It's been said to me countless times of films that are well over two hours long. It's always something to the effect that the time just flies by and before you know it. . .it's over. I've never known that to be quite as true as it was for The Beatles Anthology. Each episode is well over an hour long, and there are eight of them, but it never seemed like there was a wasted moment. It progressed as eloquently as the band did itself, with ever scene and interview being a logical step forward.
I am a huge Beatles fan, but really didn't expect to like this. I'm not sure why I thought I wouldn't, but something just didn't seem right about it. I'm glad I didn't go with that feeling. It is truly awesome and congers up every emotion I think I'm capable of. I know plenty of people who are not Beatles fans, but I would encourage them to still give this a chance since it really is so much more than just the story of a band.
So for me this film does not work. It is not set to the same time as is the Dr. Suess classic. It tries to give the Grinch a reason for his isolation and his loneliness and that doesn't need to be done. The point of Suess's story was that the Grinch was upset. He was angry and he was lonely and in the end he was redeemed. Period. This film tries to show us that he is worth redeeming because some children made fun of him. Isn't Christmas a time when anyone can be redeemed? Why tell me why someone is worthy of redemption. If the Grinch wasn't picked on as a child should he have been shunned by the Who's? If the spirit of Christmas, and indeed the Dr. Suess book, is so magical, why give me a back story? Even though Dickens does give us a back drop for Scrooge to hang his isolation on, we know from the beginning that everyone, regardless of Scrooge's story, wants Ebenezer to be part of their Christmas. Here we are given a reason why we should include the Grinch, and that goes against the point of the season. It once seemed to me that we needed to hold on to the magic of Christmas the whole year through. Now I would be excited if we could hold on to it if only for one night in December.
For me, the Blair Witch Project worked. I saw it after the hype was firmly established and while it was what I expected it somehow still managed to get under my skin and stay there for a long time. This film, with it's bloated, unnecessary contemporary soundtrack and by the numbers direction was exactly what I didn't expect and I left the theater feeling cheated. The film starts off promising, managing to poke a little fun at itself without being too self aware. There's a couple references to the original films critics via characters who are walking around the woods claiming they "just want to see something." After the promising first few moments, the film seems to slowly fall apart. I think some of the individual parts of the film work very well, but the film as a whole seems less than the sum of it's parts.
What exactly is the film trying to express? It is an indictment on modern day "witch hunts" in which people who embrace alternative religions and/or dress in black are really good people that society prejudges as evil? Does the sheriff in the film serve as conservative ideology against the younger generation who engage in behavior he just can't understand and therefore labels it as wrong or even immoral? Given the directors documentary history, it seems natural that the film would use the idea of a witch hunt to show that things haven't changed much since the Salem witch trials of 1692. The Wiccan character even says that the first film sent back the cause of witchcraft (as a religion) 300 years. By the end of the film I was just confused. I'm not sure that the film didn't show witch hunters as sympathetic, thereby giving the prejudice an excuse.
Remember the first Nightmare on Elm Street? It was very effective in 1984, the time of it's original release. By 1991 we were given Freddy's Dead-The Final Nightmare. Supposedly they took the little independent low budget film and supplied it with a budget and true Hollywood talent and each installment came was no where near as effective as the first. It seems the lesson was not learned and we will be forced to see sequels of this merit.
It's not just the fact that sequels are generally inferior that is my point here. Two guys with some equipment purchased at electronics store make an original horror film-no matter how you felt about The Blair Witch Project it was different and they took a chance. Now Hollywood has it's hands on the franchise and have rendered it unrecognizable. I will go see the third Blair Witch project where the producers will undoubtedly try to correct what went wrong here, but I fear, while already low, my expectations will most likely be confirmed.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is certainly not for all tastes. It's not exactly a film that people would watch for pure escapism. This is a film to be treasured, revisited and held up with some of the greatest films of all time. Not for how it looks or sounds, but for what it says. This is a film aimed at both the heart and the mind and succeeds in capturing both.