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Monthly Archives: February 2007

When Alan Parker’s film came originally out, it appeared to be the perfect, the vital counterpart to the Pink Floyd concept album. Speaking from today, it is very hard to imagine how the record could have acquired the cult status it has without the images by Parker and Gerald Scarfe, taking up the motives of the record art and expanding it. HAve I seen the film when it originally came out? I cannot remember. But I remember that I saw I have actually seen the film in 1989, in the first THX theater that I’ve ever been to, I think it was in Paris. And oh what a sensational experience, completely overwhelming, mind-blowing, which is exactly the way the music is supposed to be consumed. Without thinking, just allowing to be overwhelmed by the sheer greatness on the verge of kitsch, and now with additional support to blow away your visual senses, as well, so not to allow you to get distracted.

Parker would not be doing that film today again, I am almost sure – there are instances where the fantasy aura mixes strangely with very blunt pictures of riots and low-production design shots of styrofoam walls. This kind of thing would today fall into the hands of the Adrian Lyne or Ridley Scott, maybe. But the Englishness Alan Parker could give to the overboarding fantasy might actually be beneficial to the overall feeling of detachment the film provides. The DVD I watched was probably remastered, as it really has a very good sound and rather brilliant picture. Reminiscent of the THX experience, surely not equasl to it, however.

Overview over reviews:

History of Violence has received much praise last year, and some reviewers claim only the cleverly built Oscar battle between Crash and Brokeback Mountain has damaged History’s chances for best film – as on a less controversial level it is supposedly a very good film. Supposedly…. no, it really is, but I found it not as good as expected. It had a strange overall structure, with the build-up to the clash between the Aragorn … Viggo Mortensen character and the Ed Harris character well done, but culminating way too early. Everything after that was rather lame in comparison, even though William Hurt is adorable as always and cannot be blamed for not getting anything decent to do. Apart from casually dying, of course. The discrepancy between Tom Stall’s real and his fictious live (which ever is which) is not as big as it could be, Mortensen having a rather hard and worn face to begin with (being King of Gondor shows… sorry). Actually, I have to say this may be the least perfect Cronenberg film that I have seen since… hmm… The Fly? Which means it still is a pretty damn good film, but manages to underperform on a very high level.

Whatever may be extended about this extended edition I could not judge while wathcing it. In contrast to, say, the Lord of the Rings movies, there do not appear to be scenes without which the film would have been better. The DVD can afford to be longer, and so it is a longer version – not better, certainly not worse than the one that got the wide release on the screens.

Interesting to hear that Mr Crowe considers the story not yet finished in the audion commentary. That commentary is rather interesting, in its low-brow style. Scott and Crowe don’t try to get into the philosophy of things, but rather allow the film to revive memories from the shooting. Among the more interesting commentaries I have listened to. I will write a petition that the commentaries will be put on the DVD as an mp3 file in the future. I like the idea of just carrying them around, without having to bother about the video again and again.

On a general assessment, I found the film more entertaining than at first watching. The impression of rather lame scenes in the arena dissolved quickly, the action comes around as being pleasantly raw and untacky. The Maximus character is made to become a brute, a merciless machine on its way to the one goal it has. The side characters (including Joacquin Phoenix in the tradition of weak emperors) are also well-written and without too many distractions. The love interest is, of course, rather useless in terms of plot, but oh well, I am sure some bank surely asked for it, and she – whatever her name is – is being turned into a rather interesting plot aspect, in her semi-incestuous relationship to her brother, the emperor.

Look here for a suggestion on what the scenes are that have been added (some 17 minutes), and a comment (to which I tend to agree) to the end that the extended version is actually the more complete and sensible one:

as there have been entries at least on Spiderman 2 on this blog when it came out, let’s leave it at that: the craze about these two films is a bit hard to comprehend. Seeing them again will certainly leave the impression that they are a bit more substantial than your average X-Men rubbish. The fact that I enjoyed watching them when I was very fatigue speaks for them: no-brain entertainment on a rather professional level.

Some of the dialogue sounds more idiotic than at first watching however: "There is only one man who was always there for me…I will always be there to take care of you…" especially the love interest is full of these things, and while it may serve to make the superhero come alive a bit more, it certainly does not make the film more interesting to watch. Also a bit too much self-explaining gibberish, where the scriptwriters (or the editors? probably the distributers…) diod not trust their audience’s intelligence and re-narrated things that are very obvious to begin with.

News on Spiderman 3, anybody? Here you go, watch out for spoilers:,,

As I had not been around Germany or background-providing international tv, I was seeing all this for the first time: those masses of people standing at roadside, cheering to the bus with the German team on their way to the hotel or the stadium. Or those kids who stragely found their way into the German national team, at a level of intellectual maturity that allows for some future improvements. Or the machinery surrounding such a pro-football squad, with redecorations of five-star hotels, little Swiss fellas providing in-depth knowledge about every single opponent ("Costa Rica players just enjoy playing football and don’t want to get into trouble with the referee"). The national hysteria that apparently infected every single one, be it policeman or teenage girl.

If the intention of Soenke Wortmann when editing this film was to conserve the good spirit and make it available on-demand (by inserting the DVD), I guess this has failed. from the disctance, this looks just like what it probably was: mass hysteria. Excellent atmosphere, of course, with a bit too many German colours around for my taste, with too many "Schweini"-shouts (I wonder whether it still affects the poor guy) and too much off-topic herocism. From a purely football point-of-view, that World Cup was a bit dull, with high quality defensive action, but little inspirational moments. After having reached the final in Korea and Japan last time, when still managed by Rudi Voeller, the much younger team under Juergen Klinsmann has now, playing at home, finished third. That’s not bad, but did not South-Korea achieve the same last time round?

Watching backstage football (as any sport, I reckon) is a very sobering experience: the staff off and on the pitch is usually not of the most sparkling conversationist qualification (with remarkable exceptions, to be fair), the motivational tricks applied are of the kind that would be considered embarassing in other circumstances. ("Da brennt der Baum! Wir lassen uns das nicht wegnehmen, schon gar nicht von den Polen! Los, Maenner!"). But good fun to watch them, certainly: Jogi Loew with his funny orange hood-shirt, looking as if he wishes to be 20 again. The highlight of the film surely is Klinsmann sitting in his living room overlooking some Californian beach, insisting that the Germans should overcome their permanent complaints at how hard and arduous times and life are. Indeed. One wonders how intentional it was to film it exactly that way. Hopefully there was a bit of irony in it, because this is something the film lacks otherwise. Or how can Oliver Bierhoff, surely fully grown up by now, seriously torture his "Jungs" ("Maenner" is what only Klinsmann dares calling them) in such an important tournament with Xavier Naidoo’s breathtaking musical atrocities? One could argue that now we know why the team lost against Italy – their nerves were wrecked by musical sabotage!

Nowhere near the quality of the french predecessor film of ’98, but still an interesting picture, hopefully also available in international distribution sometime. At them moment, I cannot find any English-language reviews of this, so apparently, the distributers did not find the film to have a quality of its own. A bit sad for a well-reputed filmmaker such as Wortmann. Some links to German reviews are here:

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