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Le Magasin Des Suicides * Patrice Leconte (2012)

“The Suicide Shop” is an animation playing in some depressive metropolitan where the suicide rate is so high that when someone ends his life, he gets a ticket from the police. One family has discovered the market and opened up a shop with countless of ways to end lives. The shop runs very well until a son is born to them who actually has a cheerfull character. He is ready to shake things up.
I suppose you will understand that this is a rather black comedy. The simple drawings are wonderfull and well worked-out. There are musical parts in the film, but it is mostly the way things look and the humour that makes “Le Magasin Des Suicides” a nice, alternative thing to see some time.

Sweeney Todd * Tim Burton (2007)

Apparently I missed a Burton/Depp cooperation. Could it be because previously I knew that “Sweeney Todd” is a musical and I did not notice it now? It is, you know, a musical… Still this film is a real Burton/Depp. Magnificent stages, weird characters, nicely gloomy with black humour and horror-elements, but the difference is that a large part of the dialogues are sung. This does not really work like in “Repo!“, but on the other hand, it does not take down the film entirely. Perhaps it just adds to the weirdness. Depp is Sweeney Todd, a man who was abandoned for 15 years because some corrupt judge fancied his wife. Of course Todd is up for revenge. A strange story unfolds which is wonderfully told by the combination Burton/Depp, of course in combination with a host of other (sometimes well-known for Burton lovers) actors.

Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) * Aubrey Powell (2010)

When my eye fell on this recent ‘Monty Python’ DVD I was just curious what it would be. Of course when the material would be recent, it could never be of the entire crew since Graham Chapman died in 1989. John Cleese does not appear in this production either though. What remains are the ideas of the most active ‘Pythoner’ Eric Idle who combined the film “Life Of Brian” with Händel’s “Messiah” to create some full-scale musical/opera with an orchestra and massive choir. The piece has actually been performed life on several occasions, but only at the 40th Python celebration, did some of the original crew join in. That is the version that is now available on DVD. Naturally the larger part is sung and there are a few narrated pieces and other silly interludes. The result is of course quite silly, but actually contains but a few good jokes.

Repo! The Genetic Opera * Darren Lynn Bousman (2008)

So you wanted something different? What about an updated version of the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)? Yes, I mean that the word “opera” from the title of this film should be taken literary. “Repo!” is a rock/metal opera whose music might appeal to people who like Within Temptation and similar bands. It plays in a near future that might have come from a Cradle of Filth film with a gothic atmosphere and characters. The dialogues are sung, the music is mostly made with guitars and drums. The story is about a monopolist company that has brought people to make themselves more beautiful with custom made organs, making people addicted to surgery and the medicin to make those painless (and the fake version of it). With pompeus stages and characters, nice females, daring humour and of course gory details, since this film is listed under “horror” afterall, and not to forget, parts with comics. The film was directed by the director of “Saw” II, III and IV which is proudly advertised on the cover (and almost made me put back the film on the shelf), but this is nothing for people who watch that kind of film. “Repo!” is weird, the musical elements are sometimes a bit too much, but sometimes very funny, the scenes are outrageous, as is the story. “Repo!” kept my interest mostly because of the weird scenes, stages, characters and plots and well-placed humour. It might not be a masterpiece, but a “cult” as they call it? Perhaps. A mix between “Rocky Horror” and “V For Vendetta“, can you fathom?

Trollflötjen * Ingmar Bergman * 1975

TrollflötjenI accidentally ran into this production of the recently deceased Bergman. I didn’t know if this would be a film-version of the “Die Zauberflöte” opera of Mozart or just like the Windgassen version that I reviewed before, a registration of the performance of the opera. Well, it is a bit of both. It seems that the opera was performed and that Bergman filmed it with and without audience. The latter is obvious, because he used lengthy facial close-ups in his montage, the first almost has to be, because there must have been cameras all over the stage. What you see is the opera, but with close-ups, different stages, etc. and it looks less than just a filmed opera of the Windgassen version. I don’t know if Bergman actually directed the opera AND the film, but the box suggests as much. The opera is translated to Swedish, but since it is available on DVD, you can just turn on subtitles. I would have preferred the original, German language, but the language is hardly an issue. The acting and stages are good, but Bergman has made some changes to the story. Small changes such as the way Papageno meets Papagena, but bigger changes such as the replacement of Isis and Osiris (whose mysteries are taught in the temple of Zarastro) by the supreme high God. Also it seems that Bergman has missed the Masonry in the story, leaving aside an enormous source for possible symbolism. In total this is another nice version of “Die Zauberflöte” and the first one that I get on DVD. I still prefer the first (of three) that I saw so far, so I hope to run into that Windgassen version some day too.

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.

Moulin Rouge * Baz Luhrmann * 2001

Speaking of pre-premieres! I saw this movie at 5:00 in the morning and it ‘premiered’ in Europe that evening!
The long anounced and much advertised for musical with Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor (best known of “Trainspotting” and “A Life Less Ordinary”). Actually a pretty amusing piece of film which is about a musical-house with weird people and a musical itself as well. Kidman is a new-born star in the “Moulin Rouge” and MacGregor a poet who is writing his first musical. The two fall in love, but because some count will only give the needed financial injection in trade of Kidman, nobody can know. Much well-known song pass the revue in musical-versions and the scenery is wonderfull, as is Kidman by the way.
This is going to be the Christmas movie for the coming years I guess. Entertainment for the entire family.

Dancer In The Dark * Lars Von Trier * 2000

It took a long time before I finally got to see this film. I did get the Selmasongs cd of Björk when it was just out. However I like some of Von Triers works, I don’t like all of them. Also I heard that “Dancer In The Dark” is a musical and quite depressive, so I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought anymore. A while ago I saw the DVD for a very low price and I couldn’t let it go. Still it took a while before I watched it.

I suppose most of you know the story behind the film? Von Trier wanted to make the film with a soundtrack of Björk. The two of them could get along so well that Björk eventually got the main part for which she even got a Golden Palm award.

Anyway, “Dancer In The Dark” isn’t as much a musical as I expected it to be, no “Moulin Rouge” for sure. It is a rather long film about the poor Cszech immigrant Selma who lives with her young son in a trailer on the American countryside. Besides being uneducated she and her son suffer from a heritable disease that causes them to slowly go blind. Selma saves all the money she can to be able to have her son operated. Herefor she really doesn’t spend a penny too much.

In all the misery Selma halfway lives in a dreamworld in which she sings in musicals. The music is really well incorporated in the film by the way, with sounds of dripping blood or machines as rhythm. The misery gets worse and worse though. Her befriended neighbour steals Selmas money and in the process of getting it back, she kills him. In a trial she is sentenced to death by hanging, but first she arranged her sons operation.

Quite a strange film overall. Original as more of Von Triers works. It is quite well-done, but definately no feel-good movie!