Thursday, November 06, 2003

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), dir. Max Schreck
The first of the Dracula adaptations, this film still manages to be creepy but some the balletic acting also makes it farcical at points. If you rent the DVD, you get the choice of an organ score or an orchestral score as accompaniment, both of which have merits, but the orchestral score was anachronistic enough to make me avoid it. Max Schreck is stunning as the vampire. Murnau shapes the pace of the film exceedingly well.

Mifune (Mifunes sidste sang) (2000), dir. Søren Kragh-Jacobsen
Sometimes one shoddy plot device can drastically mar a film. In the middle of Mifune, a wife who has driven hundreds of mile to visit her husband finds him in a questionable situation. Rather than listen to his explanation, she immediately drives home. The utter implausibility of this scene made me question the director's (or at least the writer's) integrity. Otherwise this film from the Danish Dogma 95 school is entertaining in its retelling of the heart-of-gold prostitute story in contemporary Denmark. It's much better than the famous Dogma film "Breaking the Waves," which is truly despicable.

"We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" and "Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick
Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report are loosely based on these two stories respectively. Both movies mangle the endings of the stories sufficiently to make the original story a real treat in comparison. "We can remember it . . ." has a very funny Kafkaesque ending that I won't ruin for you. "Minority Report," on the other hand, ends cleverly with three degrees of self-reference. I can't help feeling like the movie adaptations are dumbed-down versions of these stories, even though the movie plots are intelligent in their own way. The only work by Dick I have read before is "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (which inspired Blade Runner) and I didn't find it nearly as interesting as these stories. It's probably fortunate for Dick that all of his film adaptations were done after his death.


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