DVD Review: Touching the Void A+. Descending Siula Grande

Siula Grande

Touching The Void. Directed By Kevin McDonald

 

JOE SIMPSON’S RATIONALE FOR CLIMBING SIULA GRANDE
This film is a docudrama. It is based on a true story filmed in documentary style using actors for the characters involved and interposing interviews with the actual subjects. Kevin McDonald directed this powerful story that remains interesting and suspenseful to the very end. Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out to climb 21000 thousand foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. After three days they reach the crest of the mountain and opt to descend by an alternative route. Bad weather sets in and Joe misses his footing driving the bones of his lower leg up into the upper leg. This is a death sentence given the altitude and the remoteness of the mountain. Nevertheless Simon sets out to rapidly lower Joe down the mountain using the 300 feet of rope they have between them. Haste is necessary because Joe is in danger of dying of shock and hypothermia. Due to the severe weather conditions Joe is accidentally lowered over the edge of a deep crevasse and is pulling Simon in after him to what looks like certain death for both of them. Simon cuts Joe loose to avoid being pulled over the lip of the crevasse. Joe falls and lands on a ledge about eighty feet down. Simon believing Joe is lost and at the end of his own endurance digs a snow cave to weather the storm and rehydradrate. The next day he looks for Joe at the crevasse but neither hears or sees him. Simon descends the mountain to the base camp. Four days later Joe crawls down to Simon’s tent in the middle of the night.

This film is beautifully shot. Each scene is dramatic in itself showing the grandeur, power and treachery of the weather, ice and mountain. The picture is worth seeing for the spectacular cinematography alone.

However the story involving the challenge of the climb, the predicament of Joe, the dilemma of Simon, the perseverance and instinct for survival of Joe and the final outcome are presented in a way to make the story intensely suspenseful, dramatic, inspiring and satisfying while leaving a lingering question of just what one climber owes to another in this situation, his life or his best efforts short of dying.

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Political Opinion: Janet’s Bodice Rip Poor Management?

February 2, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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Poor Management?

Janet Jackson, age 37, had her breast bared at the halftime on one the most widely watched events on television. Why? Wasn’t starring in the halftime show enough. I guess she needed to create an event that would get world wide coverage in all media not just in the tabloid media and on the outre’ net but in the legitimate media as well. This instant all media event happened strangely enough just as her new single is to be released. Was it because her record sales were falling in comparison to other newer and younger artists and she felt she could raise her consciousness in the public mind this way? Who buys her records any way? What age group? The ten to twenty somethings. Doesn’t she reach them on late night talk shows or MTV? I guess not. What about the Grammys? Well parents with children know on the music award shows things get a little bit raunchy and use discretion. So what better way to reach the demographics she wants and where parents will have their guard down than the Super bowl? A sports event with a half time show that traditionally has been patriotic or family oriented with marching bands, cheerleaders and popular entertainers on good behavior.

Of course the kids get a charge out seeing the morality of their parents challenged in anyway and particularly when the parents are present. Is Janet to blame? Only in the sense she didn’t have to be so tacky with a star nipple ring. She would have gotten less heat and more positive publicity out of the event if she had a full red bra underneath or even a flesh colored bra. There would be talk and condemnation by the NFL the FCC and the elders but the kids would have laughed and the lack of nudity would have taken the sting out of it. The only mistake here was in Janet’s managers and MTV letting her go too far.

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Movie Review: The Big Bounce C-

February 2, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
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This picture is based on an Elmore Leonard novel and also it is a remake of an earlier film. George Armitage directed this film. He also directed Grosse Pointe Blank. Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Charlie Sheen and Gary Sinise star and magazine cover model Susan Foster is the female lead with Bebe Neuwirth as the second female lead. The film is set in Hawaii. The original story was set in Leonard’s home state of Michigan.

So with all this fire power one would think this would be interesting and entertaining movie. However the picture comes off as shallow and rushed. The actors appear to be dropping in to pick up a check on their way to another gig. Even the Hawaiian setting, as beautiful as it can be, looks uncomfortable like it was shot for another movie and shoe horned in here. Perhaps the shooting schedule was too tight to allow for retakes. Perhaps there are too many inserts of Hawaiian surfing scenes, but the picture never jells. It comes off as hollow and the Elmore Leonard dialogue is never convincing the way it is on the page. Morgan Freeman, one of the most credible of actors, loses his credibility. Luke Wilson is unconvincing as the small time criminal scamster beguiled by femme fatale Susan Foster who in not believable as any thing more than a magazine cover model. Charlie Sheen comes across as someone who is trying to get his lines in as soon as possible because he needs to go to the men’s room. Bebe Neuwirth looks as if she wondering if she got into the right movie. All these people have done better work. The picture never gets the essence of Elmore Leonard. I guess no one had time to do it right.

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