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January 16th, 2006

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11:55 pm - No weekend update, just movie reviews: Alexander, Harry Potter, Brazil (Love Conquers All version)
I did nothing this weekend worth discussing at length in a livejournal post -- sorry. Given the subject of this post, I should mention that I watched Alexander. The verdict? PBS could have made Alexander work as a twelve-hour miniseries, but as it stands it's gorgeous but disposable. I think I said the same thing about Troy, actually. I'm learning (slowly) that Oliver Stone is a very capable director whose ideas about what makes a movie work are completely incompatible with mine.

Today I had off, this being Martin Luther King Jr. Day and all. I wish I could tell you that I participated in some sort of high-falutin', multi-cultural appreciation festival, but in fact I spent the bulk of the day watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the IMax with agaysexicon and koriandrkitten, and then hanging out with them and fuzzyinthehead.

Thoughts on Harry Potter: It's an attractive movie full of great performances, but it's bogged down by the fact that 734 pages is far too much material to cram into two and a half hours. I wasn't lost at any point in the story, but things seemed rushed and I could tell that I was missing a great deal of background information. IMDB tells me that Warner Bros.' original plan had been to release GoF in two parts (ala Kill Bill), but director Mike Newell vetoed that idea in favor of one making movie. I don't think this was the right choice, especially given that the Harry Potter franchise is a guaranteed box office draw. Not having read the book I can only guess that they didn't cut out anything that would have made an impressive effects sequence, so while two movies would have been more expensive to make than one, they would also have been disproportionately more profitable. Oh, well. As a non-fan, it was worth matinee price at the IMax, which is slightly more than full price anywhere else.

On the subject of movies, I watched the "Love Conquers All" cut of Brazil on Saturday night. For those unfamiliar, Universal Studios was initially unhappy with the film, and had proposed 47 minutes of cuts to make it palatable to a mainstream U.S. audience. Terry Gilliam refused to release the edited movie under his name, and the studio finally caved when Brazil started winning awards and Oscar nominations before actually being released in the States. Still, the shorter cut has aired on television in the past, and is available with the special edition of the DVD. I'd been led to believe that this cut of the movie was awful, so I was surprised to learn that it's really not that bad, just very, very different.

In Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Sam Lowry is a stagnant bureaucrat who lives more inside his head than outside of it. His fantasies begin to overlap with reality when he realizes that the girl of his dreams is a real person. He starts taking the opportunities he would otherwise have waived, making decisions he otherwise would have avoided, and eventually loses himself within his fantasies because he can no longer cope with real life. Though happy, Sam has made himself dysfunctional. It's a tragic ending.

The shorter cut virtually excises the dream sequences, leaving just enough to introduce Jill, Sam's dream-girl. The end result is that there is no fantasy in the movie. Everything onscreen happens in real life. In this version, Sam's infatuation with Jill inspires him to break free of his shackles and escape with her to a better life thanks to the help of an underground resistance movement which may have infiltrated the government. This is a very happy ending.

The keys to unlocking the story in Brazil are contained plainly within the movie. Some people get it the first time. Others require multiple viewings (or simply give up). The thing is, many of the keys are missing in the shorter cut. Some of the puzzles go unsolved. Some of them can no longer be described puzzles. Terry Gilliam's cut is weird, but the weirdness makes sense when you figure out that Sam is dreaming it. Sam's nightmare visions (Tuttle literally being consumed by paperwork, for example) become incomprehensible as real-world events in the Love Conquers All version. Then again, this is the movies, and if you can't handle Robert DeNiro disappearing in a pile of papers, you're probably better off sticking to the news (and not Fox news, since you've indicated that you can't handle fantasy).

Obviously, Terry Gilliam's cut is the better movie, but it's startling to see that both versions work, and yet make such different points. Had Terry Gilliam actually written the Love Conquers All version, his fans would have embraced it as a masterpiece.
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: None, why?

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2006 07:21 am (UTC)
"I can only guess that they didn't cut out anything that would have made an impressive effects sequence," so wrong! They took out quidditch! Qudditch, man, Quidditch! That and all the cool stuff that was supposed to be in the maze. I would of loved a two part movie or a four hour movie with a fifteen minnute break in between halves.
"...you're probably better off sticking to the news (and not Fox news, since you've indicated that you can't handle fantasy)." lol.
I've never seen the shotened virsion, but it would be nice. I know the one I saw was the 'sad' ending, but I thought it was happy, because he had exscped, if only in his head. I think if I'm ever imprisioned I would try to 'imagine myself out'. I thought of it as creating his own reality.
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
Well, like I said, I didn't read the book. I guess the plan was to release two separate movies a few months apart, and Mr. Newell just thought the story could be told in one. It's too bad because even as an outsider, I thought parts felt rushed and abrupt.

Regarding Brazil: I can understand why you think the original ending is a happy one. It is happy, for Sam, but he's lost to reality now.
Date:January 17th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC)

just a couple things on HP

a few things from the book that they didn't divulge in the movie and could/should be of some importance:

  • the world quiddich cup was too short. this is important because they destroyed the actual scene from the book. see: the weasley's, harry and hermione where actually in the official ministry of magic box and this is when the first hints of voldemorts return and crouch's involvement where divulged. also, harry's wand was stolen by the one who creates the dark mark, so they all think harry is vying for mor attention

  • rita skeeter was cut down to nothing. importants? it has to do with animagi and hermione finally getting a one up on her

  • harry wins a 1000 galleon prize for winning the cup. does he keep it? no, harry doesn't need more money. instead he gives it to fred and george so they can open their joke shop. sad thing is, the joke shop will actually be more important in the later chapters, and especially harry's generousity towards the twins

those are just a few things. there where a ton more which where mostly aesthetic and a few that where fun but unnecessary (see also: house elves and s.p.e.w.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)

Re: just a couple things on HP

My friends were really divided on this movie. At some point I will read and enjoy the book, and I'll be able to address it better. It's interesting that you mention the World Quiddich Cup in particular, since that part seemed really abrupt. I think two movies really would have been the better way to go. Harry Potter is a pretty safe bet at the box office, and (aside from the extended time committment from everybody involved) I can't see why Newell decided to cut it down.
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)

Re: just a couple things on HP

I guess they are not having rita return for movie 5, so I guess that whole big truth article is out, I was really looking forwards to her getting what was coming, it was so great in the book. S.P.E.W. I wasn't exspecting that to get brought into it, just I was looking forwards to seeing all the house elves in the kitchen as well as Winky.
[User Picture]
Date:January 17th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
I think that prolonging the story into even more multiple films will eventually be destroyed by the aging of the cast. They'll have a hard enough time keeping the characters "young" enough to parallel the last three books. I mean, Hermione has BOOBS now.

(for the record, I've never read a Harry Potter book, and have only seen the first movie, which I only just saw on Christmas day... of last year).

[User Picture]
Date:January 18th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)
I'll meet you halfway on the aging kids thing, I guess. I think that splitting book four into two movies could have been done and shooting could have wrapped early enough for the first movie to reach its November 6th release date (and the second one soon after). Still, they're asking a lot of young actors who, as you said, are getting older. Hollywood has 30-year-olds playing teenagers all the time (ever see The Craft?), but Daniel, Rupert and Emma probably have enough influence over their own careers by now that it wouldn't be a surprise to see them replaced at their own behest -- if the studio doesn't get to it first. The original idea was one movie every year beginning in 2001, and part five is now scheduled for '07...

As for Hermione having boobs, well, her character was what, 14 when the most recent movie came out? I was 14 last time I was worried about the chests of 14-year-old girls, but I seem to recall that they all had boobs by that age. I'm more worried about Hermione developing wrinkles.
[User Picture]
Date:January 18th, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)
But see, when 30-somethings play teenagers, I simply cannot suspend disbelief. Ever see Never Been Kissed?

Neither have I.

Garmonbozia for the soul.

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