It's the tale of a big, handsome French guy--what was his name? Fransac? Damp Sock?--and his butt-kicking Indian pal. I liked that. They both appealed to me in a big enough way that I stayed interested. I stayed awake, anyway--and that's saying something with a movie this long."

One hundred thirty-nine minutes long, to be exact, which makes Landvik late for her next appointment: a bookstore appearance 60 miles away, where she'll be reading from her newest work, a powerful comic fable titled Welcome to the Great Mysterious (Ballantine, $14).

Speaking of mysterious, Landvik truly liked Brotherhood of the Wolf. "I found myself really caring about Mani," she says, "and I did like Damp Sock. I like a Renaissance man like that, who can paint my portrait, set my bones and revenge my tragic murder, then stuff my body and prop it up to remember me by--all while looking like David Lee Roth. That's my kind of man.

"I can't say I loved it, though," she adds. "I don't think I needed all that 'Whooh! Hah! Whish! Hah!' stuff."

At this point, she stops in her tracks, swirling around to throw a few quick kung fu jabs in my direction. This is a good deal more frightening that it might sound. Though Landvik's physical appearance suggests a typical Midwestern PTA president, I have no doubt that she could bring me down quick and hurt me real bad.

"I could, too," she says, smiling sweetly. "I've taken down bigger men than you. I've cleaned out whole biker bars."

With that, she gets into the car. I concentrate on getting us to the bookstore while the conversation shifts to the differing tastes of men and women. It's a subject Landvik knows a lot about.

"Women will read a book or see a movie about anything," she declares. "But men are less likely to step outside the boundaries of their own comfort zone."

Wait. Women will read war history? A Western? A James M. Cain pulp mystery?

"I know women who read all those kinds of books," she replies. "Trust me, women are not as narrow in their tastes as men. Think about it, at least half of today's movie audience was women. Though that one woman in our row kept getting up and leaving, but maybe she just had a bladder problem.

"It's my true belief that the similarities between men and women are far more abundant than the differences," she goes on. "As readers and as moviegoers, both sexes want a story with characters they care about and believe in. I think, like my own books--though they're nothing like Brotherhood of the Wolf--this movie ultimately will appeal to both sexes--because it does what it's supposed to. It tells a really good yarn."

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From the January 31-February 6, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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