Sunday 11 January 2004

Nary a dry eye

Drag me into the first and I might see the rest
Being one not easily persuaded by the rave reviews and hype surrounding Oscar-nominated films or even ones enjoying great critical acclaim; one has finally given in to the excitement to the two recent trilogies of drama and action.
The Matrix and Lord of the Rings series were films one first watched long after the cinemas are ditched the influx for other new Hollywood servings.
In the case of the Matrix, one had opportunity of borrowing the DVD from a colleague at work and that suffered six viewings in quick succession over 4 nights. That one missed the theatrical release was like being in the midst of the news but not hearing the news.
One could not wait for the next in the series, which was, then another year away.
The Fellowship of the Ring which was the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy came into one's possession as a bundled-bargain of three Douwe Egberts filter coffee packs and a VHS video with Dutch subtitles.
One must confess there was not as much excitement to see the next instalment as one had with the Matrix. One did see the next two theatrical releases of the Matrix, which had the ingenious direction of them being filmed at the same time, and the road exclusively built for the chase scenes.
You will have to rob me for that
Shopping on Saturday, there are now three bookshops that cater for English books, Waterstones and the American Bookstore on Kalverstraat and the New English Bookshop on Leidsestraat. [The main tourist and shopping streets in Amsterdam – there are others but not for the middle incomer].
The latter offers affordable books more of the reference quality and not necessarily as contemporary as the other bookshops.
One has run out of decent bookshelf space and the furniture store beckons for a domiciliary makeover.
Anyway, one was in Waterstones and sauntered to the video section to view what could be purchased. One did not get to see the theatrical version of the Two Towers, second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It behoves one to see that before the popcorn night for the Return of the King.
At €40 for the theatrical version and €60 for the extended version of 42 extra minutes on the version that went to the cinemas, one could be forgiven for thinking videos were like music that you listen to time and time again.
Nay! Videos might get a second viewing, music gets many more playbacks, apart from the extras in commentaries, reviews and other snippets of versatility, and the DVD from my perspective is hardly worth that financial outlay.
It is interesting to note that about 20 years after the Indiana Jones series, one can get the whole DVD pack for under €50 and watch at leisure.
No surprise the everyday person of regular film-going age would either go to the cinema or download the film from the internet than spend what could be term larceny on DVDs.
I, for one, walked into my local rental and got the extended version for an overnight viewing at €4, and was able to watch the whole film and one half of the commentary over 24 hours. €56 saved from acquisition and €5 saved from a theatrical viewing in the summer.
Cry me a river
Two days after watching the second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one was determined to catch the third being The Return of the King in the larger cinema halls.
In a rush to catch the bus to the station from the office, one had inadvertently booked a ticket in the wrong cinema at the Southern end of Amsterdam rather than in the centre – The Pathe group has a number of cinema halls around the Netherlands and allows for internet reservations of tickets with mobile phone SMS confirmations.
Getting into the city centre was a bit fraught because of some train scheduling problems and rare but increasing occurrence in theNetherlands.
Finally, one was just in time to get a seat in the main hall for a three-hour sitting, a serving of Coke and sweet popcorn with the inconvenience of a full bladder. Endurance and excitement what gives?
In the last 20 minutes, there were screens of reunion and happiness in view of the suffering that of the whole trilogy, the flood of tears from the macho men would float a whale.
For those in the know, whilst Justin Timberlake has a contemporary release of a track Cry Me A River, however, a 1953 version once also sung by Billie Holliday has more relevance.

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