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Wolf it Down – Brotherhood of the Wolf reviewed

So you’re waiting for The Two Towers to open, and you’re looking for some action and spectacle. Potter and Bond have arrived in cinemas promising to deliver, but don’t be fooled – forget those franchised phoneys and stay at home with The Brotherhood of the Wolf.

The new blockbusters represent the triumph of craft over talent. The Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day are reliably diverting and well put together. They do exactly what it says on the tin, reassuring the consumer that even though they’ve not seen this particular film, they already know what to expect.

Which is what makes The Brotherhood of the Wolf (just out on video and DVD after its sell-out run at the IFC earlier in the year) such a triumph – you’ve no idea what to expect from an 18th-century French kung-fu anti-Enlightenment conspiracy monster movie. Think Peter Greenaway meets John Woo and you’re not even close.

Brilliantly shot, it’s stylish and playful in equal measure, swaggering across the screen completely confident in its unique vision.

Based on the true story of an unidentified beast that terrorised a remote part of pre-Revolutionary France, it follows the attempt of explorer and naturalist Fronsac and his native American companion Mani to track down the creature.

The film gleefully rips up the genre rules, but amazingly it still ends up as a coherent whole, and a ripping yarn. Amid the beauty, violence and general insanity, there’s even time to raise questions of aristocratic dissipation, environmentalism and fascistic mechanisation.

Forget Harry and James, and choose the film that’s got the best of both of them – gadgets, fights, suave heroes, chases, intrigue, spies and monsters. And frock coats.

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All Grown Up – Minority Report reviewed

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

‘What happened to our sense of wonder?’ mumbles Van Morrison in his song ‘On Hyndford Street’, and Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report answers that question with a degree of pain and pessimism we’ve not seen from him before. 

Spielberg was famously the Peter Pan of Hollywood, his films warmed by the sense that life could be wonderful if we just held on to our child-like innocence and enthusiasm. 

From ET to Jurassic Park, the grown-ups were responsible for all the bad things, but the kids were all right. And that gave us hope.

But his last two films show us a very adult world in which the kids are missing and parents bereft. In AI, the cyborg child fills the vacuum left by a child being in a coma, and in Minority Report, protagonist John Anderton is tortured by the abduction of his son. 

To lose a child is to lose hope in the future. Earlier Spielberg suggested that people were basically good and things would work out fine. The latest films show us what the future looks like and it’s no place for the children. 

Minority Report has a thick vein of unease and pessimism running through it. Despite the shiny advertising images and the impressive architecture, real life is seedy and decaying, even if on the surface things seem to be improving. 

Murders have all but ceased since ‘pre-cogs’ with the ability to see the future allow people to be arrested before they commit crimes. But there are bitter undertones to this – the pre-cogs doing this ‘previsioning’ are as imprisoned as the criminals they catch, and someone’s trying to get away with murder to ensure the success of the program. 

And there are small touches that make you cringe – the fetid sandwich in the fridge, the jarringly sexual kiss Dr Hineman gives Anderton in her conservatory. 

Is this our fate? Seen through the eyes of the pre-cogs, people have no choice but to commit murder, and the police know that even when surrounded, ‘everybody runs’. It’s a world in which children are taken, cuckolded husbands murder their wives, and even when you try and improve things, you end up hurting people. 

Colin Farrell, playing a fed who trained to be a priest, is most comfortable with this notion of original sin – he knows the pre-crime program is faulty because even though the system is perfect, there are imperfect humans running it. 

So amid the peerless effects and action sequences is a noir-ish movie of ideas. Schindler’s List was grim but hopeful, and it was tempting to ascribe the misanthropic elements in AI to Kubrick, but Minority Report shows that Spielberg has finally grown up. And lost his sense of wonder.

Posted by David in • Square EyesFilmUSA

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Attack of the Clones – One of our heroes is missing

Thursday, May 23, 2002

It’s difficult to garner much sympathy when everyone knows you’re Darth Vader. Especially when you’re a snot-nosed teenager in a sulk.  George Lucas has been watching Harry Enfield – in Attack of the Clones, Annakin Skywalker is the teenager Kevin. With a light sabre.

The film is much better than The Phantom Menace, but the ass-backwards order of the two trilogies doesn’t help any. The Jedi are protecting the Republic – yay! The leader of the Republic is the Emperor Palpatine – boo! Yay for defeating the army of the droids!  Boo that it’s done with clones that will grow up to be stormtroopers.

And our foreknowledge ruins thing for young Annakin, who ideally should have two options, both based on the mythic archetypes than Lucas loves so much:

Option 1 – Child to Man – seen in everything from Cuchulainn to The Karate Kid: An impetuous and talented youth comes from nowhere, and matures into his powers with help from mentors. He makes mistakes, but eventually wins the day and the girl. This is the shape of the original Star Wars, but since we all know what’s going to happen to little Anni, this options’s out, leaving:

Option 2 – Tragic Hero – seen in everything from Macbeth to Blade Runner: A strong and brave character is brought low by a fatal flaw in their personality. Try as they might to extricate themselves, fate conspires against them and the audience is left chastened but sympathetic.

Lucas is trying for this, but Annakin’s part is so badly written that what we get is more Dawson’s Creek than Oedipus Rex.

Essentially, Annakin goes over to the Dark Side because Ewan McGregor keeps telling him what to do, and won’t let him go out and meet girls. God, it’s just so unfair! Hayden Christensen pouts and strops, slams doors behind him and leaves his room in a terrible state. His relationship with Amidala finally pushes him over the edge, but what Natalie Portman sees in him is anyone’s guess.

You just don’t care about Annakin, but if you don’t think too hard, there are distractions from this hole in the middle of the film. Yoda gets to hang out of a Huey like he’s in Apocalypse Now, McGregor’s modified his Alec Guinness impression into a likeable character and Sam Jackson almost becomes the first Jedi to say ‘motherfucker’.

The set pieces are great, but we’re still need a Han Solo charater to laugh at all the earnestness. Go for the swordplay and stay for a cameo performance from Trinity Library’s Long Room. Just don’t expect to feel anything.

Posted by David in • Square EyesUSAFilm

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Oscar War – What should really happen at awards ceremonies

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

In our playground there were simple rules of engagement. Three boys would link arms and stride around the playground chanting ?Who wants a game of War??, or if we were feeling cheeky, ?Who wants a game of Kiss Chase??.

Soon others would join in, and then the teams would be divided along certain agreed lines. Most of the time, the captains would alternately choose one person, until the only one left would be the new kid with the patch over his NHS specs to correct his lazy eye.

But on occasion, we?d divide the teams up in a different way – for example, Mrs Bowring?s class stick the rest. While watching the dreary Oscars last week, it dawned on me that the ceremony would be much more exciting if it was a team event.

So Paul Newman and Kirk Douglas would loudly declaim, ?Who wants a game of War?? while strutting around the huge auditorium. Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Connolly would stop talking about whether Nicole Kidman fancied Robbie Williams, and slouch over to join in.

Soon they?d have to work out how to divide the teams.

?It should be everyone who?s got at least one Oscar against all the losers,? says Tom Hanks. ?Except you can have Julia Roberts because she runs like a girl.?

?I?m not going on your fucking team,? bellows Russell Crowe. ?You and your flag-waving Oscar-bait ?Run Forrest, run!? piece of shit. Where?s Denzel? No way is he getting the gong for Training Day. I am Russell Ira Crowe – Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.?

?Didn?t I see you in Neighbours?? says Gwyneth Paltrow, playing with her hair and keeping her black eyes downcast in her new grunge head-girl look.

?You leave Neighbours out of this!? say Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia in unison.

?Children, children,? says Charlton Heston. ?We all know that Hollywood is the cradle of cinematic creativity, but lame-ass Europeans who don?t even allow their police to pack heat always argue that they do the good work. Let?s settle it once and for all – Americans over here, the rest of the World over there. If we win, you only get to compete for the best film in a foreign language category from now on. Mike Myers and Jim Carrey, where do you think you?re going? You?re on our side – we need your deadly comic timing.?

?No way, Moses,? says Myers. ?We?re Canadian, remember? And you don?t get Donald Sutherland, Dan Akroyd, William Shatner or Christopher Plummer either.?

?But isn?t Canadia part of the US?? asks Liv Tyler, in a very fetching way.

?Which side am I on?? pipes up Catherine Zeta-Jones. ?And how do we play? I never really did playground games when I was in primary school.  I was always rushing home to watch The Streets of San Francisco and Romancing the Stone.?

Soon the fighting begins. The Americans have the good looks and healthy diets that athletes need, and the crack Saving Private Ryan squad of Hanks, Matt Damon, Ed Burns and Tom Sizemore makes early headway against the Fops and Weaklings brigade of Hugh Grant, Rupert Everett and Ewan McGregor.

In the corner, the Baldwin family is getting their asses kicked by the Redgraves, but Billy Bob and Angelina are making mincemeat of Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet, until Billy Bob and Angelina forget about the fighting and start making gymnastic love and giving each other tattoos.

The Queen?s Own Royal Thespians are doing well for their age, with Sirs Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Hopkins, and Ben Kingsley being ably assisted by Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.

At one point Andie McDowell says, ?Is it raining? I hadn?t noticed,? and both sides pause to beat her like a red-haired stepchild.

The ANZAC regiment of Baz Lurhmann, Jane Campion, Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Peter Jackson, Russell Crowe, and Mel Gibson are sent into the heart of the mel?e without proper support by the spineless British directors Anthony Minghella and Guy Ritchie, who are safe behind lines.

Richard Harris and Peter O?Toole have adjourned to the bar, where Woody Harrelson?s rolling a big one. Winona Ryder?s slipped out the back with everyone?s coats.

In the music battle Paul McCartney, Sting and Enya are up against Randy Newman and John Goodman. Sting refuses to fight, as it?s against his Buddha nature, and Enya wails, ?I don?t perform live, I need hundreds of hours of studio time and overdubbing to make an impact.? Sir Paul miraculously withstands the heavyweight stylings of Newman and Goodman because he appears to be made of money.

Vinnie Jones strips off his tuxedo to reveal his Wimbledon FC shirt, and takes out Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard with a couple of fully committed tackles. ?I?ll give you feelgood entertainment,? he snorts.

Pacino and De Niro are both fighting dirty against the British Bad Guy division of Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons and Robert Carlyle, who keep coming up with elaborate ways to kill the Americans only to let them go again.

Ridley Scott and his brother Tony are having their own fight. ?I make Bladerunner, Thelma and Louise, and Gladiator,? says Ridley. ?And you sully the family name with Top Gun and Days of Thunder. You know our Mam hates Tom Cruise.?

Suddenly the lights go out, the cameras and microphones stop working, and for a few moments there?s chaos. When the lights come back up, all the US forces are on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs with gaffa tape. An elite cadre of make-up artists is doing unspeakable things to the complexions of the stars.

Charlton Heston looks like a broken man. ?Against you tricksy character actors and Antipodeans we might have had a chance,? he says. ?But I forgot that all the technical people and make-up artists in Hollywood are British.

?But don?t worry, we?ll be back – we?re going to come and boss you in your own house next year at the BAFTA Smackdown.?

Posted by David in • Square EyesFilm

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Walking Tall – The secret of small actors

The movie’s reaching its climax — a man is being led through a filthy jail to see his friend who’s been incarcerated for two years; our hero is about to volunteer to serve his own sentence to save his friend’s life — and the only question in my mind is how tall is Vince Vaughn?

This clearly wasn’t the sentiment the makers of Return to Paradise wanted to evoke in the audience, but soon I was away on a height jag. If Vaughn’s about 6’2”, then Anne Heche must be pocket sized, because she’s clearly a foot shorter than he is. And that means Joaquin Phoenix is tiny as well.

So what about Tom Cruise, who we all know is famously short? When David Letterman asked the recently-divorced Nicole Kidman (5’10″) what changes she was going to make in her new life, she shot back, ‘Well, I’ll start wearing high heels again.’

Tom, at 5’7”, is perhaps better suited to his new squeeze Penelope Cruz, who as well as looking like him, and having almost the same name as him, is about the same height as him.

In real life, you know how tall people are because you automatically measure them against yourself and nearby objects.

But after seeing the great effects employed in The Lord of the Rings to make the hobbits suitably squat, how can you trust any actor’s height when they’re on screen?

The rule of thumb seems to be that leading ladies are taller than average (Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts . . . ), except for the ones that aren’t (Meg Ryan, Sarah Michelle Gellar). Leading men on the other hand, are shorter than average (Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino).

So why the diddy men? One argument I’ve heard (admittedly in the snug of The Stag’s Head) is that it’s all down to relative size of head to body. Short men have proportionally larger heads, and since they tend to do most of their acting using their heads, there’s less body to clutter up the screen, giving a more powerful performance.

More specifically, what’s crucial in the head department is the surface area of face that’s made up by the space between the eyebrows and the bottom lip — the facial golden rectangle (or FGR). A big slaphead’s not going to help you any, since you can’t emote with it (unless you’re Vinnie Jones).

So if you calculate the ratio of the FGR to the surface area of the rest of their bodies, these petit players score big, because they’re not filling up the onscreen real-estate with rippling muscles or unnecessarily long legs. At the other end of the scale there’s Dolph Lundgren and Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose FGR to body ratios are tiny. And who would you rather have in your movie?

Jean-Claude Van Damme proves the accuracy of this calculation — he?s got the bulging muscles, but he’s only 5′ 8″, so you would expect him to have more onscreen presence than Dolph and Arnie. This is borne out by his excellent work in the neglected masterpieces Nowhere to Run and Universal Soldier: The Return, so that’s QED for the FGR theory.

All of which puts Vince Vaughn at a huge disadvantage — not only is he missing an ‘a’ from his last name, he’s also a giant amongst men at 6’5″, and all that extra body just gets in the way of his acting. Facing a similar problem is Tim Robbins, who’s also 6’5″.

Maybe next year the Oscars will be handicapped, like horse racing, or better still, governed by weight division like boxing. ‘And now, we come to the award for those with an FGR to body ratio of 17.5% or less’. There’d be weigh-ins before films started shooting, and De Niro would bulk up for the first time since Raging Bull to go up a division and show them how good he was. I can’t wait.

Originally published on the Square Eyes TV blog

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Black Hawk Down – TGF

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

There was a moment in the middle of Black Hawk Down when it dawned on me what I was watching – it was a TGF.

Those of you unfamiliar with US military slang will have to take my word for this, but it wasn’t that Friday feeling I was getting as I watched this grim depiction what it’s like to be stranded in a city where everyone’s got a gun and they all want to kill you.

What I was watching was a Total Goat Fuck. Everything that could go wrong in the film does go wrong, and it’s told without the usual sentimentality and tub-thumping bravado. We’re presented with a two-hour anti-recruiting commercial as Ridley Scott brings his technical mastery to bear on outlining the chaos of a disastrous mission to seize lieutenants of the warlord Muhammad Farah Aidid from Mogadishu in 1993

Watching this film, you know in advance that bad things are going to happen and that there’s no happy ending, so when you’re introduced to all the soldiers in the first twenty minutes, you’re already trying to work out which ones won’t be coming back.

But there’s little enough time for character development before everyone’s off into the city, afraid but committed. It’s a daylight raid into a hostile environment by a lightly-armed force with no armoured backup. The US authorities didn’t even tell the UN troops in the ‘safe’ part of the city what was planned.

The whole film gives us the point of view of the US soldiers on the ground, who as one of the militia men points out later, have no responsibility for being there, but are free to kill people.

And be killed. Things quickly fall apart as rocket propelled grenades and AK47 fire fills the sky, and from here on it’s a bloody mess. In the midst of it there are individual acts of bravery, but a much greater sense of everyone just trying to survive.

It takes a long time to come up with a plan to rescue the stranded troops, and meanwhile Tom Sizemore shines as the increasingly disillusioned lieutenant colonel who keeps being sent back and forth in his bullet-ridden Hummers in the middle of the chaos.

Most of the other members of the cast are interchangeably desperate and bloody (I bet Ewan McGregor and Ewen Bremner from Trainspotting never thought they’d be reuniting to don fatigues and get shot at for Ridley Scott), but that’s fine because this isn’t about heroes, and it’s clear that chance decides who’s going to live and die amongst the Americans.

You can level criticism at the movie for not exploring the context for the attack in more detail, and you can certainly argue that the US army shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but that’s not the concern of the troops on the ground, nor of the film.

When the exhausted survivors make it to safety, there’s no time for explanations or apportioning blame, except when General Garrison goes to visit some of the wounded. One of the young soldiers he sent into the city is bleeding all over the floor, and the general bends down to wipe it up. He’s got blood on his hands.

We all know that war is about killing people, but this film is a cold-eyed and unpleasant look at what that actually means if you’re some of the people involved. Especially when you’re asked to participate in a total goat fuck.

Posted by David in • Square EyesUSAFilm

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Too cool – The Man Who Wasn’t There reviewed

Thursday, January 10, 2002

The Man Who Wasn’t There is a cool film – a moody period film noir about blackmail and murder – and the Coen brothers can always be relied upon to deliver something interesting, but is that enough this time?

Billy Bob Thornton plays the title character with such reserve and quiet intensity that he’s transformed from his other more showboating roles. He says very little, and drifts through scenes breathing, smoking and doing very little else.

His growing disdain for his own life and the misguided attempt he makes to break out of it powers the film. Frances McDormand and James Gandolfini put in their usual solid performances, and Tony Shalhoub threatens to steal the movie as the unctuous lawyer Freddy Riedenschneider.

The film is a tribute to movies such as Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, and creates the same sense of passionate menace under the surface of constricted lives in a respectable town.  Shot in black and white (or more accurately, shot on colour film stock but printed in black and white), it looks beautiful, and the plot unfolds with a certain tragic inevitability.

It’s very cool, but perhaps a little too cold to be engaging. It has the Coen brothers’ trademark cleverness – look at us, we’re making a film noir full of hip film references – and this distances you from the drama, making it feel like an expensive and elaborate fake.

The danger of having so passive a character as the lead in the film is that it’s hard to care what happens to him when he doesn’t care himself. The suggestion that he’s a representative of ‘modern man’ is to tie him to a deliberately dated idea, distancing him still further from us – there’s nothing so weird as an old-fashioned vision of the future.

And Riedenschneider’s version of the Uncertainty Principle is wittily done, but playing pick and mix from the big ideas of the 1940s only goes so far.

That’s not to say that The Man Who Wasn’t There isn’t worth watching (Scarlett Johansson is excellent as the teenager Birdy Abundas who’s old beyond her years), it’s just that you’d like the Coens to turn their considerable talents away from making smart films about film, and instead to making moving films about people.

A little less cool, and a bit more warm.

Posted by David in • Square EyesUSAFilm

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One Film to Rule them All – LOTR reviewed

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Most films invite you into a different world for a couple of hours, showing you people and places that you know little about. We expect this world to be convincing, and to have a depth that allows us to suspend our disbelief for a time.

But very few films – whether fantasies or not – have created as coherent and powerful a vision as that shown in The Lord of the Rings.

Unlike the well-made but shallow Harry Potter, this is myth for grown-ups, with a palpable sense of evil, and a sweep and scale that wins out over the problems of bringing such a dense book to the screen.

The opening of the film suggest the purview of the movie, with the first words being, ‘The world is changing,’ and it’s director Peter Jackson’s triumph that he gives a sense of the broad context for the actions of Frodo and the others, while also allowing them to live as individuals.

To create a convincing fantasy world that exists in the moment is challenging enough, but to give us history lessons at the same time as telling us a taut adventure story is a real triumph.

Throughout the three hours the pacing is excellent, and if some events are given little enough screen time (Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler went a long way for not much work), the rhythm seldom sags.

If the world that Tolkien imagined is brought impressively to life, it can also be argued that the film also reflects Tolkien’s inability to draw complex characters. So elves are all ethereal and vaguely Arian, dwarves sturdy and quick-tempered (and Welsh), while the hobbits are good-natured and surprisingly resilient.

But Tolkien and the film are making epic, and the point is that the characters have a nobility and grandeur that has passed from the current world. Nor does this suggest that the good vs evil battle is clumsily drawn.

Saruman’s expediency as he engages in the Middle-Earth versions of genetic engineering and industrialization hints at the dangers of the modern age, while Boromir’s tragedy is that his sense of duty and honour to Gondor overcome his better judgement.

Aragorn’s burden as being a king without a kingdom, and heir to the hero and villain Isildur is particularly well-drawn.

At the council in Rivendell (symbolically during autumn – winter is coming, the elves are leaving, foolish humans are taking over) there’s a sense that the world is doomed, and this air of real menace permeates the film.

The performances also support this complexity of vision. Elijah Wood, with his translucent skin and childlike eyes, captures Frodo’s brave uncertainty, while Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is impressively stern and careworn, and Sean Bean nails Boromir’s Viking spirit.

And they all move in a world that is a joy to behold. If the ring is a supporting character in the drama (it certainly is more in control than the Fellowship), then so is the New Zealand landscape. It looks both very familiar and also slightly alien – the mountains and rivers heightened versions of what we’re used to in this small-scale continent.

There are problems, though. The fight scenes are brutal but chaotic, and it’s hard to work out exactly what’s happening. Viggo Mortensen’s English accent goes astray at times, and his weasel blankness is supposed to hint at Aragorn’s nobility, but sometimes he just looks blank.

But Jackson has created a dense, well-structured and rewarding version of the book, and I’m already looking forward to the next film, and thinking about how cool it would be to be like Legolas, firing two arrows at a time and walk across the top of snow without leaving footprints.

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What is says on the tin – Harry Potter reviewed

Monday, November 12, 2001

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ is that rarest of birds – a big-budget adaptation of a successful book that works. And it not only works, it also remains true to the plot, vision and values of the original.

Normally, ‘based on the novel by . . . ‘ means ‘well, it’s got the same title’, or at the very best ‘it was all going fine until we did the test screenings, and then we had to reshoot the ending’.

But here the film does exactly what it says on the tin. Aside from the most minor changes to the plot, we get the full story told in a faithful way, even down to the set design, where everything we’re told about Hogwarts is included (candles floating in the air over the dining hall tables, for example), and augmented by sympathetic details not in the book (like the medieval feel for the quidditch stadium).

And the casting is excellent: Richard Harris, John Hurt, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart (that’s John Lennon in ‘Backbeat’, not left back at Elland Road), Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, John Cleese, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane and Zoe Wannamaker. Some of them have no more than a handful of lines, but they add such heft to the film that you can forgive the three child stars when they falter a little.

If there’s heft from the cast, then there’s even more solidity from the story itself, an unlikely collision between a universal myth and an English boarding school jape. The narrative as Harry moves from neglected orphan to chosen one in a fight between good and evil is a classic mythic trope, and any similarities with ‘Star Wars’ are entirely deliberate, as they both draw on the same sources. Where George Lucas added space ships and blasters, Rowling adds dormitories and house points, but it’s a tribute to the film-makers that they left well alone. Voldemort is Darth Vader – the talented master of magic who went over to the Dark Side – but he’s also Lucifer, Sauron and any number of other examples of hubristic evil. And no prizes for seeing Harry as Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins.

My fear with the film version was that this sense of real badness would be toned down, but the movie is appropriately gruesome, and doesn’t pull any punches with some of the more graphic elements in the book. As one little girl remarked after the showing I saw, ‘it’s scary, disgusting but good’.

One result of this fidelity to the book is that the film runs for two and a half hours, but the thing is so carefully plotted and well-played that you scarecely feel the time drag. After the great immediacy of the quidditch match things get a little slow for a while, but in a cinema packed with kids, I didn’t see much restlessness at all.

So if you like the books, you won’t be disappointed in the film. If you’ve never read Harry Potter, the film gives you such a faithful version of the first book that you may as well just jump straight in with this. And don’t believe anyone who tells you that the book’s better, because what you’re seeing _is_ the book.

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After the Film

Friday, October 26, 2001

You walk out of the cinema and everything is changed. You entered the big boxy building in the light of an ordinary afternoon. But now it’s dark, and the city feels a little different. You wonder if what you’re seeing is actually there. Everything seems kind of real, but then you’ve just spent two hours believing what you saw, when you knew it wasn’t real.

You look harder, noticing things that you would have missed before in this stylized version of the familiar. The lights are brighter, the shadows more pronounced. You listen to the noise of the traffic, as it washes like waves on the walls of the buildings; you watch the forklifts loading bright boxes of veg as you walk past the wholesalers. Into a square and your eye pans across it, and then the focus pulls back to the office block at the far end. Now you cut to details of the halo round the top of a lampost, and you close in on the faces as people come out of the shining shop. 

You’re not just heading home, you’re walking down a street in a city on a specific evening, with the light just so, and particular cars driving past, individual noises reaching you, and so many different things all happening at once. You’re glad you went to the cinema on your own, because if you’d been talking about the film on the way home, or headed off for some drinks, your customary life would have intervened and you’d have missed all this wonder.

What’s the story? It’s like you’re in the movies. Or maybe the movies are in you.

Posted by David in • Square EyesFilm