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Review- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The Big Picture

By August 2, 2011No Comments

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 posterIt’s clear that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are the people who get Harry Potter (not just get but devour, savour, rel­ish) and then there’s, you know, me.

Over the last six years I have dog­gedly tried to review the HP fran­chise as if it was cinema, as if there might be view­ers temp­ted along who hadn’t been exposed to the books and who might reas­on­ably be expect­ing to watch a film that stands on its own two feet.

Well, to coin a phrase, “it all ends” now. I give up. With Harry Potter, you can’t divorce your response from your expect­a­tions. If you loved the books it would appear that you love the films and the less atten­tion the film­makers pay to unbe­liev­ers like me the bet­ter you like it.

It’s irrel­ev­ant wheth­er the three kids can act or not when to all intents and pur­poses, after eight films, they are Harry, Hermione and Ron. It’s mean­ing­less to try and explain how greats like Rickman, Gambon and Broadbent are basic­ally phoning their per­form­ances in when their con­tin­ued pres­ence adds a pat­ina of Masterpiece Theatre qual­ity to the pro­ceed­ings. And it’s point­less to knock the lame storytelling when it is doing a respect­able job of hon­our­ing the make-it-up-as-you-go-along inten­tions of the author.

So, I real­ise that I’m not going to influ­ence any­one here about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and I won’t try. Head along if you must, leave your credu­lity at home, enjoy and then bring your taste back in time for the Film Festival.

One final thought: For some colossally stu­pid reas­on Event Cinemas decided to intro­duce their HP screen­ings with a short behind-the-scenes video and a wel­come (to “all of you in Australia”) from a sweaty look­ing Daniel Radcliffe. How unbe­liev­ably rude! No only did it add anoth­er ten minutes to the already excess­ive run­ning time but it showed Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort before his digit­al nose-removal. For a film that’s about magic to have the exhib­it­or (pre­sum­ably with the film­makers’ agree­ment) wreck the movie magic we were there to exper­i­ence is simply unforgivable.

The Big Picture posterMeanwhile, back in the real-ish world, Eric Lartigau’s French thrill­er The Big Picture is cap­able enough provided you don’t exam­ine the creaky plot too closely. The ori­gin­al French title trans­lates (accord­ing to Google) as “The man who wanted to live his life” which is less of a cliché but prob­ably gives too much away.

Romain Duris plays hot­shot law­yer Paul whose seem­ingly per­fect life is about to fall apart in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion. Firstly he dis­cov­ers his wife is hav­ing an affair with their neigh­bour who he then (acci­dent­ally) kills. This pro­vokes a kind of pro­found real­isa­tion. In order to save his fam­ily he must dis­ap­pear – he takes on the iden­tity of his deceased ant­ag­on­ist and heads to Hungary – but he needs to rein­vent him­self to save his own soul too.

Underneath the thrill­er trap­pings, then, we have that com­mon theme in French movies: that the bour­geois, intel­lec­tu­al, mater­i­al­ist­ic exist­ence is some­how inau­thent­ic. In order to live a truly sin­cere life you have to shrug all that stuff off and live in the coun­try like a peas­ant. Duris fol­lows his child­hood dream to become a pho­to­graph­er but (even small town Hungarian) suc­cess gets him atten­tion – atten­tion he can­not survive.

The Big Picture was spoiled a little by prob­lems with its own pic­ture – the image was as pixel­lated as a YouTube video at the screen­ing I went to. I won’t cri­ti­cise the usu­ally high qual­ity Roxy present­a­tion as I’m sure the very same digit­al file is play­ing at all the oth­er cinemas in town. It’s just that digit­al present­a­tion has come on so well in recent months that when it falls short of accept­able (i.e. $16 a tick­et) stand­ards the sur­prise and dis­ap­point­ment is all the greater.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 20 July, 2011.