Archive for August, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

August 21, 2007

I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, but I’ve seen all of the movies. When I saw the first one, I loved the whole new world that had been imagined alongside the one I know. The second one seemed like more of the same, and the giant spiders looked badly fake to me, so it’s my least favorite of the series. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came next, and thanks to director Alfonso CuarĂ³n‘s style and the story’s Sirius turn (sorry), it’s my favorite of the series so far. The fourth movie was fine, but was strangely forgettable to me, so I’ll put it above the second but below the others.

Which brings us to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Like the third installment, the danger felt real in this one, and I also think that the young stars have become better actors (a podcast review pointed this out before I saw the film, so this isn’t an entirely observation). And director David Yates is far better than you might expect for someone who has mostly done television until now.

All in all I’ll give this 3.5 stars out of 4 stars, and rank it just below the third film in the series.

Seen 8/2/2007.

In Search of Mozart

August 20, 2007

I saw this film over a month ago, but I’ve been behind on posting.

I saw it at the Camera Cinema Club. The director was not available, but we heard a recorded conversation between him and the director of the club. Here are a few things I wrote down:

  • Why Mozart? He had just done a documentary in Afghanistan and wanted to do something closer to home. He had also seen an opera and noticed that the house was packed. And just because he wanted to.
  • He liked Amadeus, but wanted to find the truth. Salieri doesn’t really figure in the real story. He also wanted to get sense of the various places Mozart lived and traveled to.
  • He wasn’t sure if Mozart’s mental and financial state would figure in his music, but the emerging consensus was that it did. The director picked some pieces for biographical reasons, some for critical status, and some because he or the musicians liked them.
  • He started with no budget, but filmed lots of different performances (around 70, according to my notes).
  • Mozart wrote almost everything on commission, not for fun. Besides composing the music, he also did all the work of setting up concerts, such as booking the hall, selling tickets, and so on.
  • The film ended up opera-heavy, though that wasn’t planned.
  • The first cut was 11 hours long.
  • It was shot on the actual locations, digitally (DVCam).
  • It is scheduled to open in New York on 7/20/2007, and in San Francisco in September.

My memory of the movie is a little fuzzy at this point. I remember being quite interested at the start, but fading over time, and frankly not being entirely awake for the whole thing. Given that it’s not a subject that I have a great deal of interest in, I’ll still rate it 2.5 stars out of 4 stars.

Seen 7/15/2007.