Sunday, October 05, 2008


Interesting mostly for its aesthetically engaging opening--a sequence of shots through an old ruin, followed by smokey close-ups of moist Greek statuary. A statue is overlayed suddenly by a bethonged Aryan athlete and then we watch others of the Master Race warming up. Riefenstahl's politics were demented and tragic but some of her ideas (the merging of a sunset over a lake into an image of the Olympic torch, the setting sun caught drifting behind the Olympic flame in Berlin) are brilliant.

The first fifteen minutes was worthwhile, but the footage of the '36 Games themselves is a bit too much to bear. It's true that many of Riefenstahl's innovations (cameras moving with athletes, slow mo replays, cuts to audience reaction--including Hitler's) are still used in almost the same way more than 70 years later. But that doesn't make watching old Olympians interesting. I did skim forward to see Jesse Owens compete, and to watch some of the high-jump and pole vaulting.

I was casually entertained, but the superhero genre mostly bores me now. I liked Dark Knight but I'm to the point where the endless re-packaging of cliches in slicker and more attractive effects fails to excite. Downey Jr. is a good pick, Stan Lee has a great cameo, and Jeff Bridges is a capable villain, but the most exciting part of Iron Man was when they played the actual song at the very end.

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