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Hedwig And The Angry Inch * John Cameron Mitchell * 2001

This film played in Seattle the second time I was there and I already wanted to see it then, but things went otherwise… Too bad that it took so long, because “Hedwig and the angry inch” is a very enjoyable film. Hanzel was born on the Eastern side of the wall in Berlin, but ended up as Hedwig in the USA. The story of his/her life and the half-sexchange is told in flashbacks, great scenes and Hedwig’s own songs. The film compares to films such as “24 Hour Party People”, “Almost Famous”, “Velvet Goldmine” and “Boogie Nights” playing in the music scene of the 70’ies and told with wonderfull dialogues and humour. If you like the mentioned films, don’t miss Hedwig and his angry inch!

Die Zauberflöte * Peter Windgassen * 1983

250 Years ago, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born, so 2006 is pronounced Mozart year. On several locations, the film recording of “Die Zauberflöte” (the magic flute) opera performed by the Orchester der Bayerischen Staatsoper directed by August Everding is shown. I had never seen an opera, neither real nor filmed. I really wanted to see this “alchemical opera” some time and this was a good opportunity. Well, it sure was a great experience! The stages of the 1983 performance are grandiose and the fact that the opera is filmed, leaves out many pauses and an up-close view, but since this film was shown on the big screen, the experience is certainly better than at home on TV. I have the “Die Zauberflöte” highlights on cd, but seeing the play as it should have been, makes the music a lot better. There isn’t too much alchemy in the play, but a lot of Freemasonry (also see my review of the book Die Zauberflöte, an alchemical allegory elsewhere). The story beautifully gives the path of initiation with obvious references to Freemasonry (Mozart was a Mason), but then placed in the Isis-mysteries. The play and the story are moving, beautiful, extremely symbolic and I loved watching the three hours. Be sure to take the chance to see it if you get it. I noticed that the film is also available on VHS and there are undoubtely more Magic Flutes on DVD, but I don’t know if they are as great as this one.

Velvet Goldmine * Todd Haynes * 1998

This film had been on my wish-list for quite some time. After films such as “24 Hour Party People” and “Almost Famous” I really wanted to see this one too. This time the subject is “glam rock”, more in particular the singers Brian Slade and Curt Wilde (a great part by Ewan MacGregor). Like the other mentioned films this one plays in the 70’ies. Glam rock was a reaction to the love and peace hippie-movement of the 60’ies. On some point the glamrockers took a step ahead. Speaking about free sex became action and also a trend to be bisexual arose, the clothing/look became very confronting and the overall image as well. The film is full of men looking like women and it is obvious that the image of several bands made a big impression on the “gothics” that would follow in the next decade (also see “24 Hour Party People“) and which are still very present in the underground music scenes. The music isn’t much of my liking this time, but I do again like the impression of the time, the combination of film and music and the ‘history lesson’ that I got. Just like the other two, you only get a snippet from a very large and wide musical movement that was present in the 70’ies, so you may have to watch all these films (and add some punk-films such as “Sid and Nancy”? to get a better idea of the time as a whole. But still, this one is recommanded too. <17/4/06><4>

Almost Famous * Cameron Crowe * 2000

Often compared to “Boogie Nights” (of which I have no review?!) this film. It also plays in the seventies, is a weird combination of comedy and drama and with young actors. Russell is a 15-year old intellectual who gets gripped by Rock ‘n’ Roll music that is already on its return. Following the fictious band “Stillwater” the boy first writes for the magazine “Cream” and later for the “Rolling Stone”. The film shows how Russell gets tempted by the life of a rockstar, their groupies and of course journalists. Amusing.

24 Hour Party People * Michael Winterbottom * 2002

I had wanted to see this film for a long time, but when I read in the anouncement of the TV-broadcasting that the Sex Pistols are part of the story, I wondered why I never watched this film before. Not that I am a big Sex Pistol fan, but I like films about the 70’s (music) scene, such as “Boogie Nights” or “Almost Famous”. “24 Hour Party People” is even more ‘educational’ than I expected. After the first concert of the Sex Pistols Tony Wilson decided that he wanted to form a plane for independant music. First he gets a show about punk music on a regional TV channel, later he opens the club “The Factory” to organise shows and after that he founds “Factory Records”. There isn’t too much punk in this film, because soon Wilson discovers the genre ‘postpunk’ (later ‘(new) wave’ or ‘gothic’). Quite a large part of the film is dedicated to Joy Division, the controversy about their name and the suicide of the lead singer. In their early days, there wasn’t much of ‘a gothic look’, but later there was. Obviously the genre developed into a scene. After the suicide of Ian Curtis, the band continues under the name New Order.
Wilson doesn’t just sign wave bands though, because he also discovers the Happy Mondays and some avantgardistic bands that I don’t even know. The greatest thing to see is what happens around the person a Wilson, a music lover not interested in genres. He releases punk, wave, indie/avantgarde, funk and eventually he opens a club where ‘the rave scene’ was born, the earliest signs of life of house music, where the attention didn’t go to the creators of the music, but to the medium, the DJ. Touched upon are the problems with drugs, gangs and the like.

I don’t know how historical the story is, but I read somewhere on the internet that the story is very one-sided and focussed too much on the person of Wilson. I suppose that is true, but still the film gives a wonderfull view on the happenings of the Manchester scene of that time.Personally I was delighted to see how different kinds of music and scenes run through and follow up eachother.

Also the film itself is very well done. Most of the time you get the idea that you are ‘part of’ the time the film is about, but the main character frequently makes it clear that the film was shot recently, by saying what will happen in the film, who plays what character, giving comments on what happens, etc. The humour is British and extremely dry, I like that! The film is educational in a way, enjoyable and a great watch. Now I need to see “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) some time soon too!