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The Symposium (2003)
I think this should come with an Apology...
I will of course admit, before beginning, that my opinion of this movie is being colored by the fact that I know the dialog The Symposium rather well, and so I have troubles with the tiny little inaccuracies. Inaccuracies such as cutting the speeches of Eryximachus and Agathon, and having the character who clearly represents Agathon deliver Phaedrus' speech while the character who supposedly represents Phaedrus teams up with Pausanius for his speech. Or dumbing down Socrates' speech to the point that it no longer means what it meant in the original. Or having Alcibiades not have any romantic relationship with Socrates. Or making everything stupid.
Nonetheless, I like to think that I would hate this film even if it weren't for that. Because all of the stuff that they add as extras to the dialog is really stupid too. There is essentially no need whatsoever for any of it to exist. What exactly does the crime subplot (with Lt. Platon, no less) add to anything? Or what about all of those weird and completely meaningless soap opera revelations? What is any of anything doing there?
Overall, this movie annoys me. Nonetheless, there's a sort of hypnotic charm to what bizarre and senseless thing they're going to do next. The final twist is a brilliant conclusion to all of it, as not only does it make no sense in respect to the dialog, it makes no sense in respect to the story either. Kind of brilliant, in that way.
Angel Headed Hipsters
Wonderfully evocative faux-documentary that showcases the poem. The animation sequences stick close to the literal denotation of the textual images. Some have found that approach unsympathetic, but I disagree. Part of what I love about the poem is its twisting of banality into surrealist mysticism (Plotinus in Oklahoma, Blake in the heavens over New Jersey and demon Moloch on Madison Avenue). The contrast between the intensely colored fantasy animation and the back-and-forth to black-and-white convey that contrast nicely. Others would like to see something else; let them make something else.
David Strathairn as the prosecutor is wonderful. The scene when he inadvertently (I assume) falls into Ginsberg-ian imagery ("When I open my mouth, fists come out") is worth the whole price of admission.