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Article ID: 7374
Age Group: Adult
Posted: November 29th. 2003
Witch Cinema 15
by Peg Aloi
In the spirit of the season, I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me a media tip, comment, compliment or question over the years. YOU, Dear Reader, have helped me to keep up with media trends, have alerted me to portrayals of witchcraft or paganism in films and TV that were positive or negative, and have made being your Media Coordinator a pleasure over the years. Keep those emails coming!
As we gear up for a busy holiday season, this is a short but sweet column to just help us get in the mindset for all the wonders to come... In the next few weeks, we'll get the next installment of the wonderful Harry Potter films. If the third one is as much of an improvement on the second, as the second was on the first, well, then Great Myrtle's Ghost, I can't wait! All the advance buzz says it will be well worth the wait.
Speaking of waiting, it is with profound irritation and disappointment that I report I am once again shut out from advance press screenings of the new Lord of the Rings film because there has once again been a crack-down on allowing internet-based reviewers in. At least, that is what I am told by the publicists. Why they don't want a review on a site that at least a million people a day read is beyond me. I am working on it, but I may end up plunking down my hard-earned money on the day it opens, just like the rest of you! I WAS fortunate enough to see a preview "reel" (actually it was a tape, projected big onto the theatre screen) which showed a few minutes of footage from the new film and a documentary behind-the-scenes look at how The Return of the King was filmed, with commentary from the director, designers, and actors. I continue to be impressed by the thoughtful insights of this extraordinary cast: people like Viggo Mortensen, Billy Boyd and Elijah Wood discuss the enormous implications of what their characters go through on their literary and cinematic journey, and you get the sense that these roles have changed these actors forever, not just as performers or stars but as human beings. And I don't just mean those tattoos. The finest actors are intelligent, passionate, and down-to-earth, and these seem to me more important qualities than talent or physical grace or attractiveness. Yet these performers and their compatriots (Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, et al) possess all that, too. What on earth will we do when we don't have this annual event to look forward to any more? I don't say this very often, but thank the gods for technology, which allows us to relive such glorious film adventures whenever we choose.
Like the previous two films, the production design of this next one looks grand and the locations and models used are as rich and awe-inspiring as ever. No big secrets were revealed in this little sneak preview (we all know how it will end if we'd read the books), but I will say this third one looks like it will be every bit as visually-astonishing as the first two. And Gandalf will return. Now THAT's worth waiting for.
This has so far been a bit of a season of disappointments in the cinema, and on TV. I have not seen it yet, but everyone I have spoken to says the new Matrix film sucks. Same with The Cat in the Hat. The new show with Buffy's Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling) is derivative and embarrassing. Angel has been slipping, and now that it's on opposite The West Wing, is anyone even watching it anymore? Speaking of which, now that writer/creator Aaron Sorkin has left/was pushed out of the show, it does not have the same spark and zing it once did. Don't get me wrong, I still watch it; sure beats paying attention to what our real president is doing.
Hmm, I start out all thankful and now I'm ranting a teeny bit. Okay, so what's good?
My new favorite show, now that Buffy is gone, is Six Feet Under, and it will be starting its new season at some point, and the first season is now available on DVD, and that's good. If you have not seen it, I can say it is destined to be the next favorite show of pagans. There are no witches or wizards, no vampires or werewolves. Just ordinary people facing the very ordinary business of death and dying. It is funny, and clever, and heart-wrenching, and nasty, and shocking, and absurd, and sexy, and magical, and absolutely brilliant. So good it hurts.
A fantabulous program of animated shorts is touring the country, and perhaps even coming to a theatre near you! So check out The Animation Show. With new and rarely-seen films by Mike Judge, Tim Burton, Bill Plympton and Al Hertzfeldt, it's some of the funniest and best animation I have seen in ages. Very, very god news for those who have grown tired of the "Sick and Twisted" stuff, which is funny but starting to get a bit repetitive.
A new independent film starring Katie Holmes (Dawson's Creek) and the wonderful Patricia Clarkson (Wendigo, Far From Heaven) is Pieces of April. It's a quirky, somewhat sad and very funny story of a young woman named April who is estranged from her family who invites them all to Thanksgiving dinner at her Manhattan apartment. April's mother is terminally ill, her stove is broken, and she doesn't really know how to cook. It's a tender but somewhat dark film, with excellent performances, and very real emotional resonance I would guess everyone can relate to. Good stuff.
Patricia Clarkson also stars in The Station Agent, one of my favorite movies of the year. A train-obsessed loner named Fin (the amazing Peter Dinklage), who happens to be a dwarf, moves into an abandoned train depot when his friend (with whom he ran a model train shop in the city) bequeaths it to him after his death. Once he moves in, hoping for a quiet life pursuing his passion for trains, he meets a number of local residents, including an artist grieving for the death of her son (Clarkson), and a talkative, friendly hot-dog vendor (the wonderful Bobby Cannavale) forced to run his dad's business near the lonely depot. Fin finds that remaining alone is not easy and his life is complicated by these new-found connections. This movie could have been sentimental and silly, but its realistic rhythms and dialogue, and its simple, straightforward story, made it profound and refreshingly different. As good as it gets.
Until next time, everyone, keep those emails coming, live each day to the fullest, oh, and be good.
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December, 1st.. 2003
Email: [Staff Email]
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