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Article ID: 3804
Age Group: Adult
Posted: January 19th. 2002
Witch Cinema 06
by Peg Aloi
Well, quite a year it was, with Harry Potter and the Sorcerers' Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring in theatres, as well as the long-awaited mini-series of The Mists of Avalon and the DVD release of The Wicker Man. But we had some other films which appealed to pagans, because of their stories, deign elements or themes which ran through them. I want to recommend some of these in case you missed them this year. Moulin Rouge (a spectacular fantasy musical by Baz Luhrmann, gorgeous to look at and thrilling in an old-fashioned way which owes nothing to its amazing cutting edge special effects); Waking Life (an absorbing and unusual film which looks animated although it is live action painted by hand-a young man can't seem to awake from a dream-that's all I'll say, but go see it!); and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (adapted from the hot Broadway musical about a German transgendered singer who finds love after a life of pain).
There's also Memento (clever thriller about a man who cannot form new memories); The Crimson Rivers (French thriller set in the Alps with plenty of conspiracy theory); Session 9 (a spooky piece about the energies and spirits left behind in an abandoned mental hospital and how the place affects four men working there); Mulholland Drive (David Lynch's beautiful, inscrutable mystery about two women; that's all I'll say) Songcatcher (a Victorian musicologist discovers a rich source of folk music in Appalachia); The Price of Milk (Australian romantic comedy with magic realism and Aboriginal mythic elements) and Before Night Falls (true story of an exiled gay Cuban poet). I also loved Bridget Jones' Diary (Reneee Zellweger is great!), The Taste of Others (French ensemble comedy), A Love Divided (true story of a Protestant/Catholic Irish couple whose community turned against them), Life as a House (moving story of a dying man's final task), L.I.E. (well-acted story of a gay teenager's identity crisis), and Intimacy (Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox in a powerful exploration of a sexual relationship that refuses to remain casual).
None of these films are necessarily or specifically pagan; I just liked them. So there! Soon to be appearing in theatres near you: Gosford Park (what a cast! An English shooting party weekend turns into a murder mystery with the serving staff privy to all), Italian for Beginners (Danish Dogme film about a group of single people who slowly find themselves and each other through their Italian lessons ), In the Bedroom (with the amazing Sissy Spacek as a woman whose marriage is torn apart by grief), and Brotherhood of the Wolf (French historical thriller about a medieval beast which brutally murders women in the countryside and the heroic duo which hunts it down only to find the whole thing has been orchestrated by the Knights Templar). Also< I just saw a gorgeous new Japanese anime film called Metropolis that is very impressive.
As for the year ahead, the biggest news (in my opinion, anyway) is that The Wicker Man is going to be remade with a big budget... and set in Ame rica. More on that when I hear more than what you saw in my column this fall. In other movie news, the "prequel" of The Blair Witch Project is set to begin pre-production (translation: the original directors have been signed to write a script) this year. It's all very cloak-and-dagger (naturally) but rumor has it this last installment will deal with the historical events at the root of the Blair Witch legend. And for those who did not like the second film, this prequel will be directed by the original film-making duo of Ed Sanchez and Dan Myrick.
For Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, the news that Anthony Stewart Head is making a spin-off series about Giles that will take place in England is very exciting indeed. Also, the storyline surrounding Willow's "addiction" to magic has been very interesting to follow. In fact I think this show just keeps getting better and better! It is one of the best shows on television in terms of its acting and direction, and is now the hottest entertainment import on British television! They get the shows a few months behind us, so try not to spoil the endings for your British penpals! (Be warned: the next paragraph contains some possible spoilers).
Although Buffy's depiction of Wicca, witchcraft and magic often leaves us scratching our heads with its liberal interpretation of lore and facts (remember all those times Xena Warrior Princess made us do the same thing?), it is still a powerful story thread and I think many non-pagan viewers are enthralled by it as well. All of the main characters seem to be undergoing major transformations now and this is what all practitioners of magic (not to mention those who dabble in occult forces) go through eventually. The singular episode which seemed to encapsulate these changes was (ta-daaa!) THE MUSICAL EPISODE. Now, I will admit I thought this was gonna be one big cheese fest. But it was surprisingly well-written, a blend of hilarity and emotional intensity. The effects of earlier months: the death of Buffy and Dawn's mother, Buffy's sacrifice and subsequent resurrection, Willow and Tara's problems with Willow's increasing dependence on magic, Giles' growing alienation, Zander and Anya's relationship difficulties, and of course Spike's hopeless love for Buffy: all found voice (literally!) in this incredible episode. Let me give all you folks a tip, you who think Broadway musicals are silly: No one knew how to map the human heart like some of the great songwriting teams of the stage, especially Rodgers and Hammerstein. Buffy the Vampire Slayer took a cue from the old-style musicals and let these characters express things through song and dance that they'd been keeping inside for way too long... and it worked! Bravo.
That's all for now. Until next time, see you at the movies!
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, January 21st 2002
Email: [Staff Email]
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