Monday, August 21, 2006

Bigger IS Better! (Second of a few!)

As previously mentioned, "...volumes of critical essays have been written about most of these, I will only report upon the theatrical presentation, the film and sound quality and my gut reactions to the experience, as opposed to actually commenting upon the films themselves. They are all classics, for one reason or another, and ALL are worth seeing!"

"Baraka" (dir. Ron Fricke, US, 1992, 96 mins.) Fricke's popular take on the non-narrative-sociological-environmental-docu-drama (i.e. "Koyaanisqatsi" which he was the cinematographer and editor) was screened in its 70mm format with that glorious 6-track dolby soundtrack! (I LOVE one of the music contributors, 'Dead Can Dance'!) The print itself showed some wear. It is the most regularly screened of its genre, though it still falls short of the heart pounding and near cathartic experience that is "Koyaanisqatsi", which Fricke seems intent on duplicating. However, what it lacks in drama it makes up for in its stunning visuals. After having seen this many, many times, the Cambodian Monks sequence is still the highlight of the piece for me. But I wish Zoetrope was as generous in allowing "Koyaanisqatsi" to be screened. (How many times did YOU think you'd ever see the word "Koyaanisqatsi" mentioned in a single paragraph?!)

"Hamlet" (dir. Kenneth Branagh, UK, 1996, 242 mins., aka 4 hours, 2 minutes, plus intermission) What a beautiful looking thing, this "Hamlet" is! Visually, the print was pristine, with the glaring exception of the first few minutes of the final reel, where there was color deterioration. The soundtrack which should be in 6 track dolby, was just 'off' in some way. I don't know whether it is the way the sound was recorded on the set or print deterioration, but the levels were extremely inconsistent and there was a good deal of echo in the house, which made following the language difficult. Seeing Branagh on such a LARGE screen doesn't necessarily play to his or the casts benefit, as the make-up needed to be subtler, unless the theatricality of such was on purpose. Branagh may have also taken a bite more than he could chew in directing himself in the largest role in English theater. He hits some really BIG moments pretty early. In this my second viewing, I was able to take more note of Kate Winslet ('Ophelia') and Julie Christie ('Gertrude', aka mom), who provide intense moments without chewing the scenery in which they are placed. The majority of the male cast, however, do play it with a certain testosterone laden gusto, which doesn't seem to be all that necessary to me. But then, I'm no Shakespearean authority.

As the Castro's 70mm Fest progresses, "Cleopatra" has been rescheduled for TODAY, however I think I'll pass. I'll return for "Playtime" (which I've never seen) and "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (which I've seen and own nearly every possible version!). It concludes on Thursday with "Titanic" which I may or may not dip into. Mood swings, doncha' know!

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

re "Baraka": SCREAMS of delight!
re "Hamlet": "Such a pretty bird!"