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Darker than dark
Characteristic of David Lynch, this film is typically surreal and blacker than the sky on a moonless night.
Following up on the TV series this film picks up before the series started and explains it all. I doubt very much that Fire Walk With Me stands up on its own but it does stand as very much more than a TV spin off.
*spoiler alert* The mystery of who killed Laura Palmer that ran through the series (if anyone has not seen the series - sorry she does die at the end) is explained here. What we see is her slide toward the inevitable conclusion. What should be tender and romantic, sometimes even erotic is crude and seedy and often just nasty. This is as it should be.
As we saw on TV a steady stream of hints is presented as to who her killer would be. It is a testimony to the vision of David Lynch that I was able to identify the killer early in the series, this being down to a professional familiarity with some of these matters. Even the red herrings could not throw me off because they only ever seemed to be an irrelevant distraction. This standard of observation is carried forward into the spin off movie.
Missing for fans of the series are some of the side characters and sub plots, so don't come expecting to learn much more about the mill or the hotel or whatever. The biggest disappointment is that there was never a second film to follow up on some of those. There are a lot of unanswered questions (where did the missing FBI agents go - what about the paper letters - what does the blue rose mean). What the film does deal with makes sense of some of the key mysteries of the TV series. As far as it goes this is a fine piece of work.
Too often misunderstood
Rarely has there been a better depiction of the nature of Jesus Christ than this. When compared, for example, to the almost gratuitous violence of Mel Gibson's "Passion" this film offers a depth of understanding that far outstrips any previous or later cinema attempt to get to grips with Christ. Scorscese has not approached this work with anything other than one of the most sincere attempts to explore the person of "God made flesh".
This film has Jesus doing nothing that he is not told of doing in the Bible. The "offensive" scenes are visions presented by Satan to Jesus as the last temptation of the title, an attempt to disrupt the agenda that Jesus was working to.
One of the abiding dilemmas of Christianity is how was Christ's death a sacrifice if he always knew that the resurrection would follow? However in Scorscese's masterful depiction the nature and extent of the sacrifice is made apparent. Rather than seeking to ban this work the Churches should have embraced it for the insight it brings. Of course, we all know that scandal brings viewers in so perhaps that's what they were really trying to achieve!
Operation: Daybreak (1975)
One not to be missed
Yes the music does date the film (were ARP synthesisers ever a good thing) but does that matter? No!!
Some poetic licence is taken with the facts (how Jan Kubis really died or the romance with Anna) but the portrayal of the occupiers, particularly Reichsprotektor Heydrich in no way understated how heinous these people were.
The depiction of siege at St Cyril's conveys a whole range of emotions as tension builds. The motivation of the resistance was unquestionably heroic at this part of the episode.
This is so much more than an action story. However the issues tend to be portrayed in a very polar black / white manner. Even Karel Chudra's motivation is shown in very clear terms (he is treated far less sympathetically in Czech history). It is unfortunate that the film did not have time to develop the political tension between London and the local resistance. How aware was London of the probability of reprisals following the assassination? Was it their intention that reprisals would do more to stir local opposition to the occupation than the assassination itself? Why did Karel Moravec later take his own life?
Overall, however, this is a film to see and for the most part it is very realistic. Visit Prague and leave the tourist traps to see St Cyril's - it looks just like the movie and is almost guaranteed to make you cry for all the victims of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.
shot of tequila to penalty shot - too inconsistent
The inconsistency was just too much for me to take.
Sadly I must admit that one of the most realistic parts of the film was the tequila scene - been there / done that.
For me, the whole film was spoiled by the refereeing decision at the end! When a penalty shooter plays the puck with his skate he has lost control - shot over - no goal!
Caught between taking itself too seriously and not seriously enough this was just too disappointing. There was not enough humour (see Slapshot or Happy Gilmour), critique (The Deadliest Season or Net Worth), escapism (The Mighty Ducks or Mystery Alaska), documentary (Summit on Ice), realism (Gross Misconduct), romance (Love Story).
Someone swallowed something slightly illegal before making this! The result is highly challenging or fairly entertaining depending whether you want to understand the film or view it at face value. If you think the final tennis scene is just too bizarre then you are the latter. If not watch this film again and again and again! It just gets better and better. Every viewing reveals something more about the central Hopkins character and confirms this as one of the great films of all time. What is it all about? Don't ask me - I have not seen it nearly often enough to either come to a conclusion or to get bored with trying. The attempt to remake this featuring John Travolta failed entirely and in no way should the two be compared.